Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Urban Homesteading

Remember how I said my ADD is fritzing?  Yeah well, the recent thing to hyperfocus on is small space/urban/backyard homesteading.  As I continue to learn more or brush up on my various skills (I've got chicken rearing skills, bow skills, nunchuck skills...)  I am amazed by how many people are also interested in this subject.  For many reasons as well. 

Fresh Food From Small Spaces added another reason for me to homestead.  Most people know that gasoline is subsidized.  Do you know why?  Gasoline costs around $10 a gallon without those subsidies.  It is believed that within our lifetimes there will be a food crisis.  When shipping costs will rise to the point of making things like bananas too expensive to import.  Think about that!  I realized how important it is to teach my children how to provide for themselves. 

I have always loved the older art forms from grinding my own wheat to make bread (real bread with healthy ingredients, even the healthy stuff on shelves don't compare to fresh ground baked breads) to preparing my own fiber, dyeing, spinning, and weaving it into something wonderful.  I am so thrilled to try out some new things and only finances are keeping me from trying it out all at once.  I didn't know I could take my fresh, raw nut milks and turn them into yogurts.  I knew I could make cheese from them. 

I love the idea of making my own foods.  First, the pride in having done it myself.  Second, I KNOW every single ingredient. 

So... anywho... I have been reading like mad crazy.  Here are a couple of books I've finished that I wanted to make small comments on and not a large review:

The Backyard Homestead Guide to Raising Farm Animals: I don't know why its called a backyard homestead other than the first book (The Backyard Homestead) actually covers a backyard.  I read the chicken section, skimmed the rabbit, goat, and bees section.  This book does not apply to the average backyard. 

Chickens are the only livestock animal that I am allowed to raise where I live, except rabbits but I don't really consider them livestock.  Most cities do not allow much else.  Let alone the average urban household does not have enough acreage to support a goat let alone a cow. 

Having said that, I found this book to have a pretty decent overview of information on each animal.  If it ever does come to the point of food being a real hardship for the average American and if my family continues to eat meat I would seriously consider raising rabbits for meat.  I would also consider fencing my front yard and raising goats for milk and meat.  I guess we would learn to butcher or my family would choose to become vegetarians if they couldn't handle that. 

The average urban family would gain more from single purpose books.  Check out books on chicken rearing, apiculture, or rabbit raising if that interests you.

Cubed Foot Gardening is a decent book on intensive gardening.  This is along the lines of Square Foot Gardening without quite as many "rules."  I actually recommend reading this book and All New Square Foot Gardening.  I am combining the information.

I liked Bird's bed design and soil infomation more so than Bartholomew's.  Bird uses 12" beds with double digging for plants with deep root systems.  Bartholomew uses 6" beds except for root bed when he recommends 12".  Also Bartholomew is a bit gimmicky in his bed designs, grids, and soil mix. 

Maybe Bartholomew's soil is all that and a cupcake, but I feel like he's selling something (which he isn't other than his book). 

Anyways, read both of these books and decided for yourself.  I won't purchase Cubed Foot Gardening.  I am 2/3rd through All New Square Foot Gardening and I'm considering picking up this book.  Bartholomew's book is a bit more dumbed down (woot for simplicity!) and I appreciate saving brain capacity for other things.  :)

Here are a few more resources:

An inexpensive greenhouse that I am considering building later on, it will work perfectly for my new raised beds and would allow for winter gardening: http://www.motherearthnews.com/do-it-yourself/raised-garden-bed-zm0z12fmzhun.aspx

Mother Earth News has an email newsletter for free as well as a magazine.  I haven't tried out their magazine, but I enjoy their newsletter: http://www.motherearthnews.com/

Backyard Farming blog: http://backyardfarming.blogspot.com/

A Garden for the House blog: http://www.agardenforthehouse.com/

If you've found something you love, let me know.  I have about 30 books I am reading/skimming from the library and will let you know what I think of them as I go through them.  I am almost finished with Bartholomew's book and then I will be reading The Backyard Homestead

Have a blessed Beltane!  If you are local, we will be celebrating at 6 p.m. with a traditional maypole dance and some fertility magick.  Blessed be!

10 comments:

  1. Super fun subject. I've been reading and dreaming about homesteading for a little over a year. I didn't read specifically about small space homesteading, since I was still living with my mother-in-law and as long as I was only dreaming anyway, I was dreaming of a huge farm, hehe. Now that I suddenly have a yard for a while I have been spending all my time planting! Some books I have really enjoyed were - The Forgotten Skills of Cooking by Darina Allen, and Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills by Abigail R. Gehring. One of my very favorite blogs is 6512andgrowing.wordpress.com.

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  2. I didn't know you moved! I bet it is lovely having more space again!!! I have Back to Basics on my holds list at the library and maybe the other one as well. I will double check. I checked out that blog and it is wonderful. I added it to my blogs I read daily now. Thank you for suggesting it!

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  3. My mom and dad moved to a new house late last year, so I'm living in the old one for 6 months or so. I am planting a huge garden and am going to sell vegetables to friends and family and at the farmers market. It's a very exciting time for me right now, especially after such a hard 5 years! It is lovely to have my own space. I'm glad you like 6512 and growing, it's really a great blog. I checked out the backyard farming blog and quite liked it.

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  4. I have many books on gardening, homesteading etc. I've done the canning and dehidrating. When I was a young lass my family raised beef, pigs, sheepies( we did'nt them) we also had rabbits. I would love to share with you.
    Tammie

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  5. @Melissa: how wonderful to have that opportunity! What all are you growing?

    @Tammie: yes please! Let's get together or something. What is your time like?

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  6. I get off work at 2:00 Friday,this weekend is booked I'll see what Karen has planned after work. Now I have to round up my books that you might be interested in. :)
    T.

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  7. Friday is packed for me, what about next week?

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  8. Pick the day.
    T.

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  9. Available W, Th, and F. I will be available on Sat, but not sure when yet. Have a class and clients then.

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  10. Wed. looks like the day. I'll have to go home first otherwise Karen would be very sad. she wants to see you too.
    T.

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