Rabbit Liver Pate

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Monday, November 14, 2011 6:35 PM

Yesterday while I was chatting with Rachel over at Dog Island Farm, she said she was looking for a recipe to post on her blog.  I had just finished making rabbit liver pate the day before.  I already had pictures and recipe in hand as I had planned to blog about it here.  But why not mix it up?  So a guest blog it was. 

Today, my Rabbit Liver Pate is featured on her blog.  Nom nom nom!


Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Sunday, November 13, 2011 4:22 PM

See what happens when you get distracted??? 

I drained and cleaned the duck tub this afternoon.  I turned the hose on to fill it and went back into the house.  Um.. maybe an hour later I remembered the tub. 

Holy Moley! The ducks are having a hay day. It's like I've built them a pond.  In a few places, it's almost deep enough to swim in.

Okay.  I take that back.  In one or two places, it IS deep enough to swim in!
*sigh*  Nothing to be done about it now.  I might as well join the ducks in their song...
Mud, mud, glorious mud
Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood!
So follow me, follow
Down to the hollow
And there let us wallow
In glorious mud!
     - The Hippopotamus Song
       Flanders and Swan

Rabbit Liver Pate

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Monday, November 7, 2011 7:44 PM

Welcome to Covey Run!

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Tuesday, October 25, 2011 9:35 AM

This planned community features a six story condo complete with an automatic watering station and a dust bath.  It's situated in a lovely orchard which provides plenty of space for day hikes, stretching/exercise, foraging, and relaxing after lunch under a nice shady tree.

What more could a quail desire?  It's the PERFECT place to call home!

I'm teaching a Goat class for BioFuel Oasis, Sunday Oct. 30th.

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Sunday, October 23, 2011 10:07 AM

This little princess was absolutely in love with Nali's three kids Shadow, Pumpkin, and Candy.  It was siesta time at the Northern California Renaissance Faire.  Pumpkin, just like her mom, takes her naps very seriously.  Zonked!

Whether you're seriously thinking about getting goats or just curious about these wonderful creatures, I'll be teaching a class next Sunday, October 30th, for BioFuel Oasis in Berkeley.  I'll be taking the kids, so it should be a lot of fun!


Clarification - The CURRENT Oakland Municipal Code

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Saturday, October 22, 2011 10:43 AM

To those who are opposed to allowing residents to raise livestock in Oakland, let me remind you that this practice IS CURRENTLY LEGAL under the existing Oakland Municipal Code of Ordinances. The current process of re-writing the Municipal Code is to regulate this practice in order to insure the proper care and treatment of livestock AND to insure that this practice doesn't adversely affect other residents. That’s right. Those of us who are raising livestock want MORE regulation, not less.

To quote one person who has commented about this on my blog:

"I seriously doubt that this plan will be voted on by the Oakland City Council.
Enough said."
If this revision to the existing code never makes it to the Oakland City Council, then everything will remain status quo and people can continue to raise livestock without any real oversight.

Since I raise goats, I thought it might be helpful for those who don’t bother to do the research if I highlighted the current regulations in place. Goats are mentioned in five sections of the current Oakland Municipal Code as detailed below.



8.16.010 – Definitions
  • “Dairy” means any place where one or more cows or goats are kept, a part or all of the milk or milk products of which are produced for distribution.
NOTE:  This chapter concerns the SALE of dairy products which is strictly controlled by the USDA and the FDA.  Again - FOR SALE. This is not a regulation against raising/milking for one's own consumption. No one is proposing that we want to start a USDA approved dairy in our backyards.

2) Title 8 HEALTH AND SAFETY – Chapter 8.14 MEAT


NOTE:   This chapter concerns the SALE of meat products which is strictly controlled by the USDA and the FDA.  Again - FOR SALE. This is not a regulation against raising/processing for one's own consumption. No one is proposing that we want to start a USDA/FDA approved slaughter house in our backyards.



6.04.02 – Definitions
  • Defines a goat as an “Animal”.
  • Defines “Animal quarters” as the premises and all buildings, hutches, pens, coops, yards, and their appurtenances used for the keeping of animals…
6.04.290 – Keeping certain animals in apartment house, hotel and business districts.
  •  It is unlawful for any person to raise, or keep, live chickens, ducks, geese or other fowl, or pigeons, rabbits, guinea pigs or goats, in an enclosure or yard on property occupied by an apartment house or hotel in a business district in the city, except when such fowl or animals are kept within a bona fide produce market, commission house or store for the purposes of trade and, while so kept, are confined in small coops, boxes or cages.
4) Chapter 15.08 OAKLAND BUILDING MAINTENANCE CODE – Article V Habitable Space


15.08.230 – Sanitation
Q. Vector control
  • Openings and Penetrations. Residential and non-residential buildings or structures used for the following activities or occupancies shall be constructed and maintained impervious to the ingress of insects, rodents, and other vector.
    • c. Raising or housing chickens, birds, poultry, horses, cows, sheep, goats, swine, or other fowl, animals, or domestic pets.
  • Foundations and foundation wills shall extend for the full perimeter of building or structure and shall be constructed of concrete or masonry.
5) Chapter 12.64 PARK AND RECREATION AREA USE REGULATIONS – Article I. Generally


12.64.05 – Animals

  • No person shall lead any horse in the limits of any public park in the city or permit any horse that is not harnessed and attached to a vehicle or mounted by an equestrian, to enter the same, and no person shall turn loose into said parks any dogs, cattle, swine, goats or other animals, or permit the same to run at large in such parks, and police officers and park employees are given authority to capture and destroy any cats found running at large within said parks.

New activity on an old post concerning the Crazy Bunny *cough* Lady...

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Wednesday, October 19, 2011 9:54 PM

Today I responded to an Anonymous comment on an earlier post.  I probably should have just written an entire blog post in response, but oh well.  What's done is done.

Feel free to bop on over and read the commentary here:

Raising Goats in the City

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Tuesday, September 27, 2011 8:27 AM

Check out this article by my friend Uri Jordan Laio.  Pretty cool, eh?

