Posts Tagged With: Chickens

Why I Blog and How I Became an Urban Homesteader

Four years ago, at the beginning of March, I started this blog.  At first I began tentatively, not sure who would ever read what I had to say, unsure of if I even had anything to say at all.  Unsure of what my blog was about (I hadn’t even really read other blogs), I titled it “Journeys and Adventures” and just sort of typed whatever came to mind, the latest happenings in our lives, reviews of articles I read or documentaries I watched.

I quickly noticed a theme.  I wanted to be a farmer.  But I lived (live!) in a city.  During my first month of writing I covered the garden or buying our first chicks in at least every-other post.  I did not know anything about “urban homesteading” or that people called themselves this or that other people we like me at all – playing farmer on little patches of earth, where ever their feet had landed them in life.

There were lots of Monday morning posts chronicling the progress of our garden over the weekend or the construction of our chicken coop.  And I began to understand that this was therapy – the gardening, the chickens, and the writing about it.  I took more pictures, I squeezed more into the dirt we had.  I found more dirt and eeked out more spaces to grow things.  I dreamed of a bee hive.  But this space remained a sort or personal journal.

One day, as Rick was reading, he asked why I didn’t make the blog public, since only friends and family had access to it at this point.  I thought about it for a while and decided I was afraid to put myself out in the open to any and everyone.  But he encouraged me to do it, convinced that people would like what I had to say, and enjoy reading about our crazy adventures in playing at urban farming.  So I did, and I decided to change the name of the blog too, so that it would reflect more of what it was now about.

I thought about the name change for a long time, mulling over terms like green, dirt, crunchy, city, suburbs, farming, etc.  Through lots of reading, I discovered the term urban homesteading and found it described what we were doing.  I still thought we virtually were alone in doing it, but I knew the phrase was the right one for our family and our journey.

A search engine led a writer for the Denver Post to my blog, and he contacted me, wanting an interview for a story he was doing on urban homesteaders.  Because I was skeptical (hey! I didn’t know this guy), I refused to be interviewed without Rick home, so I missed my chance.  Timing was off and he couldn’t come on the day Rick could be here.  But I was so excited when the article came out.  I discovered we were NOT alone.  There were people in my own neighborhood doing this.  People all over Denver!

Now look:

There is a reason I’m taking the time to write this trip down memory lane.  It’s not because it was my blog-iversary. It’s because today is the third Day of Action for Urban Homesteaders across the internet.

Back in February of this year the Dervaes family of Pasadena, CA trademarked the terms “urban homestead” and “urban homesteading.”  I am not linking to who the Dervaes family is, but in short, they are a father and three grown children growing lots of food in a small area in California.  They are a family church, with the father being the pastor and to my knowledge, the children are the members.  A church of what is pretty unclear.  From what little I know of them, they’ve done a lot with their space and many in the urban homesteading community admired them.  I never really read much about them until now.

So the big deal?  They sent out cease and desist letters to bloggers, businesses and organizations (even a library) who were using the two trademarked terms.  They want credit with links every time the phrases are typed.  I’ve seen the letters.  They sent one to Denver Urban Homesteading, our local indoor farmers market, and had their Facebook page (and main marketing tool) shut down.  Problem is they don’t have the legal grounds to do this.  They didn’t invent the phrases, nor were they the first to use them.  And their trademark does not give them the right to restrict the use of the English language in the way they claim.  I know this because I know the owner of Denver Urban Homesteading.  James, the person I worked with on Denver’s inaugural chicken coop tour (with the Denver Botanic Garden’s) last year, and the one I helped to make the Free the Chickens video with, also just happens to be a lawyer.  Apparently the Derveas picked on the wrong homesteader.

Bloggers and urban homesteaders across the country have been outraged by the actions of people who were supposed to be leaders within our community.  A Facebook page was created and quickly grew to over 6000 fans supporting the canceling of the trademarks and begging the Dervaes family to, at the very least, help us understand.  There have even been claims that the Dervaes’ are plagiarizing others‘ work (some of it used to support their claim to the trademarked phrases?).  But the D-family closed all the comments on their many blogs.  They temporarily took down their facebook page.  They refused to answer email and letters.  The only communication was denial of any wrong doing and to claim they were being persecuted, they were under attack.  They did not (and still don’t) approve of the fact their letters were put out in the open.  A quick Google search will lead you to the letter if you want to read it.

Through all of this, over the last month-plus, I’ve stayed silent.  All this uproar literally struck fear into my heart.  I called my mom, nearly in tears.  I told my BFF.  I temporarily changed my blog name.  I followed fellow bloggers as they posted and united in two previous Days of Action (read my favorite post on all of this here, from Northwest Edible Life).  But I was afraid.  This blog holds my heart.  Like I said it is my therapy.  And it’s my personal journal.  And it holds videos of my boys’ first steps and first words.  I don’t want to loose any of it.  Not over words.

