Hello, We Are The Urban Lady Bug Farm & Homestead!
(Written by Kati)
Hi friend! Thank you for visiting our website, we are so glad you are here, we greatly appreciate your support and for stopping by, stay around to learn more about us or explore our site for tons of helpful information all about homesteading. For those curious, our own personal homesteading journey started in November 2013, in the city of Riverbank, California with just 2 chickens in the 2000 sqft backyard of our first home. Shorty after in April of 2014, we built 3 raised beds, a greenhouse, got our first 2 ducks, a few more chickens and quickly fell head over heels in love with the homesteading lifestyle.
In July 2014, we started our Facebook and Instagram pages because we not only wanted to share and inspire our friends to start living healthier lives but also wanted to document our own journey along the way. To back track just a little bit as to why we got inspired to get those first two chickens was because we wanted to focus on cutting out all the crap in our diet. Eggs were a big one for us, as we ate them all the time but were disgusted by the commercial egg industry and the quality of store bought eggs. We were shocked when we learned how chickens are housed, treated and fed. It all was just too much for us to handle without taking action in our own lives. We also had ,just lost two extremely important people in our lives to cancer and at a very young age, Kyles uncle (57) in November 2011 and then my mom (51) in May 2012, I was 22- turning 23 shortly after. My mothers passing from colon cancer led to us to research and read non-stop to better understand how this all could have happened and so quickly.
What we learned is that the processed foods that we consume can directly lead to cancers, disorders and diseases. Truth be told, losing some of the most important people in our lives was a huge eye opener for us and made us really want to dive head first into the self sustaining lifestyle that we live today. Our journey certainly was not overnight though and took years of growing and learning before we were ready and able to take on all that we do today. So, if you are just starting out or even a few years in, be patient and trust YOUR journey and whatever you do, just don't compare yourself to others!
Looking back at the start of our homesteading journey in 2013, it is pretty mind blowing for us to see what we have grown to today..
From November 2013 until April 2018, we slowly grew our homestead in the city to over 10 fruit trees, hundreds of perennial plants and flowers, all kinds of fruits and veggies, 12 chickens, 5 ducks and 1 honey beehive. We loved our little Urban Farm and loved all that we had created, but as we fell more in love with homesteading, we also slowly out grew our backyard and so we wanted more space to grow our farm and homestead. We have huge dreams and aspirations to grow food for our community but knew that goal was far out of reach living where we were in the suburbs of the city. The city of Riverbank is pretty rural but is very limited on available country property and those that are available are extremely pricey or insanely run down. Initially, it was super tough to want to leave our homestead in the city because we not only created a one of a kind Urban Farm but also it was once my moms home before she passed, so it held so much sentimental value too.
Eventually, the realization that I cannot hold on to my moms house forever and that frankly my mom wouldn't want me to either, became crystal clear... So we begun looking for a larger homestead in Stanislaus, County but after 4 months of not being able to secure an offer on a home, we expanded our search to farther away from the county where we lived in and were shocked that we fairly quickly found our sweet little 1 acre property that we now call home. Escrow closed April 10, 2018 on our home in the city and escrow closed our new home here in the country the next day and we moved in the day after that! Kyle and I also finally got married later that year on September 20, 2018, 2 days after our 10th anniversary.
Our homestead in the county of Calaveras, California, which is located in the central California Foothills and is 1.1 acres to be exact. When we first moved onto the property, there was just a house and garage, the grass was as tall as we are, there was pieces of metal fencing, barb wire, broken cattle gates, hay bale twine... soo much twine... (still finding twine)... there were half buried horse stall mats and so much other trash and debry stuck below the soil and ALL over the property.... it was a hot mess. Lets just say, the previous owners didn't take care of, well... anything really. There was no fencing, or animal stalls, or chicken coop, or garden, or literally anything besides just trash. Once we got the grass mowed we could see more property and quickly got to work on cleaning it up, hauling off the trash and metal, and then finally where we wanted everything laid out.
Our dream of being farmers is only just beginning...
We quickly found that we needed a tractor because the soil here is very hard and mostly clay, so we bought our compact Kubota tractor in 2018 to help us work our land. We immediately used it flatten out the front of our property for our 2000 sqft raised bed garden, and other larger sections of our property for our bee yard, smoke pit, goat pen, orchard and so much more. We built our chicken coop in July 2018, in August 2018 we got our first 2 goats, we got 2 more in Feb 2019 and then in early 2020 we finished the goats large fenced in pen (to keep them out of the orchard and garden). Earlier this year we finally put in our 20+ tree orchard in the back of our property. Kyle also flattened out another large area in the back of our property for our 20x30' greenhouse and created larger walk ways around the coop too. We just recently planted a pollinator garden in the very front of our house and also just planted a large Farmers Market Garden plot right next to the driveway!
