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Posts Tagged ‘Rachel Dog Island Farm’

HOMEGROWN Life: Let’s Talk Security

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

HOMEGROWN-LIFE-LT-GREEN-150x150Security. It’s something I never really bring up but I think it’s important that I discuss it. This time I’m not talking about food security, biosecurity or keeping your hens safe from raccoons. Rather I want to discuss keeping an unwanted two legged animal off your property.

Over the past year it’s definitely been a concern and lately that concern has become even stronger with some events that have occurred in our neighborhood as well as some outside of our neighborhood. It’s caused us to push back some of our projects to take on new ones.

The old gate

The old gate

We first started thinking about security when we had to stop giving tours. We started making changes in how we presented our public persona including being very vigilant about never sharing any details about where we live.

When our next door neighbors sold their house it sat vacant waiting for escrow to close. We have been very vigilant but we can only do so much. In the weeks it’s been empty we’ve had squatters move in (fortunately our old neighbor showed up the day they moved in and kicked them out), people sleeping in the backyard, people kicking in doors and trying to break in anyway they can. We even caught another neighbor from down the street robbing the place. The cops got involved and stolen items were returned, but the offending neighbor wasn’t even cited and it left us feeling rather unsettled. We know who this neighbor is and they have been nothing but bad news.

On top of that, when we went to go talk to our neighbors across the street about the happenings next door to us they said they had recently seen some man come out of our backyard. We figured it was our milk delivery guy but she said he wasn’t carrying anything so we can’t really be sure.

Over the course of the past few years there have been issues with urban farming. Some urban farmers in Portland that were having a go with animal activists stealing their animals. One urban farmer had 23 animals stolen from him. One of the rabbits had just kindled and the thief left 9 newborn kits to die. The rabbits were dropped off with a rabbit rescue where they were later found by the owner. Granted this happened in Portland, Oregon, but the animal rights activists here are crazy enough to pull the same stunts. Hell, they’ve already tried to sabotage Kitty’s homestead once already (one of the reasons we stopped giving tours).

With all of happening at the same time we’ve decided that it’s time to increase our own security here. While the alarm system covers our house and the dogs are great guards, we want to ensure that no one can actually access the backyard without our (or our dogs’) permission. Our animals not only depend on us for food, water, shelter and love, but they also need us to make sure they are secure. Part of that security includes keeping unwanted people out of our yard.

The new gate, installed

The new gate, installed

The first order of business was our side gate. It kept the dogs from getting out, but that’s about all it did. It was flimsy and we had just put it up in a matter of hours when we first moved in because we didn’t have a gate. This time we hired our neighbor who is a retired contractor to build us the Fort Knox of gates. None of this flimsy wood panel thing we were using. We went with full on 2×6 and 2×8 pressure treated wood with 2×8 framing. Using a metal strut we tied it to a house stud. No one is kicking it in. You’ll also notice that there is no handle or latch on the outside. It also automatically closes so we can’t leave it open on accident.

Most recently we moved and replaced our driveway gates. When we first moved in, there wasn’t any fencing along our widest side yard, which is approximately 15′. Large enough to drive a vehicle behind our house. Again it was a quick job just throwing up a gate at the back of house to keep (or in Squeak’s case, attempt to keep) the dogs in. Unfortunately this left the huge blank wall of our house on that side exposed. One of the concerns I’ve always had was vandalism. The wall is easily visible to the street and having no windows on that side I’m surprised it never became a magnet for graffiti. We have now moved the gates towards the front of the house to protect that wall along with making them stronger.

In addition, we added an 8 camera security system that we can view on our phones. We had a 4 camera system, but it didn’t cover our backyard. After the fire, we realized we really needed to be able to see what was going on back there. I see and hear about all sorts of shenanigans going on in our neighborhood and I firmly believe that between the dogs, alarm system, gates and cameras, we’re pretty secure. Honestly, even if I lived in the country, I would make sure to have a security camera system.

MORE FROM RACHEL:

Rachel on Vegetable VarietiesRachel’s friends in college used to call her a Renaissance woman. She was always doing something crafty, creative, or utilitarian. She still is. Instead of crafts, her focus these days has been farming as much of her urban quarter-acre as humanly possible. Along with her husband, she runs Dog Island Farm, in the San Francisco Bay Area. They raise chickens, goats, rabbits, dogs, cats, and a kid. They’re always keeping busy. If Rachel isn’t out in the yard, she’s in the kitchen making something from scratch. Homemade always tastes better!

