Three and a half years ago, my husband, Mark and I bought our first house. It’s a modest ranch style home built in the late 1970s. Our dream home? No, not really. Our dream home would be ten miles from the nearest neighbor, sit on 50 acres+, include a wooded area, a pond or stream–complete with tire swinging on a rope, and lots wide open space to roam, an orchard, several gardens, and lots of farm animals. We might be able to survive off the land, but here in the real world, we need a real job to pay for the land we are surviving off of. Commuting to the city requires time and money. Neither of which we have, in abundance, at the moment.
Slowly, over time, in the past three years, I’ve added a little bit of country to our lot. Our place gives the feeling of seclusion, but in reality we have neighbors on three sides. Our third of an acre sized lot is something I are grateful for. I’m not complaining.
I started with a raised vegetable garden, followed by barrels of herbs, bees balm, a fountain (gives the feel of a pond with waterfall), and some raspberry canes. Yes, the raspberries need help. I didn’t realize the original owners had plastic down under the bark on the entire front area of the drive, which means, my raspberries aren’t producing very well. I’ve decided to build a raised bed for them this year. I will also be building another raised vegetable garden alongside them. Soon, I will cut the front lawn out and create a large L-shaped raised bed. I don’t understand the point in keeping a perfectly manicured lawn, versus creating a yard that gives back to you.
On a limited income, I have no choice but to build slowly. My costs will the wood for the raised beds, seeds, starters, soil, and manure.
Throughout the past three years, one idea has played on my mind–backyard laying chickens. If I can create my own fertilizer and grow my own eggs, I’ll have two expenses taken care of. I may only break even after feeding my chickens, but truth be know, I’m a chicken lady at heart. I raised chickens when I was in late elementary school. We kept some for their eggs and the remaining chickens were for eating. I remember running inside the house when it was time for dad to kill the chickens. One time I watched through the kitchen window as he grabbed two chickens at the same time. Holding them by their heads, with his arms outstretched at either side he gave a quick jerk in a swinging motion and snapped their necks. I was horrified and swore I’d never eat those chickens. We were poor–needless to say, I ate those chickens, and they were damn good.
I won’t be eating my hens. Mine are pets and will give fertilizer and eggs. I chose hens that are great layers. All of their eggs will be brown. I love brown eggs. There is something “earthy” about eating a fresh brown egg.