But I’ve collected my thoughts.  I’ve decided I can’t be silent because all of this is too important to me.

So, today, on this Urban Homesteader’s third Day of Action, I’m asking for your help.  Please go to Change.org and sign the online petition to Cancel Trademarks on Urban Homestead and Urban Homesteading.

This petition is addressed to Jules Dervaes, and despite fears that he won’t listen to this community, the petition can be used to help support our cause in other ways.  It is a petition, a protest, and a plea to the Dervaes family.  Whether or not they listen, legal actions are also being taken.  Because like all the others, I too, am an Urban Homesteader.  Thanks.

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Categories: Beekeeping, Chickens, Community, Food, Garden, Independence Days, Simple Living, Sustainability, Urban Homesteading | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Three Cheers for Volunteers!

Last week we went out to the garden and found THIS!  Volunteer spinach!  Hooray!

We decided to take advantage of the nice weather by getting a bit of garden prep done and putting a few seeds into the ground.  Rick also helped the neighbor get more ready on his garden by digging out three tree stumps and getting some major tilling and composting into the beds.

Our neighbor is cracking me up.  When he first wanted to do the garden he gave me free license for garden design as long as it included corn and potatoes.  Now he’s got definite ideas about what he wants and doesn’t want, so we are modifying the plans I made all winter a bit.  I’m actually really glad, since it tells me he’s a lot more excited about his space than he is letting on.  We’re adding carrots and onions.  He’s from Indiana and missed the corn fields, so we are planting four long rows for him to walk through.  I talked him into beans with the corn, though he thinks he “won’t like how it looks,” he’s willing to let me try it since I keep telling him the beans will help feed the corn.  But corn and beans are still a few month off.  This is what we actually planted this weekend:

Plant something – spinach, lettuce (four kinds), radishes, and peas.

Harvest something – eggs, compost and a leaf or two of that volunteer spinach.

Preserve something – Ah – TAMALES!  My friend, Jen, came over on Saturday and while Rick and the boys kept busy digging out tree stumps, we made a triple batch of corn and poblano tamales.  We ended up with 90!  Jen took about 30 of them home and let me keep the rest.  She was super generous and I’m very grateful!  We put away enough for five meals in the freezer, and kept out enough for Saturday’s dinner and lunch on Sunday.  And – OH were they delicious.

We also learned about making lard – we rendered pork fat both last year and this year.  But we learned a bit more this time around.  We ended up coming up short, so we added bacon grease.  I knew I was keeping that around for something!

Waste Not – compost and recycling

Want Not – Sunday we bought a few new baby chicks.  I really want a hen that will go broody so we can have her raise future chicken generations, so we’re hoping the Buff Orpington will provide on that front.  We added another Araucana, because I really love getting colored eggs,  and I’ve been thinking of actually, finally, selling some eggs, just to recover the cost of the feed, so we added a third – a Black Star.  Wouldn’t it be great if one of them liked to lay double-yolked eggs?  We had one pullet in the last batch that laid them nearly every day like a champ, but she was killed by a fox attack.

Build Community Food Systems – Well – already mentioned the tamales and the neighbor’s garden.  That’s it for this week.

Eat the Food – lots of items from the pantry.  Nothing special.

Categories: Chickens, Food, Garden, Independence Days, Recipes, Urban Homesteading | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Happy Chickens Lay the Best Eggs

LOOK what we got this week!

Plant something – not yet… this weekend if it doesn’t snow though!

Harvest something – eggs! Even old Mayzie girl laid eggs and she’s four this year!  We’re so happy to be back in eggs from out own girls.

Preserve something – two quiches and a bag of soup went into the freezer – I’m trying to get some meals frozen for when the baby comes.

Waste Not – compost and recycling, scraps to chickens, etc.  And I’m seven weeks straight on planning meals!

Want Not – We scored some twin beds for the boys from craigslist.  They are a really nice set that can be bunked or not.  We’ve already set up H’s and he LOVES it.  We’ll be saving his other bed for the new baby when they are older.

Build Community Food Systems – shared some frozen green chiles and grape jam with my sis & bro-in-law.

Eat the Food – Duck was on the menu this week.  I usually have a harder time using our game birds than the elk or venison, but I am making a point to do it.  And I LOVE duck!  Served up two zucchini-green chile quiches using veggies from the freezer at brunch.

This is my favorite duck recipe: Doug’s Grilled Duck Breasts from Field and Stream Magazine.  So yum!

Categories: Chickens, Garden, Independence Days, Recipes | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Still Working Towards Independence

So I know it’s been a while since you’ve seen an Independence Days update.  Since October I think.  Well we’ve still been working, just nothing consistent over the winter, and no planting since that last post either.

