Saturday, January 30, 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
Actually, this was something we did not know existed until fairly recently. The village is on a tract of land we did not own until the 1980's. We knew it as a walnut grove, and it touched part of the existing ranch. After Dad and my brother Bil purchased this tract and logged the pine timber, one of the foresters we knew told us that the walnut trees that were present was a strong sign that Native Americans had camped and lived in the area. This was easy to believe;there are no other walnut trees even close. Therefore, we summarized, the trees were planted, and because of there size and age they must have been planted several hundred years ago. Or, at least there parents were.
The area was well known by both Dad and Uncle Al. The village was very close to where Hottel Creek and Bluff-off Creek merge. The alluvial bottom land was, (and still is) full of river cane, Myrtle, and other evergreen plants that range animals lived on during the winter. The stock men of the area would come to this area for winter roundups. Now the area is full of wild hogs and deer that eat the same vegetation. Uncle Al remembers that one of the last of the range hogs lived there. The old sow was a real old fashioned rooter, and was protective of her little pigs. He was a little scared to be in this area un-armed.
I have told the village tale several times. When it looked like the I-69 road project was coming directly through the ranch, I inferred that the route would disturb an Indian burial ground, therefore needed to be moved. The project is on hold, so for now the place is still somewhat sacred.
Dad was a good storyteller and told us bedtime tales when we were young. One of my favorite serial pieces was of a young Caddo hunter/warrior. Dad was very smart and knowledgeable of the native tribes, but when he created and told these tales he did not know of the village. When I explore the area now, I can easily imagine that this was the village of that Caddo family, his description was spot-on.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
One day Dad decided to burn some brush piles left after logging. I need to confess that I was not home during this catastrophe, I was away at school. I put together the story from the participants, primarily my brother Bob and Dad. The brush piles in question were over a year old, so they were dry. It was in January, and the winter had been wet, emphasise on been. It was now dry and windy, perfect to burn. My brothers attempted to talk reason to Dad, but his mind was made up.
Papa was there to help and began to clear a fire row with a hand rake as the rest threw diesel on the wood and set the piles ablaze. The pile burned well, what with a good west wind fanning the flames. The wood burned so well that things got out of control and soon the woods were on fire. Dad blames it all on the hand rake breaking, but the dry windy conditions probably had something to do with it. Papa left to get Mama packed and to safety, he knew the fire would not stop until it hit a major highway, (Papa was not always optimistic.)
Eventually the US Forest service arrived with some volunteer firemen. They used a dozer to clear lanes and with many men put out the forest fire. The positives of the disaster were the Moffet Volunteer Fire Department was formed, (and that is a very good thing,) and we had several new acres of cleared land. NO houses or building were destroyed and nor neighboring forests were touched. Dad still claims he had it under control until the rake handle broke, but my brother Bob still remembers the flames going from tree top to tree top. This is something I have experienced as well. It is scary.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Ben (my son) and I were checking out the hardwood bottoms of the ranch last week and I saw this wonderful coon track in a sandbar. Immediately, my heart began to race as the sign brought back memories of my young adulthood. In the late 1970's and early 1980's I almost eradicated the coon population on the ranch. I loved to coon hunt.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Once the tower was built and the buildings that followed were erected, this has become a blight on the ranch. The natural beauty is scared and the tower companies are scum.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Wild hogs have invaded the K-Bar. These feral pigs are basically nocturnal and I am yet to see one, but I can see the damage they do rooting for food. These are where I first saw the signs, in the hardwood creek bottoms. The main area is where the loggers stages the logs the last time we logged the bottom tracts. This is a remote area and I even have the cattle and goats shut out of this area for now, (until after deer season-which ended a few weeks ago.)
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
The K-Bar Ranch is all about animals, but the animals that rank the highest,(after humans,) are the dogs. There have been a few really outstanding dogs that have lived and worked on the K-Bar, a few descent ones and a lot that we fed. Sarita is on the edge between descent and outstanding. If longevity has anything to do with it, she is outstanding. Not bad for a mangy, stray, one eyed, fat girl.
