I’m elated to be joining the Not Dabbling in Normal group as a new contributor (look for me every other Saturday). I’m writing from the Southwest—a remote Texas town (population 49) where I have been homesteading on 5 acres for the past decade.
In my former life I was a botanist and graphic designer. My husband and I gave up the big city to live our dream of a sustainable, organic, rural life complete with animals, honeybees, a large garden and this old house. I suspect this may be your dream, too? I’ll be sharing the intertwining of joys and challenges that such an adventure brings!
For starters, there are only 4.4 people per square mile in my county, and it’s a 3-4 hour round trip drive to a grocery store, bookstore, Starbucks, or hospital–if that gives you some perspective of the ‘not normal-ness’ around here. We live without television (by choice), radio and cell phone signals do not reach us. DSL is a lifeline that thankfully keeps me connected to friends all over the world!
Not only do we live on the edge of a desert, we are in what is known as a ‘food desert’. This means that 100% of the population here has low (read: no) access to healthy food, according to the USDA. (You can explore food deserts on this nifty interactive map).
Even though many of the locals are descendants of the original farming pioneers, those skills were lost somewhere along the way as life ‘modernized’ to BPA-lined canned goods, frozen dinners, and fast food. We tried unsuccessfully for many years to get a farmers market started—to be sure there’s a desire for one, but unfortunately not enough growers are interested. And for several years after that we organized free monthly community workshops on organic gardening and homesteading, empowering people to produce their own wholesome food. A group of us still trade surplus.
During our long growing season (roughly 230 days) we have been able to produce most of what we eat (with the exception of grains) in our vegetarian diet. We’re used to going out in our garden and picking what we need for the next meal—you can’t get much more local than that! But after experiencing the worst drought on record this year—during which our well went dry for six months and our garden died—by necessity we’ve had to seek out (more distant than we would like) farmers markets to get by. Over the coming months, I’ll be looking forward to sharing some healthy, vegetarian cooking ideas with you.
Our main source of protein is eggs. We sell eggs locally as a CSA. I am crazy about chickens and specialize in raising rare and unusual breeds. They make such wonderful pets. Currently we have about 80 birds (all have names!)
We just finished building our breeding facility out of 90% recycled materials. I look forward to telling you more about these lovable creatures and giving you a tour of their nifty abode! I’ll be able to give you some tips along the way for creating your own poultry housing, especially on predator-proofing and passive solar considerations.
Besides the egg business, you’ll find me teaching guitar, dabbling in photography and creating all sorts of things–paintings, quilts, and jewelry. I invite you to look for my creations on Etsy, follow my gardening adventures on Folia, and read more about my homesteading life on the flowerweaver.
Until next time, keep dabbling!