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Working Hard at the Ranch

Sunday, January 13, 2013

OK, maybe it isn’t really a ranch, but it's 100 acres of property we own in the country near Rocksprings, Texas. It’s our “get away” place that we have really worked hard on these past 10 years. We built a large cabin over a 2 year period (with a lot of help from friends), and we go here to enjoy the wildlife. When we first bought the property, we only saw one deer in a whole year. Because of our hard work, we now see “trophy” whitetail deer, elk, aoudad sheep, axis deer, sika deer, Rio Grande turkeys, Russian boars, and too many feral hogs.

I’ll blog sometime in the future on our specific game management efforts, but this posting is in response to some of you who asked what we do at the ranch. First of all, here is the cabin we built:

Here is the view from our cabin:

Here is a rock fireplace (for a wood burning stove) that we built one summer with rock found on our property. The stove is now in place, but I wanted to show the rockwork without the stove hiding some of our work.

The inside of the cabin is now finished, but I’m still rocking in below the cabin (it’s built on a slope). Here is the work so far…

Most of our work this time of year is clearing brush to get rid of some of the non-native juniper trees (we call them cedar). Many of the animals like it a little more open, and the cedars also take up too much water and stint the growth of our oaks and pinion pine trees. Here I am working on clearing some of the brush:

Here are two sets of “before and after” pictures to show the difference our efforts make:

I also fill wildlife feeders – to give the animals something to eat in periods of drought. I have 5 different feeders – 3 on timers and 2 that feed whenever the animals want it. Without this, we would lose many animals every year.

My wife and I also spent 2 years building a dam by hand. This picture was taken while work was still in progress. Even though we’ve finished it now with nice flat rocks mortared on top, there hasn’t been much water because of the severe drought.

I could show you so much more, but let me leave you with one last photo. Nothing like sitting on the porch and enjoying this sunrise!

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  • ROX525
    Wanted to revisit your post because you are off at the ranch now. How about some new pictures?!
    474 days ago
    I enjoyed your blog and the pictures Bill.
    1314 days ago
    Gorgeous! Thanks for sharing the pictures; they tell the story. Stonework is wonderful and I love the feeder idea. Hard work combined with ideas and spirit sure pays off!!
    1394 days ago
  • BARBIE176
    What a wonderful and therapeutic place for you. I would love to have some place like that to go. I hope you are able to go and remember the many happy times you and Jackie had there.
    1489 days ago
    What a beautiful country home you have. Enjoy your getaway.
    1668 days ago
    What a beautiful place. You are a real craftsman.

    I hope you and your wife have a memorable week. emoticon emoticon
    1669 days ago
    Wow. Beautiful country. Keeping down the non-native plants is tough work but gives many benefits for the environment and your fitness.
    1669 days ago
    Bill, thanks for sharing this. My husband and I built several homes, the last one in Wi which we still own but a few months ago rented out with option to buy. Currently we are living in Ar in a house we bought in a foreclosure sale and are totally redoing. We paid $15000 for a 4 bedroom house on 7 acres of land, not exactly a ranch but just right for us at this time in our life.

    I loved the pictures and could tell what a lot of hard work and dreams must have went into it; I feel for you that your wife is no longer there to share it with you.