Raising Goats in the City

Preview - Found Fruit's One Block Feast

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Monday, September 5, 2011 6:00 PM

I swear I'll get around to writing about the feast shortly.  I've just been dealing with the whole foot thing and trying to get a few things done.  Meanwhile, you can check out our final Sunset post written by Michele at Found Fruit.  We were also featured in the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle Food and Wine section.  There's a great article on Michele and Kim, along with one on Tom and Rachel over at Dog Island Farm.

Yes, that is a lot of links.  But follow them.  All in all, I'd say the Sunday paper was a huge win for Urban Homesteading!

Huckleberry Boo Boo

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Tuesday, August 30, 2011 9:51 AM

Freya and I went foraging for huckleberries at Joaquin Miller Park on Sunday on a tip from Michele over at Found Fruit. We hiked the entire Sequoia-Bayview trail, but didn't find much in the way of huckleberries. On our way back, we finally found a jackpot right above the horse arena itself. DOH! I guess we were trying a little too hard.

Even though we didn't find any huckleberries on the trail itself, what we DID find when we went off trail was a wonderful hidden treasure. A TIRE SWING!!!! Freya and I decided to have a little Huck Fin Fun. It was so perfectly appropriate. Freya went first, and then I took a ride as well.

Unfortunately, my dismount was less than a perfect 10. It wasn't even a 6.75. No, although I may have scored a point for bravery, I'm afraid the judges would have just winced and held their breath. That terribly ungraceful dismount earned me 5-1/2 hours in the ER department. This is NOT how one's foot is supposed to look after a foraging trip.

The ER staff may have tried Freya's patience, but I was grateful to have her company as I awaited the x-ray results.  Luckily, it doesn't appear that there are any broken bones.  They made a splint formed to the shape of my leg and foot, wrapped it all up in an ace bandage, and then gave me a walking boot.

Oh so PRETTY!  No, not the leg silly butt.  I meant Freya.  When I was ready to be discharged at 10:30 PM, Kate and Gail came to pick us up and drive my car home.  I am so lucky to have such wonderful friends!

24 hours later, Freya lovingly unwrapped the whole mess so we could have a look at the masterpiece I had so spontaneously created.  Isn't it beautiful?

Uh, yeah... The deep purple is such a pleasing color.  I actually think the swirl bruise that runs half way up my calf ending in wispy lines (damaged blood vessels?) looks wicked cool.  Not that it feels that way though.  I was in a world of hurt.  But it's feeling better today.  I can't wait until it turns green and yellow.

I still need to go visit a doctor from the orthopedic department as well as get a final read from the radiologist on the x-rays.  But for now, I'm just trying to stay off of it and keep it elevated.

Ah, Lunch...

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Saturday, August 6, 2011 12:25 PM

Italian Heirloom tomatoes and sliced cucumber, picked fresh from the vines moments earlier.  Drizzled with a little balsamic vinaigrette... Mmmmmmm... So good!

Pidgy Pidgy Pidgy

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Friday, August 5, 2011 6:53 PM

Yesterday, I noticed a little pigeon scrapping around under the plants in the front yard. I figured it was just finding some tasty seeds or bugs. But today I came home to find it sitting quietly in a corner of my backyard under the rabbitry where I have a bunch of branches piled for the chickens to hang out on.

Obviously, it must be injured. I reached down and grabbed it with only the smallest of effort. Definately a juvenile. I held it for several minutes talking to it softly and stroking it's back to try to calm it down.  I stretched out one wing, and then the other.  Yup, just as I thought.  A small injury to one wing right at the elbow.  Probably a swipe from a cat.  It doesn't look like a bad break at all, and otherwise the bird looks quite healthy.

I think it must have felt comfortable in my barnyard because of all of the other birds.  So I've decided to put it in with my quails for a couple of days where it will be confined with food and water.  Hopefully it will heal. 

If it ends up unable to fly, perhaps it will decide that life here isn't so bad and take up residence.  Who knows?  But I figure a few days of peace and quiet will do it good. 

Drum roll please... Nali and I are proud to introducing to you

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Wednesday, August 3, 2011 7:24 PM

HVNS B3 - name TBD
Mamma's Boy - A perfect replica of Nali, right down to the waddles

Daddy's Little Girl - A perfect replica of Harvey, right down to the blue eyes

HVNS B5 - Candy
Why Candy?  Because she's super sweet!
In honer of her lineage from Castle Rock Farm,
and especially in honer of her mother, Denali, named after the Mountain and National Park,
her official registered name will be...

Big Rock Candy Mountain
Yes, like in that old timey song I love to sing.
And yes, at the moment I am planning on keeping this little sweetheart!

HH Version 2.0 is now live

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Sunday, July 31, 2011 12:38 PM

I've finally managed to update my various website pages to include new pictures and accurate descriptions. Be sure to check out my all new feature project: 365 at HH

Let me know if you see any mistakes or have any issues viewing the pages. It seems that various browsers read the code differently and sometimes the pictures get squished. If it's still happening, I may need to have my friend / occasional website design error (Kitty F*up) fixer Ragani take a look at it and see if she can modify the code to prevent this problem. I just LOVE having friends that understand HTML. I certainly don't.

Warning: This post contains graphic language. Viewer discretion is advised.

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Saturday, July 23, 2011 3:33 PM

Before you read this post, please bop over to Rachel's blog and read this post.  I started writing a comment and decided I needed to post it to my blog instead.  So unless you read Rachel's blog post, you might not follow everything I'm saying below.  Go on...  It'll only take a minute.

*** Intermission***  (Cheesy theatre music)

"We now bring you back to your regularly scheduled blog update."

RE:  The City of Oakland Planning Department 1st Public Meeting on Urban Agriculture.

Actually, the meeting was not extremely confrontational.  Everyone was quite civil except for a very few.  I reached out and spoke to several folks who were against livestock in the city and I feel that an open dialog can now begin.  At least that's my hope.

