Dec 31, 2009

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

We're nearing the end of the holiday season, which means our mailbox is receiving a slew of seed catalogs from all over the country. We've been browsing their pages since the middle of the month, slowly making a list of what we need to buy for 2010, and keeping in mind the seeds we saved from last year's growing season.

Nov 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

YellowTree Farm wishes everyone a happy Thanksgiving! ...and for your entertainment, check out these "turkeys" from the 4th annual Todomundo Thanksgiving Turkey Molding Competition!

Nov 25, 2009

Quote of the Day

From celebrity chef Eric Ripert, on his outing to Costco...

"I am freaked out. Costco depresses me. I know everybody doesn't have the same opportunities I do to visit farm stands and little markets, but I will fight to the end for inspirational shopping. Costco doesn't even look like it belongs on our planet. It could be on the moon. It has no relationship to the outside world as I know it. The lighting, the temperature, the outrageous abundance. The store has no life and no contact with anything that comes from the earth. Everything is packaged, sterile, clinical. Nothing about the food is emotional. And there is a wicked genius at work, mixing the organic with the terribly processed."

The Making of an Industrial Turkey

The folks over at The Business Insider compiled a little slideshow providing a glimpse into the world of the typical Thanksgiving turkey. Take a look, and this year be thankful for what it took to get that bird onto your plate.

Nov 14, 2009

Fall's Bounty

As the nights grow longer and the weather turns colder, there's still work to do on the homestead. This is how our kitchen cabinets look these days. We've been canning a lot: turning crabapples into mustards, making jams and butters, and finding various ways to preserve our green tomatoes.

We're still waiting on our fall crops of broccoli, beets, and kohlrabi to grow bigger. Meanwhile, our daikon radishes have gotten huge! It's surprising to look around the garden and discover what's still growing: leeks, onions, peas, beans, and chard. Some vegetables seem to thrive better in cold weather, like our lettuces which are finally coming in, and it's interesting to note the differences in taste through the various seasons.

All the unseasonably pleasant weather lately has been a blessing for our chickens. After the raccoon attack last summer, the egg supply in our fridge looked dismal. However, now our younger hens have matured before the cold weather sets in, and we're collecting more eggs daily!

Oct 10, 2009

Farm Aid

The folks at Farm Aid and Homegrown came to town last weekend and it was a huge success. We were graciously invited as guests to the Farm Meets Fork dinner that Friday night. Chefs and farmers from all over the area came together to provide delicious bites to eat in the Central West End that evening. The food was great and it was nice to see so many familiar faces. Saturday was the Homegrown Urban Country Fair at Tower Grove Park. We provided information about YellowTree Farm's success so far, and we met so many inquisitive people who wanted to learn more about urban homesteading. We brought one of our hens, Bill Murray, along and she was a hit with the crowd. The weather was perfect for the Farm Aid concert the following day, and we had a fun time enjoying the music with our friends. Thanks again to Cornelia of, and the rest of the Farm Aid staff!

For Sale

Herbs (fresh, for drying, herbal teas, and/or already dried):
black opal basil
genovese basil
lavender thyme
purple basil
summer savory
szechuan buttons
tulsi tea/holy bail
winter savory
Locally foraged pears

Our Daily Bread...

Our Daily Bread (2005) reveals the little-known world of high-tech agriculture. In a series of visually stunning, continuously tracking, wide-screen images that seem right out of a science-fiction movie, we see the places where food is cultivated and processed: surreal landscapes optimized for agricultural machinery, clean rooms in cool industrial buildings designed for maximum efficiency, and elaborate machines that operate on a 'disassembly line' basis. The documentary simply aims to show the industrial production of food as a reflection of our society's values: plenty of everything, made as quickly and as efficiently as modern technology permits.

Sep 22, 2009

What we read this summer

With summer officially at a close, these were three books that kept our minds turning all season long...

Sep 18, 2009

Join us at the Urban Country Fair

With this year's Farm Aid concert taking place here in St. Louis, YellowTree Farm is pleased to announce that we've been invited to participate in the Urban Country Fair - an event taking place at Tower Grove Park the day before the big concert. There will be live music, food, demonstrations, and games. We'll be there to provide information about urban homesteading. If you want to learn more about raising backyard poultry, intensive gardening, or eating locally - look for us on Saturday, October 3rd! Learn more about the Urban Country Fair by clicking here. Danielle will also be volunteering at the Farm Aid concert, so keep an eye out for her if you plan on going.

Sep 15, 2009


Though our past attempts (here and here) didn't work out so well, our third attempt at hatching eggs has worked out great! Justin created a different DIY egg incubator, this time by using the top freezer portion of an old refrigerator. We ordered a half dozen blue Orpington hatching eggs, and we're lucky enough to have 4 little chicks hatch and survive. With such a successful hatch, we're hopeful that this means we won't have to rely on unethical, cruel, and abusive chick hatcheries anymore - and that instead, we can continue to keep hatching our own!

