Friday, October 28, 2011

Farmers Market and workshop

Come visit us at the Southeast Farmers Market tonight at its new location!  Market St., JUST WEST of Euclid on the south side of the street.  Can't miss us!  We will be hosting a winter seed planting workshop from 3:30-5:30, you get to go home with your very own seeds, ready to grow!  We'd love to see you there.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Coastal Clean-up!

There's nothing like getting up early, breathing in the fresh morning air, and sitting in a lawn chair in front of a huge dumpster. That's what we here at Radio Acres like to do to keep our canyons (and thus, our oceans) clean. Kim and Groundworks SD are hosting sites in Shelltown and at the Earth Lab where the neighborhood can drop off any trash they have.
We at Radio know nothing of miscellaneous yard waste, building supplies, old appliances, and junk that builds up in the small hiding places around the farm. (*that is a lie.) No, we are NOT hoarders. I promise. Free garbage dumping is a pretty awesome thing, especially when it can free up extra space around the farm, and keep it out of the canyons (where we often have to maneuver around mattress, seats out of old cars, furniture,  and God only knows what else wrapped in garbage bags and smelling like death.)
So, if you live in the area and have some trash to unload, come and hang out with us!
Dump spots are at:
Boston and 40th
38th and Z St.
Alpha St and 38th
Alpha St. And 41st
and at the Earth Lab

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Reflections

In honor of Labor Day, Jeremy and I slaughtered the last two of our meat birds. We may have some roosters that we hatched ourselves lurking in our flock, ready to crow at dawn on some unsuspecting Saturday, but for now, the meat bird raising project is officially done.

With my hand deep in the warm innards of a newly-dead rooster, and on this holiday that celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers, I thought for a moment about the men and women working in the often unbearable conditions of our meat factories. Think Tyson, Jimmy Dean, a big packet of ground beef that you bought for tacos. When you kill your own chicken, you understand the sad, smelly, and complicated work harvesting meat is. Imagining doing that 8-hours a day (or more), in deplorable working conditions, and with little compensation make me realize how cheaply we get the meat that we eat (in America, daily or every other day).

It is often immigrant or refugee communities that take these types of jobs. When I was working with Sudanese refugees, many were moving to the midwest, towns that had big meat-packing factories, because there was steady and available work.

Thankfully, we are caring more about the way that our meat is raised... free-range, grass-fed, hormone and pesticide free. This no doubt affects the working conditions of the people that harvest and package our meat as well. But let us continue to care about and figure out ways to advocate even more fiercely for the humane working conditions of our meat as well. And collectively, let's say a prayer of thanks and protection for the workers that are doing the hard job of providing us all with the meat we love to eat.

If you'd like a more hands-on experience of how hard it is, I can call you when the next rooster crows...

More information on the meat packing industry.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A rat just ate our tomato!

So BJ and I just got back from a night expedition of setting rat traps around the property. We have probably collectively caught about 28 rats over the course of last 3 months.  They have eaten a good  30% of our tomatoes, devoured our new pakistani mulberry tree down to stubs, crapped on our shelves, munched our compost, stolen our peanut butter traps and generally have given us the middle finger every chance they possibly can.  Now if you are a Jainist, or a hardcore Vegan I aopologize for what I am about to say.  If I could press a magic button and electrocute the bastards off our property I would.  And mind you I consider myself a pretty compassionate guy. I save spiders and carefully remove them from bathtubs to the safety of the outdoors. I used to live catch mice at our old house and take them to a local canyon to be released.  (Come to think of it maybe I was releasing them in Radion Canyon).  I was a vegetarian on moral grounds for almost 13 years.  I idolize Gandhi and have heard the Dalai Lama speak in Central Park.  My compassion credentials run deep.  However I also am a firm believer in situational ethics and I pride my self on being an occasional hypocrite. So yes I don't get along with rats. Well except my pet rat Merlin in 6th grade but he could do tricks and didn't eat my tomatoes. 

I must admit my hatred for rats goes back to the late 90's in Indonesia when a rat we tried to posion in our thatched hut ate through a hand carved bamboo drum I had bought just a week before.  I still have it in our room.

