Category Archives: The Homestead

this is where the lisa congdon piece goes

We got this piece from Lisa in November and I still can’t get over how much I love it.IMG_4074.JPGThe colors are so good and fun and feels so perfectly at home in our living room.

We dog-sat Wilfredo earlier in the year and this piece was our trade for that. Although, watching Wilfredo was really such a treat that we decided we needed to get pups of our own, so that should have been reward enough.
(Topic for another day:  how much Wilfredo is not like our two rambunctious monster-puppies.)

She also officiated our wedding, so it feels a bit like we have a piece of Lisa looking over us, reminding us to celebrate love.

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chicks, two weeks later

two-week old chicks

the welsummer, easter egger, jersey giant, exchequer leghorn one and two, and the wyandotte.

Six little chickens, growing up so fast!

The chicks, at just over two weeks old, are no longer little fluff balls of peep. They look more like scraggly wrens or sparrows or birds that live in trees and fly around.

We haven’t named them yet, although we’ve bandied some options around. Like Mrs Weasley and Professor McGonagall. But since they’re all different breeds (except for the two leghorns), we’re slacking on that opportunity for naming twee-dom.

two-week old easter egger chick

the easter egger, up close

They are quite skittish and get very alarmed as soon as they’re aware that we are looming. So we haven’t manage to tame them into proper pets. Once you’ve caught one, they’re generally docile and seem happy to sit with you and snooze. It’s quite pleasant to have a little bird in your lap, although poop does happen on the regular.

Feathers are coming in like crazy. First on their wings, and then little tails. The rest of their bodies are getting a bit scrotty-looking as they transition from downy fluff to feathers.

two-week old easter egger

wings with feathers!

They are very busy scratching and kicking up and rustling about in their pine shavings, which means we are very busy changing their water, at least twice a day. They’re supposed to be kept around 85 degrees (down from the 95 degrees of their first week of life). Who knows if we’re managing that, but so far, they’re all alive. The pea pod shells I offered them were treated like hysteria-inducing alien intruders. Until they forgot that they were there and then they just walked around on top of them.

Another two, maybe three weeks, before they get to move outside to the coop. Which the David is building himself, with a plan he’s devised himself. Which has been, let’s just say, a learning experience.

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about a dog

I had this whole post drafted up, to write about  dog sitting for Wilfredo, Lisa Congdon‘s beloved pup, while she and her wife were in New York for 10 days.

20140527-165031-60631624.jpgHow Wilfredo was a sort of dog trial to see what life with a dog is like. Because I’ve never had a dog, but there’s been this dog-wanting-itch.

So I was going to write about Wilfredo and what I learned. And I was going to muse about the dogs we’ve been looking at on Petfinder and wonder what sort of dog we should get.

Except, before I could write that post:

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20140602-114738-42458558.jpgThis is Rufus, the three-month old puppy we adopted on Saturday. After we said that we wanted to get an adult dog, not a puppy.

We don’t know what kind of dog he is or how big he will be. All we know is that he is not house broken or crate trained, likes to chase cats, and is overflowing with puppy cuteness and love.

 

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little patch of hopeful farm

The apartment that The David and I lived in before we moved into the new house had no outdoor space, unless you count the driveway. Which sometimes, did count, as we grilled burgers on a hibachi that we had to move out of the way whenever anyone needed to come through.

We fantasized about our one-day-ability to lounge idly outdoors, on the veranda, sipping our mint juleps.

Great glee was had in our homeownership that included a yard (but not a veranda. Come now. This is Oakland.)

The backyard is largely covered in concrete, a practice we’ve been told was common amongst the Italian folk who used to largely populate the neighborhood. Even the little square of grass (luscious and bright green when we moved in, now crispy and yellow) was actually just turf over broken up concrete where there used to be a garage or some other outbuilding.

But it was sunny and it was ours and we would grow all the things.

Enthusiasm was had. Knowledge was not.

We hired a lady who helped The David to build a humongous raised planter. We paid someone $600 for a huge pile of organic dirt. The David’s assertions that we would be saving so much money by growing our own vegetables, dashed.

We bought a bunch of fruit trees, some to go in half wine barrels, some to fit into the few non-concrete spots of ground, so that there are now 7* different types. *See the list of failures.

Seeds and seedlings were planted. Things ensued.

Beseeching and more water could not save some plants.

But here are the things that seem to be doing alright:

kale in planter box

kale, lots and lots of kale

 

zucchini plants

too many zucchini.

pea plants

peas

planter box garden

humongous tomato plants, sad basil, some carrots in front

planter box garden

leeks, scallions, green onions, chives

backyard blueberry

blueberry bush in a wine barrel

violette de bordeaux

fig tree

meyer lemon in a wine barrel

meyer lemon

herb box

basil, oregano, rosemary

*Several bits have totally failed.

1. An herb box of mint was doing amazingly, until one day, it all started to shrivel up and crap out.

2. The avocado tree was always the slowest developing of the fruit trees, and then its lackluster performance went from disappointing to dead. Some kind of root rot tragedy.

3. Baby lettuces got picked at by birds. We covered them with jars. Genius! Lettuces were saved and starting to thrive. One day it got very hot. The lettuces were steamed.

4. The melon seeds we planted were really reluctant to sprout and the few that did sprout are now seemingly disinterested in additional growth.

