Homestead Highlight: Kathryn

 My greatest inspiration in my own backyard farming adventure has been to hear the experiences of others. I invite you to read along here as Homesteaders share their adventures and experiences from their own farms, backyards, and homes.
Want to be featured as a Homestead Highlight? I would love to hear about your experience. For more information follow the link to the information page and share your own homestead here at the Backyard Farming Connection!

Today I welcome Kathryn to this space

We are a family of five and we have a  tiny urban farm in Portland, Oregon.  It’s a 5,000 square foot lot with a 880 square foot house.  We currently raise goats and chickens and have several gardens tucked around the house.   I blog about our adventures at Farming My Backyard


How long have you been backyard farming?  What got you started?
I first got into backyard farming when we purchased our home and I thought it would be fun to get a few chickens, so we built a little coop out of salvaged wood and raised three chicks.  Those original birds somehow expanded into a flock of 12.   I think chickens are so much fun and even my husband, Edward, (who doesn’t like animals) loves having fresh eggs and doesn’t mind (too much) building, expanding, or making a new coop.  We are building our fourth right now, I swear it’s the last one!

What does your backyard farm look like?  Where is it?
We have a 50 by 100 lot in the city with a 880 square foot house. Edward and I run our businesses out of our home as well.  We heat the home with a wood stove and our garage plays multiple roles including workshop, wood shed, hay shed, and dairy parlor.  Pretty much everything in our home is multi-purpose in some way.  In the front yard we currently grow herbs, flowers, strawberries and asparagus, and the kids have a swingset.  In one side yard I have four raised beds, potted plants on the patio and the other side yard are two long raised beds.

In the back we have two stubborn dwarf dairy goats, 8 noisy hens, and four chicks, a trampoline, the clothesline and a tire swing..  We are working on growing fruit trees and berries out back as well.  We just added a third garden this week by breaking up some old concrete along the side of the driveway.  We also have a dog who thinks he is a surrogate goat mother, a retired cat that sleeps in the middle of whatever patch of garden has the most sun at the moment and another crazy kitty that stalks the chickens from above.

What has been your biggest success and biggest mistake?

I think my biggest success has been learning how to garden.  Not because I successfully garden, but rather because it is my biggest weakness and I’m starting to overcome my black thumb.  I manage to kill about three quarters of what I attempt to grow, even when it’s mint or blackberries.  Part of that includes my biggest mistake, which is inconsistent watering.  I forget to water and then end up drowning my poor little plants, but I’m getting better, especially since I started using soaker hoses.  The trick is remembering to turn them on…and off again.

What plans do you have for the future?

I have a lot of plans for the future!  This year I plan to add meat rabbits and a lot more fruit trees and bushes and construct a top bar bee hive.  I have a humanure system all set up and it works well but I need a reliable source of sawdust.  I’d really love to have ducks someday and coturnix quail.  I certainly hope I become a better gardener and can grow more vegetables year round.  We have old windows in the garage waiting to be turned into a greenhouse and empty bed space awaiting more asparagus and strawberries.  Also on my to do list is an aquaponics system, greywater system, rain barrels, a cistern under the driveway, solar power, red worm composting, raising silk worms, growing mushrooms and growing more plants without killing them.

3 thoughts on “Homestead Highlight: Kathryn”

  1. Whew – reading your to do list has me exhausted! Looks like you have a very productive home! One tip – automatic timers. They turn the water on and off for you, and unless the power goes out, they never forget! 😉 Good luck on your future endeavors! Vickie

  2. I love hearing about what people are doing in small spaces!You can really raise so much food intensively and it sounds like you are on your way to a real urban farm! Great job! Thanks for sharing!

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