Tuesday, August 31, 2010

They're Here!

Welcome Fred and Ginger! Born at approximately 7:45pm on August 30th, 2010. All parties are doing well. Details of the birth to follow, after we've all gotten a bit of rest.

Monday, August 30, 2010


No, there wasn't a bad accident. Julio is molting. He kinda resembles a bedraggled, homeless guy these days. I swear I take really good care of him!

Even if he does feel trapped, he gets outside now and then.

Sometimes I even let him nibble on the cabbages.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

The Waiting

As any woman who has ever given birth knows, it's that end part of the pregnancy, fraught with anticipation and anxiety, that really sucks. Most likely, Lucy doesn't even know she's pregnant so I'm the one doing all the worrying. She is officially two days past her due date and I am on pins and needles wondering when those babies are going to decide to show up. I check on her every two hours to see if she's showing any signs like bleating, agitation, stamping, a straightening of the back near the tail (the babies are certainly on their way out when you see that), or a hollowing out of the flanks. Nothing yet.

I think I've got everything in order: the birth kit packed with towels, iodine, and pain meds in case she has a difficult labor, a birth plan for the 5% chance that something goes awry, a doula, my lovely friend Monica from Ireland, who is experienced in helping birth lambs, and a professional photographer, Naomi Fiss, another dear friend. That should cover it. The only hitch would be if Lucy goes into labor tomorrow when I will be presenting at the Eat Real Festival. That would be very bad timing.

Do you think she needs a sign saying, "Caution, wide load."?

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Thrift Store Score

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

An Itty Bitty Massacree

This post is not for the faint of heart, delicate, or squeamish. Yes, we will again be discussing rats and their demise.

We discovered the main nest. The breeding grounds for the hideous creatures that have been plaguing our backyard is actually along the neighbor's fence. Hidden amongst the labyrinthine root structure of the most hardy, invasive plant I have ever dealt with, Argentinian Ivy (that shit has feet and can take down buildings), Satan's offspring had constructed a virtual multiplex with chambers tucked under every available limb. The ivy had grown so thick in one particular area that it was actually pulling the fence down. I don't even want to think about the exponential population growth possibilities within that three square feet of earth.

What a pain in the ass. It's not even our yard! But it has certainly been our problem. So this past weekend we were determined to eradicate that mass of evil by taking down the ivy. We invited our friend Douglas and his six year old son, Niko, to help with the extermination, a couple of dudes who we knew wouldn't be grossed out by the endeavor.

We armed the children with sharpened bamboo spears,

while the adults packed hand saws, hatchets, pruners, and shovels. There would be blood. It was inevitable. Those little fuckers had to go.

The Disgruntled Farmhand stood on a ladder at ground zero, saw and hatchet in hand, to hack away at the massive knot of ivy. Douglas and I waited in the wings to clobber any rats escaping from inside the fence. The kids dangled their spears over the fence, desperately hoping to be able to thrust them at something.

They ended up providing an eerie operatic soundtrack to the whole event, wailing chorus after chorus of "Kill the rats! Kill the rats!" It was a tad bit disturbing.

Eventually we reached the heart of the nest. Rat after rat flew out from the fence, one launching itself off the 10 foot concrete retaining wall and bouncing off the ground as it landed, another scampering across the DF's hand. Under all of the branches of ivy we found a nightmarish number of neon pink rat babies. I will not describe their demise. Let's just say it was garish enough for me to close my eyes and squeal while the deed was being done.

The day after all out war had been waged, more apples had been nibbled off the tree. There are more out there. Hiding. Somewhere. *sigh*

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Goodbye Apples

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

That's Not the Right Kind of Baby *WARNING - Graphic*

This morning I was working out back creating a new space for the compost bins. I haven't been happy with the setup for some time, and with Lucy's impending birth I needed to get the pen cleaned up. I felt I should light a fire under this one.

As I was digging along the fence line, I turned up what looked like a little toy pig. Figuring that it was some kind of throw away from the neighbor kids, I reached down to pick it up when holy freakin' ratones I realized the damn thing was breathing. This was no plastic play thing; this was a neon pink, fresh from the womb, eyes still sealed shut, bona fide rat baby. Ew! Make that a double ew!

