Monthly Archives: July 2015

First Fields of Green harvest!

The wild grapes are ripening!

   
    
They are probably mustang grapes, and are extremely acidic. I licked the flesh of one grape and my mouth stung for a couple minutes! I should have worn latex gloves while sorting them, too. My hands itched for an hour after this process was over. 

Gotta love the food mill attachment for my KitchenAid mixer. It processed all the grapes no problem. 

 
  

We got just over a quart of juice from my first picking.
    

Of course I had the most adorable help in the world. 
   

I’m so grateful for a harvest that I just had to gather. No composting or tilling or planting or watering or weeding. Just picking. 

Getting electricity 

It’s going to take a while to get electricity onto our property. We were hoping we’d have all the infrastructure in place to move out there by late September. Now it looks like we will be lucky to move there by the end of 2015. It’s disappointing, but we are in a good place at the RV park and we will make the best of it!

We thought it was just a matter of telling Oncor, the electric infrastructure company, where we needed a transformer and meter, and approximating our potential electric consumption so they’d know what to install. Oh no no no. It’s nothing that simple. The process is very detailed and requires architectural drawings and an Oncor designer and a general contractor and an electrician and several months and a partridge in a pear tree. We are going to do the construction in phases anyway; the first electric service will be for our MIL house, RV, carport, and Andrew’s shipping container office. When we are ready to build our farm home, we will go through the process again. It shouldn’t be too expensive, but it’ll take a while to wade through all the red tape. 

In the meantime, I can’t help but try to grow things wherever I am, so I took advantage of our RV park’s policy of please plant things to make yourself at home, and made a little zucchini and sunflower garden this morning.  

    
 
The girls helped, of course!

  

Getting electricity

Step one: ESID. Got that. 

Step two: no idea, really. The service providers and the people who do the equipment installation are two totally different entities. Also we may or may not need a third party to come out to the property and advise us on what all needs to be done. Do we need a transformer? Where does the meter go? How about a circuit box?

Today I spent half an hour on the phone with the company that provides electric service. They are supposed to initiate the request for the equipment provider (Oncor) to go out to the property and install the equipment. This is supposed to happen on Monday. I don’t think that will actually happen, but hey, maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised and we will have electricity out there by Monday night! 

Not much to say

We are in wait mode right now, which doesn’t make for interesting blogging. Waiting on the electric company to get back to us with a quote. Waiting to get some time without small people needing things to look at our budget and see what excess we have and where it can go. 

Plus, it’s really freaking hot, and the time we do spend at our farm is pretty miserable. We are glad for our RV’s air conditioning. 

Shifting stuff

It’s pretty incredible how much of our lives we devote to managing stuff. For instance, on Sunday we spent a good six hours at the farm taking our stuff out of one shipping container and transferring it to the other. Six. Hours. Six long hot hours while the girls did really well playing together, catching butterflies, blowing bubbles, and playing in our new farm wagon. 

   
 
We were successful in our day’s quest; Andrew needed to find a certain piece of equipment that was buried deeply in the short container. So we set up shelves in the big one, moved almost everything into it, and found the thing Andrew needed in the very back of the 20′ container (which is just where he thought it was; yay Andrew). 

  
Then he took the girls for a ride in their new wagon! While I got a few minutes to myself to enjoy the picnic area we have created next to the pond. 

  
  
And yes, Emily is bawling in that photo. She does NOT like loud noises and being towed around by the lawn mower was not her idea of a good time. I pulled them around for some time after this photo and she liked that a lot better. 

Next step: electricity! Andrew called the electric delivery company for a quote to get a transformer put in and we should have that some time this week. 

The first structures on our farm!

We have the first structures in place on our farm! The shipping containers were, with much drama, delivered on Friday. Andrew was out at the farm most of the day while the girls and I hung out with his parents. 

   
Here’s the first one being loaded up, with the second in the picture. We have had this 20′ container for over a year; Andrew finished out the inside and added an air conditioner. It was his office for several months while we got our business started in 2014. He has been working out of, well, anywhere he can ever since we moved from our house to the apartment last summer. He will be very glad to have his office back! 

 
There it is in its new home!

  
And here is the moment we weren’t sure would happen; the driver was later than he thought he would be and we didn’t think we would be able to get both containers off the storage lot and on the land. But the driver did a marvelous job, and here he is pulling in with the 40′ container. 

