Monday, December 31, 2012

Next Year

I told all the chickens last week that if they didn't start laying again, I was gonna eat them, and that I was already shopping for their replacements online. It worked! Four eggs already in the last couple of days...which is good, because I don't think I'll have the mental cycles to raise a new group of hens this year.

New Year's Resolutions that I intend to keep:
Stay up to date with all my schoolwork. I'm not paying good money to waste time. Go for a walk at least twice a week. Drink at least as much water as I drink coffee. Visit my grandma more. Make more homebrew beer and mead.

Resolutions that would be nice, but seem pretty damn unlikely:
Learn to read katakana and hiragana (phonetic japanese). Do yoga (more than one sun salutation a month. Eat the vegetables in the fridge, rather than letting them get old and giving them to the chickens. Write posts here more regularly.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Rabbit Rex

Exciting events this week: I ate the first pomegranate off our tree, and I got a new rabbit, who will be replacing the Californian as the big rabbit around town. This one is a black otter standard rex, and he is the softest thing I have ever touched. I haven't managed to get any good pictures of him yet, but he looks a lot like this one:
I really wanted to like the Californian and New Zealand rabbits, but I just don't like those pink eyes. Marta (the flemish/NZ cross doe) wouldn't have anything to do with him either. Can't say I blame her, those red eyes would creep me out too. He's up for sale now, and I hope he finds a better home.

So far the rabbit project has had it's ups and downs - on the upside, they are damn cute little things, and the garden has been loving the fertilizer. On the down side, all efforts to breed have been a fail. Marta wouldn't accept any advances from the rabbit who was supposed to breed her, but when Mochi squeezed through a gap and came to visit, of course that worked. Unfortunately, she had that unplanned litter on one of the coldest nights of the year, and I hadn't known to get her a nest box. None of them made it, and I felt so horrible when I found them in the morning. Mochi is a sweet little thing, but he'd better stay in his own part of the hutch from now on.

In a couple of months I'll likely be adding another rex doe to the herd, and then we'll see what happens from there. I hadn't really planned to have more than one male and two females as permanent residents, so bringing Mochi home kinda threw a wrench in there. I can't get rid of him, though - even the husband sneaks out to pet him!

Thursday, December 13, 2012


I've been in a bit of a funk lately about the house. I love the place, don't get me wrong, but sometimes it seems like things are going wrong faster than I can fix them, and I'm tired. School and clinical work is a huge time commitment, the husband is working insane hours, and when I'm not doing prenatals, homework, or at a birth I'm just so damned tired that all I want to do is read some fluff and pet the cats. Right before we left for Japan, I discovered that the front bathroom shower is leaking massively under the house (all the other showers leaked, so I don't know why this surprised me) and one of our circuit breakers went off and won't reset, so most of our living room has no light or power. However, I did get a tree and some LED lights up in the corner with the only working outlet, and stockings are attached to the mantle with traditional holiday C-clamps. One way or another, we will carry on...and these house doldrums will be over soon. It is not financially an option to pay others to do work for us right now, so I'll have to put my big girl pants on and do it myself if I don't want to be sitting in a cave in the dark come New Year's.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

And we're back

Merry Christmas from Japan! I made it back on Sunday morning, sick and miserable with a cold, and proceeded to sleep through most of the next 24 hours. I'm feeling better now, but still slow-moving and not so excited to go back to work tomorrow. Less jet-laggy than usual, more of a culture-lag.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Socks for the road

After way too much dithering and magazine searching, ravelry browsing, and even yarn buying (even though I wasn't supposed to...oops) I decided to make some socks. Really boring thick wool socks, because I found myself about to buy some at a store the other day and thought, F-this. I'm making socks.

I have never made a pair of socks before, but I made this, which is like a giant sock, and I've made lots of other much scarier things, so I am confidant that I can make a sock. Two might be asking a lot.

Of course, that means I had to pack enough yarn for four.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sleep Deprivation and Yarn Tripping

This week I attended two births, which both ended well, but were long...I missed two nights sleep, and though you can try to catch up, it still takes days to recuperate. That half-gallon of coffee I drank today probably didn't help either.

