Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Did you see that thing in the paper?

About me and my neighbors?

Going and growing in Glendale

Behind Glendale's tough reputation are a lot of heirloom tomatoes.

And turnips. And melons. And peas. Coops of chickens. Roosts of quail. Honey fresh from the hive.

Too big for a garden and too small for an operation, Julie LaTendresse's backyard farm is "just a nice way to live," she said.

"I grew up around animals, livestock and gardening," she says. "I had yearned for the city, but I found that I missed getting my hands dirty, growing my own food."

LaTendresse moved from the SunCrest housing development in Draper to Cheyenne Street in Glendale, where low home prices and large lots have attracted an influx of urban farmers and large-scale gardeners. A neighborhood long associated with crime is now home to a burgeoning network of backyard food producers.

Around the corner from LaTendresse, Cari Pinkowski has transformed her acre on Van Buren into a mini-orchard, with about 30 fruit and nut trees and berry bushes next to her own chickens, grains and Italian vegetables.

"Buying an acre within the boundaries of any major metropolitan area -- the fact that you can do that is really amazing," Pinkowski said.

Pinkowski last year collected more food than her family of four could eat. "I didn't know what to do with it all," she said.

Exchanges among urban growers balance surpluses and deficits. From her yard on Cheyenne, Celia Bell trades extra potato starts for celery seedlings from a grower a few blocks away. Residents in the nearby Wasatch Commons townhouse complex share table scraps for compost. Bell and Poplar Grove resident Dan Potts exchange tomato varieties to diversify their crops, and Potts trades his wild mushrooms for Bell's chicken eggs.

"Economically, it's almost like having local money," said Potts, a West High School wrestling coach who has been studying intensive gardening and sustainable foods for nearly 30 years. "We're just shortcutting the system by trading that which we are really good at."

The group may grow with the help of a new organization the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food has started with a federal grant.

The Utah Fruit and Vegetable Association expects to launch its online network this week, offering small growers a way to connect and sharing the type of information that Utah State University Extension Services provide to large-scale farmers.

"When you're talking about someone who's acting like a farmer, but they're doing it on two-thirds of an acre, a lot of the stuff hasn't been written for them locally," said Jack Wilbur, spokesman for the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.

The web site, http://www.ufava.org, will enable users to exchange questions and advice and locate other Utah growers.

"A lot of us are just trying to compare notes, see how you're preparing food, comparing bug populations," said Bell, who is working with Wilbur to develop the Web site.

"It's nice to not have to do it by ourselves."


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bees In The Hood

And bees are swarming! I got a couple leads on some swarms today, however by the time I called on them, both were gone. :-( The first one already absconded, and the other was picked up by another beekeeper. Oh well. Maybe next time!

I am chomping at the bit to get my Kenyan Top Bar Hive filled with free bees. After spending $300 on hive & equipment and another $75.00 for bees this spring, you can only imagine how excited I might be about the $25 KTBH that Mark built me, and FREE BEES.

Today has turned out to be "bee day" at the homestead. I went early over to Jones Bees to pick up a new veil. My old veil was very hot and I had a difficult time seeing through the black netting. The new veil is white, the hat is mesh. VERY NICE!!! I still burn up, but what an improvement! I was able to spend more time with the bees today because I wasn't sweating to death. Turned out I couldn't find my smoker, which I left out to dry because it got rained on. Hopefully it hasn't sprouted legs and wandered off! I got into the bees without a smoker, and sure enough, they really are nice bees! They didn't seem to mind that I wasn't puffing that nastiness into their hive. Perhaps I won't use a smoker so much anymore if I don't NEED to. Especially since I can't find mine. ;-)
So into the bees...
What did I find?
A FULL HONEY SUPER!!! Half of which is capped! WOW! I added my remaining shallow super, and looks like I should order another one pretty soon. I am going to get an empty super and Mark is going to make some top bars for it so that I can have a foundationless top bar honey super for my Langstroth hive. Comb honey is on it's way!
Speaking of comb honey... They had built burr comb filled with honey all over, so we got a little sneak preview of the golden goodness that will be our honey harvest. Yum!
Soooooo busy!

