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Posts Tagged ‘Texas’

Gaining Perspective from Traveling

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Growing up in Grimes county, I remember being surprised that most of my schoolmates had not been out of the great state of Texas. True, it is a big state with a lot to offer. We were young, and I was hardly a world-traveler myself. But I was even more surprised by the fact that some of my acquaintances and friends had never been to Houston. It is literally one and half hours from us, and I mean downtown. Obviously, suburbia is much closer.

Even as a fourth-grader I understood that broadening your experiences gave one a better perspective in life. Travel is an easy way to gain perspective. For example, seeing what life is like in the fourth largest city in the United States allows you to see how others live. You can develop an appreciation for where you live and/or appreciate what another place can offer.

My husband and I want our children to see as much of the world as possible. We personally treasure our trips to Hawaii and Mexico. Therefore, we have driven our children across the southeast part of the country visiting places along the way. They have also been able to see parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, and a couple have been to Illinois.

When our oldest was eight, we allowed him to visit family in Alaska. Our daughter has had the opportunity to travel to Honduras. Four of us were thrilled to get the opportunity to venture to Uganda this past summer. (Talk about a life-changing trip.) Now this up-coming week, our middle child gets to travel to Oregon.

As we pack his bags and prepare to send him off, I am so excited for him. Adventure awaits. As he sees different parts of the country from the high desert to the mountains, I know that he will grow by the broadening of his horizons. I cannot wait to hear all about Oregon.

We have been greatly blessed as a family to have these travel opportunities. Although the beaches of Hawaii are beyond beautiful and the green mountains of Arkansas are gorgeous and the city of Houston has many things to offer, there is still nothing like home.

Home is definitely where the heart is and that will never change. If anything, traveling will just make that truth more dear to your soul. As we are already anticipating his return, join us in wishing our son a safe and fun adventure away from the ranch.

Summer Forecast 2014

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

As grass fed beef ranchers, we are not only concerned with the health and growth of our cattle. We also try to keep our eye on weather patterns, amount of rainfall, etc. This summer experts are predicting an El Nino effect over the Atlantic Ocean.

Therefore, they are looking for less hurricane and tropical storm activity. Experts are only looking for about one major hurricane this season. However with that low prediction, they keep reminding everyone that one storm is all that it takes for disaster to strike.

Hurricane activity does impact us to a degree. We get winds and rainfall. We always have the possibility of a tornado spinning from the atmospheric imbalance of the storm. However, we are far enough from the coast where we do not feel the complete devastation of the hurricane.

Rainfall throughout the summer is what mainly concerns us. Drought has effected us for years now and we are finally out of it. With it fresh in our minds, we do not want to slip back into that devastating pattern. We need the proper amount of rain for good growth in our natural grasses for our cattle.

Last year we had pretty good rain. Our pastures responded including our hay fields. We are hoping for a repeat.

It looks like because of the predicted El Nino, we could definitely enjoy a wet summer without a lot of hurricane activity. Not a bad forecast. Now if only the prediction comes true.

Texas Water Levels

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Graphic from watrnews.com.

With the drought conditions of the past years, Texans have been concerned with the water conditions in their state. We saw firsthand ponds and creeks completely dry up. Fish were dying from lack of oxygen in frightfully low conditions in other lakes and ponds.

These were conditions we could see, but we had to ask, “What about the water tables underground?” Were the aquifers and underwater water tables also drying up? And if that becomes the case, what then?

Well fortunately that has not become an issue. It could well be one in the future, but with all the rain throughout the winter, it should not be an issue in the near future.

I did see this interesting graphic from Watrnews.com in their post, “The Good, Bad, Dried Out Realities of Texas’ Water Supply: A One Year Comparision of Lake Levels.” It is a self-explanatory graphic showing the levels of some of our most popular lakes throughout the state.

Most of the Texas lakes are down compared to a year ago. However in our area, only one lake is lower than last year. It is Lake Somerville. Even though it is lower, it along with all the other lakes in our area are over 80% full. Some are at full capacity.

You can really tell which parts of Texas have received the rainfall. Luckily for us, Cross Creek Cattle Company lies on the “rainy” side. Fort that and so many other things, we have been greatly blessed.

Wildflowers Everywhere

Thursday, April 10th, 2014
A lone paintbrush in a sea of bluebonnets.

A lone paintbrush in a sea of bluebonnets. Photo by Kyla DeHaven

It’s that time of year in Texas, again. Wildflowers have erupted all over the place. The beauty of the bluebonnets, Indian paintbrushes, evening primroses, etc. dot the landscape and truly declare that spring is here.

It seems that most Texans are most fond of the bluebonnet. This is evident by the number of people pulling over on the side of busy roads to trample the flowers in the hopes of taking a good picture of themselves with this native flora.

