Friday, April 30, 2010

Little baby duckies

As we're getting Stella ready for school today, it's the Jogathon today - can't miss that, I get a Facebook message from a lady that my partner and I have know for quite some years. She's asking me to call her mom at a school down the way as there's two baby ducks that need some care.

I called the school and long story short, Mrs. Wanda Daily, the schools amazing librarian and mother of one of our closest friends, asks us to take these two adorable, lost little duckies. It turns out they followed a child to school and lost their way. Part of me is glad that we can offer them a suitable home and that we're brooding other chicks right now so these little ducks can grow up as part of a chicken, turkey and duck family. Another part in me, a large part, feels just horrible knowing that there's most likely a duck mommy out there, missing two of her clutch, searching and worried.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Milk jug bird feeder

So, here we are, building another bird feeder. I think I must have 7 or 8 homemade bird feeders in the yard at this time. I just can't seem to help myself! I love the birds and I'm running out of ideas for reusing the milk jugs, so that's how we ended up making yet another feeder. This one is super easy. Cut a hole large enough in the milk container for a bird to get into, push two skewers into the bottom for roosts and add bird feed. For easy placement and removal on a branch, I used a wire coat hanger. Not rocket science but a fun way to spend a sunny afternoon with your children.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Along Came Calvin

After adopting Gretchen, we noticed that the laying ladies weren't being too nice to our newest addition. So I looked online for another duck to adopt. I didn't find another duck.

I found Calvin, the goose. He might just be the coolest goose I've ever laid eyes upon. Calvin is friendly and sounds like a dinosaur. Gretchen didn't seem to take any notice of Calvin until he waddled over to poke around the pool, at which point Ms. Gretchen chased him away with squawks and head jabs. Since then, they seem to be getting along just fine. Right now, until it's time to plant the corn, squash and beans, they're in the Three Sisters Garden.

Fencing, firepits and rescue ducks

No matter how hard we work during the weekend, we always seem fall into bed on Sunday night, joyous and grateful. This weekend was no different; we fenced and tilled and raked and worked the soil and rebuilt the fire pit - it was too small - and worked until our backs ached and the sun was going down.

There was like, a million kids over this weekend. I think we had 8 spend the night and 10 during the day on Saturday. The only kid to offer his assistance to Nik was little 1 year old Leroy. Great job kid! You build a mean fire pit!

Much to my dismay, Nik even found time to mow the front yard. Oh how I dislike a mowed lawn! I mean, sure it's beautiful, but it does nothing to entice the goats to halt in their escape attempt if they ever fancy a trip off the property!

Friday, April 23, 2010

And Along Came Gretchen

I'd like to introduce you to Gretchen. I don't know what kind of duck she is, but she is a duck. We found Gretchen on Craigslist; she had been mauled by a dog and her mate, Bob, murdered. Her previous guardian decided she belonged in a home without a bully breed dog. I just couldn't not go get her. She's just beautiful! Her wings are pretty messed up and one of her feet is mangled, but I think she'll be okay. She's absolutely gorgeous! We put her in with the chicks in the hopes that she'll bond. I'm leery of putting her in with the laying hens because I don't think she's well enough to deal with the whole pecking order thing. Anyhow, here's Gretchen!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Building the Fire Pit and Grill

After much debate and agonizing over where and how to build and place a fire pit and grill, we finally agreed on where it should reside. Nik scavenged a really cool grate that cleaned up real easy and the fire beneath our buns was ignited! The kids helped heave dirt back to the designated spot while Nik dug and placed and then replaced all of the concrete pieces. I stood, watched and photographed. When it was time, I did assist in in the building effort by hauling buckets of river rock and sand at Nik's command. It took him three solid hours, and well into the night, to finish this project. When it was all said and done and the children were snug in their beds, we initiated the pit with a nice, warm fire and a glass of wine. Great job family!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

There is a new story out in the Oregonian called Radical Homemaking. Here's the link . If you can, check it out. I read this and I felt such an odd mix of emotions. Pride for what we're doing here at home, justification for doing what I feel is right regardless of the arguments put forth by others, camaraderie for those mentioned in the story. It's been said that for something to have progressed to the point of mention in print, it's a popular fad. Maybe I'm just out of touch but I have to say that I felt a huge relief reading this article. Finally, someone has mentioned what I do. Finally, I've read somewhere that it's okay and even right to lead the life that I lead. For so long, I've felt so lost within two worlds, a world of professional achievement and another of suburban homemaking; in neither do I succeed. I thought I might be crazy, leading this life. But heck, if it's in print somewhere, I guess I'm not crazy and maybe I'm just not in touch with others like me. Thank you, Leslie Cole, for running the story on radical domesticity. Thank you, Shannon Hayes, for writing a book about people like me. And thank you countless other women and families that live like I do. I don't feel so crazy today.

