Monday, July 30, 2012

First Month

It’s been a month now since we arrived. It may not seem like much to you, but we’re happy with our progress so far. Here are a few things we’ve done:
  • Safely moved and unpacked three truck loads of things (5/6 of us now living under one roof)
  • Unpacked about half the boxes and positioned most of the furniture
  • Met four sets of neighbors and got lots of valuable advice
  • Visited six different congregations and accepted several offers for meals
  • Connected satellite TV and satellite internet
  • Opened local bank accounts and PO Box
  • Got our Texas license plates
  • Have had quotes for solar energy, water well survey, and improving the soil
  • Bought a Mule
  • Cut down at least 100 small but pesky mesquite trees (Guv’nor did this with some help from D2)
  • Removed countless hornet/wasp/mud dauber nests
  • Burned our own trash
  • Started composting
  • Seen various wildlife: deer, coyote, hog, roadrunner, armadillo
  • Seen various birds, bugs, and spiders
  • Extracted our first tick from Dog
  • Arranged the mowing of our 13 acre field
  • Have had our first visit from family and friends
  • Felt 110 degree heat 
  • Guv'nor wore jeans
  • Attended Glenn Beck’s Restoring Love at the Cowboy Stadium in Dallas
  • Enjoyed the peace and quiet of the rural life

The front 13 acres that got mowed.
Just when I thought I was finished,  I'd find another box of teapots.
Then I'd find another box of china and glasses.
Glenn Beck's Restoring Love event at Cowboy Stadium

Friday, July 27, 2012

Purple Paint

We’re learning new things every day about rural life here. Little did we know that purple paint had special significance.

We took a drive around the nearby properties the other day with Neighbor. He pointed out that some of the properties had “no trespassing” signs posted. Some gates had purple spray painted on them. This signifies no trespassing when signs aren’t posted. I would have never even noticed the purple paint unless Neighbor had pointed it out.


One of our first farm purchases happened the other day. Guv’nor has been researching ATV type vehicles for several weeks to educate himself about the various makes and models. We were looking for a practical one as opposed to a recreational one. Neighbor has a Kawasaki Mule which he highly recommended. Guv’nor concluded that he liked the Mule as well. Some of the advantages were a bench seat and a flat bed at the rear with a manual lift. He searched on Craigslist and found a good deal on one about 30 miles away. They even delivered it to us. Now that we have a Mule, we will be able to haul things around the property more easily.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


In an effort to reduce our trash and begin the gardening process, we bought a composting bin the other day. We found one at Home Depot for about $50. We snapped it together (reminded us a little of the plastic playhouse our girls had years ago) and set it under a tree several yards away from the garage - close but not too close.

Composting is very easy providing you follow a few simple rules:

  • You can compost leaves, dry grass, weeds, garden plants, fruit and vegetable matter, egg shells, tea bags, and coffee grounds.
  • You can’t compost meat, fats, bones, fish, dairy products, or cooking oil.

You just throw it all in and let nature do the rest. After a few weeks, we should have usable compost for the garden.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Phase 3

We have been moving to Texas in phases. Three so far.

Phase 1 happened back in the spring soon after we closed on our property. Packing was fairly stress free because we had about half our things stored at our old house in the garage (from the previous downsizing move) and we weren't planning to actually move/live in Texas at this point. So we loaded the garage things (with the help from several good friends) into a 26’ Penske truck (the largest you can rent without a special license) and drove 2 days and unloaded into the garage here. My Brother volunteered to help Guv’nor drive the Penske. I drove my car behind (with Son and D3) and watched in horror as the Penske swerved and wobbled 1100 miles. I said then that I’d never follow a Penske again. The drive went smoothly until the last sharp turn into our driveway. Guv’nor was concentrating on the height of the Penske (15’) clearing the gate and didn’t pull wide enough. The right rear wheel caught the muddy ditch and sank in. Thankfully, the Penske was pulled out a few hours later by the hugest tow truck I’ve ever seen.

