The Outdoorsman and I have learned a lot in the past year on our ranch. Lessons about life. Lessons about animals. Lessons about priorities. Lessons about ourselves.
Pacing yourself. When we moved to Green Acres in late December of 2015, we had a long list of items that we were going to build on the ranch. Some of those items included a chicken coop, a garden, a storage shed, and a pole barn. Within months of moving to the ranch, we began realizing our time and money limitations. We both work full-time jobs and frequently arrive home with only about two hours of daylight so it has been impossible to build all of those structures with our limited time. Therefore we have learned to focus on the next big key to successful ranch living.
Monitor and adjust. This has been our constant battle cry over the past year. Pole barn? The cedar posts we like are almost $100 each and we need about 20. The cars will just have to get wet for now. New storage building? We had to force ourselves to clean out an existing, but filthy, shed until we have time to build a new one. New chicken coop? No time for that. Due to time limitations and the immediate need for housing, we ended up converting the corral into a makeshift coop. It is actually very accommodating and pleasant to look at as I peer across our lawn. I have always enjoyed watching my chickens and our corral is directly across from the front door of our home. Perfect. It was way less expensive and time-consuming to build our corral out to fit the needs of our feathered friends. The Outdoorsman did an excellent job using old fence pickets we brought from our house in League City. The look of the coop suits me perfectly and it saved us a lot of time and money during our first year on the ranch when so many things were vying for our attention. Now that things are slowing down, we are planning to build a larger coop in our new animal pen but I am truly thankful that we didn’t hastily build a coop when we first arrived on the ranch.
Be open to new, and usually better, ideas. When we moved in, we wanted to plant a large garden and build a pole barn. We had specific locations in mind for both of those structures when we moved to the ranch but, as time passed, we decided upon new locations and dimensions for both of these important items on our to-do list. Because we waited and didn’t get ahead of ourselves, we have been able to watch the drainage patterns of our land during wet weather, see where the soil is most suitable, and feel the effects of the strong North wind on our front pastures. We are now thankful for the delays because we feel that we have chosen better locations for these two important additions to our property. Our plans have changed as constantly as the changing seasons. Thank goodness, we didn’t do anything permanent too soon.
Know your limitations. Due to the fact that The Outdoorsman and I are no longer “spring chickens”, we have been forced to accept and understand our physical limitations. We have both been plagued with allergies since our arrival in Central Texas which has caused us both to have to slow down our pace a bit. In addition to allergies, the heat has caused us concern on occasion. Even though I am off for three months during the summer, we were unable to do much building on our property due to the unbearable heat. Instead of growing impatient with the delays, we reminded ourselves of the fact we are here to stay. We need to enjoy what we have already accomplished and look forward to the upcoming projects.
Be patient. When you live on a ranch and have large numbers of farm animals and domesticated animals to care for, there will be times when you feel like there is no forward progress being made. Remember that keeping all of your animals alive is actually forward progress. You do not have to build buildings, fences, and gardens to call it progress. You do not have to have a perfectly manicured lawn or house to call it progress. You do not have to have it all together on the ranch to call it progress. Progress means you are learning new things, acknowledging areas of change, and not repeating mistakes.
Be creative. Allowing things to go at a slower pace also allows your mind to reconfigure things into something new and better. The Outdoorsman and I have talked about, evaluated, and created new and better ideas over the past year on our ranch. We have made decisions to build, to not build, to change, or to not change many different things on our land. We have come up with better plans almost every time we have delayed our desire to build something as quickly as possible. We frequently take long walks together to discuss new improvements we are wanting to make to the ranch. During those walks, we look at areas on the land that need our time and attention and make lists of priorities. It has been surprising how many times we have talked ourselves out of one project in order to complete a different project we think will be more beneficial for some reason. We discuss it, argue about it at times, and always reach a conclusion that is almost a perfect blend of our ideas. It is truly a picture of what a marriage should be and it is a blessing to watch the process unfold. Thankfully, we are both creative thinkers who almost always think “outside the box” concerning our family, our home, and our ranch. It has been a rewarding and interesting process for us both.
Be thankful. The gratefulness and level of contentment that I feel in my heart is a true blessing from God. He has allowed me to push past the desire for a perfect home and given me peace with knowing that our home will be an ongoing project. It will eventually arrive at its final destination, but for now I will enjoy the ride.