Water you doing?

We have gotten a little shower in Texas the past few days and the garden is loving  it! Everything is so big and bountiful! I even have a beautiful new yellow rose that is blooming from bushes I transplanted a few weeks ago!

Rose (2)

The garden loves the rain so much. Every gardener knows the importance of good ole natural rain! But, why is the natural rain so much better for your garden? Have you ever researched the science of rainwater vs tap or filtered water?

I found a great paper on the collection and benefit of rainwater in Texas.

http://www.twdb.texas.gov/publications/brochures/conservation/doc/RainwaterHarvestingManual_3rdedition.pdf?d=34588.19999999832

There is evidence of rainwater collection cisterns dating as far back as 2000 B.C. The Incas at Machu Picchu also had a very elaborate water irrigation system fed by a stream supplied by rainwater. So, the importance of rainwater has long been recognized.

Rainwater is in its purest form right when if falls from the cloud. It is the softest then and has a nearly neutral pH. As the raindrop falls from the cloud it dissolves carbon dioxide and nitrogen which causes it to be slightly acidic. Rainwater pH is about 5.7 compared to tap water which is about 7.5 according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. It can be slightly more acidic in North Eastern Texas due to atmospheric components. The higher pH can cause nutrient lockout for your plants. This means that plants cannot absorb valuable nutrients because of the pH. The slightly acidic pH of rainwater is optimal for nutrient absorption.

In addition, rainwater has no sodium compared with tap water that is loaded with sodium.  Municipal water contains anywhere from 20 parts per million (ppm) of sodium to as high as 250 ppm. Excess sodium is bad for our plants just as it is bad for humans. Too much sodium will cause problems with uptake of adequate moisture which will cause plant tissues to dry out and stunt the growth of the plant.

In addition to pH and sodium content, rainwater also lacks chlorine and chloramines (used to disinfect tap water), fluoride and other particulate matter that is harmful for your plants. Rainwater has 2-20 mg/dl of atmospheric particulate matter vs 100 -800 ppm for municipal water.

There are obvious benefits of a fresh rain shower in our garden but in Texas rainfall is very unpredictable. To have rainwater for your garden all year long you will need a large runoff water collection system. A runoff collection system for your garden should include five components: 1) catchment surface such as roof 2) gutters and downspouts that channel water from roof to holding tanks 3) screens or components that remove debris from the water 4) storage tank and 5) some type of delivery system such as gravity or a pump. You must keep in mind that every surface your water touches will potential absorb components of that surface. Therefore, it is very important not to use harmful materials for your collection system such as lead, toxic sealants or items that may rust easily. Also, having an elaborate runoff collection system does not mean it is safe for drinking because of contaminants such as bird feces, which stinks.

The article attached “The Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting” is a great resource for anyone thinking of doing a rainwater collection system. Until I get mine up and running I will be doing a little rain dance. If the neighbors ask “Water you doing” ? I will just “runoff” !

potatoes

TTYT- Talk to ya tater!

-C

Love the Soil You’re In

In life, people and plants often get transplanted. It can be an opportunity for them to flourish to grow and to be even more magnificent. There will always be some obstacles to overcome. One of those is the soil in which we put down our roots and our little seedlings.

I grew up in deep East Texas and still have a family home there. I now spend most of my time in the Northern Hill Country. The soil types and experiences are polar opposite. They each afford different opportunities and barriers to growing.

The eastern part of Texas is known as the East Texas Timberlands, according to the Texas Almanac, with soil that is acidic deep sandy loams with scattered clay pockets. It is easy to grow there and make deep roots but the hidden clay pockets can make it hard for you to navigate times. It is often not what it seems. You start digging with your shovel and it seems easy to remove the dirt, but then you hit a hard red clay loam that is harder than a rock. You dig and you dig but it will not budge. If you put your plant there the heavy clay will suffocate the root and it will die. Navigating the clay in life is the hardest part; none the less, it is absolutely possible. So many wonderful things near and dear to my heart have grown from Eastern Texas soil. I specifically love and miss my all grown and tall pine trees.

Sometimes, I just have to peak through the Pine Curtain to see how things are growing along or withering away. So, I am grateful to still be able to split my time between East Texas and the Northern Hill County.

Most of my time now (67% to be exact) is spent at Farnash Creek Ranch in the Northern Hill Country of Texas. We are in a soil type call the Grand Prairies according the the Texas Almanac. We are just south of the Western Cross Timbers and just north of Edwards Plateau. The soil is alkaline with shallow dark-gray clumpy loams over rocky limestone which means it is difficult to cultivate. Growing has been much more difficult to get started. It is hard to penetrate and we often have to get inventive with growing strategies. A mere shovel will not do the trick for our seedlings.

shovel

We have to do much more preparation for the soil. But we are learning when we prepare and work our soil for the roots we want to plant, they will flourish. We remove the rocks or obstacles for growing and the soil becomes a soft fluffy bed of growing gold. The rains will come again and attempt to harden our ground but we will keep working it back to downy again and again. Nevertheless, I have no doubt once people get their roots to take hold they are there to stay. For me, this is unlike the Piney Woods where over time heavy downpours, cutting down or logging, and the compacted slippery clay minds cause things to wash away. And honestly, sometimes things need to wash away from our gardens- it is Mother Nature’s way of keeping balance.

