After months of researching and finding best practices online, our new and improved urban homestead is taking shape (again). This time, the focus is on creating attractive productive spaces that are easy to manage for people with busy schedules, like me. What we're planning is a combination of permaculture food forest, African keyhole garden, winter sowing, greenhouses and the Dervaes' square inch gardening method. Built the first (of 8) African keyhole beds earlier this week. Hubby and me repositioned fruit trees and bushes on the fence line and in the backyard today. My everything hurts but it was well worth it.
I'm no where near ready to embark on the fishery path but found a good informative article that I'd like to keep handy for the day I feel confident (or crazy) enough to handle tilapia. Thanks to Permie Punks of the Punk Rock Permaculture E-zine for doing the research for us.
Want to get to know your neighbors? Pass out lost chicken posters like I did last week. The two hens we raised from biddies were none too pleased with last week's change in living arrangements. The two new light brahmas quickly established that they weren't putting up with any nonsense, so our older hens targeted the other 3 hens. The fact that new batch of hens are a few months older was of no importance, they still got chased around the coop. Within 48 hours of moving in, our only Sex Link hen flew the coop after being chased by the dynamic duo.
Somehow or another, she fell out of the main coop into the greenhouse and spent the day examining the yard. That was until she was cornered and promptly took off. I got the sad news after returning from a day long out of town conference. With the large number of raccoons, feral cats, possums and such that wander the streets and unseasonably frigid nighttime temperatures, I thought our hen was good as gone. Two days later, we spotted her in a neighbor's front yard. Again, she was cornered and took off in the opposite direction.
After properly securing the exit route, I printed and passed out fliers in search of our hen, who always happened to pop up a house or two away at dusk and at dawn. After 5 days of searching, a neighbor found her perched on their fence. After a brief chase into some thorny bushes our Sex Link was back at home.
A classic case of the instinctive pecking order syndrome reared its ugly head in our coop and our two hens were determined to show their stuff anytime my back was turned. I ended up separating them from the rest of the flock to maintain some order. We haven't gotten an egg since that first day and hoped that keeping the layers calm might do the trick. That effort led to tonight's expansion/near completion of a new east wing on the coop and the covering of the adjoining passive solar greenhouse. While I bought a roll of chicken wire, assorted bungee cords, and more roofing nails, the bulk of new construction came from piecing together materials laying around the yard.
As you may remember, the unsexed chickens we raised from biddies turned out to be mostly roosters. So we needed more hens and no one on Craigslist Charleston has been posting the quantities or breeds I've been seeking out. A new chicken acquaintance pointed me to the a vendor at the Flea Market on the Ladson, SC Fairgrounds as a potential source for new egg layers. After we sold off the last of our chicken dudes last Saturday, we headed toward Ladson but just missed the vendor but found produce and a few cool recipes that I'll share elsewhere.
Anyway, we went back on Sunday after church and met Abby from BIG CHICKENS on a little farm. She and Jerry operate a livestock farm in Cross, SC. She only sells from the fairgrounds on Saturdays and Sundays from 8 am to 3 pm. She usually keeps a generous supply of hens on hand. But you can call her with special requests ahead of time.
Here are some of her prices for basic livestock
Wikipedia describes urban gardening [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_agriculture] as the practice of cultivating, processing and distributing food in, or around (peri-urban), a village, town or city (Bailkey, M. and J. Nasr. 2000. From Brownfields to Greenfields: Producing Food in North American Cities. Community Food Security News. Fall 1999/Winter 2000:6). Urban agriculture in addition can also involve animal husbandry, aquaculture agro-forestry and horticulture. These activities also occur in peri-urban areas as well.
[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_homesteading] A lot of people are worried about the human race's impact on the environment and ethical living, when it comes to topics like global heating, organic food, and sustainable development.
The approach to urban homesteading depends on what people are looking to gain from it: Urban Homesteaders can raise chickens, they can grow and subsequently can their own foods for consumption in winter, enjoy a closer relationship with nature, are enjoying organic food, and are saving money in the process, all while living in inner-city areas all over the world.
In addition to saving money and arguably enabling people to eat cheaper, healthier food whilst having a lower impact on the planet, Urban Homesteading has a community element to it too; the New York Times found that urban homesteading events attract people from far and wide: everything from tomato-canning, jam making and pumpkin-processing to pig-butchering, sausage-making and home-made wine production - all raised and grown on people's own ground in the cities.
Initially, my desire to grow food in our small space originated in past struggles to feed my children. More recently, our family's reduced income has made cheap living even more critical. I am determined that our family won't go hungry again and pray that our neighbors may benefit from our example.
Why am I boring you with all this information?
This page will now serve as my forum for urban homesteading newbies like me. Please excuse the dust as I rework my posts to reach to others of all races and backgrounds but especially African American in their twenties, thirties and forties who don't know one end of a chicken from the other. I personally feel that excessive consumption of non-necessities has robbed us of the deep connection our people had to the earth both in the US but also in Africa. I'm not saying that we need to wear potato sack clothes, whittle for fun or give up soccer practice, but wouldn't buying (or better yet making your own) clothes, going to the movies or even that group sporting events be more meaningful if we didn't have to squeeze it into our hectic work school schedules? Just a thought.