How We're Becoming Self-Sufficient Farmers.

A week ago my mom and I were catching up with each other; talking about some of the things we'd been up to in the last few weeks since we'd last met. Somehow our conversation wandered to my childhood dream of becoming a marine biologist when I 'grew up'.

Clearly, I am not a marine biologist. I got a journalism and teaching degree, and never really had an affinity for math or science after high school. But, during that conversation, I thanked my mom for not challenging my childhood dream. Never once when I was young did my parents ever laugh, poke fun, or discourage me from those 'pipe dreams'.

And they still don't. Even when I write posts like this.

Back in 2011, I had some very clear goals about where I wanted to be, and what I wanted to be doing with my life by the time 2014 rolled around. While I am reflecting on those goals, I realized that I'm a very long way from achieving some of them. Others, however, were realized some time ago.

For example, one of my goals was that John and I would pay off most of our consumer debt by June 2012, and have about 3 months of "Emergency Fund" money.

Aside from my student loan, which is slated to be paid off in 9 months, we've accomplished this. We also have a 3 month Emergency Fund that we built up last year (even when I wasn't working full time!), and haven't touched it for any normal purchases. Our spending strike in January was also pretty sweet.

Another goal was that we would adopt a child from foster care sometime before June 2012. This did not work well for us, and we no longer have any intentions of adopting. We've let our license for foster care and adoption expire. You can read about that here.

I thought I would not renew my teaching contract for the 2012-2013 school year, but I did. I taught for 2 more years after that, then took a year 'off' to travel with John, grow this blog, and do a little substitute teaching. I am working in education again this year, but as a mentor for first- and second-year teachers.

I planned to spend the entire summer of 2012 gardening and transforming every square foot of our backyard into usable space for produce. By the spring and summer of 2013, I would prepare my garden for full-on self-sufficient farming and selling produce for a small income.

Did we achieve this? In a way, yes. This year we had more produce than we could ever eat or preserve on our own. We've shared that produce with my in-laws and with neighbors and friends. While we didn't make any money from this surplus of produce, we made friends and strengthened bonds.

We also got chickens! In March my dad and brother built me a chicken coop (read Part 1 and Part 2), I bought the chicks in May, and finally last week at least one of the ladies started laying eggs.

They are so entertaining, and really amped up our status as urban homesteaders.

One of the best parts about the ladies and our garden is how it's brought our neighborhood together. We have children and adults from all over our neighborhood stopping by to see the birds and walk through the garden.

Of course, those visitors always leave with a little bag of urban homestead produce. This, my friends, is why it's important to encourage others to pursue their goals, even if those goals sound far-fetched. I know some may have looked at our aspirations with urban farming and laughed, or even poked fun. I'm glad I didn't hear those things, because it may have hindered the progress we made.

And what wonderful progress it is. 

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