5. A tree specialist came out and told The David that the fruit trees were planted too deep and they needed to have the root balls closer to the surface. He dug them all up and now the pluot, who had been glorious winner of all tree awesomeness, is now droop pooper sad. Will possibly recover for next year.

And that’s where we’re at. We’ve eaten a handful of blueberries and have started using our own kale in our morning smoothie habit. I suspect a glut of zucchini is imminent. The tomatoes appear to be growing over the fence and planning an uprising.

In the mean time, there has been some idle outdoor sitting. Although due to failure #1, our outdoor sitting does not include minty cocktails.

 

 

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six chicks

 

Since we bought our house (complete with our own little patch of mostly concrete-covered land!) last August, we’ve ruminated on all kinds of plans for what we could do in our yard. All of of which are some poor iteration of the dream of dreams:  owning a goat farm in the French countryside.

Since we’re not moving to France, we decided to go a little more urban homestead and get chickens for our Oakland backyard, instead.

There was much deliberating and reading of the internets. Then we took a class, which helped to alleviate most of the concerns we had about how hard it would be and then we ordered some chicks online that same night.

We decided to get new-born chicks, instead of younger (called pullets) or full-grown birds, since you then have a better chance of raising friendly, handleable chickens. And by ordering online, I had a lot more option as far as breed selection.

I filtered for breeds that were known to be friendly and less likely to get broody. I also opted out of any bantam sized chickens, so we’d have a flock of similar-sized birds. We felt like 3 or 4 chickens would be a good number, so we ordered 6 chicks, assuming that they might not all make it. Each chick cost about 5 dollars. But the overnight shipping was 50.

The chicks shipped already hatched, so they could be sexed and we’d only get lady birds. Very hard to imagine a box of birds shipping in the mail, though. How could that possibly be ok?

Excited and curious, we high-tailed it over to our local post office when they called to say that our delivery had arrived. Then we waited in line for the package pick-up and the lady, who had seemed very dour and annoyed at the world, totally smiled when we told her we were here to pick up some chicks.

She came out with a peeping box inside of a USPS crate.

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We carried the box the few blocks home. It peeped. I could just barely make out some little creatures through the air holes.

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Once we got inside, we opened up the box, and lo! Chicks! All alive, all peeping.

They came packaged up in a bed of straw, with a little hand-warmer heat thing in paper bag.

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They’re living in an empty closet in the Room of Shame (a spare bedroom, full of unpacked boxes).

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The chicks will live inside for 4 to 6 weeks, until they are dressed in their full on feathers, with no fluff.

new baby chicks

Not pictured: a black Jersey Giant and a Welsummer.

 

They are unbelievably cute and do ridiculously adorable things. Like losing their balance and falling over when scratching their heads. Or settling down to fall asleep and then just drifting off into a face plant splat.

They do not like hanging out with us so much and are pretty scared when they see us getting in their space, but I’m hopeful that given some time and more handling, they’ll adapt and be our friends.

 

 

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catalogical

We’ve been remiss at keeping in touch.  Please forgive us.  We  are very busy.

luna and rocket

We have shed our kittenish appearances for full fledged cattiness.  But we still get up to much in the way of antics and wanton destruction.

rocket whiskers

 

This is me, Rocket.  Cat #1. I have a flair for the cantankerous and enjoy biting.
But when the mood strikes, I like to make with zee snuggle.  If we snuggle too hard, though, and I get really happy, then I drool.  It is charming and grotesque all at once.  My favorite time to tell you about my love is in the pre-dawn gloaming, around 4 am.  After that, it is time to have fisticuffs with my cat-at-arms, Luna.

luna portrait

 

Yeah, that’s me, Luna, the lovely lady lump.  When I am not cooking my rump in front of the radiator, I would like to come sit on you and then get up and turn around and then sit on you that way.  And then put my right paw in and sit on you.  And then shimmy coco puff sit on you some more.  And because I am badass, I will also purr like the mother fucking dickens while doing all that squirrelly sitting.

lickingWe are friends sometimes.  Except in the bathtub, where we are sworn to be mortal enemies.  Commence scuffling!

rocket stands upJust try to be so awesome.  Try it and be disappointed.  Your belly is far too unfurry.

luna jumpAnd your tail has got no stripes.

Until next time, humans.  Enjoy all that being awake you do.

 

 

 

 

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fur babies

The kittens are not kittens anymore; they are small cats.

Small, mostly horrible, cats.

I have time-for-love with Rocket, every morning around 4 am. Love makes him drool, and he dabs his saliva snoot all over my sleeping face.
Luna hollers at me until I pick her up and carry her around. Many mornings, I am putting on mascara while holding a cat on my shoulder.
They fight in the bathtub and try to climb up the shower curtains. They jump on the counters and knock things off onto the floor. All of the houseplants have been exiled to the outside world, in order to save them from untimely cat-induced deaths. One of them likes to hold her ass over the edge and poop outside of the litter box.

But I love them like crazy. Leaving them every morning to go to work is gut wrenching. I leaked a few tears when I had to say goodbye to them when we left for vacation. It is a love bigger than previous cat-loves.

I have a hypothesis that the cats are playing the role of “baby” that is ubiquitous in my social set these days, and that may have something to do with the extra love. They’re making me feel like I might not be as ambivalent about babies as I might have thought. The crazy-love is rather fun.

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