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What are your goals for your urban homestead?

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I am interested to hear from all of you what your goals and challenges are for your urban homestead? What is the long term goal that you are working to achieve? Is it total independent/sustainable living - or is it something more modest? What are the short term goals you are working on and is your location/assets helping with that or posing some challenges?

 

My long term goal is to become very self sufficient in our food production - supplementing with purchases of dairy, meat, and some fruits from local farmers but otherwise producing our own main food supply. I am also trying to reduce significantly our reliance on the electrical grid - again not a complete removal unless an emergency demands it - but dang close.

 

We live on a 1 acre of property that is in a rural area - but the size of the property and the fact that over 1/2 of that acre is in woods makes me think of it in terms of an "urban" homestead. We do have well and septic like most rural folks which is likely different from most urban setups - but other than that I think it is really closer to the urban model than the "country" model.

 

 

My short term goal is to increase the efficiency and volume of our food production. We have a great garden now and we preserve a great deal - but I need to expand the size of the garden and add a green house to allow for a much longer harvest period and to provide greater capacity to grow grains (corn/wheat) and dried beans. I am currently working on this and should make significant progress by next year's gardening season.

 

I am adding a rainwater collection system to our setup - provides water for the gardens during our 2 month summer drought period. Otherwise we live in a rainy/maritime (mild) climate and do not need to water much during other periods of time. The rainwater collection system also provides an emergency backup water supply with filtration and purification. My primary emergency supply is stored water (3 month supply) but eventually that would run out and this provides another emergency alternative. I have 150 gallons of collection capability now - and plan to expand to 300 gallons by spring of next year.

 

We recently installed a woodstove (we bought this house last year and are getting it "fitted" to our needs) and now have the ability to heat 100% with wood if we desire. I am working on splitting and stacking the various deadfall on our property for this year's wood supply. We have enough timber on the property to provide many years of wood needs - but it is not a sustainable wood harvest potential and eventually I will need to supplement by getting a permit to collect wood or by paying someone else for it. We do not intend to heat 100% with wood for now - rather we plan to use it during the evenings and weekends to reduce our demand on the electric heat. The size of the stove is adequate to do a 100% though if we desire to make a full switch.

 

Longer term, I would like to add a solar panel bank to our shop roof for the purpose of powering our well pump and providing emergency power backup. This will likely be a 2008 project. We are in too much of a shady area to do a whole house solar project - but I think we could get enough production from the south facing shop area to at least power the well pump and provide battery recharge for emergency needs etc.

 

So that is my situation and goals. What are yours?

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You sound like you have a well thought out plan. Good for you!

 

We have a long, narrow half-acre: front yard, house, septic field (which doubles as housing space for poultry), 1000 sq ft garden, a row of trees, small shed, blackberries and a bit more open area.

 

The thing I most want to do - and hope to within 2-3 years - is to grow all of our: beans, peas, onion, lettuce, carrots, potatoes, parsnips, tomatoes, peppers, pumpkin, zucchini, cucumbers (for pickles), broccoli and some herbs.

 

We also have resources to grow all of our: blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, plums, and maybe cherries - although I'm not sure that one can ever have enough cherries.

 

We are currently egg independent - although I do not keep breeding stock and will need to buy new hens next year.

 

I've thought and thought about butchering chickens and/or rabbits and - for now - am keeping that one on the back burner. I want to get the vegetable and fruits up to full capacity first.

 

We are on city (county, actually) water and will soon be forced onto sewer. When that happens, I will plant an orchard over what is currently the drain field - pears and apples mostly.

 

I doubt we would spend the money to go to solar. (My dh prefers to just buy whatever he needs.) But we do make improvements to our home that reduce our energy useage, and may considera generator in the future.

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HSmom - I am very envious of your chickens! I grew up on a farm that raised approximately a hundred chickens each year for eggs and meat. I know what a great resource they can be. Unfortunately, if I were to add a henhouse and yard - I would have to take another bite out of the remaining landscape areas... and I am already pushing DH's comfort by expanding my food production garden. He loves the "wild" areas on our property and cringes when I make plans for any area outside of my current encroachments. LOL! I think though that overtime... I shall get my way.

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Do you have a lawn? One that's not used by children? My 'girls' - the avian ones, who are actually ducks, not chickens, but I didn't say so - are kept in a 7ft x 13ft dog kennel. The bottom three feet are reinforced with 1/2-inch wire mesh and the top with 1-inch chicken wire. Every other day (about every 48 hours), I move the pen - takes less than a minute. You need six to eight 'spots' to set the pen. Their total area is then about 21-28 ft by 26 feet - two rows of three or four spots. This system eliminates poop build up - 'course duck poop is nicer to a lawn than chicken poop.

