Spike 1998-2010

Our much loved 12 year old Doberman passed tonight. It’s been a horrible day spent going back and forth to the emergency vet, but he went fast, which was a blessing. Right now we’re blindsided. The house feels like it has a crater in the middle of it. He’s been with us since he was a puppy, so we really don’t know how to get along without him anymore. His name was Spike, unless it was Deiter, which was also his name. He...

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Homestead Academy: A Two Day Course in Kitchen Self-Reliance

I’ll be doing a keynote speech at the end of an intensive weekend of classes in bread baking, vinegar brewing, yogurt making and more. The event, which will take place on July 6th and 7th is presented by Growcology and the Emerald Village and will take place in Vista, CA. This weekend intensive is designed to catapult you into a life of self-reliance through homesteading. Join Growcology and the Emerald Village Volunteers as we share the...

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Picture Sundays: Uncle Sam Calls For Fruit Plantings On Every Farm & Suburban Homestead

At a lecture at last week’s National Heirloom Exposition, Gary Nabhan passed around this in-house newspaper directed at the sales force working for Stark Brothers Nursery in 1946. To assist the Government’s new Home FRUIT PLANTING campaign, Stark Bro’s have been conducting a huge Direct-Mail drive to create interest in this important subject. Inquiries from the huge Direct-Mail Campaign are referred to YOU as soon as you start...

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Rain Barrels

Constructing a cistern large enough to supply potable indoor water is an ambitious project involving pumps, filters, UV purifiers, and very large and expensive tanks. We don’t want to discourage anyone from making an attempt at it, but for most urban homesteaders it won’t be economical or practical given the space requirements and weight of thousands of gallons of stored water. Thankfully, there are simpler strategies for harvesting...

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Transcendental Taggers

“I believe in the forest, and in the meadow, and in the night in which the corn grows.” - Henry David Thoreau, “Excursions” We found this amusing graffiti on our morning Xtracycle ride to the market. Which gives us a brief opportunity to clarify the SurviveLA mission. No, SurviveLA does not take responsibility for this high-brow tagging. In fact, while we believe in the forest and the meadow, we believe in growing the c...

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Three Power Tools Every Urban Homesteader Should Own

On nearly all the work I’ve done on our house, everything from chicken coops to wood floors I’ve used just three power tools: corded drill circular saw sabre sawjig saw While I also own a router, a miter saw, a sander and a few other miscellaneous power tools, the three tools above I consider essential. Even if you don’t own a house, but would like to build some furniture or help a friend or relative with a repair project,...

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Denver and Los Angeles Experience Crowds Staring at Chicken Coops

Denver Urban Homesteaders looking at a chicken coop Judging from the phone calls and emails coming into the Homegrown Evolution compound, America has discovered that it just might be a good idea to grow some vegetables and keep some chickens. There’s lots of motivating factors, no doubt. A bad economy and dissatisfaction with factory farming to start. But we also suspect that folks have discovered that it’s just plain fun to do all...

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Help Us Find the Ideal Urban Chicken Breed

Townes Van Zandt with chicken We are in the market for new hens and lately it has occurred to us that the best breed criteria for our situation is not a breed which lays most frequently, but a breed which maintains its egg production as it matures–even if that means that it doesn’t produce as many eggs per week as a typical high production hen. Does that make sense? Because Erik is such a soft touch, we have to maintain a nu...

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Grist & Toll: An Urban Flour Mill

Southern California has its first flour mill in a hundred years: Grist & Toll. G &T will be milling grain grown by small farmers here in the Southwest. We’re on the verge of a grain revolution and small mills like Grist & Toll are leading the way. Dig Grist & Toll’s Austrian grain mill and sifter: Rumor has it that Santa is bringing me a mini version of this mill. Grist & Toll is open for special hours this holi...

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Urban Homesteading Mistakes: Landscape Fabric

Since you all seem to enjoy accounts of our many failures around the Root Simple compound, I thought I’d share what must be one of the worst mistakes I’ve made. It’s a error up in our great chandelier of failures along with buying a 91 year old house on a hill with a bad foundation. Two words for you: landscape fabric–that plastic stuff sold in rolls at big box stores that allegedly blocks out weeds. Just after we bough...

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