This year has been a big year for everyone here on the Rocking Homestead. There have been some ups and downs, mostly ups, and some big, life altering moments and decisions.

The biggest things that happened this year was most likely the birth of my surro baby, Kennan, the fact that I’ve completed most of my degree program, and we made the decision to remain living in this house, possibly forever.

Kennan’s birth, obviously, was an amazing experience. Hands down one of the most incredible things I’ve ever done in my life. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 6 months since he was born, it seems like it went so fast. We’ll be travelling to Paris to visit them in the spring and I’m so excited! I honestly didn’t know if I’d ever be able to travel to Europe, but mostly I’m excited to see my surro family again. I miss them.

School is going swimmingly.  I’ve crossed some thresh hold where I no longer feel like a beginner, but more like a budding expert. This is what it must feel like to be a senior in any degree program. I have so much to share here on this blog, I’ve got lots of plans. I also have learned so much about how to make this yard into something really amazing, which leads me to our last big decision.

Deciding to stay in this house was a really big deal. Our property is very small, no more than 1/10th an acre (to put that in perspective, it’s less than half the size of the average American suburban yard, which is 1/4 an acre), and we are limited as to how we can use a good portion of it by our conservative HOA. Staying here means giving up several homesteading dreams. For one, our ability to keep food producing animals here is limited. We will never have goats, there just isn’t enough room, and its possible we’ll never have chickens as they are illegal in our city and our HOA probably wouldn’t allow them even if they were legal. Its possible the chickens thing could change in time, but there’s no guarantee. This house is also a challenge space wise. Its big, but most of its space is sucked up in vaulted ceilings which have no use at all. The bedrooms are incredibly tiny, it would be hard for children to share them, which might limit the size of our family. That may or may not be a big deal in the end, three kids might be our limit anyhow, but it would be nice not to have to worry about house design when making that final call.

Given all that, why are we staying? Well, Jeremy and I love living in a neighborhood. We love that our kids can walk to several friend’s houses, that there are parks and bike paths galore near by, that we have trick or treaters who appreciate our Halloween display. And it’s not just any neighborhood we love, it’s this one. We have good neighbors and our street is safe and clean. Our community is fairly walkable and bikeable, which is awesome. Our doctors office, dentist’s office, and eye doctor are all within a mile from us. So is a grocery store, a drug store, several restaurants, an emergency room, two liquor stores, a cupcake bakery, a Starbucks, a great nail parlor, and a bunch of other establishments we honestly haven’t even explored yet. Open that up to a 5 mile biking radius, and we have almost everything we need right here. The elementary school is only two blocks from our house, which means we feel comfortable letting Elijah walk himself to school, and speaking of the schools, I pretty much love them. I’m very excited about the middle school my kids will attend (even if I am a little worried about the huge fracking rig that is going in a block away from it), they have a really progressive policy on homework. And we’re about to get a lightrail station within walking/biking distance of our house, which will open up our car free transport options even more. We have a decent library system (even if I still think it’s weird that they don’t use Dewy Decimal), there are several farm stands and farms around, our community rec center is pretty awesome, and we qualify for the public pre school program. The city we’re in has one of the best job creation rates in the country, and we’re improving our density which is great for the environment. It’s also a fairly culturally diverse area (though I’m hoping with all the growth that won’t change too much, Denver has a big gentrification problem right now). I’m even getting involved in local politics.

I honestly wouldn’t want to leave this community, even for a bigger property, but to be completely honest, our odds of getting a bigger property than this one is pretty slim. The only reason we even have this house is because Jeremy’s parents granted him an amazing privilege. They let him stay living with them, rent free, for as long as he wanted, as long as he was working or in school (they’ve offered the same thing to all of their children). Because of this, he saved up an incredible amount of money and was able to put a huge down payment down on this house. This was all before we even met, when he was a bachelor with a lot more disposable income. If we were looking to buy a house today, we could never afford this place. We probably wouldn’t be able to afford anything with the market it is today. We could sell this place and get a sizeable downpayment for another home, but even with that, we probably couldn’t afford anything more than what we already are paying, and in this market, that would probably actually mean less house and property than what we already have. Will that change in a few years when I’m done with school, working full time, and done paying off my student loans? Probably. But at that point I’d almost rather just work at paying this house off early. We’ll be close to half way done paying off this mortgage by then. Seems silly to start all over. Imagine how free we would be if we had no mortgage payment at all! That seems like it could be a reality sooner here than anywhere else.

So we’ve decided to stay here, and since making that decision, we’ve unleashed some real creative power when it comes to thinking up upgrades to this house to make it into our dream home, instead of looking for our dream home somewhere else. We’ll have lots of projects to document on the blog, I promise.

