Howdy! So my friend Rachel asked me to contribute to her blog about self sufficiency in an urban setting. So here I am! Albeit I’m not in an urban setting anymore! Right now I am on 2.5 acres just outside Redmond OR. I have a little teeny studio apartment, but I get to play in huge area of dirt, so I am happy. I am not quite sure what to write about, what people would find interesting enough to actually read, and I have a tendency to ramble. Thankfully, I can edit this medium to account for that! Currently I have had chickens for 3 years, and have been gardening for… a while. This year I have the opportunity to have a huge garden, in an attempt to can/freeze/dehydrate some of my harvest to see if I can actually do it. I have room for turkeys, goats, and sheep, but don’t know if I can fit that in with work and everything else. We will see! I also don’t have a camera right now, so all pictures are going to be from the last 4 years. I will be getting a camera soon though.
So, about me really quick. My major hobby is home brewing and mead making. Gardening, when I have space, is of equal importance. I also love the textile arts, sewing, dyeing, and knitting, and I would like to get into spinning and weaving if I had the space. I’m getting back into fishing up here too! I’m also really into hunting, in all forms. I’m so into it that my chosen career field is Wildlife Management, so I can help improve habitat to grow more wildlife, and as a result, provide more hunting opportunities for hunters. I worked for CA DFG for about 10 years before I cut my ties and moved to Oregon. Unfortunately the ODFW job I moved up here for was eliminated, so now I work at a veterinary clinic. Which is great for when I start getting knee-deep in animals. Chickens are just something I do now, in addition to having 3 cats and a dog. I grew up in Sacramento CA. We never had a big garden, actually only a few events stand out in my memory. When I was around 8 we planted radish seeds (even though I had never had a radish) and when I watered the dirt after planting, the water pushed all the seeds together so in a couple weeks there was a clump of baby radishes coming up. Also, mom always had a parsley plant in the planter on the back porch she would get fresh parsley from. I do remember planting flowers with her though. She always got the 6-packs of annuals and we would plant colorful borders and planters each season. But nothing edible. Later on, in junior college, I remember putting in vegetables in a side bed, constructing trellises out of conduit pipe, and having hardly anything grow because I forgot to water it.
Needless to say I have never considered myself someone with a green thumb. But I manage to have african violets no problem (the secret is to plant them in official African Violet pots). At Cal Poly SLO I got my first houseplants, orchids, which were on easy-mode in that coastal climate. When I moved to Suisun they promptly died. I wanted to have a vegetable garden in Suisun, but I was living on Grizzly Island at the time, and the salt in the soil would have required more water use than was allowed by my DFG landlords. I did manage to have some herbs in a planter though. When I moved to Humboldt I again experienced the easy-mode of living in a coastal climate. It was in Humboldt that my green thumb, and the desire to become self sufficient really took hold. Not only was it a great climate, but I was renting a place that actually had ROOM for a garden! It was a big weedy area that the previous owner had used for just such a purpose, so I cleaned it up and started throwing plants in. The other major factor was that I started working for Humboldt County’s Department of Agriculture.
When you spend your working days going to all the nurseries in the county, you start to appreciate plants. Before I moved to Humboldt, I had what one of my professors called, the Green Blurs. It’s a condition where you look over the landscape and you see green. Just green. You don’t differentiate between different types of plants. I was fortunate in that I could tell the difference between a tree and a shrub, an annual and a perennial, and an evergreen and a deciduous plant. So, here I was working for the county, inspecting nurseries for Sudden Oak Death compliance so our nurseries could ship out of the county, the state, and the country. Now for those of you living in the bay area, you know what Sudden Oak Death, or SOD is. If you don’t, it’s a waterborne fungus that kills plants, particularly oak trees.
Anyhoo, I managed to have a productive garden the last 3 years before I moved to Oregon. It’s something I find calms me like yoga, and that I can spend hours doing. It’s also one of those optional activities that I don’t consider optional in my life anymore. Like home brewing and hunting. Hopefully I’ll type some things that will interest you, maybe inspire you, maybe educate you, and help you on your journey to living self sufficiently. Slainte!