STATE OF THE URBAN HOMESTEAD

Fall?

August is certainly turning out to be a strange month weather wise. It’s a mixture June Gloom and crisp Fall-like weather. If we didn’t know any better we’d say it was late October. The now cool weather is throwing everything out of wack and besides, it’s weird. Those weeks when it was excruciatingly hot we wondered where spring and early summer went. Now we are asking: What happened to the dry, hot days of August?


Chicken, Clementine. Putting our ducks in a row

The Funny Farm

Clementine (or “Miss Clementime” as we like to call her because she acts like a southern belle – she looks like she’s always saying “well, I do declare”), our black bantam cochin, is having an identity crisis and has taken to try to crow like a rooster. Good try, Clemmy, but sorry to say, you sound pretty pathetic. Our hens are now in retirement, meaning they aren’t egg layers and being vegetarian there is no danger of them making it to the pot.   We had planned on hatching/raising a new batch of bantams, but are still too busy for such a project; however, we hope next year to increase our flock with new baby chicks.

Jordanne finally got all her ducks in a row. She snapped a photo the ducks “duck-stepping” together. Chickens are characters but ducks are even more so. Think Donald Duck – they are goofy and  their waddle walk is so funny to watch.   These type of ducks, Khaki Campbells, are reliable egg layers – laying over 300 eggs a year. Our 3 year old ducks are still going strong, giving us at least one egg each per day.   They do have some “off days” but, unlike chickens, they don’t “go broody” so their “time off” is very short lived.


Goodbye old roof

Roof Report

We had a 10 cubic yard dumpster delivered on Monday so we can fill it up with the asphalt shingles from the first 1/2 of the roof. This week the guys will be working on removing the other 1/2 of the roof on the south side of the house (“driveway” side) The seedling nursery had to be moved and the self -watering containers that sat on the now de-paved and mulched driveway.   The backyard is once again a little bit chaotic. Best if the messy work is done and over with fast.

As for the roofing dilemma, it looks like we are leaning to the lesser of two evils – acrylic coated metal. We are trying hard to avoid supporting DuPont and their Teflon industry (which we found is used to coat many of the metal “shingles”) Although natural and renewable, wood shakes are not a very good idea out here in the arid tinder-dry southwest. Besides, I would think that code would insist that residents install shakes treated with fire retardant chemicals.


Fig rice dish. Apple butter.

Fig, Fi, Fo Fum

With our collection of dwarf fig trees and with our neighbor’s – figs are what’s for dinner these days. Today, we tried another new fig dish calledWild Rice Salad with Fresh Figs.   Served with just picked and lightly steamed green beans, it was quite a pleasant (and light) summer meal.

Along with trying new dishes, there was apple butter to make. I was pretty excited about trying to makeapple butter for the first time .With 4lbs of our Anna Apples we were able to make 4 pts of incredibly yummy apple butter.   It’s very satisfying to see the cabinets fill up with colorful jars of preserves.


Baking day in the earthen oven

The Whole Grain

Next it was time to bake bread in the cob oven. This time we made four loaves which should last us about a week or more.   With homegrown ripe tomatoes and avocados, fresh bread make a delicious sandwich which we’ll enjoy a few times this week for lunch.
BOOKMARKS


Jules in herb garden. Courtesy of Steven Dabrowski
Green House Effect {via LA Alternative / Aug 11}

by Lucinda Michele Knapp
[excerpts from article]
…. “I’d like people to understand it’s not [going] be instant gratification,” says Jules Dervaes of Pasadena, an “urban homesteader” who, with his family, converted their own home into a virtually self-sustaining city lot where they brew their own biodiesel, provide organic greens to local restaurants, and teach workshops on everything from permaculture to knitting. They began their process in the ’80s. “It’s like a baby: it needs more attention in the beginning. Only after a few years does that garden start walking on its own…be prepared for failures and setbacks. We had one blueberry one year. One. I told my kids, with all the work we put into it, ‘This is a $100 blueberry,’” says Dervaes……“With a garden, wisdom comes in little increments,” explains Jules Dervaes, when I speak with him over the phone. “People knew a long time ago, and we have forgotten. Maybe a century ago most people were farmers, and now our kids aren’t even outside. They’re not playing in the yard, you don’t see them out in the street or climbing trees-they’re driven indoors, and it’s not right or healthy. With wacky weather and oil shortages, people are looking for something close to home where they can get security. I compare it to the World War II victory gardens. When the nation was in trouble, people said, ‘What can we do?’ Enron goes bankrupt, oil prices go up-it’s not a bad deal to have stability here at home. In a period of disquiet and upheaval, people go back to what’s real and what they can hold onto. My kids wanted to protest and saw people taking to the streets during the G7 summits…you [want to] be in control, you plant something. Your capacity to change is right there.”….The Dervaes family has ideas, though. “We advise some kind of action wherever you are,” says Jules. “A lot of people have small, seemingly impossible places. But you don’t need a yard. Self-watering containers are good for balconies: they don’t leak, and they have a reservoir. Neighbors get together and share small spaces. Other people do a little piece of their rental property-take space you don’t think you have, and turn it into a pint-sized garden. One lady with hardly any space went out and put a little thing in there between her fence and house-people are getting their feet wet and getting experience. When you have several people doing it, it kind of catches on. You break open this blockage where people think, ‘I can’t do that.’ People see you do it, and then they go, ‘He did it-why can’t I?’”Dervaes pauses, and I realize he’s seen this actually work, time and time again, with people who come to tour his own home and its rainbows of heirloom tomatoes, its long, lush rows of well-loved backyard plantings, and its welcoming, wild front yard….“With change, like with a garden, you have to persevere.”

Seven days to green your life {via The Independent }

We all know global warming is a fact. And we’d all like to do something to make a difference. But where to begin? The answer, of course, is in our own homes and daily routines. Donnachadh McCarthy, one of Britain’s leading expert in green living, believes seven days is all it takes to cast aside the bad habits of a lifetime. Here he explains how to change for the better – starting tomorrow
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No Comments

  1. claire says:

    nice photographs, love the bantam and the ducks, its amazing how often you see animals doing something when you dont have the camera with you, thanks for persevering! the cob oven looks fantastic.

  2. Scott Holtzman says:

    Thanks for the wonderful articles and a bit of history on your efforts. Really helps one think through things. Regards.

  3. dragonfly183 says:

    well i do believe she does look like a little southern belle doesn’t she :). i am so jealous of that earthen bread oven. i want one really bad. I have only recently learned the secret to baking good bread after reading a book about building earth ovens. My problem was i as not thinking of yeast as a living thing.

  4. Alena says:

    I will continue to visit enjoyed the reading thanks