One Hundred Million Acres…. Yikes


“More than 100 million acres of Texas are devoted to grazing, both for domestic and wild animals. This is the largest single use of land in the state. More than 80 percent of the acreage is devoted to range in the Edwards Plateau, Cross Timbers and Prairies, South Texas Plains, and Trans-Pecos Mountains and Basins.”
— texasalmanac.com

It seems whenever I try to grasp details about Texas I end up banging my head on the vastness of the state.   The quotation above is something that boggled my mind when I was researching possible planting ideas for our new ‘place.’

It’s not like I want a real garden.  For one thing we have very little actual land.  we’re on a 40 x 90 foot lot — so that’s +/- 3600 square feet.  But out of that there is less than 360 square feet that aren’t covered in concrete.  There’s not much I can do about that.  And those 360 sq ft are presently covered with white landscape stone/gravel.  So if we wanted to do anything about plants we’d have to begin by repositioning all that gravel.

And it’s not like we really want a garden that takes tending.  A few plants — A FEW — is all we are thinking about.  But what the heck grows down here?  Our minimal daily driving has not lead us past any “amazing gardens”.  There are plantings here at the RV resort, public ones and private plantings on individual sites but none of them are my “traditional” idea of a garden because — duh — all the plants I’m accustomed to growing don’t grow here without extraordinary amounts of water and even then the heat is hard on them.  And lots don’t get a proper dormancy.

The reason for all these comments are simple:  moving from one place to another has consequences that one rarely considers when picking out a place to relocate.  These hidden surprises account — I’d be willing to bet — for the reason that a lot of folks who think they are going to retire to some new and different place than where they spent their working life often end up migrating back to their roots some years later.

cowboy
We all want to ride happily off into the sunset — but is that always a realistic expectation?

It’s a good thing, when you consider your own personal ride off into the sunset that you take that into consideration. In our case we set off RV’ing with a vague but realistic plan: look around the country to discover whether there is an area that we liked enough to relocate to.  In our case after 5 years we realized that there really wasn’t any place we liked enough to want to spend 12 months a year there.  Our solution was to find a place in one area that we liked where we could spend 1/2 a year and once we got settled there and the coach was sold we’d look for a solution for the other 1/2 year.  Which is where we are now in the process.

We had been here before, so much of what we are discovering as temporary residents fits into what we had come to expect — but that does not mean that  we — or anyone — is ever going to anticipate all the surprises.  I mentioned when we were in the process of purchasing the house that real estate transactions and motor vehicle transactions are very different here than in Wisconsin.  That’s not a good thing, nor a bad one — it’s merely a matter of fact. When you are accustomed to doing things a certain way — and you are getting older — yes, there it is, that word we all try to avoid:  “OLDER” — hinting at “old age”,  and “diminished capacity” and a million other terms we all try to avoid — the fact that things are different can pose a real problem for some of us.  It’s good to be aware that things will be different — not matter what you are accustomed to.  Life changes — and so do the rules in different states, counties, municipalities.  Not only do rules change but circumstances change — little things like USDA hardiness zones which might work fine for picking out plants in Wisconsin prove utterly unsatisfactory when picking out plants for this spot on the border between the South Texas Plains and the Gulf Prairies and Marshes.

I’ve talked about the way in which RV’ing is a wonderful way to live, but that it’s not the right way to live for every personality type.  One thing for sure about RV’ing is that you face a continual series of unscripted circumstances — at times the RV lifestyle will grab you by the nape of the neck and shake you like a rag doll.  But giving up on the RV lifestyle is no guarantee that things will go any more smoothly.  I say that because in a day and age when people seem to have high expectations of what their life is supposed to be, that I’ve met folks who were just as disappointed with life after giving up on RV’ing as they were when they were still doing it.  The reason:  their expectations.  And life doesn’t owe us the fulfillment of our expectations.  If we expect the unrealistic we are going to be unhappy — if we remain open to change, to the unscriptedness of life, we at least have an opportunity at happiness and contentment.

Let me go back for a moment to that idea that there are 100 million acres in Texas that are devoted to grazing.  That doesn’t mean that the owners of all that land wanted to do just that. I’m sure many folks came here and settled and ended up ranching because that was what the land would allow, what the available water would tolerate, a way you could make a living in a harsh climate and with available resources.  Sounds a lot like RV’ing to me.  We don’t always end up doing what we want; sometimes we end up doing what our resources will allow, or what our point in life may tolerate.  It’s not good.  It’s not bad.  It’s life.

Will we have decided on some gardening plan in the next few months?  I don’t know. I just bet we’ll take another trip to the San Antonio Botanical Gardens (we’ve been there before) for more ideas.  And part of our decision relates to whether we plant things in the ground or in planters. Although even planters are not without their drawbacks.  Folks here have found that planters left on the ground have gotten so hot that the roots of their plantings have been cooked.  It’s necessary to raise the planters off the ground — on a couple 2×4’s perhaps — so that the pot is not in contact with the hot earth.

What I am certain about is that we will have fun doing our research.  We’ll try some things on a small scale to see what works.  Heck — our entire project is a small scale project!  But we’re going  into this with the desire to learn — which implies mistakes along the way.  We’re going into this with a desire to have fun — and part of the fun is digging around to find out how to do a thing, and then practicing until you’re good at it.  Whether we have a script for any of that doesn’t matter.  🙂

Have a great day and thanks for stopping.

P.S.:  If you’re looking for a good source for water miserly plants, check out the San Antonio Water System website. 

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8 Comments

  1. Been in Florida for ten years now and I’m still working on establishing plants that survive in my yard…different areas in the yard have different light/heat/wind components and I am finding these are all important factors on plants thriving…or not.

    I specifically looked around for drought tolerant plants. Generally, the garden centers will give you a good idea of what grows and doesn’t grow. Sometimes, I figure out a plant I like but then have to wait for the season when it shows up in the garden center.

    One cool thing I discovered and would like to try…Pointsettas grow into small beautiful trees/shrubs down here…They look really nice, let’s see how they turn out in a year or so.

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    1. We too have poinsettias growing as trees. kewl!

      I swear, coming down here has left us both feeling like little kids all over again. So much to learn! So many ideas afloat that sometimes we don’t know which to tackle, and then there’s the reality that we don’t always have the energy or the money to do it! You’re right about the garden centers, but what I’m noticing is that the plants that are growing successfully in local yards — and here in the park — are not the ones I find in the garden centers. There is a distinct disconnect here. The garden centers go more for landscaped gardens; the stuff that grows with minimal water is not as easily available. We’ll suss it out in time; not worried about that, but it’s exciting and fun and just a bit frustrating. But good frustrating!

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      Liked by 1 person

      1. They have a regular column here called The Darwinian Gardener. I haven’t read it yet but intend to do so…the idea is to grow plants that naturally survive…if it won’t grow, it wasn’t meant to.

        I hear you on the “feeling like kids again”…love that feeling.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. All I can offer is that my relatives and friend’s vegetable gardens are usually done weeks and months before our gardens are in the Panhandle area. The heat usually gets them in the hottest part of the Sumner when plants are just starting to bear veggies here. I know water is a big issue for watering in that area vs where we are, surprisingly enough. Area tolerance for heat and water would be where I would start.

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  3. I remember times when our sticks and bricks kicked us around the yard. You are correct that it’s not the lifestyle we choose that brings joy or pain…it’s the expectations of that lifestyle. I still chuckle at people who think we are on a permanent vacation as fulltime RVers. When you strip off the label, it’s still just livin’ life. People get sick, bills have to be paid, laundry has to be done, and the toilet has to be cleaned. True, the ability to hook up and take off is fantastic, but the times when you break down aren’t quite as joyful. We knew that going in, so we roll with the punches…and we love fulltiming, as a result. But it’s easy to see where someone with stars in their eyes could be quickly disappointed. One things for certain: if you don’t have mechanical ability, you need a fat wallet! 😃

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    1. Agreed 100% Jim.

      I think the sorts of things you brought up are all the more reason that a person/couple need to be proactive about their choices. Just today in the pool I was talking with someone who clearly had waited too long to quit RV’ing and there was real pain there. One never knows about the sudden changed in the future that CAN’T be predicted; but we are all aware of how our lives do change as we age and an awful lot of the ‘sudden’ changes have a string of warnings ahead of them. But the thing I notice with older friends — not just RV’ers — is the proud unwillingness to accept that age is catching up to them. If they weren’t as burdened with pride they could see when they need to make changes and do it with minimal inconvenience, instead of waiting until they’ve had an accident, or a stroke, or such….and then be forced to make a quick — often expensive — change. THANKS for your thoughts.

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      Liked by 1 person

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