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!
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.
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.)
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.
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!
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. 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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
The ranch is twenty-two miles north of Freer, Texas.
This mesa is fairly long and creates a very interesting part of the landscape.