I live in at least two different Urban Homesteads.
One of them is the one that I return to, every night, at the end of a dead end street in a small town just north of Seattle. It is the homestead that grows most of our vegetables, that does not yet have chickens, that often smells of slowly simmering stews or reducing sauces. Erica writes about it, I brew beer in it, we raise our family in it.
It is home.
But I have another urban homestead. It is somewhere on the banks of a fast moving river, a couple of acres of fields growing organic garlic to sell on the farmer's market circuit, some raised beds for our own veggies, a stand of hop vines trellising a dozen or so feet into the air, chickens running underfoot, a detached garage for the tractor.
At this second homestead, nothing ever breaks or needs maintenance, not even the John Deere. The weather is always just challenging enough to test our agricultural mettle but never so threatening as to actually spoil a crop. At this homestead, I've traded my high rise job for something virtual - perhaps I've finally sold a novel or parleyed my occasional speaking gigs to some sort of guru position in the business intelligence world and now sell online consulting time and the occasionally well compensated keynote.
By now you may realize that this second urban homestead doesn't really exist - not anywhere you can find, at least. And isn't all that urban, come to think of it. It is the homestead of my dreams, my escape and my folly, a happy place that sustains me when the here and the now bring their dull, unrewarding, tedious best to bear.
That first homstead, the one with an address, the one you can spot on Google Earth, is a great place and every night it welcomes me home.
But when I can't be there, the other homestead that helps me through, the fantasy homestead. So when the conference calls are particularly boring, the traffic across the bridge particularly tedious, or the speaker meandering on far too long, there is always something to do:
Shopping for tractors on the John Deere website.
Reviewing organic garlic production techniques put out by the NSAIS.
Choosing favorite breeds from Hnderson's Chicken Breed Chart.
Planning alternative energy systems.
Catching up on reading from the local agriculture extension program.
Yes, I'm a dreamer. But anyone chasing the urban homestead dream is almost by definition a dreamer. Even my real urban homestead has a place for dreams - chickens, more cheese making, more trees, the next batch of beer I'm brewing, tree selection for the expanded orchard, a rainwater recycling system. So dream on, urban homesteaders. Dreams go with the territory.