Welcome to the Commonwealth Farm Journal. I am happy to be a guest of the Boozy Gardener blog post. My hope is to inspire anyone with the smallest plot of land that they can, with not too much effort, soon call that little plot an urban farm. My little piece of heaven in the city is approximately 50 ft. by 150 ft. I started off years ago by planting a small garden in the rear of my property. Actually it was really just one raised bed that I made myself that contained mostly flowers for a jolt of color in the backyard. I have relatives who have real farms that I loved visiting as a kid. My grandparents migrated from the city to the country in the early 1900s with little knowledge of country living, and I loved visiting as a kid to help with the garden, feed animals and get lost in other worlds in the big yellow barn. So my penchant for having a little farm runs deep. My feeling is that you can have a farm no matter where you live. The good thing about a little urban farm is that you will probably have no need to purchase a combine or a John Deere tractor; in other words, small farm equals smaller expenses!
My homestead consists of a home that is about a century old with a deep lot where the last 30 feet are fenced off with a split rail fence and gate, which gives the yard a rather rustic farm appearance. This space is where the garden grows. As with most other gardeners I talk to, the garden is always a work in progress. This really holds true for me as well. Most gardeners never feel “done” with a garden. There are always new things to try, plants to move, new beds to dig, and rock and stone to be moved. My garden consists of vegetables as well perennials and a standalone herb garden.
One other thing you should know that will help you feel like you reside on an urban farm, your garage henceforth will be called your “barn.” Using homestead terminology like this will help to create the feeling that you actually reside on a farm, no matter its size or location. I have a one car detached garage (also about 100 years old) that is still standing and is useless for my car, so it makes a great small barn for storing the wheelbarrow, tools and other farm accouterments. If you don’t have a garage, any shed or overhang can work as well. The barn is also where you can store any animal feed that you might have.
This brings me to what can really make your little plot really feel like a farm, the addition of animal life. In the city (depending on ordinances where you live) the most realistic farm animal would be the addition of chickens. The animals of Commonwealth Farm consist of a retired sled dog from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and three Golden Comet chickens (they all get along great!). I often dream of adding a pygmy goat. Fortunately, they are not allowed where I live because keeping a dog that loves to run and tending to and chasing my three hens around is about all that I can handle right now. Speaking of the chickens, their coop is also a part of the garden. It’s a great looking sort of Cape Cod style building that adds a nice touch to the garden landscape. The chickens arrived on Commonwealth Farm last May as baby chicks and started to lay eggs last fall. How good is that! Now when I get home from work, I can go to my backyard and get all the ingredients for a superb omelet.
So that’s an introduction to my life on a little city homestead. In future posts, I will be sharing everything I know that may help you get established as an urban farmer with gardening tips, how to raise chickens from babies to the big day when they move to the coop. I fancy myself as a decent cook as well so I may share some of my favorite recipes and maybe some favorite gardening and chicken how to books. I may even throw in a poem or two on occasion.