Saturday, December 14, 2013

Interesting Article on Radio

This is a very well written and quite fantastic article written about Radio Acres. If you would like to read the article click on the White Rabbit. Thanks for going down the rabbit hole with us.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The annual Radio Thanksgiving

*Note: it's been awhile since I blogged.
We fostered a baby, and then we had a baby. Enough said.

The grandest tradition we have here at Radio is our Thanksgiving feast. This was our fourth annual bash at the farm, complete with homegrown turkeys and over thirty friends and family.

Certain aspects of our celebration have evolved over the years: our first Thanksgiving at Radio included a Tur-duck-en, because we had raised both ducks and turkeys... and who doesn't like them all smashed together with stuffing? I thought that initial tur-duck-en was delicious as I sliced off a piece and tried to determine which meat was what, but subsequent years with store-bought ducks were not as tasty.

Eventually, all turkey recipes have been replaced by one simple and efficient cooking tool: the deep-fryer. We've concluded that a vat of boiling oil cooks the tenderest, tastiest birds. And you can't mess around with turkeys that you've raised yourself. They are quite the investment.

Our potlucking has evolved as well. We have gotten better about sharing the load of the Thanksgiving meal, and this has continued to increase the culinary handiwork displayed and consumed. This year we had friends bring some particularly delicious whipped yams with sage, of which I heard many inquiries for the recipe. Our newest housemate broke out his churro (or sausage) maker and deep-fried some jalepeƱo-chedder churros with a honey glaze that we could not eat enough of. And a certain good fortune brought a whole tub of mini-croissants leftover from a holiday office party that I put in a new stuffing recipe. It turned out delightful. The recipe is below, because this stuffing is too good to have just once a year.

Needless to say, before the food we were like

and then after platefuls of deep-friend Thanksgiving goodness we were like

What has stayed consistent, and by far is the best part of our Thanksgiving traditions is the eclectic group of people that joins us. We usually have family both near and far that pilgrimages to the farm for the food and grandchildren. We also welcome neighbors, friends, and friends of friends to come and join our feast because (literally) the more the merrier.

So if you ever find yourself wondering what to do on Thanksgiving, come and join the family here at Radio. We'll save a turkey leg or two for you.

churro making

kids and lemons

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Quick Poll

I am really interested in putting in an order with Modesto Mills. I have two questions for you - would you a) be willing to pay $7/dozen for eggs that are soy and corn free and/or b) be interested in going in on an order from the mill? We have to order 50 bags of feed and it would be much easier for me to convince the rest of the farm that this is a good idea if I can find people that are interested in taking some bags off our hands. Organic goat, chick, alfalfa pellets, rabbit feed, etc are all available... Answer the poll at right or leave a comment below!

November. And bunnies.

November marks the beginning of the holiday season for many, a season of joyful gratitude, wonderful friends, family and good food. This November also brings for us the first round of our newest project - bunnies. We scored a Copper Satin buck (pictured) a couple of months ago and he couldn't wait to get busy with the Californian girls we have. The results are these cute little gray and brown bunnies that will be ready to eat in another month or so.

Bunnies, like all of this farming stuff in general, are something that none of us grew up with (aside from maybe as house pets.) That said, there've been some good learning experiences for us. We are opting to raise them colony style, meaning no little cages and no separation of the male. So far so good, except the babies can still squeeze through the chainlink fence. We are trying to figure out a way to keep them in, but at least they come back every afternoon for food. We figure soon they won't be able to squeeze out any more.

C and E are enjoying having babies around, but they know better than to give them names at this point. While processing animals is still tough emotionally and physically, I really value everything that it's taught my children over the years. They have always known the value of a life taken for food, and they struggle with it sometimes. They know not to waste meat that's on their plate, and they understand why we choose not to eat meat at certain restaraunts.

