Thursday, February 24, 2011

Crunchy Chicken Urban Homesteading Give Away Week!!

Fellow urban homesteading bloggers and fans:  Deanna Duke of the Crunchy Chicken is doing a blow out give away week on her blog!!  She's giving away the urban homesteader's dream products such as:  a rain barrel, fruit trees, a composter, books on chickens and canning, and an awesome gift basket which includes the book: The Urban Homesteader: Your Guide to Self Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City 
You have until Friday February the 25th at 12 pm PST to enter.  Good luck!

Fresh Eggs!

Look what the hubby brought home today!  One of his co-workers knows about our urban homestead and dream to have chickens, so he knew we would appreciate fresh eggs!!  Aren't they beautiful?!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What's Growing - February

I thought it would be fun to post some pics of what's growing out in our urban homestead every month.  It's February and we live in the Northern Coast of California, so there isn't a whole lot growing, but what is growing is gloriously green!  Here is a peek into our back yard:  




broccoli (yes, some of it is bolting!)

green onions and lettuce

bulb onions 

Non edible trees & plants:  ornamental kale and flowering plum

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

In Brief - What's Been Going On

We're prepping for spring around here with a garden clean up and lots of projects going on from pruning trees to finishing the chicken coop.  There is a ton of work to be done out back...makes me tired just looking at it!  I was out of town over the weekend and my urban homestead hubby was busy getting things prepped for spring.  Things are looking messy around here, but messy is good and necessary for a time.  Just look at these glorious jars!  I can almost see the tomato sauce, jellies, jams and all kinds of goodness filling them...mmm  I can hardly wait to learn all about canning! 

We picked up these canning jars off of Craig's List for free!  They had been sitting out in the elements and needed a good cleaning.  We're inheriting some canning supplies from one of our grandmas and will be getting them right in time for canning.  There is nothing like using items for food making that grandma used.  It's both sentimental and wonderful at the same time.   

Urban Homestead honey has been in bread making mode lately.  He bought Atrisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day and Brother Juniper's Bread Book.  The bread recipes in both of these books are so easy, quick and delicious!!
The coop is pretty close to completion, but still needs siding, flashing, a door on the nesting box area, the wire run and a good coat of paint.  I've been browsing through local on line chicken catalogs to see which kinds we're going to get.  These to the left are Barred Rocks.  With the huge selection out there I'm a bit overwhelmed.  I'm asking friends who have chickens which types they prefer, which kinds are good around children, etc.  If you have any suggestions I would love to hear them!  I will of course get some that lay those beautiful brown and blue eggs!

On a different front, the fb page I started Take Back Urban Home-steading(s) was mentioned today in the SF Gate!!  This news made my day.  Things are moving forward and I'm seeing more and more each day that urban homesteaders when united are a veritable force of nature!  I have no doubt in my mind that we will indeed win our names back.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Reason I Do Urban Homesteading on my Urban Homestead

When I moved to Humboldt County California 15 years ago I barely knew what the words recycling, green, or sustainable living meant.  I had come from a large city where we did curb recycling and nothing more to help the environment.  I was rapidly inundated with a community that demanded its participants to care for the Earth in all areas.  There is nothing like peer pressure to get a person to toe the line!  Recycling was an easy thing to get "down", but this whole green living thing took time and effort.  Living in a town where people use Diva Cups and bring their own plates and silver to potlucks was a bit strange at first, I must admit, but in time I grew to love my eco-centric community and I realized that we were truly making a difference for our town, community and ultimately the Earth.  I admit there are areas I need to work on towards my goal of sustainable living, but I feel that creating an urban homestead is a huge part of this commitment.

Food is such a huge part of our lives, and what we put into our bodies can either make or break us health wise.  Having dealt with health issues and food sensitivities most of my life I am constantly trying to come up with ways to eat healthier and more responsibly.  Our town is huge on organic and local foods, but with only one partner working and two kids there was no way we could afford to buy all of our organic veggies.  Enter the urban homestead!  I am lucky to be married to an amazing gardner who loves planting veggies year round, and the more the better.  I think our kids got tired of the greens we had last summer, "Mom, is it veggie stir fry again??"  But, in time they grew to love them and now ask for their green smoothies!   Not only do our kids love the greens, but our friends and neighbors do as well.  We love sharing the love so to speak and teaching others how to grow their own greens, make good compost, and build from sustainable materials.

