Monthly Archives: August 2015

Fence progress

When the girls and I went to the farm on Friday, I didn’t take any pictures of the fence crew starting their work because I felt like a creeper doing so. Instead, here are some pictures of our girls getting messy! They had chosen to take their money and each of them bought a $5 set of sand toys. We went to the place I mentioned in the anniversary blog post where there is lots of sandy soil and we dug up some sand and put it in a tote.

Then we took it to the nice spot under the oak trees where we hung the tire swing, and they played there for a good hour and a half! Which is amazing; they haven’t seemed to really love the farm the way Andrew and I do. But we are finding ways to help them love it.

These next pictures are from when Andrew went to the farm on Saturday. Below is a panoramic photo of the area where our entrance gate will go.

And some closer shots of the posts they set in concrete for the gate and entry fence.
  

On Friday they estimated they’d be done on Wednesday. I’m so excited!

It’s fence day!

Today the fence installers are coming! We didn’t expect them until next week, but they had a change in their schedule and now it’s our turn! Andrew has a meeting in town so the girls and I are gonna head out there to meet the installers. Pictures later, of course! 

Perfect day

Yesterday, August 19, was Andrew’s and my 9th wedding anniversary. We really wanted to spend the day at our farm. We were somewhat hesitant to try to spend the whole day out there because usually the girls are SUPER fussy and asking to go home by lunchtime. But we decided to go out anyway, and just be done when we needed to be done.

When we left our fifth wheel at 7 am, it was super muggy and already 81 degrees. But as we headed west toward Paradise, we saw dark clouds gathering. By the time we got to our land half an hour later, it was starting to sprinkle. Then in proper Texas fashion, it started to POUR. Andrew and I got pretty wet getting ourselves and the girls into our smaller container (the one he remodeled last year and will serve as his office). It was so nice to listen to the rain falling! In 15 minutes the storm was almost done. I opened the container door and saw this glorious sight.

The storm was on the leading edge of a cold front. After it passed, the temperature fell to 75 and the wind was blowing from the north. Texas in August is very rarely 75 degrees; by 9 am lately the temp has been in the upper 80s and sticky with humidity. So to have a 75 degree morning was just glorious. The girls were in a great mood, so the three of us went for a walk. We found a place where the topsoil has been washed away and left some sand exposed. The brief storm was just right to make the sand into the perfect sand-castle-making texture!

The girls and I stayed there for at least an hour! They were having a blast and I loved just getting to sit under a tree and enjoy being outside. Then we started getting hungry so we walked back to the containers by way of the pond. The girls would have spent hours throwing sticks and mud clods into the pond if I’d let them! Once we were back at the containers, Andrew showed me that he’d set up our new propane generator and was running the rooftop air conditioner! We all had lunch in the AC inside the office container. Normally after lunch Emily has a nap, but she seemed to be in a great mood still. Andrew and I got up on top of the office and mounted a 20′ wireless antenna. That was dizzying! Then he drove the SUV and trailer down to the creek and started hanging our tire swing!

First he took down some big branches that had broken in bad storms this spring.

Then he climbed up to hang the chain and rope from a big central branch. The girls were fascinated with this process.

The girls and I also hauled branches to a brush pile. This is going to make a great hot dog roast later in the fall!

Ellie really wanted to help, so we let her climb the ladder to give her daddy some zip ties that had fallen out of his pocket. She was thrilled to be allowed to climb up with Daddy.

Andrew and I had one more thing to do before the swing was useful: it was bumping into the washer and dryer. We’d brought the washer and dryer to the property in the first week of July, before we had the containers there, and had dropped them off here under the trees because it was one of the best sheltered places. And then we didn’t think I had the strength to move them with Andrew so we just left them there. But yesterday I thought I could at least try to move them so that the girls could play on the swing. The washer was the tough one, but we scooted it up the ramp onto the trailer, and then got the dryer up no problem! (ps. when I refer to the trailer that’s on the farm, I’m referring to an 8′ flatbed trailer we use to haul things. Not our fifth wheel!)

And finally: it was done and the girls got to swing! I think Ellie would have swung all day if I’d let her! In fact, by this time (about 3 o’clock), Emily was getting very sleepy, so Andrew took Emily and drove over to where we’d left the lawn mower and I stayed with Ellie to push her on the swing. Andrew got Emily to sleep on the front seat of the SUV because he’s amazing like that.

She slept there for an hour! The lawn mower had a dead battery and flat tire, so Andrew spent a good long time pumping Slime into the tires and refilling all of them and charging the battery. Eventually he needed my help so Ellie and I came to help him. She loved getting to help pump the bright green Slime. When we were done working on the mower, one of us needed to drive the SUV plus heavy trailer up the hill to the containers, and one of us needed to drive the mower. I’d never driven either the mower or the SUV with a heavy trailer attached, so I decided to try the mower. And I asked Ellie to help me out. She and I drove around the property for 20 minutes to get the battery charged. It was so fun!

