Page revised: October 9, 2009


BACK AT THE RANCH!

My Flying Dutchman

My Roots ....Heritage

If you wonder where this ranch is - see the white dot in the Texas-shaped flag on the background here - that's approximately where it is located!

Here with the trusty Explorer that goes the distance for our commutes from Dallas (blue dot) to the ranch - 500 miles each way, and interim visits to Del Rio (red dot) 100 miles distant, for groceries and other supplies during our sojournes! Most of the miles are on good paved highways, but the final 20 miles of 25-mph ranch road depicted here are "for real". We plan our stays carefully!

Surely the real icon of my Southwestern Texas country is the windmill! It's come to be a poignant reminder of its story. Now electric pumps pull the precious water from deep wells - in this case, 712'! But early on, when my Dad drilled my well and most others in the large area, he routinely installed the familiar mills. I so intensely recall the mournful sound of it at night. I can almost taste the water it brought up - to be captured in an old chipped enamel-clad metal cup which hung alongside the pipe from which it gushed forth into the large round rock-walled holding tank! I remember how it was used to signal people out riding fences or painting sunsets when they were needed back at the compound. In fact - my emergency appendix operation had to await permission until the windmill could summon my parents to come in - and to drive miles and miles to a telephone to the hospital!
I guess I owe my life to that windmill!

Countless almost-hidden nooks and crannies remind us of the specialness here. They are places frequented only by cattle, deer, jackrabbits, roadrunners, and all the myriad of flora and fauna native to this region. If all the humans who ever set foot on these spots were gathered together, they would still number only a few. The long-eared bunny below was caught by surprise with the sun shining through his alert ears when I clicked his picture.

The cabin is our own project. We brought in the materials and constructed it ourselves! It grew from our own designs - so we are its architects, construction crew, materials managers, as well as its eventual dwellers! We've extended our two selves further than we dreamed! And we've only suffered a few set-backs in the process! Best, we are still speaking to each other!

Home-cooking is non-optional at the ranch! It's even prohibitive to bring in frozen items! We make our own ice cream the old fashioned way! There are no fast foods and definitely, no restaurants. So I'm "chef", except for wonderful special outdoor cuisine furnished by George or by an occasional ambitious visitor! I'd love to serve you some of my waffles! They're a treat I like to serve visitors during their stays. Sharing the recipe is the next-best thing I can offer until you visit.

This scene is located in the main family headquarters ranch. This Big Canyon winds through that ranch and continues alongside my ranch, then meanders on into another canyon which drains off into the Rio Grande about 20 miles away. That is not water you see down in it, but earth - rock and sand - in which I once discovered a dinosaur footprint! Caves in the canyon protect Indian relics as they once protected their owners. If one is diligent in searching for them, hand-hewn flint arrow-heads are still to be found. My brother collected hundreds of all sizes when he was a boy. One also runs across artifacts from the earliest railroad and ranching era.

Not too far on west of the Pecos, we turn off US highway onto a narrow, hilly rural road to the ghost town of Pumpville, where we cross the railroad tracks and pass over the cattle-guard and leave pavement behind.

Traffic is sparse even on the main highway out here, but it thins more and more as one proceeds more and more slowly over the gravel county road to the point where the rocky ranch road branches off, leading to the Dutchman.

There is a wide variety of wildlife.

This is a habitat for many types of animals, both domestic and wild. Many species of game, critters, birds, reptiles, insects thrive. We permit a few hunters each fall. There are even some fish in the tank which holds well water and supplies the troughs throughout the ranch. Their major function is to control algae growth.

Of course, there are cattle, too. Bob is permitted to graze some of his cattle; here he was en route to check on his herd in Vaquero pasture and stopped to chat a little.

On another occasion I took a walk into Montero pasture with some of the cows trotting along behind me, no doubt hoping I had some hay in my pockets to feed them!"

There are five internally fenced grazing pastures within the ranch. This facilitates rotation of the cattle, in order to allow the sparse vegetation to recover from being grazed.
The deer prefer and require different types of vegetation, namely forbs (weeds) and browse (twigs and leaves of bushes). It is amazing that they happily eat quite thorny ones. In fact, they get a large percentage of their water from moisture-rich cacti leaves. The native plants on this land drink up the limited rainfall and store it for dry times. At night, even in the dryest of times, moisture emitted from the night-cycle of the plants collects and is deposited on surfaces in the form of dew.

Mesquite trees, wild persimmon bushes, and this century plant get much of their water from morning dew which falls from the old awning roof above, under which we built the cabin.
The roof is a sweeping extension of the tall hay-shed and originally shaded the sheep-shearing pad below it. Getting concrete poured so far from town is almost impossible. So the shearing pad floor was mixed, poured and leveled by hand by my Dad and brother, over 50 years ago.
Its open concrete floor provided a handy foundation for our cabin, while the roof above shaded us from the fierce summer sun during the building phase and helps the cooling of the cabin itself.

(That century plant pictured above is now almost covering that satellite dish!)

Contemplative - thinking of all the things this place means to me, perhaps.
Recalling days of my youth when the family spent the vacation time "at the ranch" when school recessed for the summer! When school was in session, Dad commuted frequently and at times both my parents were needed at the ranch. When I was 4- years old and was enrolled in school, I really didn't object when I was left with my first-grade teacher, Miss Willy Long, during those times! - There were so many neat things to investigate at her house! Things like "flash cards" with multiplication tables on them and books I hadn't seen! Then when they returned to town, Dad was always happy to let me recite my newly acquired knowledge!
That dear man! Perhaps he'd learned to cat-nap with his eyes open in rapt attention!


LINKS


Fall, 2004 Flying Dutchman Ranch - Picture Gallery!


A Ranch Visit


My Attic (1)


The Flying Dutchman's own website

2006 - 2009 - Created & Copyrighted by Nellieanna H. Hay