Lee Du

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since Sep 21, 2015
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Recent posts by Lee Du

Thank you all for the replies!  

I appreciate all the suggestions.  I am leaning more towards moving closer to my family.  I think being 45 mins to an hour away would be a comfortable distrance.  That would also put me closer to Tyler and Dallas (not real close.  50 to 70 miles), for landscaping and Farmer's markets.

I did start my business out of necessity, to leave my former employer, but I've wanted to be self employed and I'm enjoying this.  It can be a little stressful, but I love the freedom, and the ability to design and problem solve in my own.  I think I can drum up business if I move, but it wouldn't happen over night.

My siblings are willing to help my parents in the future too, but they have children.  I don't.  I'm dating, but she doesn't want to move.  She has a good job and situation.

I don't think I'll have an abundance of like-minded women to date in northeast Texas.  I've looked on Okcupid already.

I'm going to spend a little more time around Mineola to see how it feels.

As for like-minded friends up there to visit with once a week?  It'll be tough, but possible.  In 2007 I had one friend that was concerned about sustainability.
4 years ago
Thanks Denise!  

I definitely end up writing too much!  

Leasing is a decent idea, to test the waters.  I'm a little concerned that doing that would eat some of my savings, but I'll consider it.

4 years ago
I've been struggling with this for a few years, and I'm getting closer to having to decide.  I've set a goal to sell my vacant urban lot in Austin and buy land elsewhere by the summer solstice of 2021.   I should have finished my landscape design classses by then, and my new business that I started last year should be further along.

Edit to add....  I'm turning 40 next month.

I moved to Austin for polyamory and permaculture in 2009.  I found both.  I worked on a organic vegetable farm, then worked for a high end native plant landscaping company for 10 years.  I left them after they took a new employee's word over mines, after a conflict.  I started my own business similar to theirs and have done well in my first 3 fiscal quarters.  The owners of that business were like family to me though.  It was heartbreaking to go through.  Two of my closes buddies in the polyamory world weren't very supportive in that hard time because they are tenants or got business from my employer.

So, I'm less close to several of my previous closest friends in Austin, and like-minded friends are what kept me here, as well as hippie related events of various sorts.  

My immediate family moved up to northeast Texas after hurricane Katrina.  My extended family is in south Louisiana.  My brothers moved for the horse industry, as I had too back then.  My divorced parents moved up there individually to be near grandchildren and my brothers, but they love the culture too.  My dad loves the ranching and rodeo culture, and my mom loves that it's primarily protestant up there.  She's constantly meeting like-minded people.

I'm an atheistic Pagan, having deconverted from Christianity in my mid 20's.  Austin has been a wonderful place for being different and non-Christian.  There's so much diversity here, and a ton of agnostics or Atheists.

I originally wanted to buy land within 30 miles of Austin to farm.  I could have in 2009.  I had the money, and land prices were a little more reasonable, but I wanted to stay in closer to the polyamory community, and was intrigued by the idea of urban farming and using bicycles a lot.

Well, I got back into horses.  I have 3 now.  I like the idea if using horses to do some farm work.  It's been an alternative satisfying thing to rodeo for me.  I've tajen a lesson, met with the draft horse organization, and have been collecting books on it.

So, I feel better suited to living on 10 to 15 acres, as that's the upper range of what I can afford in cheaper parts of Texas.  I'm interested in a sheep or goat micro dairy setup for making artisan cheese too.

My parents are in their mid 60's now.  My dad tends to have a health issue every 4 years, my mother has lots of longevity on her side of the family and is doing great.  My dad's side has had alzheimers, so that worries me.  

My brothers will help, sure, but I feel guilty not being closer.  It's really tough because my family and I don't share political views, dearest to me being environmental issues.  Most of rural Texas is that way, but especially up there in northeast Texas.

Land is affordable up there though at 3k - 6k an acre.  I can find that in the Austin region, but 70 miles or more out.   I then feel that if I'm willing to live near people that don't share my beliefs in central Texas,  why not do that closer to my family?  Actually though, rural  central Texas is a tad more alternative or environmental, even if it's still a minority.

So, I go in circles.  Lately I look between my family and Tyler, Texas and think that would be decent for my landscaping business, and 44" of rainfall great for fruit and vegetables.

Then, 2 weeks later I'll feel drawn to an affordable town in TV he hill country called Lometa for 11 acres (31 inches of precip), or drawn to a half acre lot with an old house in Temple for an urban homestead.  I'd be close enough to Austin for hippie events at both of those spots, but the urban option isn't one for horses or dairy.  I can board 1 horse, but that's a big lifestyle change.

Northeast Texas is best for grazing (precipitation total) and being near my family.  There are several pretty lakes too, and I don't have a canoe, but will get one.  It's not the best for me socially though.  I've been reminded of UU churches and know of a Free Thinkers mertup in Tyler/Longview, so I'm planning to go check those out.

