Wow! Time has flown by. A year ago the adventure of moving out of the city and turning a two acre plot into a micro-farm started. With the blog being silent for the last several months, while I completed my permaculture design class, you all were starting to think we had gotten lost out here in the Sonoran Desert. Well, at times it feels like it but we have been busy. So you want to see what we have done this past year?
First, we had to move in and take possession of the land 🙂
We were still unpacking boxes when the first major setback occurred. I got the panic phone call from home while my wife was gone letting me know the bathroom floor was flooding. That led to the discovery that the septic tank had overflowed. 🙁
In dealing with the septic tank issues, we discovered it had been limping along since 2000 with major tree roots causing problems and then a few years before the main water line to the house had been replaced when tree roots broke it. This all came to light when I providentially called the same companies to come out to work on the various issues that had previously serviced the property. With the information in hand the first major change to the property occurred. The removal of the Eucalyptus trees.
We kept the logs from the trees, which started our collection of firewood for the micro-farm.
Next came a new 1,500 gallon septic tank and 40 foot deep seepage pit which replaced a smaller unit and brought the property up to regulation and hopefully no more sewage issues at least in my lifetime.
The same day they started replacing the septic tank, the crews showed up to install wrought iron on the windows and security doors with sun shade. talk about one busy and loud day!
Meanwhile back at the micro-farm the grass started to grow, so we purchased a John Deere ZTrack riding lawnmower.
That concluded our first eight weeks on the homestead!
Then we left the micro-farm behind for a 17 day road trip for my nieces’ wedding. We rented a 12 passenger van and hit the road, not thinking about the fact this would probably be the first and only road trip all nine of us would take together.
Upon returning home, it was time to continue my studies of permaculture design and create a plan for the micro-farm.
The focus of the first year was trees since, they take time to grow and produce fruit or shade.
First up, a moringa tree mini-orchard.
Second, came a tropical tree mini-orchard. Yes, I had vowed not to start with the most difficult trees to grow, but I gave in when I was able to get my hands on a type of mango for the first time in a 3 years.
Third, came the biggest undertaking of all the stone and pome fruit orchard. The design called for planting the trees on top of small swales. Yes, this was challenge!
Fourth, came an attempt to relocate several trees. We had put them in the ground before the design for the micro-farm was completed and the realization was they were in the wrong place. So we decided to try and salvage them. Yes, we successfully moved a strawberry tree and two dwarf black mulberry trees from the back pasture to the front pasture.
Fifth, came the start of the trees for a wind break, to stop the prevailing winds from the garden and house area.
Then came the unexpected final touch of the year, a pecans orchard. I had looked hard and long for these trees but could get any that I was comfortable with. Then I unexpectedly I found three trees that were in good shape.
The kitchen garden is far larger than then the urban farm, but we have struggled to complete the project. Lack of time and budget slowed us down. The project is started but not completed but maybe next year we will be going full steam ahead with the garden.
In the fall the natives became restless. I had stalled long enough and it became obvious I had better add some animals to the micro-farm or my children were going to revolt and move back to the city.
So we built our first chicken tractor and ordered some chicks from a breeder in Arizona. It was taking what seemed like forever to get my order fulfilled, so a quick stop a local store we were in business with seven Australorps.
You guessed correctly, two-weeks later I got the call to pick up my order and we scrambled to put together another brooder and second chicken tractor. This set of chicks stretched our learning curve and we lost over half of them. In the end we ended up with 5 roosters and two hens. One of the hens was extremely aggressive, so from that batch only one remains. The rest graduated in the end of April giving us our first experience of butchering a chicken by hand.
However, we have two brooders of chickens waiting in the wings which will take their place and expand.
The key addition to the household that helped satisfy the natives and helped their adjustment to the country was . . .
We got a lot accomplished this year, but we had hoped for more. However, once the pecan trees went in, it felt like this was home and we had put our stamp on the property 🙂