But honestly, I left the meeting pissed.  REALLY PISSED.  And I find it funny that the one thing Rachel found to write about in her post meeting blog post is exactly what had me so damn pissed.  Trust me.  I'm curbing my tongue here.

I only have one thing to say about that insane woman...

C U Next Tuesday!!!!

This is a woman who is the president of a non-profit specifically formed to rescue rabbits.  The rabbit she brought was a small black & white lop.  And she was holding it sort of like a football, her hand under it's chest and it's body tucked next to hers.

Now I'm not an EXPERT on rabbits, but I do raise them and consider myself far from a novice.  None of the rabbits I own or have ever had contact with would ever stand to be held that way.  Most either like to sit in your lap, or be on your shoulder like you would burp a baby, close and snugly, right in your neck.  But held by the chest with the bulk of it's weight hanging down?  Hell no!

She was standing right next to me.  I assumed, since she WAS holding it that way, perhaps it was her pet and it was used to being out in public.  A therapy rabbit perhaps?  I reached over and gave it a little scratch on the head and said "Hello Bunny".  She looked at me and said in a very unfriendly voice: "Don't eat it".

Er... okay.  I wasn't planning on it...

She raised her hand and waited patiently for her turn to speak, and then went off like a lunatic!  She stretched out her arm and held up the rabbit for all to see and said "This is one of the 21 rabbits that were recently rescued in Oakland."  She went on to reference the Fatal Attraction movie and boiling bunnies, at which point I whispered to Rachel "That was a MOVIE.  It's FICTION." 

Someone in the audience called out to Rachel to let the woman speak.  Er.. okay.

She finished her rant and then turned and walked away, not interested in what anyone might have to say in response.  And all I could think of was this:  "You fucking BITCH!  How DARE you!!!"

This is a woman who is supposedly concerned about the welfare of rabbits.  And yet she brings this poor little malnourished, abused, and neglected tramatized bunny to a meeting in a room with 300+ people, all standing shoulder to shoulder in little groups of, oh.. 50?... and has the gaul to hold it up for everyone to see. 

I know exactly why that rabbit was letting her hold it that way.  IT WAS TERRIFIED!!!!  This woman who was professing to care so much about rabbits was EXPLOITING THIS POOR TERRORIZED ANIMAL TO PROMOTE HER OWN AGENDA.

Okay.  I'm going to say it.  Plug your ears...


Now mind you, I RARELY use that highly offensive word.  And I mean VERY RARELY.  But this woman totally floored me with her action.  I was so taken aback by her actions that it was hard to stay focused on the meeting.

It took some very VERY serious concentration to not wring her neck right there on the spot, but rather to put her in the back of my mind while I tried to have some decent conversations with a wide spectrum of people.  It was only once I was out of the place and back into my car that I was ready to vent to Gail, my next door neighbor who had come with me to the meeting.

But Gail had said she was part of an interesting conversation.  So I held back my frustration in order to let her talk.  I knew once I started I wouldn't stop.  Be considerate Kitty.  Let your guest go first.

Gail proceeds to tell me she happened upon a converstion with this same woman.  There were 3 of them:  Gail, the crazy insane bitch with the terrified bunny, and another woman.  Apparently neither of the 2 ladies could get a word in edgewise because this woman kept saying "Don't interupt me, let me finish" and then ranted and raved on and on and on.  It was when she was FINALLY finished and was turning to leave that she reached out and touched Gail on the arm and said:  "You really need to loose some weight, Honey.  Lay off the rabbit."

Now mind you, Gail is my next door neighbor.  I raise rabbits for meat.  She knows this.  But she doesn't eat rabbit meat.  In fact, she doesn't want to eat any animal she knows.  She grew up on a farm and just doesn't want to.  But she DOES buy sustainably farmed and humanely harvested meat from places like Farmer Joe's in Oakland.  The point is, she doesn't eat rabbit.  Ever.

So she followed the insane woman to tell her that her comments were offensive.  And the woman turned to her and yelled at Gail to stop harrasing her or she was going to call the cops.  What the...?????

I was pissed.  No.  I was infuriated!

I seriously think I'm going to contact Animal Services to see if she can be cited.  I'm also going to talk to Health Services to see if they might cite her because she brought it into a venue where they were serving food.  And finally, I'm going to research the non-profit to find out who is on the board of directors and see if I can get them to give her a formal reprimand for causing this rescued rabbit additional unnecessary trama when the purpose of the organization is to rescue these rabbits from abuse.  At the very least, I have contact with several local reporters and I'm going to see if I can get something written up in the newspapers.

And I'm also going to reach out to a few of the folks on the other side of the isle who want to prevent livestock raising in Oakland to see what their thoughts are.  Did they have any issue with this crazy bitch bringing the rabbit to the meeting?  Because if they didn't, they are seriously hypocrital and there is something very wrong here.  Critically wrong!

So exactly how much meat DO I eat?

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Thursday, July 21, 2011 10:05 AM

I'd like to clarify one point raised by a comment to my last post.

stellans writes:

I hope to raise my own, though maybe not quite on the scale you are.

On what scale to I actually produce my own meat?

Yes, I have a lot of animals, and yes some of them are raised for meat. But since going down this path I find that I eat much less meat than I did before choosing to live my life this way. Because I choose to raise and slaughter my own meat, it has become much more precious to me. I acknowledge the life that I gave the animal, and the fact that it's given its’ own life to nourish me.

As to the scale of meat production here on my homestead, it's a lot less than one might assume when looking at my place. Here's a general idea of my schedule.

Once a quarter, I raise 3 or 4 meat birds for my own personal consumption. Since I'm normally only feeding myself, one chicken or duck provides me with anywhere from 4 to 6 meals, or enough meat to feed my guests should I have friends over. Since I am not allowed to own a rooster for breeding, I buy straight run chicks (not sexed). I cull at approximately 4 months, which is when a rooster usually starts to crow anyway.