My view for 2 days: the back of a Penske truck

Penske crossing the Mississippi River
Penske stuck in the ditch

Phase 2 was at the end of June. School was over and we had an offer on our house and were now ready to move. Packing was more stressful because things we were using (like the kettle!) needed to go into boxes. We thought the rest of our things would fit into another 26’ Penske, but after the first morning of loading (with more help from friends), it became obvious the rest wouldn’t fit. We were going to need a second Penske, and I was going to have to drive it. We got a 16’ truck with a car trailer for D2’s car. D2 now needed to drive my car, so we would have to tow her car. (D2 had been staying with us since her graduation from university.) Plans for the move kept being revised as Tropical Storm Debby hovered over Florida for several days dumping vast amounts of rain, making loading the Penske tricky. We set off in convoy: me and Dog in Penske 2 towing D2’s car, Guv’nor and trusty Friend with an i-phone in Penske 1, and D2 driving my car with D3. Son stayed in Florida. We had brought along walkie-talkie’s for fun, but after just a few miles realized that they would be a valuable tool for our trip. We made the trip in two days with two overnight stops, and many little stops in-between. It took another two days to unload.

Our sweet Dog riding in Penske 2 (Australian Shepherd mini)

My view from Penske 2

Phase 3 was completed yesterday. D1 and D2 have recently graduated from university in Kentucky and are both joining us here in Texas. They were able to share a 16’ Penske to get their things here. D1 drove her car and D2 and second trusty Friend with an i-phone drove the Penske. They made the 750 mile drive and arrived here safely last night. We unloaded today. I watched, mostly.

D1 and D2 arriving, coming up our driveway

Monday, July 23, 2012

Full Quiver

One of the things we need to buy until we can produce our own, is good quality milk. For the past several years we’ve been enjoying the benefits of raw milk. Raw milk is unpasteurized, typically comes from grass-fed cows and is usually organic. Unfortunately, the government regulates the sale of milk and buying raw milk is a bit tricky. You can’t just go out to your local grocery store and buy it. If you’re lucky you can find it in a good quality health food store. It’s usually labeled “not for human consumption” which can put most people off from buying it. If you’re really lucky you know someone who owns a cow and can do a deal with them. We had been part of a local co-op in Florida which organized a weekly delivery from a raw milk dairy. It was satisfying having a direct connection with the farmer.

If you are unfamiliar to the benefits of raw milk (and the controversy surrounding it) and would like to learn more, there is a great website that can explain it much better than I can. They even provide contacts if you are searching for a local source.

That’s how I found Full Quiver Farms. The farm is about 30 miles from us, but well worth the drive every couple of weeks. Milk freezes well, so I usually buy two gallons and freeze one. Full Quiver Farms is owned by a Mennonite family. According to their website, they were struggling with their small commercial dairy farm and started making cheese. Now they offer a full range of dairy products, along with grass-fed beef, whey-fed pork and free-range chicken. They also sell a few grocery items in their little store.

I’ve been over there twice so far. The milk is wonderful and has a thick cream line. Yum. We’ve also tried their sausages, eggs, and chicken and they are great as well. We are hoping they can supply what we need until we can produce our own.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


I have had a healthy respect for scorpions since I was little when one crawled inches away from my hand.

We came home the other night after having been out most of the day, carrying in bags of shopping. As I was putting away the groceries, I saw some grass on the kitchen floor. Or what I thought was grass. Luckily I didn’t pick it up. It wasn’t grass, but a scorpion. We think it came in while we were carrying the bags inside, having set some of them down at the doorstep (in the dark) to unlock the door.

We didn’t put it in a jam jar, but I did manage to snap a quick photo before Guv’nor smashed it to smithereens. Sorry scorpion.

This is going on our board.

Sorry this is a bit blurry - the camera was shaking.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Sunset from the front porch

We have beautiful sunsets here. But once the sun goes down, it gets dark. There are no city lights here. No street lights. No neighbor’s lights. And if we don’t turn on the porch light, then it’s really dark. The only light you can possibly see is a distant blinking red light from cell tower just over the tree line. The stars are beautiful and bright. We can’t wait to get a telescope at some point. When we have a full moon, we have brilliant moon shadows.