Monday, April 19, 2010

New Wiggly Friends

We've just begun our worm journey! Nik picked us up 1 1/2 lbs. of worms the other day from Naomi's. Happy and healthy in their new worm bin, snuggled between the compost bucket, recycle bucket and chicken food bin. This is my favorite part of the kitchen. Between these four buckets and bins, very little goes into the Bad Bin, i.e. the garbage can.
Before I fell in love with goats or chickens or even fruit trees, I was in love with worms. As a child my Grandpa would ask me to go out into the yard and find him some fat, juicy earthworms to deposit into his Worm Box. Larger then my new bin and not kept in his kitchen, Grandpa's worm box supplied his fishing ventures and cured my summer time boredom. When he felt I had collected a sufficient supply, he'd reward my grubby fingers with an early morning fishing trip; out past Estacada up on the Clackamas river. We'd leave home before the sun would poke it's head above the horizon and often enjoy the sunrise from one of two favorite breakfast joints in Estacada. By 7:30 we'd be on the trail, traversing most often difficult terrain in order to reach just the perfect pool. Where tired fish had found their respite and an old man and a young girl would, with any luck, catch their dinner. Needless to say, I love these slimy, wiggling, producers of good earth! I've been anxiously anticipating the creation of this worm bin and finally, it's here!

Clip from "What In The World Are They Spraying?"

Really interesting and frightening up coming documentary about the SAG (Stratospheric Aerosol Geoengineering), or the Chemtrail agenda.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Starting the orchard

Yay! We started the orchard today with 5 fruit bearing trees in the front yard. Today's plantings included a plum, a fig, a cherry, an apple and an Asian pear. There are also two new trees in the back; an apricot and another apple. I haven't deuced yet whether or not I'd like to move these two up to the front yet, though the possibility is promising. In addition to the fruit trees, I planted two lilacs, because darn it I just love the smell, and three lavenders. I'll mulch everything tomorrow but I can go to sleep happy tonight!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Make your own suet and feeder, and waste not!

Although we don't eat a lot of meat products that produce grease, we do occasionally. And what to do with all the fat and drippings? We used to save them in a can, with lid, in the refrigerator and then throw the can out once it got full. No longer!

We still save the fat, in the refrigerator because it's still an animal product and can get super gross and nasty if you leave it out, but now we reuse it for different household purposes. One of those uses is for the birds.
We get a ton of birds, pretty much year round, around here. Suet can be expensive to buy and it's wasteful given that you can reuse what you already have and lessen your impact on the land. First, you need to pull out that old grease and find a small tinfoil pan to use. Our neighbor made us some yummy rum cake this last Christmas in this tin pan and we decided to reuse it.

Melt the grease in the oven, I did this in the tin can we were saving it in. I then poured the fat into our little tin pan and then poured in the wild bird seed. We bought our wild bird seed from our favorite organic farm supply store, Naomi's. Though in the future I'd like to use extra seed that I have after harvest. After you've poured the seed in, you want it pretty full, pop it in the freezer overnight.
The next morning wake up all excited that you're going to be making a treat for the birds! Well, that's how I wake up, thrilled for the birds. Head outside to your potting bench or porch or backyard jungle and find some chicken wire or meshing or random piece of metal wiring that's somehow been blown into your yard, as I did. Oh yes, remember to bring your fresh suet! I had to cut my thick metal wiring with heavy duty metal clippers because it was real thick. I've done this before with regular old chicken wire and it works just fine. Double over the wiring and add a little extra, I like to make a perch for the birdies - with sharp wire bent under of course, and pop your suet out of it's frozen container. Place in the center and refold the meshing to enclose it. Oh yes, twine is useful as a hanger for the suet. In the past, we've used broken shoelaces and old hair ribbons, though we were plum out of extra string at the time of this project. Make sure to bend the wire in and under so that birds don't hurt themselves on any exposed, up facing sharpies. Voila! Go hang in a tree and watch the birds!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ringling Beats Animals: A PETA Undercover Investigation

