Monday, February 28, 2011


This pregnancy has been over six years in the making. Initially, I wasn't even sure, I want to do it at all. But then my neighbors and even total strangers told me that I simply HAD TO do it. Eventually, I began to like the idea. But then the search for the perfect man started.

Let me tell you, it is hard to find a great guy in Los Angeles. Yeah, what else is new?!

Let's start at the beginning.... Initially, I wanted to adopt. But someone adopted my chosen boy right infront of my nose. Heartbroken, I started looking again. A little later, I received Schoko as a present (a chocolate Labrador). And she soon became my BFF!

People just love this dog and I have often been asked to breed her, so they could have a baby of hers but thinking of the vast amount of unwanted dogs in shelters, I was never really into it.

That all changed, when at the same time my Mom and another close friend of mine lost their BFF's and with Schoko being already over six years of age, I had to start facing the fact that she would be gone at some point as well and BOY, did I not like that. 

To me, she is a one of a kind dog: She is sweet, smart, loving, kind, fun, playful, loyal, easy to train, calm (I for one can't stand yappers or hyper dogs), beautiful, foregiving (most important characteristic if you have kids), good with dogs and people (little & big), with one word: Perfect!

As I said, we searched and searched... even considered stud services. Noone was ever good enough for my BFF. They were either snipped (which is the right thing to do!), not a Lab, not the right Labrador (had to be English), not a chocolate Labrador, not akc, of mixed breed or had other boxes unchecked.

Anyhow, the painful seach is over: We have found perfect boy for perfect girl: He is a English Chocolate Labrador Retriever, like her. We found him through Craigslist late last fall. His mom, Cheryl, was looking for a girl to breed her pretty boy to. She, too, is looking for a replacement of her perfect-dog. So it's not just me who wants to keep her doggie!

I am proudly announcing that Ms Schoko vom Taunus has started her heat on February 24, 2011 and if everything goes to plan, she will be pregnant and have puppies on or around April 28, 2011, my late Dad's birthday (ein Baby fuer Dich, Papa!).

Needless to say: We are very, very excited!!!

And here is Schoko with her MAN!

So, stay tuned and keep following the pregnant bitch...

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis
55 AD - 138 AD


I get it: Not everyone is into saving the planet. Well, good for you that you have a second one in the trunk of your big FUV.

The most important global food staples are rice, wheat, soy and corn.

As always in agriculture, the weather conditions determine production. In 2010, we have had several failures: Russia and Ukraine region had a third of their wheat crop fail last summer, the Phillipines and other Pacific countries reported major crop failure as well due to storms (hint: global weirding), we are facing rising food and gas prices in 2011.

The USDA has even predicted that high food commodity prices are here to stay throughout the coming decade. How come?
High food prices are caused by government policies (agricultural output, choice of crops, and prices), supply and demand, rising energy prices, speculation, unsustainable population growth, the US dollar's value, and inflation rates which vary by nation. Current annual food inflation rates are globally at and above 10%; they are caused by overall growth rates and currency fluctuation of these individual countries as well as national policies concerning agriculture.

Diesel, fertilizer, pesticides, equipment, processing, manufacturing, refrigeration, storage, transport and infrastructure costs are a big part of modern agriculture and they are highly dependent upon fossil fuels.

Corn burning to produce ethanol while using coal and natural gas to distill the product is a political policy under the disguise of "green" to support corn prices. This US policy drives global high food prices since productive corn acres are not being used to produce food. High corn prices cause higher meat, dairy, wheat, and soy prices for consumers. It should not go unmentioned that corn is being fed to cows, making them sick and in the form of high corn fructose syrup it drives obesity. Shocking 35 million acres of corn fields are devoted to ethanol in the US.

Ergo: When corn crops fail, it becomes a domino effect: Higher prices for corn = higher prices for feed = higher prices for gas = higher prices for meat = higher prices for other crops.

What can be done, you ask? Well, government policies, encouraging smart foresight in planning to meet the challenges of future agricultural production (or the US will have their agricultural Detroit coming) and family planning (the question is not whether you can feed your seven children; it is whether the planet can sustain them and their children and grand-children and the answer is NO!)

