Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Today's Homestead

Aaaand then I took a five month break after one blog post. Go me. 

It's the pictures that slow me down really, but I'm over it. Pictures or no pictures, I always think about how I want to update this, so I'm gettin' down to business! 

Anyhoo! Last time I talked about the past, but it seems like having a bit of info on the present is a useful thing, so here I am. You may have gotten the impression from my last post that I did little until now except read farm books. I suppose in the grand scheme of things that's true, as I really haven't implemented most of my BIG goals, but I have done quite a few small things and one or two big ones.

The biggest would be buying a house. 

Yeah! My husband and I were lucky enough to be in that position almost two years ago and I really wanted to maximize the amount of land and farm dream potential I could get while still living in a safe area and have a decent commute for my husband. 

Because the farm thing? Yeah, that's all me. 

Anthony totally supports me, but this isn't his dream. He has his own, city-dependent dream of being a video game designer (which he already is) and one day starting his own company. So where to find a house that gave me some land and didn't result in a soul-sucking commute for him?

The answer is a little island one short ferry ride from Seattle, where we used to rent a home. I guess it's known in the Seattle area for being a quirky place. It's full of artists and tie dye has not lost its appeal (much to my dismay). It's only accessible by ferry, so the landscape has stayed rural and there are many small farms, though the vast majority of people commute to the city for work. Still, it's kinda normal (if hilarious) to see things like this on-island:

In case you can't tell, that's a dragon painted on the side breathing fire onto the front of the car. The hood ornament is a pegasus with flaming orange wings and on the other side is a pegasus blowing wind onto the back. License plate: CLSTIAL. Oh yeah!

Cracks me up every time I see it.


We were able to buy a house on 1.25 acres, which was amazing, especially considering we would be getting a pretty small place on a tiny lot in most other areas in and around Seattle. The house and property needs some fixing up, but it's mostly cosmetic, not structural, and they're fairly minor. Mostly, we just need to pretty up the place! 

Before we even moved in, last January, we took out 11 giant trees in two stands that bisected the property. It's still surrounded by trees, but it's so much better now. There is more light in the house and the whole property is open and useable.

Some of the trees coming down. See all that space past those trees? Totally unusable without removing the other trees.
Last spring, I built a garden with the mandatory deer fence. (Garden without a fence is just a deer salad bar). I intended to put 5 more beds in than I have, but morning sickness hit and it was all I could do to work up the energy to finish what I started. 

Once my energy returned, I started refinishing one of two large decks on our house. Both were badly in need and I finished one before summer's end. The other is part of the reason this blog didn't get updated all summer. Gah! That was a lot of work! Especially with a little kid and baby in tow.

Finally, this past spring my stepdad and mom built me a chicken coop (because baby + building = not happening) and we got 5 chicks. They are almost 8 months old and started laying in August. We've been getting a pretty decent supply of eggs for a while now, which has been great. 

Foraging in the yard
The last noteworthy thing is the general property upkeep. I spent so much time clearing weeds and pruning last year. I put in a lot of work and really made some progress, though there was plenty remaining. Unfortunately, I fear that it was all for nothing as I haven't been able to devote much time to it this year because my daughter, the Honeybee, is not a fan of the activity. Let me tell ya, it's pretty hard to quietly weed when you have a baby screaming in your face! 

There is so much left to do and it feels so hard to make progress right now since a lot of those activities are on hold while Honeybee is so young. It is often a frustrating feeling to look around and see things that need doing that I just can't keep up with, but I 'm trying to cultivate patience and just accept that things will happen at a slower pace now or may wait until next summer when Honeybee is walking. Of course, in the meantime I am trying to just enjoy my little one being little and forget those other things, but some days it feels harder to just let go. I'm working on it though! 

Next up: a real post about the plans I have in mind for my little farm dream! 

Friday, May 31, 2013

Start at the Beginning

I thought I'd start things off by explaining why I decided to start this blog and it's name. I've been thinking of creating a little space for myself to write about the everyday happenings in my life: gardening, cooking, sewing, kid silliness, chicken raising, andother stuff around the house. About a year ago I started a sewing blog and set a regular posting schedule, but with a demandng 2 year old, I wasn't able to do a lot of regular sewing to blog about, so it quickly felt like a pressure instead of fun. 

Life with a 2 year old? There is already enough pressure, thank you very much. 

Still, as time went on, I wanted a space to share the little moments of my day to day and have a place to dream, so this blog was born. I don't have a posting schedule and frankly, I don't expect to have many (or any!) readers beyond my family and a few close friends.

Low pressure, low demands. That's my style right now. 

The particular format of this blog took shape as a record of my home life as a way to unite all my interests and as a way to encourage the pursuit of my "farm dream." 

Farm what? Dude. Seriously?

Yup. I suppose homestead is probably the more accurate term. Or maybe urban farm? Except I'm not exactly in the city (but close). I live on a small rural island one short ferry away from Seattle and it's sprawling metropolis. Whatever the correct terminology may be, I think of it fondly as my Farm Dream.

It started shortly after college. Well...maybe during college when I told my mom I planned to live in a large refrigerator box with my future-pet llama in their back yard as I had no idea what I wanted to do post-graduation other than have a llama. She suggested I might need two refrigerator boxes. Yeah, my mom is cool like that. 

Back to the point! After college I entered corporate job hell and during the mind-numbing boredness, began to dream of having a big piece of land where I could raise animals and have a giant garden. With a mountain of student loan, I dreamt big because it felt like it was just that: a dream that had no possibility of coming true anywhere in the forseeable future. I read animal husbandry books like crazy and dreamed that maybe one day it could happen. 

You know, after I hit 40 and finally paid off all my student loan debt, saved my pennies for another 10 years. And then maybe

Yeah, it seemed pretty hopeless, but I dreamed anyway.

Then, somewhere along the way in my reading, I became aware of the urban farm movement and, to a lesser extent, the concept of homesteading (which has only recently been fleshed out for me as I used to think of it as something a crazy ex-hippie did). Suddenly I realized that maybe I could make the essentials of my farm dream a reality. Maybe I could farm on a small scale, utilizing a comparatively small space to do "farmy things" like growing some of my family's food, keeping chickens, and milking goats.

I was also already interested in making my own stuff for around the house like cleaners, "beauty products" (I use the term loosely since I rarely wear makeup and usually don't even bother to clean my face each day), sewing some of my own clothes, and lots of food, of course (preserving, cooking, and baking). Often these interests overlapped with the farmy activities in books I read and I realized that maybe they too were part of my farm dream. 

Looking back now it seems silly these things didn't occur to me right away, but that's just how it was. Now, I realize what I'm working towards and dreaming of is more of a homestead and honestly, I'm not sure I'd want to farm on a large scale right now, even if I could . (But that's really a discussion for a whole other post.) Still, homestead still conjures up visions of crazy hippies and die-hard self-sufficiency nuts, so I still think of what I'm doing as my little farm dream, so the name remains.

If you're still reading this, you're likely family or just really dedicated. Regardless, I hope you'll stick with me and share my journey.