The eradication of rats on Radio Acres is a now a nightly past time.  So instead of stressing anymore about our nocturnal nemesis I decided to  let my feeling out like my Psychologist tells me to do. She says I have musophobia or murophobia but I don't believe her.  I have shared dark dreams with her about rats spontaneously combusing on our property. I hope I can make it through this.

What about your cats you ask. Well Tilly the white cat had a tramatic childhood and she is better at catching leaves, and Sylvia is eating to much cat food and prefers to catch baby birds and baby gophers.  We do have a new cat  (Spooky) that might be a better strategic hunter when we let him outside.  We will have to wait on that one. So for now we will have to set traps.  If you have a better idea for the time being let us know. 

As Tom Waits said " You can drive out nature with a pitchfork but it always comes roaring back again...."

Discalimer:  We never use poison because of bioaccumulation (posion moving up through the food chain). We also have owls and hawks fly through the property regularally which is why we choose traps.

****We only use Certified organic peanut butter to snap their necks and the wood for the traps is sustainably harvested, FSC Certified and made in America by union workers.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Farm haps for the week

Hmmmm. It's been an insanely busy week around the farm,what with everyone winding up their summers with vacations and work travel. We've all hardly seen each other, but that will come to an end soon. The manic busy-ness can take over sometimes. Colin is back in town and back in our lives, at least for the time being. We just got finished with a marathon camping trip over the last week, so we are adjusting to a life full of hot showers and really coffee again. We've finally just about "processed" all of our roosters. I really hate that word, but can't think of one better. It was really fantastic yesterday morning when some started crowing right before 5:00 am. They were loud for about 10 minutes and then tapered off. I was restless and couldn't go back to sleep (remnant from teaching that 5:30 spin class for so long!). I looked at the clock at 5:30 and was contemplating rolling out of bed and working out. No sooner had I decided to pull the blanket back around me and attempt sleep when I heard a rustling in the kitchen and the sure drip of a fresh pot of coffee. I hopped out of bed to find a very wide-awake BJ.

"what are you doing, so wide awake this early?" I asked. I was grateful for the early morning company.
"well, I figure no better time than now to get a couple of roosters processed before getting going for the day" he says. Ha! I jumped on that boat and plucked some feathers as the morning light was breaking. I feel sadistic admitting that it was such a pleasant and meditative way to start the morning. I almost felt like a real farmer!

Moral of the story? I guess if you can't sleep, c'mon over and be productive for us! We've still got a half a dozen left.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cute kitties.

About two weeks ago we were volunteering to do a neighborhood work day.  One of the guys from our neighborhood sets this awesome event up once a year.  He scours the neighborhood and asks for references, hoping to find a few people who REALLY need some help with some general house maintenance.  The house we happened to be working on this year was an elderly woman, along with her daughter and young grand children.  Men were visibly absent from the mix and it looked like they had lived in that same house for a LONG time.  The yard was full of trash and decomposing furniture.  Things like empty glass jars and children's toys looked like they'd been stored outside, uncovered since the '80s.  It was a real train wreck.  I didn't take any pictures, and for the sake of the family I wouldn't post them if I did.  There are a couple of sweet things that we took away from this house, though -

Two of the very cutest kitties ever!  They are finally about 6 weeks old and they could use a good home.  We are down with keeping ONE of them (maybe), but if you or anyone you know would love a very sweet baby kitty, please let us know!  The boy is all black and the girl is the gray tabby.  They were hiding behind a piece of old furniture outside the house, and we are very glad that we were there to take them and try to find them a good home.  Help us stop this vicious street-cat cycle and adopt your very own today...

What's on YOUR plate?

Hey, folks!  Just wanted to let you in on a little something that's going down at the farm this weekend...

We are SO excited to be doing this for Project New Village.  PLEASE make sure that you RSVP, either by giving a holler here in the comments section OR by logging on their website here at  Hope to see your faces!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Chicken Workshop and Victory Gardens!

Victory Gardens is offering an awesome workshop series at the Southeast Farmers Market, in case you haven't heard or didn't read my earlier blog post on it.  You really should consider checking out some of them!  Last week, there was a great one on growing berries here in San Diego.  It was extremely informative!  It's also a great way to network and connect with other people that are doing the same thing.  It's never bad to have people you can call when you have questions on this stuff!  We did one a few weeks ago on "How to Backyard Chicken".  Here are some pictures!  It was loads of fun, and Sarah has the .pdf that we handed out - she will post it as a link soon.