I was literally driving south on Hwy 6 coming into Navasota, which has the most beautiful display of the flowers alongside the state highway. The flowers really are striking. When I saw an approximately 12 year old girl race across the road chasing her family into the floral display. The speed limit is 75 mph! I had to slam on my brakes. Needless to say, no flower is so beautiful as to cost a life. Be careful out there.

One of my younger sons is enamored with the Indian paintbrush. They are his favorite. While I love the evening primroses, which I call buttercups. There are so many different kinds of wildflowers in Texas right now that I cannot name them all.

Tomie dePaola wrote two great children’s books on the two most famous wildflowers: The Legend of the Bluebonnet and The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush. Both are beautifully illustrated and tell stories of self-sacrifice. You will never look at either flower the same.

Enjoy the wildflowers while they are here. They truly are a part of Texas culture. For all my family and friends who no longer live in this great state, I hope the above photograph does not make you homesick.

Day Dove Hunts

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

When we first acquired our new property as we expanded Cross Creek Cattle Company, we were impressed by the amount of wildlife on the land. Deer, hogs, and dove call it home in large populations. For the first time in our ranch’s history, we considered branching out into a different business: day dove hunts.

In some ways, both businesses are similar. We are offering an opportunity for people to bring home food to their families. According to American Wild Game, domesticated dove or farm-raised dove are higher in fat and calories with less protein compared to dove found in their natural environments. Wild dove is almost 23% protein with less than 2% fat. Dove is also delicious.

I grew up eating dove as my dad’s family were big hunters. The family still talks about how I would eat them like candy. I just could not get enough. Last year, my older sons and their uncles went hunting and came home with their catch. After a simple preparation, I realized that I have not outgrown my liking for dove. What a treat!

In order to prepare for dove hunting, we specifically chose a spot between three stock ponds to ensure good, fresh water for the birds. My husband also planted acres of land in Milo, a.k.a. sorghum, to give the dove what they need food-wise. It is protected by strands of hot wire to keep out cattle, hogs, etc.

As luck would have it, a good friend, who is an experienced hunting guide, just moved into our area. He immediately agreed to serve as our hunting guide for these day hunts. If you are interested in setting up a day dove hunt or have questions, you will need to contact Bill Adams at (830)591-6116.

We are charging $75.00 a day. The hunting ground is located in Grimes County just north of Plantersville on CR 208 off of FM 1774.

Please help us get the word out. If you know a hunter, a father/son wanting to spend the day together, or someone like myself who loves to eat dove, please tell them about the Cross Creek Cattle Company Day Dove Hunts.

Wildfire in Grimes County

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

The wildfire in Grimes County from from one of our barns.

The wildfire in Grimes County from from one of our barns.

If you look at a map of the United States, the Southern states from Arizona to Florida are covered in flames.  Texas is the most hard hit right now with over 3,000,000 acres burned and fires still burning.  One of the wildfires is very close to Cross Creek Cattle Company.  In fact, we sit only four miles from the fire.

Sunday afternoon the fire began allegedly with a barbeque pit.  Grilling outdoors is not banned by the burn ban; however, the results of this innocent event has been catastrophic to many families.  “One spark starts a fire” is completely accurate, especially with the tinderbox conditions in our environment.  We are still under an extreme drought.

Smoke has filled the air for days.  We have watered down our yards.  We have tried to keep our animals calm.  At the same time, the threat of the fire crossing Hwy 105, which would put us right in the danger zone, made us begin to prepare for a possible evacuation. 

We are not the only family in the area with livestock.  Fortunately, the two local livestock auction barns opened part of their facilities as a shelter for cows, horses, donkeys, etc.  Other places were set up for smaller animals.  Regardless of how much we love our animals from our family dog to the cattle herd, human life is so much more important.  Our foremost concern was our family and house-bound neighbors. 

Yesterday God blessed us with two and a half inches of rain.  This helped the firefighting effort; however, experts are warning that we should not grow complacent.  Even though the fire is now 75% contained, they are expecting flare ups today as the ground dries up and the heat reaches triple digit temperatures again. 

We are feeling much more comfortable as the evacuation area is diminishing.  They are allowing people to return to their homes just on the South side of Hwy 105.  However, the extremely dry conditions make me feel uneasy.  Someone carelessly extinguishing a cigarette could start a new wildfire that could endanger more lives. 

Please join with us to pray for rain, to pray for protection and strength for our firefighters, and to pray for all those directly affected by the wildfires all over the United States.  Cross Creek Cattle Company wants to extend a big “THANK YOU!”  to the firefighters who kept the wildfire from spreading north of Hwy 105.  We are grateful to be safe from harm.

Drought Concerns

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

According to the US Drought Monitor, Cross Creek Cattle Company is located in the exceptional drought category.  It really is unfortunate, especially since we have been in a drought for the past three years. 