This video is so disturbing to me. I remember when I was working at the Ronald McDonald House and we'd get free tickets to the Ringling Bros. Circus, I was so excited to hand them out and the children and families were so excited to get them. And this is what the "trainers" at Ringling were doing before, during and after a show! I'm disgusted.

No personal joy is worth the agony of another living being. Although I'm not a vegetarian, I do believe in cherishing life and I do believe that every being should be treated with respect. This is why I will always respect and admire what PETA does.

Reused Homemade Countertop

Since our kitchen was just a huge open space, with very little counter space, my good friend Sasa purchased me these awesome shelves from Costco for my birthday. The cool thing is that the shelves can be dismantled to create two shelving units. We decided to use them as an island in the kitchen.

Given that these are shelving units, and not meant for kitchen island usage, there's no counter top on them. Never fear, Aaron is here! Sasa's partner Aaron cut me two beautiful plywood slabs for usage as a counter top. Sasa and Aaron then gave me some half used grout (I love to reuse you know!) and some of their leftover tile from a longstanding bathroom project.
Oh yes, and they also passed along some tile glue. And voila! Here's my kitchen counter top. Although I loved the tile very much, it reminds me of petrified wood, I love rocks and agates and arrowheads and such just as much. So I glued and cajoled these rocks slices and clumps and pieces down before the grout process. I then decided I needed a built-in incense burner, because I burn just that much incense, and a pretty stained glass centerpiece. I also put in a beautiful Mother Goddess bead and some crystal pieces. I just love my new counter top and the fact that there's nothing else like it on earth! Hope you enjoy too!

The Spirit of the Blue Moon Urban Homestead

In addition to our lovely outdoor mini farm, we share our home with a few cuddlies.

This is Gael Garcia Bernal, so named after one of the most handsome and talented actors of our generation. As you can see, he takes after his namesake in appearance! Absolutely adorable!!!

This is Daniel. Daniel is 2 years old and the son of a stray we picked up for a little while. Daniel is extremely playful and only really enjoys the company of Joshua, Jason and Stella. Daniel got in a fight recently with another cat while we were away on vacation in Death Valley and needed surgery on his face for an abscess that formed. We're so glad he's okay!

This is Che Guevara. I'm sure you thought you knew that Che was killed years ago, as a revolutionary gorilla fighter in South America. It is not so! Well, he was killed but he was then born again into our little Che. Che is 6 years old and is my little sweet pea. Bernal is Che's brother and the two have a love hate relationship. He loves everyone and will randomly jump on people for some lovin. He especially loves cuddling with Stella Moon at bedtime.

Now these two little beasties are Simon and Theodore. They love sunflower seeds and being left alone, although they're starting to warm up to Stella because she insists on holding them everyday. They've never bitten anyone and give us nice bedding for our compost!

Now this inquisitive little fellow is Stubby. Stubby is so named because another little gerbil we gave home to, that has since become food for Slim, fought with everyone and ate Stubby's tail. Stubby is the friendliest gerbil here at Blue Moon Urban Homestead. This little guy is just down right adorable!

And here, the pièce de résistance... the love of my life (other then my partner Nik and our children, which of course is assumed), Wyatt. We adopted Wyatt awhile ago and he's become my constant companion ever since. He's an 8 or 9 year old yellow lab and he's the best dog ever!!!

Introducing... Slim Shady! Slim is, I believe, a 15 year old ball python. Slim came to us a couple of years ago when a friend of mine went to travel in South America for a year. We offered to foster her because I was deathly afraid of snakes and I correctly surmised that I'd soon get over my irrational fears if I had a lovable snake in my home. She's been family ever since! She's really the greatest snake you'll ever meet!


Here are the ladies! Soaking up the sun on the boardwalk; they usually jump right up when they see us coming, expecting treats and whatnot. Not today! It's supposed to get to 70 degrees today and you can tell that makes these ladies very happy!