A balancing act

Hi, guys!  It's been a while since I've written anything here.  I feel like I say that a lot.  It just seems like I can never stay on top of life quite as much as I'd like to.  I do have the excuse of starting a new job just a few weeks ago, so it's been this crazy dance again of trying to find equilibrium.  I am super excited about this job, though!  It's in my community, and it's for a cause that I really care about.  I'll fill you guys in on a different post, as stuff grows there!
It's recently struck me that this dilemma of equilibrium must be the strife of every "urban farm project".  In each of these situations, the folks that are trying to be urban farmers also have jobs in the real world, since we live in such settings that it is impossible to actually make any money off of farming this small square of land that is worth an exorbitant amount of money.  It's really just a gesture of pure insanity that we decide we want to take on more chores and more work in order to gain this extra closeness to our food.  Maybe it's a little bit of madness in wanting to be self-sufficient, and a little bit of paranoia that we've got to be prepared when "stuff goes down!"  Any way you cut it, I guess, it's all just a crazy, maybe a little bit out-of-control hobby.  We are hoarders, of sorts, addicted to animals and heirloom veggie seeds.  Ask any one of us.  Ask us if we can pass through a nursery without buying something.  Ask us if we ever "browse" craigslist, seeing what kind of awesome deals they have on chickens or hatching eggs.  Find a single one of us who actually comes out on top, financially, by "growing" our own meat and eggs.  Not with organic feed and fertilizer in the city, anyhow.  But it's an addiction, an obsession and a hobby.  It's the love of our lives, and dammit, it's just plain fun.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Spring/Summer Garden Review

I've been wanting to do a review of our spring/summer garden, to keep a record, and also to note what has worked well in our garden beds and what hasn't worked so well.
We're still figuring out our light patterns and temperatures, not to mention the weather has been pretty cold this spring/summer (and real hot lately!).

These are some of our first true attempts at gardening in the beds we built last year.

Here are my grades for our gardens.
Lettuce and swiss chard: A, possibly A+
We got tons of different lettuce, growing throughout the spring and providing us with many salads. Our lettuce has bolted by now, and we're just saving some for the seed. The chard grew just as well, and is still going for us.

Basil: D
I've been unhappy with our basil plants! Small leaves, straight to flower. No good.

Kale: A+
Tons of hearty kale. What do you do with so
much kale? Make kale chips, put in green smoothies, make some of those gross
sounding kale cookie recipes? [gag]. I've been
thinking about
harvesting most of it, pureeing it, and freezing it in ice trays so you
can easily put them in green smoothies (which are pretty good, despite what my husband says.)

Squash: A
We got a great summer squash: the patty pan squash. That fruited early and gave us tasty little squash. A volunteer sprouted up in one of our unplanted bed, and we're still not sure what it is. And another volunteer heirloom pumpkin set up shop near our compost bins and is going strong. We'll be set come halloween.

Corn: D
Our corn has sucked this year. The stalks didn't grow very well. Something(s) ate some of our ears. We need a better spot for them.
Tomatoes: B
We're growing four kinds of tomatoes (maybe more?). Emerald evergreen, violet jasper (fav name), brandywines, speckled romans, and your typical red cherries.
We're just getting ripe tomatoes... yay! I was unsure if our tomatoes were going to turn out this season...
but we fertilized them and they're plumping up.

We're also growing peppers, cucumbers, strawberries, and more.

Here's some pics of our harvest so far...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Crazy posts.

To those of you subscribed by email to our blog... sorry if you got an email with posts from long, long ago. I have done some switching with my blogger profile, and it due to an annoying feature in blogger, I had to re-post old posts to get them assigned to me again.

If you're not subscribed by email... disregard. Although, if you want to subscribe... it's right over there to the right. And hopefully there will be no more retro posts.

