Through all the things I’ve shared on this blog so far, I realize that I have not shared much about how we came to be, what is the driving force behind this life we cherish, and how it all worked out. So, here you go.
We have the honor of being third generation ranchers on this lovely piece of Texas Hill Country just West of Austin. My Grandparents bought our ranch in the early 50’s and raised Brangus cattle on our land. I, along with my Sister and Brother, were born and raised here on this land, and it became a part my soul. I have very early happy memories of helping my Grandpa work the cattle and puttering with him out in the workshop. I have dear, precious memories of walking through the pastures with my Mema, holding hands, and looking for arrow heads.
My Parents live on one corner of our property, and this is where I grew up. We always had a wide and varying array of livestock and pets, some qualifying in both categories. We had an old jersey milk cow named Brownie, and a bottle fed Brangus named Lady May. There was the large herd of Nubians that my Mom raised and we grew up drinking their fresh, raw milk that she brought in every morning. There were chickens, ducks, guineas, peacocks, even quail at one point. We raised sheep and pigs, and had the random horse here and there, that never seemed to really do anything more than eat a lot of food and give the occasional rodeo when my Dad got it in his head to ride. And we had geese.
I will forever remember one goose, mostly because she left a permanent scar on my leg. Her name was Loosey Goosey. Yes, I spelled that right. Not Lucy Goosey, but Loosey Goosey, because this goose had a serious loose screw. Maybe a couple. She was 100% percent convinced that she was a guard dog, and she was also 100% convinced that Sugar, our Great Pyrenees, was her soul mate. Sugar, on the other hand, did not share this same convincement. Quite the contrary. Sugar pretty well detested Loosey, mostly because Loosey stalked her everywhere she went.
We always joked that if robbers came to our house and they made it through the guineas squawking, Loosey Goosey at the gate, and Ms Sugar, the guard dog, then they could take what they wanted, they earned it.
Here’s a picture for you.
Every morning my Mom would, and still does, go for a long 3 mile walk on our ranch. And every morning, as my Mom headed out down the long dirt road, it appeared the Pide Piper had re-incarnated and had diversified in his animal leading skills. Most people take their dog for a walk with them, but when you live on a farm, it gets a little more interesting. My Mom always headed up the group, followed by 4 dogs, including Sugar, then there were at least 5 cats behind them, then Lady May, the cow who thought she was a person, and, flapping her wings, trying valiantly to keep up, was Loosey Goosey. We should have videoed it. We would have been $10,000 richer after we won the America’s Funniest Home Video award.
My Father worked construction for a living and farmed and ranched in all his free time. He also built the house I grew up in with his bare hands. He was not a perfect man, not by far, but he was an amazing work-horse who knew how to love and laugh and give the most amazing hugs.
If you know construction, then you know that it has it’s ups and downs. In the 80’s there was an enormous down. There was a period of about 2 years when my father only made about $200.00 a month, barely enough to cover the electric bill, (which we used in ration), phone bill, and taxes. During these years, we lived 100% off of our land. We grew all our own vegis and fruit, we processed our own pork, beef, and poultry. From the meat, we rendered our own lard and tallow. We made soap from lard and ash from our fire place. We heated our house in the winter with wood cut off our land and we never had A/C, in fact I didn’t live in A/C until I was 17 yrs old. I think it was these years that ingrained in me such a huge love for living off the land. While they were a lot of work and sweat and some tears, I remember them being some of the happiest times of my childhood. While I can only imagine now that I am an adult how hard they must have been on my parents, as a child there was such an amazing joy in doing everything as a family, working side-by-side, and knowing that it took us all to survive.
When I finished high school, I left home to move to the “big city” in high hopes of an exciting life that the country couldn’t offer. The only problem was, it wasn’t all that exciting, just a lot of noise, mess, stress and lack of space. Two years later I came back home.
Fast forward some more.
In 2003, I married the most amazing man ever. I am convinced that Preston is a special gift that God had waiting just for me. And now we are now raising our children on the same soil that I ran barefoot on 30 years ago.
I mentioned earlier that I have a Sister and Brother. It was a unspoken understanding that my Brother would take over ownership and management of the ranch and herd. He worked hours and hours from a very young age at the side of my Grandpa. By the time he was 16 he could rope, ride, wrangle, shear, herd, drive, build, and fix anything that you sent his way. My Brother was a cowboy, to the core. He wore his black cowboy hat every where he went. He wore his chaps with pride. He could have been the next John Wayne if he wanted to, but sadly he died tragically at the early age of 21. This was tragic because of the horrid and deep lose that shock-waved our family, but also tragic because suddenly the future of this ranch, and all the plans that he had for this place, no longer had someone to lovingly tend them.
Both my Grandparents were in their early 80’s now and my Parents had divorced and my Mother and Step-Father had no way of running the ranch by themselves, so that left Preston and I to step up to the plate. We had already started researching livestock and had purchased our first flock of chickens and a couple of milk goats for our family. It was only natural to try and fill the big shoes my Brother left behind.
Now we, along with my Parents and Mema, oversee the management of my Grandfather’s Brangus herd, and we have grown our own homestead that we work hard to provide as much off our land as possible..
I feel like this is all a little jumbled and I’ve skipped so much. It’s hard to go through a lifetime in one blog post!
It is amazing where life takes you.
Tonight, after I put the kiddos to bed, I sat outside to watch the sun set. I could hear the Katydids chirruping, feel the wind on my face. I watched the cows and goats lazily chew their cud, and the chickens scramble to the chicken house for bed. I just looked around at everything. The fields, the fence, the barn, the garden, the root cellar, the chicken tractors, the brooders, and just marveled. What an amazing life I have been blessed with! It has been full of it’s sorrows and hardships, but also full of love and joy. At the end of the day, when it’s all balanced out, the love and joy wins, hands down.