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#1 of 73 Old 07-24-2010, 10:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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?
Thanks

me, dd1, dd2, ds, and #4 due March 1. dbf has 2 of his own, so it will be an adventure!

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#2 of 73 Old 07-25-2010, 12:15 AM
 
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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.
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#3 of 73 Old 07-25-2010, 09:43 AM
 
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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.
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#4 of 73 Old 07-25-2010, 09:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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?

me, dd1, dd2, ds, and #4 due March 1. dbf has 2 of his own, so it will be an adventure!

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#5 of 73 Old 07-25-2010, 10:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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oh --- and thanks for the idea about the cover crop over winter... that is a great idea!

me, dd1, dd2, ds, and #4 due March 1. dbf has 2 of his own, so it will be an adventure!

i like making things. 

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#6 of 73 Old 07-25-2010, 05:31 PM
 
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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.

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#7 of 73 Old 07-25-2010, 05:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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wow! thanks so much for that website!!!

me, dd1, dd2, ds, and #4 due March 1. dbf has 2 of his own, so it will be an adventure!

i like making things. 

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#8 of 73 Old 07-26-2010, 12:04 PM
 
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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.
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#9 of 73 Old 07-26-2010, 01:51 PM
 
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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.

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#10 of 73 Old 07-28-2010, 08:37 PM
 
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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.
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#11 of 73 Old 07-29-2010, 01:50 PM
 
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my first thought was that you have enough room for a couple of nigerian dwarf goats!

Urban homesteader married to my high school sweetheart, mama to V(4/07) and H(6/10)

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#12 of 73 Old 07-29-2010, 02:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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)

me, dd1, dd2, ds, and #4 due March 1. dbf has 2 of his own, so it will be an adventure!

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#13 of 73 Old 07-29-2010, 02:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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!!!!

me, dd1, dd2, ds, and #4 due March 1. dbf has 2 of his own, so it will be an adventure!

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#14 of 73 Old 07-29-2010, 03:41 PM
 
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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.
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#15 of 73 Old 07-29-2010, 03:43 PM
 
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Also have you heard of Path to Freedom? They are possibly the King of urban homesteading.
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#16 of 73 Old 07-30-2010, 01:03 AM
 
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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!

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#17 of 73 Old 08-03-2010, 09:26 AM
 
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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!!!
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#18 of 73 Old 08-05-2010, 03:01 PM
 
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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.
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#19 of 73 Old 08-05-2010, 03:07 PM
 
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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.
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#20 of 73 Old 08-05-2010, 05:32 PM
 
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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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#21 of 73 Old 08-05-2010, 07:59 PM
 
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I live in town on a 1/4 acre lot and grow a lot of our own food. I planted 15 tomato plants and have harvested over 300 pounds of tomatoes and canned most of them. I should have enough tomatoes and pasta sauce for much of next year. We grow about 50 feet worth of potatoes, enough for many, many meals. We planted 2 apple trees (small, semi-dwarf varieties) and have 12 blueberry bushes that provided us with quarts of berries this year. The berries are only 2 years old, so I am hoping for more berries to come.

I am now doing my Fall plantings and have rows of spinach, beets, chard, kale, several lettuces. With cheap hoop housing, I should be able to keep the kale and chard going through the winter.

So, the thing is...you may not need that much land. A small plot can be exceptionally fruitful with planning and good soil. Work with what you have. Sounds like you have a good plan started -- chickens in back where you have shade and veggies up front where there is more sun. Maybe look into selectively pruning or even removing a tree?

We will be planting more fruit tress this Fall and training them into an espalier along the north side of the garden. This takes very little room and provides wonderful natural fencing. Again, making do with a small space doesn't mean giving up having a productive yard.

Typing fast, sorry if I am rambling...

