2017: Year of Beginning at Birdsong Forest

Starting over might seem like a thousand steps backward and sometimes it does feel that way. We're using the super powers granted by our Been There, Done That honor badge to get things established. Fewer failed experiments. Experience to know where to put the time, effort, and detail work and which things to just let be. Clarity of the end game means understanding of how all the parts fit together and doing the right things at the right times.

One of the easiest things to do on a homestead is too much. Just too much. Slow and tempered planning and execution is key. Understanding before tromping all over things and later discovering it didn't need fixing after all. 

A full account is an ongoing project before bringing in anything new or making big changes. Overgrown, neglected trees often don't look anything like their shorter cultivated counterparts. Things require close inspection and their place (or maybe not place) on the homestead.

Our home was built by the previous owners with their skills, their choices, their idiosyncrasies. It's not a bad thing, just an is-ness. There are things that might seem peculiar until down the road a bit. Swift, broad stroke changes wait while we decode things.

We decided to have a mixed flock of ducks, geese, and chickens.

We decided to have a mixed flock of ducks, geese, and chickens.

Icelandic chicks.

Icelandic chicks.

We started our mixed flock of chickens, ducks, and geese. A quality breeding program will be the primary focus with the Icelandic chickens. We are happy to be a part of all the work to support maintaining of Icelandic chickens in the United States. This year Welsh Harlequin ducks were selected but will be replaced with Muscovies next year. The ducks will provide eggs and meat. Pilgrim geese will watch over the flock and provide some protection for years to come. Even our dog knows to steer clear of the flock. And with all that flock protection a few goose eggs will be a bonus.


2016: Year of Over the Hills and Around the Bends to Tennessee

 I traveled to MIddle Tennessee to view this property. this is driveway to our new homestead. June 2016.

And Before we knew it, the leaves were falling! October 2016.

We started 2016 in San Diego and ended it in Tennessee. It's hard to believe that we were able to pull it off. So many folks helped and supported our relocation. There is no way that we could have done it without them. 

The first half of the year was focused on getting our house in San Diego on the market, packing, and preparing to live in a rural location. The second half of the year was focused on moving and working on our new place in Tennessee.

In the middle of all the fun, I traveled over the hills and around many bends to visit little towns and big towns in Middle Tennessee to find a new place to live. Read the details about our move in my post Don't Move to Portland.

Some folks might think that we left so much behind in San Diego but we brought all of our skills and experience which are our most valuable assets.

Allison and Cassidy Hanging out and sipping beer with blissful unawareness of the "fun"  loading the  26" moving truck to come and watching us drive away with all our items.

we miss our San Diego Friends! But, We made sure to make plenty of time for Good-Byes! We even had a house cooling party! No, we can't walk to the beach but we can walk in the woods. Yes, we need coats and boots but birds wake us up instead of airplanes.

we miss our San Diego Friends! But, We made sure to make plenty of time for Good-Byes! We even had a house cooling party! No, we can't walk to the beach but we can walk in the woods. Yes, we need coats and boots but birds wake us up instead of airplanes.

After helping us pack and load the moving truck in San Diego, Desiree helped another friend in Hawaii move. And because she's so awesome she came out to Tennessee to help us unpack! Desiree arrived in Nashville the day that we closed! 

Roxy got to be an exploratory puppy when our house was on the market and so forth. We lucked out and there was a wood boat show the weekend of the open house.


2015: Year of Permaculture Velocity

Pop-up community participants at permaculture voices conference

During the Permaculture Voices conference we hosted eight folks for a popup community. We met and connected with some great people.

We launched the podcast Permaculture Velocity. We continue with the 5-gallon bucket strategy. While imperfect and labor intensive, the 5-gallon bucket strategy works for our small household: 2,500+ gallons of water from bathroom basin and another 1,500+ gallons from the outdoor sinks is diverted from the sewer system annually. The 5-gallon bucket strategy plus the laundry-to-landscape and humanure toilet systems are a decent start but we are always working to do a bit better. 

