I wasn't interested in gardening, self sustainability, animal husbandry, art's and crafts etc. as a child. No, I was into video games, sports, chasing the almighty dollars, and keeping up with the Miller's (sorry the neighbors weren't named Jones.) I and my wife purchased a small home in suburban Washington, just outside of Seattle. We had a child, and began raising a family. Just like many of the people around us. We had a mortgage, front lawn that needed mowing too often for my taste, and a back yard that was more moss than lawn, and the garden was the dream of the previous owners.
Little by little we have been placing our stamp upon this land we inhabit. And little by little, I have become increasingly interested in gardening, animal husbandry, natural energy, self sustainability and the footprint I and my family leave on this planet.
I started this forary with two 4'x8' garden beds 6" deep, and a single 4'x4' bed 6" deep.
You can see the wild mint growing in front of the two 4'x8' beds, at first I tried to eradicate this scourge, but have since found peace with the mint, and mint tea in particular :)
I read books and books and more books on gardening, as my Grandmother had a garden, but not my mother (at least I don't recall one) and my Grandma was no longer with us to ask questions of. That first year I grew; through no special abilities of my own a smattering of vegatables, that we consumed. We declared them wonderful, and vowed to do this again.
One thing lead to another, and some bushes that bordered our driveway were becoming problematic to trim (I got sick of it year after year, and refused to pay good money to have it done,) so we pulled them out. I decided to put three (3) 4'x4'x6" garden beds and 1 2'x4'x6" bed in their place. This gave me more room to plant veg, and allowed me the ability to try out that new fangled crop rotation I had read so much about.
Beans grow at the back (that space is now the permanent home of Raspberries) and Pumpkins grow in the forground.
Well, by now I was growing about 40% of the veg we ate from May to September, but still was having trouble using up all the August harvest, and found my way into freezing and canning. I was able to ask my Mom about that, and the information she passed my way has been in use now for 4 years.
A goal of mine was to be able to make Salsa from veg grown in my garden. Last year, we met the goal, and let me say that chips and salsa is now a meal!
Last year I took a problem part of the yard, right out front on the corner, and made another garden bed 3'x10'x8" and planted Dill, Beets and Shelling Beans. This is right on the corner of a busy road, with people walking by all the time. I had tons of questions about the "funny flowers" and found I had accumilated a fair amount of information...really all without fuss.
This year, though I found myself putting away my "Dream" of moving off to 10 acre's of land somwhere and having a Homestead of my own. I realized on my shy 1/4 acre (with the house taking up most of that) I could homestead here in an Urban setting.
What prompted this idea...my darling wife agreed to raising chickens.
These are my Silver Laced Wyandotte, and Buff Oprington, they join my Golden Laced Wyandotte, and Welsummer that I got a week ago.
Raising animals to sustain us is what seperated gardening from homesteading in my mind. It's silly, and not true, but it did change my thought process. What is a homestead? To me, it's a place where I can begin, and follow my journey towards self sufficiency.
It started 7 years ago, with 3 small plots of land, to grow vegatables. A place to learn, what works and what doesn't, what we like to eat, and what we don't. I expanded a little at a time, never too much to make it seem overwhelming. I learned to make Candles, because we like them. I learned to preserve food, as I hate to see it wasted. I learned to bake bread, and found it tastes sooo much better than 90% of what I can but at the local grocery mart. I learned to make jam's and jellies from my mother, so that I could control the amount of sugar that my family ate.
Today I look at my chickens, and see eggs in our future. I look at the seedlings under the lights in our den, and see veggies growing up strong, and hoping that the weather will allow them to be planted soon. I know what I know, and know that there is sooo much more I could learn, but when it all comes down to it, I think back to the last person who asked my advice.
It isn't rocket science. Seeds need dirt, sun, water. Chickens need food, water and warmth. Love helps all things, but in the end, the fruits and veg will grow, whether we help them or not.
This is now my homestead, all 1/4 acre, with veg, and chickens, candles flickering away, and the canned salsa, beets, and pickles waiting in the cupbord, and the frozen zuchinni thawing on the counter for muffins in the morning. I will go down to the local lake tomorrow, and fish for trout. I will spend some time this weekend weeding the blueberry bushes out back, and working on the new garden beds. All satisfying work, knowing that I will be fed by this work. No need to move out to the country. Self Sustainability begins at home, wherever that may be.
I hope to pass along stories from my journey here, as they occur. Perhaps some will gain some wisdom, knowledge or simply have a chuckle or two. Drop me a line if you have questions, or simply want to talk about your journey. Community is also where you find it.