Raising children in this way has also been an unexpected learning experience on life itself, and what death is. It's made me realize how much I missed out on this as a child. I remember my parents hiding a pet from me that had died, hoping to shelter my young heart. We adults that grow up in cities far removed from things like farms have this misconception that we are doing kids a favor by hiding uncomfortable realities from them. I think seeing these cycles- the beginnings and endings of life here- in plants and seasons and animals, teaches so much about these important truths of life. I always struggled with death as a child and young adult, and I believe that my children will understand and cope with this better because of the reality they've been raised in- the pain and the beauty that comes with it all.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


We've recently had a cool little project going on here at the farm. For Christmas last year, Sarah and BJ got creative and gave the girls a "San Diego Butterfly Extravaganza!" Essentially they took them to the Reuben H. Fleet to see the Flight of The Butterflies at the Imax, then they went crazy with cool butterfly stuff. Milkweed was brought home and planted (apparently milkweed is the only thing that Monarch caterpillars eat,) a butterfly terrarium was bought and a neat learning experience was had.

Soon after the milkweed was planted, teeny tiny monarch caterpillars began to take it over. Contrary to my beliefs, we didn't have to purchase the larvae or eggs or anything - they were very proficient at finding the plants naturally and proliferating. It didn't take long for the young plants to be eaten all the way to the nubs, and those tiny caterpillars gave us a whole new understanding of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. We grabbed a few and stuck them in the terrarium to see what would happen next.

Within days, the caterpillars found their way up to the top of their temporary home and attached themselves to the lid with a silky web. They hung out upside down for about a day and then magically transformed into chrysalises.

courtesy of
Now, these guys looked nothing like the silk worm cocoons I had witnessed as a kid. All of a sudden, these yellow and black worm things completely transformed into these beautiful hard shelled green things like this guy above. It wasn't an hours-long process like the weaving of a cocoon, it literally seemed like it was in the blink of an eye. One minute it was a hanging caterpillar and the next time you looked it was a mint green pupa. I did some research and discovered that chrysalises aren't formed in the same way as cocoons at all. While a cocoon is spun out of something the larva excretes and then covers itself in, a chrysalis is actually the exoskeleton of the bug itself. Basically, it sheds it's baby skin and the new skin underneath is the chrysalis. This is the pupal phase of most butterflies.

phases of chrysalises - about to hatch out of it's shell, a newly formed one and one that recently became a butterfly
The emergence of the butterfly itself is almost as quick as the evolution of the chrysalis, if you blink you'll miss it. I did get a good picture of one just after it came out, though.

We now have monarch butterflies all over the farm and have learned a lot about their evolution and lifecycle, as well as their amazing migration. One last shot of Jeremy hanging out with one of the little guys:

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Great Caper

freshly picked capers
I don't know why I always seem to be interested in producing the unique. I mean, it's cool to grow tomatoes, lettuce and things that we use every day, but for some reason I am always enthralled with funky things that you don't really need to grow or produce yourself. Learning how-to from top to bottom has always fascinated me. Like the one year I made rose beads from our neighbors rose bushes, then actually made rosaries for all of the women in my family. Or the time I made a turducken from the turkey, duck, and chicken that we had raised that year (you can read about that here.) You get the picture. So, obviously one of the things I really NEEDED in my garden was a caper bush.

Contrary to what you might believe, capers do actually grow on plants. And the really cool thing is that they grow GREAT in San Diego and anyplace with a Mediterranean climate.

Our caper bush. You can see it better if you click on it
This picture is a close-up of one of the spindly branches with a flower bud at the end. The tightly closed flower buds are what you actually pick to cure as capers, though all parts of the caper bush are edible. Once the flowers bloom and fall off, you can harvest the grape-size fruits called caper berries. These are delicious, too, and you cure them the same way you would cure the capers. Caper berries are often served as tapas in Spain and taste similar to capers, but the flavor is milder. Even the leaves can be harvested and cured the same way you cure the buds or the berries and they add a similar delicious and unique flavor to your cuisine.

