A Texas Rancher’s Homestead Inspiration

Reader Contribution by Tammy Taylor
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Everyone has a dream, and although we are lucky enough to have had ours come true, our homestead lifestyle required time and work to make a reality. I’m so honored to be invited to write for one of my all-time favorite publications, MOTHER EARTH NEWS, in order to share with you how we made our homestead dream come true.

Having a Good Life but Wanting More

My husband and I had the good life (at least a version of it): We lived in Dallas and had a nice home, wonderful children, promising careers and all that qualifies for the good ‘ole American life in suburbia. We were in close proximity to entertainment and restaurants, museums and parks, movie theaters and concert halls.

But after awhile, it felt like we were doing the same thing every day and we no longer felt fulfilled. We wanted something more.

I’ve always been keenly environmentally aware, even as a youngster. Before it was the “in” thing to do, I was refusing plastic shopping bags, instead opting to bring my own reusable fabric bags. We wanted a better connection to land and environment. I especially hate to waste food and am constantly searching for ways to fully utilize the food we’ve grown or purchased. We’ve constructed raised bed. I’m careful to use lots of rich compost when I’m planting to give those seedlings a healthy start.

Finding Homestead Property and Purchasing Hereford Cattle

When we found this piece of paradise in Northeast Texas, we knew this would be where our future was to be found. As we stood next to the cobbled-together gate and viewed the overgrown and cluttered property, the old and broken fences and the tattered 1880s barn, it was apparent that we had lots of work ahead of us! But with renewed hope of a new and exciting future we took that leap and purchased the property.

We decided that we liked the old-time western look of the Hereford cattle breed, so we contacted a breeder and purchased our very first registered Hereford pairs. One step at a time, we drew closer and closer to the life we dreamed we could live.

Living where we do has taught me a new appreciation for the beauty God has blessed us with each and every day. I notice the small things more — the beauty of the first tiny spring flowers to peek out from the sleeping grass, the graceful hawk that calls to her young as she teaches them to fly, and the amazing array of colors present on a butterfly’s wings. I try to be as gentle as I can as I tread on this land and in this life.

Cultivating an Environmental Self

I’ve learned to improve our garden soil so that I can produce more of what we eat and to preserve the rainfall for garden irrigation. I’ve learned about the price paid for convenience foods in currency, health and environmental terms and I’ve begun to make many of those things myself in a healthier and less expansive manner.

I’ve become so much more aware of my environmental self, and I’m pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to make small changes that have a real effect. One step at a time, I find that I’m rediscovering myself.

I’ve heard the phrase “Bloom where you’re planted,” and I’m so blessed to have been planted here! There is, of course, the joy of a new calf and the worry of droughts and floods, but also some pretty spectacular Texas sunsets and a blissful life filled with things that are important to me.

I invite you to follow us in our dream through this blog. I’ll tell you about Taylor-Made Ranch’s DIY projects, gardening, water and energy conservation, a few clever “Homestead Hacks,” and how to use what you already have to fill a need.

Tammy Taylorlives and works on a Northeast Texas ranch, where she writes about home cooking, gardening, food preservation, and DIY living on her ~Texas Homesteader~ blog. Connect with Tammy on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram. Read all of Tammy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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