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Friday, March 12, 2010

Steps In The Right Direction

The other day when I got the currant and four almond trees into the ground, the big reason that I got so little done was that I decided to prune the photinia in the back corner.  I wanted to let more light hit the Dublin Bay rose, which will get sun in summer when the sun is high overhead, but is still in the shade right now.  Its buddy Courageous is taking off already because it's getting a steady diet of sunlight.  I also wanted to get the pruning done before I planted the almonds because I didn't want the falling limbs hitting young trees.

The photinia are currently the only thing in the yard creating shade, and even though they are pretty crappy (they're supposed to be a shrub not a tree), I'm loathe to remove them because they are the only shade.  It occurred to me that the only way to make them useful for this little homestead of ours is to plant the chickens and possibly rabbits underneath them.

Pruning the photinia opened up the space underneath them nicely!

You can see that there will be plenty of room for a hen yard.
I'm still not decided on whether or not to raise rabbits for meat.  They are supposed to be the quintessential livestock for raising meat in the city because they breed like you-know-what, and they are quiet.  Actually, they are not quiet- a rabbit will scream when it's terrified, so you have to make sure that nothing scares them.  It would be easier if we could go vegetarian, but Steve can't handle most of those foods that make up the correct amino acid replacement for meat, i.e., grains and legumes, so I have to feed him meat.  The plan is to eventually be getting most, if not all, of our food out of the yard, so I have to come up with something for a meat source, and rabbits would probably be the most sensible choice.  I'm just not sure that it's in the cards yet. At any rate- I have a nice shady spot to put them if we do decide to do rabbits. They need shade.

Speaking of getting all our food out of the backyard, we are nowhere near that yet. I'm still building planter boxes and picking up after the previous homeowner, as well as planting the things that take a few years to start bearing, like trees and asparagus.   But I do hope to get food out of the yard year-round in the future, which means we'll be eating by the seasons for sure.  I expect that we'll still need to go to the store for things like oil, and hemp milk, and Steve's coffee, and toilet paper and baking soda, and all that.  Lately, we have taken to walking the mile and a half to the store instead of getting into the car, which is part of the whole simplify, simplify, simplify strategy.  We've been to the library on foot a few times, which is the same walk as the library and store (and post office, for that matter) are right next to each other.

But the walk to do the shopping is a new step in the right direction.


Miriam said...

What great, satisfying plans you have for your homestead! Is there a way for you to trade local meat that someone else raises for some of what you will grow, or some service you could provide? It wouldn't technically be from your backyard, but it would in spirit.

Paula said...

As long as the FDA or USDA didn't get involved, there probably would be a way to barter, but the biggest reason for raising your own meat, in my mind, anyway, is not so much to know where your meat is coming from, but to make sure that your dinner was treated well while it was alive and that it had an easy and stress-less death. I very much want to get us off of factory animals, but I'm also unsure of being able to dispatch them. I once killed a mole with a shovel out of reaction and I felt really, really bad about it. The next mole I came across I very gingerly picked up in my gloved hands and carried over to the ravine on our street and released it. So, perhaps I'll be able to do it or perhaps I won't. But I think if I'm to continue to eat animals, at some point I'll have to face up to killing them. I just need to have done it a few times to make sure that I can before I have a bunch of rabbits that I can't get rid of.

Toni aka irishlas said...

We thought about meat rabbits,but, I know I couldn't do the "deed". If I had to that would be another story.
I feel confident I can do the hens - but that may change once the time gets here.
Your garden is coming along wonderfully. Lots of hard work you have put into it and it will pay off.
If looking back at all your hard work and feeling proud of what you've accomplished is a sin, well, then I'm a big ass sinner. There's nothing like it in the world!

Miriam said...

I completely understand. The more I think about this, the more I think I would be pretty happy being a vegetarian. We're taking a wimpy approach to this at MB by just seeing if we can even eat chickens we raised, before we venture into seeing whether we can kill them, too. I admire your integrity and compassion!

Anonymous said...

Hi Paula,
I've been following your blog since I saw your comments to Jenna. I wonder if you've seen this blog:

It's a family at the end of the journey you're embarking on. They live in Pasadena, California and are just about 100% self-sufficient. It's an amazing story. Their website is called Little Homestead in the City.
Keep up the hard/good work.

Paula said...

Yes, Joleen - I have been all over their site, of which their blog is only part. They're truly inspiring, alright. They are pulling 6,000 pounds of food off one tenth of an acre, because their lot is a fifth of an acre, and the house occupies half of it. They have chickens, goats and bees, and boxes upon boxes of vegetable beds. I believe they make their living selling their produce locally. Not sure I'll ever do that well, but I can dream!