We head out for Japan on Thursday morning, and nothing is ready. I haven't gotten my homework assignments finished, though I made mighty progress, and I still have the all-important task of deciding what knitting to take with me. It has to be simple enough that I can work on it on trains without buggering it all up, complicated enough to be interesting, doable with stash and patterns I already have, fit in my purse, and generate a finished object that I want in the end. Not too much to ask, right?

I always end up buying yarn souvenirs in Japan, too. They have the cutest cheap yarn, and a nice assortment of the finer-gauge yarns that I like without the barfy baby colors. In case you're ever traveling in Japan and need to know, here's a useful yarn buying guide:

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Girl Cave

is where I spend most of my days now. I'm chaining myself to the desk until I finish my homework (or at least, that's what I keep telling myself). This fall we're going to Japan for a long trip, and I decided yesterday that I was going to finish the next 5 homework sets before I go in three weeks. That's about as much homework as I've done in the last three months, but there's nothing like a deadline, right? Right?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Art Deco-rating

A few years back we ordered these "swimsuit form" mannequins from some mannequin dealer, who met up with me in the parking lot of a Carl's Jr. to make the sale. He wore a cowboy hat and drove a huge white pickup truck whose license plate read SXYMNQN. I love Los Angeles.

I'd been meaning to do something with them for all this time. They started out a strange pink color, so giving them a copper base coat helped a lot, and now I'm working on giving them all tattoos. These 4 ladies will be hanging in our grand room to give it a bit of funky sexy art-deco porn style.
The cats are strangely attracted to them - I have no idea why.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Art School

All the really cool skills I have I learned in art school. People say art school is useless, but if you go to the right kind of art school (the kind where you spend a lot more time buying supplies at Ace Hardware than Dick Blick) you'd be amazed how many problems you can solve.
We bought this motorcycle on Craigslist a few years back. It was a salvage job and had a rough life before we got it, which I made a lot worse by putting in my novice miles on it. I dropped it three times - always while trying to park, or get out of a parking spot - and each time the fairings got a bit worse.

Then another of our intrepid household put in her novice miles on it, and dropped it a few more times (always on the opposite side I did...funny) and the fairings got a lot worse. Some were even lost, never to be seen again. It was time for this bike to see some love, but there was no way I was going to shell out $500 for a new set of fairings for a chop-job bike that is probably going to get beat up by the next n00b who gets their mitts on it.

See above comments about art school, resourcefulness, and my deep, abiding love of 2 part epoxy resins. First:

And one more:
In this one, you can really see how bad the damage was. I was able to recreate entire sections by making a waste form out of crumpled brown paper, then layering pieces of fiberglass to make a strong backbone. The surfaces weren't great, so I used Bondo to smooth them, primer, and paint. The colors are pretty close, though the Rustoleum red is a little darker than Honda red...but there was no budget for little $40 cans of colormatched paint in this project. The bike looks better than it ever has since it came to live with us, anyway!

Monday, September 24, 2012


Found wandering all by his lonesome on a Hollywood street corner, this friendly little dwarf rabbit finally made it through quarantine and has been installed in the rabbitat. He celebrated his first night there by squeezing through a gap to visit the girl next door...hopefully she doesn't give birth to a litter of flemish giant/netherland dwarf crosses next month! I hadn't anticipated having any rabbit so small, so I had to close up some gaps and make his home more appropriate. This one is just a pet, so friendly and personable that he has charmed even the rabbit-resistant members of the household. Mochi is named after Japanese folklore, where the moon rabbits are making mochi. Clearly he had to give it a taste test, because his paws and chin are white.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Watering Hole

...was a bar my dad used to go to before I was born. Now, it's a nifty backyard watering system.

