Snakes, Scorpions and Tarantulas!

Boots

Okay, so the title is a classic Bait-and-Switch!

I didn’t see one snake or scorpion or tarantula…

This weekend I went with the kids to their ranch in Duval County, Texas.

Although they bought the place several years ago, this was my first visit.

My point about the critter boots is that they make everybody who visits wear a pair of snake boots.

These are some that Charlie outgrew, but they provide a variety of sizes!

As soon as we got out of bed, you headed out to look for rabbits to shoot with your pellet gun.

You normally see lots of them, but this morning you said it must be too cold for them!

You had to call Dad to find out the combination to the railroad car storage building where your gun was on the hunting buggy.

After you walked around the perimeter of the yard a few times, you decided to shoot targets instead.

You’re a really good shot, you know!

I remember when you shot your first deer when you were six years old.

When I asked you about the shoot,

You said, “Dad said to drop him, so I did”, as if that were the most normal request in the world!

I still chuckle about that!

Β However, I did see some little does.

If you whip out your magnifying glass, you can see them!

I needed about 100mm more focal length on my lens.

I was dumb enough to allow the flash to go off and scare them away.

Deer-Stand

This is the deer stand where I was sitting when I saw the little does.

Kelli said I was making too much noise.

So, I moved down to a chair at the foot of the stand and drank my Starbuck’s bottled

coffee frappuccino and watched the sun set!

(Life in the South Texas brush country is hard.)

Frog

The cutest thing I saw was a tiny frog that Charlie showed to me.

I could hear them talking in the brush all around me.

There must have been a huge population of them.

Quail-II

I swear this is a family of quail feeding on corn along the trail.

I wish I’d had a longer focal length since quail are so pretty.

I was napping at the house when the kids saw the most colorful birds!

Buggy-View

I was sitting on one of the top seats of the “buggy” (whatever those hunting vehicles are called).

There are endless trails just like this one all over the 325 acres.

I have no idea how the kids know where they are since the trails all look the same to me.

I was pretty much too busy looking at the marvelous sky!

 

These are a couple of the feeder pens for deer.Β  The wire enclosure is to keep out the wild hogs.

The concrete tanks collect water that gravity feeds into the water troughs for the deer.

They also deliver water to fill them when it is dry weather.

That round light-colored thing is a bale of cottonseed.

Jeremy left Kelli at one of the feeders to shoot wild hogs late one evening.

When he returned to pick her up, he saw that she had shot a bunch of Javelinas.

She said they looked like hogs to her!

He still laughs about that.

Hog-Feeder

Jeremy and Kelli are filling a “hog feeder”.

The wild hogs knock it around to get the corn to spill out of holes drilled into the pipe.

It is attached by a chain to a post.

When they come to eat, the guys shoot them.

The guys from the shop like to cook wild hog.

I’ve eaten it and I can attest to the fact that it really is good eating!

Charlie and Kelli checking out the bow hunting blind.

The thing looked shaky to me and very tall.

Charlie is learning to shoot a bow.

I understand that bow hunting requires a great deal of skill and steady composure.

Dozer

Clearing brush in this part of the world is an ongoing project.

Otherwise, Mother Nature would take back her land.

Here, Jeremy is moving some brush to a burn area.

The guys from the plant like to go there for weekends to clear brush,

bird or hog hunt, and feast on Jeremy’s cooking!

Jeremy doesn’t allow deer hunting except by family members.

He is most interested in wildlife conservation and photography.

His family ate what they killed and still do.

Recently, Jeremy cooked the best doves I’ve ever eaten.

MOTH

One of the coolest things I saw was a giant moth.

And, I only had to walk out onto the porch to see him!

The kids killed many scorpions, snakes and tarantulas when they built their camp.

But, they kill every blade of grass within a huge perimeter of the house

so that they don’t have critters moving in now!

They see many of the cutest ground squirrels, cottontail bunnies, lizards, and

a pair of ground squirrels, Chester and Dollie, live at one of the feeder pens.

One morning, the kids sat eating breakfast and watching a silly bobcat wandering

around on one side of the truck while a whole group of bunnies scampered around

directly behind him on the other side of the truck.

