We live in a small town, at least small for the Sacramento-Sutter County areas, with a population of 65,000. We live in a neighborhood and have just fixed up a little 1941 house. We do not live on a farm but I’m determined to bring the farm life to our 6,000 foot back yard. I have chosen homesteading and homeschooling as a way of life even if it seems silly for a busy neighborhood and being that we live right in town.
According to all the homesteading books, I’ve been reading and the Youtube videos from other urban farmers, homesteading simply means living a slower and more natural lifestyle and working with the land. Something like that. Apartment homesteading is another slogan I’ve heard about town. If you are growing some food in containers, hanging clothes outside to dry, and maybe canning a bit or composting…voila! You are a homesteader!
We fenced in every inch of the back yard with a cedar fence and every inch of the front yard with a white picket fence. We then went about planting 9 different fruit trees, I put in a large strawberry patch where there had just been a big patch of dirt. Organic strawberries can cost up to $11 off season at the health food store and the cheap strawberries taste awful. Our fruit trees will take a few years but be so worth it in the future. Our pomegranate is already producing.
We originally built garden beds on the cement to cover it. Later we moved the beds near the back fence because it was just too much sunlight and heat all day. We were too late for a summer garden but just in time for a winter garden that I have started part of it in August. I have potatoes sprouting in the kitchen and a bag of seeds in my laundry room waiting on the right time. (By the time this article posts I will have already planted everything).
Today we are picking up our 5 chickens. I’m happy to have that addition. I’m also concerned about all the poop. I clean up enough poop already and I am concerned about the smell. Too late, those hens are a comin’. The saving grace is that it’s good for the garden.
The suggestion is to start small and build up. We have 4 large raised beds and 5 chickens, 9 fruit trees, the berry patch, and a window herb garden…oh, and my wine barrels of butternut squash and watermelon. It’s all easy now as everything is small and not producing yet. What will it be like in a couple years, three years, five years? Oh boy. My husband has said no more garden beds but I’m already planning more. I’m greedy like that. If one or two is good, then three or ten is better, right?
My cousin’s husband was like that and I get it. More is better…and then you are in over your head.
So, I’ve been reading all about homesteading. I would like to have more yard but I have this little one and part of it is taken up with a detached garage and more cement than I like. I’m not so successful with container farming yet but that is one alternative to this ugly cement patio.
As you can see it has become a children’s play area and clothes drying area. I’m thinking tons of containers next year for more gardening.
It’s amazing what you can do with a little space in town. You can make your farming dreams come true. We only have a bit over 5,000 feet of yard and part of that may be the detached garage.
I’m getting older and the world seems busy, crowded, and crazy right now. I am creating a paradise for my family and myself so we can all have some joy and peace. Homeschooling is another choice I made along with creating a tiny homestead. We are all in the beginning stages of all this so I can only share what I know so far.
My eldest son, Arjan, is 5 years and Sammy is 3 years. I feel like I started homeschooling as soon as Arjan could even focus his big baby eyes on things. We read stacks of library books and color. We watch documentaries on Animal Planet, nature, Mighty Machines, ABCMouse, and anything that is educational. I follow my boy’s passions because I truly believe that if you follow and develop that which you love and are passionate about…there in lies your destiny and a wonderfully satisfying life.
I had Arjan registered with a CORE Academy that seemed great. However, when the day came to start I couldn’t do it. I canceled it. It was already too structured, they wanted him to do too many hours daily (he’s 5 years for God’s sake), the curriculum was dry as dry and plain as plain could be. I can’t do this to him or myself. I’ve studied homeschooling for years and I have to be smart and brave and create a way of educating my sons that bring us all the joy of learning.
Because that is what it should be. Learning is fun and exciting. It shouldn’t be drudgery and hours at dry lessons and performing the test to help a school earn more money. I love learning now. I detested school and college but now I study and research and read all the time. I have earned a couple Masters at this point with my own home education, In what I’m not sure but I have. Arjan studies all day with the dinosaur books or ABCMouse and all sorts of other things. He may not know how to read and write his name but he knows above and beyond the kindergarten level.
For his school, I will start in the Fall and not in the summer while it’s hot and there are still days for forest and rivers. I will create one drawer in the dining room for all his school supplies as they grow and he will have one hour a day on the computer to do educational programs. The rest of his schooling will be his library books, gardening and chickens, baking with Joette and I, and a good movie now and then. Walks, parks, forest, rivers, and even shopping are the rest of his and Sammy’s education.
As for his social life, he has a very big social life already filled with our friends and family, other homeschooled kids, all the elders and young couples in the neighborhood, and all our outings. They will not lack the good and full life.
As for our corner of the world, I control it somewhat. We don’t watch the news, we hardly watch the mainstream media or get on Facebook. We watch movies from the library for .50 cents a day. That sure beats even Redbox and you can find some of the most recent and popular movies. I just watched Hidden Figures last night.
We read constantly. We cook constantly, it seems like. We play and clean, water our trees and gardens. We eat good food, learn new things daily, talk constantly (at least Arjan and Joette do with me now only a running second). And now we have hens to tend to. Our life is very simple and easy. It’s peaceful and our calendar is sparse. Most of our appointments are taking Joette to doctors appointments.
When we shop we do it weekly but early before the masses come out. That way we feel like the stores are just for us and we can enjoy the few people we do meet.
Other things we do that are old fashioned are making our own cleaners, hanging our clothes out, making sprouts in the kitchen window, limiting our driving, making do with what we have and not buying things unless we need it for our little farm. We are even pushing the limits of scratch cooking with making our own tortillas and all our bread items now.
This does NOT mean that we don’t get lazy and buy a bag of tortillas or find ourselves at a Taco Bell drive thru after a busy day running around. However, we are working toward being greener and more self-sufficient each month and making choices today that are building a future that is more abundant and more back to the earth and the old days when life was slower and people were more grounded and connected to the land and God. There is nothing more Zen like than kneading dough or sweeping that kitchen floor after a meal that you made from fresh and clean ingredients. Or time in the morning with the Good Book and a cup of home brewed coffee you can smell brewing while outside feeding your hens and collecting the morning eggs. Or being in the kitchen with elder cooking and learning how to can pickles and hearing old stories while your children play with their toys on the floor next to you.
That is the real life for me.