This keeps the chickens and rabbits well supplied with clean, fresh water - very important when we're having a heat wave, and hard to do when I'm on call so much. Two births in 24 hours this week!
The central feature is this bucket, which clearly needs a more stylish hat. The hose coming in at the top is attached to a float system that keeps the bucket topped full all the time. From here, the water is gravity fed out two hoses that fork off to the rabbits and chickens.
I cannibalized the chickens' old auto-watering trough to build this, but I hear you can do the same with toilet float parts.
The chicken's watering bar is now the coolest place to hang out in the coop. It is a PVC pipe with five saddle type nipple waterers.
We tried to "teach" the chickens how to use them, which was hilarious and entertaining, but didn't seem very effective...but when I looked out the window an hour later they were all drinking from the founts. Go figure.
The rabbit system features smaller clear tubing that runs the length of the hutch, with forks every two feet that go to little metal drinking nipples. I ordered those direct from China and ended up with 20 of them for much less than the cost at Klubertranz or Bass, but no instructions and weird sizing. Overall, it probably wasn't that great of a deal, especially since I only really needed five or six of them.
All in all, I think it cost a little over $100 to build, and a couple of days to put together (including troubleshooting and drying time for silicone sealant). Each morning this week I've checked to make sure that the water is running and there are no leaks, and so far everything has been working wonderfully. It is a huge relief and I think it was well worth the money! I'm hoping that all the animals will be healthier and happier too with clean water all the time.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Doula life

Last night I got home late from a long birth, had some top ramen (I added some miso to make it more like real food) and fell into bed for eleven hours. I'm usually a light sleeper and can handle sleep deprivation and interruption fine, which is good or I wouldn't be able to do my job, but it was a beautiful luxury to know that I could sleep as long as I needed.

I have the house to myself for a few days and that's really good too. I love my little family, but after a tough birth, I'm all out. I don't have any social graces or giving left in me, so it's better if I can putter around by myself for a while and process all that happened, good and bad, to make me a better future midwife without having to explain what I'm feeling by telling someone else's story.

This afternoon I was supposed to go to a workshop on preventing postpartum hemorrhage, but it got cancelled and I am so deeply relieved that I have a long afternoon of alone time stretching out ahead of me, with no more pressing concern than whether the lovely cared-for feeling of having food brought to me in a restaurant is worth the tradeoff of having to talk to anyone who isn't a cat. Usually after a birth, I treat myself to one good meal of whatever I feel like I need, but today I can't figure out what that is, so I'm having a Sapporo for breakfast while I think about it. My muscles feel like they've been massaging someone else for 20+ hours, so it's medicinal!

I love my work, and I mean that in all ways, cynical and not. I'm almost to the end of doula work before I start going to births with the midwives, though, and it will be such a relief to be dealing with birth in a less interrupted, artificial way, and not feeling such a weight of fighting for so much with so little actual power. It is amazing to be there with families in their moment of transformation, but it is frustrating to be caught up in a model that I don't believe is right for 90% of the women in it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Finally, after a long delay...the rabbits get their new habitat.
A couple of weeks ago I lost one bunny - she had cut her foot on something, and though I cleaned it up and doctored her well, she died a couple of days later - maybe tetanus, or some other infection? I felt really bad about it, and it upped my motivation to get the bunnies out of their slumlord hovels and into a better place.

The cage wire was the most expensive part - 20 feet of strong galvanized 1/2" x 1" wire cost about $100. The wood struts - all the blue in the photo - are furring strips, so that was about $20. Everything else was salvage - the roofing is made out of cabinet doors from dismantled built ins (have I mentioned the previous owners' extreme fondness for badly designed built in furniture?) and the sides and inner shelves from old pine 1x12" boards.

The doors were the fun part - they are also salvaged cabinet fronts, and I decided at 10pm that night that they should be fun, so I drew designs freehand and cut them out with a jigsaw. The trees are my favorite, though they took the longest. It kinda makes me want to buy a scroll saw, so that I can do better versions for the house.
Serendipitously, I was given another girl bunny a few days ago. A woman nearby who gardens in an empty lot found this rabbit hopping around in the yard of the house next door after the owners moved out and left her. So far she and Marta the flemish giant mix seem to be getting along well - they have two big sections of the rabitat with a connecting door. Charlie Boyfriend has a section to himself at the other end.

