Friday, October 25, 2013

WildWoods, Our New Lives In Lampasas County, Texas

 We have been very busy moving to our place in Lampasas County, Texas.  Being older and not having any help this move is taking a little longer than I thought.  It is taking a lot of time to go through all the keepsakes and possessions my wife and I have accumulated over the last forty years and sort through it to decide what we want to keep, sell or give away as we are trying to simplify our lives.  Some things we just need to decide whether or not we really need them anymore. If you haven’t used something in ten years it is pretty hard to say you need it no matter how nice it is.   Such things as backpacks and camping gear do not seem to have much importance in my future plans.  I am going to refinish my handmade cedar boats and sell them.  It will be much easier for this old guy to run up the river or across the lake in an aluminum boat with comfortable seats powered by an outboard motor.  I hate to get rid of some things such as my forge, blower and anvil that I have kept boxed up for twenty years just for when I moved to the country.  After three shoulder surgeries I am not sure my shoulders can swing a heavy blacksmiths hammer to pound iron and survive anymore.     

A move to the country lets you know what a different life some people live on a daily basis.  Getting anything done seems to take forever and we are still without TV or Internet as I write this.  It looks as if we will be having Exede Satellite Internet installed and most likely Dish TV.  Cell phone service is very iffy and we have to stand in a certain point on the porch to even get a signal when we can get one.  We are currently with ATT but will check out Verizon to see if it works any better out here.  I am looking into a micro cell booster and will have to see if that helps.  We may just be in a cell phone dead area and have to live with it.  If anyone has a suggestion I am open to all options.  We have to drive a little over a half mile to the County road to get our mail each day, packages we find dropped inside the gate in a plastic bag.  We see trash cans out at ranch gates one day a week so it looks like we will be able to get trash service out here if we carry it up to the County road but it remains to see at what expense.  One must stay alert for stray livestock or poultry on the County Road and buzzards flying up from road kill are a regular hazard.  Deer can jump from the bar ditch at any time and one must stay on the ready to miss them as needed to drive out here at night.  Often drivers on the narrow county road make a habit of taking their half of the narrow road out of the middle no matter which direction they are headed.  There are even a couple of drivers that must think the county road is an interstate as they drive the narrow rough road at extreme speeds and law enforcement on the county road here is next to nonexistent.

We are enjoying eating most of our meals out on the front or back porches and have seen some unbelievable sunsets and sunrises in the last week.  It was 45 degrees one morning and may soon be too cold to eat breakfast on the porch, or at least I will have to start getting dressed for coffee or breakfast.  We have seen deer and turkeys from the porch several times and listen to the many birds each morning.  The clear sky at night is covered with stars, satellites, planets and other sights we would never see in the Round Rock/Austin metroplex area due to the night glow which is nonexistent here.  There has been a constant flow of migrating Monarch Butterflies for the last week.  Last evening I set on the porch having some hot tea before bed and listened to the calling of an Eastern Screech Owl and a Long Eared Owl echoing across the pasture, each trying to make sure he was heard.   The moon has been shining like a beacon for several nights and we hear the calls of unidentified migrating ducks and geese as the fly over high in the moonlit sky.  Today we saw a Cara Cara or Mexican Eagle on a fence post near a road kill up on the County road.  We have identified 125 different birds here at the place not counting all the multiple kinds of sparrows and warblers that I cannot identify.   This area is a mostly un-recognized Mecca for birders I am beginning to realize more and more.  Up until recently we have had multiple Painted Buntings at the feeders and bird bath on most days.  Most of the humming birds have left for other parts of the country.   I hear or see Ravens and Crows almost daily.  We saw two Merlins, a Kestrel, a Red Tailed Hawk, Speckled Belly Geese, Sandhill Cranes and kettles of Broad Winged Hawks migrating overhead this week.  There were eleven mature Rio Grande Gobblers at the feeder behind the house.   I hope to someday be able to have a place for birders to come and observe the plethora of winged and other creatures that abound here at WildWoods.  It will be a common occurrence to live among the wildlife that abounds here on a daily basis.  Most of the time we cannot hear any vehicles, no sirens or people noises just the sounds of the country. 

It rained 5.5 inches and we could not get out to the County road for three days so we will be spending money to put caliche on the road in the near future.  I am enjoying the daily ranch work but it sure would have been easier about twenty years ago.  I slipped this last week in the mud while working on a new fence with my brother and hurt my wrist.  It is really swelled up and has a big knot on top, I am hoping that nothing is broken and it is just a bad sprain.

