Rlittlefarm is our family’s urban farm and homestead in the East Foothills area. Our mission values are Inspire, Sustain, Educate, and Create. We are involved in many activities that help our family be more self-sufficient such as having chickens for eggs, garden (instead of lawn) for fruits and vegetables, homebrewing beer, food preservation techniques (canning and dehydrating), and honeybee hives for pollination and honey. Despite our property being around 6800 SF, we aim to maximize all areas of the yard for various activities and we are constantly evolving as the season change or new ideas are conceived. We also use rain barrels and a solar oven to harness natural resources. Since we have only one car, we have recently utilized our driveway as part of a yard expansion. That area will eventually be incorporated into more garden areas and outdoor brewing area. We are also in the process of transforming our garden shed into an outdoor room, using reclaimed materials as much as possible.
Our five chickens have enjoyed free ranging and are very friendly – with the exception of one skittish Black Copper Maran. We also have a Rhode Island Red, Red Sex Link, and two Buff Orphingtons. It was only recently that there was a roof installed on their coop area. When we had more chickens, we originally had a 200 SF coop area. We recently downsized our flock and the coop as well. They were able to reach the 6’ high fence and walk along the top – making for an interesting sight for any people passing by. We have been fortunate to be predator free so the need for a roof was for their unplanned escape versus critter protection.
When we first bought our house in 2010, it was a little, plain Jane house with a basic lawn and juniper bushes. Our neighbor, with a bare dirt yard, said that nothing ever grows in this dirt. I knew he was wrong. Long time residents remembered when our area was orchards. We knew we wanted to have a garden and it was important for us that the kids see the process of growing their own food. The lawn was removed over time, with only a shovel, and bounded to only as much as my green waste bin can hold per week. As the garden expanded, so did the lawn removal. I was known around the neighborhood as “The Digger” since I was always working in the yard. People walked by the house often to watch the transformation over the seasons and we often had comments from others inspired to do something similar. Their comments were always motivating too as we know people see our property as a neighborhood asset, not another messy house.
With all of the garden activities, we decided to get chickens to help with the food and yard
scraps. We started with three pullets in Spring 2011 and after we got over the initial “ick” factor, we thought that adding a few more will not add too much more work. At our peak of chicken ownership, we had 11 hens, but now just five. At one point, we also raised rabbits.
We started with the bees to help pollinate all my plants. This is our second attempt at
beekeeping. We have experienced and learned a lot in the short time – hive loss, loss of a queen, laying worker, and a swarm. We have been fortunate to have been stung only on the rare occasion. Beehives have been easy to incorporate in our yard as their daily activities do not impact our family, even with the kids playing nearby, walking by the hives, or running in the yard barefoot. Their gentleness has eased a lot of apprehension or misconceptions many people may have had because they assume it is like a cartoon – with thousands of bees coming out to attack any person in the vicinity to the hive or Africanized Honey Bees.
In preparation of fall/winter planting, we will have a seed swap/share and visitors are welcome to take some clippings of any perennial plant in need of pruning – i.e. geraniums, herbs, flower seedheads, etc.