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Urban Homesteading

post #1 of 73
Thread Starter 
Can anyone talk to me about Urban Homesteading? I'm reading some books on it, and I'm really interested. I've always wanted to homestead with some land.... but over the past year or so, that dream has fallen apart because of finances. We are stuck where we are, so I should just make the best of it!
Anyway, we live in city limits in a small city, have 1/4 of an acre in our backyard, and it is completely fenced in with a privacy fence. It's very very very shady because of two large mulberry trees, and one oak tree. We have just built a small chicken house, and I am planning on ordering my chicks tomorrow from McMurray's. The chicken house will be in the backyard.
Our front lawn is full sun, and we have plans for this upcoming Spring ('11) to plan as large of a food garden as we can in the front, and an herb garden in the back.
I guess what I'm wondering is.... what else can I do? I really want to do as much as I can.
I am also concerned about neighborhood cats getting my chicks .....
(( I can legally have them ))
I guess I'm just wanting to hear some experiences from some others who have done it, who can put it into more real perspective for me... the books are great, but they are kind of abstract, you know?
post #2 of 73
I am not in an urban area, but there is a good magazine that is newish and seems to be published about once a season called "Urban Homesteading" that I really like.
post #3 of 73
Congratulations on the chickens! I did all the research for urban chickens for us but didn't end up able to get them in the end so I'm expanding my garden instead and buying my eggs from a local free range flock. While they are chicks most people keep them in the house in a box with their heat lamp and all, they'll be safe there. For protection outside, good fences and a safe closed up coop will help, having a good rooster can deter some predators, also having a well trained dog that's of a guarding, not hunting breed.

Like I said I'm expanding my garden, and something I'm doing with the planned new beds for next year you might think about doing too: dig it this early fall and plant a cover crop. Seed new beds with winter rye and hairy vetch together and it will feed and loosen your soil until spring planting time, and when you cut it down it will add organic material and give you straw mulch. And as in the front yard aesthetics can be a concern it actually looks pretty good to have a cover crop in winter too, compared to brown dead looking grass.

Other homestead-y things you can do without lots of land involve making things for yourself and repairing for yourself. From scratch food, soap, clothing, toys, furniture, beer/wine/mead if you're so inclined. Buy seasonal food locally, eat it fresh and put it up for winter. Learn about wildcrafting to make use of weeds etc. Some folks keep bees. I started knitting and plan to card and spin wool when I can afford good equipment. I'm in the same boat as you about still waiting for rural land, getting finances ready first. So I'm slowly building skills I'd like to have in the meantime.
post #4 of 73
Thread Starter 
Thanks! And yes, I guess I am doing all those things..... except I'm terrible at canning! lol.... definitely a skill I need to practice It was frustrating at first when I realized that my 'dream' of having land, homesteading, etc.... was going to be sidetracked by probobly about 4 years..... but then I thought, well.... I'll just do it here!!!! lol. So, it'll be an adventure, homesteading with neighbors
Anyone know any good blogs, too?
post #5 of 73
Thread Starter 
oh --- and thanks for the idea about the cover crop over winter... that is a great idea!
post #6 of 73
Make sure you keep your chicks well secured when they are little, but once they are bigger I doubt you will have a problem with neighbour cats, other than maybe chasing them. We have barn cats and they have never once bothered our chickens. You could also get a dog to scare off predators. That is what we did and so far in 3.5 months of having chickens we have not had any coons or possums getting in the hen house, the dog barks a lot at night and scares them away. However, the dog himself is a predator to the chickens, we cannot trust him alone with them.

Also, about the canning, I taught myself to can and learned everything I know from this awesome website! I actually set up my laptop on the counter and followed the written and picture instructions, they have tons of step by step instructions- http://www.pickyourown.org/ 4 years ago I was a big city girl that had never canned a thing in her life, now I turn out hundreds of jars a year in my cellar with everything from jams to pasta sauce, salsa, juices, etc. We save a ton on our grocery bill.
post #7 of 73
Thread Starter 
wow! thanks so much for that website!!!
post #8 of 73
Another gal stuck in the city with a "normal" sized lot instead of a ton of land like i'd want. I think what you're doing with your lot sounds amazing.

We are hoping to move soon and will be gardening like crazy at our next house. We can't here but we will hopefully own our next home and can do what we want with it. We have decided to do the "food not lawns" movement, which hubby is thrilled about since he won't have to mow.

I'd love to have chickens, but depending on where we move we may have a HOA that might not approve. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it. I'd love to have them though because we go through nearly a dozen eggs every day, and if I could make sure they were cared for and given organic food, all the better!! My daughter who has Autism is a bit of an egg fanatic, so that would be amazing.

I want a huge garden. HUGE. I love to can, bake, cook, and dry my own foods. I love herbs and want to study herbalism. That said, herbs will definitely play a big part in my garden. Probably the more floral ones will go in a garden out front in lieu of "just pretty" flowers.