Once a quarter, I breed one of my two doe rabbits. One rabbit provides me with approximately 2-1/2 meals. The number of kits born varies. Delilah had 7 kits in her last litter. Melissa currently has 9. The kits are weaned at approximately 8 weeks and separated by sex to prevent any unwanted pregnancies. I cull at approximately 3 - 4 months once they have reached approximately 3-1/2 pounds dressed weight.

Based upon this schedule, I consume approximately 1 chicken and 2-3 rabbits per month. That calculates to approximately 10 meals a month, or 2 meals a week. It’s even less if I entertain friends.

So exactly how much meat DO I eat? Far less than the 96.6% of the US adult population who are meat eaters. Far FAR less!

Quoted and Misquoted

Posted by Kitty Sharkey 1:40 AM

I eat meat.

I’m not going to apologize for it. It’s a fact. Deal with it.

This poll reported by The Vegetarian Resource Group in the Vegetarian Journal on May 15th, 2009 contains the following summary:

In the survey, 3% of U.S. adults indicated they never eat meat, poultry, and fish/seafood. They were classified as vegetarian. About 1/3 to 1/4 of the vegetarians (one percent of the U.S. adult population) also never eat dairy, eggs, and honey, and were classified as vegan.

To be fair, further down the report is says this 3% figure was rounded from 3.4%.

Ok then, let’s back up and start over.

I, like 96.6% of the US adult population eat meat. I don’t see a need to justify that fact to the 1% of the US adult population who are vegan, or the other 2.4% who are vegetarian. Just like religion and politics, I respect your right to your own beliefs and to come to your own conclusions. I only ask that you respect my right to do the same. We may not agree. But let’s respect each other’s right to their own opinion.

On June 12th, 2011, I and four other urban homesteaders in Oakland were profiled in this article in the San Francisco Chronicle because our homesteads were being featured in the Urban Farm Tour hosted by The Institute of Urban Homesteading.

Here are two paragraphs as they appeared in that article:

Kitty Sharkey raises goats, rabbits, chickens and ducks on her backyard farm, Havenscourt Homestead. Although some people take issue with the fact that Sharkey eats animals she raises, it is a choice that Sharkey, 47, is comfortable with.

"It really bothers me when people bury their head in the sand about it and then go to the grocery store and buy a chicken," she said. "They don't want to know how that chicken was raised."

To clear up any misconception, the actual quote in the second paragraph above was part of a conversation I had with the reporter on the phone. I was talking about people who ask me how I can raise my own meat. Not why, mind you, but how.

These people have asked how I can eat something that I raised myself, named, watched play in the yard, and sat in my lap; An animal that I loved and cared for. I explained that those are the very reasons that I CAN and DO raise my own meat. Because I know how that animal was raised. I know what it ate (organic). I know it had a wonderful life doing what it was meant to do (i.e. chickens scratching for worms and bugs). I respected it by giving it a name and providing it with a wonderful life. And yes, I loved it and held it in my arms. As Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms said when I went to see him at a lecture in Berkeley, the animals on my farm “have a wonderful life and just one bad day”

The actual quote in the SF Chronicle was about the fact that these very same people then turn around and go to the grocery store and pick up a plastic wrapped styrofoam tray of chicken without giving it a second thought. The vast majority of those 96.6% of American adults who eat meat are totally and completely disconnected from their food. They have no idea how it is raised, what it ate, how many hormones and antibiotics were pumped into their system, or how it was slaughtered. And the fact is THEY DON’T WANT TO KNOW. If they did, I am sure that the percentage would drop a figure or two dozen. And personally, I think that would be a good thing. Perhaps we could end some of that animal cruelty if people took a good hard look at what they ate.

Am I comfortable eating meat that I raise? Yes. Not because it’s easy or routine, and not because I’m a heartless murderous bitch either. I’m comfortable with it because I have made a conscientious decision that if I’m going to continue eating meat then I want to know exactly what I’m eating. And honestly, if I’m not prepared to take the responsibility for the life AND death of that animal, then I shouldn’t be eating it. This is a personal choice I have made. It’s not for everyone. I don’t tell people they shouldn’t eat meat if they are not willing to participate in its life and death. What I do tell people is to be conscientious of the meat that they do eat, where it came from and how it was raised. I encourage people that if they do choose to eat meat, to support their local farmer and butcher and help take those dollars out of the industrialized food system.

In this article on SF Gate, a woman named Emily Wood of North Oakland was quoted as saying:

"I would like to stop animal suffering in factory farms and in my neighbor's backyard. But I have a lot more power over my neighbor's backyard."

My interpretation of this statement is that she feels powerless about what happens at factory farms, but feels she has the power to control what happens locally. I could be misinterpreting her statement.  I don't know the context of the conversation in which it was said.  This is just the way I read it.

And for me, this statement is just wrong in so many ways. Whether or not she chooses to eat meat (I have no idea, nor is it my business) I feel that she is wrong on so many levels. She DOES have the power to affect what happens in factory farms. She can do so by supporting her local farmers, be they urban, suburban, or rural. Every dollar that is spent locally on sustainably farmed, organically fed, and humanely slaughtered meat is a dollar less that is going to Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). Likewise, every dollar that is spent on locally grown organic produce is a dollar that doesn’t go to Big Agriculture and the chemical companies.

Wasn’t it Ralph Nader that told us years ago that we had the power in our pocketbooks to make changes? It’s true! If you don’t believe it, just go to your local chain grocery store. I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that they have an organic produce section. Why? Because more and more Americans are deciding that they don’t want to put a bunch of petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides into their bodies. The all mighty dollar is speaking loud and clear when it comes to organic produce. And it’s speaking louder and louder every day when it comes to humanely raised meat. If you want to end what I believe omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans alike all feel is the inhumane treatment of factory farmed animals, please support your local farmers and spend your dollars with them. Encourage (not demand) your friends to do the same.  If I choose to eat meat and you don't, then please have the decency to admit that at least I’m choosing what you might consider the lesser of two evils.

