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Sunday, January 31, 2010

My life as an Urban Farmer

Sometimes it takes someone looking in from the outside to realize something about yourself to say something before you realize it. This evening I was talking with a good friend,we were talking about Urban Farming and what it means to the two of us. Like I mentioned in my last posting I don't want to be seen as one of the people who have jumped on the Urban Farming trend wagon because it is just who I am.My friend said to me "Oh, I see now you have always lived an Urban Farm life." The light bulb lit up as bright as day,yes,that is so very very true no wonder I feel so at home with it,it's the life I have always known.
I was born and raised in Northeast Portland. The early years of my childhood we lived in what is now called Sullivan's Gulch neighborhood. At the time it was neither here nor there as far as neighborhoods go,big old houses filled with families. We had an average city lot and lived in what is called an Old Portland style house pretty ordinary. But our home was a bit different.We had a large garden about the size of our back garden area here at Hrafinstaad, maybe 20x20. We had a big garage at the back of the house and now that I think back I never saw it as a garage but saw it as a barn instead.We had a flock of chickens and some rabbits that were for meat that were cooped in the garage. When you walked into the garage you saw hay bales,feed bags and rabbit hutches not a car.
I can remember standing on the kitchen stool turning the grain mills handle for my mother who was grinding grains for our flour, rows of golden Apricots sitting on the counter ready for the canning kettle and knowing that sometimes my Dad was butchering rabbits which meant that I his little shadow could not follow him around that day.It was just our daily life as a family.
Later once I was of school age we moved to a current hot spot to live the Cully neighborhood. Not a happy move for my Mother but my Dad wanted a bigger yard and more outdoor space so we moved.In those days the neighborhood was a rough one and now that it has been named and so many of the young hip crowd are flocking there I wonder at it. But live there we did.We had 13 feet shy of an acre of land which made my Dad very happy for awhile.We then had an even bigger garden and added to our flock of Chickens my pet Turkey. I was 5 and loved that Turkey hen.I was so proud of her for she laid me an egg every day.At the end of my kindergarten year my teacher bought a farm to live on and as a house warming gift I gave her my Turkey. I hope the teacher loved my Turkey as much as I did and enjoyed her eggs as well. My Mother continued to bake all of our bread and put up the canning. There were still days I could not follow my Dad outdoors because of it being a butchering day. It was still just our life with out a title to it.
Once my parents divorced things changed.My Mother went to work and did not have the time to cook and can for us like she had.My Dad lived for some time in a house filled with roommates.So there was this gap in my life when we went a different way.Later on my Dad moved to country and things restarted at his house.
As a teenager I started to garden on my own,I wanted that life back.I took over the cooking and baking as best I could. I got my "Chicken Fix" at my Dad's house by helping take care of his large flock. I canned with my Grandmother and learned to sew from her and my Aunt.I did not want to lose track of it all,I wanted to remember and to quote my Dad "Walk with my feet upon the ground."
The very first place Chance and I lived in as very young adults I asked for seedlings for my Birthday,I wanted a garden even if it meant I planted it in pots and in the flower bed. I kept cooking, sewing and hunting for wild foods in the woods. I kept going and have never looked back to those days when my Mother was to worn out to remember the life style we once had as a family. Now as I am reflecting back on it all I suppose I have come full circle,back to where I started and I am so glad I am here.
And like the neighborhoods I grew up in that once had no names my life style now has a name, Urban Farming. I puzzle over the names given and they mean nothing to me. They were places I lived once and my life is just my life still. I just am.


  1. What a great legacy your family gave you. It makes me think about the legacy I'm giving me kids. I don't think it's as rich as yours.

  2. Margaret you are giving your children a rich legacy by being a strong,intelligent and loving mother to them.YOur doubtful tone shows you are doing a good job as a parent. Lead and they will follow.

  3. I find more and more people are returning to the self sufficient ilfe. Your story will inspire others. Here at www.backtobasics-homestead.com
    that is what our goal is to inspire others, it is really a great way of life on or off the grid.