Apparently, he never saw them and missed his breakfast entirely!

Fire-pit

Jeremy used the coals from the fire pit in his grills.

He grilled the best shrimp, steak, vegetables and corn on the cob

that I’ve eaten in a very long time!

The food there is worth the trip!

JC-Charlie-grilling

Jeremy and Charlie cooking.

Jeremy is wearing one of those cool head lamps

That allow you to see clearly in the dark.

They all carry them in their backpacks.

Wood-pile

Of course, there are the stacks of wood for bonfires and outdoor cooking.

I think the guys at the plant cut the dead trees out of the woods there

and haul the wood to the camp.

The whole area is covered in Purple Sage and Texas Mountain Laurel.

And some kind of grass that I never saw before, but I think is really lovely.

I’ve forgotten the name of the grass, but I think it only grows about as tall as it looks here.

It is the most golden color and lines every roadway that I saw.

The first image is the county road leading out from the gate toward the highway.

This place is located in absolutely Nowhere, Texas, I assure you.

The light in this part of the world is magnificent.

The clouds are different too.

The atmosphere reminds me of the light in Santa Fe, New Mexico

where all of the artists congregate because of it.

Such clean, clear light here.

Perhaps because there is no smog!

There were what looked to be almost “crops” of the blue cactus plants along the roadways.

And, the green ones that I am accustomed to seeing.

Of course, there are lots of Yucca plants too.

I always thought far South Texas was flat and sandy and a miserable place to live.

I thought those folks who talk nostalgically about having grown up there were

simply immune to the harsh climate and ugly landscape.

I was badly mistaken.

It is beautiful country with just enough hills to be interesting, but still allow you to see for miles.

I felt as if I could see the world in a very different way than I see it anywhere else.

My apologies to the people of that part of the world!

Mesa

The ranch is twenty-two miles north of Freer, Texas.

This mesa is fairly long and creates a very interesting part of the landscape.

28 Comments on “Snakes, Scorpions and Tarantulas!

  1. Happy times, George! Many thanks for sharing. πŸ™‚ I’ve been surprised by the diversity I’ve found in Texas too, via my lovely blog friends, of course!

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    • Hi, Jo! I don’t know how I missed your comment! Thanks for stopping by! I was surprised too when I moved here in 1976. I thought Texas was a desert with tumbleweed blowing all around the oil drilling rigs. There are some beautiful areas of the state, although it’s so far to drive to get to them! Anywhere in Texas is a real trip. I live about equal distances from Corpus Christi, Houston and San Antonio and about thirty miles inland from the coast (as the crow flies). Visiting south or west Texas is about too far for me to ride! Since I do not like riding in cars! πŸ™‚

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  2. Looks like heaven-on-earth for the out-of-doors type. The shrimp-steak-and corn dinner made my mouth water. You’re a lucky women George! Yes indeed. I’m glad you had such a great weekend – you’ve earned and deserve it. D

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good grief! These people are creatures of comfort if I ever knew any! They call the place a “camp”, but the inside is as comfortable as any house ever was. I guess it’s a camp in the sense of having grills to cook, a steel fire pit, shooting range, and stuff like that, but otherwise, it’s hardly a camp. Chuckle… We called Kelli “The Princess and the Pea” for her entire life because she requires such luxurious linens and mattress and down pillows and comforters, etc. She actually takes pillows to hotels when she travels! Jeremy has gotten to be as picky as she is since he’s lived with her! I’ll have to admit that she has spoiled me too. I never really paid much attention to comfort for most of my life. I was too busy, I guess. If you visit that “camp”, you can count on having all the amenities of a nice hotel. It is very relaxing to be there since there is absolute quiet all the time. Such interesting creatures too. And I loved the landscape and the light. I just might go again since I discovered how relaxing it is. And the food is out of this world good. Jeremy has hunted with his family for food and knows how to prepare it. His dad still makes deer sausage and all kinds of wild animal stuff. Charlie kills a deer every year for his Pawpaw to make the deer sausage that Charlie absolutely loves. Jeremy is very interested in wildlife conservation and prefers to photograph animals rather than to kill them. He takes a deer every year and some hogs and doves, but we eat everything or he gives the meat to his dad or the guys at the shop. The kind of wild animal meat products that Pawpaw knows how to prepare and preserve is an art that will be lost with the next generations, of course. And that is a shame. Jeremy knows most of it, but he won’t continue the tradition, I suspect. Charlie’s Pawpaw even cooks the rabbits and squirrels that Charlie shoots. Dean’s grandmother did too. Her squirrel with gravy was absolutely delicious. She boiled the squirrels first, then covered them in flour and fried them and made gravy in the fat. I guess I could do it now since I saw her do it. Yummy stuff. I just might try it since they keep the squirrels in the freezer until they eat them. πŸ™‚