I would like to plant some fruit trees in the front yard, and a couple in the back by the kids play area (we will hopefully use either moss on the ground, that doesn't require being mowed, or recycled rubber tire chunks, with a play gym, and the trees to eventually shade it.

I would also like to create a little walkway through the garden to a small homemade gazeebo that will have wysteria and grape vines growing up it.

I figure I will have the beans and more grapes growing on vines along the fence lines around the property, and beds in the rest of the back yard with various fruits and veggies.

I'm not going to do this, but you could also have bees, which will not only pollinate your plants for you but will also provide you with honey.
post #9 of 73
Originally Posted by highlandmum View Post
Anyone know any good blogs, too?
There was a thread a few months ago in this forum just for urban homesteading blogs...you should check it out.
post #10 of 73
I also had an idea that maybe we could plant some perennial plants on public land, like blackberries, fruit trees, etc. We have a lot of open space around here outside the city that would be fun to visit on the weekends to harvest, and it would feel a lot like foraging. It might help the local wildlife and others who forage as well, and give us more options since we can't exactly plant an orchard in our tiny back yard.
post #11 of 73
my first thought was that you have enough room for a couple of nigerian dwarf goats!
post #12 of 73
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by mariew View Post
my first thought was that you have enough room for a couple of nigerian dwarf goats!
THAT would be SO awesome!!!! However, I'm pretty sure my hubby would KILL me, lol!
But just in case not.... what does rearing goats involved=? I'd love to have them for milking....... do they need much room? Our little 1/4 acre backyard now has a chicken coop, and also has a swingset, a clothesline, and a small patio.......

??? Man.... I'd LOVE to have a goat or two!!! (and I just checked the ordinances and they say nothing about not having goats! lol)
post #13 of 73
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Dillpicklechip View Post
There was a thread a few months ago in this forum just for urban homesteading blogs...you should check it out.
Thanks... I can't find it though... I've been searching, and I've come up with an old thread on homesteading blogs, but most of them aren't even up anymore..... I'll keep searching though!!!!
post #14 of 73
This is my blog where I post a few ideas for homesteading. There's not much to it, but on the right are a BUNCH of listings for homesteading blogs. Hope that helps.
post #15 of 73
Also have you heard of Path to Freedom? They are possibly the King of urban homesteading.
post #16 of 73
This is my dream. It's so strange because just a few years ago, I was this young girl striving for money and all of the materialistic, American dream kinda things. I grew up with family who farmed, gardened, sewed, canned, cooked, baked, hunted/fished, built their own, etc so I am no stranger to it all. Once I became pregnant, I started realizing how fulfilling being so simple and self-reliant really is. I would LOVE to have a full-fledged farm on several acres with tons of animals and row and rows of crops. I can imagine how wonderful a life like that would be..so simple and meaningful. It would be hard work, but so rewarding. Unfortunately, unless we save for several years, we'll probably only be able to afford an acre or two when we buy. I definitely want a large garden and some chickens. I'd love to have a cow for milk, maybe some goats too. I already cook/bake from scratch. I am expanding my canning know-how, as well as my sewing skills. I've been wanting to get some books on organic farming. I am definitely going to be lurking and checking out any websites posted!
post #17 of 73
I am not in the city but in a very stuffy urban highly regulated neighborhood. We started a garden (which people complained about and have planted some raspberry and blueberry bushes, hubby wants a greenhouse which is allowed! We are going thru a mess of a time with a few certain people who are continuously calling the county with violations that aren't even violations.....The county said our yard is fine! However all of this mess of harassment and crap is making us realize this is not where we want to live, and making us realize what we really want is land, and space out neighbors....At the moment however we aren't in a position to move, Maybe in a year or two..

Like other people are posting we too are trying to start now with our homesteading...Making things from scratch (food, cleaners) canning, freezing, knitting, sewing, building etc... It really does feel so good. We are also simplifying and working towards removing the excess stuff from our home and life..feels so good!

Anyway didn't mean to crash the thread But I too am in waiting for the day when we can move and really get into it! For now though it feels good to start even if it's only a little bit at a time

Oh and I totally want goats too!!!
post #18 of 73
I just wanted to add that I found a WONDERFUL book for urban homesteading. Its called The Backyard Homestead. I got it yesterday and LOVE IT.
post #19 of 73
If possible make a rotating foraging area for your birds so they always have fresh greens. There are lots of ways to do it but it will help the chickens from killing an area and having no grass.
post #20 of 73
This is me too....hoping for land someday but having to be realistic right now. My dh keeps saying I should put all my ideas I'm "saving" for when we get to more land into action now. Like it's a good time to practice them while we are in the house we are in, even though it's a tiny bit of land.
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