Tyler Ludens wrote:I've gardened in Central Texas for years and it definitely has its challenges, mainly the unpredictable weather. We can have drought with no rain for months and then it might rain 12 inches in 24 hours. In the winter it can freeze at night and be 80 degrees during the day. Soil here can be very fertile prairie clay, played-out old cotton fields, or tough gravelly caliche. As far as agriculture, it is worthwhile finding out what the rules are in the counties you plan to look at to see what the minimum acreage is to get agricultural tax status, which can cut your property taxes in half. Each county is different.
When looking for land, avoid buying something at the top of a hill, as the soils there are usually thin. Also, avoid buying in a flood plain or seasonal creek, because flash flooding can be a major problem here.
I've lived in Texas on and off for decades and have never seen a Water Moccasin. I've only ever seen one Rattlesnake, but many Coral Snakes, which are only dangerous to little children.
Hope that helps some!
Anne Miller wrote:I agree with everything Tyler has said.
I have lived in several places in Central Texas. I liked Lockhart the best though I have heard they are now having a problem with feral hogs.
I also really liked Athens though it is half East Texas and half Central Texas, almost North Texas.
Most of Central Texas has too many people and too much traffic for me.
wayne fajkus wrote:There is plenty of good land within 1-1/2 hours of Austin. There's plenty of rocky land with no access to wells also. It would probably take a week to look around and ask the right questions..
One concern in texas is encroachment. We are growing so fast that corn fields are turning into housing subdivisions. I would go more rural than original thought or look for lazy towns that have an anti growth philosophy. But so many other things to consider like hospitals.
I would look East. Stay off the i-35 corridor. Grainger, holland, academy. Its on a line of the main hiway that was displaced by interstate 35. Its river bottom land. Not sure if it is hilly though.
The most beautiful hill country imo is Fredericksburg.
Sam Stephens wrote:I am one hour east of Waco.
Large garden, expanding orchard, bees and chickens.
n Texas, you do two gardens. A Spring Garden that starts in January and lasts hopefully through June and a Fall Garden that starts n August and lasts maybe until Thanksgiving. Zone 8b is great for growing a wide variety but very unforgiving and harsh at the same time. Over the years I have learned that extraordinary measures to grow something were generally not economically productive. I concentrate now on varieties that are generally successful year after year and that allows me devote more time to the other myriad projects.
It was low twenties here for 3 days straight early this week and then 70s-80s a few short days later. It appears I lost a good portion of my peach crop. Apples and plums are yet to bloom. I covered my emerging potatoes with straw and they survived. English peas, onions and asparagus were unfazed. Bees were going full blast with new brood and overnight their food supply all but vanished. I will probably have to feed them for the next 3 weeks.
Average last frost date is March 27. I have spent the last two days planting the entire spring garden. Rolling the dice because I hope the cold weather is over but I KNOW come June it will be a blast furnace that will burn a garden to a crisp even if you irrigate profusely.
Raspberries (for me) were a losing challenge.
wayne fajkus wrote:Good point Stephen. Blackberries yes, raspberries no.
I plant different peaches. Out of 5-6 each trees, one bloomed before freeze, the others are just now blooming. I call my multi chill hour approach a success. I hope to get some peaches every year from some trees.
Pear is in full bloom.
Oh, raw cows milk can be sold here. Local sellers get $8 gallon for it. Not sure what inspections are required.
Mike Barkley wrote:Howdy. I'm originally from the Austin area. CenTex is a great place to live. Or not. It depends. It gets quite hot & many people can't handle that. Austin is not the same since the Armadillo was closed. the dillo
Austin & the nearest towns have become very expensive places to live due to the large influx of people in recent years. The Giddings & LaGrange areas aren't quite as pricey & are more suitable for country homestead living. The pastures start getting less rocky & greener as you get toward those areas too. One cow/5 acres is optimistic west of Austin & north into the hill country. The dry rocky land just can't support that. People do raise cattle there but it normally requires huge external inputs &/or huge amounts of land. Those two cities are fairly close to Austin as well as Houston & San Antonio. Bastrop & Lockhart are nice country areas but they are effectively part of Austin already. Wimberley area is nice but has many tourists in the summer months.