But back to that article in the San Francisco Chronicle and the two paragraphs that I highlighted above. Why am I referencing it and why did I decide to title this blog post “Quoted and Misquoted”?

On June 17th, 2011, this article written by a gentleman named Ian Elwood was published on OaklandNorth.net. And here is a paragraph concerning the SF Chronicle article as it appeared in the OaklandNorth article:

One of the animal farmers interviewed explains that it is important for people to have a “connection to their food source.” Another says that breeding, slaughtering and eating animals is a choice she is comfortable with, and that she is bothered when people “go to the grocery store and buy a chicken.” At first blush, this sounds like a good thing: knowing where your food comes from. But what is it really saying?

Is this an exact quote? Not exactly. I would call it a misquote. The actual words inside the quotation marks are the exact words as they appeared in the SF Chronicle article. But they are taken out of context. The full quote would read:

"It really bothers me when people bury their head in the sand about it and then go to the grocery store and buy a chicken," she said. "They don't want to know how that chicken was raised."

Read his paragraph again, and then read my quote again. The context is completely different. It’s not that they buy chicken at the grocery store that bothers me. It’s that they bury their head in the sand and don’t want to know how it is raised or slaughtered.

It's a night and day difference, if you ask me. But now I’m asking you. What do you think? Was I misquoted? Was my comment taken out of context?

He goes on in his next paragraph to say:

By choosing to only kill and eat animals they are personally connected to, the urban animal farmers interviewed demonstrate awareness that killing these animals is unnecessary for their survival. It is a personal preference.

True. It is a personal preference. As explained above, if I am not willing to be responsible for the life and death of an animal, I feel that I have no business eating it. This is a choice I have made. I could just as easily (actually much MORE easily) have chosen to ignore where my food comes from and buy meat in bulk at Costco like I used to do.  Not that I'm bashing Costco.  I'm just using my past buying habits as an example.

They know they won’t go hungry tonight, next week, or next year if they don’t slaughter the goat munching on grass in their backyard. And inadequate nutrition isn’t something they will ever face in their lives.

No. I won’t go hungry. And for the record, my goats are registered purebred dairy goats. They are for milk, not meat. I do however raise chickens, rabbits, and ducks for meat as well as bees for polination of my crops and for honey.

Also for the record, I HAVE faced inadequate nutrition AND gone hungry at times in my life. My father was unemployed for a large portion of my childhood.  He and my mother tried to make ends meet and feed nine kids on her meager nursing salary, food stamps, and government cheese. If I never see a block of American cheese again in my life it will be too soon. No, I will make my own cheese from the raw milk I get from my own goats thank you very much.

No one should look down their nose at regular people who buy food at the grocery store.

Huh? I’m not looking down my nose at anyone. I don’t think I’m better than the next guy. I’ve just made different choices.

And here is the absolute best statement in his entire article and one I wholeheartedly agree with 100%!!!

The real problem is the food system itself, which makes unhealthy, inhumane and environmentally destructive food choices seem like the only viable option to many people in the food deserts of Oakland.

Yes!!! Yes, yes, yes! And not only here in Oakland, but everywhere in our entire country.  Bingo!  He hit the hammer right on the nail head with that statement.

Buying food at a corner store isn’t “convenience capitalism,” as one animal farmer insinuates, it’s just what people have to do to survive.

Huh? Convenience capitalism?

They are educated, published and politically connected, and they choose to slaughter and eat their backyard animals because of a personal preference to consume a culinary delicacy: locally raised organic meat.

Culinary delicacy?

Oakland doesn’t need policies that encourage people to breed, kill and eat animals for nothing more than gastronomic gratification.

Gastronomic gratification? Huh? Wait…

So now I’m not only looking down my nose at my neighbor, but I’m going thru all the time, effort, and expense of raising my own food because it’s a delicacy and provides me with gastronomic gratification? I’m having trouble making the connection from point A to point B to point C.

In the comment section of this article on SF Gate, Emily Wood (I’m assuming it’s the same person that I quoted above about not having power over factory farms) comments:

“So the answer to cruelty within the food system is to localize it?

In a reply to her comment, a person named Ricky Silver wrote:

You mention that it is “quite clear from reading the blogs and books of the proponents of this lifestyle that they are uninformed, fairly uncaring, and are just learning as they go along”. My question is this: have you even bothered to meet these people and get to know them or the practices they employ?

I’d like to ask the same thing.

Mr. Ian Elwood –

You wrote your article on June 17th. Did you happen to attend the Urban Farm Tour on June 19th? Did you visit my homestead? Did you interact with my animals to see their temperment, inspect their housing, examine the automatic watering systems, judge for yourself the care that I provide for them? Did you even attempt to meet me? Did you ask questions and listen to my answers?

Do you know that I researched chickens and their care for over six months before bringing home my first set of chicks? Do you know that I spent over a year researching goats, visiting other homesteaders with goats, and spending an enormous amount of time communicating with various breeders before making the choice to bring goats onto my homestead?

Did you listen as I explained to those that visited my homestead exactly how I cull a chicken, the care in which I do so, or the respect I pay to the animal both before and after its death? Do you know that before I ever slaughtered a single chicken “in my backyard” that I volunteered for several months at two small sustainable organic farms in Sebastopol that raise chickens in order to learn how to humanely slaughter and process a chicken myself?

It’s obvious from your writing that you care about animals and their treatment. It’s clear that you think our current industrialized food system is the real problem. What is also obvious is that you don’t understand and/or refuse to acknowledge that homesteaders like me have the same opinions and concerns. We’ve just arrived at different conclusions as to how we are going to take action to fix these issues.

I made a conscientious decision to live this lifestyle. Not because I’m some stuck up rich person that wants to eat culinary delicacies and experience gastronomic gratification. I chose this lifestyle because I care about myself, I care about animals, and I care about the environment. You may find that hard to swallow, but yes, I DO care.  And for your information, living this lifestyle is one hell of a lot of hard work and takes real committment.

