Making the land come alive

DSC_0938

When we first arrived at this new home of ours, I looked around and said in despair, “there was beautiful, living land all around. Why would the owner choose to kill it by smothering it in concrete?”

I mean, I know some people aren’t really into growing stuff. All they want is a hassle-free, low-maintenance yard with no mud, weeds or critters. I get it, I really do. But there are options that are less damaging, less ugly, and less permanent than concrete. Breaking concrete apart can be difficult and costly for those who aren’t used to this kind of work and don’t have the right equipment.

We didn’t give up, of course. We’re too stubborn for that.

Read more in my recent Mother Earth News post:

“There’s nothing like having the freedom to grow and raise whatever you want on your own piece of rural land, but town living has its potential for homesteading and sustainability. Our gas costs have dropped dramatically since we no longer need to drive for every little errand. Also, in a larger local network of people, there is bigger potential for swapping, trading and giving things away.”

Advertisements

Progress!

Remember this?

DSC_0879

Last week, we rented a tractor, carried away a ton of debris such as old moldy mattresses, concrete rubble and rusty poles, plowed under the weed jungle, handpicked another mound of smaller scale litter (old plastic bottles, beer cans, ancient shoes), and started preparing the space for our future garden.

DSC_0922

The place now looks like this. There is still a slab of concrete in the middle that was too difficult to remove, but we figure we can use it as a foundation for a chicken coop or a greenhouse.

I’ve already marked some beds and planted beans, squash, and peppers. I know it’s unorthodox to plant at the end of October, but I figure there are plenty of places where the summer is about as warm as our winter, and people still report being able to grow tomatoes and peppers there, so what have we got to lose? One thing is certain – outdoor work is a lot pleasanter in winter around these parts.

Stay tuned for more news about us and our work to make the most of this little urban homestead-in-progress.

New homestead, new goals

DSC_0413

Now that things are a little less messy and a little more settled around here, we can start working, bit by bit, on new projects, which can be summed up this way: it is possible to live sustainably anywhere; it is possible to homestead anywhere. Simple living, making things from scratch, recycling, reduced consumerism, foraging and growing food are practices that can be implemented by anyone.

Read more in my latest Mother Earth News post:

“I knew that homesteading and sustainability are not just for those who can do remote off-grid living. It’s more about mindset than circumstances. And so I started to look into urban homesteading, and discovered inspiring examples of food production people have managed in tiny spaces. Container gardening, vertical gardening, urban chickens, community plots and other cool projects made me ashamed of doing so little with what we have had until now. Rather than needing more land, it transpired, we just needed to make better use of it!”

A bend in the road

Our family, once again, is facing the prospect of moving house in a few months, and it’s going to be a major adjustment, as we’re going to live in a far more urbanized area than we wished to/expected to/considered part of our future. Some part of my heart is breaking within, as I realize we’re going to have to let go of a dream of greater space, solitude, and freedom… at least for a while. Rather than start a goat farm in the desert, as we had hoped for some time, we’re now preparing to move to the fringes of a small town, where we can consider ourselves lucky if we might still keep a few chickens.

Another big change is that we are leaving our beloved region of the Shomron, where we have lived ever since we married, and moving to a different area. Many of our friends are rejoicing in this prospect, especially following the brutal murder of our friend and neighbor, Rabbi Raziel Shevach, three months ago. I do have to say, however, that considerations of safety don’t have much to do with this decision. Our motives are more a combination of family, social, and financial circumstances.

I write more about this in my Mother Earth News post:

Life happens, and wherever we live, we can always practice simple living, DIY projects, reusing and recycling, and growing food at least on a small scale. Also, our journey is far from over, and who knows? In a couple of years we may find ourselves moving forward in the direction which we have been dreaming of for so long. Still, this present bend in the road finds me in a little bereavement, as I have to let go, for the time being, of a great and long time dream.
I will definitely give more updates on this as they come, and hope you all wish us good luck.
In photo above: a little town home surrounded by a beautiful garden. No, it isn’t going to be ours, but it’s something to aspire to. 

Around here

We are slowly settling back into routine, and enjoying all the little everyday things, alongside the children and our new sweet little baby girl. The transition to a family of six has been marvelously bump-free so far!

In the pictures: our sage, which has grown into a mighty bush and is now in full bloom – it’s hard to believe it started out as a couple of tiny seedlings when we first put it in; catching up on laundry on a sunshiny morning; a hen sitting diligently on a clutch of eggs, from which chicks are due to hatch next week; our fowls and kitties sharing a treat.

I hope everyone is having a pleasant spring!

When your neighbors hate your rooster

As difficult as it is for me to understand, some people actually have an aversion to chickens. If these people happen to be your neighbors, while you are a poultry lover, it has the potential to create some very unpleasant clashes, in particular over one issue – the crow of a rooster.

It can seem very unfair, especially if your neighbors have a noisy dog, a habit of loud music or smoking, or give you a headache by using their lawnmower every other day – but the fact is, they have the upper hand, because once local authorities hear the scary word “livestock”, your poor little chickens might be the target of an eviction order.

Read on how to evade these unpleasant situations in my latest MEN post:

“My last suggestion is broader and less technical; try to cultivate a closer and friendlier relationship with your neighbors. Give them a few fresh eggs when you can, invite their children to feed your chickens or see baby chicks when you have them. Usually, after people have been your guests, tasted your home-grown omelet, and played with your cute fluffy newly-hatched chicks, they are unlikely to complain over something that isn’t absolutely disruptive.”

Simple, rural living: be prepared financially

Image result for homesteading

Image courtesy of solarhomestead.com 

Many people have this dream of leaving the rat race and the crowded city behind, and moving out to a rural area where they can live a simpler, slower, more peaceful life. “We’ll start a little farm or homestead,” they say. “We’ll live in harmony with nature. We’ll grow a large part of our own food. We won’t need fancy work clothes. There will be so many wholesome attractions that our family won’t need any paid entertainment. We’ll make less money, but we’ll also need less money, and our lives will be peaceful and satisfying.”

That was – and is – our dream, too. But if you intend to follow it, you need to be financially prepared. Moving out to a rural area and/or starting a homestead isn’t a solution for those who can’t make ends meet – on the contrary, setting up such a household can cost a bundle of money in the short-term, and possibly in the long-term.

Read more in my latest MEN post:

“Home maintenance costs money. Land maintenance costs money. Gas costs a lot of money. Whatever homesteading project you might want to do on your property costs as well, from setting up a chicken coop to building fences – though the expenses can vary wildly according to your budget, creativity and DIY skills. It takes a lot of time for these projects to turn productive, not to mention offset the initial cost. And while we love supporting our farmer friends and buying top-quality, organic local produce, it doesn’t actually save money – large chain stores and coupons do, though they are a disaster in terms of food quality, ecology and the community.

Lesson learned: a rural life is not inherently a low-cost life.

Another consideration is that, if you happen to be in urgent need of a little extra money, picking up a temporary and/or second job is a lot harder to do when you live out in the boonies and it takes at least an hour to drive out anywhere. Employment options will be limited, and that’s a fact.”