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#22 of 73 Old 08-07-2010, 12:10 AM
 
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Thank you for sharing what all you are doing on a 1/4 acre! That is very very inspiring!
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#23 of 73 Old 08-07-2010, 11:08 AM
 
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Thank you for sharing what all you are doing on a 1/4 acre! That is very very inspiring!
Oh sure. I feel like I talk people's ears off about our garden. Of course, very few people in my non-virtual life want to hear about it. MDC is my outlet.

I have been thrilled with our production. I have finally figured out how to grow tomatoes in high heat and humidity and the fruit production has been better this year as well. I have had a few failures (leeks and cabbages being the big ones) and have had to learn to let some things go. The heat and cabbage moths are explosive, so there are some things I just can't get to grow well. Or I need to invest in more equipment than I can afford which isn't going to happen.

I guess my biggest lesson has been 'keep trying'. Keep an eye out for areas that can be planted -- the small strip of grass between the sidewalk and the street, the small area behind the garage has been great for berries, the shady area behind the kids' playset has been good for summer lettuce production.

I try new varieties all the time, always on the lookout for a better variety that will survive the heat. I have also learned what to plant for fall and winter gardening. Lots of greens will survive low temps and even snow. Snow is actually quite insulating and I have harvested beautiful kales all winter long. Broccoli, brussel spouts are also wonderful for winter gardening and can be started right now in a lot of areas.

I have travelled quite a bit and have always been amazed that in most parts of the world people keep small gardens everywhere! Every little bit of ground that can be planted will have a small patch of greens or cabbage, onions, herbs, a small fruit tree, etc, etc, etc. A quarter acre is actually quite large by global standards.

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#24 of 73 Old 08-07-2010, 02:19 PM
 
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Yes it really is quite large when you think about it. The book I mentioned earlier, the Backyard Homestead is all about how to homestead on 1/4 acre and how much can be produced on that "small" amount of land.

You mentioned that you'd found a good variety of tomatoes that handle heat and humidity well. Being that I'm in Texas, I'd love to hear what has worked for you. Heat and humidity are a way of life here.

Thanks again for sharing your stories - I loved hearing about the different places you've found to plant around your property - great ideas!
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#25 of 73 Old 08-07-2010, 04:40 PM
 
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I am going to check out that book. Sounds like my kind of reading.

My favorite tomatoes so far are Momotaros and Japanese trifele blacks. They have been heavy producers and amazingly have avoided getting blight which is a horrible fungus here. The Momotaros are very heavy, fist-sized and super tasty. Real 'tomato' flavor. The Japanese trifele blacks are smaller, pear shaped and wonderfully tangy. These have been the best addition to my tomato sauce and we will be growing scads of them next year.

http://www.territorialseed.com/product/7279/s

http://www.territorialseed.com/produ...om_tomato_seed




I also planted saucing tomatoes that did beautifully for the first half of the summer, but have all recently been taken by late season blight.


http://www.territorialseed.com/product/9927/232


I have really liked this one. Big, heavy, tasty fruit, though it has also gotten a lot of blight and I just pulled the last few plants.

http://www.territorialseed.com/product/1173/232


I train them up 6 foot wire fencing that I have staked with long bamboo poles. The bamboo I cut from a neighbor's field that is overrun with it. I made sure the poles were very dry before using them, since I wasn't sure if the bamboo could root form the poles. The tall fencing is essential around here...I prune the vines and allow them to grow high and wide and this has helped immensely with air circulation and avoiding fungus. There is no natural deterrent to blight and even the fungicides are only marginally helpful. Best to just avoid it as much as possible.

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#26 of 73 Old 08-08-2010, 07:17 AM
 
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Thank you SO SO much for that information! Tomatoes are one of our favorite foods. DD eats two fresh tomatoes a day just by herself! I really hope that next year we can bring a bunch of tomatoes into our garden. I will definitely check out those varieties. Thank you so much!
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#27 of 73 Old 08-12-2010, 03:42 PM
 
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So, the thing is...you may not need that much land. A small plot can be exceptionally fruitful with planning and good soil. Work with what you have. Sounds like you have a good plan started -- chickens in back where you have shade and veggies up front where there is more sun. Maybe look into selectively pruning or even removing a tree?

