COVID-19 and Planning for the Future
Are all of you as ready to get back to normal life as I am? I saw this coming (thanks to my voracious news consumption) but I would never have thought it would have such a large impact on our daily lives. It is one thing to be a homebody and not go out much at all, which was me before the “Rona” (our favorite nickname for COVID-19), but for a while I was absolutely stir crazy because everything was closed including parks and greenspaces not just stores. If it wasn’t for the weather clearing and my little backyard oasis I would have had a very hard time getting through this pandemic.
There was a couple other things keeping me motivated but Rona was doing her best to make dealing with those more difficult as well. The first thing keeping me motivated is that my oldest daughter and her husband are moving back home to Texas. Since getting married she has been around the world and back thanks to her husbands job with the Airforce. He is retiring soon and have both decided Texas was their favorite place to live. I would like to also think she wants to live closer to her father and I because we do have a fairly close relationship.
I had a goal for her moving back. All my life I have wanted to live on a farm. I grew up surrounded by farms, gardening and raising animals. Texas is our adopted home state and we decided we want to live here for the rest of our lives. I have been searching for my ideal piece of land for well over 3 years and just by luck about a month back I found my dream land. I wanted a big enough pieces of land that I could grow crops, have a food forest, raise animals and still have land for my daughter and my sister to build homes and have space to do what they want with it. Another must for me was enough elevation change to have a view across this beautiful land. I will tell you more about it later but lets just say this land ticked all my boxes in a big way.
As you might know I am a member of the food service industry. I have worked as a chef and food service business owner for many years. The Rona absolutely crushed the hospitality industry and more specifically the food service industry. I know way to many restaurants that have closed permanently and let go of their entire staff. I have been working on opening a incubator kitchen for over 2 years but depending on how the government handles rules and regulations going forward my business plan may now be dead in the water. Social distancing and all the limitations that has been put in place make things virtually impossible to have a profitable business. It is going to be a while before we know how all this is going to settle out and for now the Culinary Launchpad has been put on hold, maybe forever.
For weeks we had to live off pantry staples because the grocery stores were picked clean. If I found a recipe that inspired me, the best I could do is add it to my Cozi recipe book and wait until I could get the ingredients again. I am a bargain shopper and I tend to think ahead so we had a freezer full of meat, pantry full of spices and exotic ingredients and nearly 100 lbs of different types of rice and grains. The problem was getting fresh produce. I am used to have nearly any ingredient I wish at my fingertips and for weeks we could only get local produce boxes that had random items. It gave me a challenge to get creative so that none of that precious produce would go to waste. It honestly wasn’t hard because I was amazed at how little produce were in these overpriced boxes but at least it helped us get some fresh vegetables in our diet.
Like many other this lack of fresh produce drove me to my garden. I grew up in my grandmother and mothers gardens. I was a constant presents in and around the gardens and it instilled me with a love for growing things. I only have a tiny yard in my current home and I try to use it to its max potential. My husband even built me a hydroponic system that I am still learning how to best care for. I have been able to produce a surprising about of long beans and green beans. I have struggled with greens because our local rabbits have learned how to get up on the raised beds and helped themselves my sprouting greens. My dogs and I continue to try to keep them at bay but with as little space as I have I don’t have enough to feed them and still have some leftover for my family.
This lack of ability to supply fresh fruit and vegetables brought me back to when we lived in Indiana. I had acres of gardens where I raised enough to preserve it and feed my family for the entire year. Some years I had enough to feed several families. It has always brought me joy to either provide meals or ingredients for meals to others. I thrive being out in the sun with my hands in the soil. I have been waiting for my chance to have my own market garden/ranch where I can raise all of my families food and provide my produce to others.
This time at home as gave me lots of time which caused me to find our new land. I am so thankful for this. I had stressed myself because I felt I needed to find a new home for my whole extended family. Both my daughter and sister wanted to move here to Texas to be near us. Though I still had years to find a place for my sister, we were down to just months before my daughter would moving here. I still had not found any land that fit all the criteria that I had established. The land had to first be large enough to host 3 small families and still have enough land for farming and raising cattle.
My second criteria was for the land to not be too far away from our office so my husband wouldn’t have a long commute. Because we were forced to work from home it has become very clear that both of us could easily work from home and his company could sell the building the large building that we have only 3 people working from and save themselves tons of money. It opened us up to be more open about the distance.
The third criteria was purely superficial. This is going to be my forever home and one of things I have always wanted since moving to Texas was a view. There is some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen here. I absolutely fell in love with the rolling hills and views from those hills. I know that it wasn’t technically necessary but I wanted a view from my new home.
Relief and Joy
I cannot tell you how excited I was to find this plot of land. It ticked off every box with a good price to boot. Now the price has to do with the fact a chunk of the land is in the 100 year flood plan and there is a oil pipeline going across it. Luckily we have enough acreage that these things do not hinder us in any way. Infact land that floods has rich soil because the floods bring in fresh soil and nutrients so our new land has rich garden ready soil. This piece of land so ideal it was almost to good to be true! I had begun to lose the war of depression when I found this land it quickly became the light at the end of the tunnel for me escape it’s grasp. It was perfectly placed to allow 3 homes each with their own road access and not be near each another. Privacy was one of the problems of being stuck at home even though we have a beautiful backyard with a pool and garden, we are in full view of no less than 6 houses. I felt like I was trapped in a cage, even in my backyard, so the thought of having the kind of privacy this land provides was such a joy. It has lifted a heavy weight from my mind we will have a place for my daughter before she gets here. We will both be able to build our dream homes in the privacy of our new family homestead.
I have so many plans for this new land. There are so many things I want to achieve. I want to build a real homestead that I have been longing for for so long. I want the farm to let me plant all the trees I want to have a good selection of seasonal fruit and nuts. I want gardens where I can raise a wide selection of produce and herbs for my family and sale. Most of all I want to raise a large selection of animals. I want to do sustainable husbandry system that allows that animals the most natural lives. I have been doing my research and raising more species of animals actually is easier because they each have their benefit and can work together for the best outcome for your land.
I also plan on being as off the grid as I can. Solar works incredibly well in South Texas as well as wind turbines. I plan on using both of these to try to cover our entire power consumption. I am also planning water catchment for the house and barn. These catchments plus the stream that runs through the middle of the land should provide us with the majority of the water we need. This is so exciting after living in the city and being at local utilities mercy.
I plan to offer sustainably grown meats, permaculture grown produce and farm to table bed and breakfast to support my family. I have been trying to work my way to my own business in this genre and so far it feels like everything is falling into place. I don’t think I could have thought up a location any more perfect if I had tried.
I will be documenting all this from day one on the land through our entire experience. Watch for my announcement on that new site and Facebook page.