Urban Farming and Sucky Weather

I need another one of these
I need another one of these

I’m sure it’s been at least a couple weeks since I stopped by to chat about urban farming, so we’ll call this our Christmas Edition, at the risk of offending someone out there who hates the concept of Christmas. J

I guess, if I were to give this post a theme, it would be “PLANNING.”  It’s in caps so you know it’s really, really, really important.

Or not!

I’ve actually been doing two things during the month of December with regards to our urban farm: maintaining and planning.

By the 15th we had set the all-time December record for rainfall here in Olympia.  For weeks now, if you walk across our yard, all you do is squish while walking.  The ground is completely saturated; the water table is full; it is miserable, to say the least.

So part of my time has been spent just keeping our critters alive and as comfortable as possible.  As some of you know, we have sixty quail, about sixteen rabbits, eight chickens and seven guinea pigs, all in outdoor aviaries and coops, so they need some special care when the weather is so miserable. I’m happy to report we haven’t lost one animal so far this winter. Cross your fingers.

The other thing I’ve been doing is planning.  Weather this bad gives me a chance to see what is working and what should be done to prevent problems in the future.  We have plans for two more aviaries this summer, and I’m checking out the farm to find the driest and most sensible area for those aviaries.


This coming spring and summer will also be the time for a concerted effort to increase our profits from this farm.  We plan on doubling the quail population, and we want to start raising exotic birds, not only quail but also some other breeds, like pheasants.  So that requires serious study and preparation.  I have to find markets for whatever we decide to raise and I need to establish those markets now before the product is available.

In the brooder as chicks
In the brooder as chicks


I think a time comes for every urban farmer where they are straddling the fence between farming for self-sufficiency/sustainability and farming for a profit.  When have we reached that point? Do we want to go further? Do we want to go bigger?  In other words, when does a hobby become a business, and do we want the hobby to become a business?

Our answer is yes!

Thoughts?  I’d love to hear them in the comment section.

Do you know how canning works? Check out this video for the basic…..



Check out this video, which highlights the Urban Homestead Project in Pasadena, California…..



Thanks for stopping by and Merry Christmas to you and yours….or Happy Holidays….or Pax Vobiscum if you prefer…and HAPPY NEW YEAR!



Winter Farming Odds and Ends

chickens, garden and h.o.w. tshirt 009It’s been awhile, hasn’t it?

Winter hasn’t officially arrived yet but it sure feels like it here in western Washington.  It’s been downright chilly here this past week and we saw the first snow flurries of the year this morning.

Which brings me to the topic of gardening and farming regions.

What do you think of when you think of Washington State?  I’m willing to bet nine out of ten people would say “rain” when asked that question, and they would be woefully incorrect with that answer.  The fact is that Washington is really two separate states when discussing climate. The western side of the state, where Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia and, in fact, the majority of people live, is in a marine climate.  Temperatures are fairly mild year round and we get somewhere in the neighborhood of 40-50 inches of rain each year.  There are, in fact, quite a few cities in the United States that get much more rain than western Washington, many of which are on the east coast.

The eastern side of the state has much more dramatic weather and temperatures and far less rain.

This all leads me to the point of this little sermon: you must know your particular region when planning your garden.  Buying seeds that do well in Iowa is not a recipe for success if you are located in New York, and trying to grow some plants in Wisconsin that once did well in Georgia where you previously lived is also a gardening disaster waiting to happen.


While on the topic of crops, don’t forget the value of rotating crops.  Crop rotation is a farming approach that became quite necessary during the Great Dust Bowl of the 1930s.  Since that time it has become recognized as a reliable method of planting.  Yes, your tomatoes did well in the backyard last year, and the year before that, but that does not mean they will continue to do well in the same spot year after year after year.

Crop rotation guards against insect infestation.  Crop rotation guards against the severe loss of nutrients in the soil.  Keep that in mind as you plan your garden for next spring.


All the mundane cleaning up has been done on our urban farm here in Olympia.  The structures where we house our animals and birds have been winterized and reinforced.  Our main job now, with colder weather, is to make sure the animals have a constant supply of water, so each morning we go out and make sure the water hasn’t frozen.  A couple times each week we clean out pens and replenish with fresh hay.  Last winter we didn’t lose one animal or bird to the weather and we plan on keeping that record going this winter.

Happy Winter to you all!