Being completely off grid there is not as straight forward as it might seem. I know the owners of the greenest home in Haye's county. San Marcos area. They are very environmental people & she was an architect that designed their house. They were required to hook into city water & septic & electric. The official policy was you don't have to use it you just have to install it and pay for it. I looked into homesteading properties all around the area & found that to be true pretty much everywhere in CenTex. That might be different an hour or more drive from Austin. About half way to Waco seemed to be less restrictive.
CenTex scorpions. One normally only sees those except during breeding season or when moving rocks. Their sting is rather nasty but not life threatening or even dangerous for most people. No doubt there are people who are severely allergic though. For the most part scorpions are not a big problem unless in an infested area. They glow under UV light so that is fun to see.
Venomous snakes. Those are a very real concern. Some places have them & some don't. Coral snakes are very shy & rare to see. Rattlesnakes are more common but also shy. Those will simply go away given half a chance to escape. Unless you have a large gathering of rattlers living in one area. That is a more serious problem to deal with. They do make nice belts & taste great. Be aware that rattlesnakes mate for life so if you see one there is probably another nearby. Water moccasins on the other hand are very aggressive. They will charge right at you to defend their territory. They are true reptile reprobates. My favorite snake bite kit.
Wild pigs. They are a big problem in some areas. They taste excellent marinated overnight in homemade peach brandy & slow cooked in the ground Hawaiian style. Or BBQ'd with mesquite. YUM!!!
Gardening was a year read round activity for me there. Never had much luck with potatoes, corn, or berries though. Figs grow there easily. I planted tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, & the usual assortment of green veggies in early spring. Would get a decent crop by June. Then spent summers watering trying to keep them barely alive. In early fall they would thrive again & produce a bigger & better crop than spring. Chards do reasonably good there most of the year. Broccoli planted in late summer or early fall would produce a few heads throughout winter & then more large heads & side shoots in the spring. They would then flower & attract bees & make seeds. Packman broccoli, no longer available for sale. Planted cilantro once & it self seeded every year after.
Floods. Oh yes. Big ones. Water is a huge concern in CenTex. It seems there is either too little or too much. Edwards aquifier (the primary water supply) is already severely overdrawn.
Fair warning. Chupacabras. (couldn't resist)
Sam Stephens wrote:
Some very valid points in these replies. Notice most of them revolve around temperature and rainfall. The Texas climate has always been unpredictable back to the days of the first homesteaders on the Spanish Land Grants. Later, settlers from the South brought their pigs - which promptly died from the heat. That is why our dominant barbecue is beef brisket. Pulled pork, so common in the South, is a late arrival here. Early settlers also stopped roughly along the north/south line of I-35 because "My God, there were no trees!" They just pulled back into the Piney Woods and got by just fine. Later emigres were braver and ventured farther westward. It takes 25" (at least) annual rainfall to support hardwood trees. The only thing I water during the high summer is the orchard. I remember my first summer here when I was amazed that the wind was so hot it seemed to burn your skin and ALL my landscape plantings put in later than I should have on a new home died regardless of how much I watered. That was 30 years ago and I realized quickly I was not in Georgia any more.
A bumper corn crop always eludes me. Celery and rhubarb don't work either.
I spent a decade in the Eagle Ford of South Texas where rattlesnakes were a weekly occurrence. Fewer of them up here but we do have an abundance of copperheads.
The varmints will ruin a garden. Skunks,rabbits,armadillos are bothersome. Hogs and deer are a garden and orchard disaster. A solar powered electric fence around garden and orchard and a German Shepherd dog thwarts much of the damage.
The chicken coop is varmint proof to date. NO chicken wire! 1/4'' hardware cloth completely encloses the run. I lose several chickens every year during the free range portion of their day to coyote and bobcats.
I don't recall if you plan on being off grid or not but air conditioning during the summer is almost imperative. I am in the home stretch of finishing a small cabin with a hybrid power system. I flip the main disconnect on the grid power usually late September and I sometimes last into May before I have to energize it again. My off grid power source is 1250 kW solar.
Building restrictions here are minimal.
Mike Barkley wrote:Another thing to consider. Allergies, especially cedar pollen. It hits many people hard. Often after they have been there seven years. Not sure why but there is something about the seven year mark.