A Little Bit of History
California to TexasWe found ourselves Pilgrims in a new land. We, the Pilgrims, are Rick and Laralee Seargeant, with 9 of our 10 children. God moved us from California to Texas in December of 2004. We were native Californians ourselves, but previous generations of the Seargeant Family were Texans, so you might say we are going back to our roots. We are Reformed (read Reforming) Baptists and homeschoolers in creed and lifestyle and thank God for the very breath He gives us to sustain and grow us each day.
Our Quest for a Place to Land
Once in Texas, we began our search for a place to call our Texan home. God provided a rental house in Boerne for our first year. But where did God want us to land permanently?
We prayed and discussed as a family what would best suit our immediate needs and our multi-generational vision. We scoured newspaper and internet ads. We prayed. We drove and learned the new geography in the San Antonio area of Texas. We prayed. We waited. Then in April 2005 we found an ad for 10 acres in Bandera, Texas. We tried to find this property, but were unsuccessful. A week or two later, Rick had to deliver some planes for work to Hondo, not far from where this property was located. We decided to all go and drive some of the back country roads. We discovered several pieces of beautiful property for sale. We loved it! We drove back onto one of them and started walking through the oaks, cedars and mountain laurels. It was gorgeous. When we called on this property, we discovered that it was the same property we had been looking for a couple of weeks earlier. We found out that it was actually affordable, it was agriculture exempt, it was in the country on a dirt road (a road without a stripe in the middle was a desire of Laralee's). It was everything we were looking for.
We prayed, discussed and prayed some more. There were 3, 10 acre lots side by side. How could we choose which one, or two, or three we should buy? We waffled back and forth. Buying one was comfortable, two uncomfortable, and three really a stretch financially. We decided upon 2 side-by-side 10 acre parcels. We now had our piece of Texas to call our own. But now what?
The Start to Taking Dominion
This property was totally undeveloped. We needed to take dominion of this land - a daunting task! The only modern convenience was electrical lines at the back of the property, which still needed to be brought down into the property. At the front of the property was a gate and an old rocky ranch road. Everything in-between was oaks, cedars, mountain laurels and rocks.
We walked the property to learn the terrain. We picked out an area we would like to build a house. We started cutting down cedars so we could see what it would look like without them, exposing the beautiful oaks we wanted to preserve. We walked from the front gate eying cedars that could come out and noting oaks that would remain. We wound our way up the hill through the trees until we reached the housing area. We cut more cedars to map out the driveway.
Then came the bulldozer. What a week for the boys! A man feels manly on a bulldozer! Over the course of a week, Rick dozed the driveway and the housing area, unearthing more rocks than we could ever have imagined! But now we had a "rough" driveway and a place to start dreaming up our house. We had a rock-moving party and people from church came out and lovingly labored to put scattered rocks into big rock piles. After we returned the rented dozer, Jackson announced that he wanted "my yellow tractor" back. He still doesn't understand what happened to "my yellow tractor!"
God's Provision So We Could Move
Our year in the rental was quickly coming to an end. Where would we live? The best place was the property, but funds were running low and a house was afar off. Again, we prayed. Then one Sunday we spoke with a visitor at church. She asked us if we had considered living in a travel trailer on the property. We told her that yes, we had, but that we would need 3 of them to house us all. She then told us about a large Christian homeschooling family that had a 5th wheel trailer custom made for their large numbers. It slept 10. This family had lived in it for 5 years while they built their house as God provided the funds. And now they were done with it and wanted to sell it.
We ended up purchasing this trailer and renovating the interior. We jokingly dubbed this trailer the Speedwell as it was not seaworthy and hoped to get it in the condition where we could call it the Mayflower. The Mayflower it became. Though The Mayflower was still in need of much more renovation, it was seaworthy enough to get us moved to our new property on February 2, 2006.
Now we were living on our property, translated "camping on our property." We set up an instant garage for the men's shop equipment and another one for the women's refrigerators, freezers and pantry. We set up 2 camping tents for clothing and kitchen supplies. The kitchen of the Mayflower was really like the kitchen of the Speedwell as it was not yet seaworthy. We gathered rocks and built a fire-ring rock grill to heat water and cook food over. We rounded up all our old camping gear and set up our outdoor kitchen. We washed dishes in galvanized tubs under the oaks and the stars. The girls took a crash course in cast iron outdoor cooking and grilling. What a treat! Pies made over a campfire! Not to mention the s'mores : )
We had no well, so we hauled water from generous friends' homes 500 gallons at a time and then transferred it to our 3,000 gallon storage tank. We set up our enclosed 6x10 trailer as our mobile laundry hamper. Once a week we towed our laundry trailer to the laundry mat. Boy did they love to see us coming!
What was a disaster to most was a blessing to us. This was the year of the drought. When it did rain, we had mud everywhere. We hauled load after load of limestone base and pecan shells to help alleviate the mud issue. It helped, but when it rained, we were trailer bound and dealt with mud. The summer of 2006 was the hottest on record for many, many years. And boy, did we know it! The air conditioner in the trailer sparked and caught fire. Thank you, God, for showing it to Ryker before it spread. We then bought a window air conditioner that tried it's hardest to cool off our little trailer. But running 24 hours a day we would still reach 100 degrees in the trailer in the hot afternoon sun. We had been given a pool, which we dreamed of, but the only place we could put the pool was covered with piles of cedar waiting to be burned. Due to the burn ban, this was impossible. Oh, how nice that pool would have been. We are so looking forward to having that pool to cool off in this summer!