But hey, most probably the Frankensteins will develop more SciFi food in an effort to remove the symptoms as opposed to dealing with the cause. . . In any event, I am SOO glad, we have started our little project. This way, I feel better about what goes into our mouths.

Remain ignornant (yeah, it's bliSS) or read on and do something:

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis
55 AD - 138 AD

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


As I have learnt working in Marketing with Procter & Gamble, you need to write down your goals to be able to achieve them. So, I made a list of (almost) all the projects, we are intending to complete in 2011 (not in any particular order). Please check in on our progress...

Yellow font = in the process
Green font = has been completed
Red font = to be done next

* Clean up backyard from overgrown monster-ivy from neighbors (it was seriously taking over our backyard and pulls fence in and destroys walls ...)
* Pull the three huge palm trees out (see my post Reduce Reuse Recycle)
* Pull all other purely ornamental shrubs and trees out
* Terrace the backyard with two parallel running walls 
* Clean and move the pond from the front to the back - for our ducks
* Plant (self fertile) fruit trees and berry bushes (Persimmon, Pomegranate, Lemon, Orange, Apple, Pear, Plum, Nectarine, Apricot, Blueberry, Raspberry, Grapes)
* Build Chicken Coop
* Build Duck House
* Build Animal Enclosure
* Kiwi Arbor in front
* Build Worm Bin
* Build Compost Pile
* Get Khaki Campbell ducklings
* Get fertile Ameraucana eggs and hatch chicks
* Seed and transplant heirlooms Tomatoes, Scarlett Runner Beans, Corn, Asparagus, Artichoke, Red Cabbage, Peas, Leek, Cabbage, Chard, Brokkoli, Brussel Sprouts
* Pull lawn out in backyard
* Set up Bee Hive with a Carneolean Queen (less aggressive)

While working on one or another, don't drop too many of the other balls ....

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tutorial - Bathroom Floormat - knit (from repurposed curtains)

In our new residence, all bedroom windows have pretty wooden blinds, while in our old place, I had sewn and hung curtains in Aurelia's room.

What to do with these old curtains? I am not a fan of the 'throw-away' mentality (growing up in 80's Frankfurt/M. thanks to Joschka and the gang, made me become an environmentalista) and so was thinking about how to recycle these.

I decided to recycle Aurelia's curtains into a bathroom floormat for the master bathroom, which still needs some (errr complete) remodeling. With that, I am also deciding on the colors, hehe (in theory). While I love them, Robert doesn't dig aqua-tones ...

#1 Rip or cut the fabric in strips, I made mine about one inch wide. While cutting won't leave you with all those frail threats, ripping is WAY more fun. Rippah-dee-dooo-uh! Rippah-dee-yay, my oh my what a recycling day ... (ok, I will stop).

#2 Tie them all together at the ends, thus creating a 'fabric yarn ball'.

#3 Knit or crochet or weave. I used super-large knitting needles; they are size 19 ... They are a tad awkward to handle.

#4 Spread, damp, pin and let dry.

#5 Voila. New bathroom floormat. Note: I haven't done #4 yet but wanted to show how it looks ...

With this fabric-strip technique, you can also weave and crochet. I chose knitting because it is somewhat more airy and thus the final item not so heavy.

Need some inspiration as to what to make?

I have made this bathroom floormat, but am thinking to do a grocery tote next. For the tote, I recommend to knit with an airy ajour-pattern or crochet with a pattern from granny's doily patterns since with all that fabric the item will get heavy. On the other hand, pick a pattern that ensures that the tomatoes won't fall out.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New hat and new 'hood

Since we are 'the new kids in' the neighborhood, we are still exploring everything. We feel very 'Dora the explorer' about it. Typically I pack a bag (not a backpack, though) with all sorts of stuff (usually sunscream, food, water and books) in it and we have picnic wherever we end up.

Recently, we hiked and discovered that there is a playground on (almost) top of the mountain, right at the beginning of the (real) hike trail. It's so beautiful.

While Schoko was dieing to go chasing rabbits (which of course we didn't let her), we had picnic.