Sep 10, 2009

The Farmer and the Chef

YellowTree Farm's pairing up with Chef Gerard Craft of Niche to teach a cooking demonstration class at Kitchen Conservatory tonight! Titled "Farmer and the Chef: the Craft of Food" Justin and Gerard will transform our vegetables and herbs into delicious dishes for the sold-out crowd. We would have promoted the event earlier, but tickets went fast!

Aug 8, 2009

Summer update

The end of July was a busy time for us. Most notably, we no longer have goats - for several reasons. But we do, however, have about 45 pounds of goat meat in the freezer. We also participated in a couple benefits for Slow Food St. Louis: Earlier in July at a special dinner held at The Crossing where some of our produce was featured on the menu, and also at Slow Food's annual Art of Food benefit toward the end of the month where we donated a basket of produce and a tour of the homestead to a lucky bidder.

Sadly, we lost about 15 of our chickens last week - some we've had for over a year and had grown very attached to, and others that would have just begun to start laying eggs any day. A raccoon had eaten a hole through the wood of our chicken coop, and we awoke one morning to find the hens dead. We are thankful that 5 survived, and we're contemplating what to do about acquiring more birds for our flock.

These days there's always work to do: Various plants are done growing and we're taking them out of the ground, and it's also the time of year when we need to get our fall crop ready to be planted. The popcorn in the front yard has recently come down, and we've been enjoying the delicious sweet corn from our side yard. Our fall corn crop is about 2 inches tall so far, the cucuzza squash is starting to get huge, and we're picking peppers as fast as we can. Gleaning has also become a favorite activity of ours, as we scour St. Louis for unclaimed plums, apples, and pears. In addition to all this, we're expecting the two new litters of bunnies to be born this week.

Jul 11, 2009

For Sale

Available now:

black opal basil
genovese basil
lavender thyme
purple basil
summer savory
szechuan buttons
tulsi tea/holy bail
winter savory

lettuce greens
peppers (mild)
peppers (stuffing)

Upon request:
chanterelle mushrooms

Available soon:

Our produce and herbs are organic, heirloom varieties and we don't use any Bt or chemical sprays.
e-mail to place an order and arrange a pick-up.
(pictured: part of the herb garden)

Jun 27, 2009

Harvesting potatoes

Our heirloom Carola potatoes are ready to be eaten, and we've been digging some up throughout the week for dinner. They're absolutely delicious! ...delicate skin, buttery, mild, and soft. It's so nice to be our own source of fresh, chemical-free, local potatoes.

Jun 24, 2009

The animals...

Our goats, Gumby and Gidget, have really come out of their shells lately. We watch them play fight and nuzzle with each other, and get into mischief around the chicken coop. Our neighbors think they're a hoot, too.

The baby rabbits are getting bigger each day. Since we have such an abundance of salad greens, mustard, kale, chard, and cabbage, we try to supplement their feed with a feast of these fresh leaves every day.

Jun 20, 2009

What's growing right now

Here's a look at what's growing right now. It's June and we've got tomatoes on the vine starting to turn; peas, dry beans, and green beans being picked each night; cucumbers and eggplants are flowering; and the corn's grown taller than the both of us.

May 31, 2009

May recap

We've lagged behind on the blog posts lately, as the wonderful springtime weather has allowed us to get plenty of work done around the homestead. May was eventful: We've had two litters of rabbits born, tasted honey from our bees and collected some bee pollen, and eaten salads nearly every day made from our own greens. The bok choy grew in quite nicely and we've enjoyed eating that a few times as well. Neighbors and family members have been dropping off various canning jars that they have collected for us - and we've managed to put a few to use by making strawberry jams, canning Swiss chard, and finding novel uses for lemon rinds. On Mother's Day we treated our family to a dinner consisting of a couple of our own chickens. Most exciting is that our garden's thriving and growing more with each passing day.

May 7, 2009

Homestead news: Goats

The goats are getting settled in. They're fun to have around and they're certainly more quiet than most of the dogs in the neighborhood!

May 2, 2009

Apr 23, 2009

The bees have arrived!

We picked up a little over 20,000 Italian bees on Monday. I have to admit, I was scared at first. Turns out they're friendly! Our neighbor, Craig, kindly built us two hives and we put them up on our roof. This is going to be a fun adventure.

Apr 15, 2009


Morels are out! I've had a great time lately going out in the woods and foraging for mushrooms. Finding your own food is very rewarding. Who would of thought the wild onions and wild garlic tasted better than the morels? I will be focusing on wild greens on the next adventure - dandelion greens, ostrich fiddlehead ferns, lamb's quarters, and whatever else I happen to stumble upon.