My friend Annie has been keeping track through the winter and I am so impressed by her.  I thought I’d finally update what we’ve had in the last two weeks or so.  Also – I’ve totally lost count of the weeks (somewhere in the 40′s, I’m sure).  So going forward no more counting… just updates as they come.

Plant something – nothing yet.

Harvest something – eggs!  Some of the hens have started up laying again.  Hooray!  Two eggs last week, so far, another eight this week.  Yippee!

Preserve something – turkey stock – that’s all.

Waste Not – compost and recycling, scraps to chickens, etc.  Kept up the meal planning – 6 weeks straight now!  Made some turkey stock from the bones of a turkey and some rather limp veggies from the bottom of the fridge.  Went through the boys’ clothes and toys again.  Also sorted through Rick & my closet.  With a small house I just don’t have room to keep this stuff around.  So some other lucky kids will benefit from the Goodwill donations.  I did pull about 8 jackets and sweatshirts that I’m going to take to the used kids clothing shop to sell.  They usually buy that stuff, and for some reason, this season we ended up with a kajillion jackets for each kiddo.

Want Not – ordered seeds!  Hip hip hooray! – More on this below.  Also we got black-out/thermal drapes for the boys’ room.  They have old wooden single pane windows back there, and although we put up storm windows and the plastic, they were still freezing cold.  We hung up one set of curtains on one window and put a quilt over the other window (we’re waiting to hang the second set until we move their room around when E leaves the crib soon).  But just that little change has made a huge difference in the temperature of their bedroom.

Build Community Food Systems – Our neighbor ordered potato seeds for us to share and we got the corn and beans and carrots he wanted.  Plus we ordered veggies for our space, and based on some hopeful swapping with some friends, even modified what we were going to plant in some areas.  :)

Also blogged about Non-GMO seeds and that sparked a conversation on Facebook with a friend who is working on her first garden at her home.  A little something.

Eat the Food – Turkey from the freezer.  Chiles, corn, jalapeño powder, pickles, frozen tomatoes, peaches, plums, elk, grouse, pheasant, beans and jams all getting used.  We’re really working through the freezer this year.  Our onions, garlic, potatoes, winter squash, strawberries and raspberries are all completely gone already.

Categories: Independence Days | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Free the Chickens!

As promised, here is the video that we participated in making to help get Denver’s laws changed to allow chickens.  Sadly the editor misspelled our name, but I think the point is still there.  ;)  Please share with your friends to help raise awareness on this issue.

To learn more about how you can help, go to www.freethechickens.com

Categories: Chickens, Community, Food, Simple Living, Sustainability, Urban Homesteading | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Fruit

This weekend was the weekend of fruit.  On Saturday morning we went to Palisade for the second time this summer, and we came home with 319 pounds of peaches.  150 pounds were for friends, and we kept the other half for ourselves.  Then, Sunday morning, before we had even gotten a peach into the freezer, my brother-in-law came by with over 1500 Italian plums.  Thankfully the plums are a bit green, as we didn’t really have much time to mess with the fruit on Sunday.

Monday, we ate some of the plums in a plum coffee cake, and then we went to our friend’s home outside of Allenspark.  Mike grilled and we gathered around the fire pit, and had a nice evening with friends (and peach cobbler), watching the smoke from the fire in Boulder county blow over the horizon.

On the way home we stopped outside of Longmont where we could see the fire above Boulder.  My pictures here don’t do it justice, but it was incredible.

Tuesday is farm day for me, when I go and work at the CSA.  I brought home our share, and had barely pulled into the drive when our friend, Rich drove up with twenty plus pounds of concord grapes!  These grapes are our favorite and they were very generous!

So we have a fruit filled week ahead of us.  I had actually planned to pick strawberries and raspberries this week too, but I am putting that off until next week in hopes that I can get somewhat caught up around here before adding more to it!

Here’s the update:

Plant something – nothing.

Harvest something – eggs, tomatoes, zucchini, peaches

Preserve something – three batches of peach preserves, two and a half boxes (approx. 30 lbs) of peaches sliced and frozen, 3½ pounds green beans frozen, 1 gallon bag of tomatoes frozen, 2 batches of carrot soup in the freezer.

Waste Not – compost and recycling, scraps to chickens, etc.  Lots and lots went to the goodwill over the last couple of weeks.

Want Not – nothing that I can think of right now.

Build Community Food Systems – all the fruit trading!  Yum!

Eat the Food – as mentioned, plum cake and peach cobbler.  Also eating all the yummy farm veggies.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  ;)

Categories: Canning and Food Preservation, Chickens, Food, Garden, Independence Days, Recommended Reading | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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