Saturday, January 16, 2010

the journey begins here

We don't yet have a farm but if we did it would be RoundHouse Farms (tagline: "interactive agriculture"). Here's the journey that has led us to where we are with our urban farm life. Follow along as we get closer to some acreage!

Raised Bed Garden, organic, free range
In our second year of marriage we lived in Asheville, NC--800 square feet & a porch & a container garden.We grew some (nasty pear)tomatoes & dill & a few other tasty herbs that we tossed in every meal--at the dismay of our palletes. We learned what worked. Inspired by the 'Ashvillian Culture & Cuisine' we knew we had to have a less portable garden. We moved to Greensboro. Up & coming & with lower prices on real estate it seemed the perfect spot to persue the imagined utopia. First we rented a small townhome with a little (bit bigger & with some sunshine) concrete deck--our pots felt right at home.

The fall garden consisted of sweet peas in a window box with strands of old yarn nailed into the privacy fence, they climbed & were delicious. Fresh peas right off the vine consistently reinforce our craving to share homegrown goodness. 1 month in our first farmhand was born. 6 months in we moved. On an income under 20k a year we were fortunate to be looking at the peak of the housing market boom. Basing half our decision on the yard & it's exposure to sun, we found the perfect fixer-upper for us. In a long list of necessary renovations, garden beds were #2. It all started as a 10'x10' bed & the overgrown bush we were told was an apple tree. Our urban farm began. This back yard garden has taken on a life of its' own & is our "Harley Dr. Homestead". A trial that has created addicts.

Small Urban GardeningGoat FarmingRaised Bed Gardens

Today in the same yard after 5 years of play & exploration, of garden trials & tribulations we have maxed out what this yard/farm can give us. We have 5 chickens in a chicken tractor, three beehives, and raised bed gardens.
Urban BeeHive, HoneyUrban BeeHives
We have 375sqft of garden that supply most of our vegetables for the spring through early fall. we also have blackberry bushes, blueberry bushes, asparagus, a strawberry patch, & an apple tree. In good years we get fruit from every one; in bad years, not so much.
Organic Garden Bed, raised bed, tomatos Heirloom

Apple Tree, Apple Harvest

The chickens are the latest addition, giving us an average of about 4 eggs/day & hours of both entertainment and frustration. We knew chickens were dumb-- give them a bowl of water and within a few minutes they have pooped in it and knocked it over. Their feeder is useful as a perch from which to poop in fresh feed. For awhile they were allowed to roam/ destroy the yard. From a greeting at the bathroom window every morningorning--both creepy and entertaining; 5 hens peering with their sideways glances while you relieve yourself first thing in the morning is a little unsettling. Over all I have to say that they have been good fun and produce eggs that make it hard to eat anything but fresh & integrity raised. Everyone should have a few backyard birds.

Organic, Free Range, Chickens, EggsChicken Tractor

We started with two beehives 2 years ago. There really is not too much to bees, mainly learning to relax or go with the flow (no pun intended). Bees want to make honey with no interruption. As a new beekeeper I would open the hive weekly the first year--I ended up with a lot of stings. Our garden & apple tree were a bounty of produce our first year with the bees; record numbers of apples--so many that the tree split, & we got about five gallons of honey. We were so excited to share that we gave away about 4.5 gallons (now those folks are hooked!). That winter one hive died and needed to be restocked in the spring. This past summer we got another 5 gallons of honey & we're up to 3 hives going into spring '10 as we split one hive this fall. Bees are rewarding, even before their pollination and honey services; they are simple, natural, semi-unpredictable, & something any yard could benefit from.

Raised Bed organic farm

last year's expansion.

So, with all of this going on in our urban farm we are ready to give something a little bigger a try. Goats to be exact--lacey's dream from our time in Asheville. We want to raise them for both meat and dairy, along with eventually sheep for wool, and cows for both milk and meat, more chickens, turkeys, ducks if we have a pond...we want crafts, gatherings, potlucks, big bonfires, dancing, music, community.

Our entitlement to "family" land is non-existent--we feel like we're on our own version of the Oregon Trail--pioneering our way through small cash reserves & a troubled real estate market to find a place we can build Round House Farms. We don't have trust funds or 401k's to cash out, just hope & a dream, exactly what we had when we bought what has become our urban homestead. It may not be a fast journey--but we have embarked. Faith & optimism. Faith & optimism. Faith & optimism...

Oh, & books like "You Can Farm", and movies like Food, Inc. make us feel our quest justified. RoundHouse Farm's blog is going to chronicle the events, the failures, and the eventual sucess that will bring us to our farm. We envision this blog to be both motivation for those on a similar journey & a means of accountability for us in continuing on until our goal is reached--no matter what discouragement we face. We hope that you'll join in this "community" & maybe one day we'll together sing Kumbaya around the firepit on Round House Farm.

Please join us as we continue to blog away toward our ever nearing farm (& plan to join us there, too!).


Lauren said...

Hi - Just found your blog and love it. My husband and I (along with our two daughters) live with a balcony lemon tree and lavender in los angeles. We spend many nights dreaming of land with goats, chickens, veggies and fruit trees...someday. I can't wait to read about your journey and eventual success.

Becca said...

Hello Lacy,
I am going back and reading through your blog. I know that you "experimented" for years to get where you are. But it seems so daunting. Anyway, I really interested to keep reading and to start learning. So would you recommend "You can farm" as a first read? Or something else?
Rebecca Sarine