This makes for a very dark bedroom at night. You can’t see your hand in front of your face usually. We like it. We sleep better. The only light in our room is a tiny green light on the smoke detector on the ceiling. I haven’t managed to get it covered up yet, but it’s on my to-do list. But you’d think it was a spotlight since the room is pitch dark.

I used to be obsessive about the lights in our room at night. I gave up using an alarm clock with glowing red lights a long time ago. I even covered up the green dot on the house alarm in the old house with a piece of cardboard. We used to cover up the cable box clock with a towel. I guess I’m still obsessive.

It’s good for you to sleep in total darkness. It affects several aspects of your health. You’ll need to eliminate all sources of artificial light in the room to make it pitch black. This may mean removing electronic devices, clocks, and night lights from your room. You might consider getting blackout curtains.
According to Dr. Mercola, sleeping in complete darkness helps with the production of melatonin and serotonin, decreases the risk of cancer, and can control your weight.  Sleeping soundly helps increase memory, creativity and problem solving skills. He has several articles about sleeping in total darkness. Here’s one.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Double D

It was my birthday the other day so we decided to try the local steak house. Neighbor had recommended it - the Double D. There aren’t that many places to eat in Town, but it took us awhile to find it. We were looking for a sign that said Double D. What we weren’t looking for was a sign with two interlocking D’s made out of ropes. We had a nice meal. Guv’nor had a steak, I had chicken fried steak, and D3 had BLT. Chocolate meringue pie for dessert. It was pretty good. We were over dressed.

What caught our eye was the metal works outside. We saw them as we drove up and were curious to see them up close. Very rusty. Very Texas. We want some.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012


We were introduced to a new danger yesterday: ticks. D2 was petting Dog and discovered a knot, and pulled it out thinking it was a sticker. On closer inspection, discovered it was moving and had legs. We put it in a jam jar.

We did a little research on the internet (luckily it was working) and identified the bug as a tick. In fact it’s not technically a bug but an arachnid in the spider family. They carry diseases and can infect the host with all sorts of nasty things. Google it sometime. Our one was pretty big but I think we caught it before it caused too much damage. We are planning to watch the spot where we found it though.

We’re starting a board by the back door with pictures of all the things we need to watch for.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

PO Box

Our Town has a certain charm but we have to admit it is a bit run down. It has a Main Street with old brick pavement. The railroad goes right through town. We’ve been told that about 25 years ago it was a thriving prosperous little town with an active downtown area. On a Saturday you would bump into people on the sidewalk. It's hard to imagine now, when you're lucky if you see anyone walking down the street. The current downtown is a little sad with most of the store fronts vacant.

There are a few successful businesses, though: Mexican restaurant, archery store, newspaper office, police department, chamber of commerce, insurance company, and post office. The essentials. Further afield out on the Highway, there are other places like the gas station,  donut shop, and car shop.

We have a post office box now. It’s the old style combination lock. It reminds me of the kind I had in College. We try to go into Town a couple of times a week to pick up our mail. We like getting mail.

Main Street
Typical mail box

Monday, July 16, 2012


I’m new to blogging. You probably worked that out already. Deciding on the name of the blog was the first step. I was disappointed that several of the names I wanted had already been taken. And then really disappointed when I saw that they hadn’t been used in several years - some not at all. Sadly these (and variations of these) were taken:
Up the creek
Our green house
As far as the eye can see
Our rural life
Green Acres
Texas Tea (I know, reminds me of Beverly Hillbillies)

Even “I Love Texas” was taken. So when I finally clicked on We Love Texas, I was thrilled that it was available.

Blogger provides stats on your blog. That’s pretty fun. I can see how many visits there have been in one day, to each blog, and from what country. I am amused that I’ve had 11 views from Russia, 1 from Germany and 1 from France. I figure Germany and France were mistakes. But Russia? If you’re reading this from Russia, please leave a comment (in English, please). I’m just curious, that’s all.

And then you can have followers. D2 is following me, and I’m following her Proper Green Fingers blog. Gotta keep it in the family.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

License Plates

We got our Texas license plates yesterday! We went to the county court house and filled out the necessary forms and paid the necessary fees. You have to put two plates on your car here - front and back. Our cars don’t even have places on the front, so we’ll have to take them down to the auto shop again and get them to help us.