Finally, after we cleaned up and put away everything, Andrew suggested we go to a local Tex-Mex place for dinner. We were very happy to go with him!

I am so grateful for such a perfect day! We all had fun, and worked hard, and when we left we all felt a deep sense of gratitude and satisfaction for this land we get to farm.

About the cows 

I’ve mentioned on here that there are cows on the farm. I haven’t mentioned that they aren’t ours. When we bought the land, we bought a third of a larger parcel that is owned by various members of a family. They had been leasing the use of the land to the owner of the cattle. We continued that arrangement with the owner of the cattle. We don’t get paid cash from him, but we do reap the benefits of being nearly completely free of property taxes. Having land in Texas that is devoted to agriculture means you get to benefit from an exemption in property tax. It’s a bit more complicated than that, but that’s the basic understanding I have.  

   
The cattle are American roping cattle, which are said to be curious, gentle, and good escape artists. I like them. They guard our containers, provide entertainment, and fertilize the ground 😉

  

Brush clearing progress

Yesterday a cold front passed through north Texas, so we took advantage of a chilly morning in the upper 70s/low 80s to go back and work on finding the fence. After a couple weeks of highs in the 100-105 range, a morning that was 78° was pretty nice!  

The cows were super friendly this morning. Andrew had taken a bunch of discarded papers and magazines to the farm to start a compost pile, and they’d helped themselves to it. Andrew dumped another bag of shredded paper on the pile, and a cow came right over and took a big bite! After that I herded them away. Ellie heard me say that I hurt them instead of herd them, so we had a vocabulary lesson.

The herd still came down to visit us while we worked on the fence. 

  
Here are the before pictures. 

  
 
And after. Yes, that is our port-a-potty. Actually, it’s a lug-a-loo, technically. Don’t you feel educated now? 

   
All we did was find the fence and clear it for about six feet. It was completely buried in grapevines and thorny brush and little trees, about 6-8′ deep. That’s the hole you see in the thicket. We cleared it in about two hours! It was a lot of work, but this time we had a working chainsaw and that made a HUGE difference. Andrew worked the chainsaw and I hauled brush to the brush pile. 

 
Now it’s ready for fence installation! We hope! 

  

Information Styles

Andrew and I take in new information very differently. He learned all he needed to know about managing our RV by watching YouTube videos. I prefer the written word. So it makes sense that I write long blog posts and he records videos. Andrew has started a YouTube channel called Another Day in Paradise. He’s having a blast recording our farm projects and the tech projects he does. If you like videos better than blogs, go check him out!

Another Day in Paradise on YouTube

Power tools are necessary and dumb

We got a quote for doing the fence on the western border of our land, and for the gate that we will need on the southwest corner. The quote is quite reasonable, we just need to clear the fence where the gate is going to go. On Tuesday we headed out early in the day to clear as much of the brush as we could. Andrew stayed up late replacing the fuel line in the chainsaw so it would work. We got to the property before 8 which was a remarkable feat. It was a lovely morning, for August. About 82 degrees, and then it started raining just a few miles north of us, so we had some terrific cloud cover. It was all going well. Here’s the before pictures:
  There’s a fence buried in all that brush.
  Our tools were: the chainsaw, the riding mower, a big new set of limb loppers, and a weed whacker. Ellie was a good help too!
 

There were lots of grapevines on the fence, so I harvested all the grapes I could.

It started so well, then things started going downhill. The chainsaw just wouldn’t start. Andrew pulled and pulled on that starter and it stubbornly choked every time. I even prayed for it to start. Then it would start, run for two seconds, and die. It was so incredibly frustrating! The brush was full of thorny things that were so numerous they were hard to cut with the loppers, but were too thick for the weed whacker string to handle. And there were so many larger limbs that the lawnmower couldn’t get them, plus the ground was too uneven. The chainsaw was the perfect tool…if it would have been running! Gah!

We worked for four hours straight and made some visible progress, just not as much as we wanted to.

Again, here’s the before:

And here is after:  You can see a bit of fence now!
 We really needed to get nearly to the larger tree to the left of the power pole.

However, Andrew was thinking about it, and he’s realized that we won’t have to clear the whole fence. We need about 6-8 feet of access along the fence on each place the fence crew has to tie in to the existing fence. That means we got nearly all we needed to on the one corner where we worked so hard. This weekend he’s going to try to do the same on the other side. Then when we have the driveway installed, the person driving the bulldozer can take care of everything else that’s there. Yay for heavy machinery! A pox on power tools that work fine one night and not at all the next day when they are very necessary!