How does anyone live here?

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I lived between two extremes. The small town of Cortez, Colorado is located on the edge of the desert and San Juan mountains. I was a five minute drive to either extreme.

In 2009 I met my wonderful husband. Shortly after our marriage his job transferred him to north central Texas. I was excited to move to a new state and a new area, only I did not know how different it would be from the area I grew up in and lived in my whole life.

I enjoy many hobbies or activities. I garden. I love the feel of dirt touching my hands and fingers, moving the soil to cover seeds or roots. Garden soil smells good and life. I plant vegetables, flowers and herbs. I prepare and store the food that has grown by freezing or canning. Growing a garden is a part of who I am, the same with raising livestock. I just really love to grow plants and animals, watching them thrive and grow brings satisfaction to my inward self.

The place I live in Texas.

Where we relocated to in North Central Texas near Dallas/Fort Worth is green, lots of trees, bushes and vines. The winters are moderate with a week or two of freezing temperatures. The summers are hot and humid. The amount of plant growth was amazing to me, if plants grow like this without assistance, what would my garden be like. I imagined green plants, huge over size fruit and a vast number of fruit per plant. We moved in November, I planted my first garden in the first part of May.

The grass, weeds, vines and every other plant grows well without human assistance. I tilled up an area for my garden, I planted the seeds and plants. I watered it. Then I would pull weeds and unwanted plant growth every day. But, the grass, coastal grass, it grows under the ground, on top of the ground in long vine like tentacles. You can pull out of the ground, leave it on cement and if water gets to the grass it will grow on top of the cement until it finds dirt. Not through the cement but on top of cement. Those vine like tentacles would grow up my plants and weigh them down. My first garden there were no huge fruits, I had no fruits. There were no thriving plants….just coastal grass and weak garden plants. I grew beautiful gardens in a desert area, and I could not even get a plant to survive in a place with abundant plant growth. Frustration for sure set in.

Another very different change a I had to make was going outside barefoot. There is a phrase” In Texas it will bite you, sting you or stick you.” The phrase is so very true. The first time I stepped out with no shoes on, my foot soul was greeted with multiple sharp painful pricks. There are many plants with stickers. I looked at the ground to find out what plants the stickers came from and what to my amazing eye appear…… the ground was moving, literally with millions of insects. I learned the hard way to spray the ground I like to sit on with insect killer. I went to sit on the ground with my dog and play with her, I was covered in fleas.

I love to sit outside to think, meditate and just chill. Outside is the best place to be. One day I am sitting in the chair outside enjoying my morning coffee and suddenly a thud of something landing on the ground four feet in front of me. A black snake fell out of the tree. No more sitting under the trees.

I had moved to a place where the grass takes over everything, insects and spiders are everywhere, and snakes fall out of trees. I am terrified of snakes. ( on another blog I will share my Marilyn Monroe Moment in Texas). I was frustrated and unnerved the first year with all the challenges of Texas.

I do not give up easily. I read about coastal grass. Coastal grass is not native to the North American , it was brought into Texas for erosion control. They sprig plant coastal grass here. Which means they pull up the grass plant with a machine, let the sprigs dry, then spread, not till, just spread on top of the ground before it rains and it grows. With fertilization it provides a nutritious pasture and hay for livestock. I can raise ten times the number of animals per acre in Texas than I can in Colorado. I raise 50 head of ewes on twelve acres. This has a real benefit to me as a sheep farmer, my occupation.

I learned a new way to grow a garden using containers and raised garden beds. I still have to pull coastal out of my planters and raised garden beds, but I can stay ahead of the coastal grass. We have to treat the yard living area with herbicides for the stickers and insecticides for the insects. The dogs get regular flea bathes. I do not go barefoot outside anymore.

The first few years I hated our move to Texas. But I am not one to give up. I learned how to do things differently. I looked for the positive in the area. Such as I do not break ice twice a day on the water troughs for the livestock for four to five months. I can grow flowers and plants I only dreamed of having. I can have a garden ten months out of the year.

I overcame the frustration with education on what was frustrating me, such as coastal grass. And focused on what I gained, the milder winters and gardening ten months a year instead of four.

My game plan for any challenge is to identify the challenge, educate myself about what the challenge is and form a plan to have the challenge work to my advantage.

Amtolle

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