Monthly Archives: January 2008

Bebe’s goat palace

My friend Margaret has been coming over to show me how to build things. She’s an apprentice carpenter and knows how to use a leveler and a circular saw.
Which is mighty useful when I need to build me a tidy, draft-free, rain-proof goat palace. We’ve spent the last few days putting the thing together, and it’s finally starting to look like a proper place for an expectant mommy goat. There are three walls, a beamed roof, and, well, that’s about it. I had no idea how time consuming it is to build something properly. Tomorrow I’m getting the plywood and more beams from Re-Use, this groovy recycled building supply place in East Oakland. I’ll take photos when we’re done but know that this is function over form–it ain’t going to be pretty, but sure will be cozy.

Goats! Farm Saved! Turkey sex!

There’s so much turbulence out there right now. Things are changing so fast, it’s spring about to hit, I guess. Even though I’m trying to finish my manuscript, I have to share this good news:
Today I went to this salvage yard to get materials for the goat shed–yes, I put a deposit down on a sweet little dwarf Nigerian goat named Bebe, I’m picking her up next Sunday! Work party this Saturday to build her a shed and kidding area (yes, she’s pregnant). After we unloaded the building supplies, this tiny woman came by and asked about the garden. I said, oh, you should talk to me. She said, I just bought the lot! I gave her a little tour, and told her I’ve always thought that the lot would one day not be mine anymore. For the past five years we’ve been squatting on the garden, always fearful that they’ll bulldoze the garden and build condos right next to our house.
And she said–her name is Shirley–oh no, I’m not going to build for a long time. Can we just have an agreement that you take care of it and I’ll let you know when it’s time for me to build? She wants me to officially take care of her lot! Before she left, I asked her if I could plant anything for her–she said she loves roses and tiger lilies, and she gave me a delighted little grin that is the cutest thing ever. Thank god the former owner, with his fabulous dreams of 10-unit condos, is no longer in my life!
In other news–Archie and Edith have been, um, humping. It’s very interesting how turkeys do it. I’ll take photos next chance I get.

Farm report

Sorry for my absence as of late. Here’s the quick farm report:
The turkeys are very big and happy. I can’t wait til they start breeding. I’ve made a special big nest for Edith when she’s ready to lay eggs.
The little chickens just started laying! One, a Maran, lays eggs with dark chocolate colored shells. I read that E.B. White used to put the first egg of spring on his mantle–he was obsessed with eggs. I might just do the same. Our housemate Noesuke is going to build them some special nesting boxes. Watch for photos soon.
The rabbits are very happy and getting plump. Riana sent me a pair of shears from France–heirloom tools from my niece’s great grandmother!
The cover crops are coming in–peas, fava beans. There’s a ton of lettuce that will be ready soon. We’re eating peas and greens everyday. I need some wood chips, bad, to mulch the pathways of the garden. Glad it’s tree trimming season.
The bees are cold! I hope they’re okay, but I’ve noticed they go out during the day and collect white pollen.
The biggest news: we might be getting a dwarf milker soon. Marg and I are going to build them a shelter–we’ve been doing research on three-sided goat sheds. We’ll use the metal shed to milk her. I’ll keep you posted.
Oh, and here’s an article I wrote for

Edible SF–article on-line NOW

No time to blog. But here’s some shameless self-promotion (as if that’s not what a blog is anyway…)
Read my story in Edible San Francisco magazine about a weekly biodynamic farm ritual.

Blustery day

You know it’s a serious storm when the turkeys go inside the chicken house. They usually hang out in the rain, but this morning I found Archie and Edith huddled up with the 7 hens. The wind is literally howling. Luckily, I have a book to write.
And olives to pack up! They’ve been hanging in bags with salt for almost a month, and now they’re ready.

My process is to take them out of the bags and put them in a colander. Then I rinse them with water, and pat dry with a towel.

In quart jars, I pack as many olives as I can (pressing, pressing) and pour olive oil over the olives until they’re covered. This year’s batch is delicious, especially these little nicoises. I’m also brine curing a batch, but they’re not done yet.
Happy storm day, stay in the house if you can!

Helping hands

Happy New Year!
You know, 2007 wasn’t too bad. It was probably the best year on the farm, in terms of animals. We raised and butchered two pigs. We bred, raised, and harvested about 10 rabbits. We put a few roosters in the freezer, and raised some great Bourbon Red heritage turkeys. I subsisted entirely off the farm for the month of July! I also met some amazing people who were very encouraging about the farm and the farm animals: Amy S and Chris C, Max and Nina, Sasha, Julio, Chris L and Samin, Christine, Laura K, Jim M, and Marg. In terms of bloggers, thank you Riana for inspiring me to set up my own blog. And yay to bloggers like Nat, Rebecca, Duane, Derek, and Gordy. Thanks to all of you and let’s inspire each other to do even more in ’08.
The photo is of Ruby Kessler Seiwerath pulling popcorn off the cob. Thank god for child labor….