Sunday, May 13, 2012


A good friend of mine, Dawne , is wanting to "homestead" her urban yard.  We were on a road trip to Tampa last weekend when she brought up the idea to me.  Of course, I decided I am more than willing to lend my hand, back and experience in aiding this process.  For some of the fruits of my labor, of course.

We reconvened on Monday at her home for some initial planning and design.

I wasn't prepared for what I saw.

Dawne is an amazing person.  She was my Realtor when I was looking for houses a few years ago.  She is so kind, so genuine, and very quirky.  Her SO is a contractor.  He is also very sweet, very kind, and very quirky.  Really, they're awesome, and lovely, and quirky.  Unfortunately, they share one of the same quirks.  They're collectors.

As a contractor, Chris has access to a lot of surplus building materials.  Which is awesome.  I don't see us having to buy much of anything for this project.  Or any other project I can think up.  Ever.  And Dawne, as a realtor, has access to all those odds and ends that get left after an old owner moves out and before the new owner moves in and says, "What the hell is this [fill in the blank] that got left here?  We don't want this!"

So you can see where this becomes a problem.  They have some stuff.  A lot of stuff.  Just laying around.  Taking up space.

Luckily, Chris has a new warehouse, so building materials will soon have a new home, along with tools, and sawhorses, and glass, and... goodness, everything else out there.  Hopefully, I can convince Dawne to pare down some of the yard furniture, plastic pots, and decorative whimsy that clutters some amazingly usable space.

They already have a really cool, very large garden plot.  I'm planning to turn this into annual/seasonal vegetable space.  It also already has a huge nook for composting, which I jump started yesterday with a special delivery! A truckload of composted horse crap.  Florida is Sand.  There's nothing to do about it but compost the shit out of everything we can and try to amend to the point of sandy-loam soil.

What I love the most is the fact that both of them are willing to transform their entire yard into edible gardening land.  All the perennials: artichokes, asparagus, walking onions, etc., will have their own separate areas around the house and the yard.  This means I don't have to take up valuable seasonal space for things that are going to take years to grow.

Plus, they already have chickens.  Which is something I don't have to plan or deal with setting up.  Just rabbits. And there is already a perfect spot for them.  It's a pretty awesome set-up.  The labor required is going to be substantial, but the pay-off will be totally worth it.  Dawne and Chris are both so excited and ready to take on this challenge.  They each had some great ideas for what they want out of this experience.

They just needed a catalyst to get it all started.  Hopefully we can live up to all these plans!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Dashed Hopes and an Opportunity

I have recently learned that Dearest Boyfriend is not nearly as interested in animal husbandry and homesteading as I am.

The plants?  He thinks my obsession with growing things is cute and quirky.  He calls me his dirt child when I come in from a particularly messy evening spent in the courtyard garden.  I put a huge grin on my [usually dirt smeared] face and ask him to turn the faucet on for me.  Ya' know, so I don't get dirt on it.

We're moving at the end of July to a new townhouse.  No yard to speak of, but one of my "must haves" was a place to keep my plants.  So it has a tiny back "patio".  The unit backs against a forest buffer, so I'm not sure how much light I'm going to get at any given time, so I may be stuck with plants and veggies that can tolerate partial sun.  We'll see.

But back to the unenthusiastic DB.  We were walking to dinner downtown one night last week and I made mention that the next place we look for (I'm really excited to move to this townhouse, it's really nice, but I'm a dirt child.  I need space to play.) needs to have a yard so I can have chickens.  This elicited a reaction I wasn't prepared for:

          "Why would you want chickens?"

          "Uhm...Eggs?  I thought that was pretty obvious.  Also, chickens are tasty."

          "We can buy eggs and chicken at the grocery store.  Plus chickens smell.  I don't want to live on a farm,  or anyplace that smells like a barnyard.  They'll be a lot of work, and we're not the kind of people who can keep up with that...."

Speak for yourself DB.

I stopped talking and let him rant.  If there's anything that DB is really good at, it's ranting.  I love that I never have to wonder how he's feeling about any given subject.  If I just shut up and let him go, I'll learn everything I need to know about what he thinks.

Post-tirade, he and I remained silent for about half of a city block before, "I just dashed your hopes, huh?"

Yes, DB, yes you did.

Now, to be fair, I haven't been on the BE SELF SUFFICIENT bender that I was on about three years ago.  Which is before DB was in the picture.  At that point, I lived in the country, and I could garden and plan and farm it up to my heart's content.  Now I live in an apartment with about 50 sq. ft. of outdoor living space, most of which is poured concrete.  So I have my container garden, but everything else is totally out of reach.

Now, DB is a smart boy, he's a grad student pursuing his PhD in molecular virology.  But sometimes, he's an idiot and I want to beat him over the head with something hard and heavy.  I have at least a year to convince him I totally have the right idea of it.  Especially since I have had a really amazing opportunity pretty much fall into my lap.  If all goes well, I won't be too misplaced for much longer.  I'll just be setting some roots down on borrowed soil!