The Flying Dutchman -
It's a working ranch, in far southwest Texas.
And it's very much a part of my heritage.
Come along on a little tour.
We'll enter through the cattleguard, going on past the Flying Dutchman sign.
You might barely see on the horizon a little dot which is the compound,
almost three miles away from here and near the center of the ranch.
Then we'll proceed down the road ~
The main road which descends into the valley through which
Outlaw Canyon meanders on its diagonal route across
the ranch from northeast to southwest.
We're getting nearer the compound,
but it's still just a spot on the horizon.
You may begin to wonder if it's a myth, a "jumping off place"!
Or - perhaps a pot at the end of the rainbow!
Well - it almost is all of that!
You see, distance is deceiving ~ and so is the "lay of the land."
It appears flat, but has quite dramatic differences in elevations.
It may appear arid, but in the canyons and draws, there is lush vegetation,
especially if there have been good rains, as there were last fall
when I took these pictures.
We'll proceed on the road, around some hills,
down into a solid rock-bottomed draw I call Lazaro,
through another cattleguard which separates two of the pastures,
named Bandalero and The Rose Garden.
Outlaw Canyon is named on US Geophysical maps, by the way.
Above, I'm leaning on a canyon wall of it which is mild compared to
Outlaw's dramatic exit from the ranch at Senta's Leap:
There are stories behind names I've given various features of the ranch
including Senta's Leap - as opera buffs may recognize.
Next an ascent up a rather long steep road to a mesa where the compound is located.
A turn to the left brings us past some corrals and up to the gate.
This segment of fence is made of native sotol stalks bound together closely.
This type of construction was once standard construction.
Seems to be regaining interest for aesthetic reasons,
although it's also practical - extremely strong, enduring.
Dry climate is tough on most materials.
But this fence is ancient. It's still here by sheer will. . .
for mostly nostalgic reasons, I suppose.
Inside the compound are our living facilities.
Nothing fancy, just comfortable. A ranch abode.
George and I built this cozy little cabin ourselves.
It's underneath a large awning-type roof attached to a 2-story storage shed.
The shed was previously used for storing hay. Its roof swept out to shade
the large concrete pad used for Dad's sheep-shearing operations here.
We took advantage of the existing concrete for our foundation. The roof's shade
was an added bonus, both during construction and ever since!
We still have plans for renovating the old hay shed.
It's a landmark, actually.
It earned the name "The Hotel" from the Border Patrol years ago, we're told.
If that doesn't stir one's imagination, what would?
Bear in mind that this is very sparsely populated countryside,
not too far from a long stretch of the Rio Grande.
The nearest town with any permanent population is Langtry,
the place famous for Judge Roy Bean of the days
when it was the wild west here. In some ways, it still is.
The outside area under the roof gets a constant breeze. We call it "The Patio".|
It's used day and evening, summer and winter, for soaking up that breeze,
visiting with people, cooking out by ourselves and others, watching sunsets.
In short, it extends our living facilities quite agreeably!
And - if one wants to sun-bathe, that's easy.
In the morning, instead of sitting in the shade on the west patio,
switch to the east and vice-versa in the afternoon!
Above, Ken and Eric were soaking up some rays on a December morning.
Some - such as David and Shar here -
have even gone for a swim in the big stock water holding tank!
(which happens to have some nice bass in it, by the way!)
While the inside of the cabin gets fully finished and furnished
we're just "camping" in it, but having basic appliances in use.
It's well-built and well-insulated for winter and summer extremities.
It's cozy in the winter and pleasant in the summer.
The direct summer sun could cook one's brains,
but it's really quite pleasantly cool in the shade, when one can find shade.
The cabin has an air-conditioner, but never need it at night and seldom at all.
Animals are rampant. Cattle are the livestock crop now.
There's also a fine herd of whitetailed deer.
Actually, this buck was feeding inside the compound.
There are many kinds of game animals and birds - turkey, blue quail, doves -
plus a myriad of songbirds, as well as comical roadrunners.
We see migrating waterfowl and monarch butterflies,
and we have both jackrabbits and cottontails,
plus varmints such as ringtails, predators such as mountain lions;
reptiles, both benign and poisonous . . .
. . . and - yes - some creepy-crawlies, though in all fairness
we see very few un-nice animals.
After a rain, sometimes we see large lacy spiderwebs like this
spun all over fences, mesquite trees, and cacti...
a truly breathtaking sight when the sun reappears and sparkles droplets of rain left behind.
One of our favorite passtimes is watching all the interesting critters and phenomena in action.
For many years, our pet cats accompanied us to the ranch. It was their "second home".
They were strictly housecats, but good travelers who always perked up as we neared the gate.
We enjoy seeing our neighbor, Ryan - with his dog, Max!
Max is Mr. Max Personality, we think.
Here, they stopped by and Max gets a quick swim in the stock-water tank.
The vegetation in the compound varies with weather conditions,
as well as with our opportunity to work with it.
But nature planned for some plants to thrive here, or at least - to survive deprivation.
Of course - we laughingly admit that most things either have sharp teeth, claws or thorns
or - SPEED!
Many plants here are designed to retain water and coolness,
while some can repel strong sunlight.
A few more tender types simply take advantage of earlier or later hours.
Amazingly, the native vegetarian animals thrive on just the diet of plants available.
In the center of the driveway, our little cactus/rock/artifact
garden is a collection of desert plants and other interesting things,
such as fossils and antique tools which we've found around the ranch
and planted or placed in it.
Cactus blossoms are, themselves, works of art!
There are different kinds of rocks, some with various minerals lending color,
some iron pellets, probably from some ancient meteor landing.
There are also rocks having small engraved imprints of little ancient sea creatures.
A prevalence of fossils in the area is the result of this area having been
the bottom of a shallow ancient sea which covered the middle of the continent.
These mountains in Old Mexico are usually visible from
anywhere on the ranch except in the valleys and canyons.
I grew up believing everyone had a distant blue mountain view.
Our neighbors, Bob and his wife, Sue...
came to visit one hot afternoon.
I caught them backlit with abundant afternoon light...
My Dad drilled this well in the 1920's.
The crystal-clear water still flows abundantly,
the only water source on the entire ranch, in fact.
A vast pipeline system carries it to troughs scattered throughout.
The mill itself has been replaced by an electric pump,
to more efficiently bring the water up from 600 feet.
The actual depth of the well is 712 feet.
The compound is almost in the center of the ranch...
everywhere one looks for almost as far as one can see
is the Flying Dutchman...
TIME becomes almost meaningless here, except for sunrise and sunset,
both of which are incredibly spectacular events.