Starting an Urban Homestead
A New Home and Plans for an Urban Farm
I have been MIA for a few months here, and I am finally ending my blog hiatus. Life kind of got in the way of blogging, and Phil and I spent most of our non-working hours hunting for a home. Anyone who is familiar with the Seattle housing market knows that this is not a task for the faint of heart. The process took its toll emotionally, as we put offers on house after house, only to be beat out by what seemed to be increasingly shocking offers. It was tiring and kept me away from blogging, but it paid off. After putting in offers on 7 different houses, we found what we are absolutely confident is the perfect house for us.
By some miracle, we were able to find a house on a 1/3-acre plot of land that is still in the city. I knew instantly that this was our house, and could not be more ecstatic about moving in. Our plan is to create our own little urban oasis where we can start a tiny farm to grow our own food and let Newton run around outside whenever he wants.
As soon as possible, we plan to start chronicling our new adventure on here. I have no idea how it will go, and I’m sure we will have more failures that we can count. But I hope that we also have successes and I can’t wait to get started. After seeing so many little yards on loud streets, I am still in awe that we were able to find the home we did. This much space will require extra work, and I am so game for that challenge.
What Will We Grow?
We are still in the very early stages of planning and don’t know all (or many) of the details about what we will plant and when. We do know that we will plant plenty of kale, chard, carrots, lettuce, and potatoes. One idea we are considering is creating a large garden where we will grow most of our vegetables, as well as a kitchen garden on the deck outside the kitchen door. In the kitchen garden, we would grow herbs and salad greens. We would also love to find a sunny spot to plant some raspberries, and am looking into which fruit trees we will plant and where on the property they will go.
There are some shady spots on the property that get a little more soil moisture and less sun. In those spots, we are hoping to plant native wild species like evergreen huckleberry and salal. These plants do well in areas with less sun, and produce beautiful, delicious, and nutrient-dense berries.
In order to eat as seasonally as possible, I am also going to try to can and freeze as much as I can from our summer and fall crops. I have done a little bit of canning with my mom over the years, so I have a cursory understanding of the process, but it will definitely be a learning process. We will also freeze some produce to use throughout the year.
What About Animals?
At some point we would like to try raising a few chickens for eggs. I have talked before about my motivations for following a plant-based diet, those primarily being a concern for animal welfare and environmental conservation. Raising our own chickens in a large space, and allowing them to live out full, happy lives, is an appealing option for us. We would know exactly what the chickens are fed and how they are treated for their entire lives. They would also provide a hyper-local source of eggs.
We would also love to raise guinea fowl for eggs and pest control. However, they are loud enough that we would be concerned about disrupting neighbors. Another option we are considering is backyard quail. Quail are much quieter and smaller than chickens and we would worry less about having sufficient space on our lot. Quail eggs are smaller, but we don’t eat a huge number of eggs, so it could be good to have a little less volume to have to manage throughout the week. I have no interest in slaughtering backyard birds, so they would be kept purely for eggs.
As we get started in our new space, we are planning out which vegetables we would like to grow and where to plant them. January and February will be spent in planning mode. Starting in March we will begin planting some vegetables, both from starts and from seeds. We are fortunate to already have a small gardening area with boxes, and will likely begin this year with using that space, with the intention of expanding in the coming years.
We will also share other types of projects around the house, some of which won’t be farm- or homestead-related. One of our first projects is to build a simple bed frame. Hopefully we will get our stuff together enough to publish a post about that soon.
We can’t wait to get started and share our adventures with you as they happen!