Sunday, September 27, 2009

Urban Homesteader

Somewhere back in history, I ran across a website called On it many people blog about their everyday life on small somewhat independent farms. They talk about homeschooling their children, raising gardens, milking goats, county fairs, preserving food, making bread, hatching new chicks, etc. Much of it does not apply to my life in the heart of the city, but it is fascinating. I think the biggest commonality I feel with all these folks is the desire to be self-sufficient. I may never be able to take it to the same level that they do, but there is certainly much I can do with my 1/3 acre lot.

I can, and do, grow a fairly large garden. It produces more than I can keep up with for a good part of the summer. And I think I can make it even more productive with a bit of experimentation. I'll blog details of my spring 2010 plans later.

I can't grow a traditional orchard, but I've figured out that I can have 7-8 fruit trees running across the back of my property. The big nasty Ponderosa Pine tree has to go... not that it's a bad thing, just expensive to get a big tree downed in a backyard where fences, powerlines, garages and other trees are in the way. And then there's a lot of prepartion to clear the area and dig holes and bring in the new trees and get water to them consistently. All that stands between me and having this happen is a lot of money and even more labor. It will take a few years, but I'll get it done. My tree dreams are peach, nectarine, Italian prune, pear (as yet undecided variety), and MacIntosh and Jonathan apples. That makes seven including the apricot that's already there. Conceivably, I could get eight trees into the space so maybe I'll go with a second peach since that's my favorite or, if we can figure out what it is, maybe one of those incredible plums like Mary has in her yard. (It came up from the rootstalk after a Satsuma plum died so it wasn't an intentional planting. Just a superb accident!)

I have a place to put a lean-to type greenhouse along the side of the one garage. This is going to take some thought about how... It can't be really wide, but it can be nearly as long as the garage. This also opens up the learning experience of how to save seeds and starting my own vegetables and flowers. That's something I understand the importance of but need to learn a lot more about what I'm doing.

There's also a place where I could tuck in a... whatever you call the thing that chickens live in. Again I have interest, but also hesitation. The hesitation comes from my tendency to make everything into pets. And also the number of cats on the loose in the neighborhood. And the occasional hawk. I guess they could be penned and not have free run of the yard, but there goes the bug control benefits. I know other people have chickens in their yards and have lost some to cats, dogs and hawks. And yes, up to 8 hens are legal with our city code. It says no roosters, but that's not enforced. Again, something to study and really think about.

These things also open up the possibility of an income stream and that's attractive. With vegetables, fruit, plants and eggs to spare, I should also look into the possibility of selling them or bartering for other things I need. More to research so I understand the legalities.

Moving inside, I already do a little canning and some freezing and dehydrating with the produce from the garden. As I can convince myself to do more and actually eat it rather than leave it on the shelf looking all pretty, I will. I have the equipment, just need more bottles.

Though I don't do it a lot, I also know how to sew, crochet and knit. Even now, it's not that I don't enjoy doing these crafts but more that I don't have need of the things I can make or outlet to sell them. That... and the ever present issue of time.

Even some of the things on my list for Santa fall into this homesteading/self-sufficient train of thought... wheat and a grinder and a dutch oven. Maybe I have more in common with these other homesteaders than I first thought!

No comments: