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Farm & Shop Located at
4710 Pioneer Rd., Balch Springs, TX 75180
Just 15 mins southeast of downtown Dallas 1 block north I20 @
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Growing Urban Roots -
Acres USA Dec. 2014 Issue
I hope you enjoyed the story of the farm cats. I’m sure enjoying having these 3 little rascals around my office, but soon they should be all cleared by the vet and ready to go outside to romp around the farm and hang out in the shop at night.
It’s good to have cats in the shop because organic soil amendments left unattended for very long periods of time out in the open, can be subject to curious rodents’ teeth…..
Having Eve staying in the shop at night, generally eliminated this issue. With her now being retired, cotton meal has become, shall we say, mouse meal.
However, I suspect when Tigger, Toro, and Minnie move out there, rodents will once again, find other places to investigate.
Unfortunately, I don’t think they’d have been much match for the two-legged type of rodents that recently broke into the shop, one of the barns, and a couple of weeks before, into the irrigation storage boxes out by the pond in the gardens.
I’m sorry to say that they helped themselves to whatever wasn’t bolted down, basically. Using one of our deep welled, plastic wheelbarrows this time, and a 55 gallon plastic barrel the first go-round, they hauled off a toolbox full of screwdrivers, hacksaws, and all of those cool assorted nails, screws, nuts and bolts and gadgets one accumulates in the bottom of their toolbox over the years, the air compressor, power inverter, some cash (change from our cash register), bb gun, small chainsaw, which had been gifted to us previously, miscellaneous hand tools, and who knows what else they saw laying around that I’ve not figured out is missing yet. I went to feed Bear and Molly that morning and I’ll be darned if they didn’t even take their food bowls! (I guess stainless steel pet bowls are a hot item?)
Isn’t that how it goes though? You walk past things day after day and forget they’re even there, till you go to need something and remember where you last saw it. I admit, I have about three places where I keep various tools, based on where I generally need them the most, and everything doesn’t always get put back exactly where I meant to put it. But I think that’s probably a good thing, or we’d have been totally cleaned out of power tools, too!
All said, in the twelve years or so that I’ve had this place, it’s only the 2nd time I’ve experienced this sort of violation. I suppose times are tough for a lot of people and they’re doing what they feel they need to do, to survive. I wish they’d have taken eggs and milk or something, though. Feeding themselves a good meal would likely have been better than whatever they got for what they stole.
We have had to scale back everything we keep out at the yurt as a result of the first time thieves visited the less visible part of the farm, when my friends Matt and Jess were running things out there. They took personal belongings of theirs at the time, then later, came back and took surveillance cameras down, since they were not operational any more. (Next time, I’ll be looking for solar powered surveillance cameras for back there.)
Once we set up our solar power and wood burning stove, we hope to host private dinners, more classes, and reinstate our off-grid homestead exhibit for our farm tours. It’s just been too much for me to manage keeping two homesteads going! Even one that no one actually lives in.
But I’m determined not to be discouraged or scared off. My veteran buddies from F.A.R.M. have been in touch, one has even been out here tracking in the wooded areas, and I’m pretty sure this is an isolated thing.
The old horse fencing around the farm isn't dog proof, so suggestions for "watch dogs", or even letting Bear and Molly patrol at night, isn't really an option. This urban farm is too close to the freeway and is located on a pretty busy street. Channel locks and hacksaws can be replaced. My Bear and Molly are too precious to me to risk escaping or accidentally being let out by a would-be thief fleeing as they were chased down by two giant white dogs in the night. (Although, the chase might make for a revenue generating youtube video....)
I wish I had cheerier news on the weather front. Seems it’s forgotten how to rain since last spring. We have only had a tiny bit, as in less than an inch total, since the first week of July. I am afraid with all of the excessive, and heavy, rain of this past spring, some of the pond depth I gained by having it dredged a few years ago, was lost due to run-off. I’ve scooped some of the silt up to use in compost piles, as it is full of nutrients and organic matter; but we now have a giant sandbar in the middle of the pond – separating the deeper side from the shallower side. Many of the small cat fish perished, the tadpoles are trapped in the one side with the minnows and only the frogs and turtles are crossing over to the other side. We really, really need a good downpour. About 2 inches all at once would get the pond back up and running – and allow me to irrigate again, too.
That’s the trouble with relying solely on natural water sources; you are also at Nature’s mercy…. But I’m sure it will rain here again – they’re actually calling for a pretty good chance again this weekend. I have started many seeds in flats, and ordered some of the cool season specialties from an organic grower out in CA. As soon as there is the ability to irrigate with our drip system again, I’ll get back to planting. In the meantime, it took me all of three hours to hand water arugula, spinach-mustard, cucumbers and summer squash, using empty gallon jugs and a watering can – and the wheelbarrow that we no longer have. I’m strongly considering moving, "digging a well", up on the priority list, just so I’m not ever in this position again.
As a very bright spot to some of this “Debbie downer” news, folks just like you have rallied around the farm’s needs – once again – and pledged extras of things to help replace what was taken! I’m so grateful and happy to share this news.
We have a deep welled metal wheelbarrow coming, from our friends building a tiny house – when you’re downsizing, I suppose a full sized wheelbarrow might take up a bit too much precious space! It's going to look great in a new coat of hot pink paint!
Plus, I received a personal sized toolbox full of all sorts of goodies, and a extra bb gun he wasn't using, from our guest farmer A.L., who himself had a few hand tools taken out of his storage stall here in the barn; and even an extra chain saw is on the way – after the mechanic looks it over, from our farmer friend Bev, out in Weatherford.
I was urged to put together a wish list on Amazon from some of our Facebook farm fans, so they could help replace what was taken. I also took the liberty to put on there a few of the items they suggested that might help deter future prowlers, like more lighting, security cameras, and an etcher. I’m also going to be painting the farm name on some things – in bright PINK!
And for more good news; many of you may have participated in yesterday’s North Texas Giving Day. The two organizations that have been vital in helping me with the sudden population explosion of feral cats here, Cat Matchers and Feral Friends, because of the special event, received double of the $100 we had collected so far, to help reimburse them for all of the vet bills they’ve taken care of for the kitties I've rescued/trapped. Plus, thanks to a very giving public, they raised much more through yesterdays event! It's a never ending need with all of the stray, lost and abandoned cats, but every little bit helps.
I’ll continue to leave out the donation bucket at Market Days for the Itty Bitty Kitty Fixin Fund and split the monies we receive between the two groups. Don’t forget, we’re still looking for two names for the remaining farm kittens; Tigger and Toro’s brother and sister. $2 donation per suggested name - winner will be drawn soon!
So, the moral of this blog entry can be, Toro agrees, that no matter how sorry, low and sad people or situations can be sometimes, it’s always a pleasant reminder that the good outweighs the bad – and love wins in the end! J
Thank you for supporting this small, urban farm and all that I strive to do through it for the community! We do expect to have a fall harvest, albeit it may be a little later than we hoped, and CSA shares, beginning with fall or winter/spring season, are still available.
I couldn’t ever do it alone. And I’m glad I don’t feel like I have to try to do it alone either. We're all in this together!
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