Building Rome on the Range

| 12/10/2013 9:50:00 AM

Tags: Weeding, Gardening, Chickens, Patience, Beekeeping, Turn the Paige Homesteaders,

Turn the Paige HomesteadersMuch of what I have read in the Capper's Farmer blogs is based on other areas of the country, not in central Texas where we live, so I tend to roll my eyes in envy of four seasons. I've been in Texas most of my 50-plus years, and I've come to the conclusion that we really only have two real seasons – Hot and VERY Hot. Occasionally, a Canadian wind will blow through Texas and kill the mold, most of the mosquitoes, and whatever plants haven't been taken by drought and 100-plus heat, but here in the central most part of Texas, it is usually unbearably hot and humid.

Texas November Weather
Texas November Weather on the Range

Last year, we moved 35 miles out of the city to become "homesteaders" on a 5-acre plot of land that we want to convert to a plush green haven consisting of a 2,500 square-foot garden, 100 grape vines, 20 olive trees and maybe three or four Hereford cattle roaming the grounds near the chicken coop and rabbit hutch.

The original 1947 cinder-block house was abandoned and is now used as a workshop after the replacement house was built over the storm cellar in 1956. The newer house was updated in 2006 with a modern kitchen and bath, but the original oak floors remain along indoor access to the storm cellar that fills with water when it rains. Our main goal, outside of creating a green haven outdoors, was to take the house back to as much of its original beauty and old-time charm. So far, it is easier said than done. The most we've accomplished inside is removing the carpet and patching the leaks on the metal roof.

Coop de Ville
Coop deVille

All in all, our first year on the property has been mostly filled with failure, but we have to admit, we have learned a lot about the challenges becoming homesteaders in Texas. By mid-March last year, we had built a large wind and weather resistant structure for our 18 hens and two roosters, added a rabbit hutch for two pairs of meat rabbits, and amended soil on 2,500 square feet of garden space with a fence and chicken wire to keep the wild rabbits and other critters out.

Kevin N Lydia Kendall
12/16/2013 1:36:23 PM

Thank you for the encouragement! We have worked so hard this year to make our property work for us this year. Next year will definitely be better since we have learned a great deal from our small successes and failures. We can hardly wait to get cattle on the property! In my head, I'm seeing cheese and steak. :) Cheers!

Linda Dicks
12/12/2013 2:51:52 PM

I too am from North Central TX and been at it for 14 years. Still many things are trial and error. Chickens have been a success. Gardening in raised beds better than the soil. Don't trust soil and mulch bought by the pick up full. Mine seems to have been contaminated, esp the mulch. I have changed the garden size and type since I began due to things I did wrong to begin with. It is an ever learning experience but oh so nice when we get it right. Fresh tomatoes, your own pickles, fresh greens, and wonderful eggs. Hang in there and keep notes.

12/12/2013 10:46:41 AM

We are looking to get back on acreage soon! And we are in Central Texas as well! Very different seasons, growing conditions, etc.! I'm looking forward to following your adventures!

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