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6 In Do

The First 6 Months

A look at what has been accomplished during the first 6 months on our new urban homestead, and what projects we have planned for the future.

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.

A look at what has been accomplished during the first 6 months on our new urban homestead, and what projects we have planned for the future.

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.

A look at what has been accomplished during the first 6 months on our new urban homestead, and what projects we have planned for the future.A look at what has been accomplished during the first 6 months on our new urban homestead, and what projects we have planned for the future.

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.

A look at what has been accomplished during the first 6 months on our new urban homestead, and what projects we have planned for the future.

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.

A look at what has been accomplished during the first 6 months on our new urban homestead, and what projects we have planned for the future.

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.

A look at what has been accomplished during the first 6 months on our new urban homestead, and what projects we have planned for the future.A look at what has been accomplished during the first 6 months on our new urban homestead, and what projects we have planned for the future.

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.

A look at what has been accomplished during the first 6 months on our new urban homestead, and what projects we have planned for the future.

What’s Next?

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!

 

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6 Comments

  • Reply
    Sammia
    July 26, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    I was a little sad reading this post. Change is necessary, but not always an easy thing. It calls us to a higher purpose, new experiences, and all of the virtues that we gain from them. Hopefully the next six months will bring some unexpected pleasant surprises for you, so that just like your garden, you can “bloom where you are planted.”

    Keep us Posted!

    God bless

  • Reply
    Misti
    July 27, 2017 at 6:23 am

    Oh man, what a pain. I’ve always liked older houses but having to do a lot of remodeling sounds painful. My house is about 40 years old, with some additional outbuildings built in the last 15-20 years. We’ve done some work to it but still more on the horizon.

    I live in a semi-rural area but can still hear people mowing and traffic from a nearby road but after being out here for five years I’m not sure I could deal with the ‘burbs or a city setting. How do people in NYC do it????

    • Reply
      Melissa Keyser
      July 27, 2017 at 9:32 am

      I love older houses, but it’s certainly a mystery and lots of questioning on “why on earth did they do this?!”

      The only way I think people thrive in cities is that’s all they know. I couldn’t imagine that someone would optionally choose a loud, busy environment over a calm, quiet one (but then again, I’m a total introvert!)

  • Reply
    Adriann Saslow
    July 27, 2017 at 6:33 pm

    It really is a charming house. Even if you move, you are adding more love to it.

  • Reply
    Alli
    July 28, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    I was wondering how you were doing and thought since you’d been quiet it may not have been good. I’m glad to see you post and hope things look up soon.
    I remember when I left my parent’s hill and moved into the dorms in college everything was so loud and so bright. I couldn’t sleep for weeks.
    I notice and cherish any moment of actual silence I get in my urban garden. It is rare. I have black out curtains for the neighbor’s light. I sometimes stand still in my bedroom closet because it’s the quietest place I can access without driving somewhere.
    I feel you.
    Good on you for joining a CSA and making the things better that you can make better. This is one season in your life. The season in your life will change again.

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