My bees, officially named "Bees In The Hood" produce "Hood Honey" and it's WILD WILD WILD. Wild Flower honey is the honey that you get by letting your bees wander around the neighborhood, as opposed to putting your hives in the middle of acres and acres of say; clover or raspberries or alfalfa. This honey is all my neighbors veggies and flowerbeds and neighborhood parks and the Peace Gardens and the fruit trees and the thistle and the morning glories and everything within a 3 mile radius. EVERYTHING THAT BLOOMS. My bees are EVERYWHERE and the resulting honey is multi-faceted; deeply layered with flavors that unfold as it melts in your mouth. It's mouth watering chaos... and it's just like my garden with it's random planting and unknown patterns and I won't have any to share until August... or September. Until then? Watching, waiting, enjoying and LOVING the bees.

A little interesting tidbit:
There is a place in North Carolina where the bees produce honey that is BLUE.

I have to add that I really hate Jones Bees. Sure, they are local. Sure, they had what I wanted, but I have NEVER EVER EVER received pleasant customer service at Jones Bees. I don't know what the "issue" is, but it seems that the lady that is always there when I am there is just so... not pleasant. She speaks really quickly, as if she is always in a hurry, however the shop is always empty. Her attitude is one that doesn't seem helpful, only "bothered" by questions, rushed, full of interruptions. Even on the phone, she seems too bothered to find out if something is in stock, answer questions or be otherwise helpful. I DON'T LIKE JONES BEES. I feel a little guilty ordering bee supplies from a large company, when there is a bee supply right down the street, but because of their atrocious customer service, I ordered all my big equipment from Dadant, and my Minnesota Hygienic Bees I got from Knight Family Honey, which IS local. Knight is awesome. VERY NICE. Too bad they don't have a beekeeping supply house. They only sell honey and bees. I will probably order further equipment from Brushy Mountain in the future. Just bee-cause. ;-) Anyway, that's what I have to say about my local bee supply place. ;-)

Friday, June 5, 2009

GOT 'EM!!!

My oh MY! SO CUTE!!! These are the skunk babies living under the shed that I KNEW we would be lucky enough to see being skunk babies! Right on schedule too. Nary a person was sprayed, and mama was never the wiser. We saw her leave!!! Five counted so far. zzzz too bad we didn't catch one a couple weeks ago. I want one!

Here is me counting five down the hole.

These two played for a bit.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bzzzzzy as a.... a picture is worth a... and other cliche's.

Seems my blogs have become a picture page since I have become so busy! Often when I'm in the middle of doing something, I have a fleeting thought, musing or idea that I want to write about. By the time I get in front of the computer, it's gone. le sigh. I'm going to quit "just posting pictures" on this blog. If I can't sit down and write something I've been pondering, experiencing or planning, I'll just send you over to the picture pages
Sometimes you can see what I'm up to there, sometimes you will find random pictures.

If only I could download my thoughts and have them type themselves... or not. Some of them are disturbing. ;-)

Quick rundown of my little bubble of existence:
I have a farmers tan, and my neck is white.
I am sore from head to toe.

I'm lovin' the bees, chickens, quail & gardening.
The KIDS love the bees, chickens, quail & not so much the gardening. haha

Ember wants to "help" and we all know that means dumping out all the peas, eating a handful, pulling the tomatoes up by the tops and swinging them wildly about, chasing cats through the newly planted beds, screaming to get in the chicken run, eating chicken feed, dumping out all the water, dragging through chicken poo, rattling the quail pen, pulling wet clothes out of the bin and dump them on the ground as I try to hang them, pick all the grape hyacinths, plays with the bees, tries to climb the beehive, demanding "momma milk" RIGHT NOW when I'm up to my ears in compost and other basic "Emberizing".

Sagan is a huge help when she's not reading her new favorite genre of teen-angster vampire romance novels & manga. Or setting up pulley systems in the cherry tree. Or intricate villages beneath it. Or marching in support of IMPORTANT CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE ACTS.

