Grit Blogs > Finding Our Way in the Lost Pines of Texas

Making Lemonade

LydiaWe love living in the country! The stars seem so much brighter against the darkness, and the sunsets seem almost magical. We have dreamed of raising our own food and creating a sustainable garden for years, but we knew we couldn’t do that living in the city. We searched for months trying to find property that two people could maintain and be far enough to bring us serenity yet close enough to commute to our daily jobs. Finally, we opted for a fixer-upper property that had been vacant for a few years.

Sunset at Waterhorn Ranch
Sunset at Waterhorn Ranch

We knew from the onset that the abandoned property we bought for our homestead would be a challenge to transform. About a month after moving, we hadn’t decided if we would call it a farm or a ranch, but I think we both secretly called it a “lemon” after considering the seemingly daunting task of mowing 5 acres of tall weeds with a constantly broken tractor, fixing the leaks in the cellar, and repairing what we thought was a seamless oak floor (until we pulled the carpet and found termite damage).

Fall in Texas
Fall in Texas

The drought that has haunted Texas for several years has compelled us to feed and water only plants that we can consume. We will also be fencing the property for grazing cattle to reduce mowing and building a greenhouse with hydroponics to alleviate the pest and water problems. Both of our families thought we lost our minds when they saw the amount work that we were committing ourselves to doing, but with every checkmark we place next to our finished project, we gain strength to pursue our dreams and build our homestead.

Fresh Eggs
Fresh Eggs

Fresh Turnips
Fresh Turnips

Lemon Cucumbers
Lemon Cucumbers

On the bright side, collecting the green and brown eggs for our breakfast, having fresh chicken for dinner, and raising rabbits and dogs brings us the peace and tranquility we need to balance our city jobs. In only one year, we have tripled the size of the flock and coop, and we’ve added a rabbit hutch with two rabbit couples. We had our family reunion here this year, and my daughter is getting married in the pergola (we have yet to build) next May. In the spring, we will collect honey from our established beehives and, by the end of summer, we plan to start a non-profit to teach beekeeping to children under 12. Our hope is that we can instill the importance of bees in our ecosystem to newer generations and raise awareness in our community about living with nature.

2013 Family Reunion
2013 Family Reunion

The coop is finished
The coop is finished

Yes, we have our work cut out for us, but as we get used to our new daily routines, we become more passionate about being homesteaders and gain appreciation that comes from embracing nature and being able to harvest the rewards of our work. This Christmas, our family won’t receive the latest electronics from us, but instead will receive homemade beeswax candles, freshly canned vegetables and honey. I think they will be thrilled and we can sweeten our lemonade with a bit of fresh honey!

A Texas Merry Christmas to You
A Texas Merry Christmas to You

nebraskadave
12/22/2013 9:23:30 AM

Lydia, nice name. I have a daughter with that name as well. Welcome to the GRIT blogging community. Your first post has definitely piqued my interest. I will definitely be following your progress as you continue to improve you five acres. I too have purchased a derelict property from the city to raise a garden. It was a neighborhood dump site for many years. The weeds had been left to go wild forever. Brush, wild grape vines, native grasses, and every other kind of invasive noxious weeds were covering the property. Two years later the area looks much different. ***** Have a great homestead building day.