Still to build is the automatic watering system, but that will have to be another post for another day! I'm working in the midwives' office 3 days a week now, so I have a lot less time for building crazy stuff in the backyard and finding new and creative ways to injure myself.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Merry Mead

Good mead takes time. It isn't a lot of work, but you have to start with good ingredients (simple: honey, water, yeast) and find it a cool, relatively stable place to spend a few months. This is the first place I have had in LA that could meet that last requirement. My study/laboratory, on the first floor of the Northeast corner of the house, is sort of like a drafty wine last fall I brewed up a 3 gallon batch of mead and left it sitting there until last weekend.

Honey quality definitely matters - I haven't made friends with any local beekeepers here yet, and our local health food store got bought by Lassen's and stopped carrying bulk honey, so I used Trader Joe's Mesquite honey for this batch, along with White Labs sweet mead yeast.

My mead recipe comes from my SCA days. Purists only here - no spices, fruits, or additives. Those all help if your honey isn't great, but if you've got good honey, let it shine. 3-4 pounds of honey per gallon of water for a sweet mead.

Bottling is the fun part (in addition to drinking, of course). My bottle corker was one of the first big purchases I made when I got a "real job"...hated that job, but I still have the corker. It's 3 feet tall and definitely a commitment to make space for in the kitchen, but you have to have priorities, right?
Corks go here:
Then you pull the giant lever to squeeze the cork and push it in:
And celebrate!
I ran out of bottles with a little mead left in the carboy, so I filled up a couple of mason jars to stash in the fridge for later, then had a little taste to see if it was good yet (sometimes it has to age a while in the bottles before it's really good). Before I knew it I was lying on the floor, drinking directly from the bottle filler and mumbling about Valhalla. Good stuff, that mead.

Come to think of it, that bottle corker was just about the most satisfying $200 I've ever spent. When I think of all the money I frittered away from that high paying job, because I didn't have a clue about money, I really wish I had bought the cider press too...

Friday, July 6, 2012

No Bonfire, please.

It is hard to take sexy pictures of bathrooms, so I'm not sure if these pictures express how awesomely happy I am with this project.
Vanity, now with open base that makes the bathroom feel much bigger.
Floor, all clean and shiny and cute, with zero linoleum.
And of course, awesome vintage wallpaper. The photo can't even capture the 50's glam of this ridiculous green-floral-on-metallic-silver ridiculousness. The ceiling is pure silver, because of course we wouldn't want to go too far. The husband thinks it's hideous, but I say he's touching that wallpaper over my dead body. I also say that he can't have his disco ball back.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Like that story about the lily...

Last week I replaced the faucet in our front bathroom. The old one was cool and brass and oddly phallic looking, which was a plus, but it was leaking like crazy and not repairable. Cue new faucet, which looks pretty nifty on the (pre-existing) real marble countertop after a good polish:
but then the new faucet and shiny marble made the crummy old water-damaged vanity it was resting on look bad, so I had to rip that out and build a new one. While that was happening, I decided to investigate the peeling linoleum, and found cute little hex tiles underneath:
Turns out those little tiles are also Carrera marble. Who on earth would glue crappy 80's linoleum to marble tile? I like to think it was a time traveller from the future who wanted us to be able to buy the house cheap one day. The husband was away on business trips, so there was no one to stop me from going manic and chipping away all the linoleum and adhesives. There were some friends visiting, so they got Tom Sawyered into helping...or at least one of them, who has my kind of OCD, was helping, while the other one lounged in the bathtub in his jammies drinking cocktails and telling us stories.
Seems like a gameboard for some dystopic future version of Settlers of Catan, doesn't it?

Now the floor has been cleaned, minor earthquake damage repaired, and polished. The new vanity is being stained out in the garage, and the whole thing should be put back together again in a couple of days. As far as costs go, this project was cash cheap and labor spendy, and that's the way I like it. New Delta faucet @ $128 on Amazon, wood for the vanity @ $60 from Home Depot, and about $20 worth of adhesive stripper.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


It just got to full dark, and there are firecrackers and sirens going off in the neighborhood. Hard to tell if these are related - we're in such a multicultural place that there's always someone celebrating the independence of somebody from something. The intersection of Thai Town and Little Armenia is a strange conjunction.

