Thursday, May 27, 2010


As yesterday was my mother's 58th birthday, you could find us checking Craigslist once an hour for something wonderful. And we found her! Her name is Maybelle and she is a goat of unknown breed.
She was bought by a family in Newberg at a livestock auction. The gentleman that bought her was shortly thereafter injured and unable to care for her. Maybelle was kept in a small dog run, all by her lonesome. She's an incredibly sweet goatie. On the ride home she continually tried to climb in the front seat, presumably because she thought she could drive better then me. We're thinking we'll breed and be able to milk her and Arwen by next spring. Yay!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dishwasher soap

It's cheap and easy to make your own dishwasher soap. And it works really well. I found that although we reuse as much as possible and grow or trade for a lot of our food, there are little necessities that nickel and dime us into debt. Dishwasher soap is one of those things. All you need to do for dishwasher soap is mix 1 to 1 borax and baking soda. If you're feeling really adventurous, put some white vinegar into your rinse dispenser. Happy Dishwashing!

Lay In Peace Ash

Yesterday, 5-25-10, Ash died. Ash was one of our first chickens ever. She's the magical bird that enticed us to try and raise more. She was an extremely kind hearted bird and she's changed our lives forever. Before Ash, Pearl and Popeye, their brother roo that we had to pass along before we moved into the city, I didn't know the kind of the love and companionship that a chicken could offer. As the kids learned about kindness and compassion from her and her siblings, Ash showed nothing but indulgent patience.
As this year races along and we try to live healthier, better lives, I am very sorry that Ash cannot continue her journey with us. Ash was one of the bright spots in our lives and she will be greatly missed.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Two ducks and a goose

Although Calvin and Gretchen were getting along famously, there seemed to be something missing. That something was young Mr. Cooper! Nik brought home Cooper just last week; he came from our favorite local organic farm store, Naomi's. I guess Coop didn't get on too well with some of Naomi's other creatures and they offered him to Nik when he was dropping off a couple dozen eggs.
Nik has brought me many wonderful things home. Pallets, rain barrels, flowers, a set of really cool golf clubs that he found on the side of the road, but I never imagined he'd ever bring home a living, breathing animal, let alone a duck. Before we found and moved into our current home, Nik hated animals. Nik and I celebrated our 12 year anniversary December 19 (he says the 18th but I'm positive it was the 19th), 2009. In all our time together, he'd never had anything to do with all the cats, dogs, turtles, rats, gerbils and goats I'd brought home to "rehabilitate".

What an amazing man my partner is! And how wonderful that we can grow and learn more about ourselves and our partners with every passing day. Cooper is a wonderful example of that. And he's much loved, within our home and our mini barnyard.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Quick compost tea and egg shell fertilizer

Some of my flowering plants needed a little boost of fertilizer and since I just started my worm bin, the most traditional way to make compost tea, and am at this point unable to harvest any worm castings or compost tea, I decided to try to make some tea using a different method. I froze some water in the bottom of a medium sized can and then, when completely frozen, I was able to put some holes in the bottom of the can with a nail and my favorite hammer.
Once the water in the can un-thawed, I filled it with fresh goat pellets, or poop, and placed it above a larger can. After spraying some fresh water into the poo can and letting it sit in the sun all day, I had some pretty awesome compost tea. Since it's super concentrated, I mixed it 10 to 1 with water. Easy, free and made by mother nature!

Did you know that ferns were once super abundant all of the world in dinosaur times? I decided to make a few of my ferns a special treat. Ferns love calcium and egg shells are 90% calcium carbonate. So I crushed 5 or 6 shells in a pitcher, filled with water and let sit for 24 hours. Then watered. Such happy ferns!

Egg shells, as most of us already know, are a great pesticide. They're also a great way to prevent root rot in a lot of plants.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

One day in May

What a day. This Saturday in May is beautiful and full of life. Tomorrow is the day that I was first made a mother, 10 years ago, how fitting that it's also Mothers Day.

We dug our hands in the dirt and poured our sweat to sweeten the soil. What a beautiful day was today.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Dun, du du dun... Freedom Rangers!!!

This morning, long before I was awake (8am), I received a call and voice mail from the Oak Grove post office. The 25 with one extra thrown in just in case so really 26 Freedom Ranger chickens had arrived! We'd been anticipating these little creatures for months and their arrival sparked a flurry of activity. Quick, finish putting together the brooder! Where's Stella? Stella, get the heck out of that duck brooder young lady and hand me that bag of pine shavings! Josh, mister, get off of that bike and track me down the heat lamp. Please! Jason... Jason... Jason... Jason, what the heck are you doing in the bathtub? And with all your clothes on?
We chose the Freedom Ranger chicken because we decided to make a commitment to our ethical belief in the sanctity of life. Freedom Rangers live a longer, healthier life than that of their counterpart the Cornish Cross broiler. The life of a Cornish Cross broiler is not what nature had originally drafted when in her infinite wisdom she created the chicken. Nor is it the picture that I want to paint in order to feed myself and my family. When we originally decided to raise our own meat, Nik and I spent many nights hashing over which animal would be best treated within the confines of our care and land; which animal provided the most yield for the money to sustain and which animal was most readily available. Chickens resounded again and again. Unfortunately, finding a chicken breed comparable to the broiler for large backyard production proved difficult. Finally, after I had joined countless chicken and livestock forums and read uncountable accounts of broody hens and cocked cockerels, someone mentioned the Freedom Ranger chicken from J & M Hatchery in Pennsylvania. In my head there was a chorus of angels! And there we have it. 3 months and $70 later, our 26 Freedom Ranger chickens are happy and home. And it feels so good to be doing the right thing!!!

Monday, May 3, 2010

May Day, 2010

Wanda and Daily are doing great, though I was quite worried for awhile. You can tell they miss the companionship of their mother and although I'm a poor replacement for her, I've tried to give them extra cuddle time to soothe their transition.

They love to snuggle under my zip up sweatshirt, almost under my arm.

We decided they were healthy enough to meet Gretchen, we're hoping she will adopt them. Ducks are wonderful mothers and have been known to adopt other ducklings, chickens and even kittens. Here she is outside in the little duckie pen, eyeing them curiously. So far, she's not bit at them, though she has tried to ignore Wanda and Daily.

And this little bug in the tree is Jason. He's keeping an eye out on the duckies and the chicks, in a separate enclosure, to make sure no sneaky cat arms reach inside and snare some babe. Looks like he's lying down on the job!