I’m learning to love my Grand Prairie’s soil and grow in it each day! I am finding gratitude in all things these days because life is too short and precious to waste time complaining over bad dirt! Dirt let life’s ups and downs soil your whole garden!

– C

Gettin’ ReFarnash’d

britt and luke.jpg

Last week we had some visitors on the Ranch. My sister and her family came out to get ReFarnash’d! The Ranch is a great place for everyone to get rejuvenated and back to nature. Our family has had a particularly hard 2017 and we all needed to get renewed!

2017 was a season of sorrow and loss for us but we try to remember it is just a season of life that will pass. Our hearts will always be heavy for the losses we all share but we are grateful to still have each other.

My sister and our #4 daughter (Abby) share a birthday on March 13th which is usually spring break for us here in Texas. We have been so lucky to share those birthdays in such wonderful places such Ben and Jerry’s in San Francisco! But, this year we spent it on the ranch. We needed some ranch R&R or ReFarnashing! We started the day with breakfast in bed at the Frankston home before heading out to the Ranch! Lyla (my niece) and I decided she needed a big breakfast since it was such a BIG birthday!

breakfast

Then, we headed out to the Ranch. My sister and her husband did some detouring but Lyla and I headed straight for the antique stores (my choice not hers)! We had to make a few stops to get ready for the birthday celebrations. Once we arrived on the ranch we had a quick little candle blowing for the birthday girls……

abby bday.JPG

before we headed out on the new “little red wagon”!

wagon.jpg

Just kidding….. the battery was dead. So, we all headed out on the old “green mule”! Loaded with our usual Ranch Ramblers and the company of each others laughter! The next day we enjoyed a day at the Farmer’s Market picking up plants. We all spent the afternoon working in the garden getting ready for spring.

britt and chas.jpg

Lyla especially loved planting! More than anyone expected!

lyles in garden.jpg

That sounds like a fairy tale doesn’t it? We all know families are not fairy tales but they are what we make them. We all have a story but we can all choose happiness and love! We can blend families and try to help each other mend old wounds. It will take time, patience and understanding! It will take looking inside yourself and seeing things from others point of view. Nearly every visit there is a misunderstanding but on EVERY visit we are extremely grateful for the love of family and a feeling of belonging. I am so thankful to have such a beautiful and temperamental family! I guess I am the only one to blame! I would not have it any other way! Re-Farnash’d for 2018!

-C

Women in History- “Hussy”

In honor of Women’s History Month I would like to introduce one of our famous Women around here! Meet our little “Hussy”.  She is ranch legend and icon. We all know her by name and give her the due respect and caution. She makes history every year on the ranch!

Hussy.jpg

She has earned her name by always doing what she wants when she wants! She is one of those women who are always getting into trouble. She doesn’t care what the other cows and heifers think. She is not afraid of anything. She might charge or chase you if needed. She doesn’t even care what the horses think. She routinely breaks into the barn and steals the horses hay! She just bellies up to the hay bar and helps herself. She is a key player in the Bovine Women’s Suffrage movement. She is feisty and rowdy at times and always seems to find trouble. Even when she is in Bovine jail, she remains composed but fearless!

hussy in shoot.JPG

Someone advised us to not sell our ugly cows because they are good producers of calves…… and she is ugly! But, she is the best momma. She produces a calf every year and guards it with all her fury. The first calf she had we named “Baby Huey” because he was almost as big as her and he would run from the dog and hide behind her. She would charge the dog every time this happened. We later noticed that “Baby Huey” was actually female. So her name is “Baby Henrietta” now.  Good thing the ranch went Bovine transgender not too long ago. Sometimes the cows pick their gender and sometimes we do! Baby Henrietta and Hussy are both still with us and consistently produce calves that grow into food for your tables.

She reminds me of the woman in the Ashton Shepherd song “aint dead yet”. The lyrics go something like “I got a baby at home, a to do list a mile long…….its my responsibility……. I am usually in bed by nine……. BUT I STILL LIKE A COLD BEER AND A LONG DIRT ROAD”. That’s our hussy! She’s got babies on the ranch and takes care of them because its her responsibility and she usually does what she is suppose to but she still likes some GOOD HAY IN THE BARN!