I don’t want to support the industrialized food system by purchasing and consuming inhumanely raised meat or ingesting the hormones and antibiotics within their flesh. I don’t want to support big agriculture by eating produce laced with petrochemical poisons. I don’t want to eat genetically modified foods (including meat) because I don’t believe man, as a species, has any business messing around with the genetics of other species in ways Mother Nature never intended. I have far too much respect for her.

I have chosen to vote with my pocketbook as a way to try to stop these abuses to nature. I have made these choices because I want to be in control of what I put into my own body rather than allowing big business to do so.  I have made these choices because, after much thought, research, and reflection, I have come to the conclusion that this is the way I want to live my life.

I am healthier and happier since going down this path. And that joy tends to rub off on others, be they friends, co-workers, or neighbors. By opening my homestead to those around me, I have created a sense of community and sharing that did not exist in my neighborhood before. I am proud of the way I live my life. And I’m proud that it has allowed me to make contributions to my community that I never thought possible.

This is what’s right for ME. It’s not right for everybody. And I don’t want to push my lifestyle onto others by insisting they live the same way or trying to force them to do so thru regulation.

But, even after writing all of this, I doubt you will consider even the slightest possibility that maybe, just maybe, urban homesteading is good for our community. In the end, from reading your own writing, I'm afraid it all comes down to one issue for you.

I eat meat.

Detour Ahead

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Tuesday, July 19, 2011 2:58 PM

Yes, as a matter of fact I have been trying to get my website updated.  It's taking me longer than anticipated.  But at least I mostly have the residents page updated.  More to follow soon with updated pictures on the pages.

Meanwhile, I'd like to direct your attention to the following article in Sierra Magazine with wonderful photo's by Lori Eanes.

She did it! Mama! Mama! She did it! YEAH!

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Wednesday, July 13, 2011 7:09 PM

PB is officially a surrogate mother!  So far she has 6 ducklings beneath her.  There are still three eggs, two of which have begun to hatch for sure. 

She deserves an extra special treat tonight!  Of course, I have to provide room service / breakfast in bed because she ain't leaving the nest any time soon.


That's my POOPIE BUTT!!!  

Movie Poster Photo Shoot

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Monday, July 4, 2011 11:37 PM

Today Sammy and I went on a photo shoot for the movie poster of Unicorns.  I wasn't sure what to expect since the address was way up at the top of the hill in Piedmont.  When I got there, I quickly found out that we just needed to chill for an hour.  They were doing some shots inside and then we were heading off to some other location where Sammy would have his photo shoot..

Let me just say that this was a multi-gazillion dollar house that we were at.  We hung out front for a few minutes.  Sammy enjoyed some dried leaves along the sidewalk and thankfully decided to do his business out there on the grassy strip.  Then we were told we could hang out in the backyard until they were ready.  It'd be much more comfortable for Sammy than staying in the crate in the car.

The back yard was immaculate.  Manicured lawn and shrubs, a beautiful play area for the kids.  We headed over to the play area because it was shady.  But I quickly realized it wasn't shredded wood chips on the ground, but rather some recycled (I hope) rubber material made to look like wood chips.  It was nice and cushy.  But I didn't want to take any chances that Sammy might eat it.

I looked around the yard discouraged.  There wasn't any other shade.  I didn't know if any of the plants might be toxic.  And that grass looked like it was awfully green, a sure sign that they might use chemical fertilizers.  My gut feeling was to head back out to the parking strip.  At least I knew the dried sycamore leaves on the ground were okay for him.

But then I noticed stairs leading up to another patio area.  And there were kids voices up there.  Sammy loves kids.  So up the step we went to see what was going on.  And what did we find?  A huge swimming pool with three little girls playing in it along with a very tame older golden retriever.  Hrm... Sammy and a dog... No worries.  We've been working on dogs.  At least it was a big one.  The goats tend to think they are just other weird looking/smelling goats. 

But Sammy, like all goats, does not like water.  So I wasn't sure about the whole pool thing.  At least we were now in the shade.  And the stone tiles would be easy to hose off if Sammy decided to relieve himself again.  Then I noticed, past the pool, another set of steps going to a raised grassy area.  Hrm.. shade and soft ground?  So around the pool we went and up to the upper yard.  This was obviously the dog area as I saw a little bit of evidence of doggy business.  But only a little.  Otherwise it was immaculate. 

One of the guys was nice enough to fill up Sammy's water dish and bring me a margarita.  I realized there was a gate to the pool area.  Could it be closed?  Why yes it could.  So we closed the gate and then I was able to let Sammy off leash.  He had access to the upper grassy area, the pool area, and... wait.. what's this?  The pool house!

 Oh yeah.  The life of a movie star.  Buckets full of beer and a pitcher of margarita's on the counter.  Sammy had arrived.  He was officially hanging out in the coveted Green Room.  It was quite amusing.  He had never seen a mirror.  He spent a good 10 minutes looking at himself trying to figure out if it was another goat or what?  It was super cute.

He seemed to relax and really like it in the pool house.  My guess is that this was because it's enclosed on three sides so he felt a little more secure.  Things could only come at him from one direction.  He and the dog sniffed noses a few times, but the dog seemed to lose interest quickly.  Sadly the little girls were into the pool and not the novelty of a goat.  Oh well.  Sammy had fun socializing with the adults.

Finally, it was time for Sammy to go to work.  So I packed him up and we headed up into the East Bay hills.  Somewhere in the vicinity of Happy Valley Road and Bear Creek Road we pulled over and parked.  Sammy was immediately relaxed.  After all, we've been hiking in the East Bay Regional Park District for some time.  So the oak and laurel trees are familiar to him.  What he DIDN'T LIKE was the fact that we had to cross Bear Creek to get to the place they wanted to photograph him.  It wasn't a small creek that he could hop across like the one in Tahoe.  No.   He had to go through this one.  NOT a happy boy!  But it was over relatively quickly and luckily he seemed to forget about it once he was hiking up the other side.

