Today is a day we feel stuck. We’ve committed that the next thing we do is get our RV moved to the farm so that we can begin our life in Paradise. However, there are obstacles we have yet to overcome, and some days are discouraging. Today is one of those days.
The next step is a multifaceted step. We need a septic system, which requires plumbing, which requires the forms for the barn foundation to be in place, which requires hiring a concrete contractor. And we’re finding that although we anticipated it would cost $x, and saved $x plus extra, it’s looking like it’ll cost about twice what we anticipated. We don’t have that saved yet. Because all of the construction is so interdependent on every other piece, we can’t start any of the next steps until we have all of the money to pay all four contractors. Plus all the concrete companies are apparently so busy in the summer months that no one has even called us back to express interest in getting us a quote.
In addition to this, if we can’t get the money saved up and spent by the end of the year, dear old Uncle Sam will charge us a hefty fine (aka tax) to have the money sitting in our bank account rather than spending it on the farm.
Fortunately, we have a meeting with our financial adviser already scheduled for this week. I can’t tell you how important it is to have experts on your team, and our financial adviser is perfect for us. We usually leave her office feeling much more positive about our financial future, with a good plan that we can implement.
In the meantime, we visit the farm about twice a week, and enjoy the garden, and the quiet, and being able to hang laundry on the clothesline. But we are so looking forward to the day when we don’t have to drive back to our trailer at the RV park!
Adorable little frog Andrew found.
Yesterday’s harvest. Yes, the worm was part of my harvest. Extra protein right? Ok no no no, I cut that nasty thing in half after I took the picture.
I’ve been working on this draft for a week and I can’t make it have a cohesive theme. So here’s some pictures of things growing and happening on the farm.
My favorite garden rock is apparently very motivational. This wasn’t staged at all – the zucchini really grew like that!
I planted some of these morning glories on one of the fences and didn’t expect much. But WOW.
Our driveway is graveled and we are loving it!
The cucumber plants are producing nicely!
We got a ton of dirt work done!
Today marks the one year anniversary of when we bought the farm! So many wonderful things have happened – here’s a look at where we are now.
We have a pumpkin growing in the garden.
Emily’s my great clothespin helper when we hang laundry.
Doing laundry is NOT a chore when this is what I get to look at!
The garden is producing beautifully.
I’m learning about new pests…
And we have new friends as well.
I found this little guy in the girls’ wading pool! It was easy to capture as it played dead when I reached for it.
I took it to the pond and let it go, but not before taking a couple of pictures of how beautiful it was.
Ellie found a dancing partner in the corn patch…
All in all, from my perspective, the farm gets better every day! We are so grateful for it.
There are so many beautiful, wonderful things to look at on the farm!
Like the first tomato from plants I started myself from seed!
This hilarious garden rock that my goofball baby sister painted (and I LOVE it).
Volunteer acorn squash!
Tiny carrots (which were delicious and didn’t even make it into the house)
The corn patch, which got some fertilizer, pea seeds, and a mulch of grass clippings.
Hugelkultur bed #1, with most of the pea plants pulled, and many Lemon Queen sunflowers already!
Hugelkultur bed #2, also with Lemon Queen sunflowers and pink and red beans.
Hugelkultur bed #3, which is the prettiest of all, thanks to the profusion of wildflowers that grows all around it.
My adorable husband doing his geek thing on top of his container office.
I mean, really. What a magnificent place.
Here are some wonderful things we’ve been growing and eating!
I grew onions at the trailer park. Ellie helped me pull a couple for pizza – but she clearly didn’t want any on her pizza!
We have a large patch of wild blackberries – the harvest is just beginning. I love the unripe red ones. They look like tiny jewels.
Ellie was a great help picking!
Emily was sharing the blackberries with her great GramE. I asked them to pose for this shot with berries in their hands and say “cheese!” GramE deadpanned “This isn’t cheese. It’s a blackberry.” She’s still got it, y’all.
Gratuitous shot of my kids being adorable 😀
The wild plums are bearing fruit! They taste just like a plum that you’d get in the grocery store, but they’re the size of cherries. I also harvested a couple tiny onions from my onion patch by the pond. When we let the cows back onto our land they trampled the patch and ate most of the tops, but the onions themselves are fine.
My mother in law and I found this – she thinks it’s milkweed and I think she might be right. I need to transplant it or capture the seeds to add to my small-but-growing butterfly garden!
The month of May has been an excellent month in the garden so far!
A large number of the sugar snap peas are producing. Ellie and I play hide and seek with the pods and eat them all while standing in the garden. None have made it into the house yet.
I got to put some of my lettuce on a sandwich and it was very tasty.
Andrew marked off a HUGE plot for corn and tilled the whole thing. Twice.
It’s the shape of Nevada and seems to be about as big!
So I got to planting! Above is a variety of corn called rainbow corn. It was so pretty.
I had some excellent garden help. We planted the three packets of seed I had (rainbow corn, strawberry popcorn, and sweet corn) and got all of about 10 feet planted.
So Andrew went and bought 250 more corn seeds and we planted all of them, too! And we still only have about 25′ of corn patch! I think that’ll be plenty for our first year. I’ll use the rest of the soil for watermelon, pumpkins, and spaghetti squash.
All of this digging and hoeing and pulling our heavy wagon is giving me some nice guns 😀
One day while we were all out working and rain chances had been listed at 0 all day, we got a little surprise. A storm rolled in! We scrambled to get everything under cover. Andrew had been working on replacing the struts in his car – he was able to get three of the wheels done at least.
I had the bright idea to get a picture over the fence. The electric fence. Got my first zap! And boy, I won’t be trying that again anytime soon!
North Texas farming and gardening is quite different if you’re not a Texas native. We who came from northern climates are used to summer arriving in June and having only one growing season. Texas, on the other hand, has two mild growing seasons – winter/spring and fall – and a massive blast of heat for four months that most northern plants don’t handle well. There’s been quite a learning curve for growing in Texas, but I think I’m getting a decent handle on it, and I want to share some resources I’ve found.
North Haven Gardens is a wonderful nursery in north Dallas. They have some excellent educational resources, one of which I printed recently and keep referring to during my spring planting. I took their information and rearranged it by vegetable type rather than by date. Below is the chart; I hope it is helpful to you!
Here is a printable version; it’s long, so print on legal-size paper. Or visit the NHG site for their version. North Texas Vegetables – Spring
The hugelkultur beds are coming along beautifully! Here are some pictures of my recent work there.
The girls and I found a beautiful ladybug among the sugar snap peas.
I transplanted my tomato seedlings – that I started from seeds! Myself! This is a new venture for me and it’s very satisfying.
Here’s the western hugelkultur bed (number 1 of 3). It’s got the peas, tomato transplants, onions, radishes, and a few other cool-weather plants that will probably choke in the upcoming heat very soon. That’s ok though.
I spy a tiny carrot plant! The carrot seeds mostly got washed away, so I had to reseed the carrots in the center bed. But this one apparently hid under a stick and has recently gotten big enough to see.
This is super fun!
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!
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.