Choose your own adventure

I woke up this morning at 6:00 to the awful sound of panicked chickens. I looked out our bedroom window and to my horror saw a coyote in the chicken run with a white Cornish rooster dangling from the coyotes mouth. The worse part was the damn coyote smiled at me with the dangling chicken in his mouth. It was just like the chicken scenes in Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Once I gathered my senses I darted outside in my underwear like a mad man screaming bloody murder and ran right for the coyote. He escaped just like in the movies. I am measurably slower without coffee. So here is the bizarre part.... Our chickens are always locked up secure and happy, but this morning the latched outside door was opened and the flock was meandering freely around our gardens.

So here is the part you need to vote on. 1. Did a coyote figure out how to open the secured latch on our chicken door and break in? 2. Did somebody break into our coop in the middle of the night and casually leave the door open in their pursuit of farm fresh organic eggs?
3. Did the wind mysteriously blow the latch to the door open for the first time in year attracting our sinister menace? Note: It was closed the night before. 4. Did aliens looking for intelligent life forms bypass our house in the middle of the night and head straight for the chicken coop to perform their experiments? There were no identifiable crop circles in the morning. So go ahead and cast your vote, or come up with your own scenarios. Help us solve this annoying mystery. The hens are depending on you!

Bathroom, too.

So, Sarah posted a little while ago about her favorite part of the bathroom - the clawfoot tub.  While I do think this was an awesome find, I think that the thing I was most excited about was the awesome toilet we found!  Throughout the process, from the point of conception of the idea, the thing that I really wanted to make was a stand-alone functional structure that didn't have to be tied into any utilities.  We didn't succeed fully because we did decide to tie it into the electrical rather than put solar panels on it, but only with the though that we would hopefully someday soon have our entire house running off of solar.  We also did tie it into the water line, BUT the coolest thing is that the only thing we have running out of it is gray water that we hope to use to water our fruit trees.  We were able to secure an awesome Envirolet all-in-one composting toilet so that we could avoid the sewer line and any problem of potential black water.  On one of my previous posts, I had voiced the dilemma we were having with the toilets - we had secured a very fancy composting toilet that wouldn't really work with what we had because it needed to sit way above the composter like this:
Through a series of fortunate circumstances, we were able to sell our Sun-Mar toilet that we bought for $600 for $1200 on Ebay!  Of course, we hadn't taken into account all of the shipping and other fees we'd have to pay (another story), but we still ended up making a couple of hundred dollars profit off of the sale.  Now our problem was that these Envirolet toilets retail for almost $1500.  We definitely didn't have it in our budget to drop an extra $800 on a toilet, so we kept our eyes opened on Craigslist.  Low and behold, a posting appeared, asking $400.  Of course, it was for sale in Watsonville, which is quite a way from San Diego.
Thankfully, Sarah has family in the Central Coast, they lined up a visit and picked it up on the way home!  It worked out great, and we weren't upside down on our budget.  It looks amazing in it's little corner niche.
And here's the king's view from the throne:

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Victory Workshop!

Just an FYI to anyone interested, RADIO ACRES FARM will officially be collaborating with Victory Gardens San Diego  to offer a mini-workshop on how-to backyard chicken =)  It will be at 5:00, this friday at the farmers market.  The People's Produce Project Farmers Market runs from 2:00 to 7:00 pm every friday on Euclid, just north of Market.  Follow the signage...

Cob Stompin

We took the short drive to Euclid Ave to participate in our Friday ritual of fresh local food and community. I was prepared to meet up with some great people and buy some local produce, but we stumbled upon an unusual scene. There was a group of Second Chance youth collecting rocks and asphalt on the outskirts of the parking lot. Second Chance is a program that works with incarcerated youth and teaches them valuable job and life skills to transition them into the "real world". There was a large tarp with rocks, clay, sand and hay set up and a crowd gathered around Chad Bliss the youth farm coordinator for Second Chance. Chad asked the group of onlookers why farming and earthen building skills are important? Answering his own question Chad eloquently rambled on about how people are totally dependent on others, sometimes working 2 jobs just to survive, eat and have a roof over our heads. People who can grow their own food and learn earthen building can create a sustainable future and be less dependent on a "thing" based economic system that values "things" more than people. Chad took off his shoes and started mixing materials found in our back yards like clay, sand and water. Cob squished through his toes and the smiles of the crowd were contagious.

