Saturday, January 17, 2009


Woo-Hoo Y’all!
The Autumnal pulse of the prairie has given birth to an inaudible prompting in my spirit, to begin recalling and recording all of the picturesque events that have taken place amidst the buffalo grass and ferric dirt of the North Texas plains. The past year, as usual, has been chock full of infinite moments worthy of recollection. A tattered vanilla-colored folder, my note repository, has once again, done its duty for the past 12 months. As I rifle through the slips of paper that have taken up residence there, my mind is jogged and the flurry of the past brings a smile to my face. Perusing each entry, I quickly realize the depth of this papery sea. Should I start with the annual cricket infestation that descended upon us last spring...easily rivaling those of biblical proportions... How about the time, last January, that I came downstairs to find a snake sprawled out on the cowhide rug, slowly slithering toward our two sleeping cats? Oh, I know... there was that day in late March that I discovered my best white rooster had somehow flopped into the old galvanized washtub where Dyke drains his tractor oil and instantly became the outcast of the flock– exiled from the chicken house. It took 4 months of preening and dusting in solitary confinement to get that stuff off, until one day, he was accepted back—As much as these annual chronicles seem like clever fabrications, they are true! There is no other life for me—and as mafia wives have said throughout history, “this is the life I have chosen”.




The boys have really grown into some wonderful human beings...on most days. Jake is in his Junior year of high school and Zack his first year (6th) at the Junior High. It just doesn’t seem right...Zack is the same age that Jake was when we moved up here! Last December, Jake was released from his surgeon to play sports. For the most part, his leg is fine, but we have grown accustomed to relying on what the incoming weather is going to be, based on the amount of pain that his knee has when a front heads our way. He says he definitely feels the screws in his knee when he is tackled in football or running bases, so we’ll have to see what the future brings. Both boys had amazing scores on the Texas State Exams and continue to hold their place on the A-B honor roll. They are learning to “bond” during their morning trips to school together in Jake’s pick up. Hunting will always be a passionate part of their lives and Jake has even been hired by local hunters to track wounded deer or wild hogs with Penny, our lab. Feral hog programs have quickly taken root, becoming the vernacular for this area of Texas. With the rapid rise in their population and their vast destruction on farmlands, local programs have been put in place to round up and shoot the hogs via helicopters. Dyke and a few friends have started a small business of trapping live wild hogs, and transporting them to buyers. At 0.40 per pound, it has proven to be a profitable extra job. Their fine-tuned trapping pens can hold up to 12 hogs at one time, but the removal of the hogs from the pens is the dangerous part. The hogs are vicious and brandish large razor-sharp tusks. That, combined with their amazingly aggressive behavior, makes for quite a rodeo!
I have seen first hand, what this “extra job” entails...getting in the pen with these huge, mean, lightning-fast beasts is quite simply, not my cup of tea. It takes 3 game wardens to hold a sow down! I can castrate calves all day long, but no thanks to this adventure!

Zack’s innate hunting instincts have actually been helpful around here. The gophers are popping up everywhere on the farm, so he has been put to work trapping gophers for $2.00 a piece.

Also, when we discovered a mouse had been enjoying the spoils in the kitchen from night to night, the boys tracked him to our bedroom and after 2 days of great effort and revolutionizing their handmade blow-dart gun design, (i.e.: a 1/2 inch PVC pipe and a 16-P nail, sharpened to a deadly point on the electric sander.) Jake was able to shish-ka-bob the small rodent! Since he didn’t want to have his photo taken, Zack bravely stepped in.

On a pitch black New Years Eve, within 30 minutes, Zack returned from bow hunting 4 large cottontails and Dyke fried them up for our New Year’s Day supper!


For Zack’s 12th birthday, we had a SURPRISE TEAM CHALLENGE party for 20 of his friends. It was similar to Jake’s Survivor party, but with different team challenges! They had a BLAST and talked about it for weeks!



During the cold winter months, the boys took the wing bones from the turkeys they harvested from the previous year, removed the marrow, scraped them thin with their pocketknives and fashioned their own wing bone turkey calls—like the Indians did. When Spring rolled around, they were able to call up a small flock by making “kissing” noises into the hollowed bone. They shot 2 young jakes and 1 mature tom. There’s nothing like grilled wild turkey! Later, with the flight feathers from the right wing, for the fletching, they built homemade arrows out of cedar shafts. So, their next challenge is to harvest turkey, deer and maybe even duck, with their traditional longbows and homemade arrows!

Duck season was pitiful, as the ducks didn’t use this area for their main flyway due to the drought and not having enough water to hold them... so we did not put many ducks in the freezer this year.