When we got home, Aurelia decided she needed a new hat. It better be pink, it's for girls, duh. So, we went through all the yarns and found a few balls that we combined to create a new effect. Et voila.

You can get one for yourself, here ...

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Monday, February 14, 2011

Recipe - SWEETS FOR YOUR SWEET (Tiramisu - 'Lift me up')

3 Egg yolks
1/3 cup of powdered sugar - you can use regular sugar but it may feel like eating sand
1 1/3 cup of Mascarpone - tricky to get, Whole Foods is where I get mine
1 pack of lady finger biscuits
2 cups of cold black coffee
couple tablespoons of Amaretto - I believe that is the 'lift me up' part
Cocoa - make sure you get the right dark colored real cocoa, not the sugar infused light brown powder. It simply is not the same without the real cocoa. Your local grocery store is unlikely to carry it, Whole Foods may be a good adress to look for it.

#1 Beat egg yolks and sugar. Gently stir Mascarpone in.
(Variation: Some people add a tad of lemon juice to the cream but I was told real Italians don't. I have tried it but didn't like it with lemon. So, my reco is to stay puristic.)

#2 Mix coffee with Amaretto.

#3 Put half of the biscuits in a dish, soak them with the liquids.

#4 Pour 1/2 of the cream over.

#5 Layer soaked biscuits again and end with cream.

#6 Everything goes in the fridge for a few hours.

#7 Before you serve, sprinkle with cocoa.

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Sunday, February 13, 2011

You say po-tay-toe, I say po-tuh-toe

From one of my last year's Farmer's Market visits, we had some leftover potatoes, purple skin-purle flesh ones, which had started developping some eyes.

After developping eyes, the concentration of glycoalkaloid can have toxic effects in humans, so we didn't use them for food but I didn't want to toss them when we still lived in the apartment because I was hopefull to be able to plant and grow them once we moved to our property.

Potatoes don't grow from seed. They grow from eyes of potatoes, which is why some people don't throw potatoe peels into a worm bin. The potatoe will start growing.

To plant these nightshades, they need to have developped a couple of nice eyes. Then simply cut them in a way that each piece has at least one good eye.

Potatoes like sandy soil that is easy to work. Since I didn't have too many potatoes, I decided to grow them in a large container.

We mixed sand with soil and put these guys in.

Let's see what happens to grow . . .

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Tutorial - The Worm Bin

We received two lbs of wiggely worms. FINALLY.

Mail ordered from here ... because none of our local nurseries had any. Worms are needed to turn all our compost into nutrious soil for our homestead to make the trees and tomatoes grow better and bigger (in theory). Our soil is not terribly bad but it can definetely use some improvement, which is why we ordered the wiggels.

We had ordered them a while back but USPS didn't deliver them, so we had to pick them up at the mail office. When Aurelia and I picked them up, it was stated on the package "Large unknown dog", indicating that somehow this was the reason for the non-delivery. I was upset that someone would think that my fantastic, sweet and loving BFF is first of all, just a "dog" and then more importantly she is somehow believed to be scary. Look at that face ....

Gotta admit, she can be frightening if tons of slobbery kisses are what scares you. Aurelia definetely has sympathy for you then, "Too much kissing, Schoko!" OR of course, if you are a squirrel, then you SHOULD be scared of her. She may never get you but she will be relentless in trying; Schoko can sit under a tree waiting for that squirrel to come down all day, if noone pulls her away.

In any event, we got our worms. They were much anticipated because there is work to do for them. I expect no less of them than to till the entire 8,000 square foot property. This is how a Roman Emporer must have felt: commanding these wiggely slave worms, only to after all their hard labor throw them infront of the lions, errr ducklings.

But where shall I house these guys?

While some people dig up a bunch of holes in the ground and divide the wiggels up, I was aiming for a more organised approach (I am German, after all). My friend Stefanie had already anticipated my need for a worm bin and send me information on how to build one myself. THANKS AGAIN!!! 

Of course, you can always buy a composter or worm bin. This will easily cost you a couple hundred bucks, even on sale but after hours of research and comparing. Or you can simply go to a store and get all the building materials for less than $ 10.