He started stompin and mixing the materials and rolled them back and forth using a blue tarp like a spring roll wrapper to roll the materials back and forth. His wet muddy feet were to much for my daughters and with a little prodding we too were cob stompin. Another local kid had already joined in the fun and we were dancing the Cob Stomp. Around and around we went with reckless abandon. Our dancing feet were creating a natural building material and maybe some community art.

Cob has been used all over the world as a building material and is known for moderating the internal air temperatures of homes. Cob is constructed using rocks as a base to keep the cob away from moisture, and is blended with hay which provides a sort of natural rebar to strenthen the structure. Cob is sealed with bees wax, wheat paste, or limestone paste to keep moisture out. It is easy to work with, hard as a rock and virtually free. You don't need multiple trips to Home Depot and your kids can help create and design the structures. The only problem is the permitting at this point but hopefully this to will change like gray water policy in San Diego.

So go ahead get some neighbors together and throw a Cob Stompin party. Take your shoes off and let go. You just might even create your own pizza oven, bench , wall or maybe even a house. Consider it a neighborhood art project, pedicure or a free mud bath.

This Peoples Produce Farmers Market workshop is a series put on by Victoy Gardens that will happen every other week and teach our community valuable skills of self sustainability. This is a great opportunity to meet your neighbors and support your local economy. Check them out at  

For your information: Just a couple million years ago there were whales swimming down Euclid and Market right smack dab on top of the People's Produce Farmers Market and the graffiti walls of Writers Block. The only predictable part of life is change. Enjoy it!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Way too many chickens

Did we mention in a previous blog that we got about 30 meat chicks from Murray McMurray Hatchery? (and yes, that really is their name).  Well that was about 3 months ago and know those cute chicks are big and in my opinion, eating us out of house and home.  Literally, they eat non-stop.  I guess that's what happens when you get meat birds, they are bred to pack on the pounds. 

We also hatched out eggs from our late rooster, Doodle-do, about 10 or so.  And if that wasn't enough, just last week we bought 14 fertilized Maran eggs to put under another hen. So in about 2 more weeks we will have 14 more.  Which means by the end of July we will have approx. 60+ chickens, of which about half are roosters and just learning to crow. 

To complicate matters, I just saw a moving truck at our neighbors. Uh-oh....Maybe we should bring them a chicken dinner....

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Our Bathroom...the stuff of dreams.

We have built a bathroom!
You may remember that we built another bedroom a shed/office on our property. We impressed even ourselves with how great it turned out. You can read more about it here.

Now there are two fantastic structures on our property! We have built the most awesome outdoor bathroom, right next to the studio. They sit side-by-side, two miniature architectural wonders (at least for us, who are all surprised that these things became reality... better than we ever imagined.)
Many thanks to Ron, Jeremy's uncle, and all of his skillz. He really made this bathroom, while at least I sat back and watched (I think I was actually out of town.)

There are many amazing features of the bathroom, of which I will let the other farm members blog about. I will simply comment on my favorite. The clawfoot bathtub.

There are a few things that I routinely search for on Craigslist. (Are you surprised?) One is a clawfoot bathtub. I have dreamed of having a clawfoot ever since I visited this amazing hostel in the wilds of South Africa, and partook of an aromatherapy soak. This was a clawfoot tub brimming with water heated by a woodburning stove, essential oils and flowers. I soaked in one of these, under the African stars, in the middle of the savannah, and it was magic. Obviously, I've wanted one myself since then.

The problem has been their exorbitant price, and thus my searches on craigslist. One fine day, I saw an ad for... be still my beating heart... a FREE clawfoot bathtub. It must be too good to be true. I thought to myself. Maybe rotting out or completely rusty. I emailed her, and this was her response:

"Yes! If you want it, I will give it to you at no cost. We just want to get rid of it. You must come right away, however. I will give it to whoever comes first! It is a nice old tub. Was in a house I lived in during college. House burned down and I got tub for free. Have held onto it for 30 years hoping to put it into our new house. My husband said NO!"

It was still a risk, but we sent the guys into Alpine (where she lived) to pick it up. I always get a little nervous when picking up Craigslist items, because you just never know if it will be a waste of time. Finally, the guys reported that they got it, and I could tell by my husband's voice that it had not been a waste of time. Hooray!

