The Beginning

My husband and I bought this one-acre property over 3 years ago. That’s the picture from the real estate site. They didn’t show the entire property because it was inundated with thick tall dead weeds. Across the back and part of one side were endless prickly pears amongst those weeds. Despite the neglect of the foliage, I liked the setting because it was on top of of a hill with lots of trees between us and the neighbors.

Last year, our neighbor who owns the land surrounding us gave a few adjacent acres to her daughter, where they built a house where they were not so blocked from view with trees. Although we lost some of our seclusion, we gained good neighbors.

On our property there are several large old oaks on the sides and front, and a few young trees a little further back.

Within the first few months I cleared all the heavy weeds, a big exhausting job. I took special care to watch for young saplings that were trying to pop up through the weeds, leaving them intact for the purpose of growing a nice little forest out back. Several months later I really went to work chopping up the many, many prickly pears across the back. This was a huge undertaking with a how, a rake, and a maddox, and no chemical poisons. There were times I would go months without messing with them at all because I would get so sick of them. Even though I dressed in protective clothing and heavy leather gloves, I still found myself picking many of those tiny brown pricks out of numerous places on my body every day.

Just a couple months ago I managed to get the last of the prickly pears out. I have two large compost piles full of them and look forward to their total decomposition. I never want one on my property again!

I wish I had taken a picture of our place before we moved in, but I didn’t. But I did start photo-documenting the property after all the weeds were gone and many of the prickly pears on one section of the back.

We moved in November of ’07. Here is a photo of part of the back from May ’09, a year and a half after we moved in:

You can see the dirt patches from where the prickly pears had been removed. Those small trees were uncovered from years of weed overgrowth and allowed to breathe and have room to grow.

Here is a shot from the following spring, although not from the same angle. This one is taken from the right rather than from the back, in April ’10:

They are the same little trees, except in the ’09 picture you couldn’t see the mesquite tree at all. In this picture, I’m letting the grasses and wildflowers grown around the trees, which ended up blossoming beautifully. Also, beginning in ’10, I decided to leave most leaves and grasses grow out back and simply mow paths for walking. I’d always wanted to live somewhere where I could have beautiful walking paths, and this was my first opportunity to begin carving some out for myself. Here’s an example shortly after I made a walking path between these young trees and the inner fenced area:

This is how it looked at the very beginning. By mid-summer ’10, the Johnson grasses on the right were nearly tall as me, but I kept them clipped so as not to overcrowd the path. I wish I could find a picture when this spot was at its most lush, as it was my favorite section of walkway. However, here is another spot on the trail that illustrates my attempt to clip and nurture a jungly walking path:

You can’t see the whole trail because it meanders. But this is an example of the kind of look I’m going for.

I will put up some before and after pictures in later post, which will include some from this spring of ’11.

This beginning post is just to give an idea where I started and where I’m headed. I’m making a separate post today that lists the goals, but I will list them here as well:

To nurture, shape, prune and plant this one-acre property into some sort of hardy, mostly natural, botanical garden with a jungley feel and look, with lots of wildflowers, forest, canopied walking path throughout, food plants, stone patios, bushes, and frog pond.

To be secluded from the surrounding ranch property and other neighbors for privacy and beauty.

To be entirely friendly to bare foot walks through the forest and gardens.

To entirely shade our home from the blazing afternoon summer sun.

To provide as much self-sufficiency as possible for food, firewood and gardening compost.

To get the old water well working again with a non-electric pump.

To set up a rain water storage system for refilling ponds and watering the food gardens.

To keep a grassy clearing for playing games, having picnics, or sunbathing.

To have a dog-friendly property, keeping up the fencing and gates.

To have a place that’s welcoming to small wildlife and insects.

This blog is brand new as of this posting. I look forward to many more postings to show progress from the past couple years, and future posts as things move forward (and upward).

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