Summer brought the start of discussions to relocate. There was a pile of reasons but it all boiled down to it was time for a change.


2014: Year of Refinement

We did lots refining in the garden: adding edible plants where we could and propagating plants that required more attention than ordinary garden vegetables.

We hosted open gardens with a popup market, live music, delicious menu, and lots of folks came out to see what the homestead is all about. It was terrific to meet so many people who are excited about chickens, composting, greywater, real food, and outdoor sinks.

Outdoor sink, Cost: $106 

Outdoor sink, Cost: $106 

Concrete patio removal completed, Cost: $408 

Concrete patio removal completed, Cost: $408 


2013: Year of Focus

Red onions harvested and strung at 107 Garden. Background polyculture of grapes and passion fruit sharing the trellis.

Red onions harvested and strung at 107 Garden. Background polyculture of grapes and passion fruit sharing the trellis.

Beans overlooking 3-level henhouse

Beans overlooking 3-level henhouse

Consideration of the desired result food meant inedible, albeit sexy, plants had to be replaced. Space dwindled fast! Difficult choices had to be made. The protea corner was replaced with two pluot trees. The rock garden and all the succulents were removed, and replaced with peach trees and a weeping mulberry. 

All enjoyed asparagus, so the asparagus bed doubled in size. Grapes and brambles were added along with comfrey crowns and dozens of medicinal and cooking herbs. The passionfruit was allowed to own the 24' trellis.

It was time to address the front yard landscaped with a pitiful row of neglected shrubs and white rocks. Plans were simple for the front as we spend most of our time in the back and I didn't want to water with anything other that greywater from the washing machine.

The shrubs had to go and in its place a row of artichokes. The quick-growing foliage proved to be an inexpensive privacy screen. Guava trees were planted behind the artichokes. And by trees I mean, sticks. The artichokes provided cover while the baby trees got their feet down. 

The white rocks were left in place and we simply built up. Many cubic feet of compost and mulch and dozens of plants and plenty of seeds later the rocks are not visible.


2012: Year of the Fruiting Tree

Anna apple tree. Anna apple is a terrific low chill apple suitable for climates like Southern California. Great for eating but also cooking.

Anna apple tree. Anna apple is a terrific low chill apple suitable for climates like Southern California. Great for eating but also cooking.

The chickens enjoy 107 Garden's custom chicken rations and vegan restaurant scraps daily.

The chickens enjoy 107 Garden's custom chicken rations and vegan restaurant scraps daily.

We planted 27 fruit trees as part of The Fruit Tree Plan and coddled each one to ensure success.

The City of San Diego approved goats, bees, and chickens under local ordinance revisions. We happily added the first chicks to the homestead and began working on a hen house and run. 

The hen house design snowballed from a simple A-frame or tractor to a 3-level hen palace and run.


2010 & 2011: Years of Maturing

summer harvest

summer harvest

Spring 2010

Spring 2010

The garden really took shape by 2010. We were in the swing of things and moved on to other plans including The Chicken Plan and The Fruit Tree Plan.


2009: Year by the Seat of Our Pants

Raised beds. we used 4"x4" so they would last and tall to make work a bit easier.

Raised beds. we used 4"x4" so they would last and tall to make work a bit easier.

Construction of the raised beds

Construction of the raised beds

In San Diego, you can keep count of the frost nights easily in your head, there is nearly no rain and snow is a rarity.

The two biggest challenges, water and organic material. How to conserve water? What's the easiest and least expensive way to divert the greywater? Where to get adequate organic material to support the soil microbes? 

We spread tons of compost and mulch, actual tons. And implemented small water diversion strategies. We planted and planted more and we sowed seed and sowed more seed. Some plants flourished, and became rock stars of the garden, while others just didn't make the cut or didn't survive.


2008: Year of the Beginning

Super sexy backyard

Super sexy backyard

preparing for raised beds

preparing for raised beds

It all started as a plan to grow a few vegetables. We spent months debating the finer details of the garden layout while observing the sun's journey over our property.

Work was limited to weekends and progress was slow.