Our next step is getting our driver’s licenses, which we have 90 days to do. It’s a different place to go so we’ll all go there another day. Once we do that we’ll be “registered Texans”.

While we were in Town we took advantage of the Domino’s and Wing Stop locations and brought pizza and wings home. After the 30 minute drive home they were warm but not hot. That is another thing to get used to.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Big 6's BBQ

We had to go into town yesterday to get our cars inspected at the local auto place. Texas requires an inspection in order to get Texas license plates. We have 30 days to get this done. (We have 90 days to get our driver’s licenses.) D2’s car also needed a new tire.

Look for this sign to get your car inspected

While we were out we decided to support another local business: Big 6’s BBQ. We had noticed that there were people sitting outside eating there earlier, so figured it must be good. We’ve learned not to judge the outside appearances too quickly. Most places in town look vacant/out of business unless there are cars parked in front.

We ordered some meat for our supper: 1/2 lb. pulled pork and 1/2 lb. chopped beef, plus a large order of peach cobbler. Guv’nor decided he wanted lunch, so ordered a fried catfish sandwich, which he ate in the car on the way home without mishap. (If you know Guv’nor, then you’ll know why this is newsworthy.)

As we waited for our order, we noticed a few unusual things. The sign explaining BBQ etiquette was quite funny (hope you can read it from the photo). We were curious about all the plastic zip bags hanging around. There were probably about a dozen pinned up around the eating area. Each bag was filled with water and had a scrunched up ball of aluminum foil and 2 pennies inside.

I’ll let you all try to guess what they were for (guesses can be made in the comment section below). We did find out but I’m not telling just yet.

Red neon "Open" sign helped us to know it was open. Notice the bags pinned up around the awning.
Bar-B-Q etiquette

The order window. The peach cobbler was homemade that day.

It was almost 90 degrees, in the shade. There was a big fan blowing, though.

Here are the plastic bags filled with water and aluminum foil and pennies.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hughes Net

I was going to wait awhile to tell you about our internet connection but after yesterday decided the topic needed to come to the top of the list.

Since we’re so far from civilization, we can’t get any kind of cable connection out here. In the past we’ve had dial-up, cable, and more recently fios. We admit we were spoiled.

Hughes Net is the answer for our rural area. It is a satellite connection. We had a small satellite installed on our roof which connects somewhere to another location that somehow connects to the real internet. All I know is by the time we get it, it’s very slow and flaky (download speed up to 1MB/sec).

Yesterday it wasn’t working. We wasted a good portion of the day waiting for it to work. We finally gave up and Guv’nor decided he’d phone to complain. After going through the options and ruling out the fact our service was interrupted by a snow storm (!), we found out we had been the victim of the “fairness rule”. Since we have only signed up for the basic service, we had used up all our 250MB per day allotment for the previous day and were now being punished for it by having super slow service.

I must admit, we’re not loving Hughes Net.

Burn Barrel

As the bags of rubbish piled up, we kept wondering when the garbage day was. We’ve always lived in an urban area where there was a least one pick up day a week, and even a recycling day. When we asked our neighbor, he was polite and didn’t laugh. He told us if we wanted to have our garbage taken away then we would have to sign up for a collection service. His advice was to use a local recycling center for everything recyclable, start a compost for food scraps, burn paper products, and what is left you can dispose at a local dumpster (which shouldn’t be much).

In order to do this, though, you have to start separating your trash. This requires a new mindset and you have to think twice as you toss something in the bin. Plus you need bins, which we left at the old house. So for now, old laundry baskets and moving boxes will have to do.

Our neighbor also gave us our first burn barrel. And he even brought it over the other evening on his “mule”. So yesterday we had our first go at burning trash. It gets very hot and smoky.  We decided that it needs to be moved farther away from the house next time. We also need some sort of grill for the top to keep ash from flying out. Gloves, a poker, and a mask would also be helpful.

While we’re out today, we’re going to try to find the recycling center which is about 10 miles away.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Veg Stand

One of our goals is to become self-sufficient regarding our food consumption. Hopefully, we're realistic enough to realize that it will take us weeks before that will happen. Meanwhile, we are going to try to take advantage of the local sources for as many things as we can. In addition to the watermelon we were given the other day, we were also given tomatoes and onions.

