Moving to the Urban Homestead

urban homestead

I moved in with my 83-year-old dad at the beginning of this year to help him stay independent in his home for as long as possible. Hopefully to live out his life here.

Although we are in the middle of the big city in Southern California, I am trying to homestead it as much as possible. In a multigenerational household, this is tricky, as 3 out of 5 of us are very convenience and disposable oriented.

This is a 50 something-year-old home, so much of the infrastructure has broken down and had to be replaced in the last several years. New water and sewer lines each cost about what we paid for the house, to begin with. A new roof wasn’t cheap, either. There are a few other large projects waiting, but hopefully, nothing that will be a disaster before we get to it.

Some of the little changes I have been making:

Bathroom

handheld shower head

  • Shower chair

  • Homemade all natural bar soap/shampoo bar

  • Homemade lotion –still working out the bugs with the liquid formula

  • Low flush/power flush toilets

Cooling

  • Using ceiling fans and room fans before turning on a/c

ceiling fan

  • Keeping windows and doors open during cooler hours so we can keep the a/c off for longer (trying to keep it off til noon)

  • Turning off a/c as soon as air cools outside (around 7 pm)

Kitchen

  • Using the outdoor grill as much as possible to avoid heating up the house

outdoor kitchen

  • Using the crock pot outside to avoid heating up the house

  • Hand washing dishes, as it takes several days to fill the dishwasher for a load, and they don’t get clean unless they go in clean (doesn’t make sense, does it?)

  • Decluttering cabinets and getting rid of broken, unused, and excess stuff

  • Cooking most meals at home

Pool

pool and drain barrel

  • Drain barrels to hold excess water from pool vacuuming, for treating and using to clean patio and water garden.

  • This is still in the experimental stage. Theoretically, the chlorine breaks down and evaporates in a few days. We have a salt water system, so I am not sure if the salt electrolyzed into chlorine breaks down, or stays salty to harm the plants.

Garden

  • Some successes and some failures.

  • Constant battles with slugs and mites.

  • Not as much food as I had hoped, but taking care of the boy, the dad, and the grands take priority and I get pretty tuckered out.

Projects I’m working on or that are on the list:

  • Gray water system for laundry, showers, and kitchen, leading to lawn and garden

  • Solar power for pool pump and trailer

  • Improve rain guttering and add rain barrels, leading to lawn and garden

  • Thermal draperies and curtains

  • Improve garden

  • Heating

  • – Firewood

  • – More efficient fireplace insert

Sadly, I am not using a clothes line to dry clothes, as my housemates frown upon that. Happily, our gas bill (we have a gas dryer) is very low, so I guess our dryer is pretty efficient. My share of the laundry is minimal, anyway.

The gray water system and the two small solar units are priorities, as these 2 utilities have been directly affected by the extra watering of the lawn and garden and the running of the pool pump, respectively. The only reason the gray water is taking so long is that I keep putting off looking under the house to figure out the best way to do the showers. The kitchen and laundry systems I have figured out, it is just a matter of taking the time to get the materials and set them up. Keeping in mind that my housemates want everything to look nice. Definitely not the country bumpkin I am.

My laundry routine is pretty well settled in, so I may put up a discreet clothes line that can be taken down before everybody’s home from work.

So that is how we’re adjusting to homesteading in the big city. I hope to have updates on these projects soon. But next on the list is a trip dad wants to take to the old farmstead, next month, so we’ll be getting ready for that.

 

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