Friday, November 18, 2016


The last few years we noticed that butterflies had a tendency to hang around, specifically Monarchs. We decided to try our an experiment this year by purchasing 5 milkweed

 plants to see if we would get any caterpillars and if so how many we could feed with that many plants. It turns out we hatched out caterpillars most of the ye ear and we have the last dozen or so waiting to hatch out this weekend. I think the experiment was a success and we will definitely will pick up some more next year.

Friday, March 25, 2016

All sorts of lambs

January brought the birth of more lambs and a third round at the beginning of March. January babies are doing well. We lost one of the March babies after mother rejected her and we tried to do everything to keep her going, but she probably had a respiratory infection due to aspirating some mecunium. So it looks like we'll have 5 lambs for slaughter starting around May, which works out well because we'll be starting to shear then.

January lambs came out mostly black and love hanging out with the ram.

Baa, who did not make it through the week.

Extremely blurry picture of new mom with her two March lambs. She would not let Baa get near the other lamb.
We heard that there is a place close by that has dairy sheep, so we might see about adding that onto the homestead so that we can have milk year round, with any luck.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Lambing season?

We've chosen our sheep for their durability, wool, meat, and they're plan awesomeness. We have Navajo-Churros and a Shetland ram. We normally only have them lamb once a year and 2015 we thought was the earliest because they were mostly born in January, but it turns out we have an anomaly. We woke up yesterday morning to find two new lambs outside. This will be the first year that we've ever had two lambing seasons from the same ewe. And now for the viewing:

The lambs seem to be doing well, even with sporadic showers throughout the day. Happy 2nd day of Life!!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Having Children and Raising Children on a Farm

The old saying "It takes a village to raise a child" is very, very accurate. When Jed and I found ourselves thinking that we were prepared to have children (ha! What fools we were. Little did we know what we were getting into.) we thought that we would have to make some changes but as with farming, you never, ever know what you are getting yourself into. Things we did not take into consideration:

Pregnancy: All women react and respond differently to pregnancy. As my mother had six children and continued to work on things, I assumed that I would be able to keep up with my farm chores and that the only hinderance would be the fact that I would have a baby stuck on my torso. Well, that was not to be the case. I have a tendency to turn into a big baby (I pretty much just puke, sleep, and cry the whole time.) and was too exhausted to keep up with most chores. I wish, wish, wish I could have warned a couple of people about this as they were preparing to venture on their journey as well, but I find that we always think that it will be different with us, and as sometimes it is I felt it better to keep my mouth shut. So for any of you thinking about starting a family while working on your garden or your farm, just be sure you have a proper support group as you might find that you are unable to keep up. For the partner; your pregnant parter might turn insane and you'll be in charge of all the house chores and taking care of the farm. Make sure you have proper support for you too as you'll need help taking care of everything and yourself.

Farm/Garden after birth: Well, I can honestly say that no amount of books or experience with other people's babies will ever really prepare you for you venture into parenthood. I've watched other people cut back on farming/gardening because it's a lot to take care of. Plants are living creatures as well and have to be taken care of, but your small human will take up most of your time. If you do not have any help, remember that you might have to take time away for a bit and come back to it when your child is old enough to enjoy helping you. Taking care of a small human takes a lot out of you; physically, mentally, emotionally, this is where the village comes in. Make sure you have support. Forget the farm/garden if you must, take care of yourself and your child. Even in a two parent household it will suck the energy out of you. Don't be afraid to ask for help and to see if someone can help you so that you can take a shower, brush your teeth, possibly eat, and if you're lucky sleep.

Farming/Gardening with a toddler and beyond: It's awesome. There seems to be no other environment that is more natural for a child then in the garden. Exploration is at a max during this time period and the need and want to be outside exploring the tastes of the garden, the smells of the plants, the physical activity of digging, pulling plants, eating the fruit when you don't think your parents are looking, climbing trees, chasing the animals, collecting the eggs, etc. We, personally, had a rough go at it since Ivan had a speech delay, but he has flourished in the physical aspect since he's able to run around and be him. He loves the rewards of the fruit as they ripen and the feel of the tree as he climbs higher and higher with no sense of self preservation. Don't worry about the time you took away from the garden, but get back to it so that your child will learn to appreciate and love nature and the plant world. That and it gives them something to do to distract them and you as well. Enjoy the time in the garden and definitely enjoy the fruits of you combined labor (if you get any) although to to get at least one because the little guys seem to sneak out as soon as anything ripens and they eat it first.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

On the Value of Seed Diversity

I love talking to people about seeds because they are usually surprised of the varieties of different fruit and veg. Most of us are aware of many different types of tomatoes but when I ask people what type of garlic they like they tend to get confused and let me know that there is only one type in the store, unless it's a better class of store and they might have elephant garlic as an option as well. Well, there are many, many different types of plants/trees, some of those we have records for but they are now lost. In prior generations, families would hold on to certain seed types that worked well in an area. The seeds would be handed down from generation to generation only picking the best that would withstand the conditions that were present in that location. As we moved through the 20th century this practice was lost by most modern families and those unique seed verieties are now lost. In an attempt to preserve some of that past as well as the unique diversity of types grown in different regions, countries have gotten together to create seed vaults. The following TED talk is by a gentleman who works with the seed vault in Norway:

How to save seeds? Well, there are many, many books on saving seeds but if you are more of a kenetic learner it is always worth finding a gardener or farmer who saves their own seeds. Volunteering time in exchange for experience is always good as they get a hand and you get first hand knowledge of the preservation of seeds. Give it a try this next year and see if you can develop a seed type specific to your location or for your family. We've lost many different types of seeds/plants, now let's see if we can make a few more that can acclimate to our changing climate.