Overjoyed, we welcomed my dream tub to the farm! It was rusty and needed work, but it was solid, and had the most amazing lion feet. So we stored it outside by the studio, where it sat... for months... waiting for some attention.

Finally, as the bathroom was getting built, Kim and I decided to tackle the restoration. I called around and asked about getting it professionally restored (there's a cool place in San Diego that will come to your house and restore it for about $300) but in the end we decided we could do it for much cheaper.

We brought it into the backyard, flipped it over, and began washing it out with Barkeepers's Friend and some steel brushes.

We found this on the bottom, but Kim searched the Internet and couldn't find anything about A & O Manufacturing Company in Louisville, Kentucky. If you know anything, fill us in. And check out the date: Nov 12 -- 95...that sure ain't 1995.

These are the claw feet. Aren't they lion-y and Narnian? I love them.
There was much debate about whether we should paint the tub, and what color. In the end, we all liked the rust and decided to leave it in it's natural state. After the good scrub out, we screwed on the feet and placed it in the bathroom. That was the extent of our renovations.

The trickiest part was getting the shower kit for the clawfoot. Not an easy or inexpensive piece to find, and even though we got one, it seems to be made for Victorian hobbits, so my tall husband has to duck about two feet to wash his hair.

But nevermind that. We got this incredible, original clawfoot bathtub for FREE and it looks absolutely fabulous in our bathroom.

The bathroom being as it is (part greenhouse, part bathroom) I think the aromatherapy soak under the stars could be a reality.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Meditations, part 1

Keep on keeping on.

May has gotten off to a rough start here at the farm.  I suppose it happens everywhere sometimes, but I tend to be the eternal optimist.  It's tough to find ways to push me down, but every once in a while the odds just seem too far stacked for me to balance, for me to see the glass as half-full.  It's during these times that I need to just hit the hypothetical reset button, to figure out a way to put everything behind me and look to the future.  I've always taken solace in the thought the God provides us a new day, a new sunrise every morning so that we have a fresh start.  Sometimes it's the only way to move ahead and put one foot in front of the other.  Human nature necessitates survival, and sometimes it's times of crisis that birth the best ideas.  This month has made me think a little about what it means to be doing what we're doing.  How did we end up here, and why?

Well, first off (and I guess I am truly only speaking for myself!), we loved the idea.  We loved the ideas of 1) being in community and 2) farming the land.  We loved the ideas of 3) living a simpler life and 4) building sustainability off of what we have.  We loved the thought of sharing the burdens of life and of home.  I guess I've been thinking a lot about this over the last week or two.  It all sounds good on paper, no?  But what does it mean in practice, this hypothetical "sharing the burden?"  I think it's easy to get wrapped up in what it means to "split" everything equally, to make sure that you (and everyone around you) picks up their own part and that no one is unfairly getting left with too much of the work.  It's easy to think of yourself as the one who is picking up most of the slack.  Unfortunately, I think every single one of us feels like this sometimes.  It's easy to either feel guilty because you know that you didn't do your part or to feel shafted because you feel like you are the only one picking up the heavier load.  When you are in a marriage, you dialogue with your spouse and you naturally fall into your roles as a family.  My husband never got mad that I didn't take out the trash a single time that we were married and living together over the past 10 years.  He would pick my clothes up off of the floor without (too much) complaining, and I would always do his dishes.  It's interesting to me to see the way that we are all trying to figure out this pecking order of sorts.  Factually, we don't have as much house work here as we did when we were living on our own.  We split the chores and the deep cleaning of the house.  We did also decide to take on a lot more projects and we have a lot more land, so we've created more work with everything else that we have going on here.  These projects are hobbies, things that we love and that we want to be doing, so in theory they shouldn't feel like too much of a chore, either.  Realistically, I love spending time outside with the hens.  Jeremy loves being out gardening and planting and watering.  Sarah and BJ love the dogs and canyon walks.  I think these are all somewhat interchangeable, too.  Why is it human nature, then, to try to always make sure everything is "fair?"  I hear the echo of my girls arguing in the background and tattling to me that it just isn't fair.  They want everything to be equal, even though maybe if they really thought about it, it wouldn't matter anyhow.  Each of them really enjoys certain things and maybe they should just focus on enjoying all of the things that they have and the blessings they've received in life rather than being wrapped up in this battle of "fairness".  I think I started thinking about this a while ago, when we were first moving in together.  I remember having a little epiphany about it and realizing that I think it's this attitude that could ultimately crush a fantastic relationship.  It would crush a marriage, it could crush families.  I've seen extended families crumble in the battle of "fairness" when someone passes away.  Why do we, as humans, have a hard time getting over ourselves?  I think it's a good exercise in life to be able to meditate on this and take a breath, and be joyful that we have the ability to take care of each other and to help each other.  We should be more filled with joy when we have the chance to pick up someone else's slack, and we should take peace in the meditations of our day to day life.  I am grateful that I have these chickens to feed and that I have water coming out of my tap to give them.  I am grateful for the sun on my shoulders as I water the garden beds, and for the new seedlings that are wriggling their way through the soil.  I am eternally grateful that I have a bathroom to clean, and a fridge to stock and food to cook.  I thank God every day for giving me the time and the ability to do these things.  I pray that I will be better at it and remember how to be eternally grateful.  My time could not be better spent than by taking care of those around me and the people I love.  I hope that I continue to grow and that God reminds me of this as I am asked to continually give in life.  What an honor and a joy it is to be able to give to and serve those around me, and to work on the land that He is gracious enough to let me live upon.