Yesterday I drove down the road (4 miles) to a little vegetable stand we'd seen the other day but had closed for the day. What had caught my eye was the "shelled peas" sign. I love blackeyed peas so I was hoping for them. What I found was purple hull which was a good second best. Here's what I bought:
purple hull peas $6/bag, shelled
cowpeas $6/bag, shelled
green beans $3/basket
red potatoes $3/basket
peaches $5/basket
Everything was local (not sure about the potatoes). The peas came from Alto (apparently the deer eat the peas in our area). The peaches came from Mexia (pronounced Ma-hay-a).

Last night was my first attempt to cook in the new kitchen. I felt like I spent most of my time walking around in circles trying to remember where I'd put things. I cooked up the peas and potatoes to go with some chicken I'd bought the other day at a Mennonite farm. I'll tell you about that another day.

Monday, July 9, 2012


One of the first things we need to find is a place to worship. We left a wonderful church family in Florida and have no expectation of replacing it. Our goal is to find a group where we feel comfortable and can be useful. Daughter 3 left behind a great teen group and we are hoping to find a few new friends for her. We have seen a couple of church lists but have decided that we will visit as many in our area as we can to make our own conclusions.

We started our quest last week at the most local place - about 5 miles away - with attendance of about 50. We truly felt like honored guests but were a little overwhelmed by the attention we got. Some were curious why we chose this particular area. We were invited to join a group for lunch at the local Mexican restaurant. We loved the fact that we were connecting with local Christians and want to keep up those connections despite wherever we may end up worshiping regularly. D3 was disappointed that there were no teens. Guv'nor was surprised when two members arrived Monday morning to help repair the garage door that had slipped off its track. Plus they brought two large watermelons from their garden! We were also invited to join their 4th of July potluck and fireworks.

Yesterday we decided to visit a group which would potentially be the farthest we could practically drive - about 50 miles away in Palestine (pronounced by locals with a short i as opposed to a long i) and with attendance of about 30. We were warmly received and provided with sound teaching. Once again we were invited to join a group for lunch at a local Mexican restaurant (we're seeing a trend). The group had a few teens but on further reflection have concluded that 100 miles round trip may become too expensive. We liked the feel of the town and would like to attend some of their summer series lessons.

 Unusual sightings: wild hog roadkill

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Cousins

We had our first visitors today. As it turns out we're about halfway between one cousin and another cousin. So we were a good meeting point. I liked that. I hope it becomes a regular thing. They even brought lunch! Can't beat that. They stopped at Collin Street Bakery on their way and brought chicken salad sandwiches (sorry no photos, we ate them all). The Guv'nor wasn't too excited about the pecans in the bread but he'll need to get used to it because it seems nuts are put in almost everything here. We had a good visit and got great advice and ideas about what to do with our property. I think we may be looking to buy a good tractor soon - to get the fields of grass and weeds under control. Apparently if we mow regularly we can get the weeds under control without the use of any chemicals. We were also schooled in the East Texas pronunciation of the word "sweet tea" (sounds a bit like sa-wait tay).

I knew my mother and I were born in Texas, but I was reminded that my grandparents and great-grandparents were born here too. Also it seems the family has an odd fascination with owning cemeteries.

As they were leaving I noticed how hot it was outside - 104 degrees. A couple of hours later, though, a storm blew through and the temperature dropped 20 degrees. We just missed the rain.

Unusual sightings: deer crossing the road

Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday Fish Fry

On Sunday we met a man who owns a gas station by the lake that has a fish fry on Fridays. So we thought we'd support the local businesses and try it out tonight. We asked our neighbors to join us and they offered to drive. Can't beat that. 

3 piece catfish meal for $9.00
 Unusual sightings: a roadrunner


We've just arrived in Texas. Lots of people have asked, why Texas? When we were looking for a place to move, we were looking globally. But the more we looked, the closer we zoomed in on Texas. We love Texas because of:

1. The people.
2. The climate.
3. The land.

In the coming weeks and months we'll let you know how we're doing settling into the area.