Growing Things at Grace Ranch

By:  Steven H. Atherton

For those who have been here, you know that the environment can be quite harsh for growing things.  Salty alkaline soil, burning hot temperatures, nigh unto hurricane strength winds, scare (and often salty) water, surprisingly cold nights and loads of pests (insect, microbial and rodent) seem to conspire against growing anything productive.  Alas, there is a reason they call this the desert. 

On the other hand, slowly but surely we have been experimenting and developing the infrastructure to succeed.  We have fenced in areas for an orchard and a garden and also erected an off-grid greenhouse.  We have a well, though the water is a little too salty for irrigation “as is”, that we intend to process through a water softener and RO system to make it suitable for irrigation and other purposes  We also have a stock pond that we can use for animals and/or to grow things and are in the process of implementing rain water harvesting and grey water recycling to expand our sources of good quality water for irrigation. 

Simultaneous with these developments, we are composting (not yet on the scale that I desire) in order to improve our soil and working with third parties to improve the biological activity and structure of our soils.  We have also developed raised beds, hoop houses, acquired necessary shade cloth and are in the process of making what water we do have more accessible to the plants that need it.  Ultimately, our goal is to use drip irrigation throughout our garden and orchard to further conserve water and automate the process.

Over time, it is our desire to transform our little slice of the West Texas desert into a fruited plane.  Our vision is to grow enough fruits, vegetables and nuts to meet at least a significant part of our needs and to augment the natural forage available to our livestock to minimize the needs for purchased inputs.  All of this takes money and labor, both of which have been in relatively scarce supply.  As a result we have moved more slowly than I might have liked because our limited resources needed to be employed elsewhere.  I do see the day rapidly approaching, however, where we will be able to focus more on growing things.  Until that time, we continue moving forward little by little trusting the Lord to guide, direct and bless us in those things He would have us do. 

My question to you is what role, if any, might the Lord have you play in this endeavor?  I ask because we are always looking for help and having someone who could bring the necessary focus to this side of our operation would be a great blessing.  Please browse around our photo gallery to see some of the things that we have done.  Do not hesitate to be in touch if you want to pitch in or have any suggestions.  Thanks for stopping by.

Growing Things at Grace Ranch Photos