Spring brought the need to upgrade to a bigger tractor, so we bit the bullet and welcomed a much needed 50HP Kubota into the family. With a 6 foot shredder, auger and sprayer...Dyke has been able to get a lot more done in a MUCH shorter time! Jake’s job is to shred the pastures, while Zack walks in front of the tractor, bow hunting the field rats that scatter in front of the wheels. One day he got 10 rats with his bow, but couldn’t remove the arrows fast enough to get the next rat, so he switched to his pellet gun and got 11 more! That has helped keep the rats out of the yard, as the cats were bringing their “prizes” to the back door for affirmation and kudos. The rats were even drowning in the water troughs—one day I found 4 floating in the trough!! They’re not your basic, garden variety, skimpy prairie squirrel either… definitely a colossal mouthful for a cat! Amazingly enough, we even had one come in the house when the backdoor was opened! Once the heat of the summer got here, the rat sightings became less and less.


The wheat crop this year was phenomenal and the bushel prices spiked up overnight! The local farms were producing so much wheat, that the elevators couldn’t store it all! They finally had to resort to dumping it in huge piles on the ground. We sold ours early in the season, got it into storage without a problem and were able to sell at double last year’s prices!

April Fool’s Day brought in a new member of the menagerie...Belle, a bottle calf (Angus). Zack took right to the care of the calf, mixing the milk and feeding her before school, after school and before bed. After a few weeks of being confined in her pen, we let her spend the days out around the place. If we didn’t get out to the barn fast enough with the milk, she’d come to the door and beller until you came out with the bucket. Then, it was a darting footrace to get the bucket, brimming with warm, foamy milk, to the pen to hang on the fence before she butted the heck out' a ya’! By the end of the summer, she had taken to the herd and moved out to the pasture.


We’ve had a large turnover in the chicken population. We were able to have fresh eggs all winter until.........several of my mature hens became a warm meal for some type of varmint in the night. I think it was a ‘possum, as the only part that was eaten was the soft flesh of their back ends. Although I lost several, there were 3 families of chicks born. Again, without knowing when or why, each sunrise brought the loss of 2 or 3.


Despite the enormous gas prices, we made several trips to the lake during the summer to swim, wakeboard and enjoy the water together. Jake perfected his wakeboarding skills and Zack finally was able to get up on the board and stay up! Jake passed his Boater’s Safety class and was certified to operate a boat without an adult present, so he and his friends spent quite a few afternoons out at the lake.

In May, Jake was hired on at the historic Waggoner Ranch south of town. He was given a beat-up ranch truck - which he learned to love- and was part of the grounds crew—working sun-up to sun-down. The truck had no brakes, power steering or FM radio...the heater blasted hot air and the AC was inoperable...The engine would die if it was thrown in reverse and it quickly and rightfully earned the honorable name P.O.C. (Piece O’ Crap)! He enjoyed the hard work and the weekly paycheck, and was the resident snake catcher when a nest was stirred up by the weed-eaters and mowers! It was a fantastic experience for him and he is looking forward to the opportunity to work out there again this summer.Then on Saturdays, he started working at the feed store, loading feed, welding deer stands and working on farm trucks. We hardly ever saw him!

Zack, on the other hand, spent his summer, as usual… sleeping late, exploring, hunting, fishing and swimming in the pond with the dogs. He even caught a trophy bullfrog, chopped off the legs and grilled them for supper...Barb-B-Q style!



In Early Fall, Zack took on the care of another critter— a hawk— A Mississippi Kite that Dyke brought home. It had been abandoned. Every morning before school, and after school, he would go to the pasture and catch a Gatorade bottle full of grasshoppers to feed the hawk. It lived in a box in the laundry room. As it got older, grew feathers and started to learn how to fly, it moved outside to the tree. Soon, the grasshoppers were not filling him up like they used to, so we started supplementing with chicken livers! He learned to fly, swoop and catch the livers in the air, as Zack tossed them up. By October 1st, he had been successfully rehabbed and was off on his own...Dyke thinks he joined the others in their migration south. We never saw him again.

Summer was a season of change. New calves, most of which were bulls, lived a life of leisure in the shadows of their mamas, but by mid September, it was time to dehorn, castrate and ear-notch ‘um. It happened to fall on a day that I was home from school- sick with fever, and Jake was at football with Dyke and Zack roping them, I was able to do the rest—despite my fever and massive headache! Hershey went to a new home north of Dallas—a friend of a friend who has several horses, cows and an assortment of other animals. From what I’ve heard, he is completely spoiled and happy! The old Ford farm truck, pretty much quit, so we had to replace it with a beautiful Chevy Silverado! Zack has been taking driving lessons in it and it already has a dent from hitting a wild hog!



My parents celebrated their 50th anniversary and we all joined up at the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where they rented a HUGE house at the beach and we spent a week there! We drove the entire 2600 miles, basically without stopping! Dyke is quite the task-master—no time to sightsee or even get out to pee! With wild mustangs living in the dunes, the salty Atlantic, great food and was a beautiful way to all get together!