The first year, we fared well through the drought.  Our cattle were fat and our grasses were still green.  Most of our neighbors were having to feed their cattle hay during the summer while we were amazed at how well our pastures looked despite the lack of rain.  The drought put pasture rotation to the test, on which it passed with flying colors. 

As the drought continued into the second year, everything seemed worse since we were already behind in rainfall.  Our herd still made it through well.  The pastures still had grass, which we rotated a little more heavily than the year before.  We began feeding hay a month earlier than usual, but still not throughout the summer. 

This year is proving to be quite worrisome.  Since October, we have had about 1/4 of the average rainfall we expect in the fall.  Following two consecutive years of drought, this fact is very disconcerting.  We need rain something awful.

The welfare of our herd and our ranch is extremely important to us.  We hold them both dear to our hearts.  We have been through hard times before.  We have survived extreme droughts several times in my lifetime.  And, we are confident that Cross Creek Cattle Company will be fine through this year, too.

We know that rain will once again fall; we just don’t know when.  We pray specifically for nutritious, green grass and fat cows.  This year we are making some important changes.  We cannot afford to sit back and do the same summer routine on the ranch.  This is not a typical year, and it requires a different response.  

We have decided to supplement hay this summer in addition to pasture rotation.  We are also supplementing our herd with alfalfa cubes.  These are simply squares of dehydrated alfalfa. 

Alfalfa is a grass known for its high protein content and for being a highly digestible fiber.  Our cattle are familiar with alfalfa because we use the smaller alfalfa pellets for supplementing our grass fed beef during weaning time.  Alfalfa cubes are the same dehydrated grass as the pellets, but in a much larger form. 

Feeding them is fun.  My family goes out into the pasture with the cattle.  My husband gives the sing-song cattle call.  The cattle immediately stop what they are doing and come see what he wants.  The younger ones run or trot.  The older cows wisely walk in our direction. 

My husband then begins pouring out the cubes in a straight line in the pasture.  He tries to spread them out so that all the cows can eat as much as they like.  Cows can be quite territorial when it comes to their babies and their food.  You want them eating, not fighting over the food and crushing it under their hooves.  

My husband and son like to keep a few in their hands.  They hand feed some of the cattle in order to build trust.  Having docile cows is part genetic and part environment.  We are using feeding time to gentle our already docile herd.

The problem with this third year of drought is mainly financial.  Our cattle will do well on the combination of pasture grasses, supplemental hay, and supplemental alfalfa cubes.  They will keep up their body condition.  However, it costs money to buy hay and feed alfalfa cubes.  The burden falls on us as a family and as a business. 

The sooner the drought breaks the better.  Gov. Rick Perry released a proclamation calling for Days of Prayer over Easter weekend.  I submit that we need to continue to pray until the rain falls from the sky.   We need to pray until we make up inches of what lack.  We need to pray until our lakes, ponds, and rivers are back up to their normal levels.  Will you join us in praying for drought-stricken areas of the United States?  Will you include specifically Cross Creek Cattle Company?

Caught on Camera

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

It is that time of year.  We are trying to stock our freezer with meat in addition to grass fed beef.  My son, Clayton, is deer hunting.  We have a fenced off area for the deer feeder.  It sprays a small amount of corn every morning for the deer.  Our cows cannot get to the corn.

My dad has hunted most of his adult life, but now he is more content watching the deer and other wildlife than killing them.  Instead he allows Clayton to hunt.

For Christmas last year, my family gave my dad a wildlife camera.  It is a motion-activated camera that you place outdoors in any area prone to have wildlife.  You can set it on still photography or videos.  It can take either day or night.

My husband set it up for my dad recently, but accidentally set the camera to record videos.  When he uploaded the videos from the camera’s SD card, we were surprised by the amount of feral hogs the camera caught in action.

Wild hogs are a nuisance for the most part.  In one evening they can tear up a small pasture.  They dig down into the soil with their snouts looking for worms, bugs, and tender roots.  The boars have tusks and can grow to weigh about 300 pounds in our area; although, wild boars have been known to grow to massive sizes.  They also will fight to protect their family.  Luckily for us, the hogs prefer to move about during the night.  We don’t have to worry about riding or walking up into a herd of wild swine.

Young hogs are tasty if you can get one that weighs no more or less than 75 pounds.  The meat is great to add to venison for real wild game sausage.  You can also just make pork sausage.  Wild hog tamales are delicious.  Smoking a ham is also good, but don’t expect a honey baked ham taste.  Wild hog meat is more flavorful than domestic hogs.  It is a darker meat probably from all the exercise the hogs get foraging for food.

At Cross Creek Cattle Company we have to control the population of these feral animals.  Our cattle depend on grass.  You cannot have wild hogs ruining your pastures and tearing up your grasses.  We set out hog traps that pose no threat to our cattle.