We used:
- Two plastic boxes that can be stacked into one another with lids. They must not be transparent, worms don't dig light.
- Newspaper (I used one of these 'free' publiactions that show up in my driveway on a weekly basis)
- Drill (I used an electric one to make super small holes)
- Some water
- Some organic waste
- Some mulch or soil
- Stones or other material to elevate

#1 Put one of the boxes incl. lid aside. This one remains intact. The other one receives some wormy improvements.

#2 Drill holes into the box bottom and around the top edges and into the lid. Be carefull not to crack the plastic (see picture under #3 on what NOT to do - I cracked the plastic, you can see it in the top left corner).

#3 Rip the newspaper in stripes and put in the manipulated box.

So far, so good ...

#4 Sprinkle the newspaper with water.

#5 Put some soil and/or mulch on top

#6 Now, bring the worms into their new home.

#7 Feed these guys by putting some organic waste on top. You may want to make the pieces a tad smaller for your new pets. The recommendation is also to NOT feed them citrus in large amounts.

#8 Now, we have to pay some attention to the unmanipulated box. Put in this box the elevation material; we used two stones.

#9 Stack the boxes into one another with the stone-box on bottom. Lid on. Done. Yes, you will end up with a spare lid.

We placed our box in a shady spot I water and feed them every now and then as well as check on how they are doing. Apparently, if you don't feed them enough, they may die and if you feed them too much, a yucky scent will emerge.

How much can they eat? Of course, some smarty pants academic did a study (prob got some government grant for solving this pressing issue and wrote a book) on this and found that these wiggely workers can eat as much organic waste as 4-6 times their body weight per day.

However, rule of thumb is to feed them half of worm weight of waste per day. So, in my case with 2 lbs of worms: In other words, we need to come up with 1 lbs of organic waste per day to keep them happy.

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Recipe for Solar Oven - Borscht

Some eat it cold, some eat it hot. Either way, it is a great dish to use up all your winter veggies.

Our pot for the solar oven is a 2 qt size; they need to be shallow and of dark color to attract and hold the heat of the sun better.

Bit of olive oil
1 lbs Red Beets, washed, chopped
1/2 lbs Potatoes, washed, chopped
1/2 lbs Cabbage, washed, chopped
Pepper and Salt al Gusto
Water (have everything covered plus about half an inch)
Sour Cream (put in after you blend it and before you serve it - I put one spoon per bowl)

Put the pot in the solar oven and after about four hours, blend it and serve it with the sour cream.

Bon Appetito!

In case you wonder, where to get a solar oven ...

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Recipe for the Solar Oven - Beef Stew

1 lbs beef, cut up in small pieces
1/2 lbs potatoes, cut up in small pieces (yes, I am a meat and potatoe kinda-girl)
1/2 lbs haricots verts, cut up in small pieces(or French green beans)
2 carots, cut up in small pieces

loads of fresh garlic, finely chopped (I put 3 in)
pepper, salt al gusto
olive oil generous
some water (alternatively red wine)

As always with the solar cooker: Put everything in a dark shallow pot, lid on and

After about four hours .... BON APPETITO!!!

Want to get a solar oven?  

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Reduce - Reuse - Recycle for plants

On our property, we have loads of purely ornamental shrubs and trees, including three large palm trees in the frontyard. And when we first saw the property, Robert and I imediately agreed that they all had to go and make room for edibles.

My wishlist is long and covers apple, cherry, plum, pear, persimmon, apricot, nectarine, peach and fig trees as well as asparagus, artichoke, pineapple, rhubarb, tomatoes, eggplant, cantaloup, watermelon, grape, lavender, sage and thyme (to name only a few).

So, what shall we do with these (at least to us) useless water suckers?
We very soon agreed that we didn't want to cut them or pull and mulch them (although, I can always use more compost). Talked to several nurseries; they refused taking them (not even for free), claiming they could not resell them since they could not guarantee the health of the plant. Eventually, we came up with putting them on Craigslist for free; just come over and dig them up.

What can I say; it is really true: One person's trash may be another person's treasure. I received many phone calls and most of these ornamentals are already gone. And all without Robert killing his back. Hallelujah!

