Category Archives: Hill Country Happenings

Hill Country Happenings

Where’s Spring

It’s kinda’ the blah time of the year, winter won’t end until March 20th, 2 plus weeks away My deer hunting, with our county’s one-buck season, came to a close early, however the really big buck up on the hall wall made it all worthwhile! Having started my garden, 5 rows are planted, turkey season starts the end of this month so things are moving ahead.

Spring Turkey season starts on March 30th and runs until May 12th. Topping that off there is a special Eastern Gobbler season in limited counties of our State, Lamar County, Paris Texas, being one. Suzanne, my daughter who HAD cancer, lives in Paris and has, after 9 treatments been pronounced cancer free, Praise The Lord! My plan, God willing, is to open the season in Mills County, then it’s off to Lamar County for a try at one of those Eastern Gobblers.

My garden is moving along quite well, having planted 2 rows of Texas 1015 onions, (developed by Texas A&M University), they are the best onions around! Two rows of spinach are just now developing tiny leaves and I’ll harvest them by April 1st. Then, as an experiment, last week I planted a row of sweet potatoes, we like them fried, baked or mashed and it looks like the “country” in Layla and I is finally coming out. The rest of the garden, squash, purple hull peas, tomatoes and jalapeno peppers will be planted well after April 15th.

Why so late, because we’ll have several weeks of nice spring weather, then all of a sudden the temps will drop below freezing, central Texas weather, you know! I’ll still count on the old mesquite trees, when the old ones bud and start filling out, then it’s really spring!

Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year

My hero, Ronald Reagan, said it best, “In spite of everything, we Americans are still uniquely blessed, not only with the rich bounty of our land, but by a bounty of the spirit, a kind of year-round Christmas spirit that still makes our country a beacon of hope in a troubled world and that makes this Christmas and every Christmas even more special for all of us who number among our gifts the birthright of being an American.” It can’t be said any better!

Today we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Remember, we aren’t celebrating the brightly wrapped packages, the steaming Christmas dinners or the sumptuous deserts, but we are celebrating Jesus’ birth!

Jesus lived and died on the cross for each of us, so that by our acceptance of Him as our personal savior, we may have eternal life! If you haven’t received Jesus, ask Him into your heart today!

Layla and I wish everyone a very, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

We have had one of the best early Christmas presents possible, our prayers answered with a good rain, three-quarters of an inch, putting the final touch on our crippling drought. We’ve had more rain in the past 3 months, over 11 inches, than we have had in the past year. Our last good rain was Christmas, 2010, since then unseasonably hot weather and drought!

The Stump

After the end of deer season, what do a bunch of good ole’ boys, girls and kids do for fun?  They have a party and pull up a worrisome tree stump, that’s what!

In 1992, when we acquired our ranch, there was a large, old, oak tree that had died the year before and we cut it down, split it up and it provided firewood for several families.  The remaining stump was about 4 feet inside of the old fence and it stayed there until we decided to get us a new fence.

Prior to building the new fence, we had our County come out and bulldoze down the brush and small trees, and were left with a cleared strip of land along the County Road.  Then, the fence was a snap to construct, but the stump was still within 4 feet of the new fence.

The stump remained near the fence for 5 or 6 years until Layla tired of having to drive around it on her inspections of the property.  She said, “Sweetheart, why don’t you pull up that old stump?  It’s just in the way!”  Sounds like I had just been assigned a job.

As luck would have it, in December 2003, prior to Brad’s deployment to Iraq, we hosted a get together for our family and all of his military buddies and their families..  The get together was a fine opportunity to get this job done.  An added bonus was the plethora of 4WD vehicles driven by all of the good ole’ boys, both family and military.

After dinner the folks were restless and were looking for some activity that would work off the pork ribs, venison, enchiladas and plentiful desserts.  I had just the “work” in mind, the stump and everyone piled into their trucks, we rounded up a heavy chain and were off to pull it up!

The bosses, Jim Buck (facing Bob and me, now deceased), Bob Baugh and I, plan the removal of the stump.  Note the heavy chain I’m carrying, but don’t worry, it will be put to use by others in the stump removal!

First to pull, with no luck, was my 4WD Suburban.  Next my 4WD, 35HP, tractor, made a great noise, reared up like a stallion, but didn’t budge the stump.  Several more 4WD’s tried with no luck.  Then, David Buck, a nephew, hitched his Ford, F350, 4WD, diesel with big tires and he stump moved.  We let out some chain, the big truck grumbled, the wheels dug furrows in the ground and up came our adversary.

David poses besides his big truck.

All in attendance cheered, David accepted the congratulations and we returned to the house for a proper celebration.  With my tractor the next day, after filling in the hole left by the stump, I hooked up the chain and pulled it out of the way to where it still sits.

Maybe we could have a stump burnin’ party?

That Time Of Year

It’s that time of the year again! Wind blowing hard out of the south, then coming back with a vengeance from the north, temperatures swinging wildly, high 60’s in the afternoons, below 30 at night, snow, sleet and ice, the ingredients of what, around here, is called winter. But, this one has been a real doozy!

Last week we had our fair share of winter, 4-1/2 days of below freezing temps and last night another “norther” blew in. This morning the temp was 16, wind howling from the north, last nights sleet covering the car windshields (and windows on the north side), then it started to snow. Because of the wind the snow didn’t accumulate on the ground, so it must have blown all the way to San Saba or Llano counties.

There is a bright side though because one of my neighbors said he was “covered up” with gray foxes and for me to come over and try my luck. This sure beats my job of the last 2 days, cutting and splitting firewood. Last weeks cold snap completely exhausted our supply of split oak, putting me to work.