The hogs roam for miles all along the countryside.  So only occasionally do they find themselves on our ranch.  They are not a constant problem.  Thanks to our wildlife camera we know they are back.  It is time to bait the traps and hopefully put back some tasty pork for the winter.

Posse Participating in Parades

Thursday, December 9th, 2010
Posse in Last Year's Parade.

Posse in Last Year's Parade.

Cross Creek Cattle Company is a proud sponsor of the Grimes County Mounted Posse.  Lane DeHaven, the ranch manager, is the assistant drill master.  Three of our children are members of the Posse.

The Grimes County Mounted Posse is a great youth organization sponsored and supported by Sheriff Don Sowell.  The members represent the county in many events throughout the year.  The Posse is an ambassador of the Go-Texan Committee.  The members of the Posse also perform routines before our county’s rodeos and special events.  Recently the ranch hosted their annual trail ride. 

It is great to see such a variety of ages, interests, and personalities in the organization.  The one thing everyone has in common is their love of horses.  One of the main goals of the Posse is to learn to work as a team and develop other good character traits.

The Posse is in demand this month as the county gears up to celebrate Christmas.  Tonight they will be riding in Navasota, Texas in the city’s annual Christmas parade.  It begins at 6:30 p.m.  Then on Saturday morning, they will ride in the Plantersville Christmas Parade.  It begins at 9:00 a.m.  December the 18th the Posse will also ride in the Bedias Christmas Parade at 10:00 a.m.

Each town has a different feel in the way in which they organize their parades.  Navasota, the largest city in Grimes County, holds their parade in the evening.  Therefore, their floats are all about lights.  This parade has the most floats compared to the other towns.  Even in the dark, the Posse riding on horseback is a hit especially with the youth.

Plantersville’s parade is not as organized as Navasota’s.  They invite whoever wants to be a part of it to come and participate.  Families ride their horses, drive classic cars, and the Volunteer Fire Department plays a big role.  The Posse won best animal float last year.  This parade allows candy to be given out.  The Posse members have candy bags hanging from their saddle horns.  When I leave the parade with my two little boys, it looks like we have gone trick-or-treating.  Needless to say, they love this parade.

The best thing about Plantersville’s parade is that you get to see it twice.  The floats reach a certain point and turn around.  You get to see them coming and going.

Bedias has just recently begun hosting Christmas parades.  Their parade is most like the Plantersville one.  Both encourage the community to participate and not just formal organizations, clubs, and businesses.  It is also a fun parade to watch.  Last year, Santa Claus drove a pink Cadillac.  You will leave there with a lot of candy, too.

These parades are a little piece of Americana.  If you are in the mood for some down home entertainment, come out and support all the different towns in Grimes County as they put together their different parades.  Each parade takes place on the main streets of each town.  Just park alongside the road or stand on the side of the road. 

Make sure to look for the Posse riding on horseback.  They will have Santa hats on top of their cowboy hats.  Horses will be wearing sleigh bells.  After they pass by, you will be ready for Christmas.

Greater Appreciation for the Country

Thursday, May 20th, 2010
Central Park in New York City

Central Park in New York City

I was recently in New York City.  If absence makes your heart grow fonder, then I have grown much more fond of Cross Creek Cattle Company.

It is not that I did not have a great time.  It was exciting and fun.  I really enjoyed my week in New York.  Visiting the Big Apple was a great experience.  I would recommend it to anyone.

After days of living in the fast-paced city which never sleeps, I welcomed the solitude of the countryside on my return.  Looking out across the green pasture with the breeze gently stirring the grasses is a huge change from seeing the bustling streets filled with people and taxis surging between tall buildings.

New Yorkers walk 3 to 5 miles a day.  We walked that easily each day we were in town, but you are walking on concrete.  I walk 3 miles a day through different pastures and woods.  I once took for granted the feel of the earth beneath your feet, but now I have a new appreciation for it.

I was really impressed with Central Park.  It was beautiful and much bigger than I expected.  The perimeter of the park is 6.2 miles.  Central Park has rolling hills and rock outcrops.  It has a huge lake and open areas.  Quiet secluded spots can be found around the lake.

I enjoyed my visit to Central Park.  I can see why people seek to lay in the sunshine on the rocks or the grass in the open areas.  I know why people would row their boats out on the lake.  People want to get close to nature.

From my dining room window, I can see our lake.  It might not be as big as the one in Central Park, but it is our private lake.  Cross Creek Cattle Company is like one big private park.  It has wooded and cleared pastures, hiking paths, and waterways.  One can hike, ride horses, ride bikes, camp, swim, fish, hunt, and/or row a boat.

I have always loved living here in Texas.  Now that I have been gone for a week in a completely different world, I am glad to be home.  I will visit New York, but Texas is my home.  And, Cross Creek Cattle Company is my little slice of heaven on earth.



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