This is Aunt Penelope. She was the first goat we brought home and we believe her to be 10 or 11 years old. Big Mama and Penelope have the same sire and were raised together as breeding pygmy's. Aunt Penelope's last pregnancy ended badly so she, just like me, is no longer able to bear children. We don't mind though because we love her and weren't planning on breeding her anyway!

This lovely lady is Big Mama. Big Mama is Arwen's mom. We got Arwen a year before we adopted her mom and Mama's a little standoffish. We believe her to 10 or 11 years old as well. She's very loving with Arwen and at this time, she's trying to teach Arwen how to head butt. It's very sweet to watch.

And this is Arwen! Arwen is full of life and vigor. She not afraid to come and rub her head along your legs, begging for a scratch. Arwen had polio when she was just a few months old and we were worried we were going to loose her. She's my special lady and we all love her dearly.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Starts, revamped!

Joshua and Jason have taken it upon themselves to be the purveyors of water for our new sprouts. Since we don't get enough natural light in the greenhouse, i.e. the kitchen, Nik decided we needed a nice sun light for our starting veggies. Thank you Nik!

More Laying Hens!

And this here is one of our first chickens. Her name is Ash and she's almost two years old. Ash is a bantam, though we're not sure what kind. She's most definitely a pet chicken. She does lay adorable, tiny white eggs; Ash is the absolute smallest of our chicken family. Holding her is the famous animal rights activist, and avid vegetarian, Ms. Stella Moon Vincent.

Classically bouffant is Auntie' Mame. She's a crested polish and boy is she boisterous! She bobs around in the chicken tractor with Pearl and Ash because, unfortunately, the full sized hens picked on her, literally. She and the bantams are wonderful pet chickens. Her eggs are small and white, though larger then the bantam's. Thank you again for you're modeling support, Ms. Stella Vincent!

We've come to Pearl! Along with Ash and Popeye, our beloved banty rooster that we had to rehome when we moved, Pearl came to us almost two years ago as a rescue chick. She's been the love our our lives ever since! She's extremely kind and beautiful. Anyone can hold her and pet her and she patiently accepts any and all adoration.

Introducing Roselia! Our third and final golden sex link, Jason and Joshua named her after one of their favorite Pokemon characters. And yes, she totally kicks butt!

Nineve here is a black australorp. Jasper is her sister and the two used to be inseparable. Since Nineve found the love of Ojos Negros, to be introduced soon, Nineve has eyes for no one else. Nineve lays beautiful brown eggs and for the most part, chooses to avoid everyone; goat, chicken and child alike.

Ojos Negros means black eyes in Spanish. Ojos has the most beautiful eyes; they look like they've been lined with black eye liner. She's a little standoffish and enjoys only the company of Nineve, though she lays the most beautiful blue/green eggs.

Ojos Negros' sister is Chippy, so named for her apparent resemblance to a chipmunk. The resemblance ends with her coloring, as she's a broody chicken through and through! Like her sister Ojos, Chippy lays beautiful blue/green eggs. Chippy and her sister Ojos Negros are mixed color ameraucanas.

Sasa is the second in command for our backyard flock. She's a robust Rhode Island red and she's an absolutely wonderful layer. As she was one of the first batch of laying chicken we brought home, she's quite patient and comfortable with Joshua, Jason and Stella's affections. Sasa is named for the children's Godmother, Sasa Austin. She lays really neat round, dark brown/almost red eggs.

Sasa's partner in crime, both in our backyard flock and as our human friends, is Aaron. Aaron is a New Hampshire red chicken. So named for Sasa's real life partner, Aaron Reick. Aaron kind of just goes along with the flock and is at peace in the summer sun and winter rain.

When not hanging out in the coop, or roosting on a branch, Hedwig is a famous actress. You may have seen her in any of the Harry Potter movies as she played Harry's snow white owl. Hedwig lays beautiful blue/green eggs as she's a white ameraucana.

Last, and surely not least, is miss Alder. Alder, like Willow, is a Plymouth barred rock. Alder and Willow were named after our friends Alder and Willow. Alder lays light brown, medium sized eggs.