PHOTOS: RACHEL

HOMEGROWN Life: Halloween that is a little more green

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

 

HOMEGROWN-LIFE-LT-GREEN-150x150It is approaching quickly! I am talking about Halloween, one of the funnest holidays of the year. It is also one of the most wasteful. This year, may be a good time to switch up and start some new Halloween traditions or maybe revisit some from your childhood, like handmade treats and costumes. I can still remember all of the amazing costumes that my mom made for me and my sister each year. You can save a lot of money and make a lot of great memories.

Decorations

  • Avoid buying new plastic and make your own decorations.
  • Mix handmade in with previous purchased decorations.
  • Re use or gather natural items to decorate like gourds, leaves and eco-friendly candles.

Check out these beautiful vintage decorations you can find at yard sales.

Treats

  • Try to buy locally made candy, organic or fair trade.
  • Organic cereal bars, honey sticks, or lollipops may be good substitutes.
  • Choose candy with the least amount of packaging.

Click here for a list of eco-friendly candy selections.

Skip the candy and give eco-crayons, eco-play dough or stickers.

Trick or Treat Bag

  • Use a basket, canvas or nylon bag that can be reused each year or for another purpose.
  • Save money and use a pillow case.

Click here to enter your child’s Halloween design to Chico Bags!

Trick or Treating

  • Don’t litter. Take an extra bag to pick up wrappers.
  • Walk or ride a bike. Avoid driving house to house or share rides with neighbors.
  • Use hand-powered flashlights.

Costumes

  • Skip the cheap plastic costumes.
  • Make a unique one yourself! Try batwings out of a broken umbrella.
  • Look for places renting a costume if you don’t have time to make one.
  • See if you can get a costume on Freecycle. Have one? Post it for someone else.
  • Make your own face paint. (See recipe below.)
  • Plan a costume swap party with your friends or at your child’s school.

RECIPE: Face Paint Made with Natural Food Coloring

from the Campaign for Cosmetic Safety

Natural food coloring is available at health food stores and typically derived from foods and spices. We recommend reading up about natural food colorings and potential allergies first. Do not substitute conventional food coloring, which may contain synthetic chemical ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • Base of safe, unscented lotion (search Skin Deep for safe options) OR pure cocoa butter (available at health food stores) OR safe, fluoride-free toothpaste (search Skin Deep; avoid mint flavors, as they can make skin tingly)
  • Natural food coloring (see note above)

Instructions:

  • Mix a few drops of natural food coloring into the base ingredient of your choice. Test on a small patch of skin before applying to face or body.

RECIPE: Face Paint Made with Food

Make sure young children understand they can’t eat these paints unless you make them without the base. Test a small patch of skin first to make sure your child isn’t allergic to the food you’re using.

Ingredients:

  • Base of safe, unscented lotion (search Skin Deep for safe options) OR pure cocoa butter (available at health food stores) OR safe, fluoride-free toothpaste (search Skin Deep; avoid mint flavors, as they can make skin tingly)
  • Turmeric, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, beets, avocado, spirulina, cocoa, chocolate sauce, squid ink or other colorful foods, juices, herbs and spices

Instructions:

  • Yellow: Add 1/4 tsp. and a large pinch of stale turmeric to base.
  • Pink: Using a sieve, mash the juice from 3 fresh or thawed frozen raspberries, blackberries or beets directly into the base. Or, use a deeply colored berry juice or puree.
  • Mint green: With a fork, mash 1/4 of a small avocado until creamy. Mix this into your base.
  • Emerald green: Add small amount spirulina or bright green chlorophyll to base.
  • Purple: Using a sieve, mash the juice from several fresh or frozen blueberries into the base. Or, use blueberry juice.
  • Brown: Add cocoa powder or chocolate sauce to base.
  • Black: Use a small amount of squid ink in base for true black.
  • White: Mix powdered sugar and water.

MORE FROM RACHEL:

Rachel-Dog-Island-Farm1Rachel’s friends in college used to call her a Renaissance woman. She was always doing something crafty, creative, or utilitarian. She still is. Instead of crafts, her focus these days has been farming as much of her urban quarter-acre as humanly possible. Along with her husband, she runs Dog Island Farm, in the San Francisco Bay Area. They raise chickens, goats, rabbits, dogs, cats, and a kid. They’re always keeping busy. If Rachel isn’t out in the yard, she’s in the kitchen making something from scratch. Homemade always tastes better!

PHOTO: we heart it