However, better times are ahead! Starting Saturday the forecast is back to normal for this time of the year, no new “northers” on the horizon, afternoon temps in the high 60’s and low 70’s, evenings pleasantly cool, so it’s back to fun things like softball, or working on my new book, but yesterday (before the front) I did cut down a dead, oak tree, so I’ll have to temper cutting and splitting wood with my softball and writing.


This was truly a cold front of epic proportions!  Here in central Texas we had temps below freezing for 4-1/2 days, it snowed twice and the wind was clocked at over 50 MPH!

Thursday night we had more snow, only just over an inch, but for the second time in the same storm.  We had a nice dusting that covered the garden and the only things showing were my Texas 1015 onions.

The mesquite trees showed the snow and our Suburban (manufactured before the Obama takeover of GM) was “covered up”, for us, but not like the vehicles along Chicago’s south shore.
Finally after 4-1/2 days, Friday afternoon the temp climbed above freezing and most of the snow melted.  For the next 10 days we’ll have warm afternoons and cold nights, but nothing like this epic winter storm!

Winter Storm Continues

With no respite until tomorrow afternoon, the folks in Mills County, Texas, like everybody in the mid west of our Country, has been under the influence of one of the worst winter storms in history! The storm has closed down schools, virtually stopped air travel and made highway traveling iffy at best.

Two days into February, the Chicago area has already experienced a record snow for the month! My friend Randy Pfaff, a Pastor in southern Colorado, e-mailed me that the temp yesterday was 25, but not to worry because by Saturday it will be in the 50’s. He included a picture of some “serious” icicles on one of his outbuildings.

Back to Mills County, around here we’ve had freezing weather since before midnight on January 31st and we won’t see it over 32 until Friday afternoon. That’s 4 days below freezing, very, very unusual for central Texas! Generally a “norther” comes in and drops temps quickly, but they recover to normal within a day, even last year when it hit 8 one day, by the next day it was in the high 30’s.

It has been very cloudy, but Tuesday we had the sun come out for a couple of hours causing a little of the snow to melt, (but it froze right back). My Texas 1015 onions are still proudly sticking above the snow, but some has blown off or melted.

More snow is predicted for tonight. Anyone expect a little Ice Age?

Deep Freeze

Today in central Texas it is colder than a well diggers XXXX!  It’s snowing, 21 degrees, with a wind chill of 5 and the wind is blowing 25-30, gusting over 30!  The cold front that is savaging our Nation hit here last night around midnight with thunder, lightning, sleet and big wind and it hasn’t let up since then.

Here’s the snow, real little flakes, swirling around our back yard (the shooting range and target is in the background).

Then a look at the garden shows 1 inch or more, covering the three rows of Texas 1015 onions, bravely sticking up through the snow.  Those things hanging across the 8 foot, deer fence are uneven pieces of soaker hose.

It’s forcasted that this weather will hang on through Friday, 3-1/2 days below freezing with a low of 12, wow!  This means that I’ll have to break ice so the cows can get water.  Walking over to the old ranch house I even slipped on a patch of ice, but, thank the Lord, I didn’t fall!  I prefer much sunnier and warmer climes!

Morning Walk, October 13, 2010

This week I changed my morning walk routine and walked along the dirt roads and trails on my ranch. Monday, nothing of significance showed up except for the fog along the creek bottom.

Monday afternoon Layla and I raised the Tower Blind. The “instructions” called for four or five men to raise the blind and we’d been waiting on Colton and his football boys to come over and help us. We, both being retired, had no trouble getting it up. Here’s a picture of the blind after we raised it.

And, here’s one of the finished product, but of course, since it was hecho in China, the camo cover was too small!

My morning walk on Tuesday was more exciting. Walking along a trail near the tree stand, I almost walked into a spider web. Closer inspection showed it to be a writin’ spider’s web and the spider, a male, not near as big as a female, was on it. Never having seen a male of this variety, I snapped of a “shot”. He had some writin’ on the web too.

Walking along a little farther, this doe and fawn were standing on the edge of a fallow, field. This is the best “shot” of them.

A good sweat, a “shot” of two deer and best, a male, writin’ spider, not a bad walk

Now There Are Three

Coming back in from my morning walk on this past Tuesday, and no, I didn’t see or take a “shot” of anything, and walking toward the old ranch house I noticed a writin’ spider’s web where I hadn’t seen one before. This one, the third around the old house, was on the northeast corner and it was real busy writin’. The other two are on the southeast corner and on one of the eaves on the west side.

Why do they “write” on their web, a quick search of Wikipedia provided some answers. Their webs, especially the writin’, reflect UV light, attracts insects and, possibly, alerts larger animals about the web so the spider won’t be stepped on and squshed! Its bite is harmless to humans and even has some therapeutic medical agents in its venom.

Changing into my work clothes, I went back outside and took these “shots” of the third one.

On August 8, 2008 in “[The Writin’ Spider]” I took a picture of the first writin’ spider that I had come across. It was between the old house and the tool shed. She must have been successful, because now there are three!

Morning Walk, September 21, 2010

My morning walk on Monday actually started (some may say) the Sunday evening of September 19th. After coming home from church, I was sitting out on my porch with our pets and looked out over the hay field and there was the melanistic deer feeding away.

Retrieving my camera I got this “shot”.

Being greeted by cool air as I walked outside yesterday morning, the sarcasm in me was thinking, Fall doesn’t start until the 21st and not having walked fifty yards, there was a deer standing in my neighbor’s field.

Maybe this morning the deer will be moving around, but for the mile plus of my walk, there were no more deer.

As I walked back toward the old, ranch house, out in the other end of the field stood the melanistic deer! The doe, mother of the dark one, was standing in the sunshine about fifty yards away. The contrast between the two is fascinating.

Maybe the fawn/yearling is really a melanistic deer