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      • You’re describing a wonderful life George … I hope Charlie is taking it all in because you are correct you know, it is the folks of his generation that will be depended upon to keep these traditions alive. You are all very lucky people George … to have such a special place to go to and to relax and to remember what is good and important in life. We all get so easily preoccupied wit life – why is that? You all are very lucky indeed. Folks in our part of Pennsylvania also cook up all sorts of crazy stuff … especially during deer season. I’ve never developed a taste for venison but I surely appreciate it when someone passes along a link or two of venison sausage! Hmm … good stuff. We had a buddy who once passed along some bear-burger … didn’t like that at all! D

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  3. George, I’m very glad you made this trip – and what a fascinating piece of country it is. But maybe I’m most impressed by your snake boots! We only have three snake species in the UK, and only one of those is venomous. We hardly ever see snakes – but I did see a Grass Snake this year and that was a real thrill! I hope you’re fine, my dear. Adrian

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    • Those boots are typical working boots for brush country. They keep the “sticky” plants from tearing up your legs and the snakes from biting you. Charlie wore them for a couple of years until he outgrew them. Now, he and his family have the high-tech material instead of leather, but I like the leather boots although they are heavier to wear. Those boots are made to work in. They last forever and take all kinds of abuse. They’ve conditioned Charlie not to leave the house without his boots on! Lots of stuff bite and sting you there. I did enjoy the weekend. I hadn’t gone down there because I thought it wouldn’t be very interesting, but I discovered that I was mistaken. I’m doing fine, Adrian. I am not sick. I wouldn’t know I had cancer if I hadn’t seen the tumor on the Pet scan film! I’m sure I will be weakened at some point, but that is certainly not the focus of my life now. Chuckle… I so feel a bit more urgency to do things with Charlie and the kids now. It surprised me that I feel the urgency to finish things that I had put off thinking I’d do them some day! None of us really has a “some day” left. I just happen to know it! πŸ™‚ Thank you, Adrian. I love hearing from you, always.

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  4. You didn’t scare me off with the title of your post, George! I’m a Scorpio and I’m not afraid of either spiders or snakes. But I am hunting averse. I know there’s a place for it, I just don’t like to think of people killing critters for sport. That I’m a vegan just makes it worse for me. Great photos as always, though! πŸ™‚

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    • The kids don’t kill for sport. They eat what they kill. Jeremy’s dad is old school, second generation East European. He produces most of their food including vegetables and meat and hunts for lots of it. He makes the traditional Czech foods. He makes deer sausage and hog sausage and steaks and all kinds of smoked meat. Charlie takes a deer every year for his Pawpaw to make the sausage that Charlie loves. Kelli hates it when Charlie shoots the rabbits and squirrels, but Pawpaw also cooks them. Dean’s grandmother cooked delicious squirrel and gravy too. The old country food preparation methods will be lost with this generation, I think. And that’s kind of sad. Jeremy learned how to dress animals and cook wild meat from his dad. He can make the sausage too. Every year, they have a sausage-making party and all of the young people help. It’s a country life thing, Lorna. I grew up with it too and I understand it. My family never considered shooting wildlife to be sport. They wanted the meat to EAT. Actually, shooting the wild hogs is necessary. They would take over the country if they were not controlled. They devastate crops, for example. Some killing of wildlife is a necessary part of conservation since we have encroached on their natural habitats in such cruel ways. Jeremy is very interested in wildlife conservation which is the real purpose of the ranch there. Nobody hunts there except the family members who hunt for food. I wouldn’t shoot a deer either. Chuckle… I hate the idea of killing animals as much as you do, but I understand it. Thanks, Lorna.

