Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Homestead Highlight: Kristi

My greatest inspiration in my own backyard farming adventure has been to hear the experiences of others. I invite you to read along here as Homesteaders share their adventures and experiences from their own farms, backyards, and homes.
 
Want to be featured as a Homestead Highlight? I would love to hear about your experience. For more information follow the link to the information page and share your own homestead here at the Backyard Farming Connection! 




* * *

Today I welcome Kristi to this space


Kristi, a homeschooling mom, lives in Riverside County, Southern California with her husband and two of her three children. Though she has been gardening for years, she and her family have not always sought to live closer to the land. As the homesteading movement began to pick up speed, she and her husband became more interested in vegetable gardening, planting fruit and nut trees, and raising laying hens and rabbits–all on .18 of an acre. Eventually Kristi’s family would love to move to a larger parcel of land, but for now, Kristi is contented to learn all about homesteading, eeking out every bit of knowledge she can and blogging about much of it at Let This Mind Be in You. Find her on Facebook and Twitter .

 
How long have you been backyard farming?  What got you started?





I've had a garden for many years, but didn't get into backyard farming until the more recent past few years. I learned about Urban Homesteading a few years ago and, being that I've always loved the idea of living on a farm, I fell in love with the idea that I could actually do some farming things on the property we already owned. I began sharing this idea with my husband, who had been planting trees for years with about as much success as I was having with gardening--very little. Despite the little success we had been having, we decided to press on and began planning and building more gardens, planting more trees and berries, and collecting rabbits and chickens. As of now, we've got plenty of garden space, fruit and almond trees, three rabbits, two laying hens, two cats, and two small dogs.


What does your backyard farm look like?  Where is it?

Our family of four lives on .18 of an acre located in the Inland Empire in Southern California. It is quite a small property in comparison to many others, but we fit quite a bit on it and try to use every nook and cranny of the property to benefit us or our animals. Our backyard is quite functional with an area for entertaining, complete with a fire pit and a 'beach' (no water, though), small basketball court with a hoop, and a nice large front yard. As for the gardens, there are four, totalling about 300 square feet. We use three of the gardens for growing vegetables and one for growing herbs and edible flowers that I like to use for herbal teas and cooking.

 Our fruit trees are scattered in various areas of our yard and are as follows: 2 apple, 1 cherry, 1 nectarine, 1 plum, 1 pear, 1 orange, 1 blood orange, 1 lemon. We also have one almond tree, as well as berry patch and two blueberry plants in containers. We have a covered area behind our home where we house the chicken coop and the rabbit hutches. Having an awning over the coop and hutches is an ideal set up, and open sides offers a nice cool breeze on hot days. Where we live, it can get up over 100 degrees in the summer, so we use a mister system and an outdoor fan/mister combo to keep everyone cool back there. We also have a rabbit and chicken run where they can come together for 'fellowship', which they really enjoy.


What has been your biggest success and biggest mistake?

My biggest successes have really been the bounty of herbs and vegetables that we are able to take in. While the volume is definitely not what I know we can produce here, we have been quite successful in growing various lettuces, spinach, garlic, beets, carrots, and radish here, as well as herbs like catnip, thai basil, various mints, and edible flowers. Most of our successes come from our winter gardening endeavors, because the weather during fall, winter and spring is much more kind and temperate than our summers. I also consider raising our two red sex link laying hens, Lucy and Ethel, a success. This is the first time we've ever raised chickens, and we are getting quite a good return of eggs and friendship from them. Composting has also been a particular victory for me because we had always bought all of our compost before, and it's quite expensive. We no longer need to do that now that we know how to care for our two large compost piles.



My biggest mistake over the years has been thinking that if I put seeds in the ground, they will grow and produce all of the produce our family needs. Sometimes this is true and other times it just is not. In the past 10+ years, we have spent so much money on building materials for our gardens, not to mention on plants, seeds, compost, garden soil, and everything else it takes to start a garden....much of it wasted because of my lack of knowledge of basic gardening skills like testing soil, the concept of pH, and even feeding plants. I am happy to say that I am finally sinking my teeth into learning how to garden and tend our plants and trees better this year, and we are hopeful that we will see much of our work come to 'fruition'.


What plans do you have for the future?
My husband and I are currently enjoying caring for our trees, garden, and animals, and want to learn as much as our small property can provide for us to learn. Personally, I hope to learn to use all 300 square feet of garden area and 10 fruit and nut trees to produce as much of our produce as possible. Having lost my mother to cancer in 2011 compels me to try my best to remove the danger of pesticides and genetically modified foods from our bodies, and from our diets. In the more distant future, we are hoping to be able to purchase a larger property where we will be able to raise our present animals, as well as add more chickens, an angora rabbit, and a fiber and milk goat. For now, we are content with what we have, and know we have much to learn still here on our .18 of an acre.

7 comments:

  1. This post is such an inspiration for so many gardeners, rural and urban alike! Blooming where you're planted, is good measure for success! Hoping you'll have the most successful growing season this year, Kristi! Thanks for sharing! Blessings from Bama!

    ReplyDelete
  2. What an inspiration to be so productive with such a small space. Kristi has been very helpful to us in our endeavors to homestead and blogging about it.

    Congrats to Kristi for being featured. It is well deserved.

    ~Ann
    Summers Acres

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am so impressed with all you have done on your plot of land! And very envious of your lemon tree :) Keep up the good work!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks everyone--you all are so kind!

    Thank you as well, Gretchen, for the honor of being featured on your blog today! I'm so excited!

    ~Kristi@Let This Mind Be in You

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Kristi, I've been following your blog for a little while now and was happy to see you featured here, where I learned you are doing all your great things in the Inland Empire -my old stomping grounds!!
    We moved from a bedroom community (across the street from CBU in the Arlington area of Riverside) to a rural property in So. Colorado 7 years ago. I miss being able to grow ANYTHING, but man do we make some stark comparisons to these two totally different locales, lol. (For instance, I cried for 2 years every time I saw snow clouds coming over the mountain... but now we are in the swing of things and have a greenhouse to use...once we get it up. And how the sky here is constantly changing here with amazing new things, unlike the same watered-down blue with shades of overcast smog, there in the IE...)
    Still have roots in So. Cal, so I can't disparage it too much, lol, and there you are with your citrus and avocados... and the cutest bunnies!
    Thanks for sharing your journey of resilience, as always: INSPIRING!! Today I will be sharing your blog with my family there in the IE!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you for sharing your sweet homestead! We have 296 square feet of garden space right now too!

    ReplyDelete