Today I babysat a 14 month old for ten hours, as an emergency backup sitter. She was one of my doula babies, and it has been such a pleasure to see her grow (and she still throws herself at the world with the same wide-eyed enthusiasm she was born with). I tried to take a picture, but my camera wasn't fast enough for her and then she started chewing on my phone. I managed to keep her from eating more than a reasonable amount of dirt and we made it through the day with only one major cheerio-flinging meltdown.

Back at home, I'm drinking the results of my first homebrew experience. It was meant to turn out like Fat Tire, but it ended up being darker like a Newcastle, but much more complicated. Definitely a beer-drinker's beer, and I'm loving them. I'm already thinking about the next batch, but trying to take some time off, go easier on myself, and get enough sleep for a change! I signed off caffeine for a few days and I'm hoping that will help me get my groove back, or at least make the coffee start working again when I go back to it.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Termite Farm

Kind of amazing, but mostly creepy. The house was tented before we moved in, so nothing's alive in here. The wood is so gone that I was able to pull it out with my hands.

Lucky for me that they didn't get into the structural supports yet, so I'm replacing the framing around this basement/storage area and building new doors for it.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Cute baby animals you won't see around here

My friends keep asking me what animals I'm going to bring home next, since I seem to have this whole farm thing going on in the backyard. Other than chickens who come and go, and rabbits who should soon be multiplying like rabbits, I think I'm done.

There aren't really any other animals I'm interested in that are suited to city life and can tolerate the kind of schedule I keep! As a doula, I go to about two births a month that can last 24 hours or more, and when I start attending births as an apprentice midwife, I'll be doing that once or twice a week.

It will be hard enough to keep up with the ones I've got, along with a cat who is crying for love all the time and would like to spend several hours a day snuggled in a baby sling, and a husband who thinks if there's nothing to eat if there isn't a big haunch of meat in the fridge, and a pesky mailman who keeps dropping off little pieces of paper that demand my attention every day...

Along with remembering to water the tomatoes and veggies, keep the weeds at bay, and taking time to take care of myself at least as well as I care for my clients and well as making time to brew beer and drink do people do it?

Thursday, May 31, 2012

This week

This week the husband is off on a business trip, and I had a light work week because of the holiday, so I'm all about the taking care of business during the day and the relaxing with wine and knitting at night.
(someone else's photo...somehow, I hadn't taken pictures of mine since they were tiny!) Our Freedom Ranger chickens had gotten huge and one was starting to crow, so they are chilling in the fridge now. They were enormous! This is the first time I have processed meat breed birds, rather than old hens or accidental roosters...hopefully they are tasty. It is going to be a very meaty week, since I had already done up a few chicken breasts and some pork shoulder on the grill. If you haven't done this before, slow-cooking pork shoulder with lots of smoke produces a slab of meat that's like ribs, but better. I use a rub of brown sugar, kosher salt, and chili powder, then smoke it slow with cherry wood from the backyard tree.
On the knitting front, I'm using all my leftovers from years of blue projects to make a random log cabin blankie. It will probably be about 36" square when I decide it is done, and so far, I'm very very pleased with it.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

It's racial, man

My brown-egg layers use one nestbox, and my green-egg layers use the other one....all that time I spent teaching them about justice and equality was a total bust.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


The other night I was out in the yard after dark, feeding pancakes to the chickens (who doesn't like a midnight snack?) when I heard a rustling in the tree and saw a big fat raccoon watching me.
Now, I don't *think* they can get at the chickens anymore, but I sure don't want them getting comfortable in the yard, so I started looking around for something to chuck at him, and I realized that I had the perfect ammunition right at my feet. Avocado pits - our yard is littered with them. The coon beat a retreat and I finished up with the pancakes and went back inside.

Later on I was out in the yard again and heard more rustling in the leaves, so I picked up some more handy pits and began to fire...