We have always had dogs, but Dad was dog less several years ago when Sarita wondered on to the place. She was a mangy starving pup, and a female. We usually don't do females. The breeding cycles of dogs are too much for us to handle. Dad was desperate, so he took what God provided. We covered her coat with old crank case oil to help with the mange and fed her. It took years to get rid of her mange and to put real weight on her. Eventually both happened. Now she is a little on the plump side.
She originally had two good eyes, but not a good since of what a Suburban can do while backing up. Mother backed into her while she was not much older than a pup, (but right after Dad took her to a real vet to get her fixed. Dad never took dogs to a real vet, and when Sarita got backed into he thought this was a sign.) She recovered completely except for loosing her eye. Who would have ever thought a dog with this kind of start would ever survive for long on the ranch, but Sarita may be the oldest dog to ever live on the K-Bar. Go figure!
Her best attribute is her protectiveness. She is a very good guard dog. She is also very tough! She rules the ranch and all the places next to it. Sarita is the queen of the area. Interesting thought is what if Sarita outlives Dad? This could be a problem. Mother is not as attached to dogs as Dad is, and she sure isn't as attached to the place. Ten years ago I would have not worried about this, Dad was in great health and his dog was a one eyed fat girl with a desire to fight coyotes and a history of hair loss.Now she is a fixture.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Monday, January 18, 2010
Now he is big as well as agile. We may never load him. He is big enough that the cowboys who would rope and load a cow are now a little scared of the steer. They think that if he and their roping horse got in a tug-of-war, the Steer would win. They are probably correct.
Although he is basically gentle, this half longhorn beast is now very big and as such needs to be respected. Earlier this year I was feeding the cows some cubes by hand. I never feed bulls out of my hand but I would feed The Steer this way. As I was feeding him he flicked his big horns up at a fly or such and knocked off my cap. The Steer weighs between sixteen and seventeen bills, (1600-1700 lbs.) and his massive head got within a few inches of mine. That was a very sobering thought.
One thing about The Steer that I like is reminds me of oxen of olden days. He looks exactly like the beasts of burden that were instrumental in the logging and freighting businesses that built East Texas. I can only imagine how much raw power a yoke (two) of oxen like The Steer would have. Even though I know the Green Mule could outwork a half dozen oxen, the physical size of the oxen are impressive. He looks much larger in person than in picture. Even digital photography can't capture The Steer. He has skills.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Monday, January 11, 2010
There are three ponds on the original farm. They were known by their geographic location. They are the East Pond, (closet to the old house), the North Pond and the West Pond. These unimaginative names are an oddity on the ranch, a place where every animal and place has a name.Something unusual in this picture is the ice sheet on the part by the dam. It rarely gets cold enough to freeze the ponds on the ranch. This picture was taken January 10,2010. Yes, it has been cold!
The West Pond is the largest of the original ponds, (although Lake Folly is much larger.) Some unique facts about this pond. It was built along the old county road that was one of the older roads in the area. Non-native bear grass can still be found along the ditches of the old road. The yucca like plants were used by the settlers for everything from straw hats to sausage hangers for the smokehouse. Because of the proximity to the road, there were many large holes dug before the Killams bought this land. The holes were dug by treasure hunters looking for lost Mexican payrolls.
Papa's Barn is showing the wear and tear of all the ranch. Originaly a milking barn for 3-5 cows, Papa built this timber framed barn almost completely by himself. He was a great carpenter. It was used for over 50 years, but during the last dozen or so it was badly neglected and began to fall apart. Hurricane Rita started it demolision and Hurricane Ike pretty much finished the job. Papa's barn was once the pride of the farm, now it is just another example of how neglected the farm is. Papa is gone, Dad is on his last leg and I may be the last Killam to ranch on the K-Bar. I don't have the time or money to run the ranch like Papa did. I feel the strain, and sometimes feel like the barn looks.