Apr 11, 2009


Thank you to Slow Food St. Louis! We were awarded a biodiversity grant by Slow Food St. Louis to help fund some of our projects. The proceeds will go towards the aquisition of rare Java, Partridge Plymouth, and Araucana chickens, as well towards our continued work with over 70 different varities of heirloom vegetables.

Apr 8, 2009

Accidental Harvest

We inadvertently grew white asparagus! Our compost got dumped over the asparagus bed allowing no light in. The result, enough white asparagus for a meal. The crop should be this year. They have been in the ground for 4 years.

Mar 19, 2009

Homestead news: Compost

So THIS is what our driveway looks like these days! We had a truckload of compost delivered earlier in the week.

...moving all this compost up the hill and into our backyard is certainly going to be a challenge.

Mar 17, 2009

Homestead news: Sod

The grass is coming up! We're finishing the removal of the sod in our yard and our neighbor Mike's yard. Time to grow food instead of a lawn!

Mar 13, 2009

Got Milk?

We are so excited to announce that we have two Nigerian Dwarf goats reserved from Deborah at: - a young doe (pictured) and a small whether to keep her company.

Here are some facts about Nigerian Dwarf goats, and goat milk:
  • The goat was the first animal to be domesticated, besides the dog.
  • Nigerian Dwarfs are small, and typically aren't taller than 21 inches high.
  • They're very popular as pets, in part because Nigerian Dwarfs are gentle, easily trainable goats and they do especially well around children.
  • They require little space and are inexpensive to keep.
  • More of the world's people consume goat milk than cow milk.
  • The breed gives a lot of milk for their size, averaging 2.5 pounds per day.
  • Their milk has very high butterfat and protein content. The higher protein means we get more cheese from the milk.
  • It also has a much lower bacterial count than cow milk. So you don't have to pasteurize goat milk.
We will be very eager to see how much of our dairy needs can be met by having our own backyard pet goat.

Feb 27, 2009


Our composting worms arrived in the mail the other day. Their new home is the compost bin situated beneath the rabbit hutch - worms love rabbit poo, they break it down fast. We took this idea from some of our old farming books. If things go alright, we should have millions of worms by mid-summer that will be used in our other compost piles. This system of vermicomposting eliminates our dependence on fertilizers and adds micronutrients to the soil.

Feb 25, 2009

Local berries

We found a local source for blackberries and black raspberries plants. Gene over in Alton, IL is supplying us with as many as we need. Only $2 each! If you would like Gene's contact information so you can get some for yourself, let us know.

Feb 24, 2009

Animal news: Chicks

We took a trip out to Fulton, Missouri over the weekend and picked up some chicks from a local hatchery. We got a few araucanas, some silver laced wyandottes, and a handful of bantam seabrights. They should start laying eggs around the end of July.

Feb 15, 2009

Incubator update

Well, our first attempt at incubating eggs didn't work out so well. Much to our disappointment, none of our cinnamon queen eggs hatched.

We're trying again, though, with a couple dozen quail eggs. We've managed to keep the temperature more stable than last time, and hopefully we'll have better results. These little eggs should start hatching around February 25th.

Feb 11, 2009

"Food, Inc." trailer

Feb 9, 2009

FDA approves use of ‘pharm’ animals

In a measure that spells out trouble for all animals, the Food and Drug Administration approved last Friday the first ever drug made from genetically engineered animals – in this case, a blood thinner derived from goat milk.

According to reports, the drug is produced by first injecting human DNA into goat embryos. These embryos then get implanted into the wombs of surrogate mommy goats. Not long later, baby goats are born that themselves go on to produce milk with special blood-thinning qualities.

This leads us to speculate that not only will domestic animals continue to be housed under horrific conditions for the purposes of meat production, cosmetic testing, or scientific research – but now, the FDA will allow pharmaceutical companies the right to run their very own CAFOs.

Jan 22, 2009

Our seeds have finally arrived!

