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)

Friday, April 8, 2011

What we husbands will do....

For all you married men, you know what I'm (BJ) talking about. Now imagine you live on an Urban Farm and there is always another project to do. Jeremy and I thought we were being great husbands this Friday afternoon by taking care of some projects around the farm.

For the last month we had a rooster our friends gave us when they found out he wasn't planning on laying eggs and started crowing instead. We affectionately named him "DoodleDoo", he was a great rooster until about a week ago when he started crowing too much. Now he is chilling in our fridge and will be dinner tomorrow. Along with all the crowing we also got fertilized eggs which we had a broody hen sit on and hatched out 10 chicks (as Sarah mentioned in her last blog).

They were super adorable for about a week. We put them in a dog crate on top of our dryer in the basement, where their cuteness quickly devolved into a stinky and annoying mess. So Jeremy and I constructed a small hen house and a fenced off area in our existing chicken coop to keep them separate from the older hens.

We finished the project this afternoon and were so excited we moved Mama Hen and her chicks into it this evening...Then, the wives got home....

Apparently it's too cold for chicks outside. Which begs the question, "What did hens do before we domesticated them?" Not to mention the fact a cold night in San Diego means it dips a couple degrees below 50'F. I will admit it is raining and chilly tonight, but they have a roof, shelter and nice straw bedding. Plus, Mama Hen is still sitting on them to keep them warm. But the wives were concerned...

Alas, as the good husbands we are, we went outside in the rain with flashlight, tarp and umbrella in hand to tuck them in. If you keep chickens you know how muddy a coop gets when it rains. So as I was stepping over their little fence I slipped. Now when you are carrying a flashlight, tarp and umbrella and slip in mud and chicken sh**t a lot can go wrong. I ended up doing the splits, tearing the fence down and face planting in poopy mud. And all I hear is Jeremy chuckling behind me.

All this to reassure our wives that some chickens, which evolved with all the necessary instincts to stay warm and dry in a rainstorm, would make it through this harsh winters night. Oh, what we husbands will do.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Just in time for Easter

I need to post these pictures before our chicks grow into little chickens! We recently ordered 25 chicks from Murray MacMurray Hatchery... the "all heavies" order. These are 25 chicks that we are going to raise for meat birds (eating). But right now they're pretty cute little chicks, getting bigger each day.

We also hatched our first clutch of laying hens, from our very own chickens and rooster! One of our sweet little birds, Blue (now called Mama Hen), went broody so we stuck a bunch of our other eggs under her, and she sat on them for at least 21 days, and then they all hatched!

So now we have a lot of little chickens. I have two videos for you. One is Mama Hen with her babies. They like to cuddle up underneath her like Mother Ginger in the Nutcracker. Note also the tiny backwards leg stretch by one of the little chicks. So adorable.

The other video is a running "chick-cam" of our 25 chicks. It's long, so if you want a dose of easter goodness (of the hallmark variety, not really the Passion variety) feel free to watch as much or as little of this one as you like. There's some cute stuff in there. They have such funny little personalities.

And, if that's not enough, go ahead and click here for more precious chick pics.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

So sad!

So, I've been really lagging on posting because every time I get a free minute, I sit down and get ready to blog and then realize that I don't know where my camera is!  The time finally came where we looked backward and forward around the house, in old pockets, cars, etc and we have determined that it's officially gone.  The last time we saw it was a few weeks ago at one of the kids' performances, I even got in touch with them to no avail.  So sad!  We are officially OUT a point-and-shoot, and I have no idea how to use Sarah's fancy camera so you will have to bear with me some pictureless blogs for the time being (or I'll have to figure out how to use stock photos.)  Anyone have an old one they've been thinking of throwing out?

Monday, April 4, 2011

A revisiting of priorities

We, at this farm, have the tendency to get ahead of ourselves.  Yes, yes, it's true.  In case you did not gather that we are a group of people who are likely to make rash decisions and jump into things, well, we are.  About a month ago at this time, we were ready to be fully immersed into the animal business.  We began building our goat pen, pulled out our donated bee box, talked about how we could hurry up with the rabbit project AND we ordered a couple dozen hatchlings from McMurrays so that we could get our meat chicken production under way.  We made a broody hen veerrrry happy by letting her officially hatch our first clutch of even more chicks (because we thought that the two dozen coming were not enough) and we now have clutch number two incubating under another broody.

Take a step back.  This new month rolled around and we've realized that we really need to prioritize and not do a million things at once.  Not because we don't want to, but because we physically can't!  We don't have unlimited time, resources or money.  We need to *sniff* reign ourselves in and take things one step at a time.  We have this shell of a trailer sitting in our front yard that is going to be AWESOME in a couple of months as we pour our resources into making it a modern "room" to add to our landscape.  This is a necessity!  Before we can really swing into expanding things to grow or raise, we need to be comfortable in the amount of space we have here.  So, for the next couple a months, hopefully we will be able to keep a good log of the progress on that.  The sooner we get this done, the more quickly we can move onto the rest of the list.  And although we've put our own goat acquisition on hold, we have an awesome neighbor who let me milk theirs last night!  I'll be counting the days...

Help us order our next projects!  What would YOU do first?

1. bees
2. goats
3. rabbits
4. greenhouse (we got a bunch of AWESOME old wood windows donated)
5. tilapia