Naming Our Property
We had to have a name for our property. Since there is an abundance of rocks, we thought the name should include "Rock" somewhere. We "tossed" around many names. Since the trailer had been dubbed The Mayflower, we ended up naming our home "Plymouth Rock Ranch." It fit. We were sojourning in a new land. We had been reading about the Pilgrims in the fall of 2005 just before moving to the property. The pilgrims endured so many hardships, trials, death and danger to follow their dream. They were an inspiration to us and constantly reminded us that no matter how many modern conveniences we didn't currently have, that we were truly blessed to be where we were. We were so very thankful for our trailer which had electricity, running water, heat and a/c, and beds. We had so much more than the Pilgrims had when they landed in their new land. We are grateful to God for providing for us. We praised God as we sat around our campfire and looked at the heavens. What a glorious peaceful gift!
We wanted to provide farm fresh food for our family. We started with 52 baby laying chicks in March 2006. Then we added our heifer, Maia, to start our cattle herd. We hope to have our first baby calf in October 2007. We purchased Festival, our milk goat, and her 2 week old twins, Sabbath and Leviticus. Goat pudding in the winter and goat ice cream in the summer are sweet rewards for our labors. Our dentist gave us 4 guinea hens that needed a more country setting in which to live. We call the guineas "dinosaur birds" as they have uniquely ugly heads. But, they are invaluable bug, tick and snake eaters as well as a very loud warning system when something is amiss. We purchased 6 grown turkeys and butchered them. We are raising 50 meat chickens and have butchered our first 4 birds with more ready soon. We've added more guinea hens and our broody hens are adding new chicks to our menagerie weekly. Learning how to grow healthy foods for our family is an adventure as well as a valuable life skill class.
Before moving to Plymouth Rock Ranch, we added our dog, Darby, to our family. Darby has been a tremendous joy and by far the best dog we have ever had. God has a wonderful sense of humor and a wonderful way of providing just what we need. Upon moving to Plymouth Rock Ranch, Darby decided SOMETHING must be done with all these rocks! But, what would a dog do with rocks? Retrieve them : ) Though we don't know what breed or mixture of breeds Darby is, we have named her a Plymouth Rock Retriever. We only wish we could get more of this new breed! Her favorite thing, aside from Ryker, is a rock. She will very nicely come up to anyone, politely but insistently bark and beg until you must please her and throw a rock. She then literally bounds into action to retrieve that same rock for you. Ryker has taken on a few neighborhood jobs moving rocks (the neighbors have rocks too). Darby comes home exhausted as it is her duty to chase each and every rock that is thrown or moved! So, you see, God has even given us the exact dog with the exact delights that she needs for our Plymouth Rock Ranch.
The Common House Beginning
Towards the Fall of 2006, we decided to try and get a shell of a 2 story building built. God then proceeded to provide some very expensive foundation lumber at tremendously discounted prices. We dug footings and found bedrock in just the right places to make a solid foundation. We were drawing plans, revising plans and dreaming. Then the overtime at work started and all work ceased on the new building which we had named "The Common House" as this was the first building the Pilgrims had built when they landed. God's timing is perfect so we waited.
Detour to God's Provision of a Tent
Then at the end of 2006, as He so often does, God changed our direction. Plans for The Common House were temporarily shelved as God had generously provided for us a 17'x26' canvas deck tent through Uncle Dan. This greatly expanded our living space! Yeah!
We went to work picking out a place to put this wonderful addition. We decided to put it under a grove of oaks near the water tank and the electrical pole where it would be shaded by the trees. But there were cedars where the tent needed to be, so we started removing more cedars and pulling more stumps. A huge "Thank You" to our neighbors, Rusty and Mary, for the use of their Bobcat. The Bobcat makes pulling stumps fun, not to mention easy!
We then built a wooden deck on which to bolt the tent and sealed the OSB wooden floor on which we would live. The tent came with a wood burning cook stove too! We started planning where to put the kitchen, where to put the clothing, where to put the dining room table and where to put the office and computer!!!! Yeah! Then we started moving in. We finally got our satellite internet system installed and actually have internet-in-a-tent now! We've cleared overflowing belongings out of the trailer and into the tent. We are actually getting organized and reacquainted with many of our belongings that have been in storage for a year or more.
The logistics of every day life have become much easier now with the addition of our tent. We even have our washing machine set up, much to the chagrin of the laundry mat owner.
After finishing the electricity, plumbing and outdoor decking for the tent, our next project will be to build a utility shed in which to house our refrigerators, freezers, washer, dryer and water heater, Lord willing. We still have plans to build The Common House, but it will be as the Lord provides the means.
This history of Plymouth Rock Ranch brings us up-to-date as of June 10, 2007. We would greatly appreciate your prayers for our endeavor to take dominion over Plymouth Rock Ranch. We will be posting further journal entries, so Y'all come back now, ya hear!