An Acquired Taste

Occasionally I'll send Ivan off to pre-school with home goodies like duck/goose breast prosciutto, home cheese, bread, and sauerkraut. The teacher told me later on that she thought that he was just going to throw it away, but when he scarffed down the saurkraut and the rest she was surprised. I was amused because that is what we eat at home and to assume that children only consume things that come in the kids menu at restaurants says a lot about the food choices they have at home and when they eat out. I also found it amusing because what we eat at home is "normal" for him and odd for others. The fact that he has constant exposure to foods from around the world and home cooked foods makes me happy. I was amused that Ivan had not eaten at a McDonald's until this summer when his grandmother took him. I think the part that amused me the most was the fact that he would only eat the fries because he found the other food too odd.
Normal food is relative. Headcheese made at home adds to the diversity of foods that we eat.
I decided to write about home food today because during my lunch I drank the rest of my adult coconut, finshing it off by taking the straw out and just pressing the coco to my lips and drinking like out of a cup. There was a gentleman in his vehicle in front of my car who was watching this in odd fascination. I was wondering how odd it was that he was just staring until I came in and realized that most of my coworkers don't drink from coconuts (in spanish we call them coco) except for some of my hispanic coworkers. I think they thought it was even weirder that I just threw the coconut down outside in the sidewalk to break it open so that I could the meat. Most had never had fresh adult coconut. I had to assure them that fresh baby coconut was better beyond compare but the fact that I had to talk to someone about coconuts. I seriously thought people ate coconuts, mangos, guayabas, hicama, and others on a fairly regular basis just like apples and bananas, but apparantly I was not anywhere close to the mark on that one.. In fact they don't eat fresh coconut (or any of the above mentioned fruit) at all.

Conversations with my coworkers always makes me aware of how different foods are in other countries/cultures compared to American culture. I grew up eating sun dried shrimp and fish along with fruit at pretty much every meal. I find that this has been brought into our home food and I'm very thankful that I have a husband that is very adventurous with food, (Even when I have to explain myself when I'm feeding him dried, salted worms.) my husband being very American and growing up thinking that TacoBell was Mexican food. It's nice that he'll gladly experiment and that we both enjoy food from all over the world. It's also interesting to meet with people who say they hate certain types of food only to have them eat an entire meal with gusto only to be told that what they just ate was the type of food they dislike. So I guess my advise would be, sometimes foods are disgusting, but try to bring in a little bit of the exotic into your home, especially if you have kids, so that they grow up thinking that fruits and veg are a normal thing. It might actually help them live longer and live healthier.

Monday, December 7, 2015

In Defense of Microclimates

Do you ever find areas around your home/apartment that are either hotter or colder than other areas? Have you noticed that the areas closer to your home/apartment hardly ever have frost or certain areas with have all the shade so that you can't grow any of your sun loving plants? Well, if that's the case... use them.

If you can't change your location then use what you have and grow what you can. Do a bit of research on what plants grow in the conditions that you think you cannot grow anything in and use it to your advantage. If you love working with fibers and would like to grow your own dye plants then see if you have a shady area that you can grow some plants in. If you live in an area with an HOA that doesn't allow food crops but that allows flowers add some black eyed susans, woad, indigo, etc.. that are not used for food, but that you can still use for dying fabric, yarn, thread, or trade with others for their food crops. If you have a spot that is colder than others but that gets some sun during the year see about adding some dwarf fruit trees that require a few more chill hours so that they won't get frost damage so that you get something delicious out of a spot that was troublesome before. As I said before, gardeners seem to be eternal optimists if you find a spot that does not work, or you don't think it will work get together with another gardener and I'm sure you'll think of tons of options that could work for you.
Example: When Jed and I lived in Morro Bay we lived in a tiny apartment that could probably fit in our present day living room. I had no place to plant but what I did have was a sidewalk that was facing west. I asked if I could incorporate planters onto our sidewalk and with the go ahead I was able to line the sidewalk with planters. In those planters we (the royal we, Jed is not really a plant sort of person) were able to grow potatoes, onions, herbs, a kefir lime, raspberries, as well as other cool weather crops that require long dark hours. Remember, no matter how hopeless it seems, even if it's a north facing window sill, if you want some fresh veg, you can always find ways of growing some. For those of you addicted to Pintrest, I'm sure there are tons of fabulous apartment ideas that can work for different living situations. Take a look around and try it out. The worst that can happen is that you won't end up with veg, the best is that you will enjoy fresh veg from your labors.