Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Late Beginning

I have decided that I would like to keep a journal of sorts, tracking the changes that time and hard work bring to our smallish Urban Homestead.
3 years ago this spring, we moved into this little apartment in town. The building is a 4plex, 2 up and 2 down. It was built over 100 years ago and was once the very first church in Kalispell.
We are blessed to be able to use the backyard in whatever manner we would like, as it is my very own awesome farm mama that owns the building!
We began with a backyard that was covered in a carpet of grass, just like most backyards. In one corner was a giant lilac tree and in the other corner a very fruitful Italian Plum tree.
The urge to cultivate any bit of land I have access too was imprinted upon my by my mom. I hold her fully responsible for my crazy urban homesteading.
The first year we lived with the yard as it was. I was sick with an intense lupus flare, and didn't have the time, energy or inclination to begin. The second year, still sick but beginning to see the light at the end of the lupus tunnel, I convinced my awesome and incredible husband to craft me an A-Frame chicken home. He is amazing when it comes to building anything, and in no time at all he had designed and built a chicken ark. Roosts and nesting boxes up top, little run underneath. I wanted something very unobtrusive and neighbor friendly. I had called the City of Kalispell to check on chicken ordinances, and found to my delight that I could keep as many hens as I liked, but no roosters. I also found (and have stored for future farming) that we could keep two miniature dairy goats and two pot bellied pigs IN OUR BACKYARD!! Living in Montana definitely has its perks. Late August 2007, as soon as my husband had pounded the last nail, I had four delightful young hens moving in to the ark. I named the girls after ladies I had cared for in the nursing home. Elsie, Lucy, Mae and Polly.
7 months later, my husband brought home a box full of peeping cotton balls. He had been at the feed store and decided to surprise me with 4 day old chicks and a promise that by the time they were old enough to live outdoors, he would have a proper coop and run for all the girls. (See, I told you he was awesome).
We raised 4 adorable, crazy, personality filled chicks in a big appliance box in our kitchen. It was so very much fun, and incredibly frustrating at the same time. Oh they were fine when they were too tiny to hop up out of the box! I have some great photos though, and wonderful memories.
As promised, I had a gorgeous red and white 12X4 coop and a 20X20 run just waiting for the girls when they were old enough to live outdoors. Can I even describe the bliss I felt at watching my girls peck and scratch around their new chicken run? I woke up at 5 am the next morning, pulled a stool up to my kitchen window and drank steaming hot coffee while waiting for my hens to come out of their new chicken door and into their run. Pure bliss.
Shortly after, he also built my daughter a rabbit condo, where our mini lop bunnies enjoy life, and a 5X25' raised bed garden area for me to plant. He also fenced in the back yard which gives us more privacy and a place to let the dogs run about.
Sadly, since beginning I have lost 4 chickens. One to cold, one to heat and two to an unknown illness, possibly Marek's disease.
Currently I have Elsie (the only original girlie left) Orabelle, Maggie and Goldie. They are all healthy and happy and laying like crazy. Soon I will be making the trip to Murdochs to pick up some new babies. We are going to get 8 more babies and plan on selling surplus eggs next fall.
We have a compost pile to make use of the wonderful growing elixir the hens and bunnies create just by being alive, and will be adding even more to our raised bed lasagna garden this year.
Neighbors would stop by last summer and tell me that I must be an incredible gardener as rarely had they seen a garden take off like mine did. I told them the secret was in the layers, and I am in high hopes of having an even more successful garden this year.
Mike will be building me another box, this one in a shadier part of the yard to plant the lettuces in as they bolted too quickly in the heat of last summers sun. I am hoping to plant a thick row of peas around the perimeter of the chicken run. This will give the peas something to climb on, the chickens something to nibble on, and something to freeze come harvest time.
I will also post here when I make my batches of soap, sew aprons or other useful items, discover great recipes, can and freeze harvests and knit or crochet something fun.
There is such joy for me in the earth and all of God's glorious creation.
I am reminded of that worship song that says "All creatures of our God and King, lift up your voice and with us sing, Oh Praise Him, Alleluia Alleluia!"

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