...and then I realized that it wasn't the raccoon this time, it was a skunk.
I dropped everything and ran back to the house. Didn't get sprayed, but it was a close one. Next time, no launching of missiles until I can see the whites of their eyes.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Rad Radishes

This year I planted radishes along with the front yard wildflowers. Genius.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


I started my midwifery apprenticeship at the beginning of May, which has been awesome and wonderful, but kind of exhausting, and it leaves me a lot less time for things I used to enjoy, like reading in the bathtub and navelgazing on the internets. I'm so glad I didn't get more chickens or rabbits like I was thinking about a couple of weeks ago!

The animals are getting basic care, no coop upgrades or fancy stuff, and I'm glad that rabbit breeding time is still a month off so I can try to get used to this new schedule first. I mean, I haven't been a total slacker - since I posted here last, I have attended three births, bottled five gallons of beer, canned 20 pounds of loquats, put up a batch of Bärenfang, two quarts of experimental loquat liquer, attended a professional conference, done yoga twice, and rebuilt some more of our deck.

However, there is one project that needs to get done fast, and that is getting automatic water hooked up for the rabbits. They go through a water bottle a day each, so if I'm at a long birth or running late for work, it isn't enough. I'm thinking that with a few tweaks and a few new parts, I can reinvent the chickens' auto-waterer to water them all...because that would be frugal and awesome all at the same time.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Kitty Porn and Product Placement

A few months back, our gorgeous Leo got very, very ill with lower urinary tract disease. He had to be hospitalized for a day (it would have been more, except that I convinced them that I was sort of a medical professional and could give subcutaneous fluids), get pumped full of drugs, and have his bladder manually expressed. It was a bad week, and I was so afraid I was going to lose him that I was thrilled when he got well enough to fight the treatment.

However, I did learn a lot from that episode. Like, that weight control cat food can be very bad for cats, and that any pennies you pinch on food can be more than made up for by one killer vet bill. Also, that some cats need to be enticed into drinking water, and apparently Leo is one of those. He used to drink lots of water...out of the fish tank. When we moved for the third time in three years, I had decided I was really sick of moving a 55 gallon tank and sold it, and Leo quit drinking water.
Enter the Fluval Chi, which I now believe to be the most perfect drinking fountain ever invented for cats. Between the three of them and evaporation, about a half inch of water is lost a day, but it is easy to top off, and we still have four of the five initial goldfish purchased the first week (our cats don't try to go after them...but your mileage may vary). The cats love it, and between all the water they drink and a much-improved diet, Leo has been doing great. Note: I am not in any way affiliated with this product...just a happy customer who has completely abused but not broken hers.

Dar la Luz

My new chickens and my old chickens are finally starting to get along, after much squabbling. The New Hampshire Reds are pretty, but they seem to be afraid of everything - including but not limited to squirrels and falling leaves. The Freedom Rangers never have gotten into any trouble. They just keep their heads down and eat like they've never seen food before.
Have I mentioned how spoiled they are? Their palatial abode now boasts a front porch (with light) and a chandelier in the grand room.

I think I've managed to talk myself out of getting more chicks this year. This week is the beginning of my new apprenticeship, and the last thing I need is to have a bunch of tiny lives depending on me! Especially since in a month or two it will be the summer of love for the bunnies...

Friday, April 27, 2012

Site plans

I was at a really, really long birth, 3 days long! Holy crap. Births like that really derail everything else for a while, and I'm still tired and groggy. Mama and Babe are fine now, and resting up. This is what I was working on before all that started happening... Making garden plans is so much more fun than actually shoveling dirt...

I had to draw up an accurate site plan for the property for the permitting office so that we can install the spa (that I am so eager to soak my gardening-weary self in). Since our house was originally built in 1923, when apparently all you needed to get a building permit in LA was to scribble your intent on a cocktail napkin (and maybe slip the guy behind the counter some bootleg gin), even the city records people didn't have a site plan. Weird, since the house was heavily modified in the 50s and again in the 80s, with permits but no site drawings. Anyway, I got to crawl around and measure a bunch of stuff. Good times.

The house and driveway take up most of the space, so I have to use the backyard wisely. Most of it is too shady for vegetables, so the chickens and rabbits live there. Our sunniest, most open area is the driveway, so we have a bunch of plants in containers there.

