1/20/2019 1 Comment
In this post, we will tell you a little bit more about:
A Bit About Our Home
When we began to hunt for property, we were already settled in the RV. One night, while driving through potential neighbourhoods, we spotted half a dozen deer grazing in a yard. TJ pulled over, and we watched them in silence for almost 10 minutes. We both knew THIS is what we wanted.
One week later, a listing for a house nearby found its way to us through TJ’s mom. It was off on a connecting road, called Spring Garden that we hadn't gone down. While it needed a bit of updating, it checked all the boxes on our (very tiny) wishlist:
Renovating a house is not for the faint of heart. Common advice is to buy the worst house on the best block, but you need to make sure you’re ready to commit the time and work to overcome each unique challenge, including navigating through building codes and bylaws. In our situation, we have had to deal with a few bigger problems, such as, old wiring, a leaky roof, a tiny kitchen. Most of our work has been to address a myriad of less crucial cosmetic issues: gnarly-looking carpet, vinyl tile, gray painted wood paneling in almost every room, and pink paint all over the bathroom wall tiles. Pink painted tile? Yes - Someone actually let this happen.
Logistical issues are inevitable, especially when working with reclaimed materials. It can be like trying to make a square fit a circle hole. You might have a certain idea in mind, but be prepared to go with the flow. The design of our home has been tweaked hundreds of times over the last two years. If you can’t source specific materials or if you discover they are out of budget, don’t give up! Change the design of your project, or add an additional step to round the corners off that square.
The truth is, having gone through all of the trouble we have, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Our personalities are reflected in every inch of our home. Without putting this experience on a pedestal, it has given us an intimate connection with our space, and helped us hone our skills. When something breaks, we better understand how it can be fixed. We are far from finished, but each project that gets completed makes it feel more of our own.
Final Note: DIY doesn't mean Do-It-All-Yourself.
Our key takeaway is that you actually can’t do it ALL yourself. Sometimes, a helping hand is necessary for sanity, and sometimes for safety. We opted to hire someone to replace our roof, and had a licensed electrician do all of our electrical work. By delegating these tasks, we've allowed ourselves more time to focus on the projects that were important to us. Plus, it has been fun to include our friends in family in our projects -- Thanks Tim and Will!
If the amount of work, time, and random stress associated with DIY Renovations hasn’t scared you away yet, you might just be the kind of person that would have fun doing it. If not, just enjoy a few of our favourite then/now photos from 2016 to 2019.
My name is Jess - the resident writer behind Border City Hippies. That handsome pup in the picture is our rescue girl Coba. Following my path has transformed me into a jack of all trades, but I’ve found my passion in working with small businesses in hospitality and tourism in the Windsor/Detroit area.
Along this journey, I came across this handsome fellow - TJ, my partner-in-crime and our Creative Director.
The pursuit of happiness can translate differently for everyone. For TJ and I, this has always been about living SIMPLY to have the freedom to simply LIVE.
We began in 2015 by renovating a 120 sq ft RV into a mobile tiny home, where we lived snuggly for a year (along with Coba). This allowed us the financial stability to purchase our first property on the edge of the city. Since then, we have been working to renovate the derelict house into a cozy cottage. We made the conscious decision to live on the edge of the city, a short distance from the Ojibway Prairies, frequented by the company of deer and wild turkey. Yet, we work and play in the heart of the city, commuting to Windsor’s downtown on a daily basis, and reaping the benefits of being close to our sister city of Detroit, whenever possible.
If you’re interested in learning more about what our border city is like - check out this episode of The Life Sized City with Mikael Colville-Andersen.
As we work to transform our property into a low maintenance food forest, our main goal in the last two years has been to observe - studying the tools that nature uses to create in this space as a wild thriving ecosystems. Last year, TJ completed the Advanced Permaculture Student Course with Matt Powers, learning about soil as a living contributing ecosystem and how they support the plants above in a mutual relationship. The course also helped refine knowledge on key insects from precious pollinators to predatory wasps. All this, in an effort to further our observations, and respond to the land around our home, as we explore food security through urban agriculture.
“Simple” isn’t actually so simple.
Pursuing this dream has been anything but simple. Yet as our awareness grows, so does the fire in our souls to help build up our community, and we want to inspire others to do the same. We can’t transform you all into hippies overnight, but by following along with our journey, you will undoubtedly increase your own awareness, where I can only hope the fire catches within you too.
- A bit about our homestead, including the next steps for our food forest in 2019. We will introduce you to some of the techniques we’re testing out, and some of the plants we will be growing.
- Some of our secrets to getting around, and having fun in the Windsor/Detroit area
- Introductions to some of the people who have inspired us in both the local and online community, and why you should pay attention to what they’re up to.
- A guide to interacting with your city in a fulfilling way, including how, why, and when to advocate for urban issues within your own community.
Jess Mac-Bondy & T.J. Bondy
Two urban hippies on the path to develop a food forest at home in the YQG. Jess and TJ are lovers of native herbology and a healthy soil ecology, mixing permaculture ideals with an urban lifestyle. Beginning in 2015 by renovating an RV into a mobile tiny home, they purchased their first property on the edge of the city and renovated the derelict house into a cozy cottage. Living on the edge of the city, a short distance from the Ojibway Prairies, frequented by the company of deer and wild turkey; Working and playing in the heart of the city daily, reaping the benefits of being close proximity to Detroit. Follow our journey as we build a food forest on the fringes of Windsor and Detroit. Explore urban agriculture and sustainable living.