Homesteading Summer

Modern Homestead

This blogger’s adventures in modern homesteading took a turn for the surreal last night when a hailstorm struck. Worried about our egg-layers, we gathered up Mr. Darcy Chickenator and her sister-hen, Megan Fox, and brought the biddies safely inside to sit on a towel and watch The X-Files with us while the storm raged outside.

Though my seasoned farmer family members might scoff and say that chickens are hardy enough to weather a summer storm, I say that chickens who watch David Duchovny lay finer eggs. And, dare I say, that bloggers who watch David Duchovny write better posts?

I also have some news to share on the Modern Homestead book front:

For fans on Goodreads, I was tickled to see that the Modern Homestead cover had earned a place in the prestigious “In the Palms of Hands” group, alongside Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight and Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. It’s nice to be trendy.

On July 30, Renee Wilkinson will be speaking on her book Modern Homestead: Grow, Raise, Create at In Other Words Feminist Community Center in Portland, OR. The event starts at 4 p.m. Perhaps some of our readers recognize In Other Words as the location of Portlandia’s “feminist book store” sketch:

Also, if you haven’t been reading Renee’s blog, Hip Chick Digs, she’s been posting some great recipes recently, and her posts on her duck Milt’s…erm…insatiable appetite have been hilarious.

Adventures in Modern Homesteading

I was so excited to hear that we were publishing Modern Homestead, Renee Wilkinson’s DIY guide to urban homesteading.  A tenderfoot on the homesteading scene, I’ve long wanted to create my own self-sufficient homestead (a dream I’ve had since playing Oregon Trail as a tot), and I was thrilled to see Renee’s handy guide to sustainable living. I don’t have much of a green thumb, and in Boston the only planter I kept was the one that held cigarette butts and bottle caps on our front stoop. When I moved to Colorado in December, I was excited about the possibility of having a plot of green space bigger than a footprint and using it to grow my own food. I’m looking forward to reading Renee’s tips and tricks for homesteading newbies like myself.

I’ve already begun work on the ol’ homestead. In January, my sweet abuelita kindly offered me a wyandotte egglayer from her working farm in New Mexico to start us on our modern homesteading venture. Perhaps she had fond memories of my youth, when my brother and I would spend afternoons clinging to the screen door and screaming as chickens pecked for grain around our feet.  Abuelita presented us with an easygoing bird from her flock who was nothing like the vicious talon-wielding raptor I remembered from when I was five.

Meet Mr. Darcy Chickenator:

The finest hen there ever was.

She is a lady of fine breeding and taste, with a penchant for classical symphonies, particularly Bach. She speaks of Bach alone and nothing else.

We were delighted to receive our fluffy lil’ egg factory. We modified a standing rabbit hutch that we snagged on freecycle for her roost. Feed and grit is cheaper than the food we buy for our dog and cat.  So far it’s gone pretty smoothly. We haven’t had to resort to eating Mr. Darcy to feed ourselves, and she’s been happily spending her days clucking, laying eggs, and scaring the dog. We have fresh eggs every morning and a new appreciation for our tiny backyard, which we now call “nature’s television.” Many an evening is spent, beer in hand, watching our chicken poke around the yard.

Mr. Darcy Chickenator patrols the yard for zombies. She's ready for you, zombies.

It’s a good start to a modern homestead, and we hope to build on it, with more birds, a garden, and of course, some proper zombie fortifications. It’s a small step toward self-sufficiency for two city slickers.

GIVEAWAY: We will award one of our readers a free copy of Modern Homestead: Grow, Raise, Create for providing their most innovative homesteading tip (in writing or picture). Please send your tip via our Facebook page, or comment on our blog. Results will be posted and a winner will be awarded on Thursday, March 31. We can’t wait to see your ideas!