She is going to start volunteering for a playschool soon, she wants to help work with the kids.

As far as Mark; I don't know if he likes farming or not. He's hauled compost. He's tilled ground. He's shoveled $#!+. If he doesn't like farming, he must like SOMETHING around here. I'm pretty sure it's not my cooking. ;-)

I don't know if I mentioned it, but we have a skunk living under the shed. I've only seen it once, and we have all smelled it on several occasions. Pretty peaceful co-existence so far. We don't have a dog. That is a plus. We close up the chickens at night, that is a plus. I built a new, covered compost, that should help. Skunks are beautiful, but I will assure you from first hand experience, that the smell must wear off. No amount of washing, soap, vinegar, baking soda, eggs, buttermilk and sandpaper will remove it. I know a few other things about skunks:
Dogs LOVE skunks.
There IS a point when little cute baby skunks with very little smell

become JUST as cute adolescent skunks with very capable and active scent shooter.

Take note of the differences. Important information.

ANYWAY... skunks are cute and are actually beneficial critters (as they all are) to have around a place, if you keep your own things dealt with. The cats seem smart enough and stay away.

They eat bugs and grubs and baby rats and mice. Friend, not foe, just leave her alone. I can't wait to "happen upon" (in the most distant and respectful way) baby skunklets in the next month or so!

I've got wall o waters and cold frames up and stuff in the ground, and just waiting on that elusive "frost date" so that I can plant other things too. I have no idea what will grow and what won't. That's why I am planting EVERYTHING. I have to plant the potatoes and decide where the rest of my seedlings are going to go and prepare "Gourd Island" and and and... I'll be getting into the beehive today or tomorrow, and maybe adding another super. They have been busy!

I'm in a constant state of fear that they are going to abscond. No reason other than I don't want my bees to dislike living here.

We made a trip to Wheeler Farm with our friends of the Utah Urban Homesteaders yesterday, where comments like:
"If you go near the creek, you will be rapidly swept downstream."
"That goose has a bump on his head because he's Asian."
"Chickens lay different colored eggs because of what they EAT."
"Do you all know the difference between a chicken and a rooster?"
"Bacon. EVERYBODY loves BACON here, RIGHT?!"
to be very odd indeed. But maybe that's just me. The tour guide didn't even seem to have faith that if the sap of a box elder tree could be tapped and cooked down into syrup, that I myself could do it. No faith these people.
And that's what my bubble looks like this week.

Monday, April 20, 2009

It's why there was no internet...

I've discovered the reason there were no blogs in "the old days"... No internet... No Flickr... It was because they didn't have TIME to do those things. ;-)
I did take time however, to take a picture of these growing in the yard:

Very cool things underfoot this Spring!

I should be outside doing 1 of 574308403 things I want/need to get done, but again, just an update and pictures... because I don't have time for 1000 words... or 584305894035890438503 words AND am "trying" to "take it easy" today because I did an awful lot this weekend, I am fending off some sort of weird infection as told by my swollen lymph nodes, I'm dehydrated, and I HURT... same old hurt, same sad joints and pain... shrug, I don't know... so... I'll "try" to rest today and update some pics... but ONLY today!!!!
So anyway... YES I AM BUSY!!! I'm not complaining, by the way, just stating a blissful fact. :-D

The chicks are all growing up! No longer in my living room, they share the space outside with quail and hens.

Ember has TEETH, WALKS, LIVES for the outdoors, and LOVES BEES!!!

I am officially a beekeeper! I have owned bees for less than 72 hours and I have two stings. The funny thing is, I didn't even get them from MY bees. I went to my beekeeping mentor's house to watch her install her bees and take a peek inside one of her mature hives. One on the hand while working with her bees and one on the head as I was leaving. No bees stung me when I installed my own. I hear that bee stings are actually good for you, though. You can decide for yourself and I will keep you posted. ;-)

Now go off and save the world, ladies!!!

