A few years ago, we bought some bell pepper plants. “It’ll be fun for the kids,” we said. We created a circular garden in the side yard for these plants, and we fell. Hard. For suburban homesteading.
Five years later as you look down the row of backyards through the chain link fences on our street, it’s like playing the old Sesame Street segment called, “One of These Things is Not Like the Others.” Those innocent little bell peppers that we planted for fun led to raised cinder-block beds, several fruit trees, a compost, a bee feeder, and a portable chicken tractor complete with four lovely laying ladies. Our yard sticks out amongst the beautifully manicured lawns complete with yappy dogs, hammocks, trampolines, and nice swing sets. We do indeed have a swing set! This afternoon I caught my daughter giving our pet hen a little ride on the swing…
Our human girls (an important distinction from our feathered girls) often ask if we can have a real farm. Every evening they go outside to “practice being a farm-a” as they help my husband keep the coop clean, water the plants, pick the ripe vegetables, and collect eggs. And get this, y’all: they actually want to eat the vegetables they helped grow, pick, and cook! I know right? The girls have invested their time and energy into those vegetables, and thus have a real connection with their food. The hard work and patience it takes to live off the land is a source of pride even at age four.
Currently we live on a ½ acre smack dab in the middle of the city of Zachary. I can’t tell you how many hours we’ve spent googling things like “laws on goats in Zachary city limits” or “how much land does a milk cow require.” My husband and I attend the Zachary Beekeepers Meeting where senior citizens outnumber young adults ten to one. We don’t have a beehive now, but hopefully soon we’ll be robbing our own hives of pure delicious honey. Clearly our daughters are not the only members of the family dreaming about owning a real farm.
I write this as warning to you out there who think that growing a cucumber bush or a few tomato plants would be a fun project with the kids. It’s an addiction. You won’t stop. Those little plants look innocent and insignificant, but they can take over your life. And you won’t regret it.