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Hello from Parker County, Texas  RSS feed

 
Frank Turrentine
Posts: 112
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My name is Frank. I live and work in Dallas, but I spend all my spare time 75 miles west of town on my father's acreage on the banks of the Brazos River in Parker County. Dad is 85 and lives alone aside from my daily company. He got the place in 1985, and it's been my sandbox ever since.

I began gardening in earnest and planting trees back in December 2003, and every year has been something of a learning experience. I initially started just to give myself something to do while I kept dad company. However, one year - 2008, I think - I planted no garden and felt completely at a loss for anything to do with myself around the farm. My garden plot is about an acre in size, though the only thing that limits it, really, is my time and inclination. This is my sandbox, and I have a pretty free hand to do as I wish with it.

A year or so ago I became acquainted with the writings of Fukuoka and began to read and learn about sepp holzer and the other permies well known to folks here on this forum. In some ways it has been as though scales fell from my eyes and a whole new world opened up. In another sense I have felt like I am trying to break several bad habits. I can do without tractor-plowing, but I have always loved to till. And right before I got The One Straw Revolution I spent $700 on a new rear-tine tiller from a big box store. Not using it has been something of an adjustment. However, I figure I can still use it to help me create mounded rows and small swales for now.

I've planted over 100 trees of one stripe or another around the place since 2003. In January 2010 a fire swept through and killed off most of the fruit trees but left most of the shade trees largely unaffected. Additionally, there are 35 or so large pecans that were originally grafted in 1927, the year dad was born. This year there is a bumper crop of pecans, and it's all I can do to collect them in the short time I have every evening before the sun goes down. So far I have six large sacks of nuts back at my apartment in Dallas, and certainly hundreds of pounds of them still not harvested out on the river. I've ordered some trees recently that should arrive in the next couple of weeks.

12 paw paw - I've never tasted one, but they were my great-grandmother's favorite, and I want to be the paw-paw king of north Texas someday.
6 red globe peach - Dad ordered these, but I'm a fan anyway. There's currently only one peach tree left on the place that produced anything this year.
6 blackberry plants - I don't know why he ordered these. We have a lot of blackberries already. I'm not complaining, mind you, but I have other priorities at the moment.
6 grape vines - I have no idea what kind he ordered, but I'm game.
4 apricot trees - Don't know the variety, but the only apricot tree we had that was producing fell over last year. We've had some really dry years lately. Go figure.
3 American persimmon - I love these. I ordered these myself from a Texas nursery that has a lot of native fruit trees for sale.
3 Mayhaw - more natives and another favorite of my great-grandmother. I've never tasted one.
3 Chinese chestnut - I've never eaten a chestnut, but I want a few of these around.
3 Chickasaw plum - These are the best plums I've ever tasted. The variety is Guthrie, and I made a ton of jam out of these that is phenomenally good.
3 Wild pear - I've got several older pear trees that sometimes produce incredible amounts of fruit, and I wanted to plant some wild pears as well.
3 Almond - If we're going to get hotter and dryer in our area, I figure these might do well enough. I'd like to make my own almond milk anyway.
4 Fig - I love figs, and they produce very quickly with a little southern exposure.

I've started a couple of projects this year that were cut short by an injury to my wrist and the intrusion of outside circumstance beyond my control. But I'll finish them eventually. One is a large keyhole garden that is almost complete, really. I have always had these compost cages I create in the middle of my garden using tomato cages I make out of remesh with some hardware cloth wrapped around them. I figure it leaches compost tea directly into the garden, and it gives me some place to put all my kitchen waste. So I took a bunch of limestone blocks that were laying around a barbecue pit dad never finished back in 87, and I hauled them out into the garden and built them around one of my cages. I only lack a couple more courses of stone to complete it, but my wrist is really fubar at the moment. I laid a few logs in the bottom to create a hugelkultur effect, and I'll see how that works. I can always knock the thing down and start again if it doesn't work out well enough.

The other is a Hugelkultur that will run the length of the west side of my garden plot along a low lying area where I use to always finish my tractor plowing. It is barely started. All I've done so far is haul some fallen pecan limbs over to it and shoveled up some dirt from one end that I was trying to throw into the keyhole garden before I gave out. Still, I have a lot of want to, even if my can do is off its feed at the moment.

I want to order bees for delivery in the spring. I'm stoked about it, and I don't know the first thing about them. Currently the only stock at the farm are a dozen hens and two roosters and a donkey I got for free of Craigslist in order to give my dad something to look at. I named him Greg. He and my dog Otis hate each other. They actually love each other, but I suspect that each would still like the other to die a slow, horrible death at one another's fang or hoof.

I have a lot of big ideas and daydreams. They occupy my mind and my idle moments. I make my own kimchi and kambucha and sourdough. I can, I pickle, I dehydrate, etc. These are all things that used to intimidate me, but which I now look to as an integral part of my routine and a necessary part of the structure and routine of my daily life.

Masanobu Fukuoka, sepp holzer and Derrick Jensen are my heroes. I think they're rock stars. I believe that there are no consumer choices any of us can make that will save our landbase from destruction. I believe that the only real hope lies in the collapse of our society, of civilization in general. But I'll hold on to the notion that anything is possible. In the meantime I'll try to minimize my impact while acknowledging that driving 150 miles each day is insane for many reasons. I don't want to be one of those rich, white women greenwashing their lives and feeling smug. I want some integrity in my life.

