In January, my husband and I moved from our Santa Rosa homestead to start over in Sacramento. It was not a move by choice, but one dictated by his work. You can read more about how difficult that was for me here. The end of this month marks the end of the first 6 months in this new house and this new city.
The last few months have been quite heart wrenching. I am not happy here. I made a giant mistake buying a house that is so urban. I thought I wanted the city lifestyle of walking to coffee shops and such, but the truth is, I don’t. I struggle with things most other people probably overlook, or not knowing any different, just accept as life. Things like lights from neighbor’s windows shining into my own home. The panic inducing whine of a leaf blower. The constant hum of ACs, magnified throughout an entire city. I always knew I thrive in a more wild environment, but I have learned that more than anything, I need quiet.
And I won’t find that here. However, current life situations make it so we can’t just move right away. Plus, I wouldn’t know where to move to. It’s totally possible that once I have my house set up how I want it and a thriving garden again that I’ll be content and I can overlook the small things that currently make me struggle here.
It’s a hard position to be in- unsure of how much effort to put forth into making something mine, and knowing it’s not a forever home. But I continue to do projects, regardless of how long I might be at this location. Here’s what I’ve accomplished.
The First 6 Months of Projects on our New homestead:
Created a Mini Container Garden
I didn’t want to put raised beds in immediately because I wasn’t sure the best location. My yard was also almost all gravel, which had to first get removed. Needing to be growing SOMETHING, I planted 6 half-wine barrels and built my gutter garden. The soil in my barrels is total shit and there are very few pollinators, so my plants have done very little. I had one tomato, a healthy crop of basil, but otherwise, the squash, cucumbers, and peppers have so far been a flop.
Built the Chicken Coop
I love my urban coop! You can read all about that project here. I still need to add on another section of the living roof/raised bed, and have plans to build a free range mini-food forest.
Removed an Unneeded Shed
My house doesn’t have a garage and very few closets but instead had 3 storage sheds in the garden. We didn’t need all three, so took out the one that was in a poor location that I knew would be better suited to growing vegetables.
Observed my site
After making a map of my yard and observing the sun patterns, I have a clear idea of what spots of my yard are in solid shade and what gets the most sun. I have started creating a design for a garden based on these findings. I’ll have 6 raised beds, a large pollinator garden bed, a native plant sitting corner, and a mini-food forest that the chickens can free range in. I hope to post my design soon!
Got Rid of the Gravel
Remember the previously mentioned gravel? I was really puzzled on what to do with it, but thankfully, was able to get rid of it on Craigslist. I had several people come and take anywhere from a bucket full to a whole truckload. I was so surprised. I mean, who would want to load gravel by hand? Apparently, people in Sacramento. There is still a mess of it in a different section of the yard, but for now, the main area for the vegetable beds is clear.
Cleared out the Front Yard and Built a Fence
I did very little to the front yard at my last house and was always embarrassed by it. I wanted this house to be different and wanted a nice front garden for people to enjoy when they walked by. I started by clearing out the cactus and invasive plants. Then, we built a fence. Well, most of the fence. We got 3 sections done, then it got hot, so we haven’t had time to do any more work out there. I can’t do this project by myself, and Matt only has time on the weekends, which has always been 100+ degrees. Which means that for about 4 months the front of the house looks like shit. Hopefully, once I get my native pollinator garden installed, neighbors will forgive me.
Created a Dining Room
Our house is old- 117 years old. Somewhere along the lines of that timeline an owner closed off the kitchen and created a 3rd “bedroom”, eliminating a place for a dining table. We don’t need 3 bedrooms (and this 3rd being almost too small for a bed anyways). Plus, we were previously eating in the living room, so we converted it into a dining room.
This room was dark and depressing. The ceiling is sloped and there are about 4 different styles of moldings. We took out IKEA armoires that had been “built in”, repaired the floor and painted the room. The next plan is to remove the existing ceiling fan and hang a chandelier, plus some art. But otherwise, it is a much more functional space. Plus I don’t have to eat in the living room.
Replaced the Backyard Gate
This is the first (and so far only) project that has been hired out. The gate to the backyard from the alley was previously two doors that swung inwards. They were funky and had to be held closed bungee cords. Because we often have to park in the back (the joys of street parking), the swinging doors meant we had to pull further into the yard. So we had them replaced with a nice sliding gate, that locks with a key. This will still give us a parking space, but more garden space to work with.
Joined a CSA
Not having my own garden harvest was really, really difficult for me. After almost a decade of cooking based on what was in the garden, I struggled with making a list and going to the store to buy produce. So I joined a CSA and now have a weekly influx of produce, much more aligned with my cooking habits. I absolutely love it.
Remodeling the kitchen.
I hate my sink with such a passion that I am resentful and angry when cooking. I strongly dislike the tile countertops I have, because I feel they are never clean and the tile isn’t flat so my cutting boards wiggle. We won’t change the layout but just update the cabinets, counters, and sink.
Building raised beds.
I hope to start working on these within the next few weeks, to get ready for fall plantings.
Finishing the front yard.
The goal is to do plantings in October. I just need the weather to cool down and cooperate so I can clear the rest of the plants, finish the fence and get the soil shaped and ready.
I hope you’ll follow along with me on these projects!