hello from just east of Dallas, TX
Hello all. I've been following JMG since 2006 or 2007. He has certainly changed my worldview over the years, and even now my spiritual viewpoint is undergoing a massive reorganization. My wife and I live on a 3 acre tract 20 miles east of Dallas, for almost 22 years now. Our kids are all grown up now and only our youngest of 5 lives at home still. I've worked for the same family owned furniture retailer for just over 35 years now, and due to no retirement provided by the company (not even matching any 401K contributions) I will probably work for many more years. They axed the pension fund probably 25 years ago and initially contributed a small percentage to the 401K they started, for a couple of years, but during a recession stopped matching, and never contributed after that once the economy got back on its feet.
We have about 5-6 years left to pay off the house. Unfortunately I travel to North Dallas for work and it usually takes me 75 minutes each way at minimum, barring any accidents. Been trying to get a job with a furniture wholesaler three miles down the road from us for almost a couple of years now but no success. It would be great to be able to bike or even walk to work.
We've worked a small garden for several years now with various levels of success/non-success, depending on the year, the crop, the plot of soil, etc. Greens such as collards and Swiss chard have been the most reliable greens through either winter or summer, and okra has definitely been the easiest to manage during the summer months.
Over the years I have made my own compost by using my small pickup to drive to the stables down the road and shovel up horse manure. The last two years has been more difficult though with my lower back issues since I have no help with this. I am almost 61. I think I was 39 just a couple of years ago.....or was it.....ah just can't remember. Anyway, we were gifted a couple of hens a year ago from an older couple that moved away and so now Lucy and Ethyl (no Ricky or Fred) have been occupying our deserted dog pen (18 feet by 12 feet) since that time. I collect bags of leaves during the fall and winter in the area of town that I work in and so used them as a base on the ground of the pen for L and E to scratch and poop in . 12 inches is about right to start with, if you can. They willingly break the leaves down to smaller particles and their poop adds nutrients and bacteria to sweeten the leaves. So I will be raking and wheelbarrowing these composted leaves into the garden area this spring. Thank you L and E.
Also, since first reading The Humanure Book years ago as a result of the ADR, I had built and used a compost toilet since that time, using shredded leaves as the material. That's been going on for about 10 years now and has worked out just fine using a 5 gallon bucket from Home Depot. I usually let that compost for a couple of years before applying that to the garden.
It has been a chore just keeping the 3 acres mowed, much less using the land for stock animals or crops of some kind. With the amount of time I spend on the road between work and home it has been a challenge having the time and/or energy to keep up with it. To keep livestock of any kind would require acquiring fencing as the barbed wire fencing that is there now is not anywhere near adequate for goats or others. I would like to possibly purchase portable electric fencing to allow the chickens to graze during part of the day without having to worry about dogs or coyotes. That is a wait and see possibility.
So, that about sums up our situation out here. I have to say I enjoy very much reading of others' situations on this blog, and realize that our situation while not ideal, is certainly something to be grateful for. At least right now we are in fairly good health, and would like to disembark off of the health insurance/pharmaceutical merry/or not so merry-go-round that so many of us are trapped in at this time. I would at least like to grow more herbs and such plants that benefits the bees, the butterflies, and our health. If only there was an experienced herbal doctor or such in the Dallas area that was not interested in maintaining the typical insurance model we have to put up with in this country.
I suppose I could go on and on, but this was only meant to be an introductory "howdee" to you good folks. Thank you David for taking the time and effort to maintain this website. It is greatly appreciated. Till next time.