Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Day at the Ranch

I had a first-hand tour of how dry Texas is today when we drove around my brother's ranch on his mule (forgot the real name but it looks like a heavy-duty golf cart that can go over weeds, brush, dips, etc). Jeannie and I make this pilgrimage every spring to see the calves and the land. Last year, if memory serves, we went earlier, and the grasses were green. Today there were deep grasses, dried gray and brown, the kind of stuff that would burn quickly. We saw only scattered wildflowers, though the prickly pear had some great yellow blooms and there were a few paintbrush here and there and, along the roadsides, lots of black-eyed Susans and what looked like Queen Anne's Lace to me--do we have that in Texas? John says someone told him it's the driest year in forty-four years, which would take us back to the drought of the '50s (read Elmer Kelton's The Time It Never Rained.) I know it's dry in Fort Worth, and we talk about needing rain, but this took my breath away--not in a good sense. The land is still beautiful, and so are the cows who wander up close to the mule, thinking they'll be fed--and they were. The calves romp and play with each other, though two were so new you could still see the umbilical cords.
John had thought they'd be working the calves today--branding and castrating--and he thought we might like to come for that, though he said, "I don't want to hear any, 'Oooh, doesn't it hurt them?'" The work day had to be postponed, and I'm just as glad because we had much more chance to visit and we got the tour. When we get way back in the ranch--what I call the "back 40"--I am so lost I have no idea which direction the house is. Yet I'm impressed at how John knows the land--where the trails are that are easiest to drive over, where to detour to look at a certain fence or spot, etc. Made me think of what I once read about pioneers learning to read the prairie so that they never got lost in the endless land. This isn't that endless, but it's pretty disorienting to me. As far as I could tell today we rode along five side of the ranch--but I know it only has four!

A big part of our annual ranch day, after the tour, is sitting on the porch, drinking wine and eating lox and bagels--strange traditions we start. John and Cindy added today some cheese, an excellent Gouda made in Granbury (and sent some home with us). Above you can see the view from the porch across the road to one of the pastures, our lunch table, and my brother, or as I like to call him these days, Farmer Peckham (he's only been a rancher since '97; before that he was a physician; I think he likes this a lot better!)
A lovely day. John often says I don't get out in the outdoors enough, and he's probably right--but I enjoyed all that fresh air today. Weather was just perfect--nice breeze, comfortable temperature, not a blaring sun. I am city girl, but it's grand to have relatives in the country.

1 comment:

Pretty as the Morning said...

Dont get out in the outdoors enough? Doesn't wine and dinner on the front porch count?

Sounds like a lovely trip despite the drought.