Institute of Urban Homesteading
December 2016

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Happy Holidays Homesteading Homies!
As the year rolls to a close, we have a couple classes left for you to join and our fabulous annual Winter House and Social and Sale. Jump in and register right away for Wet Felting Winter Scarves (12/3) or Lather 101: Home Soap Making (12/12)—gain a new skill and make your own custom holiday gifts! Everyone appreciates the sentiment of something made by hand, so why shop when you can craft? We are working steadily towards revamping and reinvigorating the website, curriculum and course offerings for Spring 2017 and looking forward to offering you more excellent opportunities for learning in the New Year.

Winter Open House
The annual Winter Open House Social and Sale is On! We’ll be gathering at Becca Wetherby’s house not far from my old place in North Oakland. I am busy brewing and blending and packaging up all the goodies as we speak and am looking forward to a great turn out! Small-batch, one-of-a-kind, artisan goodies offered only once a year and at a fraction of the cost in a store! Some of my goodies are in shorter supply than usual and some will be priced a dollar or two higher than in the past…but I am always glad to make volume discounts and the round up/round down policy applies. I want you to have cool stuff and feel the abundance!

Here are the details
Ruby’s Annual Winter Open House Social and Sale!
Tasting, shopping, chatting and good cheer.
Available for Tasting: Honey, Jam, Mead, Mustard, Butter and more….

Available for purchase. Starred items in limited quantity
Jam*,Elderberry & Blackberry Syrups,Mead and Port Wines*, Mustard (Coconut Curry, Shallot Sherry, Pesto,Roasted Red Pepper, Rose Cordial*, Honey*,Cups & Bowls*
Dream Pillows,Tinctures, Handcrafted Soap, Tiles, Beeswax Candles,, Herb Salt, Butcher Block Conditioner, Skin Saviour Salve, Muscle and Bone Salve, Lip Bomb Balm (tangerine and mint), Homegrown Habanero, Serrano, Cayenne and Ghost Pepper Powder, Real Caramels, Books & Zines, Seeds, Seed Balls and Pollinator Seed packs, Locally grown Herbs and more…….

Message From Our New Director
Hello, homesteaders! I have been taking classes with IUH for years and have long considered it a gem of our community. This is why I am both honored and excited to carry on the administration of IUH. We will continue to provide fun and affordable classes to the East Bay on urban farming, sustainability, self-sufficiency, and other homesteading topics. Look for a shiny new website in January, and next season we will be offering a full schedule of spring classes. If you have questions or feedback about the school, I invite you to contact me directly at I look forward to meeting many of you at Ruby’s upcoming open house, and hope to meet the rest of you in future classes!

News from the North
Rain, rain, rainbows. Everything is a little soggy here in my little valley as we learn more about our land…we have a few vernal pools here on the property and lots of low land…drainage is an issue. But every morning we see ducks, geese and egrets as well as enjoying lots of frogs. We are walking the fields in search of the higher spots for permanent plantings of roses and fruit. You already saw a picture of Daphne. She is a breed of livestock guardian dog that is not well known in the US, a Komondor. Originating in Hungary they are known for their dready locks. They are well suited to small pastures as they stay close to the flock, rather than ranging as some of the other breeds do. We won’t be maintaining her dreads though—she will be shorn along with the sheep every spring. To make sure that she knows her job we now have a few sheep…and since she is not really big enough to protect the flock for sometime, we also acquired a bull calf who is bonded to these sheep and should be a presence in deterring predators. So it goes…Otherwise we are slowly cutting back and clearing out, raking leaves and considering infrastructure and getting to know what’s what.

Speaking of Pruning and Clearing...
I know you are having some beautiful sunny days in the Bay Area and this is a great time to get outside to start to clear the way for next years garden. December and January are the months for cutting back, pruning and clearing. All your perennials should be reduced to small clumps. Bulbs that have not yet sprung up, and even those whose tips are just showing above the dirt can be dug up, split and replanted. It is a great time to divide and replant strawberries and clumping perennials like geum, lemongrass and chives, as well as running perennials like irises. Pruning of fruit trees and roses is best done once they are fully dormant (a tough call in the mild winter weather) but traditionally is done in January. Blight sensitive trees like apricots and asian pears should not be pruned too early as the open wounds are suceptible to disease. As well, pruning of everything should take place when there are a few dry days as the wounds need time to harden off to prevent disease. All the annuals can be cleared from your veggies beds and the beds can be planted with winter cover cropped or mulched with leaves, straw and/or manure.

Have A Skill to Share? IUH Now Accepting Class Proposals for Spring 2017
IUH is accepting proposals for new classes through January 15th. Please check out our guide “Teaching at IUH.” A couple classes we are specifically looking for teachers for ar a backyard fruit tree pruning course and Greywarer Re-use/Rainwater Catchment. Guidelines for making class proposals and the email address to send them to are included there on the link.

top: Navaho Churro Ram, Bottom: Jersey Bull Calf photos: Jreed