Many options are available for curing, but the easiest way is just to use salt. Pack the just-picked flower buds with salt in a small jar and let them sit for a few weeks. Wala! You have salt-packed capers. Side note- rinse them well before you throw them in your pasta dish or you'll be sorry! My favorite option, however, is lacto-fermentation and it works well for the berries, the leaves and the capers themselves. Lacto-fermentation is also great for adding beneficial flora to your diet, so you have a good excuse to throw delicious capers and caper berries on everything! Here is an easy recipe:

Capers, caper berries and or caper leaves

Pick all your caper parts and put them in a glass jar. Cover with water and let sit for 5 or 6 days. Rinse and change the water every day, making sure everything is covered with water. This phase stinks! Soaking removes oils from the plant that you don't want to eat, and it's totally normal for it to smell really bad, don't worry. Just keep rinsing and covering with water
After about 5-6 days, it shouldn't really stink any more. Now, mix some clean water (filtered so you don't have chlorine) with salt and pour it over your capers. A good ratio is 1 tablespoon of salt for every cup of water (capers are salty) but this is totally up to you. Make sure that your capers are covered with the brine, and put them in nice spot on the back of your counter top and let them sit for a few more days. Make sure they are covered with either a lid or a clean cloth to keep stuff out. After two or three days, taste them. See what you think. If you want them saltier or more pickle-y, let them sit out for another day or two. Once you like what you taste, store them in the fridge to stop the fermentation process. These will store pretty much forever, but they probably won't last that long.

salt cured capers

Thursday, October 3, 2013

What the Thrip?

It's humourous how we city folks farm. I blame our parents and our parent's parents for throwing our agricultural roots to the wind, making us relearn this knowledge from the depths of our DNA. Thankfully we are not alone in our quest back to old school agricultural techniques and there is a plethora of knowledge to be had at our fingertips.

Last year, our (almost) billions of tomato crops barely yielded any tomatoes, and we couldn't really figure out why. This year we got this amazing tomato boom! We had heirloom black tomatoes and heirloom roma tomatoes, small cherry tomatoes and big cherry tomatoes. We got beefsteaks and betterboys and earlygirls and these weird little tomatoes with an awesome lacy yellowish green pattern...

At first we thought that the cool lacy yellow pattern was a type of fancy heirloom we had planted. After a few weeks we realized that it might actually be a tomato disease because these particular plants began looking sick and dying off more quickly than the other tomato plants in our garden. I had a difficult time finding pictures online that looked exactly like what we were dealing with, but ultimately we determined that it was tomato spotted wilt virus or tswv.

Apparently it's a disease that is spread by small insects called thrips. They are super tiny and hard to see, but even more difficult to control. The problem with these guys is that while they don't travel very far, they are super easy to spread because they infect many different species of plants, including some house plants. This means that usually we, as home gardners and mini-farmers, often spread these pests around by things like composting, recycling potting soil and leaving leaf litter around. This type of infection can even be detrimental to cucumber crops, peppers, lettuces - the list goes on. I found a couple of really great websites if you want to read more about TSWV here and here. The second one even has a helpful brochure that you can print out and keep on hand.

On the brighter side, tomatoes infected with TSWV are still edible! You probably shouldn't sell them, but they aren't toxic and they still taste great. If you get the virus early in the season it can kill the plant and really affect your yield, but if acquired later in the season it doesn't do much to your tomatoes except give them some really funky color patterns. According to my estimate we yielded over 100 lbs of tomatoes this season. It's been amazing and we've been indulging in all kinds of tomato dishes. One of my favorites is this delicious tomato paneer dish found here (note that zeera in the recipe can be subbed for cumin seeds.) Just remember that if you do have something like TSWV and are eating the tomatoes, don't throw the scraps in the compost bin!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Late Summer Farm Haps

Well, it's been a while and there is no way to walk through everything that's been happening since spring, so let's just do a quick update to bring you up to speed.