Well, I started off this post with the plans of writing something totally different and this is the tangent I ended up on.  I guess it does hit some of the notes that I started off wanting to write about.  It's funny because contrary to what some of you might think, it's actually all going good here with us.  This hasn't been a battle or a fight, just a personal meditation.  I sometimes see elements of it in all of us, but I think we have a pretty good balance here.  It's something to continually grow with, I think.  There are so many more meditations that this blog post has sparked in me, and I will write on each of them this month.  It will be a good meditation for me, since I've been all internal and broody lately.  Maybe it will be a good way to get May to turn around and end with a glass half full.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Southeast San Diego Farmers Market

We took the kiddos to the local farmers market this past friday.  I hate to admit that it was the FIRST time I'd been there!  Jeremy took the kids once before, and he said that unfortunately this go-around was even smaller than the last time.  We did go toward the end of the time-frame (2-7 officially,we showed up at 6:30) but there were only a handful of vendors and the few that were there were starting to pack up.  We met a lovely woman from Somalia who had some awesome fusion-African food that incorporated tastes from a few different regions.  She and her daughter recently started this food business and they were incredibly kind-hearted folks with some delicious sambussas and alicha.

Jeremy had apparently done some research and told me that this is not the first market they have attempted in the Southeast region of San Diego.  Unfortunately none of the past markets has succeeded.  It's not hard to see this one teetering on the verge of oblivion, but I hope that we can rally our neighbors enough to show some support and stoke the embers.  A thriving outdoor market in this part of the city could be such a blessing to a blighted community.  It would be a fantastic way for neighbors to meet each other and build community, as well as supporting local businesses and farmers.  It could change the health of the community and people, from the inside out.  It's no secret that lower income parts of town also tend to struggle the most with health issues and healthy eating habits, so it would be the perfect way to reach out to this demographic and educate people.

Some other really exciting potential is that many people in this area have a good amount of land.  We were fortunate enough to meet the market manager, Diane, and she was mentioning that they are trying to educate the people in the community in growing their own food and bringing it into the market to sell.  With something like this, it could bring money directly back into our immediate community and help people from so many different directions.  It feels like a regression back to the old world, where people would (and still do, in some parts of the world) walk their goods to the market to barter and sell within their immediate community.  It's something we've been lacking in our society since our grandparents era, maybe we've never even had it.  Something of romanticism that reminds us of foreign countries or a scene out of a movie.

