Monday, February 21, 2011

I am a wacky Urban Homesteader!

Hey, a blog post from the Green Grass House - wouldn't you know, it takes drama and controversy to get me to set aside everything else going on and take the time to write up a post over here! So, for all my non-homestead crazy friends, here's the scoop - a family is Pasadena CA has decided that they are the only urban homesteaders of worth in our 2011 world. They trademarked "urban homestead" and "urban homesteading" and are trying to make it stick by going after authors, bloggers and organizations that use those words. Honestly, they probably would have gotten away with it for quite a while, too - but they made the mistake of kicking a big fat buzzing hornet's nest by having Facebook yank down a whole bunch of Urban Homestead oriented pages, including the one belonging to James and Irina at  Denver Urban Homesteading .  Oooooo, boy, really, really glad I'm not in their shoes now because I have a feeling this is all not going to go the way they would like to see it go! I won't beleaguer it all here, partly because I'm supposed to be outside helping the boys and partly because I know I won't do it all justice, but if you are interested, here's the best place to go for more info: Take Back Urban Home-steading(s) on Facebook  - it has links to related sites, fantastic blog entries from everyone talking this up today and updates on where the legal battle will go from here.

So, what's my interest in this? Well, although we don't quite fit all of the narrow definition that the Dervaes' family, we are proud to call ourselves Urban Homesteaders. This crazy house and property with all of its time-intensive work is our labor of love, our livelihood and most of all, our HOME.  David and I were chatting over coffee a few mornings ago about this whole thing and one of the firmest conclusions we came to was that there is no way anyone can define, limit or trademark something as broad and encompassing as "urban homesteading".

What is Urban Homesteading? Well, to some of our acquaintances in the heart of Denver, it is growing their own herbs, eating homemade vegan food, creating art and goods from recycled and upcycled items, buying wind power credits and biking instead of driving. To some of our friends on the fringes of the suburban/rural border it is growing the vast majority of their food, belonging to co-ops for the rest, purchasing cow shares and raising their own chickens and goats.  For some of our suburban friends it is underground chicken raising, CSA delivery, solar power and motorcycle not car. For some the focus is on the health benefits of eating real food grown and raised by real people. For some it is on the sustainability of a lifestyle that gives back more than it takes. For some it is channeling grandparents and great-grandparents who were farmers as best as they can in a modern city environment. For most of us it tends towards home made, home grown, home baked, home cooked, home oriented.

For us personally it is a little bit of all of these. To my family's continual surprise and amusement, our 60 year old farmhouse on a sweet little half acre is a little bit city and a little bit farm. We are five houses off one of the busier highways through Denver, complete with the never-ending street buzz that comes with it. Our 18 bantam chickens live in a coop that is 1/4 Craigslist, 1/4 big box store and 1/2 recycled and repurposed. They are foraging the garden area while I write this, making a gigantic muddy mess out of themselves. They can do that right now because the garden isn't in yet - on the slate for this spring is an asparagus bed and more grape vines for our wine making aspirations in addition to requests from friends who don't have space to garden but want to help here.  I'm currently typing on my computer in the out building my fantastic dad and husband built from the ground up for my work at home business. Speaking of dad and the hubby, I can hear the bobcat skid steer they are using to make a level spot in the back yard for a loafing shed going in tomorrow (but that is another post all together!) to store some of the equipment we use here, and maybe, just maybe, goats in the future. My tiny funky storage celler downstairs has canned pears, spiced peach jam, pickled green tomatoes and dill pickles next to 50 pounds of flour and 25 pounds of pinto beans. I cook a mean potato breakfast dish in my grandmother's hand me down cast iron skillet with eggs laid by our hens. Ah, I could go on and on about the things we are trying to do, and all the things we want to do, and all the things we do completely wrong and all the things we should change and probably won't but I'll finish this for today with a few pictures of things that make me think of Urban Homesteads - oddly enough, not a single one of the things that comes to mind is related to a family's home in CA that I had never even heard of before this week :-)
 Peach jam - from yummy Palisade peaches bought from Ripe 2 U
 You think this slanted roof here is going to stop us from climbing on it? Nope!
 Biggest calzone we have ever made with fresh salads last summer

 Putting in the flagstone patio last summer and a shot of the herb garden when it was still in the ground clearing stage
 And to finish up...if you leave the backdoor open to get some fresh air in the middle of winter on a warm day, you just might come in to the kitchen to find a visitor - one that thinks our coop is nicer than hers