On the farm we've had a few changes:
1) We sold Beverly to an awesome little farm in Spring Valley called Valley View Farm that you can find here. We decided that it was time to cut back on the milking duties for a while since we've been super busy with other personal projects that you can read about below.
2) During the above mentioned sale, we acquired a beautiful little buck to add to our rabbit collection. That means that we now have a, err, rabbit production project on our hands!
3) We added a bunch of new beds and have a ton of plantable space. This season was the first season that we had it all in production and we had tomatoes coming out of our ears! We've made more sauce, salsa, and canned tomatoes than we know what to do with.
4) Our back studio/ green house bathroom thingy officially got permitted. This is a HUGE deal for us and we are super excited to finally be done with city permitting. You can read more about the studio and bathroom here, here and here.
5) We acquired Boo and Bean! I don't know why we hadn't posted about them yet, but they were a big addition to the farm within the last year. They are two cute little Nigerian dwarf female goats. Since we sold Beverly, our next project will be to find a boy Nigerian dwarf to breed them with. We are ready to make some baby goats.

We've recently had a lot of winter squash and sunflower seeds to harvest. Here are some of the delicious benefits.

On the home front, we've all had a lot going on:
1) I quit my full time job. I am trying again to contain my work to part time so I can put more time into life, family, farm and community.
2) The two farm girls started a new school. It's a 70% school (30% homeschool) so they get to spend more time at home and I am really valuing this time with them.
3) Our farm-mates had a baby! He is the sweetest little bundle of blond curls. We now officially have a farm.
4) Yes, we are all still living here in community together! I can't believe it's been a solid three years and that we all still kind of like each other. It's been some craziness, but I love being with these people who
I love and I am inspired by them every day. We are blessed, and looking forward to another year...

I will try to be more diligent about posting since I've currently got more time on my hands! Thanks for reading.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Spring Weekend CSA!

Get your greens! We don't do a normal CSA program here at Radio, but this weekend we're harvesting our spring crops, and bagging it up for you to make some 'delish kale salads or green smoothies.

Our bags are $7 each, and YOU choose what goes in it! There are also other extra goodies to add on if you'd like.

Fill our your order form here:

Let us know what you make with it!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

eat local. you know this!

Giving a shout out to a couple awesome place you should check out in SD. First, Nate's Garden Deli and Cafe: Uber local food and a great selection of micro-brew. Definitely worth checking out! While you are there, you should go do some shopping for your garden next door at City Farmers and bask in all of the awesomeness that it exudes. Cool place to waste your time.

Second, two of our favorite local coffee shops! Very different, very awesome. If you are in Northpark you should go say "hello" to Daniel  at The Coffee and Tea Collective for a simple pour-over and local roasted deliciousness. If you happen to be in Golden Hill or Little Italy you should go say "what's up" to the folks at Influx: Great sandwiches, salads and baked goods!

Remember to support local businesses! Your dollars talk. Cool local cafe or Starbucks? C'mon, people! Get with the program.

Post your favorite local haunt below so we can check it out...

Saturday, March 30, 2013

I watch the world by me pass...

Today reminded me of why we are here. I was blessed to sit down with my 7 and 9 year old girls this morning and participate in the fine art of mud pie making. Of course, I also introduced them to the age-old Mexican art of making mud tacos that possibly only my siblings and cousins could truly appreciate.

I am struck by the fact that my oldest daughter is 9 and this is the first time I've found the time to make mud tacos with her. She's made mud pies on many occasions in her life, but why did it take me this long to sit down and share this little bit of my history, my childhood with them? When we were praying tonight, my youngest daughter thanked God that I played in the mud with them today. This was supposed to be the reason that we moved here in the first place - to breathe, to stop with the constant rat race and to raise our children well. To live simpler, to grow real food, to have time to dig in the dirt and play in the mud. Too often we struggle with occupying our children so that we can "get something done" rather than engaging with them.

