Texas feels like home even with all of its faults. But the grass is always greener on the other side and I have yet to find another area of the country that has the same feel to it, that friendly handshake and dusty disposition most people seem to carry on their shoulders. This past year we’ve had more buckets of rain than most people can recall and it has paved the roadsides with more hues of green then I remember existing in this environment.
I associate Texas with a golden, burning haze of light and heat. Dust around boots, on the roads and in the sky floating off the open fields of hay and cattle or bouncing off the walls of buildings sourced from cars and buses. The sunlight is so harsh here it feels like sharp, reflected light off a brilliant gold sphere. The kind of light that blinds your eyes for a flash as the reflection scorches your pupils. Your eyes close in reaction and your face turns away, seconds go by before you recover from the blaze.
The heat and light burn your skin and evaporate any source of moisture, leaving you a leathery brown hide. Pale skin hidden from the light looks naïve and innocent compared to the hard tan skin of the face, arms and neck. Unsunned skin is plump with moisture compared to the exposed dermis.
For all its harshness there is a beauty hidden in the light. If you are squinting too hard you may miss the subtle colors that fade among the landscapes—blue, red, purple and amber among others. And the state is filled with colorful characters and harsh characters, from insects to humans.
I don’t want to leave this state or the area that I have called home for the past fourteen years. But what is a young farmer to do stacked against harsher weather conditions, a stagnant market and high land prices?
A lot of my identity is wrapped up in being Texan, in a nostalgic way – I want to stay where I’m from. I’m enticed by Silver City, New Mexico. The climate is a little more conducive to seed saving.
I’ve been working out a plan to work around all these limitations—be a winter farmer. Forty acres here would be close to half a million dollars. In New Mexico, it’s $150,000, 3,700 an acre. Here, you’re hard-pressed to find a place less than $12,000 an acre—much less a place with a house or water. New Mexico is more akin to Texas than any other state. It’s where the hippies of the South go. How do you leave, when you’ve been planning out this path for yourself? Can I leave for five to ten years and then come back?
I know I could start a farm here. There are enough people here who have been involved who are aging and fading out. The grumpy, bitter sector says, You can’t start a farm here because you’re stealing all our ideas. But that doesn’t.
My uncle offered to oversee and manage this land so he can keep it next door to him with a neighbor he likes. For a year, he could at least help me mow. I could go out there every two or three months and plant more trees. That place has seasons, and Texas isn’t the environment for the kind of farming that I want to do. In New Mexico you can have more trees and seed and animals and a small acreage of vegetables. I could have sheep and pigs and chickens and maybe a few goats. And oddly enough, forty acres is the amount of land that I’ve been looking for in Texas.