Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Backyard Farmer

As most people already probably know, I break a lot of "societal rules." Proudly too! So when the moment occurred to me that I could live out my dream of self sustainability right here in our little, conservative suburb that is nestled right outside of a major city in the northeastern United States, I decided to make it happen. Our neighborhood is one of those cookie cutter suburbs that you see on TV, where each house is the exact replica of the one next to it and the neighbors make you sign petitions to change the look of "their" street (yes this was a battle, which we did NOT win, BTW) and if you don't abide by the code then you are an outcast. Well after moving in I realized just how different my family was from everybody else on the street and we were deemed the FREAKS of our neighborhood and to this day we still PROUDLY wear that title.
My dream of becoming self-sustained began of course with just a small backyard garden and a little window box herb garden, of course over the years the garden grew and grew, now it takes up @ 1/3 of our yard. We absolutely LOVE being able to run out to the garden and grab a handful of butter bibb lettuce to go along with our freshly, made (from the previous years tomatoes) pasta sauce ladled over a  bed of freshly made noodles. There is nothing like it in the world. Our children love to watch the seeds, that we plant every Earth Day, sprout up out of fresh  dirt that is tucked into an egg carton, and honestly I love it too. We watch for progress as the days pass and turn into weeks and our tiny little seeds have become strong seedlings ready to venture into the garden in the backyard. It is almost like watching a child grow. I have often run across the children talking to the seedlings (while they still reside inside) and even caressing their tiny leaves, willing them to grow big and strong. Our neighbors have of course welcomed our veggie garden with open arms. Who wouldn't?



Our next more towards self sustainability was fruit trees. We opted to got with a less invasive breed due to our lack of land and bought dwarf fruit trees. Currently we have 4 apple, 2 pear, and 1 peach tree that we have planted. We are looking at getting an orange and a banana tree that we will plant in pots to bring inside over the cold months. Again this was something that was welcomed with open arms. I mean fresh, pesticide free fruit....YUM!


(I will have to grab some new pics...because there is so much  more greenery on them now)

One of our final steps towards self sustainability (for now) was fresh eggs. We acquired a few hens from a fellow chicken lover and then purchased a few chicks to grow on our own this year. This has been such an amazing experience for the entire family. When we picked up our little chicks they were less than 24 hours old and have grown and flourished since bringing them home on Earth Day. They have now tripled in size and are almost ready to move in with the rest of the flock and we couldn't be more excited about it. The minute the coop was put into our yard we had one neighbor already nosing around wondering what in the heck we were doing now. After some friendly conversation about the weather with the kids, she asked what the house was for. Dawson immediately said CHICKENS!!! I could see her body nearly convulsing at the THOUGHT of chickens in HER neighborhood. I mean after all they were DIRTY animals...and they were NOISEY! She asked why we wanted chickens? Dawson of course thought he should answer....ummmm eggs!!! (doing it in his magnificently, sarcastic laden he rolled his eyes as if to say, is this lady freaking serious?!?!) Gosh I love that child. To which the lady said, well I hope they are girls because you know they are the only ones that lay eggs. This time Kyley chimed in and said....ummm ya. We know. :) Obviously this step was NOT one that was met with open arms which actually surprised me. I mean who doesn't love a fresh, straight from the chicken eggs. No steroids, no antibiotics.....just a free range, naturally grown chicken egg. Oh well...their loss. Not only are the eggs fabulous,  but the chicks and hens are so fun to watch. They also LOVE getting attention. Thankfully because Dawson is ALL over them.  SEE!!



Our final step, for now, into self sustainability was goats. Dawson is allergic to cow's milk so this was our next best bet. Not to mention we DEFINITELY would not have room for a dairy cow. Though the kids would LOVE to have one. We recently welcomed 2 new additions to our family, a mama and baby La Mancha goat. We have yet to be successful at milking because mama is still very skittish, but we are working on it. I cannot wait to make some fresh butter, cheese and yogurt from some yummy tasting goat milk. This has actually gone over ok with some neighbors, but not at ALL with others. We have one neighbor in particular that HATES us because of our lack of conformity,'s all good and she has called the police on several occasions. Once when we brought home the chickens, and now again since bringing home the goats. Little does she know that I LOVE to research, and I research our township ordinance and by-laws prior to obtaining our livestock...and it is PERFECTLY legal. So I am well within my rights. The neighborhood kids LOVE coming over to feed scraps and grain to our goats and just sit back and watch them playing around. Granted at first there were many comments.....'You guys are crazy. What are you doing, turning this into a farm? My dad thinks you have issues.' Ya know the norm,  but I am used to it. After all we are home schooling freaks who let our children play outside in flip flops in the snow. (It was his choice, not mine) You would think after 12 yrs of us living here they would realize that.
We eventually want to get a lamb to go in with our goats for some wool. I am not sure I will spin the wool on my own, or take it to be spun elsewhere, but we are hoping that we are able to obtain one this year. ;)

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jill!
    I find your blog inspiring. In these times we all should learn to be more self-sufficient. I'll be back to see more of how to do it.
    Hope you'll stop by and visit me too.