Thursday, December 31, 2009

Winter Portraits

Beautiful Dasha.

Beautiful Peaberry.

Dasha doesn't really want to eat the scarf... she's just checking it out.

Peaberry surveying her domain. She's become such a puffball with her thick winter coat!

Dasha's growing a double-wisp beard. How very "goaty" of her!

Snapshot with a couple of the girls.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Job Opportunity: Goat Milk Farm

Small dairy goat farm in West Arvada needs milker or feeders. Experience with goats or horses is a plus, milking experience is a definite plus but we are willing to train.

We are a small herd of 7 goats but we do milk every day. Must be able to lift at least 50 pounds. Pay commensurate upon experience and availability. References will be required. Please contact Jill at 303-241-8751 or by email at for more information.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

From Our Family to Yours...

Happy holidays! Love Cardamom, Peaberry, Sundari, Brian, Clover and Lucy (plus the rest of the barnyard crew).

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Our Weekly Goat Walk

One of our favorite day-off activities is to load the goats up in the car, grab some coffee, and head to the foothills. Since we live in NW Denver, it's a very short ride to some lovely trails. We're lucky that our day off is Monday, so often the trails aren't as crowded as they are on the weekends.

Loaded up in the car and ready to go! The goats always look a little forlorn as we climb out the car and go in to get coffee. Since the coffee place is located in a little strip mall with lots of other businesses, there's a fair bit of traffic. It's always fun to watch the double-take of someone who parks next to us, then realizes those are some "funny looking dogs" in our back seat!

Dasha is tied down in the back and can't reach that far, but she's still trying to smell my coffee. I think she looks like a cow in this picture.

On our walk. Goats are herd animals and are very happy to walk as part of a pack. Usually I lead, then the goats, then Brian and Lucy bring up the rear. We're only able to walk "herd style" in open areas where we have good line of sight and can make sure there aren't any dogs up ahead.

Snacking on a bit of dry grass.

Pausing for a picture break on some flat rocks. I think Dasha's trying to be our lookout.

Say "cheese!"

Everyone's all smiles.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Yahoo: Polluting Pets - The Devastating Impact of Man's Best Friend

Now, I own a dog. Our little Lucy is the queen of our house and definitely the apple of Brian's eye. So, I'm not anti-dog, or anti-cat (I own two cats).

What I am opposed to is people who support cat and dog ownership, but oppose chickens and goats because "they don't belong in the city." To hold that belief one must willfully disregard certain facts about cats and dogs. Cats and dogs are known to bite people, they can carry diseases that transfer to people, and their feces is toxic. Dogs can bark loudly at anything and everything.

In contrast, chickens and goats do not bite people, do not carry rabies or anything like it, and their feces is easily compostable. In fact, these animals are great at converting kitchen and garden waste into usable fertilizer. Plus, although goats and chickens may make noise occasionally, it is no comparison to dogs (specifically, the dogs in my neighborhood).

Now, Robert and Brenda Vale have analyzed the carbon footprint of dogs, giving us another fact to consider when looking honestly at the animals we surround ourselves with. The last paragraph of this article made me smile:

"But the best way of compensating for that paw or clawprint is to make sure your animal is dual purpose, the Vales urge. Get a hen, which offsets its impact by laying edible eggs, or a rabbit, prepared to make the ultimate environmental sacrifice by ending up on the dinner table."

"Get a hen," indeed! If only it were that simple.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

"Copenhagen Summit"

Hundreds gather to protest global warming...

thanks to Jessica

Lovely Quotes

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison
thanks to Kipp

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world - we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman
thanks to Jill

"How many people, right now, are stuck in traffic on their way to ride a stationary bike in a health club?" - U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (OR)
thanks to Jay

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Recipe: Wild Mushroom and Leek Risotto

Adapted from

The best mushrooms for this recipe are from Hazel Dell. They're available in town at the Denver Urban Homesteading Farmers' Market.

*If you're using homemade stock, you'll need to add salt to taste.
*Arborio is an Italian short-grain rice that's perfect for risotto. It's available in bulk at Sunflower or Whole Foods.

Yield: 6 first-course servings or 4 main-course servings

6 cups chicken stock or vegetable broth (three 14.5 oz cans will work if using store broth)
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 leeks, chopped (white and green parts)
3 cups chopped wild mushrooms (about a half pound)
1 cup arborio rice or medium-grain rice
1/2 cup dry sherry
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 tsp. chopped fresh thyme (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Bring broth to simmer in medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low; cover and keep broth hot.

Melt the butter and olive oil in heavy wide-bottomed pan (like a saute pan or large skillet). Add chopped leeks and saute for one minute.

