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”.
JAKE AND JORDAN AT THE CANDLELIGHT BALL
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!
ZACK-COMING BACK FROM A MORNING DUCK HUNT ON THE POND
ZACK AND HIS FRIEND PLAYING IN THE COTTON TRAILER
JAKE "SURFING" BEHIND THE 4 WHEELER
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.
SPRING:MATING SEASON - MATING RATTLESNAKES
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.
NAPPIN' IN THE SUN!
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!
BLACKJACK - THE NEWEST ADDITION
CASH AND PENNY READY TO GO FOR A SWIM!
OUTER BANKS, NORTH CAROLINA
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 fun...it was a beautiful way to all get together!
PROCESSING DEER WITH THE BOYS
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 race...no 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 family...one 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!
Jake and Zack