It’s funny how things can change within 10 years. If you would have asked me back in 2006 if I would homestead, I would have looked at you like you were speaking a foreign language. But now that I reflect back I realize that I have been homesteading all along.
As a young child we were raised living in cabins or on a farm eating only what my mother grew or my father hunted, trapped or fished. We didn’t know what chicken, beef, or even pork was. We knew beaver, rattlesnake and snapping turtle. I don’t remember much of those days for I was so young. After life threw some curve balls, we ended up living in towns and cities but I always remember no matter where we were my mother had a garden and canned the food she grew.
My mother’s second marriage had us again moving across country to a farm in Wisconsin. Well at that point it wasn’t much of a farm but was a lot of land. My stepfather hunted for venison and we still had a very large garden. This then lead to fencing off most of the grass land and acquiring horses and two calves (sadly they got rid of the calves when my brother died since they were his). We also bred rabbits for meat. I was an unruly teenager and at that time was not happy with my parents for moving me away from my friends and I didn’t fully appreciate the farm life.
It wasn’t until I gave birth to my first child that I started thinking of living somewhere rural away from the busy streets and neighbors houses so dang close. I wanted my children to grow up were they could run and play without me having to worry about them getting hit by a car or kidnapped. I wanted to make sure I knew what was in the food I was feeding them and wanted them to have home-raised or grown food. Sadly, my husband was still active duty military so moving away from the city just was not feasible.
In 2015 my husband left for his second deployment and I was in college as a full time student. My stress level and anxiety was so high and with me missing my husband and best friend I decided I was going to take the summer off of school and spend it with my children. But what was I to do to pass the time if I was not constantly studying? Then one night while I could not sleep I hopped over on Pinterest and started browsing. After I got bored with that I jumped on Instagram and saw a picture my dear friend Victoria posted of her garden. Hey, I thought to myself. Why not start a garden? I remember the old days when my mother would be out on her knees weeding her garden and talking to her plants while us kids were sneaking a ripe cherry tomato or a radish. We rented our home so I did not want to start digging up the ground and thought about how I could grow more than my container herb plants. I hopped back onto Pinterest and searched the gardening boards.
Though I should have started seeds indoors I went to Home Depot and bought the soil and wood and on a warm late spring day built myself a 4×8 raised bed as well as filled up some large container pots with soil.
I then bought some seeds and started plants and got them in. We had so many hail storms at first I had to replant the seeds multiple times and then came the grasshoppers which ate most of the remaining plants. I was getting discouraged that my garden would not yield the food I wanted and supplemented by going to the Farmer’s market every Saturday.
That’s when Vikki mentioned chickens to me in a phone conversation. It took a little persuading for me to get on board. I bought a coop that was way too big and was unable to get it in the backyard so ended up selling it. I bought a brooder and went to the farm store in July and bought 10 chicks.
While they were growing in the brooder I bought a coop kit and put it together with my 3-year-old and then built a makeshift run that the chickens could go in when we were home.
That coop turned out to be crap and fell apart in 2 months. I didn’t know what to do as the chickens were in the coop until on a chicken site someone mentioned a plastic coop. I went to the site and found this awesome coop made from the same material as a child’s play house. It was so easy to put together and light enough to move. Our chickens still haven’t started laying but are so happy to be in a bigger home and I know this year they will take care of the bugs so my garden can thrive.
Once the husband is out of the army we plan to buy land so that our dream of a true homestead can come true. Until then I will continue to grow my urban homestead and be as self-sufficient as we can in the bustle of the military town we live in. The garden is already planned (which will be another blog), and my sweet hubby bought me a new seed starting unit to start my seeds indoors with the help of artificial light. We finished making the raised bed covers though they are big and bulky and not the prettiest but will protect the garden from the weather and the chickens.
Plans to make another 4×4 bed is in the works and more seeds are marked to buy. It’s going to be rough with this semester but I am determined to grow our produce and take care of the chickens. I dream of the day where I can have a bigger garden and more animals and strive to get there very soon.
Follow me as my journey with homesteading and living self-sufficiently continues and learn with me or from the mistakes I am sure we will make as I go back to my roots and begin to live the life my parents gave me and I took for granted.