I’m in the process of building a shed for the two goats I’ll soon be bringing home, and drawing up plans for my raised garden and rabbit hutches this coming spring, when I realized.. Hey! I’m turning into an urban homesteader!
The first time I heard the term “Urban Homesteading”, it was on a local crunchy mom Facebook group, where a gal was advertising her upcoming workshop on “How to Start Your Own Urban Homestead”.
Me, being new to the whole trendy crunchy mom scene, asked, “What is urban homesteading?” I’d like to say I was promptly answered and educated, but instead all I got was a lot of run around (some of it rather condescending) about how that was a silly question, and no one – seriously, no one – answered the gosh darn freakin’ question. Did I mention I hate crunchy mom groups? lol! (Love the moms, hate the groups.)
A friendly mom private messaged me to explain that urban homesteading was, “planting gardens and owning chickens and crap like that.” Oh, okay. I guess.
Now, I grew up with a backyard garden, and rabbits we bred for meat, and many things that I recognize now as what would classify as urban homesteading. But I never once ran across that term. I never once considered myself a homesteader, or someone into homesteading. So I didn’t give it much more thought. Let the crunchy moms plant their Pinterest inspired used pallet strawberry beds, I’ll do my own thing and call it a day. That’s not a bandwagon I need to jump on anytime soon. Not me, no sir, not nohow.
But now, as a first time home owner, as I research projects I want to pursue this coming spring I realize: I’m totally into urban homesteading! Like, bad.
Urban Homesteading Is…
To answer the pesky question of what, exactly, homesteading is (thank you Wikipedia):
“Broadly defined, homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It is characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of foodstuffs, and it may or may not also involve the small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use or sale. Homesteading is not defined by where someone lives, such as the city or the country, but by the lifestyle choices they make.”
Now, I’m not going all Little House on the Prairie all up in hyah. (Though how cool would THAT be?!) Some homesteaders are veritable back-to-basics pioneers, sans the frilly bonnet. The thing is, even if I wanted to devote my every waking moment to tilling the Earth, I really couldn’t. According to a random meme I found on the internet (and random memes do not lie) it would take roughly 2 acres for a family of 4 to have every single nutritional and energy need met for a whole year – this includes meat, dairy, wheat, veggies, fruits, solar panels, water, etc. etc. (Click here to see the original meme.)
And honestly, we have already found many healthy, and local sources for food that excel at what they do and fit within our budget… raw cow milk, grass-fed organic beef, free range chicken eggs, local raw honey, an organic veggie and fruit weekly co-op, along with multiple sources of organic and fair trade food items online (raw sugar, organic coffee, beeswax candles, etc., etc.)
So I’m not planning to go all rugged country woman in rural Visalia, California. I’m just wanting to indulge in a few personal projects that will ultimately make me happier, healthier and all the wealthier for the extra effort put in.
How It All Started…
It all started when I decided to start weaning Tessa off of breast milk so I could give my breast milk donations to Thyme when she is born. (Click here to read about my breast milk journey.) The healthiest option outside of human milk to switch Tessa to (and give to Thyme as homemade formula if the breast milk donations run out) is raw goats milk.
But with raw goats milk running $32 per gallon in California, (that would feed Tessa for about 4 days) I started seriously eyeballing owning my own milking goat. Turns out, it’s WAY cheaper. I’m talking.. one goat will pay for herself in less than two months.
Then I started looking up what I could do with all that extra goat manure I’m sure to have on hand. The house we bought already had a garden plot, maybe I could grow some heirloom veggies there? (I love me my heirloom veggies.)
Then I started thinking I should maximize my space by growing plants that are beneficial for the goats milk (many plants have a beneficial effect on flavor, volume and butterfat content)..
Then I started eyeing the side of the fence that looks like a perfect spot for a couple of rabbit hutches… I grew up on rabbit meat, it’s way healthier than the meats we regularly consume, and it sure would be nice and save us money on buying the grass-fed beef at the Farmers Market every week…
And, well, you get the picture.. it just went on from there.
For the record, my upcoming spring urban homesteading projects include:
– Raising goats for raw goat milk, cheese, yogurt, butter and soap
– Harvesting goat manure for natural garden fertilizer
– Raising rabbits for meat
– Cultivating an herb garden for culinary and medicinal use
– Growing an heirloom veggie garden for food and fun
– Planting decorative flower beds with beneficial plants for the goats, bees and butterflies
– Cultivating our pre-existing fruit trees for baking, juicing and preserving
– Fermenting, canning and preserving our foods and drinks
– Planting rare and endangered plants for seed sharing and propagation
I’d also like to raise chickens for eggs, bees for honey and beeswax, and possibly raise small game birds for meat, but those are waaaay in the future, and probably for when we are on a country homestead, not an urban one (not sure how the neighbors would take to a stack of beehives over the fence…)
Anyway, so there you have it! While I’m just getting started, I’m well on my way to becoming an urban homesteading domestic geek. It would thrill me to no end if you guys would watch me on my journey while I record my discoveries and share my successes and failures as an urban milkmaid!
Do you indulge in any aspects of urban homesteading? Please share below, I’d love to hear all about it!