Homestead Update

Hey y’all.

It’s fun to type that: homestead. I would call this a homestead now. For a long time, I just had a tiny garden, but this year I planted things in half my yard, and I have rabbits.

My husband and I have been looking for some land, but to no avail. There’s always something that’s not right.

But, that’s not the subject.

One of the things I want to tell you is that I bred my rabbits a couple days ago. In about a month, we should have some baby bunnies! Some might die in the heat, which will be sad, but I plan to not breed the rabbits in July or August, so this is my only chance until September. I mostly wanted to go ahead so I could get the hang of things. I know it’s mostly the rabbits doing the “work,” but I still wanted a trial run. If it works out, yay bunnies! If not, sad, but we’ll try again.

Speaking of bunnies, I’ve been riding my bike up the street to an empty lot to cut down grass for them. I have been successful at drying the grass for hay, but I haven’t been successful at gathering enough grass to store any (though I’m hopeful that this week will be the tipping point), so I don’t know that I’m going to be able to not buy any more hay. Although, cutting down grass for the rabbits has helped stretch our hay supply immensely. We bought one of the smaller, square bales of hay back in January, and it’s June and we still have plenty for the rest of the month and maybe into July. I bet I’ve cut enough grass down over time to equal three bales of hay.

Also, I have big plans for this fall and next spring. I haven’t wanted to buy perennial plants because we’re renting (which was silly, and I look back and wish I’d planted things), but since my husband and I decided to buy this property, I’ve been dreaming of all the perennial plants I can put in.

I’ve been wondering where to plant things. There are already so many plants from previous occupants and the rest of the property is so shady, but then it hit me: I can take out the current plants and replace them with what I’d like. I’d just gotten used to those plants that it didn’t occur to me.

The first thing I want to replace is the hedge in front of the apartment. It provides privacy, but not much else. I want to plant honeyberry bushes there instead. Honeyberries are similar to blueberries, which I love, but they’re easier to care for, which I love more. Once they grow up, I’ll still have the privacy of the hedge, but I’ll be able to harvest berries!

I also plan to put in some blackberry vines. For a while I thought that the wild blackberries in my yard would provide all the blackberries I wanted, but they flower, then all the blooms fall off, and then nothing grows, so I’ll be getting some domesticated blackberry plants.

I’m planning on putting in some sugarcane and asparagus, but I haven’t decided on a spot for them, yet.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again. It can be difficult to find spots to plant everything because of how small and shady my growing area is. The entire piece of property we sit on is about 1/4 acre, but we live in a duplex, so I only have 1/8 acre, some of which is house. I’d say that about a third of the property is house, so that leaves 1/12. I’ve given up trying to grow in the backyard. Not only do the dogs tear up plants and pee on them, the neighbors have a privacy fence that knocks out most of the evening sun. I only get the 1/24th acre in the front that’s got all the shade from the neighbor’s trees and all the plants that someone else planted. It’s still possible to grow stuff, and once I get going, I have a hunch that it’ll be difficult to stop me, but for now it can get pretty tricky to pick the right spot for things.

Troubles aside, dream with me for a moment. I want to have a food forest in my front yard. Not a really thick, dense forest, but a breathable, whimsical forest. I want to have a couple apple trees, honeyberries, blackberries, and strawberries. I want mint and honeysuckle to take over my yard. I want to be inundated with food. I want people to talk about “the yard with the plants.” I want to have so much food that I have plenty to enjoy and plenty to share.

From a frugal perspective, there’s no way I could by 50 lbs of apples, but a couple of trees could easily grow 50 lbs of apples. Being in Texas, I’m sitting right on the edge of the growing zone for tropical plants (actually, I’m 1 zone above them. The subtropics begin in zone 9, and I’m in 8a), but I’m hoping that with a green house I can grow bananas and some other topical plants. I also need a green house, but I don’t know where I would put that either.

So those are my current homestead plans. Even though it’s taken three years for me to really get going (and it’ll be several more once I plant things), I can’t be upset. I’m a very young woman at only 24-years-old. I think that even having solid plans at this age is pretty spectacular.

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