We now have well over 60 animals, including chickens, ducks, goats, cats, dogs, rabbits a turkey, oh and 3 beehives too! We are happily child-free by choice!
Our goal is to start farming full-time, so we know the first step is to start building and growing to see how much we can actually produce on our land. For now, Kyle and I still work FULL time jobs away from our homestead, I'm the Relationship Manager aka Banker at a local Bank and Kyle is a Registered Mosquito Abatement Technician and Maintenance 2 at a local Community Service District. We love our jobs but we are not passionate about them like we are growing food for our community. We are just getting started with our farm & homestead and we are so happy and excited to start sharing our tips, projects, recipes and so much more on our new blog and website.
Please keep reading to learn more about how Kyle and I met and a little more about our 12 year history together.
HOW WE MET AND MORE ABOUT OUR BACKGROUND
Kyle was born and raised in the Central Valley of California and went to Elementary, Jr.High and High School in Oakdale, California. I was born in Kansas, was a military kid and moved every 2-4 years until my dad retired in 2001 and moved us to Oakdale the summer before I started 7th grade. I met Kyle in 7th grade but we were not in the same grade (Kyle is a year older) nor in the same crowd of people. So we really didn't pay much attention to each other until we met again after high school.
We met after high school when my older brother Hueston took me over to a get together at Kyle's house in the summer of 2008. After that, we hung out all the time and around 4 months later in September 2008, we finally made it official. That was age 19 and the following spring in 2009 we grew our first cannabis plants together in my dads backyard. That's when our love for each other, for cannabis and for gardening in general, really grew and blossomed into something beautiful.
Our love started with growing cannabis together in 2008, it has only grown with the discovery of our love of homesteading in 2013 and is grounded even deeper by our like-minded passion for farming food for our community... we truly are each-others biggest fan, best friend and soul mate!
After dating for about a year and a half we moved in together in our first apartment in Modesto, California and soon after we opened up out first business together, which was a medical cannabis delivery service called Smokin' Fast Deliveries, our pride and joy. Our first and most successful business, that business ran Kyle and I into the ground-physically and mentally but it was the most rewarding feeling having such a successful business at the ripe young age of 20. Unfortunately, that also puts a huge target on your back with thieves too, which ended up causing us to get burglarized in August 2010 for all our patients medicine and almost all of our electronics in our home. Amazingly enough, the police ended up working with us and got the majority of our cannabis and personal belongings back after they found the robbers, not all of it, but most of it anyways. The very next day we moved to a new area in Modesto and continued to run our delivery service and thankfully were able to recover financially. Later that year in December 2010, we moved into a little home in downtown Modesto. In that home is where we started our first vegetable garden together.
That year i was also named Miss High Times July and first runner up in the MISS HGIHTIMES Competition which granted us free tickets to the cup in Amsterdam that year! And even though we were robbed we were able to recover enough after to finish funding this dream trip to Amsterdam, Holland to be apart of the HIGHTIMES Cannabis Cup in November 2010. We got to stay for 8 days and 7 nights- we had the absolute time of our lives and this September 2020 we are suppose to go back for a 10 year anniversary trip but I'm not sure with COVID-19 if that will happen now, which makes us both pretty bummed but we are thankful for our health and there is always next year.
We owned and operated Smokin' Fast Deliveries for 1.5 yrs but then ended up closing it down when my mom got sick and passed away from cancer. We then bought my moms house shortly after and worked other jobs outside of the cannabis industry until we opened our second delivery service in May 2015, named The Cannabis Health Nexas of which we operated mainly in Modesto but also surrounding areas. We were killing it in our first couple of months open and we reconnected with so many former patients who were so thankful we were back to provide medicine to the area again. But sadly, our dream came crashing down hard once again, just 3 months after reopening when the local government suddenly changed their municipal law, banning all dispensaries and delivery services and so we were forced to close down or risk being sting-raided and thrown in jail.