This whirlwind of life moves so incredibly fast sometimes and I am slapped in the face by occasions of simplicity such as this. I am reminded to slow down, to take a breath and to savor these moments in life. We moved here to try to work together with our best friends toward a simpler life. It is so easy to get swept up and carried away in the tide of our society; the values, the desires, the wants, the "needs" of everyone around us. It's easy to let those desires become our own and to forget the reason that we decided to partake of this crazy project in the first place. I am reminded that I need to put society's desires on the back burner and live my life in ways I won't regret. When I am 80, I don't think I will look back and regret that I didn't have that great car when I was 30 but I do fear that I will regret the things I did not do with the people I love. I think I will regret time I didn't spend with my parents, places I did not see, and mud pies I did not make. I think I might regret not savoring the sunrises with my spouse while milking the goat and the sounds of the chickens in the morning. The whirlwind is so easy to get swept up in and once you are in it everything around you becomes a blur. Today was a stark reminder that I don't want my life to be a blur of everything I am missing on the periphery of this beautiful ride.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Join us for Radio's first ever cheese making class! Saturday, April 6, 3-5pm. Limited spots available. Email to save yours.

Monday, March 11, 2013

"Udder"ly Ridiculous

People Often ask, "What's it like living on a farm?" First, I correct them that we are a small URBAN farm. There is no big red barn or tractor anywhere.  But then I answer, "living on a farm opens you to a myriad of experiences you would otherwise never even knew were possible."

For example, I have learned how to massage a turkeys swollen crop to help digest its food and keep it from fermenting.  This is a tricky process for one person and can result in putrid smelling turkey burps and vomit.

I have learned 10 different ways to kill a chicken, skin a rabbit, dispose of a dead gopher, and bury a goat.  I've kept chickens in large tupperware bins in my basement and had ducklings swim in my bathtub.

But this evenings task tops the list of absolutely weirdest farm tasks:  Shaving our dairy goats udders.   To those of you wondering, Yes, I did use my own razor; and those Mach 3 blades didn't work so well either.

As I sat lathering Beverly's teets up with my Burt's Beeswax shave cream, I furtively glanced around to make sure our neighbors weren't peering through their window curtains at me.  As I jogged back into the house to grab some scissors I contemplated the fact when most people drink milk, they probably never think about how udders are inherently hairy and that hair needs to get shaved off, or strained out before it makes it to your glass.

I was finally prompted to undertake this task because I was tired of fishing out goat hairs from my cereal bowl.  Make no mistake, we do strain our milk through some pretty spiffy filters before it goes in the fridge, but every once and a while one still gets through.

So...Beverly is a "brand new" goat and ready for some hair-free milking, and I am left with a ruined razor and a slightly abashed feeling I can't quite shake.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Winter Rains/Harvest

It was mid-December, and in anticipation of the coming winter rains in San Diego we were working to put in our winter garden. The anticipation of delicious salads and meals in the coming months was palpable. I had tenderly raised starts of cabbages, broccolis, kale, lettuce and chard.  We had rows of carrots, beets, turnips and radishes going in.  Plus peas and fava beans for nitrogen fixing and stir frys.

After we were done, we looked at our beautiful budding garden with promise. An oasis of green admist a partched and thirsty landscape. You could almost hear the bone dry hills holding their breath, waiting for the dry season to end, and the rains to bring new life.  

We learned a valuable lesson that month...When your garden is some of the only green and growing landscape around, everybody takes notice.  One morning, on my way to milk the goats, I looked with fond eyes at the garden to see every one of our tender pea shoots nibbled clean off.  The next day, the cabbages were gone.  Then the broccolis and even the brussel sprouts.  As soon as the beets came up, they were gone, right along with the carrots!  

Needless to say, I built a rabbit trap, I set gopher traps, rat traps, reinforced our fences. All to no avail as even the California Towhees (birds) spotted the lettuce and nipped 'em up.  

They only thing that made it were some potatoes. Which I kept hoping the bunnies would be dumb enough to chew on a member of the nightshade family, and that would be the end of our rabbit troubles.  

So what did we learn...We should stick to rainwater harvesting until everything is green, so we aren't such a smorgasbord of tender young plants when everyone is starving for some greens.  

We will have more rain water harvesting posts soon, but for now check out San Diego Drums and Totes on facebook.  You don't have to pay top dollar for rain barrels from Homedepot.