I actually contemplated not killing the darn thing. Watching its tiny blushed body wriggling and its mouth gasping as if searching for its momma's teat, the creature looked like a cross between a piglet and one of those aborted fetuses that you see on posters carried outside abortion clinics, gruesome yet identifiably a life form. I then reminded myself that this innocent was going to turn into full grown, disgusting vermin. I charged off to grab a bucket of water.

Killing is never pleasant for me, regardless of the victim (except for fleas; I have a fetish for catching them and popping their heads off with my nails). But this rat problem needs to end. I'm sick of those fat, hairy toadies sneaking into the chicken coop or nibbling every damn apple on the tree. Why can't they eat the ones on the ground? It's put a serious damper on my pie baking this summer. So off with their heads! Not really. I wouldn't be able to take the blood.

To the bucket it went. I knew there were probably more in that invisible burrow, so I dug a bit deeper and found a couple more who were equally as wretched looking as the first. As I stooped to scoop up the last one, I heard a terrible squeal that reminded me of the voice of the scientist in The Fly crying "Help me!" after he had swapped his body with the bug. So much for no blood. I blame it on the shovel.

You can call me a baby murderer, just don't call PETA. Ugh.

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Mark Your Calendars

Itty Bitty will be at the Eat Real Festival this year with a goat and maybe a baby goat...or two or three or four! Be sure to stop by Saturday morning to check out Lucy and her new baby/ies or Ethel, if Lucy is indisposed. I will also be giving a talk on Saturday evening about raising chickens and preparing dishes to use up excess eggs. See the full schedule of events here. There's gonna be loads of really cool stuff going on so be there or be square.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Guest Blog: Farm Camp Review

Written by Guest Blogger Ursula Stauder (the most awesomest 14 year old in the world)

Farm Camp was the highlight of my summer. I learned so many things about Urban Homesteading! :D:D

At first, I was quite skeptical about the chickens and goats. I have always been a little afraid of chickens and the goats were trying to eat my clothes, but soon I started looking forward to waking up and feeding the animals. I found them quite amusing. Lucy, the pregnant goat, and Ethel, the non pregnant goat, were hilarious when they ate apples. The chickens were also very funny, and I learned that when you hear obnoxiously loud squawking that can sometimes sound like a barking dog, that a chicken is laying an egg! 

My favorite part of Farm Camp was cooking. I love to cook! Heidi and I cooked apple pie and bread. The apple pie was very fun to make and was delicious. I love apples, and to cook them into such a fantastic pie made it 10 times better. Along with apples, I also really like bread. I learned how long bread takes to prepare, and how cold the dough can be (editors note - This was a no knead bread method where the dough requires some refrigeration.). Ute also introduced me to uncooked bread dough. It is so good!

Heidi showed me how to double dig with compost for raised beds. It was hard work, and very smelly, but afterwords it was rewarding to see a fresh raised bed. After I replaced the soil, I had to soak it with water, which took a very long time. When it was soaked, we planted beans, beets, and other plants.

She also showed me how to make a planter with a plastic bucket and a drill. We also filled this with compost and a self watering bottle, which was an old two liter soda bottle. It looked great when we had finished.

Aside from the work, Heidi, Esteban, and Ute all helped me be more aware of my diet and surroundings by giving me small reading assignments and lectures that were very interesting and quite informative.

All in all, Farm Camp was amazing. I am so lucky to have had this experience. You guys have really opened my eyes to a lot of things, and I am very happy to be more aware about my food and lifestyle. Thank you so much Heidi, Esteban, and Ute. I love you guys!

Love, Ursy

Friday, August 6, 2010

Switching On the Sun

We are solar connected! It took awhile to get through the process, but we finally did it. Thank you groSolar and SunRun for making it happen with very little headache on our end of things.

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Girls with Power Tools

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Urban Farm Camp

My dear friend's 14 year old daughter, Ursula, is here for the week for farm camp. Actually, it's a little vacation before she starts high school so I'm going easy on her as far as work goes. She so lucked out on that one because I was seriously considering having her shovel chicken shit. Ah, she'll have to do enough of that in high school.

So far we have done the daily feeding chores, baked an apple pie with the neighbor's apples, baked bread, composted a raised bed, and planted some seeds. At the end of the week she will be writing a post on her camp experience. Look for it in the next couple days. Would you send your kid to urban farm camp?

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Baby

Artichoke that is.

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Bagging Up

I think we will be having some goat babies soon. We came back from vacation to find Lucy with a seriously swollen utter.

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