We miss owning Smokin' Fast Deliveries and The Cannabis Health Nexus every single day... they were both such fun businesses to start from the ground up, own and operate solely! #100%EmployeeOwnedCompany
We didn't want this road block to stop us from our dream of being medicinal cannabis business owners because we dedicated nearly our entire 20s doing that and we were not ready to give it all up just yet. It became more than just supplying medicine to 'people', it became about providing the best, the cleanest, the highly medicinal grade we could source for our patients, who became our friends and some even like family. Our business was our entire life and we felt like we had so much good left to do in the medicinal cannabis industry, especially for so many of our local patients, who we made a major difference in their lives.
We determined that an actual walk in location was our best and only bet at being approved and also successful and ultimately we wanted to do that eventually anyways. So we read and researched as much about opening a dispensary as we could. We learned how to read municipal coding and researched every city, town and all unincorporated areas of our county and surrounding counties, in hopes to find one that had not 'banned' walk-in locations. We found the perfect town within commutable distance (about 40 miles away) that hadn't banned dispensaries and actually had a dispensary permit process written into their municipal coding back in 2010, so it couldn't have been more perfect! So we thought... but more about that in just a few.
We went through the entire permit process starting in June 2015 and ending in February 2017 with being denied by the City Council because we were located within 1000 feet of a museum. This particular museum was an old school house and they used the excuse that even though less than 10% of the visitors are children, its an extension of the school because home school students sometimes visit the house with their parents. But the truth is, they just did not want us to open in their town of less than 5,000 population and they were going to come up with any excuse to deny us. The municipal coding did not include museums as a place that we had to be at least a 1000 ft away from so we never even had it on our radar, they blindsided us and on purpose. Also, when we first started the permit process there was a very open minded mayor and city council in office, 2 years layer when we went in front of the city council to be approved/denied, there were all new members and they clearly had very different views than the prior set of members. I have a YouTube video of the entire story from start to finish and all the details in-between if you want to know it all. Ill link it here for you > Dispensary Video < I also linked the live city council meeting videos in my description of my YouTube video if you are interested in watching those also.
We look back now at everything that happened.. and even though we lost $60,000, we don't regret trying and fighting for what we believe in. We also learned so much and we grew stronger as people and as a couple because of growing through that hardship and experience together...
After we were denied, we had lost around $60,000 funding this endeavor, we were about $6000 in debt and in desperate need of jobs. So I immediately went back to my prior job which was working as a manager at Jamba Juice. That is what I did after my mom passed away when we shut down Smokin' Fast Deliveries, and before we opened The Cannabis Health Nexus. Kyle started working as a shop-manager at a local Hydroponic shop in Oakdale. We went through a pretty severe depression because of the loss of our business and ultimately our dream BUT by the end of 2017 we were ready to get back up and start a new chapter of our lives and that was finding a much larger homestead so we can farm, garden and self-sustain on a much larger level. We knew if we couldn't do what we were truly passionate about, which is cannabis, then we gotta do the second thing we are at passionate about and that is without a doubt, farming and homesteading.
We now both work at much different jobs as stated above and are much happier and healthier because we are in much better career paths but ultimately we want to farm for a living and 2020 is the year we are going to start the necessary steps to make this dream come true for us! As stated above, we just started our "Farmers Market Garden" which is a plot of land on our property we have dubbed the market garden because is in fact going to supply our market stand! We are in the process of developing other plots of our land for corn and flowers too! What keeps us fueled is that we know we are well on our way to becoming full-time farmers, working everyday after work until dusk, getting up early before work and working the entire weekends on projects for the home or farm. We trust the process how ever slow it may be and we know when the time comes to quit our jobs, we will be ready and able to because we were patient and waited until the right time. For now, we still work full-time and basically farm/homestead full-time too but wouldn't change any bit of it for the world.
We both work two Full-Time jobs and work Full-Time on the homestead.. its the best kind of busy!
We genuinely say daily how incredibly thankful and privileged we are to own our land and to have an acre to grow, stretch and just be! We get to enjoy the stars like you'd never ever believe, we get to hear a total of zero cars drive by, we get to use our land to feed ourselves, our family and hopefully hundreds of people from our community to come. We are so stoked to finally start this website for our homestead and farm, to share our tips, recipes, projects and more! We greatly appreciate your support, we want to thank you for being here and we hope you enjoyed getting to know us, please stick around and explore! You can also subscribe or leave us a comment down below!
Happy Homesteading, friends!
Kati & Kyle Cearley
FOUNDERS & OWNERS