 

In the winter when I don't want to fiddle on wet grass, they go over the garden. I lay about one bale of straw - enough to be 4-6 inches thick. Each day, I throw a bit more straw over the poopy areas. After about three months, the straw is getting high and dh and I lift the pen to a second spot on the garden.

 

The poopy straw (which, incidentally is FULL of happy worms) gets spread over all of the garden and later is tilled or spaded in. You should see what grow in my garden! Lots of poop and happy worms make for some stunning plants.

 

All from just three ducks - Indian Runners, BTW. Khaki campbells are also a good choice for eggs.

 

Oh, and regarding shelter - they need much less than chickens. In this mild climate, a plastic dog house inside their pen is plenty. They go in there if they get cold. I do hang a light (on a timer) to maintain egg production through the dark months. It goes under the part of the roof (about 3 feet) that is covered by a tarp (to keep off the rain).

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Excellent suggestions HSmom! That seems very practical and efficient ... and I love the added bonus of garden improvement!

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If you're interested in ducks I highly recommend reading Dave Holderread's books. His most current is under the "Storey's" umbrella and titled "Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks." The older edition was called "Your backyard Duck Flock" (I think).

 

He lives in Western Oregon so his climate data might sound familiar to you.

 

You could tractor chickens in a similar manner, but they would need to be moved every 12-24 hours (depending on the size of your flock) and they require more substantial shelter during the cold months. Also, I think chicken poo would kill the grass. It's too high in ammonia. Duck poo has lower ammonia and more nitrogen, which is loved by green growing things.

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Hummm.. ducks and dwarf goats 2 to 3 of each in two pens. Yep I think I could do that. Goat poo I think is also ok directly on the garden. Not sure will need to check. For those that like rabbits this would also work, and I know there poo can go directly in a garden. Thanks for the ideas.

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Originally Posted By: cannedgoods
We've been in our house for about 3 years. This coming summer one of my goals is to plant apple trees.


Hey CG (Cannedgoods! grin )

That is a good idea. I've got an orange tree in a wheeled half barrel planter so I can move it around to follow the sun and control rainfall.

What kinda apples are you going for?

smile

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Just about there as we can live off grid if we had too.

Would love to go more solar but at this time OK with the few solar lights we have and use.

I am also so glad that more LED lights and crank flashlights are around. Saves buy batteries.

:AmishMichael2:

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We try to raise whatever we can get away with here. We don't plan to be here longterm but want to make the most of the property that we can and be a sufficient as possible. It is a good training ground... We can practice new skills on a small scale and in an environment where we aren't completely reliant on them. If we do a lousy job of canning tomatoes, we are close to the hospital for treatment and not too far from the grocery store in order to buy more! :Blushing:

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If we do a lousy job of canning tomatoes, we are close to the hospital for treatment and not too far from the grocery store in order to buy more! :Blushing:

Snip

 

 

:24:

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If we do a lousy job of canning tomatoes, we are close to the hospital for treatment and not too far from the grocery store in order to buy more!

 

 

 

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in spring to set up our raised bed gardens in the sunniest area (inside the fenced area, of course) and put in fruiting trees & shrubs to supplement out edible landscaping.

Am still researching chickens to find out how many we could have in town...

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If we do a lousy job of canning tomatoes, we are close to the hospital for treatment and not too far from the grocery store in order to buy more!

 

 

 

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I admit... It has never happened that we needed the emergency room due to food poisoning from home-canned stuff, but if it ever happens, we are less than 5 minutes away!

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I'd like to be able to provide all our own produce year round via gardening, food preservation (freezing, canning, drying, root cellaring, lactofermentation), as well as all the eggs and honey we could want with some left over to sell. I'd also like to supplement our income with some handmade stuff (knitted stuff, herbal preparations) and possibly flowers and herbs.

 

I'd like to do this with little to no waste or chemicals.

 

I'm fine to do to the store and get chocolate and bananas and such. (Though if I had a pawpaw tree... *wishwish*)

 

I'd like to be less dependent on "the grid", but I have no intention of going off grid anytime soon. But I'd like our lives to be minimally interrupted during a power outage- we have heat, light, and means of cooking. We have water. We have a bit of food. We definitely wouldn't have to leave the house for a week or so if we had to.

 

But mostly the garden, bees, and chickens. I'd love that.

 

And if we're talking REALLY pie in the sky long term dreaming- I'd love to build a cob or strawbale house somewhere, and be totally off grid, working my own land and making everything I could need. Selling some to bring in a bit of cash, and just digging deep roots.

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My biggest goal is to harvest everything and get it processed before it goes bad. That is somethng that we are not good at. I also need to be better at gardening. We just got rabbits to raise and I would like to successfully butcher them when the time comes. I am not sure if I can do that. But it would be a great source of protein for us if I can get it done. My husband says that they are all mine and I have to be able to do it myself. (He didn't want to get any rabbits)

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