And if you have 7:30 to kill... check this out:

Friday, March 27, 2009


I've been so busy. But at least a few pics...

Three hens' work. Rhode Island Red, Silkie, Americauna.

Chip- Americauna. His name is chip because when they arrived, they looked like chipmunks. I bet there is more than one chicken out there named chip... just a guess.

Chirp. Another suspected rooster/dinner.

Yvette- Light Americauna. She has a dark brown "Y" on her forehead. Sagan didn't want the name Yvonne.

"Hammy"- Silver Spangled Hamburg (McMurray Mystery Chicken) Still waiting on the rooster/hen verdict before he gets a "real" name. He might be dinner.

Nekkid baby and chicken coops in the living room... yes, I'm busy.


My sweet geeky baby.

Ember loves when Sagan plays with her.

Yes, I said busy, I am even typing this one handed while nursing the baby! Spring has sprung! Gotta go!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Because they mature fully by 6 weeks, lay daily, are a gourmet delight, take up less space, are delicious and are the size of a baby chicks HEAD...


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Chicken Zen... Again.

The Post Office called me this morning...

And I quickly had to convert the Pack N Play (which had been converted into a clean laundry basket *dizzy*) into a...

Spring has sprung.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Dry Winter Weather

And rolling around in the bed all night is the perfect recipe for:

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Take These Please.

My daughter left the state, so I've heard, leaving her entire apartment and everything in it; my things... her things... and THESE THINGS:

They are called Pacu. If you like Oscars, Piranhas, or Pit Bulls, these are the fish for you. They do not fight however thuggish their appearance. They seem quite docile, especially the one that took a spill on the carpet in the rescue efforts. He'll live. For now.
Interesting specimens... not for me.
They are FREE to anyone with a tank big enough for them. I did manage to find a recipe using Pacu... but after being neglected, deserted, spilled on the floor, crammed in a soup pot, driven across town and SURVIVE, I can't seem to find it in me to make dinner of them.
They need a very large tank. 55 Gallon would be ideal, but they are in a 30 now.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Chicken Zen


Meet... The Coop:

Meet... Peep (Americana) & Mike (Rhode Island Red) They are the First Hens of The Ragamorphanage.

If you have never spent time watching chickens be... chickens; make an appointment. No one should miss the opportunity to experience chicken zen.

Next project? Making room for 8 or 10 more! DOH!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

As if my food preparation weren't traumatic and entertaining enough...

I decided to take up making bento.

Anasazi Beans, rice balls, green peas with goji berries, asparagus, dried mangos, sesame seeds

Now why in the world would I do this? Aren't my hours in the kitchen thankless enough without spending THAT MUCH TIME making bento? To chop and mix and form and mold little beautiful platters of food, only to have them "unappreciated"?


For one: I'm obsessed with these little boxes. I've always thought they were cool. I love tins and containers and boxes already... it only makes sense that I would be drawn to something similar FILLED WITH BEAUTIFUL FOOD!!!

For two: What am I going to do? Give up things that I love? Give up creativity? Give up taking time to prepare meals for my loved ones? (even if they go untouched)

NO! I can choose to fill them with things I know the kids will love. They aren't as picky as Mr. Bland McPickPick, and they even appreciate the color and design.

Don't laugh at my Take and Toss bento boxes... The real ones I ordered from Japan won't be here before these leftovers go bad, so... I made do.

Potato cakes, bean & rice balls, egg, carrot, tomatoes, blueberries

It may not get eaten... but at least this food has been enjoyed before going in the garbage.

Sagan ate this one for breakfast.

potato cakes, asparagus & boiled egg

I ate this one for lunch.

Tilapia, carrots, rice, asparagus

Ember ate this one for lunch.

Fish, dried fruit, rice balls, green peas

I made this one for that guy who hates my cooking.

Tilapia, rice, asparagus, eggs, mushrooms, carrots, peas, dried fruit

He will probably just leave it in the car or something. :-/

Stay tuned as I get better at this bento thing. Maybe before I know it I can create something like this:

Wish me luck!