Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Our Homestead - The Beginning (Part I)

 We live on family land that consist of 137 acres.  Most of it is leased out for hay production while the rest is covered with piney woods.  My family has owned 1/2 the land since the 70's.  We moved my grandparents up from South Texas and built them a house here in 1980.  The were starting to have health issues and this way they would be closer for us to help take care of them.  They lived here until my grandfather died in January of 1987.  I had an aunt live here for a while then my adopted brother who lived her the longest until he found he needed to live closer to town.

We live 30 minutes away from the large towns and 15 minutes away from the small ones.  Just right if you ask me.  Not to close but close enough.  The rolling land is beautiful out here.  The deer use our property as a nursery for their babies.  We see them often romping across the field as our dogs have fits.  We have tried to teach the dogs that they are not a threat and to shut up however they continue to bark away.

We moved from North of Dallas to the property the summer of 2009 after we had lost our jobs.  We had used it as a vacation home for the year prior.  Coming up once a month and doing a little around the place just enjoying the peace and solitude. We just felt it was our calling.

That first summer we had a simple 20 x 20 garden.  Wow, I thought I knew something about gardening.  Apparently I didn't help my grandparents as much as I thought.  We purchase seed.  I read the book Weedless Gardening by Lee Reich.  We had a pretty good harvest for not knowing what in the heck we were doing.  We were so hopeful at what were were learning that we planted a winter garden and expanded the garden to 60x55 the following spring.  We harvested so much last year that we shared with all our neighbors on our 3 mile stretch of road and also a local food bank.  This was despite the drought last year.  We mulched with old hay as that is all we had.  The grass also grew up creating living mulch.  Heck, what ever works.

April 30, 2010
We enclosed this area abt 60x55 next to the house.  The ground was compacted with lots of small rocks.  I hauled in top soil from in the field to build up the beds for planting.  This was slow work as I only had use of a lawn mower to pull my small cart.  Better than having to use a wheel barrow.  One side was tilled by the neighbor kid but it didn't help much.  We added gypsum to help loosen the hard soil.

June 15, 2010
My beautiful models.  Our granddaughters helping me show off the garden progress.
June 15, 2010
Showing off the squash

July 14, 2010
My 8 foot patty pan squash plant.

July 29, 2010
Patty Pan Squash harvest of the day

July 29, 2010
To much for our little basket.  We had to break out the wheel barrow.

July 19, 2010
Our Amish Melons
(Those darn rabbits found them too.)

This year the garden is not doing so good.  I am having to water (not often as I refuse being on a well) but the drought is so bad that you just can't seem to get enough water on the ground for anything.  This sandy soil just drains it.  Mostly this year we are just getting peppers which do seem to be doing quite well.  If all else fails we will have peppers which are loaded in vitamin C.

On a good note, yesterday we got some good rain.  It is the first good rain we have seen since early spring.  The rain had seemed to be just dancing around the place maybe giving us 3 minutes of showers but yesterday we had at least an hour of good rain.  Thank God.

Enough for now.  More to come.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Heritage - The Stuff You are Made Of

My Great Grandparents
Aloisia Krecjeck and August Mičan
I grew up in Northeast Texas in the Piney woods.  I was one of those people that just wouldn't stay in the house.  I was like a caged animal inside.  I needed the freedom of romping around.  It is here where I developed my love for nature.  It just came naturally to me.  I felt at home when people were not so close.  I still do.  I like people close enough for emergencies but far enough for privacy.

I believe it is very important to know where you come from in order to know where you are going.  It has been through my experience that much is passed on genetically.  I feel my drive to be self sufficient and live off the land came from my earliest ancestors who came to the new world to build a better life than they left behind.

I am of German & Moravian Czech decent on my biological father's side.  I am a decedent of the Muzny family who was one of the original founding families of Dubina, Texas.  Dubina Texas Information

My German ancestory's migration to Texas was document in Monken / Fietsam Journey to Texas 1845 -- 1846.

My Aunt told me that the Czechs were the farmers and the Germans were the business men. So I guess I got my love for self sufficiency from my Moravian Czech ancestors.  March 2011, I visited Dubina, Texas for the second time.  My goal was to find the Mičan Homestead.

My Aunt had given me directions from what she could remember from her visits as a little girl.  With a prayers to my Granny Mičan Strathman and my Aunt Pat's directions I drove right to the place.  All the stories that my Aunt had shared with me of the old homestead came flooding back to me.  Where was the original placement of the house.  Can I find where the old root cellar was?  There is the old oak tree that my Aunts had told me they all played on as children as well as my Granny.  I wandered around and absorbed as much as I could.  This was my heritage.  I took lots of pictures for some had changed but most had stayed the same.  The house had been moved further on the hill to catch the breeze better for the house never had running water or electricity when my family owned the property.  My Granny had learned to cook koláč on a wood burning stove.  Simply amazing to me.

In the words of my Aunt Pat:
"My most wonderful food memory: when we visited the farm, my mother would fix the greatest breakfast for Len (my father) and me! She would cut thick slices of Grandmother's homemade bread, spread it with homemade molasses and toast the bottom on the wood stove. My own children have never had it so good! 

Original House with the two side and back additions

If this front porch could talk
So what did I find out about me through this journey in my ancestry.  I learned that I come from good hearty stock.  The kind that doesn't give up and thrives despite it all.  I feel more connected with my family than I ever have and I carry them with me now.  I am rich beyond measure for I have roots sowed deep in this Texas soil where my relatives laid the foundation for me to live today.  I may not live on the old homestead however for the past 2 1/2 years we have been building our own.  We are pretty proud of it too.

The 200 plus year old live oak. It is the oldest oak in the area.
Dubina is Czech for "Oak Grove".