March has been an incredibly busy month for me. When my husband and I discussed how to spend our tax refund this year we were unanimous in our decision to spend it on building resilience. We decided to take the plunge into backyard homesteading. It’s one thing to store some food as a hedge against rising fuel prices, inflation and emergencies but growing your own is an entirely different ball game and one that requires time, resources, education and commitment. The crisis this month in Japan, the unrest in the Middle East and the rising cost of fuel have only added to my resolve to take this plunge!
I made my list and drew a diagram of what I planned to do with the backyard to maximize our sunny real estate. Using the system designed by Patti Moreno, the Garden Girl, I began to build raised beds, a rabbit cage and a chicken tractor. I purchased my six chicks the first day they were available from the tractor supply store. My daughters were thrilled with their new pets! The cages that I built fit neatly inside my raised beds and can be moved around to fertilize my soil between plantings.
Along with the beds, cages and chickens, I purchased four different apple tree varieties to start a small orchard. I found a small greenhouse at Lowes that worked perfectly for seed starting and we installed three rain barrels on the patio. Then I was off to the nursery to buy soil, compost, manure, peat moss and mulch. In three weeks I’ve finished all my building projects and have vegetables and fruit growing in 10 of my 18 raised beds. We also hired a lumberjack to remove some trees and stumps to increase our sun exposure and free up some space for the new orchard. With the extra wood as a resource, I decided to purchase to fire pit and make wood ash for the garden beds.
Luckily for me, I love this kind of work! I find it to be therapeutic, calming, noble and meaningful. I love that the kids are learning right along with me to appreciate God’s creation, to make wonderful things grow out of the earth and to care for animals that will in turn care for us by providing eggs, meat and fertilizer for our garden. It’s fun to learn which systems work together to sustain life.
My neighbors have gotten involved too, especially their children. I love having the help turning the compost, watering plants, feeding chickens and clearing the land. It turns out, gardening and chickens are a huge draw for kids. Some of my neighbors are asking for help to design and begin their own gardens. I’m hoping they follow through. The more resilient our neighbors are, the better off we’ll all be when hard times come.
I’m also inspired by my close friends who are starting their own back yard gardens. Maybe we can barter and trade. I’d love to learn from their successes and mistakes too.
I’ve added a few new resources to my indoor resilience supply closet. I purchased a hand mill for grinding grains, nuts, seeds and corn. My next experiment will be learning to mill and bake my own organic bread. I also purchased an excellent water purifier in case we need to drink water from our rain barrels.
I never stop learning so here’s my list of books and films for the month:
- You Grow Girl, Written and designed by Gayla Trail, the creator of YouGrowGirl.com – You Grow Girl is a hip and humorous how-to for the blossoming generation of crafty gals who want to get their garden on.
- The End of Food by Paul Roberts – In this carefully researched, vividly recounted narrative, Roberts lays out the stark economic realities beneath modern food
- Gasland – This film is well worth watching! It was nominated for an Oscar this year. Don’t miss this one