“Small is beautiful and productive!”

Year In Review

This year was one of the most challenging ones yet. It was one of deep frustrations and small but exhilarating triumphs. On this sustainable journey one learns that progress doesn’t come easy or swift. It’s slow, deliberate steps and when one looks back at the end of the year one can finally see how far one has traveled.

I’ve quickly compiled a list of highlights from 2007 here on the urban homestead. Our family, myself included are list makers and every year, month and week we write lists to ourselves to help keep our focus on what needs to be accomplished. At times the lists can be daunting, even intimidating if it’s ones personal list but it’s truly gratifying to pick up that pen and scratch something off the list.

This year’s significant accomplishments:

The preliminary harvest tally is in (we’ll be double checking the results)……   drum roll please…..

Harvested approx. 5,500 lbs of produce from our 1/10 acre garden — even with the devastating deep freeze in January plus disruptive 5 months (Jan-May) of construction work plus zero NPK fertilizers applied in the past 8 months.

Raised/hatched another bunch of assorted chickens to replace older hens from our 2002 batch

Raised another bunch of khaki campbell ducks to replace older hens from our 2003 batch

Keeping bees (again) using top bar hive method

Remove old asphalt shingles and replaced with a more sustainable metal roofing material (drinking water safe)

Built a new chicken, duck and goat house

Put in a permeable style driveway

Painted house (removed old/lead paint)Built new raised garden beds where slab or concrete use to be (depaved by hand in 2005)

Zero applied npk organic fertilizers in 8+ months

Received 3 Rainwater HOGS from Australia… hopefully more to come!

of course we continued to …

eat homegrown. most of our vegetables and fruit come entirely from our garden ( 95% homegrown fruits, vegetables; 5% exception organic local onions and organic potatoes)power down, conserve and living a low impact life (shown by the steps listed on the right hand side of the journal page)

Dervaes Family (of 4) Average Monthly Expenses

I quickly did an estimation of household expenses. For some expenses (like water) I made an approximation because the figures can flux drastically depending on the month.

Grocery (staples: flour, rice, oil, dairy) $300-$400Urban Homestead Supplies (animal feed, seeds, etc) $50-$75Utilities : 2 Phones ( 1 business 1 home/DSL Internet ($100) Water ($30) Power ($7) Gas-cooking and hot water ($15) – $150Insurance: $20 (car)Other Expenditures (personal items, netflix ) $50- $75

Totaling (less than) ~$1,000 a month (More accurate figures as our new website evolves)

I really don’t know how our expenses compare with other families, even though we live simply we still need to aspire to live more frugally. As a family and individually we each can make improvements in certain areas.   In 2008 we plan to keep better records and publish stats on the new website for all to see and track our progress.


Even though we do have a car, a diesel car that runs on used veg oil we still make a conscious choice how often we use the car.   Justin informed us the other day that we’ve driven ~13,000 miles since March 1, 2004 (when we bought the truck)

The Year Ahead

Ok, enough of reminiscing of things passed. What about the future? Theoretically we aren’t supposed to plan for tomorrow and instead live day by day. And it’s good sound advice, especially when we think we are in charge. But we do have dreams which, God willing, will perhaps come true.

For one PTF is planning to launch a new site complete with a upgraded and improved journal, photo gallery and much more. Not only are we concerning ourselves with the new website but we are formulating new projects and challenges. So stay tuned for all the juicy details. We especially thank all those who generously supported the PTF work this year. We are extremely grateful and wish our few supporters, “field hands” we like to say, a blessed and bountiful new year.

Also, we know that a few of our friends and loyal PTF reader’s have undergone some changes themselves this past year – our thoughts and prayers are with you.

And now, I’ll turn this post over to our readers. Tell us what you like, dislike, what we can do better to improve what news we bring you from the urban homestead or what inspired you the most this year.

Preliminary 2008 To Do List

tankless water heater/or solar water heater

rainwater hog installation

greywater bed

make the urban homestead run more efficiently

be less wasteful

depave the last piece of concrete near the garage

expand PTF outreach (lots of options open for us to consider)

and more to come…. stay tuned!

Grow the Future™

Enjoy this post and find the site helpful towards taking steps towards a sustainable life? Support our ongoing efforts to share and inspire by making a purchase from our online store or a timely, tax deductible donation.ad sponsored by PathtoFreedom.com & affiliates  DervaesInstitute.org / UrbanHomestead.org / HomegrownRevolution.com / PeddlersWagon.com


  1. Lauren says:

    Why don’t you grow onions or potatoes? Just wondering. (Or maybe you do, but just not enough this year?)

  2. talithia407 says:

    Hi I live in Florida with my Husband and 3 Children all under 11. Our power bill use to be $400 to $450 a month. Thanks to your site we no longer turn on Central air and our bills are 175.00 to 188. We do have a/c unit (small) in select rooms.On days were a shower will not cool us we turn on the 1 in that room and all hang out. We need to add insulation as we live in a 1947 home and there is very litt. (on the ti do list) What is the best insulation to put in an attic? And by loosing the dishwasher could we save alot more money on power etc? I love that you have a $7 power bill that is so empowering to someone like me. PS I have my very first garden thanks to this site. God bless you and your Family in 2008. Talithia

  3. stacey brown says:

    Do you have health insurance? We will be stopping working this year and it seems that that expense could be really high. I love your site and have read it a couple years. Thanks

  4. Craig says:

    Your budget for staples seems a bit high considering the fact that you get most of your food from home. Out of curiosity, could I have an approximate breakdown?

  5. connie in nm says:

    Happy New Year! Thanks again for this site and for sharing your life with us. You are an inspiration. I thought your monthly food seemed high, too, but you are feeding 5 adults and I know you try to buy organic.
    I’m a listmaker, too, and need to make a list of my own 2008 goals for my city homestead.

  6. Claire says:

    I hope in a future post you’ll talk more about your beekeeping. I’ve never heard of top bar beekeeping. What does that mean?

  7. Mia says:

    What a wonderful accomplishment even with out alot of rainfall. Congrats!

  8. Molly says:

    No mortgage, taxes, or homeowners insurance? No housing costs sounds liberating, but the taxes seem inevitable, and not having homeowners insurance seems frightening. Your phone/internet bill is higher than mine, food costs about the same, electric is far lower but I intend to get mine down to $20 this year.
    Your journal inspires me nearly every day. Keep up the good work.

  9. crystal says:

    I found this post really exciting. Looking at your to do list I resonated with the tankless hot water heater (we just bought one!) and the grey water system. I’m in the middle of … remodeling (I don’t know if you can call it that when you take something that is litterally falling down & reshape it into a home) and am considering a lot of the ideas you talk about here. I very much want to go lawn-less but am really having a difficult time deciding as we will hopefully sell in a few years & buy acerage…. plus I work full time. Anyway, the wheels are turning. Happy new year!

  10. Deanna says:

    I have been inspired by your lifestyle as we have been taking small steps each day for the last couple of years. My family and I are taking steps to create our own urban homestead, living simply, and growing our own vegetables and fruit. We are also more careful of our energy consumption as well as our driving habits. Thanks for the inspiration and the empowering journals. I know that we will succeed with our urban homestead here in the Pacific North West. Thanks for sharing all our your work.

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