Urban homesteading has become a way of life for us.  Once our garden was up and running we realized we needed a greenhouse due to the fact that we don't get a whole lot of sun, if any, in our area.  So we went for it and recycled the windows we had pulled out of our house when we did some construction a few months back.  Now we're working on a chicken coop, and I'm sure some big project will be in the works soon out in the garden!  It's been an amazing journey, tilling our land and watching our little harvest grow.  I feel like the Earth has given back to me, by honoring it and using it to create healthy sustainable food.  It has actually changed my life, for the better in so many ways, and what more can you ask for than that?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Urban Homesteader's Day of Action

The last few days have been a whirlwind for me - an organic grassroots whirlwind!  I am just in total awe of the urban homesteading community right now...words don't accurately describe the way we've banned together to fight for what is ours.  I must admit that I underestimated the force we would become on the net and in the blogosphere.  We are a force to be reckoned with!  Our fb page has passed 3000 likes, and we've been linked in various on line blogs and publications, some of which include:  The LAWeekly, OCWeekly, BoingBoing, Blog Her, and scads of other blogs.  We're organizing, blogging, spreading information, and creating groups, events and think tanks left and right.  Here is a paragraph from our info page: 

"This page has evolved into an organic expression of the urban homesteading community and our quest for keeping the words which define who we are as a movement and community germane to all of us. In a real way we're advocating for one another; we're discussing, networking, organizing for change, creating events, and expanding our vast and original knowledge of urban homesteading. We're finding new formats in spreading the word that we ARE urban homestead, and that nobody can copyright our identity, which belongs to all of us."

So somehow I became an urban homesteading activist....and no, you may not copyright that!  I have to say that I think it's fitting that a stay at home mom of two would be the one creating a place for urban homesteaders to unite.  We're a grass roots movement after all, not a big corporation.  We think outside of the grid and we're fiercely independent creative thinkers.  When someone tells us we can't do something, and tries to take away who we are it isn't a pretty sight....I'm glad I'm not on the other end of this putting it mildly!

Monday we're having an "urban homesteader's day of action."  We plan to tweet, blog, and update with the words urban homestead and urban homesteading in the title.  We'll blanket the web with the words that define who we are.  It will be amazing!!  So do it - be sure to put the words in the title of your post so they show up on google searches.  Let's take things up a level and germinate this land of ours!   

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Welcome to the homestead!

I've been meaning to start this blog for quite some time, but recent events have pushed my publish date up quite a bit.  Here is the story of how this little spot of earth became our urban homestead:

My husband and I bought our 1875 fixer upper in the heart of our city, in an industrial section of town two years ago.  Before this, we had rented for years and had always grown plants and veggies in large pots which we lugged from rental to rental, waiting for the day when they would find their final resting place in the warm rich soil of "home."  Our house was a foreclosure and we got an incredible deal on the place, including 1/10 of an acre of land...LAND!!  When we first surveyed the property we saw that the back fence had an empty lot behind it.  As soon as we found out it was part of the property it was all over;  we would buy this place, we would plant a garden, we would grow our own veggies and have a chicken coop, and greenhouse in our urban homestead.  That's exactly what happened.  The blood, sweat and tears we spent getting this homestead as we waited impatiently for the bank to process the paperwork, (4 agonizing months of waiting), was completely worth it when we saw the amazing results our first spring:
The master urban homesteader said, "We plan to be fully sustainable for greens within three years."  Well, we're very close to hitting that goal, as we speak.  Many of our goals have already been reached:  greenhouse - check,  raised beds - check, bunny hutch - check,  herb garden - check,  wormy dark compost - check,  chicken coop - almost check!  In the age of commercialism and capitalism we are proud to say that we can own our own land, plant our own produce and control what goes into the soil that grows that produce, and live healthier, happier, more sustainable lives.  All of the structures in our homestead come from reclaimed materials:  lumber, windows, wire, etc.  We get to control what comes into our garden and what goes out.  We have our very own little utopia in the city, right smack dab in middle class America.

Thus far we have 11 raised beds, a greenhouse, a rockin compost, 3 apple trees, 1 fig tree, a bunny hutch, blueberries, raspberries, and an almost completed chicken coop!

Our dream was unfortunately threatened this week when some of our biggest urban homestead heros made a shocking decision.  The Dervaes family of the famous Pasadena urban homestead decided to trade mark the words "urban homestead" and "urban homesteading."  Cries of fury were heard throughout the urban homestead community and blogosphere as people realized that the grass roots community they grew to love was simply becoming yet another consumer looking to gain a buck.  I had joined the Dervaes family facebook page just a few weeks ago.  Yesterday things took a drastic turn when they posted that they were receiving death threats on their fb page.  People starting speaking up about what was really going on - that the Dervaes were asking people to pull blogs, and removing people's fb pages containing the terms without contacting them.  Their page became flooded with urban homestead commenters who refused to back down from the issue.  People discovered that the words had been in print long before the Dervaes bought them.  In the midst of the whole drama the thought crossed my mind, "Maybe we should start a fb page to get the words which define our community back."  So, I did it.  By the end of the night our page had 1000 members!!  People started banning together by the hundreds to defend and lay claim to the word that defines movement, lifestyle and community.  By blog, tweet, boingboing, you name it:  the word has spread like a wild fire...or a large thriving organic garden.

The message we're sending out is loud and clear:  You cannot trade mark the words that define who we are.  We are a community, life style, counter-culture, independent American spirited people who will NOT allow our life to be branded by any person or corporation!  We've worked hard to live our lives "off the grid", to grow our own produce, to till our own land, raise our own livestock, and we refuse to bow to any corporation!  Ahem....   We're not backing down, and we've only just begun.

So that's the story of our little urban homestead, and how the biggest current urban homesteading facebook page Take Back Urban Home-steading(s)
came into existence, which is now over 2000 by the way.
We were also in the LA Weekly