My farm sits on a circle. I know it's not really a farm. I just call it that. The word "farm" is a very familiar word with tons of fond connotations from my past with my family, from east Texas. My beloved grandfather Papa had 200 acres south of town and every day at 6 pm it was time to go feed the cows, at the "farm." Growing up I was a "city" kid growing up in Tyler, Texas. So I developed a fantasy idea of a farm lifestyle, a fantasy about the animals, the barn, the gardens. After a full decade of trying to settle the legal ownership of my farm, not to mention the years prior spent scrambling to pay for it, I am on a clear path directed to full ownership of all of the original farm, except for the back road, which Roy sold. It's really sad that he did that, but now I don't have to worry about paying taxes on a good portion of land that is not contiguous to the homestead. So I find myself with the better part of 4 sandy acres covered with scrub oaks, junipers, yaupons, black jacks, and some bamboo starts that I introduced to create some privacy. I do have neighbors and there is absolutely no commonality with either side of people. I want to be happy here, and it's far from perfect. Under the foot or so of sand is sandy loam and right beneath that is hard red clay. I have counted at least 5 different species of ants. I am a natural girl and I apparently have a sort of Buddhist outlook on life in general. So I feel guilt and ambiguity over killing insects. I usually never hesitate to kill ants. The only thing we've found that will stop the leaf-cutter ants is serious toxic chemical ant killer in the can. I don't like buying the stuff, much less using it on the earth, but the cutters are quickly destroying the trees at my farm. They are even stripping the yaupons and I have no idea if they've killed the trees or if the yaupons can regenerate their leaves.
Here lies the irony. The obstacles I face. I would do anything if I could transform the yard here into an east Texas yard, but it looks like an impossible feat. You just can't beat Mother Nature. To successfully landscape around here, you have to work with what you've got. Altering things too much will spell certain disaster. Right now, we are in the most perfect periods of weather and climate for central Texas. But very soon, the Texas summer sun will begin its relentless assault on everyone and everything. Last summer the heat was brutal. You have to provide shade protection for most plants, especially anything in pots, because the sun and the heat will burn them, actually fry them, and it doesn't take but a couple of days to do it.
Clearly we need a new greenhouse. It will be a fun project, from design to actually putting it together. I wanted to build a front porch, but there are no funds for that this year. With the taxes building up and probate dragging out, I need to remember that sooner or later the tax bill will appear in my name with a hefty amount due. So for now, we are doing landscape around the front door instead of the porch. So far, it looks very desert like, primarily due to the sand. No pine trees in site. I want to plant a couple of trees every month, so pine trees will definitely get planted out here. Until the ants seem to disappear, if that's possible, I will have to wait to try any more roses, azaleas, and more expensive plants.
I remember how my mother used to talk. I remember the plants that my grandmother loved to grow. Since I remember all this, and I'm pretty smart, I hope I can bring a little bit of east Texas back down here to Elgin, and a little touch of back home, back into my heart.