At first we thought Squeek had rubbed her muzzle raw on the fence while barking viciously at the dogs the next door. Then it dawned on me that she got stung by a bee while we were in the garden and this must have been where it happened. She had pulled the stinger out before we could check her out so at the time it wasn’t clear where it had occurred. This photo was taken last weekend and it’s still looking pretty bad, though it’s not as swollen now. Next time I’ll need to remember to give her some benedryl. Poor pup.
The rains have come again, bringing with them all sorts of delicious spring greens. I’ve spent the past few weeks starting lettuce and spinach (to be moved into the garden beds once this cold snap blows through), and am starting to notice all the delicious edibles popping up around empty lots and fields around the city. Miner’s lettuce and three-cornered leeks and lamb’s quarters and SO MUCH FENNEL.
This past storm that came through decided to let us know that we are not immune to the muck. Our friends Heidi, from Itty Bitty Farm in the City, and Kitty, from Havenscourt Homestead, have both lamented about muck. Well, it has finally come here. And since our yard slopes away from our house and the livestock yard is at the end of our yard, it’s become a recipe for disaster. Kinda. Most of the actual yard is raised due to compost. Which is beneficial because it keeps everything from draining into our neighbors’ yards.
|Most of the yard doesn’t look wet at all|
But along the yard’s fence line and along the barn it’s a total mess. So the plan this spring is to dig an 18″ wide by 18″ deep trench along the fence, line it with filter fabric and fill it with drain rock. Very similar to what Heidi has done. I’m considering getting a sump pump as well, however we don’t have anywhere to pump the water to as the front yard is too far for any hose to reach.
1. This isn’t Fight Club. Talk about urban homesteading to everyone. Go ahead and be an urban homesteading asshole. Even if they aren’t interested force them to listen to you. Eventually they will “get it” and will thank you for forcing it upon them.
2. You must live in a city. Well, duh. But you can’t just live in a city, you cannot have more than 1/6th of an acre. Anything over that doesn’t count. See, we’re not Real Urban Homesteaders because we have a quarter acre. Too much land to be a bonafide Real Urban Homesteader so we call ourselves Urban Farmers.
3. Go 100% Green. Even if it doesn’t make financial sense to buy that $10,000 solar power system do it anyways. You want to be an Real Urban Homesteader don’t you? So what if you go into debt that you will never climb out of.
4.Get rid of your cars. Buy a cart for you bike and then ride it everywhere, including that horse ranch where you can use the cart to stock up on horse manure. So you may have to make several trips and won’t be done until next year. But that’s ok, you’re trying to be a Real Urban Homesteader.
5. Work out of your home. It will reduce your need for a car. Need to go to a meeting? Show your clients you’re a Real Urban Homesteader by showing up on a bicycle.
6. Grow all of your own food. Don’t have space to grow grains? Well, you’ll just have to go without baking. Can’t do fruit trees. Too bad, you’ll have to rely on berries for sweetness. Severly allergic to bees? Get over it and get a hive anyways. At least you’ll die a Real Urban Homesteader.
7. Raise your own livestock. What? You live in an apartment? Move out of your bedroom and build a rabbitry in there. They’re quiet, no one will ever know. You can slaughter them on your balcony. Chickens and goats are illegal where you live? Don’t worry about minor things like that. So what if the city you live in fines you $50/day per chicken/goat? You’re a Real Urban Homesteader producing your own food.
8. Install a composting toilet and use humanure in your garden as fertilizer. Yes, grow your food in your own excrement. It’s organic! Only take showers once a week to reduce your water use. All that water needs to go to your pooh-fed organic garden.
9. Learn how to make everything from scratch. Learn how to can, pickle, ferment and preserve. Make your own bread. Learn how to cure meat and make cheese. Grind your own wheat by hand. Make your own beer, wine and soda. Blow your own glass for canning. Tan hides and weave cloth. Make and mend your own clothes, shoes and hats from those hides and cloth. You don’t need any outside inputs because you’re a Real Urban Homesteader.
10. Create zero waste. Kitchen scraps should be composted. Since you produce everything yourself you won’t have anything else to throw away.
11. Convert your neighbors into Real Urban Homesteaders. Afterall, they have to deal with the noise and stink of your livestock so why not get their own? Refer to Rule #1 if you need help. They’ll eventually see your side of things. If they don’t just build higher fences.
Follow all of these rules to become a Real Urban Homesteader.
*This, of course, is just a parody of some of the most hardlined urban homesteaders out there. Please don’t take it serious. You don’t really need to do any of these things to be an urban homesteader. It’s just to make you laugh.