The long-term goal is rooftop gardening - we have a lot of beautiful flat roof, just sitting there doing nothing right now...but some infrastructure work is required before we can make that happen.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Even though I have more chickens than I need already, I'm seriously tempted to take a little drive and pick up a couple of cuckoo marans chicks. Those chocolatey eggs are so cool. I need a bale of straw anyway...nevermind, the local shop won't have them until Wednesday. Possibly I will have come to my senses by then.

Over the last couple of weeks, it started to become clear that the area of the yard where I had put the rabbits was not going to work out. That corner used to be shaded all the time, but this winter I cut the ornamental cherry and lemon trees way back (trying to bring the lemons back down to my reach - they were previously banging on the second story window). On the plus side, more sunny space for growing things, at least for a year or two until the lemon tree fills back out.

The buns were over here:
Now they are over here, under the eternal shade of the huge-ass avocado tree.
I'm not that happy with how they look, being all mismatched. That might seem a little fussy given the general state of funkiness around the property, but I'm trying to make things prettier. Next time I have some spare money I'd like to build a proper row of hutches, mounted against the back wall up higher, then sell all three of these on Craigslist. Come to think of it, that project might pay for itself. Where the rabbits used to be, I'm going to build up a raised bed with some of the wood that I have lying around, and fill it up with all that compost I had to move to make room for the rabbits...that way I clear up a junk pile, save something from the landfill, and improve the garden all at once! Super-win! Now I just need to decide what sort of part-sun nitrogen-fixing crop would be happy in that spot, any suggestions?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Home Ec

The sky is dim and drizzly today, so the gloriously sunlit stained glass type photo I had envisioned of the excellent marmalade we made yesterday ended up looking like this...
So sad. Trust me that it is both gorgeous and delicious. Cinnamon loquat jam was made as well. Did you know that peeling/coring loquats for a couple of hours will stain your fingertips brown and leave a weird lacquer on your fingernails?

Musical interlude:

 My husband's great-aunt had a bachelor's degree, way back in the day, in Canning Technology from the University of Washington. I always think of her when I'm sweating over the canner.

 On friday I put up my first batch of beer! Another excitingly dim photo!
And nine bottles of limoncello. This is one of the chief exports of our household economy, along with hugs and bruises from well-placed kicks and punches.
Limoncello is best drunk very cold on a hot summer afternoon in the company of good friends, though sometimes it is a good idea to break it open on a chilly winter night and inhale the scent of summer.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Rabbit Report

Seriously, rabbits are the easiest animal ever. I had thought that honor belonged to the chickens, but the bunnies are making them look bad. So quiet, so cute, never squawking or fighting or waking me up too early in the morning.

I had always planned to have a core group of three - two does and one buck, but it took a while to get my third girl. I might add a third doe at some point if I can find an unrelated Californian doe (it would be nice to have some pure breeds to sell), but that's down the road a ways.

Boyfriend is looking good - he has gotten so big!
He is pure Californian, with dashing black tips to his ears, nose, paws, and tail. He's a shy guy who likes to rearrange all the items in his cage when no one is looking.
Guera is my New Zealand girl, and I have to say I'm just not that excited about her. Maybe it's because she's all white with pink eyes and seems like a lab animal, maybe it's that she's super skittish and unfriendly...but her breed is supposed to be one of the best. We'll see.
She's still pretty small, and not growing nearly as fast as the others, but those fine bones are supposed to be a good thing.
The new girl on the scene is Marta, a Flemish Giant/New Zealand cross. She is enormous - she's younger than Guera and probably twice as big already.
I really like the brown color and dark eyes - I think she and Boyfriend are going to make some beautiful babies together.

So far, the rabbit project has been pretty cheap - I have spent $40 on the rabbits themselves (probably could have been cheaper, but I wanted to start with good stock from good people), $30 on hutches (two were free, one used from Craigslist) and about another $30 on water bottles and feeders. They're still less than halfway through the first 50# sack of pellets, so between the three of them they've eaten about $6 worth of feed. The main chore is refilling water bottles, so when I can I'd like to set up a drip system, and I have to get the grow-out pen (currently in use by the half-grown chickens) in shape before the breeding group is of age.