It may seem like a ton of seeds for only 2300 square feet of garden, but with our new biodynamic farming practices, all of these seed varieties will be fully utilized:

yard long
Linda Sisco's bird egg
Kentucky wonder snap
Detroit red
Burpee's golden
premium late flat Dutch
Amarillo yellow
lunar white
purple haze
St. Valery
cauliflower, giant of Naples
celery, tango
corn, country gentleman
cover crop, crimson clover
Japanese climbing
Thai golden round
egg plant
Thai yellow
black cumin
broad leaf sage
chocolate mint
dotted mint
Greek oregano
lavender thyme
Oxaca cilantro
purple basil
Russian taragon
St. John's wort
sweet marjoram
titan parsley
grape, Concord
America Spinach
Amish deer tongue
Asian mix
bibb lettuce
Black seeded Simpson lettuce
de morges braun lettuce
extra dwarf pak choy
glory endive
Limestone lettuce
old mix
Olympia spinach
pan-Pacific stirfry mix
red orach
Romaine lettuce
Shanghai green choy
spectrum mix
winter greens
fennel, Florence
kohlrabi, purple
Green Machine
Evan's sweet
Misc. (non-edible)
dishcloth luffa
nipple fruit
Plum Granny or Queen Anne's Pocket
bleu de solaise leek
cipollini-bianca di maggio
ishikura bunching
purple bunching
Tokyo long white bunching
tropeana lunga
yellow of parma
parsley root, hamburg rooted
Oregon sugar
sugar ann
alma paprika
sweet yellow mini stuffing
shishito (mild)
yellow bell
potato, carola
pumkin, Galeux d'Eysines
shallots, Dutch red
Kamo Kamo
Mongogo Du Guetemala
romanesco zucchini squash
white scallop
carbon (purple)
cream sausage
Illinois beauty
Jo Thienemann's Australian heart
orange fleshed purple smudge
sausage roma
thessaloniki red
white tomesol
Misc. cherry
black watermelon
Wilson's sweet

This list includes new seeds we purchased, and older seeds we saved ourselves from vegetables we grew in the past. Fortunately if we save our seeds properly, we won't have to buy seeds for subsequent years.

Jan 10, 2009

Oh, we're so trendy...

NPR's All Things Considered ran a little piece this evening about the growing popularity of people raising backyard chickens in urban settings. We can only hope that the movement will gain even more momentum in the near future, causing municipalities nationwide to loosen up on their livestock regulations. You can listen to NPR's story by clicking here.

Jan 9, 2009

Incubator, MacGyver style

Justin finished making our first incubator earlier this week. With
sustainability in mind, he fashioned the incubator out of an old kitchen cabinet, a used water heater thermostat, two used lighting fixtures, and our old weather thermometer. We found an automatic egg-turner off eBay, and stuck some Styrofoam in there for added insulation. Unfortunately, the water heater thermostat doesn't seem to be as sensitive as we need, and the temperature inside keeps dipping too low or climbing too high. We've since ordered a more sensitive thermostat which should arrive in the mail shortly. In the meantime we're keeping our fingers crossed and testing out the incubator's efficacy on five Cinnamon Queen eggs we got from our homesteading friends who sold us the breeding rabbits.

Jan 4, 2009

Animal news: Rabbits

Meet the newest additions to our homestead!

We picked up a trio of breeding rabbits today - two sisters (below) and an unrelated buck (the silver guy up above). They're about 10 weeks old and should be ready to start breeding in the Spring. We're still thinking up some suitable names... any suggestions?

Jan 2, 2009

A History of Gastronomy

Jan 1, 2009

New Year, New Beginnings

The two of us at YellowTree Farm are really excited about 2009, and we have some big plans in store for the coming year.

First, I finally quit my day job selling cars right before the holidays so that I can concentrate all my time and energy on gardening and caring for animals. Fortunately, while much of the nation's economy is struggling, Danielle managed to land herself a better job and starts next week. Her new salary will afford the both of us some peace of mind as we dive deeper into the waters of homesteading.

In animal news: We're in the final stages of selecting the various animal breeds we plan on raising this year. We're getting some rabbits in the next few weeks (for food and worms), and we have two Nigerian Dwarf Dairy goats scheduled to be born on the 11th. Unfortunately, hatching eggs of the breeds of geese and chicken we desire won't be available until February, so those will have to wait a little longer. In an effort to maintain peace with our neighbors and keep the noise down, we've decided not to have any roosters. We will focus breeding rabbits, quail, duck, and geese.

Other sustainable excitement: I just got done rehabbing the neighbor's old, abandoned chicken coop. It was a mess at the beginning, but I've spent time cleaning it out and recently finished installing new nesting boxes. It still needs a few more roosts before the girls can move into the coop in the Spring.

We also ran into trouble finding a local source for oil lamps, but luckily we found some people selling them on the internet. Our lamps should be here within the week. We can't wait to see how many ways we can cut down on our energy usage this year.

We're still anticipating our biggest expense to be the compost and soil building components. We need this before we can begin the back breaking process of the double digging method of biointensive gardening. Danielle's working on submitting a proposal to Lowe's sponsorship program to see if the corporation will be willing to donate some of the materials we need. We hope to hear a response from Lowe's before the end of winter.

Keep checking back to see updates on all our happy animals and planting progress.

Happy New Year, and happy homesteading