Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Resolution

I still haven't gotten good about blogging away my life but I am making it a new years resolution.

Our Christmas party was fantastic and I am very happy with how well it went off.
I butchered the Mallard Drake that I had bought for $5 two days before the dinner and had it curing is a dry salt rub. I was very happy with the flavor of the meat but unhappy with the skin. It was way to salty for my tastes PLUS it did not crisp up like I hoped it would. The meat was very dark and one of the guest said that it tasted like steak. I was thrilled with that opinion.

All of our meat was humanly raised this year. We had Ham that we purchased from the 4h auction. We even had the chance to meet the pig before it was sent to the butcher. The lamp that was served was raised with my daughters lambs so we cared for it and watched it grow. The rabbit was from my back yard as was the duck.

A perfect feast for my hopes to be organic and self sustaining this next year.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Trading my bunnies

I just recently traded a breeding pair of bunnies with another urban farmer (Esperanza Pallana)in the area. She has already developed a wonderful urban farm that included tasty fruits and vegetables, chickens, bees and now wanted to start rabbit raising.
She gave me a delicious assortment of fruits and homemade items. Figs, lemons, squash, persimmons, jelly's and a warm spicy wine that was great. I ate the figs immediately and turned the lemons into lemonade. The squash will be for tonight's dinner and the persimmons I hope to make into cookies and bread this afternoon. I received another bag of persimmons from a friend so now I have plenty for jam too.
Here is Esperanza's Blog. You can find recipes for the wine and jams on her site.
Pluck and Feather

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

I just finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. It was an inspirational book that has me thinking and planning for the summer months. I have many different projects planned for my little home.

The garden is a must do this year. I have a few sights in the front and back yard that will work wonderfully for a garden this next year. The problem is I have killed just about everything I have tried to grow. I am amazed that I can keep children and a whole zoo full of animals happy and healthy but give me a green thing and it will be dead in weeks. Of course plants don't say "I'm hungry!!" in that whinny voice when your stuck in bumper to bumper traffic and it will take at least 15 minutes to get to the next off ramp. So that could be my problem. Maybe if the plants said something before shriveling up into unrecognizable dried material I would remember to water them.

I am still growing 3 healthy tomatoes. We have not had really cold weather yet and I am hoping that I will get a few more tomatoes before frost hits. The other option is to make my own cold frame and attempt some winter gardening. Seems like a lot of work to fight nature and my inability to garden at the same time but I am never one to back down from a good fight.

I am very happy with my guinea pig project. We are slowly moving to feeding our piggies 100% fresh and organic foods. No more processed pet store stuff for us. I am watching their weight as I make this transition. They have seemed to love all green leaves like lettuce, carrot tops, and really love root crops and stems. Broccoli stems are a favorite but not the florets. Carrots, squash, and zucchini are big yes. They do not like peanuts, or anything spicy like onions or garlic. By the end of this month they will be completely processed food free. One small step in become self sufficient. It's just a little step but if i can do that with the animals foods first while changing our families eating habits at the same time we should be totally self sufficient with our food in a year or two except for things like sugar, wheat, beef and wine. We will be only getting organic and local which is a new thing since reading the Kingsolver book.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Though most people think these masked animals are top on the cute and cuddly list I am here to tell you that they are the most evil and beastly of animals. Over the last few weeks I have had the pleasure of multiple nighttime encounters. Can you imagine being woken up in the middle of the night by the most terrible of sounds. The sound of an innocent animal being hunted and eaten in the middle of the night. In my bed clothes I grab a flash light running out into the yard, barefoot and sleepy. I found not just one evil Raccoon making a midnight snack of my chickens but 4 yes 4 of these things as large as a dog feasting in my backyard.

Do you think they ran for the hills when caught in their despicable act. NO. They looked at me and hissed asking "What are you going to do about"

The best I could do barefoot and in my skimpys was grab the hose and spray them with a good blast, but we are not talking firehose power here. They ran away but just out of reach from the hose. There was no saving my poor chickens and the back yard looked like an early snow had fallen in the moonlight.

It is all out war here at Blue Rivers Urban Farm and I have to admit that the Raccoons are winning. Though I do kill and process my chickens and rabbits to eat, I have a hard time killing a wild animal for no other reason than wanting it dead. So to count:

Raccoons 2 chickens, 4 rabbits

Me 0.

I have done nothing but teach them that when the light comes on in the bed room window they should take their dinner out. I also believe that they are secretly planning a full take over of the house by crushing it with a large Walnut tree but that will be my next blog.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Chicken and Dumplings

I made a wonderfully delicious dinner Monday night. What made it fantastic was the fact that the chicken was from my own back yard.
At the end of the school year I was gifted 10 chicks from a local kindergarten class. They had hatched them in incubators during the school year and watched as they turned from cute little fluff balls to ugly pullets. Well I was hoping that we would have a 50/50 chance of males to females. I really wanted a few more laying chickens. We have 2 little silky bantams that lay about an egg a day but not enough to feed my family. I just want enough to completely fill my families needs and then be able to give a dozen away to my parents when they come into town. So i am guessing 5 chickens would be great.

Saturday morning I woke up to a rooster call outside my window. Four of the chickens decided that it was their day to crow. My husband and I caught all of them and quickly got them into the freezer. We had already had 3 crowing earlier in the week and had a small roasted bird for each of us for dinner.

I am really disappointed that I don't have more hens. We now have the 2 bantams, one red chicken that really looks like a hen and two more black and white that I am expecting to crow any morning.

