Homestead Happenings: The Urban Homestead
Col and Rose’s eight thousand new siblings have arrived!
And while they’re not exactly cuddly, Rose has been calling them like she calls our cat, clucking sweetly and beckoning with a crooked finger.
Last week I discovered Col trying to catch them in his net. And I’ve been trying to give the kids helpful information, like honeybees sting when they’re mad, and it really hurts, instead of say, roping off the hives and installing a motion-triggered bullhorn.
Col wasn’t exactly trying to catch them when he got stung, he reported, he was more like teaching Rosie how to catch them. Dan pulled out the stinger, chewed up some fresh plantain leaves and slapped them on the sting. Five minutes later Col was sitting on Dan’s lap wondering, “is it called venom or more like poison that the bee put in me?”
If we had more land, perhaps we could put the honeybee hives somewhere besides between the swingset and the raspberry patch. But homestead in our case is an 1/8 acre city plot which looks a little like Carmen Miranda salsa-dancing in a dress made entirely of apple-blossoms stitched together with rainbow chard stems; meanwhile our neighbors’ yards have just been to the salon for a trim and a wax. “Biodiverse,” Dan likes to say of this small plot of land we’ve crammed with children, chickens, bees, fruit trees, raspberries, strawberries, grape vines, hops, vegetables, herbs and flowers.
The grass on our property has become more like pasture than lawn.
And yet, there’s no doubt we live in town. We’re required to register our seven hens at city hall. The roar of lawn equipment rushes in through open windows making certain romantic moments more like bad comedy. Sometimes I want to snap a picture in our backyard without my neighbor’s deflated, blow-up pool all twisted and limp like blue roadkill in the background. Sometimes I want milking goats.
But really, this fenced rectangle of land is my paradise.
On Saturday we celebrated our 13-year anniversary of buying this property. Dan drew a picture with 13 Earths spinning around 13 suns to illustrate to the kids how long we’ve been here.
Go here to read about how we transformed this property from a treeless sea of weedy grass to a 1/8 acre explosion of biodiversity and weedy grass (if nothing else check out the before and after pictures, holy moly!).
On the homestead:
If you place 5-gallon buckets of rainwater around the garden, someone may decide to take a bath.
The hoop house got moved from the carrots to the newly-planted tomatoes, which are getting a lot of fussing over. It’s a little like having a second child – the way the oldest gets kicked out of the stroller or the Ergo carrier as soon as the next baby comes along.
Speaking of carrots, we went to the farmer’s market last weekend and I gave the kids $3/each to buy something that wasn’t yet harvestable in our garden. They chose carrots from Stone Free Farm, thankfully. We had finished our last local carrot sometime in February and had been buying grocery store carrots for the last few months. And because I grew up in California I can say the vibrations on those local carrots are intense.
Dan has been making these amazing “green drinks” lately. Basically, he picks an armload of greens (mostly edible and highly nutritious weeds), and throws them in a blender with an apple/lemon/rhubarb stalk, then strains out the juice. He says you can also strain juice out through your beard.
We’re back to our old summer trick of hauling the kids, post-nap, to the woods for an evening campfire and rumpus.
We’ve been working on plans for our root cellar. Of course it has to fit in somewhere between the large garden and small orchard, the honeybees and the chickens. Dan has been referring to the root cellar as “the antler kiva,” which is a sign that we still have some details to iron out.
* If anyone knows of any really successful root cellars, please share details!
* Thanks so much for all your thoughtful responses to my technology ambivalence. You guys are so smart and rational. And funny. I regularly laugh out loud when reading your comments, especially this last one from Chi-An, predicting her son’s future request: “Mom, everyone else in 8th grade has a neural implant phone!” I also loved what Ami said, “you don’t need to let the kids in on your secret (the internet)…they already know.” Shit. They do don’t they? But I’ve realized, they don’t care. When I’m on the computer the kids don’t think I’m beaming up to some supreme source. They want to know if there’s any cool pictures on the screen, like skateboarding cats, and then can we puhleeease go outside and catch grasshoppers?