Tour my brother’s British Columbia homestead

My brother Josh and I may live on completely opposite ends of the country, but we still share plenty in common despite the distance.

Coffee addiction, post dinner naps, gardening, foraging and cooking are a few things that come to mind. We can rock a plain shirt on a grouse hunting trip and we’ll never turn down a good gin and tonic. We both have three children under nine and we both have a thing for homesteading that keeps us busy on our respective properties.

I wish we could hang out more often, but at least when we do, we pick up where we left off as if no time had ever passed.

Josh & I

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Tour our urban homestead

One of my promises last June was to share more of my experiences as an urban homesteader and today I’d like to extend an invitation to take a virtual walk around our city lot.

Yes, we are indeed urban; we don’t own a ranch or sprawling acreage. We have neighbours on two sides, and a street in front of the house. We happen to border on a small maple forest that in itself, borders wetlands that will never be developed. We’re fortunate that it is so private, given that downtown Montreal is only 20 minutes away. It suits us just fine.

I was raised a country girl and Danny was a city boy. When we started a family it was important for us to blend our two backgrounds in a way that made sense for our family. In my upcoming book, I give the full story of how we began our homestead – it was an emotional journey right from the start and worth every grey hair.

You’ve already toured the kitchen, so let’s head outdoors today and meet the cats and hens. (Pst: For privacy reasons, I haven’t posted photos of the house facade from the street.)

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Meet the backyard chickens

This spring we followed a neighbour’s lead for sourcing our backyard chickens and landed ourselves with an exceedingly good looking little flock of hens.

I had brought my gardening gloves when we went to pick them up, and insisted on inspecting each one from comb to claw before placing it in our carrier. I’m sure the teenage farmhands were amused, as I checked the derriere of each hen, but I didn’t care; I was determined to bring home a healthy brood.

Urban chickens on Simple Bites

As it turns out, I couldn’t find a single thing wrong as these pullets were plump, perky and pest-free. Into the hatchback they went and soon they were scratching the grass and clover of our little urban homestead.

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Our fall chicken harvest (Boo! Contains real life farm-to-table images)

On a cool, cloudy day last week, we harvested our six hens. They went from blessing us with six brown eggs a day to stocking our chest freezer with four quarts of nourishing chicken-vegetable soup and ten jars of beautiful, clear stock.

No, we don’t just keep hens as pets; yes, we use them to their full potential. This post details why and how we harvest our own birds and what works for us in a descriptive, not prescriptive way. This is not a comprehensive tutorial or chicken butchering 101, but a look at our simple cull, by request from readers and followers on Facebook and Instagram.

When I saw that this post would fall on October 31 in the editorial calendar, I thought, “What better day to share a photo essay of chicken butchering than on Halloween?” There certainly are plenty of gory posts are floating around with edible eyeballs, worms, and the like, although this is probably one of the few with actual entrails to be found.

That said, I think the images honor the chickens. And it’s not really that gross; it’s just the prequel to your classic chicken dinner. And it’s probably one of the nicer prequels, if you know what I mean: fresh air, fall leaves, scrubbed stock pots, and a bright orange apron.

Photos begin after the jump.

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Garden, chickens and more: an urban homesteading update

Written by Danny.

I‘ve just come off of 2 week vacation and have thoroughly enjoyed the time with my family – including the silly water boy above.  We feel like we are still taking baby steps towards our ideal urban homesteader lifestyle – but we’re doing it at our own pace and loving it.

I’ve chronicled some of our homesteading efforts here on Simple Bites before, but thought it would be good to update you on how we’re keeping up.  Or not.  So here goes. [Read more…]