Monthly Archives: April 2007


Oh man, these pigs are a pain in the butt. Both cute and annoying. For instance, they are smart and can open the door to the chicken house, once inside they mess up the nesting boxes, eat the eggs, and spill the water containers. But then they’ll get really sleepy, wander over to a shady spot in their pen and take long, deep naps together. And they wag their tails when they get an especially toothsome treat like stale bread soaked in the dregs of vegetable oil from the deep-fat fryer. We had a party last night celebrating our friend Nick Wright, who was up for a visit to the Bay Area from his home in Mexico City. There were plenty of pig viewings, and his friend Dave took this awesome photo. Thanks Dave!

Rhubarb and Fava Season

I love spring. It still rains about once a week so I don’t have to water everyday. And the produce coming out of the garden is so young and tender. Here’s a tart I made with our first rhubarb crop. I used a silicon tart pan that Riana gave me, so the crust was lovely and crispy. Also, pulled off the first fava beans a few days ago with my friend Kate. They are such a wonderful, vibrant color. To cook the bigger, older ones, I blanch the shelled beans in boiling water for five minutes, then peel off the outer jacket. Inside is the brightest green bean you’ll ever see. We fried them in garlic with some salami, served over polenta.

Bee’s Eye View

My last bee -related post was muy triste–another lost colony! But I have good news. A few days ago I caught a swarm. I went over to my friend Jennifer’s house with the extractor to harvest some honey. She’s got a wonderful, gentle colony of bees in her backyard in Emeryville. Once I arrived we noticed the bees were making swarm noises and were really clustering outside the hive. “Oh no, they’re going to swarm again,” said Jennifer. Within half an hour, the sky around the hive filled with bees flying around in a circular pattern. Then all at once they clustered together and flew off in the direction of the neighbor’s lemon tree.
I put an empty hive box under the lemon tree, hoping to attract the swarm. Meanwhile, we decided to proceed with the extraction. We carefully uncapped the comb and spun out the honey from Jennifer’s hive. (Later she discovered had 10 other queen cells made by the bees–they really want to take over the world.) Once our work was done, I shook the swarm into the box, put a lid over it, stuffed the entryway with a t-shirt, took the bees on a short drive, and viola! We’re back in the bee business on the squat garden.
Later Bill noticed that a bee had fallen into one of the honey jars. We fished her out and after about 5 hours of cleaning and licking, she had herself de-honeyed and was preparing to fly off.
Off in the distance you can see the garden and the hive (to the left). Happy days again.

This Pig’s Life

Guess who got two pigs this weekend?
Took the station wagon with this cage (that’s Billy standing in the back) to a 4-H swine auction. There was a real auctioneer, and the kids trotted out the pigs from the back. We were given a number, and the bidding began. I liked these red pigs (called Durocs) because they were slightly smaller and, I don’t know, they seemed more like pets. Notice how the lady in the photo on the left is cradling the dang thing like a toddler!
After about an hour and a half, we had ourselves two show quality piggies! A girl and a boy. The first thing Bill said when we loaded them up and got in the car was: “Stinks!” They sure did. Once we got them home and put them in the pen, I put out a bunch of cedar chips and they didn’t stink anymore. So far the female is the nicer of the two. She lets me brush her and likes her rump scratched. They love dumpstered bread. Most of the time they sleep in the sun, like a bunch of lazy pigs.

Snails…I mean, escargot

Finally got around to eating the snails. I keep them in a bucket, capped with a colander, starving, for four days. Then my friend Severine came over and we boiled some water. My sister’s French in-laws said parboiling, so parboil we did. After that, we shelled them and let them soak in salty water for about an hour. Then sauteed garlic and olive oil, threw them in and snails turned into escargot. I didn’t bother to put them back in their shells or on the escargot plates–we ate them from the pan. They were chewy, but the garlic sauce was delicious.

Simon and Celeste sitting in a tree…

Not to post bunny porn, but here’s Simon and Celeste making babies (cross your fingers). What was interesting about this was when we put Celeste in the cage, she started making theses little grunting piggy noises. Simon was very happy to see her, he sniffed her and hopped around before mounting. A radio reporter from KALX was in attendance, recording the sounds of an urban farm, so we were glad Celeste could add another dimension. Look for adorable baby bunny photos in 30 days…