Add wild mushrooms; cook until mushrooms are tender and juices are released, about 8 minutes.

Add rice and stir to coat.

Add sherry and simmer until liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently, about 8 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high. Add 3/4 cup hot stock and simmer until absorbed, stirring frequently. Add remaining hot stock 3/4 cup at a time, allow stock to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently until rice is just tender and mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes. Stir in Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh thyme. Serve warm.

Risotto is shown garnished with fresh mizuna - chopped and added right before serving.

Eat Local Year 'Round at the Denver Urban Homesteading Farmers' Market!

As much as we all want to eat locally, it can seem like the pickings are pretty slim during the winter. With all the farmers' markets closed for the season, what's a locavore to do?

James Bertini has created a fix for this problem with his Denver Urban Homesteading Indoor Farmers' Market. Located at 200 Sante Fe Drive and open Saturdays from 9-2, the market is bustling with business even during the winter months.

During a recent visit to the market I sampled delicious goat cheese and lovely local honey, purchased pastured-raised bacon and goat's milk soap. There are vendors selling organic vegetables like onions and potatoes, lots of beef and buffalo, and pastured eggs. I've heard they also have Hazel Dell mushrooms, which I became hooked on after buying some from the Boulder Farmers' Market. James even has some beautiful custom chicken coops on display, which can be purchased by anyone who wants their own backyard flock.

The selection at the market is large, and it's growing as James connects with new local producers. Go support the market and bring home some lovely local treats for yourself!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Job Opportunity: Chatfield Produce Grower

A note from Denver Botanic Gardens:

Know anyone who wants to be a farmer? This could be their chance. Our CSA at Chatfield is going to become a reality and the search is on for an experienced organic grower.

Job Summary: Under direct supervision of the Chatfield Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Coordinator this individual is responsible for the proper care and development of assigned tasks including, but not limited to all Community Supported Agriculture crops and pumpkin fields for annual pumpkin festival event. Position requires working knowledge of cultivation, irrigation, organic soil fertility management, crop planning and rotation, IPM practices, and other aspects of sustainable crop production.

Education/Experience: Bachelor's Degree (B. A.) in agriculture, agronomy, horticulture, botany, or related field from four-year college or university; or minimum four years related experience and/or training; or equivalent combination of education and experience. Knowledge and experience in sustainable production of fruit and vegetable cropsespecially pumpkins and gourds grown for public consumption and entertainment. Familiar with IBM compatible equipment, Microsoft Word and Excel, e-mail, and standard office equipment. Strong verbal, interpersonal, and written communications skills required. Must have valid Colorado driver’s license and an acceptable driving record.Minimum two years of organic/sustainable farming experience with working knowledge in all aspects of crop care and maintenance. Experience in the care and cultivation of a wide variety of specialty crops and vegetables, with demonstrated knowledge and hands-on skills in the same. Including but not limited to Integrated Pest Management (IPM), weed, disease, and insect recognition, irrigation, tillage and soil fertility management. Two years experience with the safe operation and repair of facilities/maintenance and variety of farm equipment is highly desirable. Must be able and willing to work weekends, early morning or nighttime periodically. Experience growing for a Community Supported Agriculture program and experience interacting with subscribers is preferred.

Send resume and/or application to Human Resources, Denver Botanic Gardens, 909 York St, Denver CO 80206, or e-mail your resume to We are a nonprofit, EOE.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Join Our Facebook Group to Support Chickens & Goats in Denver!

The keeping of food-producing animals is an important issue to me. While I love gardening and wish to see it spread to back yards, front yards, empty lots, and windowsills throughout the city, I know that vegetable nutrients are only part of the equation. Most of us consume some sort of animal protein, and locating healthy, ethically-raised, pastured, grass-fed (etc.) dairy and eggs is not only time-consuming but expensive.

Having chickens and dwarf goats in my backyard has enriched my life tremendously. I wish that everyone who wants to own food-producing animals be able to do so.

Unfortunately, Denver's current permitting process is extremely expensive and time-consuming. Worse, it allows just one neighbor (who may not even have a valid objection) to prevent you from receiving a permit.

There are many people who would like a small number of fowl and goats to become a "use by right," meaning you can own them without a permit (just like cats and dogs).

I've created a Facebook group called "Sustainable Food Denver"
devoted to advocating for the keeping of Food-Producing Animals in the city. To join the group, please click here.

By joining the group you will be demonstrating your support for this issue (we can point to the group as a way to show how many people are in favor of FPA in the city). You'll also receive updates on how the campaign is progressing and have an opportunity to be part of the "Action Team" for your council district.