Our Dorper Sheep herd of sixty ewes and two rams are doing well and our guard Llama seems to be earning his keep.  He is always on alert and comes running to check out any strangers or activity close to the sheep herd.  I hope he will be able to fend off any coyotes or stray dogs as well, especially during the lambing season.  I find the livestock work to be very satisfying, I am sure when they start lambing in late February it will get much harder.  We should have all natural grass fed lamb for sale by May.  I am reading an interesting book by Bill Stockton titled Today I Baled Some Hay to Feed the Sheep the Coyotes Eat.  I have always been around cattle all my life and only raised sheep once before so I am refreshing my knowledge with lots of reading on sheep and also raising them naturally without growth hormones or antibiotics.  I will tell you my favorite books in a later blog.  I need to get the sheep pens built and find a pig to start feeding.  I plan on using the sheep pens to raise a hog all natural after I work the sheep for the season.  I have to dig a trench to run a water line for the stone trough, the barn and the sheep pens from the well.  The chicken pen has to be moved from Round Rock and a predator proof roof put on it.  I also want to build another Hawk mew and start flying a hawk again.  It would be nice to build a sand pit to knap arrowheads within.  I still need to hang the hardware and the sliding barn door for the pantry along with all of the wood blinds on the windows.  We are going to have to hang all our wall hangings, prints and other objects one sticks on the walls.  There is furniture to refinish and even some to build for the house when we get settled in.   It seems there will be plenty of work to go around.  Clearing brush and burning brush piles could be a full time job here at WildWoods.

 Our cats have adapted well to ranch living, I sometimes open the front door to find a gift of a field mouse or vole placed on the welcome mat.  It remains until I pick it up and throw it off the porch where one of the cats will usually eat it. We have mice out in the barn that get into any feed or food items not sealed in mouse proof containers.  I hope to start putting a couple of cats on patrol out there each night and see if they can solve the problem without poison.  Bear our Great Pyrenees/Maremma guard dog is having a difficult time staying close and may be a struggle as he wants to check out the whole country.  He thinks he should run the deer away from the deer feeder out back every morning and it will be hard to make him believe otherwise.

The food plots we planted for the sheep and the deer are coming up and are green for the first time in several years.  The pasture is lush and I cannot remember it looking so well going into winter. Hopefully we will have grazing for the sheep all winter and won’t need to provide supplemental feed much at all.  There is a good acorn crop so the deer and turkeys have a lot of groceries right now and should be in good condition going into the winter.

My Uncle brought his deer rifles by and left them for me to sight in for him before opening day of deer season.  I actually shot them in from the front porch and no one complained or called the local law enforcement.  This is indeed a different lifestyle than living in the metroplex where citified people call the police if they see you put an uncased rifle in the truck.  I don't think I will miss much of the city except eating and shopping.  Cabela's, Bass Pro and Gander Mountain may lure me back once in a while.

We are meeting lots of people, neighbors from nearby ranches, and making new friends each trip to town.  It is amazing the people at the feed store and other places that ask if we are the folks that built the house out at Nix.  Wal-Mart, Tractor Supply, Ace Hardware, the hamburger joints, the Donut Palace, the few local restaurants, Churches and the feed stores are the centers of social activity in small town Texas.  Word seems to travel fast around here no matter the news.  The local newspaper, The Lampasas Dispatch Record, is published twice weekly and everyone looks forward to the local news.  The paper is delivered by mail and comes late in the afternoon on the publish date, no more reading the daily paper early in the mornings with coffee.  We are learning to enjoy the local radio station FM 101.9 which is a sort of Country, Western Swing, Pop and other combo station.  We may try to attend one of their tailgate concerts in the Ace Hardware parking lot in the future.  The radio station puts out a little news classified daily bulletin that all the businesses keep for locals to pick up when you shop that I actually look forward to reading.  We hope to get more involved in the community as time allows.  If you are getting older and have some dreams of moving to the country my advice is do it as soon as you can while you are young enough to handle the physical labor.  It will be hard work, but the life style looks like it is worth it.  Wild Ed

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Jeff Hardymon said...

Nice place y'all have there. Wishing ya many happy years there.

Wild Ed said...

Thanks Jeff, we are already enjoying being here and I am sure it will be much better once we get moved in and everything put away. Ed

tjansen said...

We lived in Durham, N.C.on 8 acres. We saw Deer in the back pasture, Hawks eying our chickens, loose dogs dragging our chickens away and snakes on the wall trying to get the eggs. The peacefulness and good nature out weighed the bad. Really.
With the dark sky , unlit by City lights. You can sit outside on a recliner with your binoculars gazing at the stars AND the passing Satellites. Once in Texas with no moon I saw many Satellites going in different directions. The Sun reflects off them so your best time would be 2 to 4 hours after sunset.IMHO.
I envy you. Protect your body, as you say it is not young any longer. Hope you find a young farm boy that can climb on the Roof and other off the Ground and Slippery mud work. My Uncle in Norway fell while picking Apples. Fractured his skull and caused Hemorrhaging. He is recuperating. Fine line between working safe and getting help.
Be safe AND Fulfilled My Friend.
Tom Jansen

Wild Ed said...

Thanks my friend, you and your lovely better half are welcome anytime. Ed