We love our Hussy, but in all seriousness there are some really amazing women in ranching history. If you have not had the chance to read Texas Ranch Women: Three Centuries of Mettle and Moxie by Carmen Goldthwaite it is a great read. She talks about women in Texas Ranching history in a chronological order including ranching Giants such as the King Ranch Queen- Henrietta King. In addition to but not limited to Margaret “Peggy” MCCormick, Manuela Ramon and Patricia de la Garza de Leon. I hope you enjoy and would love your feedback on the read!

– C

It Takes a Village

You can’t always do everything yourself. It’s taken me a awhile to figure this out (mainly because I don’t listen.) Being out here on the Ranch has really opened my eyes to see that it really does take a Village to raise a family. Raising children, building fences, growing gardens, working cattle, and mucking horse stalls has honestly made me think about life in general, and how I want my daughter to be raised. We aren’t all perfect, but we are all perfect in our own way and when we come together to show our children how to be successful people, we become better ourselves.


I can’t teach my daughter everything, but I am blessed to be able to provide her with such a great support system that can teach her what I can’t. Luckily, Poppi can teach her to rope and Gramita(Leelee) can teach her to BE roped!

Sometimes you need your Gramita teaching you to ride…

And other days, you need your Poppi holding your saddle so you don’t fall!

It takes a village to build a fence in 20° weather with an 18 month old.

My point is, if you’ve got a village, keep them, and if you don’t, find one! Even if they’re a little off the beaten path, it’ll be okay! As long as the love is there you’ll have a child raised happy, smart, and LOVED!

I’ll be doing a monthly update from now on! Thanks for reading! **Sorry about the video, but if they’re gonna flaunting it, I’m gonna show it!!**

Transgender calves….??? 

This week at Farnash Creek Ranch we noticed one of our male calves sucking on a heifer’s titty. We DO NOT allow breastfeeding in public so we  immediately figured that he was sucking that titty because he really wanted to be a female calf instead of a male. We grabbed our gloves and equipment as fast as we could and threw him/her into the chute! Popi grabbed the scalpel, I grabbed the leg, and Gramita held the tail.  Popi then cut off his/her’s testicles! It seemed painless for him/her! We could see the happiness in this calves eyes, because finally he was a she! 

We have decided that at Farnash Creek Ranch our cows will tell us what gender they are and we will respect that 100% and do our best to accommodate our cattle! This coming up week we are doing at least 5 more ‘gender reassignment’ male to female! (Would be 6, but but one calve licked a ball and we guessed that meant that he wanted to keep his!)

It’s a hard life for cattle these days, but we feel that our herd will be happier picking there own genders! 

For everyone that is still reading: We did our 1st castration this week! Hopefully everyone got that I was joking throughout this post! We named him Cookie!

Follow our Instagram @farnashcreekranch

Sunrise on the Ranch

It’s been a long week on the ranch. Popi has been recovering well, but we can’t keep him in the bed. We find him in the barn piddelin’ or looking for stray metal in the yard. It’s a full-time job looking after him, but we are grateful that he is doing better! 


Gramita has been taking control of the ranch this week. She rearranges the barn constantly, wakes up at 5am daily to feed and grain the horses, and started making cherry jam. She mows daily and we count the cows and calves every evening. 

Seydi has been very sassy this week, but she loves helping us water the dogs and horses (as long as she gets to play in the water!) she can’t wait until Popi gets to feeling better so they can play together! She doesn’t like seeing him in pain! 

We are waiting for the apartment in the barn to be ready. It was suppose to be finished last week, but they are a little behind. It will be finished soon, then we can start working on bigger projects. We have our rainwater collection system set up and are only waiting on the tank now. Next we will build a greenhouse and bigger chicken coop! Our project list goes on and on, but if you stick around I’ll update everyone on our newest projects and ideas.  

Follow us on Instagram: farnashcreekranch 

Subscribe 👍🏼

Roundin’ up the Herd 

We started this week by rounding up some of our calves and tagging them! Gramita was looking like a professional this week! (Her books and YouTube videos are paying off!) Guess I can’t call her a weekend rancher anymore! We had to step up our game this week. Popi has been out sick! (That’s why I’m posting late.) He is doing great now though and will be back to hisself soon! Until then it’s just Gramita and I running the ranch! Here are some pics from this week!

Pumpkin Takeover!

This week it seems like our pumpkins plants, that we grew from seed, are taking over the garden! They have tripled in size this week and are full of blooms! 

We had a small thrunderstom at the beginning of the week. I’m pretty sure that contributed to the size of our pumpkin plants, too! I love storms out here on the ranch! 

There was a photo shoot on Sunday for baby Seydi! She was diggin’ it! This sassy girl was made for the camera! 

Saw a few of our sweet calves today! They are growing fast! 

Well that’s about it for this week! Next might be more exciting! Hopefully we get a few more additions! I’ll keep everyone updated! Thanks for reading! Follow us on Instagram @Farnashcreekranch and subscribe to this blog!

Keep moving forward and be open to change!

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