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  5. Those look like real Texas boots! I’ve never been to this part of the US, so found your pics really interesting. The moth is absolutely gorgeous, and Mr. Froggie is so cute. I also love the wonderful B&W moon photo. The thought of scorpions and tarantulas fills me with dread. I hope you checked inside your snake boots before putting your feet into them. πŸ™‚

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    • They are “real Texas boots”. Working boots. You can buy them in any boot store or Academy or anywhere in Texas since every farmer and rancher wears them. That moth scared me at first since I wasn’t expecting to see it. There were huge numbers of those little frogs all around the deer stand that evening. The sky there is lovely both in the daytime and at night. They haven’t seen a snake in years around the house. They keep every blade of anything that grows sprayed dead for a huge area around the house. Tarantulas give me the creeps. And scorpions really have a nasty bite. They haven’t seen even one of them for years either. At first, they saw all kinds of that stuff. A family of tarantulas lived nearby and had a trail across their yard! They managed to kill them, but I’m sure more live in the brush. I don’t worry about snakes unless they are poisonous. They are more afraid of humans than we are afraid of them. If you step on one or frighten him, he will bite, of course. They have a rattlesnake convention in Freer every year with huge ones that they actually handle. Kelli said the whole affair was horrific to her! Chuckle… The landscape and the light are really different there. I enjoyed that tremendously. The bald mountains of West Texas and New Mexico are really beautiful as is the light there, too. Thanks, Sylvia. You are always so kind to visit! πŸ™‚

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      • “A rattlesnake convention” sounds horrific to me too, George, but I guess that for the locals, it’s quite an exciting event. Brave people to handle those critters, but I certainly would be the biggest coward there. πŸ™‚ The very word “Tarantula” fills me with dread. My friend’s late husband was the local ‘Spiderman’, and kept hundreds of spiders in the house, including Tarantulas and Black Widows. One of the Tarantulas escaped from its cage one day, and you can imagine the desperate hunt for it. Fortunately it was recaptured, but I was always a bit apprehensive about visiting her at home. I preferred to meet her at a cosy restaurant just down the road. πŸ˜€

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  6. What beautiful photos, George…I especially like the one of the frog in the cupped hands. Looks like you had a great time out there…memories for Charlie. Well done….

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    • Thanks, Scott. I really did enjoy the visit. I love the light and the landscape. It is so very still and quiet there. We need quiet, I think. Too much noise is killing us. We have thousands of those one-inch green frogs invade our lawns almost every year. You can hardly walk without stepping on one. It’s like an invasion of locusts. It doesn’t happen every year, but the kids love picking them up. This little guy was quite different in color and facial characteristics. There must have been hundreds of them chatting among themselves as it got dark while I was sitting at the foot of the deer blind. I love hearing them. I have frogs in my garden that I love hearing at night too. Charlie is such a gentle boy. He knew I would like the little frog so he brought it to me at the deer stand. He often brings wild flowers or small creatures to show to me. The landscape and the light there are wonderful at this time of the year. The weather was perfect too. I am doing well. I feel well. I’m sure I will weaken and develop problems later on, but now I am not sick. Actually, I have never been sick in my life. I guess I just don’t know what that really means! And, I’m not dwelling on the idea. I do feel an odd urgency to finish things and to record things that I would have put off before. I guess none of us knows that we have a “some day” to do things in, do we. I just happen to know that I have a limited amount of time and so much to do in it! Chuckle… Good to hear from you, Scott. i think about you often and wonder if you are enjoying your new home. Thanks for stopping by to visit me! πŸ™‚

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    • Thanks, Charlene. I thought he was too cute. We have invasions of about one-inch little green frogs every year. There are hundreds of them all over the lawns here. They disappear within a week, but it’s hard to walk without stepping on one when they are here. This little guy was different and larger, but Charlie knew I would love him so he brought him up to the deer blind for me to see. I’m glad you liked the post. I enjoyed the visit. The weather was perfect too. πŸ™‚