No idea which chicken is responsible for this tiny egg, but it’s one of the younger girls. And this was her first egg. It was definitely the smallest egg I’ve ever seen. The egg next to it is another of our younger girls’ eggs. It’s smaller than most of our other eggs and definitely smaller than commercial eggs. This photo doesn’t show just how tiny this egg was.
I cracked it open last night. It had an incredibly thick shell (chickens use the same amount of calcium regardless of the size of the egg – larger eggs have thinner shells) and a very stiff, gelatinous albumen (white). The yolk was definitely under developed. I wish I had gotten a photo of it.
It’s about security and health. But most of all it’s about community. Not just the urban homesteading community, but the community we live in.
Our security comes from knowing where our food comes from and that as long as we know how to grow it and raise it, we’ll always have it available. It’s about knowing what’s on and in our food. It’s about eating food that a corporation hasn’t touched and adulterated so far from it’s natural state that it’s no longer distinguishable.
But it’s the community. The community is the part I love. We have met some wonderful people in the urban farming/homesteading community that we are honored to now call friends. It’s about people that ask us questions and being able to help them be successful.
And it’s about helping feed our community. Extra food goes to our neighbors. It helps build relationships with them. And when your have good relationships with your neighbors it means that we all watch out for each other – a must in our community.
I’m not sure when I first heard the term “urban homesteading.” It may have been through Kitty, from Havenscourt Homestead when we first met her back in February 2010. It could have been when I was looking at books on being self sufficient while living in cities and came across The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-sufficient Living in the Heart of the City (Process Self-reliance Series).
Here are a bunch of other homesteaders – urban, suburban and rural – that are part of our wonderful community at home and abroad. Go check them out and say hi from me!
100 Mile Locavores
After the Crash
Annie’s Kitchen Garden
Cadence Dairy Goats
Champagne Wishes and Coupon Dreams
Cookers Urban Homestead
Curbstone Valley Farm
Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes
Eating More Local Chard
Ghost Town Farm
Greenhorn in the Garden
It’s All Happening
Itty Bitty Farm in the City
Jimmy Cracked Corn
Kitchen Sink Collective
My Little Garden In Japan
Northwest Edible Life
On Hollyhock Farm
Pluck and Feather
Rachel’s Tiny Farm
Sicilian Sisters Grow Some Food
Soul Flower Farm
Teufel Hunden Farm
The American Society of Permaculture
The Original Henry Milker
The Wisdom of the Radish
Through the Eyez of Denimflyz
Town Mouse and Country Mouse
Yellow Tree Farm
Speaking of community. If you live in the SF Bay Area, don’t forget that we’ll be having a potluck on April 30th to welcome Spring. Email me if you want to be added to the invite list.
|Our almond and apricot trees are blooming now|
We’re lucky. Springtime comes early around here. The last average frost date is March 27th.
Spring brings the promise of life. Birth. The buds are breaking and flowers are blooming. Baby animals populate our urban farm. And really, who doesn’t love baby animals?
|Lucy and her 5 kits (gotta love the foot in the back)|
The kits are getting big. They are already starting to eat rabbit food and nursing less. Though to be honest, rabbits are very secretive about certain things. Giving birth, nursing young and eating poo. Yes, they eat their own poo, but it’s not something you will probably ever see. Esperanza, from Pluck and Feather, did a very informative post about this when she was hand raising kits whose mother had died in a really bad heat wave. Rabbit kits are very difficult to hand raise and she did a fantastic job and was awesome enough to share with us how she did it. We now have two of those kits and they are big and healthy, though they like to nibble – the downside of not having mom to teach them not to bite.
We also picked up 15 more chicks yesterday. We got 5 White Plymouth Rocks, 5 Buckeyes and 5 Dark Cornish. The Dark Cornish will all be meat birds. They aren’t particularly known for their egg laying abilities. We will keep 2 of each of the other breeds for egg laying and use the remaining birds for meat production. According to a survey conducted by Mother Earth News, Buckeyes and Cornish were rated very high in taste. The Plymouth Rock and Buckeye are also both listed on SlowfoodUSA’s Ark of Taste.
Bella has 3 weeks left in her pregnancy. She’s more and more uncomfortable. She’s not sleeping or sunning herself on the spools as much. For the year that we’ve had her she’s never just laid on the ground. Now she is. She’s gained 30lbs. It’s really neat to feel the kid(s) kick. We’re nervous about the birth since neither of us have ever helped a goat kid. The only births that we have experienced here are rabbit kindlings and, well, we don’t have to do anything to help out with that.
When does Spring visit you? And what does it entail at your home?