    We used to live in Tx, in Arlington when I taught at the University there. It was a nice place to live but we we looked for a place in the country we ran into a nest of rattlesnakes and that scared me off! Now here I am where the copperheads and water moccasins live; Wi has very few snakes but we are getting to old to want to keep going back and forth. Life throws things at you and you have to adjust just as you are doing.
    1683 days ago
    Hello Bill,
    I just realized you had sent an email in January. This is so awesome. No wonder you are investing every spare minute on this precious place. When seeing this I wish I wouldn't live in Germany sometimes. Germany is nice but the one thing we really lack over here is space! Your place looks amazing - it just had me started thinking to take some weeks vacation in summer to backback a little bit. :-) So thanks a lot for this great inspiration.
    All the best
    1812 days ago
    What wonderful place you have there, Bill. The hill country has always been a great place to see different animals as well...You keep that wife of yours well so both of you can enjoy it for a long time... emoticon
    1828 days ago
    That is such a beautiful place. I also love animals and happy to see another animal lover.
    1857 days ago
  • ROX525
    Wow!!! I am so happy for you having the ranch and all that land. I would love to be doing what you two are doing. Being one with nature. All those animals now on the ranch is a true testimony of all the hard work. The feeders have definitely brought them there and the clearing of the land so you will have more water. Can't believe you handlayed that dam. Great! The stonework is wonderful. Now when you say you are going to the ranch, I will be thrilled for you and probably a little envious that I can't go! Thank you for sharing.
    1865 days ago
    I love it...and I'm soooo jealous!!! LOL. I love that part of Texas!! Ya'll have made wonderful progress. I hope you get a decent amount of rain (or snow this week!!) to fill up your pond. It will really be a great stake-out for watching the wildlife. Keep us posted with your progress.

    Also, have fun on your cruise. We'll all be expecting some pictures from that too!!!
    1865 days ago
  • NWFL59
    Thank you for this blog. The images are great and the the hard work y'all have put into developing the ranch and animal management is terrific. I loved the views from your cabin. The rock work is beautiful. Again, thanks for sharing. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1865 days ago
    What an incredible get away you have. While it is a lot of work to have a home away from home (as I am now a keeper of such), you have a beautiful view and it sounds like there is always work (fitness) to be done (had).

    I only feed my northern Wisconsin critters (medium sunflower ships and shelled peanuts) and pay a friend to put food out daily during that time of the year we're away. Oh how I could use such a timer device . . . I just may have to check with my feed mill to see what they provide. I do not feed the deer and managed to keep my food high enough (and an limited amounts) to keep them and the other night critters out of the yard. The city has implemented a special bow-and-arrow season for when the deer get too plentiful within a couple areas of the city. The deer I picture in my blogs are from another friend's yard and it's nearly impossible not to want to throw food out to them.

    Looking forward to hearing about animal control later. Gorgeous sunset! Hug, hug -- Evelyn
    1865 days ago
    That's really great, thanks for sharing! What a nice location.
    1865 days ago
    I can definitely appreciate why you go there so often. Great pics, great work. You have done so much and it is amazing.
    1865 days ago
  • DAWN14163
    It could be a full time job! The work you've done is fantastic - looking after your share of God's earth....great that you look after the wild animals too. I absolutely adore that sunset. Thank you so much for taking us all along with you!

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    1865 days ago
    How beautiful! I really admire your stonework. DH intended to do that for us (fireplace and around the foundation). After 2 years I finally hired somebody.
    1865 days ago
    Bill I am trying not to be jealous, but I am emoticon The work you have put into this place and land is just out of this world. Just Beautiful !!!!!! Keep up the good work and I do hope you will continue to share more pictures when you can. emoticon emoticon


    1865 days ago
    Beautiful! WOW! I love that you did the before and after shots to show the changes.
    1865 days ago
    Gorgeous!!!! And how satisfying it must be to know that you did so much of the creating yourselves. No problem getting your fitness minutes in, is it? :) Hope your wood stove is see-through glass--shouldn't hide an inch of those beautiful rocks.
    1865 days ago
    How beautiful!! The work that you've put into your property is phenomenal!! Thank you so much for sharing the pictures with us!

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    1865 days ago
    Considering what you are doing, its perfectly OK to MESS WITH TEXAS. This is beautiful and I thank you for sharing.
    1865 days ago
    Wow, it is beautiful!!!! Thank you so much for sharing all you do and the beautiful photos
    1865 days ago
    Beautiful report with great photos, thanks!
    1865 days ago
  • DNRAE1
    Wow! That is beautiful! You all have put in an enormous amount of work to make your ranch a great place to get away! Fantastic.........and thanks for the pictures.
    1865 days ago
    Beautiful report with great photos, thanks!
    1865 days ago
  • PJ2222
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    1865 days ago
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