To learn more about Sustainable Food Denver, please visit our website at Join the Facebook group today, and invite your friends!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Yahoo: Germ-free Kids May Risk More Adult Illnesses

Articles like this always catch my eye, because they support the idea that exposing kids to germs (in particular, germs from livestock) can help them grow into more resilient adults. The life most of us lead in the suburbs and cities has become so sterile, leaving our immune system weakened. I've heard that consistent exposure to livestock can help prevent all kinds of auto-immune issues, from food allergies to autism.

"Parents who let kids romp in the mud and eat food that has fallen on the floor could be helping to protect them against maladies like heart disease later in life, a US study showed Wednesday..."

(This reminds me of my friend's recent wedding reception, which took place in a bar. There was a little girl eating nuts. I watched her drop one on the floor, then bend down to pick it up and pop it in her mouth - all in front of her dad. My instinctive reaction was to try and stop her, but her dad just said "Eh... it's good for you.")

Bitten: Could Industrial Raised Meat Be Illegal?

...wonders Mark Bittman, food writer for The New York Times.

"Don't hold your breath, but in 1964, when the Surgeon General's report appeared, no one could have predicted the kind of anti-tobacco legislation we've seen since then."

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

9News: Colorado Farmer Jailed for Using Water From Wells on His Property

Just a short article, but apparently a farmer used water from wells on his property to grow crops. He didn't have water rights to the water on his property.

Interestingly, many Denver residents have also run into problems using water they thought was theirs. Collecting rain in a barrel and using it to water your garden isn't allowed - really.

Out in the Cold

As a new livestock owner, I have a lot of learning to do this year. It's a year of "firsts," including our first sub-zero nights. Over the last couple of weeks I did several things to prepare for the impending temperature drop.

I installed a heat lamp in the goat shed and put up a tarp barrier to create a little room that would (hopefully) retain some heat. Turns out the goats are afraid of the heat lamp and would rather sleep on the other side of the tarp, so that effort was a bit of a bust.

The chickens have their own heat lamp in their coop. It keeps them warm, but I'm pretty sure the light also keeps them awake. I've noticed some drowsy chickens in the barnyard during the day. Hens with large combs are in danger of frostbite. The solution is to rub Vaseline on the sensitive area. I can attest that smearing Vaseline on a chicken is just as hard as it sounds.

I read up on cold-weather livestock care on my goat and chicken forums, and also talked to other animal owners (including my friend who grew up on a farm outside Chicago, where it gets SERIOUSLY cold). The general consensus is that these critters are really hearty, and will be just fine.

Nonetheless, I will feel so much better when it warms up!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Give the Gift of Sustainable Living for the Holidays!

We're excited to announce that Heirloom Gardens gift certificates are now available, just in time for your holiday shopping! (Well, they're "just in time" if you're like me, and haven't started your shopping yet.)

With the recent announcement of our 2010 Winter Classes, you're sure to find something that everyone on your list will love. Our schedule includes classes in:

- Delicious, from-scratch seasonal cooking
- Backyard chicken & goat keeping
- Getting the most from your home garden
- Starting your own NSA program

All classes will be hands-on, accessible, and lots of fun! Please click here to view our complete class calendar, including class prices and dates.

Heirloom Gardens gift certificates are valid for a year, so they can also be used to purchase fresh, ultra-local produce from Heirloom Gardens at the summer Farmers' Market!

Gift certificates are available in any denomination. To purchase gift certificates, you have two options:

1. Pay By Mail
Just send a note with the following information:
- How many gift certificates you would like, and in what amounts
- Where the gift certificates should be mailed
- Your email address or phone number

Enclose the note with a check (payable to Heirloom Gardens) and send to: 4460 Winona Court, Denver 80212. We will mail your gift certificates within 24 hours of receiving your payment.

2. Pay Online
Amazon Payments allows you to pay online using either a credit card or your checking account. Just go to:

and create an account. Once you've created an account, hit the "Send Money" button. The recipient should be ""

In your online note, please include:
- How many gift certificates you would like, and in what amounts
- Where the gift certificates should be mailed
- Your email address or phone number

We will mail your gift certificates within 24 hours of receiving your payment!

If you have any questions at all about purchasing a gift certificate, please call Sundari at (303) 956-7203.

Happy holidays!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Lisa Rogers Rocks Urban Ag on CPR

Lisa Rogers is the executive director of Feed Denver, a local organization that utilizes the work of Will Allen to create incredible urban greenhouses (among other things).

Lisa recently appeared on the Colorado Public Radio show "Colorado Matters," where she spoke eloquently about the importance of urban agriculture.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Recommended: Farm City

Michael Pollan's endorsement of "Farm City" begins with the line "For anyone who thinks the local food movement has gotten a tad too precious, (...)" I can't remember anything else from his quote, but that little bit stuck with me as I read the book.