We will be planting more fruit tress this Fall and training them into an espalier along the north side of the garden. This takes very little room and provides wonderful natural fencing. Again, making do with a small space doesn't mean giving up having a productive yard.
This is my thinking, too. I used to think I wanted a lot of land, but now I think I'd feel too isolated. I grew up on 10 acres out in the country and always felt lonely when at home. Plus, my parents had to work too hard on the land, just to keep it halfway tame. I really, really like the idea of urban homesteading better. My children are too small right now (to my mind), but I really want chickens and bees someday. I'm too chicken, though (ha ha) to check on city codes. don't want my dream ruined. I could live just outside of the city limits, though, and have whatever I want yet still be "in town" for all practical purposes.

We garden and line dry and make our own bread and stuff like that already, and our small house and small yard are fine.

Anyone else actually aspire to urban homesteading rather than just settling for it until you have your dream land?

Amy (34): mommy to DD1 (11/07) and DD2 (7/10), wife, wohm, and wannabe suburban homesteader.
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#28 of 73 Old 08-12-2010, 05:37 PM
 
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my first thought was that you have enough room for a couple of nigerian dwarf goats!
I am just starting to think about this. Rumor is that by adding a 2nd animal to our family (we have chickens) our property taxes will drop drastically because we become agricultural land. Any advice on where to start figuring out my needs and compatibility issues. How do you vacation with an animal that needs milking? I can easily leave the chickens to be feed/watered by a neighbor kid, but milking???

We have about 1/2 acre with 11 chickens and plenty of space. I have a small garden on our property (strawberries, raspberries, onions, garlic, potatoes, tomatillos, 1 apple tree), but rent land for the big garden. We had a bunch of trees removed last year and I am hoping to put in a patio area surrounded by raised beds to plant more of the herbs and tomato-y sort of things while still keeping the big space takers and not so pretty items at the rental land. (winter squashes, summer squash, corn, root veggies, etc.)

I love reading other people's aspirations, especially when they are modest and yet not easily attainable. It makes me feel better about my challenges. And also that I'm not the only crazy person out there who thinks what they do can make a difference- both to their families lives and the community (earth) we all share.

Me.  With 1 spouse, 4 kids, 16 chickens, 74 matchbox cars, 968,562+ legos, a dishwasher waiting to be emptied, a washing machine waiting to be filled and a lost cup of tea in the house.

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#29 of 73 Old 08-12-2010, 10:31 PM
 
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Anyone else actually aspire to urban homesteading rather than just settling for it until you have your dream land?
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#30 of 73 Old 08-13-2010, 09:30 AM
 
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Originally Posted by AmyKT View Post
This is my thinking, too. I used to think I wanted a lot of land, but now I think I'd feel too isolated. I grew up on 10 acres out in the country and always felt lonely when at home. Plus, my parents had to work too hard on the land, just to keep it halfway tame. I really, really like the idea of urban homesteading better. My children are too small right now (to my mind), but I really want chickens and bees someday. I'm too chicken, though (ha ha) to check on city codes. don't want my dream ruined. I could live just outside of the city limits, though, and have whatever I want yet still be "in town" for all practical purposes.

We garden and line dry and make our own bread and stuff like that already, and our small house and small yard are fine.

Anyone else actually aspire to urban homesteading rather than just settling for it until you have your dream land?
Oh, absolutely check on your codes. I was told by EVERYONE that chickens are illegal here. My friend is a policeman and he even told me that chickens are illegal. I called the city office and was told that they were illegal and I asked for a copy of the law. Well, turns out, there isn't one! All this time, people have thought that chickens were illegal and they are not. There is no law on the books and I spent a couple of hours at the town hall with the city planner going over the codes. She was as amazed as I was! Though I don't think she was as excited as me.

We have some travel planned this coming year, but plan on getting chickens when we get home and settled. Our next big step in building our little urban homestead.

Frugal, food growing mama to my four loves

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