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  7. So glad you got to visit the place where JoNell, John, and I spent our growing years. My grandfather (from Oklahoma) once called Freer “the armpit of the world”….but he was half Cherokee and an Oakie to the core so was blind to the South Texas Brush Country Beauty. I love the flat land, the occasional hill with the prickly pear, mountain laurel, esperanza, and the beautiful bloom of the sage when we have a rain……and the critters!!! I especially love the critters…javalina ants, tarantula killers, scorpions, horny toads, blister bugs, tarantulas, centipeds and of course who can forget the snakes. And NO…the best snake is not a dead snake. They each and every one have a purpose. I really do miss Freer….like Charlie, I would grab a gun and go to either shoot cans or pear or an occasional rattler or rabbit. There is beauty in everything….even all of Freer’s “stick”, “sting”, and “bite” creatures.

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  8. I’m so glad u finally went to the ranch! I thought u would love it. Your pictures are gorgeous! Glad u had snake boots! I have some, too. Glad u didn’t see any snakes, but believe me there are giant rattlesnakes in that part of the country. Freer is where they have the Rattlesnake Roundup festival every year. Hope u go back and enjoy nature at its finest. Hunting is fun, too. Do they have a tank to go fishing? Must have electricity in the house since they have a refrigerator. That’s a good thing, so you aren’t roughing it too badly! Do they have plumbing, too? Please check your bed linens to make sure no snakes are in them, FOR REAL! Been thinking of you. Love, Glenda

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    • There isn’t even an ant in that house. It’s a new mobile home that they sealed every crack and crevice and poured a 12″ deep perimeter around to hold the skirting so that nothing can crawl through or dig under. Everything underneath has been carefully sealed. They never even had a mouse. They use professional grade pesticide that kills scorpions and everything that breathes. They kill every blade of anything green that grows anywhere near the house. Constantly spraying and clearing out anything that some critter might like to live in or under. The people from whom they bought the property find snakes in the house even!! You know Kelli is not going to tolerate even a bug! That place is sealed like a vault! They really did go to a lot of trouble to pour a slab for the thing and seal up everything. Of course they have electricity and water and all the amenities of home there. You know Kelli is not going to be uncomfortable. It’s really pretty inside and very well done. She has anything anybody might possibly want available there. You don’t even have to take toothpaste unless you use a special kind. Hell, she probably has that somewhere in the place. I knew it would be that way before I ever went. It’s very nice. You’d laugh at the idea that these pampered kids would be roughing it even outside! Chuckle… You should go with us sometime. You’d enjoy it. She serves wonderful food and JC cooks delicious dinners. πŸ™‚

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  9. I really loved seeing all this. It’s an amazing place for Kelli and Jeremy and Charlie to retreat to. What a wonderful, interesting place to use to restore yourself for the week ahead, etc. Your photographs are, as usual really wonderful.

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    • Thanks, Linda. You and Hazel will have to visit some day. You’d really enjoy it. It’s so quiet and relaxing and nice to be away from everything. They don’t have TV reception even. Or an internet connection. Of course, you don’t even think of those things when there is so much to see and to do there. πŸ™‚ I’m glad I finally went with them! Irma took good care of my new little Sam while we were gone too. The dogs stayed here. She comes several times a day to feed the critters and to turn off the lights, etc., for the night.

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    • Honestly, I was really impressed by how pretty it is. The weather last weekend was perfect too. I love the quiet and the animals and the wonderful light. I also really like the kind of rolling hills that aren’t so high that you can’t see very far. And, to think we pay big bucks for Texas Mountain Laurel and Purple Sage at nurseries here! I smiled about that. A yucca of any size at a nursery would be ridiculously priced. I had forgotten that you and John Merritt and Sue grew up there. Their place is 22 miles north of Freer. No, it is not “bad” at all, as you say! πŸ™‚ I may have to retreat there more often. I slept like a log too.

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    • It’s really nice down there. So very quiet since there are no neighbors close by. So many interesting creatures live there too. Kelli saw a lizard as big as a house cat run across a little hill right in front of her once. It scared her half to death! Chuckle… I did enjoy the visit. Thanks for stopping by to visit, Peaches! πŸ™‚

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