The hill country ranch that I visited in the spring is a lovely place. I brought my camera and took pics of the cousins. After all of the posing, smiling, and “when are you going to put your camera down?” I went outside to see the animals and savor the scenery.
The entire place was one of serenity- quiet,clean, and dignified. No bits of paper and NO CLUTTER. Everything was in place.
My cousin, Linda and her husband have worked very hard to manage the land and to respect it as well. There were no dead live oaks, scrub brush, mountain cedar, nor any cactus. Earl, my cousin-in-law has been careful to continue to manage the range land in the same manner as his father. But on many ranches, over grazing has caused the destruction of good grass land and over grazing led to non -desirous vegatative growth such as mountain cedar and cactus that took over and ruined the range land.
The ranch house, was built some time ago but has been remodeled. It is light and airy with large windows that provide wonderful air circulation. All the rooms are tastefully decorated with contemporary furniture and some antiques that were handed down from generations that are now gone. The mix of furniture was restful and lovely.
A ranch or farm just would not be what it is without the addition of various animals. On this ranch, all the animals served a purpose. There were 4 dogs, 7 cats, 15 chickens, 2 guineas, and a huge flock of sheep. And lots of wild birds that I could hear and see just by standing still; watching and listening. The Great Pyrenees dog is the guardian of the flock, the Border Collie and Australian Shepherd mix serves as a watch dog, and then there is one very pretty Pembroke Corgi (tri-colored) and a Pembroke and Australian Cattle dog mix that looked almost like a purebred Corgi. The two corgis can actually assume the role of sheep dog but these two are my cousin Linda and her husband Earl’s personal pets. They tell me that they are “dog people” more than they are cat people even though there are 7 neutered or spayed cats around. Four cats live in the barn and keep the rat and mice population in check. The other 3 cats are more people oriented and “hang out” in the patio and garage areas. All of the cats and dogs look very healthy and lead a contented life.
Back to the birds. I did not get a picture of the Purple Martin house with its twittering inhabitants that (I’m still wondering how I failed to take pics of the martins) were circling around and around their bird home that was placed in an area between the house and the barn that is devoid of trees. In order to attract Purple Martins it is a must to have their nesting box situated where the birds can circle around their house without the hindrance of trees or shrubs- that is at least 25 feet in diameter. Purple Martins are habitual circlers and glide around their nesting box. These birds are what is known as colony birds which means that they nest and roost in close promimity of like birds. They ae gregarious by nature and seem to take great delight as they dip and dive among those of their own kind.
The Purple Martin is a very desirous bird to have around for they eat thousands of mosquitoes each day. There is only one draw back of having these birds around. They begin gathering in huge flocks where they roost at night for about 2 weeks before they head out for the jungle areas of Brazil.
As an aside, I have known indviduals that have spent a lifetime attempting to attract these birds to their home in order to keep the mosquito population down. Iv’e had many people tell me what an assest these birds are. It is always a sad day about the 2nd or 3rd week of July when they begin gathering to leave for their wintering grounds. By the end of July all of the meeting/roosting places have been abandoned and not one Purple Martin can be found- until around February of the next year when the birds return to resume where they left off.
I can absolutely say that my visit to the ranch was like a mini vacation for me. I was relaxed and entertained. It was truly a “field day for me.”
Post and photographs Yvonne