What I Love About Urban Farming & Urban Homesteading

Life these days is pretty easy. Essentially everything we have was made to provide a sort of convenience for us. Marketers needed something to do and they figured it out; they created a "need" and we bought in. This is nothing new. But I certainly think we all forget how good we have it when we can drive to the grocery store in a car to pick up food, we didn't grow, and then to go home, to a house we didn't build, that is heated by fuel we didn't have to collect. Life is good. Cars and grocery stores were created to make our lives easier and more convenient. Especially for the masses living in urban centers. Since so much of what we do and have was created to make our lives more comfortable I am wondering if it has made us any happier. I know it is hard to tell, given that we haven't had to live a life without modern conveniences, but do you think it has made us any happier?

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Growing Our Food - Part 2: Spring is Nigh

On our afternoon walk today, I noticed something strange, something you usually don't see this time if year in our Northern part of the country... grass. Yes, it was grass! I know my friends on the Eastern part of the country will be cursing me with their arctic temperatures and never-ending snowfall, but over here things are heating up. There was actually a warm-ish wind. I wasn't even wearing mittens. And suddenly it dawned on me, that Spring is right around the corner.

Now, any local would tell me I am nuts and the minus thirties will be back before I know it, but I think Spring is only a few weeks away. And that means it is time to get a few things started for the ol' summer garden. Last year, I was frantically trying to locate a few items for free (of course) off of Kijiji at the last minute, and this year I will not be caught off guard. Seeds have been ordered, so I can cross that off the list, but there is still a lot more to do.

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Farm City by Novella Carpenter- A Book Review

Farm City - The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter

Most people have a running list they keep of their favourite books. For a long time, A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving was number one on my list. So many others have moved up and down that list without ever knocking number one out of place. That was until I read Farm City by Novella Carpenter...

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Growing Our Food - Part 1

The most essential part of our sustainable living strategy in our homesteading dream is to grow our own food, which, to me, means learning to garden. Now I am not saying that Cam and I can't garden, but I will say that we are still learning, with the emphasis falling on me. And if you saw our garden last year, you would agree with me; there were cramped tomatoes, peas falling over, and squash vines climbing up the beans. Oy, and you should have seen the year before with weeds taking over the garden come August. So this series of posts will not be intended to be instructional by any means (that would be unwise frankly), they are more to show how we are learning and getting ready for our big dream of self sufficiency in Vavenby. Our goal is to grow as much food as we can in our garden in Northern Alberta, and do our best to preserve the bounty from it so we can enjoy it all year.

It is just about March, and the true sign of Spring appeared on my doorstep a few days ago. It was The West Coast Seeds catalogue (yes, I know I do not live on the west coast, but they offer organic seed varieties, and it is "local" or as local as I can find.) So with the first signs of Spring, it is time to start planning this year's garden and that is what I will share with you today. The Garden Plan...

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How to make the perfect cuppa

In the UK, if they ask you if you would like a 'cuppa', they are asking you if you would like a cup o' tea. The good kind. I know this, because after a recent visit to the UK I had the best cuppa. And I am not talking about a Timmie's Steeped Tea. Pa-lease. This is excellent tea. And I didn't have the best tea at one cute cafe in a country town, nor at Harrod's in London, no, I had the best cuppa EVERYWHERE. I guess everyone in the UK knows how to make a proper cup of tea.

So upon my return to my cold and snowy home in Alberta, I was on a mission to perfect the cuppa. Drinking tea will be very important in Vavenby since sitting on the back porch to listen to the birds will be a regular part of my morning routine. And so after a few attempts, I did it, I perfected the cuppa. 

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The 'why' in the plan

Why? Why do I want to live off the grid, in the back country, growing my own food, and working outside all day? Why, oh, why? Yeah, you probably already know the answer to this because you have that same feeling in the pit of your stomach, the same feeling that I will describe for you in five bulletin points. You got it, The Five Reasons I Want to Live In the Country, and no, having a horse or being a horse 'person' is not on that list. Sorry horse people.

1. Hearing the song Mushaboom*

Years ago, in high-school, I had a friend who lived in the country, an hour outside of Ottawa, where I grew up. Her parents had the cutest place on a small lake with a big garden, and we would go there and party mostly, but we would also drink tea and look out the big windows and listen to old records, and it was great. And before that, in primary school, my best friend and I would watch Martha Stewart marathons and we both wanted to be her so badly. Well, her, but cooler. Wanting to be Martha and live how my friend did in the country did not formalize into a homesteading dream until I heard Mushaboom. I'm pretty sure I was living in Northern BC at the time, and that song spoke to me, I thought Leslie Feist wrote it for me. Like she stepped into my mind and pulled out all of my dreams I hadn't dreamt yet and wrote a song about it. The dirt rodeknee deep snowwatching the fire as we grow? That was it, I was sold. And then the staff at the pub where I worked, put the song on the evening playlist and I listened to it on repeat for five years, forever cementing that dream in my mind. And it wasn't until years later, when I met my partner, that I realized that dream was possible.

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