Growth is a double edged sword. Unchecked, growth can be cancerous and destructive. It is this type of ceaseless expansion that has put our society into the precarious environmental and financial positions in which we currently find ourselves. On the other hand, growth can be regenerative and life-giving. Following a forest fire or a bitter winter, the first green shoots to emerge from the earth bear witness to the earth's ability to restore life in the wake of disaster.

My goal for this blog is pretty simple and open-ended: I want to document and share with family and friends my efforts to incorporate an ever increasing degree of self sufficiency, voluntary simplicity, and environmentally-conscious design into my life as a would be urban homesteader.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Kids and the art of Chicken Wrangling

One of the many fringe benefits that come with owning small livestock is the opportunity for your kids to interact with animals. They (the kids) learn responsibility by feeding and taking care of them, they learn where food actually comes from, and they get a chance to connect with a living, breathing part of nature (as opposed to staring at yet another blinking screen).

Each of our kids has their own chicken, and they love to hold and pet them when they get the chance. The chickens, however, are not always as enthused. To that effect, each of the kids has developed their own unique style of chicken wrangling.

Tater Tot opts for a gentle, "Poultry Whisperer" approach when petting Carmella.

Erik, on the other hand, is more of a chicken cowboy.

Alex loves to hold Scratchy.

Erik finally caught Cookie.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Back at it

As bloggers go, I'm pretty streaky. The frequency of my posting tends to wax and wane based on how much other crap I have going on in my life at the time. I imagine that it's the same way with most people who do this sort of thing. The past month or so has been crazy busy, almost as bad as September/October. Fortunately my readership is as limited as it is, otherwise there would be a lot of angry people right now. Anyway...

In typical St.Louis fashion, the weather these past 5 weeks has been erratic to say the least.

Thus far we've had 11 days of 60 degrees or better. We've also had 3 bouts of measurable snowfall, and there's an outside chance for a little more tomorrow. This has made it difficult to work outside on a consistent basis. I fell for the bait and switch last week and took down my low hoop so that I could put up a bit of pea trellis. Silly me. Now I've got my lettuce, radishes, and peas under some loose row cover. Hopefully they haven't been squashed too much under the weight of 4.5 inches of wet snow.

I attempted my seedling starting in our basement under grow lights this February so as to keep my kitchen counter free from dirt and pots and such. I think it was too cold down there because the plants were very sluggish. I moved everything back up to the traditional spot in the kitchen, and now we're off and running.
My peppers aren't up yet. I think that they're the one crop for which I might consider spending money on a heat pad. The tomatoes are all up and looking good. This year we're growing the following varieties: Silvery Fir Tree, Amish Paste, and Beam's Yellow Pear (favorites that I grow every year), Italian Heirloom and Black from Tula (types that I've tried before and want to grow again), Speckled Roman, Green Zebra, and Cream Sausage (new varieties that I got for Christmas).

The kids and I also set some sweet potatoes in water in hopes of them sprouting. I know this can be hit or miss with tubers from the grocery store, but I figured that we'd give them a try. Worst case scenario, they don't do anything, and we feed them to the chickens.

Things continue to be busy. There are projects to work on (worm bin and bootleg incubator). There is the possibility of getting more chickens from the kindergarten teacher at the boys' school, and I'm still considering rabbits. I'll try to keep the updates more regular. Perhaps I should do it on a specific day of the week. Who knows. In any event, I suppose things on the 'burbstead will keep growing.