Even though I now call NE Portland my home, my thoughts often drift back to when I was a kid. I grew up in Salem, Oregon -- but always just on the outskirts of town. My mom and grandma had horses and goats, so our places always had a barn, lots of pasture, and usually a big garden. I was definitely a farm boy, with my earliest memories taking place in little rubber boots and overalls.
Growing up, my chores included the typical farm activities of milking goats, collecting eggs, grooming the horses, spraying the duck crap off the driveway, feeding the horses, and every few weeks, cleaning the stalls. Most of the laborious stuff I did with a twisted face, but my grandma was strict, and the work was divided among my two cousins and I.
Once I joined the Army and began galavanting all over the U.S. and the world, I thought of home often. I never really found a place that seemed more suitable to call home than my beautiful Oregon, a place that I regularly talked up and sometimes defended against my fellow soldiers who often knew nothing of it. The only place that really stole my heart was Spain, but we have to save some exotic locale for retirement, right?
My eighth and last year in the Army I began thinking about where I would live when I came home. Part of me thought about moving into a small country town, where I could have my own private place (with chickens!) and garden. A place I could invite friends over and make lots of noise, but mostly a place that would be reminiscent of the farms that I had spent my formative years on. Instead I moved close to downtown, and spent the next years enjoying all that city life had to offer -- exploring all the restaurants, taverns, bars and clubs that I could, on a nightly basis.
I met Marie and we embarked on a whirlwind romance that had not been seen and is likely not to be seen again! She laughed at the country twang that sometimes permeated my conversation and the wacky expressions that constantly punctuated my stories. We didn't have a lot in common from the outset, but we found that we were very similar at the core.
Not long after I moved in, I began floating the idea of having chickens. I had heard somewhere that Portlanders could have three hens within city limits. We laughed at the idea, but kept talking about it. Pretty soon it became a reality. Why not have a coop and a couple of hens to give us eggs?
We recently bought a new house, one large enough to accommodate our expanding family. Now Marie and I, along with our baby Alani and dog Cricket, are ready to make our dreams of urban farming a reality. With Marie's enthusiasm, interest, and willingness to read up on the best way to do things (along with directions) -- combined with my can do spirit, elbow grease, and farm background, we think we're ready!