Smaller things to look back on include

  • The disappointment that was strawbale gardening
  • Our best tomato harvest ever
  • Building a new flower/strawberry bed in our front yard, under the pine tree
  • Finding a good sunny spot to put permanent raised beds in our back yard
  • A year of experience raising quail for eggs
  • Switching the blog over to a new web hosting service (which involved a lot of confused tears on my part, also, I’m not sure all of our former subscribers are still subscribed, so if you used to be subscribed but are no longer getting emails whenever a post is published, please resubscribe!)
  • A dramatic increase in the readership of this blog
  • Earning my certificate as an Irrigation Technician
  • Several failures hatching quail
  • Lots of climate activism and taking over as co-leader of 350 Denver
  • My first time lobbying my state representatives
  • Saw a bunch of amazing bands in concert, including the Pixies, Modest Mouse, Iggy Pop, Flogging Molly, and The Desaparecidos
  • Jeremy is learning to pan for gold
  • The death of our beloved cat, Zapp

Over all, I would say 2015 was a great year. I’m very much looking forward to 2016 though, I think it’s going to be even better! Here are some pictures from this year.

Around the homestead

2015 at the Rocking Homestead

Planted my first rose bush this year, the Ruby Voodoo Rose. It’s a plant select rose that is absolutely gorgeous. If I plant any more roses I’ll choose one with good hip production.

2015 at the Rocking Homestead

We weren’t super successful with hatching quail this year. These guys plus one more survived. Everyone else died.

2015 at the Rocking Homestead

Decided to freeze rather than can peaches this year. I was too pregnant to do much else!

2015 at the Rocking Homestead

Fell in love with the Scarlet Runner Bean this year. It’s beautiful! It will be a staple from here on out. I don’t like green beans but everyone else here does.

2015 at the Rocking Homestead

Got a good chard harvest this year!

2015 at the Rocking Homestead

The only one of my squash plants that made it was this mystery squash that sprung up from last years compost.

2015 at the Rocking Homestead

Got my best tomato and pepper harvest ever. I think I’m finally getting the hang of growing on our patio!

2015 at the Rocking Homestead

This was one of the squashes that came off our mystery squash vine. It seems to be a mix between a zucchini and a spaghetti squash.

Climate Activism and School

2015 at the Rocking Homestead

Took the kids with for some climate activism in January.

2015 at the Rocking Homestead

Did some lobbying at the Colorado State Capitol this spring.

2015 at the Rocking Homestead

Working tables at a festival for 350 Denver

2015 at the Rocking Homestead

Me at the Global Climate Rally in November.

Stepped into the role of co leader for 350 Denver towards the end of this year. Representing them at numerous events, including this town hall meeting with my state representative.

Stepped into the role of co leader for 350 Denver towards the end of this year. Representing them at numerous events, including this town hall meeting with my state representative.

2015 at the Rocking Homestead

Helped build this irrigation system for our new greenhouse at school as part of my irrigation class!

Plaid flannel shirts are practically the uniform for Hort students.

Plaid flannel shirts are practically the uniform for Hort students.

2015 at the Rocking Homestead

The view from a quiz in my shrubs class fall semester.

Family Life

2015 at the Rocking Homestead

Elijah had to write down something he wanted for a school assignment. He requested no more fossil fuels. Adorable.

2015 at the Rocking Homestead

Freja saw the ocean for the first time this year when we visited Florida for my father’s wedding.

2015 at the Rocking Homestead

The kids had a blast at Universal Studios in Florida where we visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

2015 at the Rocking Homestead

Elijah met The Flash at Denver Comic Con.

2015 at the Rocking Homestead

And I made a fool out of myself at Denver Comic Con.

Baby Kennan was born! Isn't he amazing?

Baby Kennan was born! Isn’t he amazing?

2015 at the Rocking Homestead

Jeremy and I had a date weekend we spent at Riot Fest.

2015 at the Rocking Homestead

Last time I saw Connor Oberst live, he still seemed like a kid. Now he’s a grown ass man! And I got to be right up front!

Jeremy is learning to gold pan! We found a little that day.

Jeremy is learning to gold pan! We found a little that day.

Was pretty proud of my Bride of Frankenstein hair achievement. I'll have to develop the costume further.

Was pretty proud of my Bride of Frankenstein hair achievement. I’ll have to develop the costume further.

Elijah is learning to do dishes as part of our new Socialist Housekeeping Regime!

Elijah is learning to do dishes as part of our new Socialist Housekeeping Regime!

At the end of the year, we lost our pet cat, Zapp, to heart disease. He was very young and it was very unexpected. Honestly, I'm still kind of a wreck as I write this post.

At the end of the year, we lost our pet cat, Zapp, to heart disease. He was very young and it was very unexpected. Honestly, I’m still kind of a wreck as I write this post.

What were the big accomplishments on your homestead this year? Any major successes or failures? Share them in the comments!

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