Once we were under a tree in the meadow, it was time to go to work.  We had to struggle a little with the unicorn horn, but not because of Sammy.  Oh no.  He was totally professional and just stood by patiently until they could deal with the equipment malfunction.  When the time came, I helped him to lay down in the proper position.  He protested a little, but only as much as any other movie star would.  After all, isn't a little protest expected from actors?

He was actually extremely patient and stayed in place for most of the two hour shoot.  He needed to get up and stretch his legs a time or two.  But I was always able to get him to lay back down and relax while the photographer was shooting.  I think they were amazed at his patience.  Me?  I know what a good boy he is.  For him it was a piece of cake.  OK... a piece of apple, which is what the lead actress gave him as a treat when he was finished.

All in all, it was a good day.  I honestly hope they got the shot they were looking for.  I know I did.

Sammy on set

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Saturday, July 2, 2011 12:14 PM

I just thought I'd share a couple more pictures of Sammy on the set of Unicorns.  Isn't he cute?

I can't wait to see the finished film. 

Wow! What a write up!

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Tuesday, June 28, 2011 9:11 PM

Special thanks to Sundari Elizabeth Kraft for alerting me to this write up.  Wow!  I'll be contacting the blogger in case she decides she really does want to do a full story.  Too cool!!!

It’s Always Greener: At Havenscourt Homestead

That's my boy!

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Monday, June 27, 2011 10:03 PM

I am so proud of Sammy!  He is an amazing creature.  This is the only publicly posted picture I can find of him related to his film debut.  But I'm already working on his acting resume!  And a big extra special THANK YOU to Kate Merrill for handling him on set.

Castle Rock Farm Tsamma - "Sammy"
  • Birth date:  05/29/09
  • Height: 22-1/2"
  • Weight: 55 lbs
  • Hair:  Silver/Gray Agouti with Black Stockings
  • Unicorns - A film by Leah Meyerhoff
  • Supporting Actor (Title Role)
  • Animals On Parade, LLC
  • Commedia Dell Arte
  • Cameo Appearance in final show at the 2010 Northern California Renaissance Faire
  • Commedia Volante
 Volunteer / Community Service:
  • Resident Havenscourt Homestead
  • 2010 Eat Real Festival
  • 2010 Northern California Renaissance Faire
  • 2011 Go for the Goat - Rockridge Market Hall
  • 2011 Bay Friendly Garden Tour
  • 2011 Valhalla Renaissance Faire
  • 2011 Urban Farm Tour
Special Skills:
  • Trained Therapy Animal
  • Good with children, elderly, and disabled
  • Photogenic
  • Trained to carry a day pack
  • Easily trained to work with various props (i.e. strap-on unicorn horn)
  • Neighborhood walks
  • Barnyard games
  • Camping
  • Hiking
Performance / Casting inquiries:
         Kitty Sharkey
         Havenscourt Homestead
         Oakland, CA

Welcome Home Sara Lee

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Sunday, June 26, 2011 10:22 AM

Drum roll please...

Introducing the newest addition to Havenscourt Homestead:


Isn't she beautiful? 

Yesterday was a big day here at Havenscourt Homestead as I welcomed home my new doe, Sara Lee.  The morning started early.  I picked up Freya at about 8 AM and headed up to Castle Rock Farm.

I had previously met my new girl when Kate and I went up to help Sarah with her Linear Appraisal.  She was beautiful and super friendly.  But I needed to know that she would fit in with the rest of my herd. 

I also wanted to make sure she was in no way aggressive and that she was okay with kids since we do so much work with children.  When the appraisal was over and they put out alfalfa for all the girls, I was sold.  Rather than diving into the meal like most of the other goats, Sara Lee was spending time with Amanda's little girl.  Absolutely perfect!

Unfortunately, the time wasn't right for me to bring her home.  I was scheduled to head up to Tahoe for the Valhalla Renaissance Faire and 12 days of camping.  I figured this would be too much stress on Sara Lee, so I decided to hold off until I could spend more time helping integrate her into the herd.

When I got back from Tahoe, I had to prep for the Urban Farm Tour.  Being sick didn't help with that at all.  But I managed to get the place spic-n-span and opened my gate to about 140 visitors.  It was a lot of fun and very educational for the tour visitors.  But the added bonus was that I earned enough money to pay for Sara Lee.  As Freya put it, my hobby is now paying for my hobby.

The coolest thing happened when Freya and I got up to Castle Rock Farm.  Sarah was finishing up a few chores, so we let ourselves into the pasture to play with the goats.  The first pasture had a bunch of little kids who were uber cute.  But I wanted to head into the pasture with the big girls.  The moment (and I mean THE MOMENT) Freya and I went through the gate, Sara Lee came over to us for some loving.  No one else.  Just her.  How cool is that?  It's like she knew.

Once I got Sara home, there was the expected jostling in the barnyard as everyone sniffed, headbutted, and chased her all over the yard.  It took her a while to figure out the stumps, but she finally started jumping on them.  She's also used to a ramp on the milk stand rather than having to hop up.  But she'll figure that out as well.  All in all, she's doing well this morning.

My only issue?  She appears to be camera shy.  But we'll work on that!

Camping and Hunting with Goats!

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Tuesday, June 14, 2011 8:38 PM

Mushroom hunting that is.  Mmmm... Morels!!!

The goats and I returned home yesterday from 12 days camping at Camp Richardson in South Lake Tahoe.  Let me just say that camping with goats RULES!  They are so much fun!  They really enjoyed it.  And all the other folks camping during the week really enjoyed them too.  There were several small children that especially liked visiting them.  A special thanks to Elyza Bartlett, my friend Randy Bartletts' 7 year old daughter, who came over almost every morning and night to help with the feeding.  She has goats and chickens at home and was a big help!  She is a chicken whisperer!

Although I've participated at the Valhalla Renaissance Faire for years, this was my time as a vendor.  I set up a petting zoo called Haven's Court.  I had to make a substantial investment in fencing in order to do so, but I really enjoyed it. 