I think the most unappetizing thing you can put on food is a package, a label or a price tag.

I think there is a special place in hell for lawyers and real estate developers. When I was a child my mother used to take me to city council meetings in Irving, Texas where I grew up. She would put me outside the auditorium with little oak seedlings in Dixie cups to hand out to folks. Whenever we would pass a former wooded lot that had been bulldozed for development, she would invariably pull over to the side of the road and break down in tears. I thought she was a real weirdo. Now I see her as something of a gift and a saint, even if she is half a bubble off. She still lives in that big house on an acre in Irving surrounded by her snake goddesses and bird churches, and I take her fresh eggs and pecans every couple of weeks.

I believe we were engineered to be the best runners on the planet, though I've never felt so inclined unless someone was behind me with a gun. I recently have developed this image in my mind. It is powerful for me. I see myself in my seventies living in the vast fifteen-acre food forest I've helped create, running barefoot along the trail that meanders around and throughout it and down to the river's edge. Anyone who knows me already would recognize the comedy of that image, but I want to see it realized.

I'm sitting here on the clock goofing off at the soap mines where I work in Dallas. I watch food forest vids constantly and call it "permaculture porn".


 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9741
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Howdy, fellow Texan. Nice radishes!

 
Frank Turrentine
Posts: 112
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Howdy!

someone save me from my neighbor who throws 2-4,d around like it's well water!
 
Frank Turrentine
Posts: 112
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I'm new at all this, but I've never used any kind of chemicals on my garden or my trees or anywhere else on the property.

I'd love to get more wood chips dumped by the power company when they trim again. Anything to damp down all the coastal bermuda grass and johnson grass that covers everything I plant in mere days. I think I've found some answers here and elsewhere, and all I need now is the time and the ability to prioritize projects. But I'm a tad scattered about things presently. I've got a shitload of land to work with, however, and it's mostly sandy loam as far down as I can dig with lots of beautiful pecan trees and native hardwoods as well. So I'm sittin pretty, I figure.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9741
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I can really empathize with the prioritizing dilemma. Even though I have a smallish place (20 acres) it is much more than I can handle. So we nibble on as much as we can chew, and gradually things get done.

 
Frank Turrentine
Posts: 112
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Well, dad passed away on November 10 and left me the property here on the river. So now I'm free to do anything I like here, but I no longer have dad's deep pockets to do it with. I currently have a few dozen guineas, chickens and ducks running loose and pooping on everything and two jackasses that run up behind me at all hours bawling for attention. And I have my dog Otis. I have one 100 ft Hugel bed from last year that I've never planted anything on and a lot of big ideas. I've held off doing anything til now, because I figure that my first task should be figuring out where swales and other water retention impoundments should go.

For the moment, I'm still sorting through all the stuff in the house and trying to get organized so I can move forward. There are over 7000 books in the house that belong to dad and about a quarter of that number out in the trailer next to it that belonged to me solely until now. I lack fencing in some spots on the perimeter. I would like to pick up some solar powered electric fence soon to perhaps move stock around the place at least to improve pasture where appropriate. I have a buddy who is a plumber who will help me with greywater recycling and rainwater harvesting. I have another acquaintance who recently got his permaculture certification, and perhaps he can give me a hand surveying the contours at the top of the property to begin with the swales and whatnot.

This has been kind of a shitty month, though I couldn't have written a better script for dad passing if I'd tried. I miss him, and I'd like to not piss all this away. His old staff assistant from Boeing is coming to stay ten days in December to help me set up a budget and a list of priorities for capital improvements, b ut I'm going to be doing all of this on the cheap from here on out. This is the first year in ages that I haven't planted any trees here on the farm.

I'm not sure what my point is with this, except that I haven't been around here in a while owing to taking care of dad round the clock most days or flying off to Germany a couple of times to get away while my nephew looked after things around here. I did pick up Mollison's manual and some other books, and perhaps that will help a bit.
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
Posts: 4027
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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bee books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur
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Frank, so sorry to hear of your dads passing. I am sure he will be watching over you and your good works there.
 
Jennifer Herod
Posts: 30
Location: Texas
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Hello fellow Texan! I am a school teacher and very slow earthship builder in Collin County. Hoping to finally finish the house and begin the garden/farm/greenhouse side of things in earnest. I have a few veggie plants, but long for self-sufficiency. Retirement is a few years away yet...a decade at the short end...two on the long side of things. Hoping to be established by then, but working gets in the way. Ha!

Sorry about your Dad's passing. Losing a parent is hard.

It is nice to hear from a Texan or two building the dream. Hang in there! Doing cheaply is still doing...sometimes just a little.slower....but progress is progress.
Check out www.freecycle.com and search for nearby town of size. People list things they want to get rid of, or stuff they need in hopes someone has one sitting around.
I handed off a piano this week...and I have collected trailer loads of brick and flagstone....so my projects are often dictated by the stuff I collect, but it works just the same. Necessity is the Mother of Invention....or a "mother" HA! If there is something you need....opportunity will rear its head in the most confounded places and times.

Good luck, and God bless Texas!

 
You guys wanna see my fabulous new place? Or do you wanna look at this tiny ad?
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