As my husband Daniel and I have been sharing photos of the bounty from our urban garden, I’ve gotten lots of requests for a backyard farm tour. Your wish is my command!
One of the biggest selling points of the house we bought two years ago was the giant backyard. After a great experience doing an agricultural internship for a year on a working farm (yes, that farm where we lived with no flushing toilets), we learned tons of important lessons about how we wanted to live our lives more connected to the earth (and I include a lot of that discernment in my book, The Grace of Enough, that’s being released this fall!) .
Our experience also taught us how difficult it is to support a family with small-scale farming. By the end of our farm year, instead of purchasing land out in the country and farming for profit, we started looking for an affordable home in the city where we could make all our urban homesteading dreams come true while living off of Daniel’s steady income as a staff member at the farm (and now working at a local non-profit).
And one day the perfect place popped up. A 100-year-old little house walking distance from a Catholic church and our favorite Mexican restaurant. Minutes from downtown and friends’ houses. (The other day when we had car trouble we were reminded of how great the location is–we can get tacos AND walk to Mass even if our car won’t start. The essentials!)
The house has a huge backyard that included an extra lot (we think at one time another house was there). Daniel has slowly been transforming the yard from an expanse of grass into rows of garden beds and a wildflower meadow. He’s built chicken coops for our layers and broilers and a greenhouse for our seedlings.
It’s not Marie Antoinette’s aesthetically perfect play farm. It’s not Joanna Gaines’s farmhouse chic (although if you want that, the Magnolia Silos are just a couple of miles away). It’s just a messy, lovable space to grow our food and for our children to fall-in-love with the earth and get covered in dirt and wildflowers.
Daniel and the kids spent hours pouring over seed catalogs this winter and choosing what veggies and flowers to plant.
The greenhouse was overflowing!
And now we’re reaping the benefits!
The kids love helping in the garden (and are getting old enough that their weeding attempts are actually useful!).
This year a friend brought over a rototiller and Daniel prepared a HUGE garden for all the seedlings to grow in.
Then he finished the rows off with a broadfork.
Right now we have zucchini a plenty and the tomatoes are getting ready. This is our dear friend Natalie harvesting some of our Swiss chard for a community dinner.
SO MANY ZUKES.
Peas are climbing!
We also added some new chicks to our flock this past month.
Our older layers are still going strong in this coop.
But Daniel and the kids built this new one for the baby layers and the broilers.
They always look like Easter eggs to me.
And to avoid so much mowing and for a little extra beauty, Daniel planted wildflowers in one quarter of the yard.
And the girls love these little wine cups.
The best thing about having so much going on the backyard is how much our kids love to spend time out there in the sunshine. Daniel keeps his bee hives elsewhere, not because honey bees are naturally aggressive, but just because small children might upset a hive unintentionally and I don’t want to have to worry about a bee sting tragedy! But Benjamin got a bee suit for his birthday this year and has been going all around with Daniel to work with hives. He feels so grown up!
And I for one love going out my door to harvest goodies from the garden to make dinner from things that were connected to the earth just a few minutes prior.
(Wildflowers, swiss chard, zucchini, thyme, oregano all from the garden and the beef is from Taco, the cow Daniel raised last year!)
So that’s our little backyard homestead. I really can’t take any credit for it because it’s really all due to Daniel’s hard work and expertise. If you have questions, I’ll probably have him jump into the comments because I might not be able to answer everything. Most of the work he’s done since we got on a new, unusual work/life schedule for our weird homeschooling family.
Thanks for coming along for the ride!