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Monday, January 30, 2012

Finding the perfect homestead

If you’re like us, we are beyond ready to get away from the rat race and live a more simple lifestyle. We don’t want to be where the sound of sirens, traffic, horns blaring and the thumping bass in a passing car is commonplace. Instead, we’d rather hear the neighbor’s rooster crowing, the donkey down the road braying, cows mooing, or the plethora of birds we see (and don’t see) telling their stories. We’re not looking for Easy Street. Having a homestead and raising animals and your own food is really hard work. But it’s the lifestyle we choose with intention.

Now reality is, we have to have jobs to pay the bills and build this homestead that dances in our dreams. So to have our “perfect” homestead and way of life, we have to be able to commute to jobs in the city. That puts limitations on location. And let’s be honest, who wants to spend 2 hours (or more) each way in a car five days a week, even if it does mean you live in your dream location? Over time, that becomes a stressful scenario.

We looked all over the area for the right place. After months and months, we had come to the conclusion that our dream homestead just didn’t exist – or at least not a price that we could ever hope to afford. We even settled for a house in a subdivision. The neighborhood was nice enough, the house was nice enough, and it had a decent yard. But it was settling for less than our dream. As fate would have it, the major national bank we were dealing with royally jacked us over seven days before the closing. As horrible as that whole scenario and loss of money was, we were back to square one and not stuck with something that would have to “make do”.

We drove through the countryside on the weekends, and I swear, we looked at every piece of dirt for sale in a four county area. We wanted a place with good soil, some open space and some trees. Because of the geography and geology in this part of Texas, your options are usually rich Blackland Prairie soil (but not a tree for miles), or sitting on a limestone cap of rock that you have to blast through to dig a minor hole, or fields of rocks where you can’t turn a shovel without more than 50% of being rocks.

After many more months, we found one little place that seemed to cast a spell on us. When we had nothing else to do, we drove by it and just stared and dreamed. And it wasn't easy getting financing for rural land either, but we finally found a local bank willing to do business with us. (Moral of that story and the previous busted real estate transaction - BUY LOCAL!) It actually wasn’t until our purchase was complete (six long months later), and we were walking the land that it hit us…we had found our PERFECT homestead. It has lots of open pasture with pretty good grass (although we plan to eventually restore it all to native grasses), a tank (stock pond), trees on our land and tons of trees surrounding it. Our only neighbors we can see are two of the nicest, most down to earth people you could ever meet and across the road is a huge pecan orchard – let me tell you, it’s a beautiful view. And it’s only about 30 miles from our downtown jobs in the city.

We’re just getting started, but we have the room for everything we ever wanted for our future – space for our house, our furry kids, a woodworking shop, a garden, chickens, bees, a greenhouse, a fruit orchard, any other livestock we decide to have and plenty of wildlife.

Every time we step foot on our homestead, we are so grateful for the blessing of becoming stewards of that land. Such a sense of peace completely overtakes us both. It has felt like home since the first time we left our footprints there.

So I guess the moral of my story is, if you’re looking for a different way of life in the country, keep looking until you find a place that calls to you. Yes there may be compromises you have to make, as with most choices in life. But if you have a dream, try and be patient and stick with it because I believe the right place will come along. We know ours did!

Until next time, worms rule and bees rock.

Copyright © 2011. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New adventures in the New Year

It is our grand wish to be living on our homestead this spring...we realized that the countdown it ON if that's going to happen!  We have to get so much done to get there, but we're sure going to try.  So here's to a busy, busy start to the new year in hope that we reach a major life goal of living on our homestead.

After the November and December rains we had, the pasture is starting to green up, the rye grass is coming on very strong and the oats are making their way. 

Here's a view of the pasture from back in Bee Hollow.

We can clearly see that the deer have been munching on the new oats, which is exactly why we planted them.

Here's a pic of our lush rye grass!  It came up so well - we are very fortunate.  That's the neighbors place in the background - we told them to turn their horses in on our land this week to mow some of it down, otherwise it's just going to waste since we don't have our own critters out there yet.  They've already got it trimmed along the fence line as far as their heads can reach between the strands of wire.   J

We're just about done with the tree removal in the future orchard area.  We have a few tree trunks that we need to drag out of there and some logs that we want to keep for making into boards for future wood working projects.  And some stacks of wood already cut for firewood.  We found this one tree that was hollowed out in the middle - it's very cool looking!

We will definitely be leaving the piles of branches we strategically placed around the orchard area.  You wouldn't believe how many birds are in those piles!  They are really great habitat.  Yesterday, we just stopped and watched them flit from pile to pile and listened to them sing.  It was so peaceful. 

We think we have our future house area staked out, along with where we propose to put a temporary house and our septic system.  We also staked out the garage and carport and designated areas for the garden and the future chicken coop and run.   It's all very exciting - for us at least!   We are looking forward to living on our little piece of heaven on earth.  And even though it's going to mean a lot of work - especially once we have all the things in place that we want - we are looking forward to the honest labor and being able to enjoy the fruits of our labors in preserving and eating food that we raised ourselves.  It doesn't get any more local than that and we'll know exactly where our food came from.

I'm hoping to make the first batch of blackberry jam in the next few weeks from those berries we put up around Christmas.  I'll keep you posted.

Until next time, worms rule and bees rock!

Copyright © 2011. All rights reserved.