We were delighted to not have to destroy these plants on our path to sustainability (I strongly dislike hurting anything) and actually made some people happy.

It was quite the job though, to get these three large palm trees out.

But with a little bit of teamwork, everything can be achieved.

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Gardener's Delight - Killer Ducklings

After a few days on oatmeal, greens, banana and hardboiled eggs, my man decided it was time for some live-food for Nassi and Occhi. So, while digging trenches for our veggie terraces in the backyard, he ran into some fantastic duckling lunch: wiggely worms. Giggling, he and Aurelia fed them to the duckies who devoured them. (Robert is as much in love with them as Aurelia and I are. He even got up in the middle of the night after they peeped him awake and fed them. Thanks, hon!!!)

Back to the worms: Needless to say, that Aurelia wanted to find more worms to feed them to the peepers. How happy was she when she learnt that Mami was indeed expectig the delivery of two lbs of worms by mail. It will take some convincing to make sure these worms will actually go into the worm bin for composting, as planned. Thank goodness, I ordered two lbs so I can share with these hungry little beaks.

When we had the ducklings free ranging in the backyard, they were running after everything that moved and were pretty successfull in catching several bugs. Robert, the Zoology major, explained to Aurelia that ducks have much better vision than humans so that they can see all the little bugs flying or crawling by. And to prove his point, he grabbed a bit of lint from his sweater and let it fall down to Nassi and Occhi, who imediatelly snagged (and snacked) it.

Then of course the game 'Pull the lint out of the beak' began.  It's like having two more kids in the house: You have to watch and protect them; mostly from themselves and curiousity.... I have also already pulled a 3 inch burlap thread out of one beak. She must have thought this was the longest, driest worm evah!

I remembered that I had read that gardeners often complain about a bug defestation while they are indeed dealing with a duck deficiency. How true!!! So, whatever the bug you got, bring it on ... errr over and we will throw it infront of these killer beasts.

And they look so innocent . . .

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Monday, February 7, 2011

Recipe - Pea Soup in the Solar Oven - YUMMY SUNNY

We have received our solar oven (mail ordered it from some river in Southern America) on Saturday late in the afternoon and there was only about one hour of sunshine left, so we planned to test-cook on Sunday.  Note, Roberto's reflections. He is still suspicious at that point.

Then on Sunday it was pretty windy in the morning and the collectors flew all over our backyard, so that we really cooked for the first time on Monday; Oma Elkes Erbsensuppe (Granny Elke's Pea Soup) :

Ingredients (for 4 people):
1 lb of bacon
1 lbs dried peas (I used 1/2 lbs yellow and 1/2 lbs green split peas)
1 large red onion
2 potatoes
4 carrots
optional: 2 celery

I had soaked the dried peas for 24 hours and then chopped the bacon, the red onion in small pieces as well as the potatoes and carrots and put everything into a pot.

To cook with a solar oven, you need a shallow pot of dark color to attract and store the heat better. Here is ours.

Add water (it's a soup, duh!); enough to have about a half of an inch covering the ingredients and put it all it the solar oven. I put it in at around 11am.

After only a few minutes, the temperature started to rise.

Then, at about 3pm, it was 375 degrees and I thought, "I could bake with that thing!"

Then at around 5pm, we had dinner ... yumm!

We certainly love our solar oven. While it takes a day to cook and you have to plan and prepare your dinner at breakfast time, you do not have to tend it at all (Set it and forget it!) and you use ZERO electricity. Of course it helps to live in SoCal with abundance of sunshine almost everyday. It works best when there are no clouds and no pollution, so the folks in the LA basin may have a harder time but it should still work perfectly.

Needless to say that my thrifty man now wants one meal per day from this magic cooker.

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Stalker Alert!

Today we had an outing, the two ducklings and me. We went all the way into our backyard. There I let these two little ones forage. Watch out, Agoura Hills, here come the two free ranging ducklings.

They were picking all sorts of things, including some brassica seedlings. Ah well.

One of them is much bigger (not sure it is politaclly correct to say fatter?!) than the other one. I really think, I need to separate fatty for the next meal. When they were done munching, they sat in the sun. Ahhh! Soaking up those rays ... NICE.