The chicken and dumplings turned out delicious the little roosters don't have a lot of meat on them and the flavor is really light. If you like a lot of chicken flavor you need to wait until they are older but our neighbors would be a little upset with us if we had a rooster for very long.

I have 2 in the freezer still and haven't decided what to do with them yet. I need to get the cookbook.


I am very happy to announce that Sarah is going to be home schooled this year. I was getting her signed up for public school and realized that I kept procrastinating day after day on the paper work. It didn't take me long to realize that I was not at all interested in Sarah attending public school.
She has been in a private school for the last two years. That school Redwood christian school was good school for her except they didn't teach science to college standards. The teachers were wonderful and the expectations of children's behavior was high. Unfortunately we are having to pay for my husbands and my student loans now and just can't afford private school any more.
I am so glad that Jason agreed that we should be able to pull off homeschooling this year. I have almost total freedom when it come to my job and believe that I can find some great classes for Sarah to participate in for socialization.
I have already started her getting ready for school by working on The Rosetta stone for Spanish and starting to learn the piano.
I was surprised to realize how relaxed i had gotten with her education once I was no longer directly responsible for it.
I am glad to be back and glad to be focusing on what is important again. my child and her development into the best young woman that she can be.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Last day with Melanie : (

For the last 3 years my family has been accepting exchange students from all over the world into our little home. We have had visitors from Japan, Korea, China, France and Austria. Everyone has taught us something new and interesting about the world. We love showing them the beauty and diversity of San Francisco.
Today we are taking Melanie to the airport to meet her parents in LA. Melanie is from France and has stayed with us for the last 2 weeks. We have had wonderful adventures with her. Starting with the Golden Gate Bridge a must see even when it's covered with fog. China town was next on our list. We all ate chicken feet fried in a sweet and sour sauce, they were very good except having to eat around the little bones. Fried mini crabs were on the list next fried with the shell and all. I personally didn't like them. I don't like sesame seed and they were fried in a sesame seed batter. Melanie loved the crabs much more than the chicken feet. There are so many sights to see in China town, from the live dragon dancers to the chickens in cages ready to be taken home for fresh supper.
We went on many other adventures in our city and we look forward to bringing others with us to see many many more.
I hope that Melanie and all of our students have had a wonderful experience with us that opened their eyes to the diversity that is San Francisco.
We will miss Melanie very much. She has been a sweet and friendly addition to our family.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Rabbit show

This is a Junior American Blue from my rabbitry. They are a solid grey color and should have no stray white hairs or white toe nails.

Today we are in the beautiful coastal city on monterey. The weather is cool and breezy but that was perfect temperature for my rabbits. My daughter Sarah and I are staying at a hotel very near where the show is.
Unfortunately we did not do as well as I had hoped in the show today. Sarah's Californian broke a nail. A broken nail on a rabbit is very bloody and very painful.
All 3 of my senior blues were Disqualified for being underweight. I must find a way to pack on the pounds. The are currently eating 18% King with black oil sunflower seeds and calf manna mixed in. This has not added to their weight yet.
So we are finally at our hotel and I read the no pets policy which I really think is a terrible policy for a hotel to have. I understand that there are animals owners who are irresponsible but I think that is someone is willing to vacation with their pet they are probably caring owners and will not let the animals tear the place up. I have to admit that we have been sneaking the animals in one by one. O.k. so I am sure you are thinking OMG what about all of the people who have to sleep in that room after your rabbits have been there. I think that if you are worried about what animals have been in your hotel room you should NEVER bring a black light into your hotel room and look at the floor or the walls
I have 4 rabbits and a kitten in the room so far. I might need to wait till dark to get the rest. I did have to bring my kitten with me because she just can't stay home alone yet. She is too small and will get into all kinds of trouble. We have the most difficult time trying to find her when she has gone off exploring because she can get into any little space.
Oh my husband by the way was off on an early morning fishing trip with my son and father. He caught 2 trout and will be bringing it home for dinner. Yum I will post the reciepe that I use to cook in the next few days.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Day one

This is my first and very first experiance with blogging. I hope to share with others how I am learning to create a urban homestead in the middle of the bay area. We are luckly enough to be in an unincorporated city so we have less laws than others do but I feel that creating a urban homestead is possible for anyone.
Let me tell you a little about myself and my family. I am married to a wonderful man that puts up with all of my strangness. I have 2 fantastic children. My son Justin is the oldest he is 17 and leaving for Basic Training on May 19th. Go ARMY.
My daughter is 12yo. She has some difficulties that no little girl should have to deal with but I guess I will tell more about that later.
We also have Deuce a siberian huskey
6 cats and 1 kitten that we are fostering for Friends of Fairmont Animal shelter
1 quinea pig
2 red ear slider turtles
2 pygmy goats
2 chickens
25 rabbits
I raise rabbits for show and food. Yes I eat my rabbits and do all of the butchering, cleaning and cooking. I will also eat my chickens, goats and I have thought about the turtles. When I say that i am creating an urban homestead that is exactly what I mean. My goal is to raise all the food needed for my family here on my property. We will get milk from our goats after we rebreed, eggs and meat from chickens, meat and fur from rabbits and of course my garden which has been started finally.
No I will not eat my cats or my dog. I think everything else is fair game.
There are many other interesting things happening in my life. Sarah adoption will be finalized in August and we hope to add a sibling group of younger children to our home by the end of the year.
Tomorrow we leave for Monterey for a rabbit show. I am showing American blue and whites and my daughter is showing Californians. Wish us luck