Today we are going out and moving as much as we can out of the 20′ container into the 40′, and organizing it nicely on shelves and such. Andrew has to find a certain piece of equipment for a project on Tuesday, and he knows it’s buried deeply in the 20′ container. So that’s our main goal. The heat index is supposed to be near 100°. I don’t do heat well. I don’t just dislike being hot; I get nauseous and dizzy. If you read this, I’d love a prayer for our safety!

A rainy day in July

I’m a pluviophile. I love rainy days. Even though north Texas has had a record-breakingly wet year so far, every rainy day is still a good one to me. Especially if it means a day when the high temperature doesn’t reach 90! 

The rainy morning was somewhat poorly timed, as we were supposed to take delivery of our shipping containers. We have a 20′ that we bought over a year ago, and Andrew remodeled it to be his office. Then we moved out of our house and it didn’t have a place to live; it’s been in a storage yard and it’s full of our belongings. Last week we bought a 40′ container. 

Anyway, Andrew went out to the farm to meet the driver today. But they ran late, and in the meantime, he and the SUV and the flatbed trailer got stuck in the mud. The girls and I were already preparing to go out also, so without too much drama we drove out, got the SUV unstuck, and had a picnic.  

 
He wisely postponed delivery until tomorrow at least. The girls and I played. Ellie got Emily interested in picking wildflowers. At one point Ellie looked up and exclaimed, as only a four year old can, “MAMA! This is a whole FIELD of wildflowers!”

  
She had no idea how big our property was, so the three of us girls walked all the way from the western edge to the eastern edge and back. It’s nearly a mile round trip. We even waded through the seasonal creek. They were such troopers. There’s a lot to look at! Like this super weird anthill. These ants are enormous! And more wildflowers, which Ellie and I both love. 

   
 Unfortunately, I remembered the hard way that you can absolutely get sunburned on a cloudy day.  

 
Any day on the farm is a good day, and I’m looking forward to being back tomorrow! But this time with more sunscreen. 

Now we have an address

Getting our 911 address was remarkably easy. Again, I was super impressed at how helpful the county development office is. Looking forward to working with them again when we do our next driveway and septic system.

For the last week my focus has been on getting out of our old apartment. We loved it there; the staff was terrific. I feel like we did a good job moving gradually; we got our trailer nearly 4 weeks before the end of the lease. At first we took all the absolute essentials to the trailer. Then I started to focus on sorting the rest into what I wanted to store to go in our farm home that we plan to build, and things to donate or put in the trash. Honestly, in the last week I was less prone to purging things because I kind of lost focus in the light of the impending deadline. But we got all the stuff out and got it so thoroughly cleaned that the apartment staff said our unit looked better than most units do AFTER their cleaning crew gets finished. Plus we finished a day early!

In the meantime, I found there are a couple animal shelters near the farm that have Facebook pages. Oh man. I want all the puppies! And maybe a couple kittens! Barn first!

Next steps

Today I went to the county development office to turn in our application for an address. The people who work there have been SO NICE. This is the only time I can ever remember saying how wonderful it is to work with a government entity.

For now, we aren’t living on our farm. We live in a fifth wheel in an RV park halfway between the land and our church/my workplace. It’s really nice to make this our temporary home. It’s helping us adjust to life in a trailer while still having all the amenities we so thoroughly enjoy (flushing toilets, hot water, a washing machine, wifi).

After we get our address, we can order electricity to be put on the land.

The property is at the intersection of two county roads. The site where the gate and mailbox are is not a good building site (it clearly floods badly in Texas rainstorms), but it’s the best place to quickly get our address assigned. Also I did some research and since we are right on the border of Paradise, putting our address on this particular county road will probably give us a Paradise address 🙂 Eventually we will have to put in a second gate and driveway on the other road nearer the building site.

In addition to that, cows roam our land and the neighboring 84 acre parcel freely. We will need to put up a fence between the lots. Also we plan to put a gate in that fence in order to allow the herd to come onto our land, since we wish to keep the agricultural exemption on our taxes. In a few years I’d love my own herd, but I also know the wisdom of starting small. Like, chicken-sized-animal small.

We will need to have someone install a septic system, and drill a well. And the electric company will need to come put in the transformer and meter near our first building site.

We have already put money down on a steel building that we were intending to erect and finish out as our farm home. Various factors influenced this decision, but we went with the trailer instead of the steel building. Instead of a house, we plan to order a barn, and have an overhanging roof big enough that the trailer can sit under a steel roof.

That’s the plan for now anyway! But things change all the time around here so I’ve learned not to hold super tightly to any of these plans.