This Friday we will again be picking up some delicious African food from this market.  It would be awesome to see some of you there, picking up some produce or sharing dinner with us.  I promise that it won't have all of the fancy booths that the Hillcrest market has, but you will know that you are doing something good to contribute to a community that could really use your support.  Who knows, you may even catch a glimpse of that spark and know that over time the flames will grow because of you.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Some of you may not know this, but we've been a one-bathroom community since we moved in this past November.  Four adults (at times, 5) and two kids all sharing a tiny 5' x 7.5' bathroom.  That's a lot of poop, not to mention the towels and toiletries.  Although everyone has been a fantastic sport about someone inevitably in the shower when you REALLY need to pee, or small kids walking in while some adult is trying to shower, we really would love a second bathroom somehow.  We don't have a heck of a lot of money, but we are good with random ideas and recycling old materials.  BJ came upon this picture of a greenhouse bathroom that has been an inspiration to us:

Recently, a friend of Jeremy's parents was replacing all of their old windows and french doors, so we nabbed them specifically for a project like this.  We also came upon an old claw foot tub that someone was giving away on craigslist and it happens to be in decent shape.  The last thing we really need is a composting toilet so we don't have to plumb it in to the main sewer system.  About a year ago on craigslist, I came across a really good deal for one and thought we might use it for something like this, so we picked it up.  This is what it looks like:

You can find info on in at the sun-mar website here.  Unfortunately, the toilet really has to be on a raised area so that you can put the composter somewhere below it, like in a regular house with a crawl  space or  somewhere with a raised subfloor.  If you know anyone that might be interested in this awesome toilet, let us know!  It is still in the box and everything, just really doesn't work for our purposes.  We really need to get something more like this:

This unit is all rolled into one so it works on something simple, like a slab of concrete.  So the exciting news of the day is that we finally broke ground and got a slab poured!  Hopefully in the next month we will be proud owners of a second (modified) bathroom.  It will provide some relief (haha) for the needy and just give us all a little bit more much-needed space.  

Nick pouring our slab!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Who knew that Encanto is a rich bank of Pliocene fossils?  Yep, according to the San Diego Natural History Museum, San Diego has many layers of deposits from different epochs, ranging from the Pleistocene Linda Vista and Bay Point Deposits (you can get information here) to the  Santiago Peak Volcanics which, according to the SDSU Geology website linked above, contain fossils from the late Jurassic period!  By and large, most of the fossils that are in abundance are from the late Pliocene era through the Pleistocene age.  Here is a map of the San Diego Formation, alĂ  the SDSU website:

For those with limited knowledge, (ahem, mostly everyone, unless you happen to stumble across fossils in your yard and take an interest...) Pleistocene fossils range from 2.5 million to 12,000 years old or so and encompass things that were around along with humans, such as saber toothed cats and mammoths.  Those are found throughout San Diego County.  I won't get into the names of all the places or deposits, but you can find good information at the Natural History Museum and their website (click the "research" tab), along with a map at the SDSU website linked above.  The Pliocene epoch contains fossils that are 5.3 million years old to about 2.5 million or so (pre-man).  This is the formation that runs through our backyard, and being in such close proximity to the ocean it makes sense that the formation that San Diego has is a marine deposit.  As random luck would have it, Jeremy was digging a hole to plant a shrub when he stumbled upon this:

Next thing you know, we have a group of tiny paleontologists excavating through our yard and tediously trying to free their treasures from the sandstone-cement.  We found a serious bed of shells and sand dollars, and when we took them to the Natural History Museum the on-site paleontologist told us that we could possibly find sharks teeth, whale bones, and ancient walrus bones!  Apparently what we found is from the more recent Pliocene, roughly 2.5 to 3 million years old.  Pretty cool!

It made me realize that we are, all in all, sitting on top of a huge bed of our ancient past.  Things like this exist everywhere and random luck sometimes makes it more obvious.  All of the soil we sit upon or till is the same soil that has been here since before the dinosaurs and by tectonic upheavals the earth sometimes jumbles up the nice, neat layers of natural sedimentation.  It makes you realize how small you really are, what a tiny blip we are on the radar of geologic time.  I know this is all stuff we learned in grade school, and so is life.  People can tell us something a million times.  We can hear it and memorize it and repeat it by heart, but sometimes it is a small thing thrown in your face that really gives you that "aha!" moment, that epiphany.  Keep on digging!

(And a few books that look pretty interesting, I've been searching for a good on on local fossils and geology)