Off-Grid Agrarianism

60 articles in category Off-Grid Agrarianism / Subscribe

IMG_8929October 16, 2015

The broom weed is waste-high and their hands squeeze tight as I help the girls navigate through the tiny yellow flowers that breeze past their eyes. The mesquite leaves are beginning to cover the walkways, masking the cracks in the soil that I once thought only existed in faraway places.

We still pray for rain. The seedlings Abram and Daddy planted all died when we couldn’t spare the water. A check this morning of our elevated water tank concluded that 50 usable gallons remain before we will have to haul barrels from a neighbor. The ponds still have enough for a couple of weeks for the goats, chickens, and trees.

The garden gates are unwelcoming, for a change, as everything has been dead for some time. Even the okra is completely dried up and stripped of its foliage; the annual November sweet potato harvest will not be. It is this way every year, I tell myself, and remember the blackberries and mustard greens and black-eyed peas of early summer? There is talk of pursuing more animals… once another fence is built.

The chickens are starting to lay again as we creep into fall, though the near-100 degree days this past week remind me that summer likes to hold on here – or not, depending on the year.


The goats are settling into their new homes and seem more comfortable grazing around their picket lines. I bookend my days in the kitchen with milk filtering and pail-washing. We are now hay people and I can’t say I mind that sweet smell when I walk past the towering stack of square bales. It smells like summer at my grandparents’ farm and the kind of life I always thought felt real.

I am trying to ease the children back into a regular school schedule and had forgotten how tempting the bikes and homemade kites and never-ending birdhouse building is for one who is seven or nine. Multiplication and reading and handwriting seem important to me but there is this wonderful place called outside, mom.

Truth be told, I’d pretty much always choose outside too.

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We started these seeds a few weeks ago thinking that by now they would have made it into the gardens. But there’s not enough water to warrant a planting. The ponds are starting to go dry. The house hole is dry. The gardens are dry.

Last week we mixed that wood ash into the spot in the chicken field that once held popcorn. These jobs are always exciting because it doesn’t seem to matter how old you are; digging in the dirt is fun. So we added lava sand and Texas green sand and compost and mixed them all together into the heavy clay soil. The clay was pretty much impenetrable so we will wait for rain to finish the job.

The livestock need water and the perennial trees need water so what pond water remains is reserved for them and not the annuals that we could be planting. Still, we planted a second round of starts the other day only knowing we are to plant, never knowing what will become of what is planted.

Our personal water tanks are getting low now too and so we pray for and think of rain often these days. I never dreamed of a land without water, not when rain fell often and waterways were plentiful in my native Minnesota.

It is now a constant presence in the back of my mind. When we wash dishes. When we make meals. When we bathe. When we fill the water filters. When we wash our hands. Water is in use constantly and holds a high value in a place such as this.

We don’t know when the rain will come, though some are guessing at a small “possibility” this weekend. We don’t know if the fall garden will become the winter garden or if tomorrow will bring the five inches that rained down in October of 2011 after months and months of drought. That was two days before we first set foot on this land.

We just don’t know. And so we pray… and wait… and prepare for rain.