At some point big duck tried to scratch her head with her big webbed duck feet and wham! fell straight onto her feathered behind. Too funny.

Eventually, I went inside to get some water and guess what: There was a loud protest peeping and when I turned around to check what had happened to them, I realised they were running after me.

Feels great to be stalked by such cute little feather-balls.

Although, now wherever I go, I need to watch out not to step on one or both of them.

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis
55 AD - 138 AD

Of two Ducklings and their three Mamas

What can I say? It's instinctual ... With three females in the house, the race to become the designated Duckie-Mama is definetely on: Aurelia declares constantly that she is the Duckie-Mama. Yesterday a bunch of neighbor's kids visited and she made it very clear to them.

Of course, I am the main care provider and am already concerned how upsat my little girl will be once our little peepers start waddling behind me.

But maybe the true Duckie-Mama is someone completely different... For the past week, I have been observing my six year old female Labrador sitting constantly infront of the brooder. She is almost more mesmerized by our peeping babies than Aurelia or me. I have to literally pull my old girl away from these fluff-balls, but see for yourselves:

While, one may argue, that Schoko wants to fetch and retrieve them (which Labs were bred to do), I believe, she really desperately wants to be a Mama.

I first observed this maternal instinct of hers, when I brought my baby Aurelia home over three years ago. Schoko was and is the best nanny for Aurelia. Always patient, playful and loving. Maybe sometimes a  tad too loving... "Don't slobber me!" Aurelia to Schoko. In all these three years not one mean word or a snap and believe me, Schoko took quite some beatings from Ms Aurelia!

But back to the Schokstress: Yes, we want Schoko to be a bio-mom. We have been wanting to breed that pretty girl forever. That's why I never fixed her. But typical Mama-me: Noone is ever good enough for my pure bred chocolate Lab beauty. Gosh, how will I be when Aurelia becomes a teen?!

Except, we found a pretty Lab-boy recently. His name is Junior and he and his Mama Cheryl live close by. Cheryl already agreed to our little set-up (she wants the male pick of the litter) and so we are waiting for Schoko's next heat ... I feel like an IVF tech. Weired. Anywho.

Now that she is over six years of age and per NPR dogs as of age seven are to be considered senior, I hope it is not too late to have a baby of Schoko's.

So, I am closing for today with the words of one of my former coworkers at the Hamburg Sea Devils, "Schoko, I want your baby!"

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Thursday, February 3, 2011

RIP Little Peeper Girlie

Today tragically we lost one of our three little peepers. Just when we had decided on their names. . . RIP little Knutschi. We will miss you.

She lived four days only and is a reminder of how fragile life is.

Here she is with her two surviving sisters Nassi and Ochi, munching on oatmeal and dandelion. Knutschi is the one on the right.

We will bury her tomorrow afternoon.

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Tutorial - Be my Valentine - sew

National Hallmark's Day is approaching rapidly and EVERYWHERE in my tidy neighborhood I see Valentine's decoration. Except of course on our house. Didn't take my three year old long to point that out to me. With boxes of yarn and fabric in my closet, I didn't feel like spending money.

So, I decided to make some easy breezy hearts to hang at our front door and this a tutorial.

Here we go....


* 1/4 yard of fabric (I initially intended to make a dress for Aurelia out of this but ... well, I can still make a skirt...)
* Pillow filling material
* Ribbon
* Thread (not threat!!!)

First, cut the hearts out. I made two and to do that I folded the fabric in on both sides. This should now be four layers of fabric.

Then cut out the hearts on the sides.

Next, start sowing one heart with the two heart shaped pieces of fabric.

Now, insert the ribbon. Continue sowing but leave an opening so you can insert filling material.

Then, fill your heart .... with pillow filling and sow the last piece.


"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Very First Harvest

Here it is ... Our very first harvest: Four Meyer lemons, which Aurelia converted into lemonade.

Now we are waiting for all the other seedlings and trees to become yummy fruits and vegetables.

We seeded Brokkoli, Red Cabbage, Leek, Brussel Sprouts, Artichoke, Asparagus, Lettuce, Basil, Red Corn and several kinds of Tomatoes. Everything heirloom.