My goal was to earn enough to pay off the fencing.  Because of rain, attendance was down the first weekend.  But the second weekend was really crowded.   Although I didn't completely pay off the fencing, I came very close. The barnyard was a hit with both patrons and participants alike.  We even managed to sell some wild flower seed bombs.  Here's a picture of my friend Pam King posing with Moremi.

Special thanks to Freya Gereke, Ragani Harris, Teresa Sotelo, and Kate Merrill for their help in the barnyard.  Freya - I couldn't have done it without you!  I'm so glad I talked (dragged) you into coming.  I'm glad you had a wonderful vacation.  Same time next year! 

Due to the heavy rains followed by the bright sunshine, it was the perfect time to go hunting for some morels.  My friend and mushrooming partner Kate Merrill showed up for the second weekend.  We convinced Cory Huynh to join us and the goats for a little jaunt into the woods.   We even ran into my friend Tina Bailey and her family who joined in the hunt.

Once we were far enough away from the campsite, I was able to let the goats off leash. Well, sort of. They were tethered together in pairs so if one decided to take off, the other would counter balance the pull. Happily, they just followed us around where ever we went. Sammy was a pro at carrying our water in his packs. All the training we've done walking together through the East Bay Regional Park District really paid off. What a blast to have them along.

It was Cory's first time hunting for mushrooms.  Can I just say he's a natural?  Once he got into the zone, he found more than anyone else.  He even found a white one!  Too cool. 

The result of our afternoon hike?  My hat chock full of morels!!!  Kate has a dehydrator, so she took them home for processing.  I plan on using some of them as part of the final feast in Sunset Magazine's One Block Party Contest.

All in all?  One hell of a vacation!!!

HH featured in the SF Chronicle and the Urban Farm Tour!

Posted by Kitty Sharkey 9:45 AM

Havenscourt Homestead will be featured on the Urban Farm Tour next Sunday.  We were included in a great article in the San Francisco Chronicle.  Check it out!

Meet the farmer next door

For more information on the tour and to sign up, please visit the following site:  Urban Farm Tours

Sammy's PACKING! No, not a pistol...

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Wednesday, June 1, 2011 10:24 AM

It looks like Sammy is singing...

"I'm too sexy for my pack.  Too sexy for my pack.  Too sexy.  Oh Yeah!"

"...as I do my little dance on the goat walk."
Sammy's new pack arrived today.  Now we're ready for some day hikes up in Tahoe next week (weather permitting).  No, he won't be carrying much to start out with.   We'll probably start with just a couple small bottles of water (must have an even load), a collapsible dog bowl for drinking it, and perhaps some treats for the trail for both the goats and I.

Isn't he soooooooooo cute?  Yeah, he is the main man in my life.  Love him!!!

Bait and Switch

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Tuesday, May 31, 2011 8:03 AM

So PB, my buff orpington, has decided to go broody. 

Yesterday I gave strong consideration to stuffing the seven chicks I have in the house under her.  But I'm heading out for vacation soon and my friend Tina has offered to babysit the chicks at her house with her son Ezra.  Since these are actually replacement hens rather than meat birds, I want them to be handled a lot.  So off to Tina's they will go.

But what to do about PB?  I could just let her sit until she figures out she isn't going to hatch anything.  But that would be a waste of a perfectly good broody.  So instead I decided to stuff four duck eggs under her, two from this morning and two from yesterday.  Considering that Jack has been going at it with Mary and Bonnie on a regular basis, they should be fertile.  I have my fingers crossed that this will work.  Even if PB were to reject them once they hatch, having her incubate them for me will be nice.

Dreaming of roasting a duck over the fire pit.  Mmmmmm....  I suppose it's too soon to start looking for some tasty recipes.  I know, I know... Don't count my ducklings before they hatch.  *sigh*

Havens Court Barnyard - It's official

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Monday, May 30, 2011 2:57 PM

Yuppers!  The goats, a couple of chickens, and I are heading up to Lake Tahoe for the Valhalla Renaissance Faire.  I'll be running a petting zoo which I'll be calling Havens Court Barnyard.  Name recognition you know.  I'm super excited!  I'm debating about taking the ducks, but I think I'm just going to leave them at home this time around. 

I hope to earn enough to pay for the fancy dancy new solar powered electric fence I purchased.*  It not only will keep the goats in, but it'll keep the bears out!  That and any unruly drunken guy stumbling through the campground at 2 AM. 

*Cute girl not included.

Goat Games!

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Friday, May 27, 2011 8:56 PM

After dinner and just before dusk, it's always time for Goat Games in the barnyard.  Tonight it started out with Chobe and Remi.  Then Remi decided he wanted to play with Snow.  She's a goofball and loves to play.  Finally Nali decided she wanted in on the fun as well.  Just another typical evening at Havenscourt Homestead.

Here's a short video for your evening enjoyment:  Goat Games

Ghetto Pool

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Saturday, May 21, 2011 1:23 PM

My neighbor Karina and her girlfriends wanted a way to beat the heat today, so I offered to build them a ghetto pool.  What's a ghetto pool, they asked?  It's for when you live in the ghetto and can't afford a pool.  Of course, we don't live in the ghetto.  But they had a ton of fun in it, especially when I added a bottle of bubble bath!  Click here for more pictures:  Getto Pool

Bunny Romp!

Posted by Kitty Sharkey 8:28 AM

One of the most common questions I was asked during the Bay-Friendly Garden Tour was if the rabbits are ever allowed outside of their cages.  The answer is YES!  If I didn't have a way to allow them to stretch their legs, run, jump, and have some fun, I wouldn't have gotten them. 

When it's not raining and I'm out in the garden, they take turns in the side garden.  It's a beautiful morning, cool and dry.  So Delilah and her three doelings are out enjoying some exercise and exploration.

Excuse the unsteady video.  It's hand held and I haven't had any coffee yet.