During the summer, we were able to squeeze in several long-awaited projects. Dyke designed and built my anniversary boot -rack out of welded steel and it turned out so perfectly!
We also finished our master bath shower—The original had to be ripped out and redone. Dyke did the structure...tin walls on the inside and wrapped it in barn wood from one of our old outbuildings, while I designed, built and installed the mosaic tile floor…it’s 4 running horses, in case you can’t tell! It’s a great shower now! The shower curtain has cattle brands all over it and we used horse shoes to attach the rods to the walls! As if we didn’t have enough irons in the fire already, my jewelry business started doing pretty darn well, requiring lots of creative time in my studio (which I adore). I was also able to design and create a website for it! Check it out and spread the word…

On some of my free days, I have been able to work a few cows and ride a few good horses! Nothing in this world compares to being on a good horse loping across the prairie on a beautiful day!

Prior to Christmas, my friend, Joline, hosted a Pre-Christmas Happy Hour/Jewelry Show at her amazing ranch home! It was a blast and resulted in some fabulous exposure for my jewelry, as well as a full evening of socializing, and jewelry sales!

Also, at this past year’s big annual Ranch Rodeo, Joline introduced me to a woman who was in the process of organizing the big inductee luncheon at the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Ft. Worth. As it turned out, I designed and built - from scratch - a cowgirl statue, similar to my Santa figures, for the event! I had never made a figure that didn't have facial hair...what a challenge!As part of my birthday (Jan 08), Dyke arranged with Joline’s husband to have permission to take me, and my parents, out on the Waggoner Ranch to get a feel for the place and see the amazing wildlife out there. It started with a trip to Doan’s Crossing—the place on the Red River where 1 million cattle crossed into Indian Territory (OK) during the height of the cattle drives in Texas.

Then, it was on to the Waggoner Ranch Headquarters and entrance to the largest cattle ranch in our nation- within the confines of a single fence! A new pair of cowboy boots was the 3rd part of my gift—and the entire day was a memory I will not forget!

This year’s birthday was also blessed by the presence of my parents! Part of the celebration included a spectacular evening at sunset on the Ranch with owners, Buck and Joline, friends, Dan and Susie and my parents! It was an unforgettable and amazing experience! Fabulous friends, food & drink, glorious sunset with geese and cranes flying to the roost, and a private wildlife tour. AMAZING!

Dyke has been super busy, not only with trying to enforce the fish and game laws across the county (just under 1,000 square miles), but also assisting the local
law enforcement in “cracking” down on the meth labs and other drug users. Upon approaching a suspicious pickup out on a remote dirt road, he was quickly underway in a high speed chase. The clouds of dust boiling up behind the pursuant, allowed for minimal to no visibility. As he tried to gain speed without losing control, the vehicle entered the Waggoner Ranch open range. Now, it was a cross country road, but hundreds of mesquite trees, rock outcroppings and nothing but rough country to try to weave through There were no roads to follow, so roads were made. As a fence line came into view, Dyke removed his seatbelt, thinking the guy was going to take off on foot. The guy turned up the fire break alongside the fence, back to the county road and the race continued. —without the protection of his seatbelt. He could not remove his hands from the wheel long enough to strap back in. Dyke’s truck fishtailed out of control, and before he was able to stop, he plowed down 10 fence posts, dropped into a 9 foot washout and clear-cut a patch of mesquite. The guy had gotten away. However, Dyke obtained a warrant for his arrest and was able to send him back to the state pen.

Dyke’s adventures have brought several high speed chases through the vast countryside, one of which, the pursuant poured liquid meth from his speeding truck. The meth blew back onto Dyke’s truck, instantly glazing the windshield from any visibility, as well as splattering on his face and in his eyes through the open window. After a 17 mile pursuit, and a footrace, the doper ended up being caught and jailed…on his way back to the state pen.

Hurricane IKE invited Dyke to spend a week in Galveston. Luckily, there were a lot of units patrolling, so things stayed under control. He was one of 16 game wardens who shared living quarters with 16 highway patrolmen at a local children’s camp, that they dubbed “Camp Good Times”! The 32 “kiddie bunk-bed” cabin—with only 1 bathroom certainly became the catalyst for a multitude of hilarious vignettes!

Deer season always brings poachers and trouble, and it seems like Dyke is only home long enough to grab a bite to eat and catch some shut-eye. After a 2-month investigation on 3 subjects poaching deer, Dyke filed several felony charges and the guys are awaiting some Wilbarger County justice!
His strength, skills and knowledge about things always amaze me—as he can build or fix ANYTHING! Electrical, plumbing,, construction, dog training…he can do it, and do it the right way. He moved the big pipe cattle pen to a new location so that we can start building the bunkhouse...He fenced in the 40 acres next to us and now the cattle have more winter grass. I guess I’ll keep him around for a while longer! The adventures continue... I guess Dyke gets it from several people in his cool lady is his 95 year old grandmother - HERE SHE IS!
We wish y’all a safe & healthy 2009! Stay in touch, praise God for all that you are blessed with each day and know that we think of you often! Remember, always look at the positive end of the cow!

Dyke, Su,
Jake and Zack