As for the trees and shrubs, we have one Meyer Lemon, one Wonderful Pomegranate, one Black Mission Fig, one Fuyu Persimmon, one Peach tree, three Blueberries and several cuttings and saplings of Fig, Pomegranate, Olive, Macadamia, Kumquat, Raspberries and Grapes.

Cannot wait for more yums to be ripe.

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis


Typically on Tuesdays, Robert is in Utah and Aurelia is with her father. And that's when the magic happens. These are my crafty Tuesdays.

Last week, I made a skirt for my friend, Allin for her Birthday last Friday. HAPPY HAPPY!!!

Want one for yourself?

The week before that, I made a shawl for Aurelia.

And tonight, I am working on a shawl for me ... with this yarn and pattern:

Et Voila ...

Want one for yourself?


We have mail-ordered them way back in December: Four Khaki Campbell Ducklings and ever since then we have been anticipating their arrival with egg-citement.

These Campbells are very special ducks. They supposedly out-lay any hen (200 eggs per year), are land ducks, which means they are not too water-crazy and are not big into flying. The perfect ducks for us. They look a bit like brownish mallards, like real ducks, so to speak.

I cannot recommend the source that we used ( for a variety of reasons, one of our ducklings arrived dead, they were shipped without GroGel, the other duckling has a genetic disformity which we only learnt much later, but I have heard great things about Metzer Farms in California. Our next bunch of ducklings will be from them (thinking about four more, maybe even six ... I looove ducks): Campbell&BirdType=Duck&ID=KC&CustID=296409

Anyway, today we finally received the phone call to pick them up at USPS. Baby-birds typically get mailed. And they seem to be doing fine because the last day in the egg they suck up all the nutrients and then do not need to eat for the first two days of their lives.

Aurelia and I went to pick them up. On the way over, Aurelia informed me that she wanted to name them Grumpy, Sleepy, Bashful and Dopey. Yes, we are in the Snowhite phase.

Ever since the USPS employee handed us the little box and we heard the little peepers, we could not stop smiling.

On our drive home, I already noticed that there were only three different peeps coming out of this box and I was getting concerned. When we opened the box, it was confirmed: One little duckling had not made it. Aurelia almost cried and I was sad as as can be.

Before we went to pick these two day old babies up, I had already soaked oatmeal with some dandelion snippits. So we dunked their little beaks in water several times and then into the oatmeal smoosh. It took them a while but then they started eating.

In the first couple of weeks, they are doing fine with just water-soaked oatmeal, realy fine dandelion snippits and some brewer's yeast sprinkles. After about a month, I start them out on water-soaked chicken scratch with chopped greens and again brewer/s yeast. Ducks need more protein than chickens which is why you need to add brewer's yeast. You can also feed them hard boiled egg, which they devour.

Our ducklings seemed to do really well after the big transport, checking out our backyard, until Aurelia decided to spray them with the water hose. And I had thought I need to be concerned about our Labrador Retriever, Schoko harming these little guys . . . I guess, one never knows . . .

Oddly enough, baby ducks must not get wet. They will get cold (no down feathers yet) and may die. Here is another trivia: They cannot swim until they are several weeks of age and if raised without Mama Duck, even later.

So, I picked up three soaking wet ducklings, gave Aurelia a big speech, put the little peepers in their crate (which we had prepared beforehand with sawdust), turned the heat lamp on and prayed that we won't loose another one or all.

Of course, a few minutes into the drying of the ducklings, the bulb of the heat lamp broke and the three little peepers huddled chatteringly together. And off we rushed to the DO IT CENTER to buy two new ones. Yep, two, because one never knows!

Yes, these babies need to be warm. Since we live in SoCal, it is okay to bring them out an hour during the day but generally they still need a lot of warmth. Every week, move the heat lamp a bit away from them until  at about week 3, you only turn it on at night and at week 5 or 6 they should be able to do without.

It is kind of weired because of the lamp, they get a bit confused about when it is day and when it is night. But since they are babies, they sleep a lot anyways and as soon as the lamp is gone for good, they are back on daylight waking.