Because neither Novella Carpenter, or the story she tells in "Farm City," is the least bit precious. Set in a rough Oakland neighborhood nicknamed Ghost Town, "Farm City" describes how Novella and her boyfriend move into an apartment and begin piecing together an urban farm.

The book opens with Novella waiting for a special package to arrive. She's ordered assorted poultry chicks from a hatchery, and is soon the proud owner of baby chickens, turkeys, geese, and ducks. At this point Novella has already started a raised bed garden in the adjacent abandoned lot (with the begrudging ok of the lot owner) and set up her beehive on her deck.

The book takes us through Novella's adventures in raising her own turkey for Thanksgiving, then moving on to meat rabbits, and finally - get this - full sized pigs. Along the way she does plenty of vegetable gardening, tries a month of eating only self-grown food, introduces her assorted neighbors to the wonders of homesteading, and meets a gourmet chef who teaches her the art of charcuterie.

Novella's book is candid, speaking honestly about the the pitfalls and personal failures she encountered along the way --- just as she savors the joy of her triumphs. This is a real book, and anyone who's attempted any aspect of urban farming will smile with recognition. If you haven't yet tried to grow your own food or raise a few livestock, Novella's story will both entertain and inspire you.

You can read more about Novella and her life in Oakland on her blog:

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cooking, Animal Keeping, NSA, and more!

We're excited to announce our 2010 Winter class schedule. Over the last year I've received many requests for classes, and nothing makes me happier than sharing my love of homesteading-type stuff others.

The cooking classes will teach from-scratch methods for making simple, wholesome dishes using "real food." We'll offer fun, hand-on classes in backyard chicken and goat keeping. There's also a gardening class geared toward making the most of your home garden.

The crown jewel of our winter class schedule is the NSA (Neighborhood Supported Agriculture) workshop I'll be co-teaching with Kipp Nash of Community Roots. This workshop is for anyone who is interested in starting their own NSA program. Both Kipp and I would be thrilled to see NSA spread through all of the neighborhoods in our area!

Without further ado, here is the class schedule. You can click on each individual date to read a full class description and/or register for the class, or you can view the complete calendar here.


Simple From Scratch

Menu: No-Knead Multigrain Bread; Homemade Mozzarella; Roasted Beet Salad with Garlic, Green Beans and Sour Cream Horseradish Dressing; Vegetable Barley Soup; Apple Dumplings with Ice Cream and Homemade Caramel Sauce

Sunday, January 10th at 6:00

Tuesday, February 23rd at 6:00

Friday, March 26th at 6:00

Cost = $50 (includes recipes)

Seasonal Soups and Breads

Menu: Creamy Onion Soup with Brandy and Caramelized Apples; Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Brown Butter and Creme Fraiche, Portuguese White Bean and Kale Stew, Challah Bread, Cheddar Cheese and Buttermilk Biscuits, Fig and Almond Dessert Bread

Tuesday, January 26th at 6:00

Friday, February 12th at 6:00

Sunday, March 7th at 6:00

Cost = $50 (includes recipes)

Simple Indian

Menu: Golden Mung Dal with Winter Squash, Saag with Homemade Paneer, Coconut Curry Roasted Vegetables, Cabbage Koftas with Spicy Sauce, Grilled Naan Bread with Fennel Seed, Kheer with Almonds and Dates

Friday, January 22nd at 6:00

Sunday, February 7th at 6:00

Tuesday, March 16th at 6:00

Cost = $50 (includes recipes)

Animal Care

Backyard Chicken Keeping

Hands-on introduction, including: choosing the perfect chickens, chick care, housing and fencing, feeding, common chicken challenges, all about the eggs, financial considerations, livestock permitting process

Saturday, January 23rd at 1:00

Sunday, March 14th at 1:00

Cost = $25 (includes instructional handouts)

Backyard Goat Keeping

Hands-on introduction, including: choosing the perfect goats, housing and fencing, feeding, medical care, common goat challenges, all about the milk, financial considerations, livestock permitting process

Saturday, February 20th at 1:00

Cost = $25 (includes instructional handouts)


Neighborhood Supported Agriculture (NSA) Workshop - with Kipp Nash

Intended for those interested in starting an NSA program, including: community land resources, organizing workers, planning and planting, distribution, marketing, financial, zoning rules and liability issues

Sunday, January 31st at 10:00

Cost = $80

Getting the Most Out of Your Home Garden

Maximizing the production of your garden space, including: creating a master plan, soil preparation, seed starting, companion planting, succession planting, spacing, organic pest and disease management, preserving techniques

Saturday, February 27th at 1:00

Sunday, March 28th at 1:00

Cost = $30