I saw a good suggestion on a YouTube vid about going spend a few days and nights in each place to feel it out in person.  That seems very wise to me.  

Any advice?  I still live on my former employer's land, but we get along by choice after disagreeing, and my horses keep his land qualified for ag use, and he collects pasture rent.

So, this is what I've struggled with for several years.  I struggled with a career decision to, as to how to transition to farming, but my landscaping business is working well for that.

4 years ago
This topic is on my mind a lot.  My 2 brothers and I left south Louisiana and moved to northeast TX for the horse industry.  I took a left turn and got interested in deep green sustainability.  A couple of years later I moved to Austin.  It's definitely been fun here and there are lots of like-minded  people, but the land is mostly out of my price range and the traffic is really bad.  

I've also learned that even amongst my hippie friends we have our differences.  It's more comfortable being around other permies, but it isn't a Panacea.  

So, I'm considering buying land within an hour from my brothers (parents too, they followed), but I fear the culture clash and lonliness.  

I want to be there as my parents age further and my brothers raise their children, and there's 12 more inches of rainfall on nice soils, but.....oh my, I'm different from them.

When I lived up there in 2006 I had one friend that appreciated organic food.  He was very new age and vegetarian.  Now 10 yrs +, more of them appreciate local or organic food, from what I can tell on the surface, but my social life will change big time if I move up there.

I've spotted 14 acres that is 20 miles from three different towns of 15k people, but I'm still scared.

In the meantime I'm renting on an old farm on the edge of the city and I haven't been meeting new people often.  I'm feeding pigs and horses in the evening instead of going to city things to meet people.  As it turns out though, few of these people around the city want a true homesteading life.  They just like to party on a farm and wear half western/half hipster outfits as they drink under a string of lights and overlook a garden that someone else digs in.
6 years ago
I've tried growing bell peppers in central TX east of Austin.  I got a few racket ball sized bells, at most.  My chocolate bell plants get attacked by pests really bad too, while hot or mild pepper plants don't.

A neighbor of mines that's very well known in Texas organic vegetable growing tells me that our night time temperature is too hot, during the growing season, to grow large peppers.  They rely on the corno di toro, an Italian frying type pepper, as their sweet pepper.  It is kinda long, but not wide.  Maybe it's tough to develop wide peppers in our temperature range?

Last year I grew about a dozen different peppers.  All the small and mid size hot peppers did very well.  I tried the cajun belle for the first time, and it did ok.  It is a very mildly spicy small bell pepper.  The pimento type did decent too, but that another with a little bit of spice.

The largest pepper that did well here this year is an Anaheim type, the Numex Joe E. Parker, I think.   It was 6 to 7 inches long and about 1.5 inches wide.  Again, another not totally in the sweet category.

This year I'm going to try a sweet pepper from Seed Savers Exchange called Apple.  They're 3" long cone shaped sweet peppers.  They have a broader shoulder than a jalopeno.

I also wonder if I don't have enough phosphorous or potassium to match nitrogen levels.  I've read that one of those can affect pepper size.  
6 years ago
Thanks for the link Burra.  I have a couple of landrace ponies, sort of.  They are BLM mustangs caught in Wyoming and Utah.  Most of us mustang owners hope our ponies have a bit of iberian blood in them.

I can see the "dairy" look in those Arouquesas too, especially the long head.  They are gorgeous animals.  Dun is one of my favorite colors.
6 years ago
That landrace breed is gorgeous.  To me, they look too similar to the fighting breeds for me to approach them.

They also have the aurocs look, that extinct breed of wild cattle.
6 years ago
How about light straw-clay?  I think it's faster than cob and the house could be rectangular.
6 years ago

Rebecca Norman wrote:To hasten the drying of earthen walls, in one of our recent buildings we used straw-clay bricks that were about 12 x 24 x 8 inches (30 x 60 x 20 cm). I'm not sure these are what you'd call "light" straw clay, but they seem to be insulating very very ewell. The straw-clay is walls of 2-foot (60 cm) thick, around 3 sides of the building, with a trombe wall containing thinner conventional rammed earth on the south face. It's a small building, just two main rooms and two narrow storeroom / corridors in the north side with the entrance. It has been staying by far the warmest of any of our buildings so far, and we've been living in solar-heated rammed earth buildings for some 20 to 25 years.

The advantage of bricks is that you dry them before building the wall, and then when you start building, first of all it's much faster than using wet mud in place, and you only have to dry out the wet mortar between the bricks, not the entire mass of the wall.

That said, I'm very fond of our rammed earth buildings.
Whichever way, go for it!

Would these bricks work as the perimeter wall around a timber frame?  Not needing to make a double stud wall, or leland trusts, would be a time and material saver.
6 years ago
It's very interesting to see that traditional method of making those tiles by hand.

One other thing that I found interesting is that those oxen are females, cows.    Most often the oxen is a castrated male, but cows and even bulls are sometimes trained to work.  Those two cows were stout and gorgeous.
6 years ago