BUILDING THE RANCH

1972-2006



AFTER SEARCHING FOR A YEAR & TRAVELING THOUSANDS OF MILES LOOKING AT SALEABLE FARMLAND, A SUITABLE PARCEL WAS FOUND IN THE SPRING OF 1972. THESE 400 ACRES ARE LOCATED IN CENTRAL TEXAS (ROBERTSON COUNTY), MIDWAY BETWEEN THE CITIES OF DALLAS & HOUSTON. THE LAND IS SITUATED GEOLOGICALLY IN THE HARDWOOD SECTION BETWEEN THE PINEY WOODS OF EAST TEXAS AND THE CAP ROCK FORMATION OF WEST CENTRAL TEXAS. THE TERRAIN IS GENTLY ROLLING AND COVERED WITH OAK FORESTS & GRASSY MEADOWS. THE PREDOMINENT SOIL TYPE IS SANDY LOAM. COTTON, RIBBON CANE & PEANUTS WERE THE CROPS OF A BYGONE ERA. CATTLE & FEED GRAIN HAVE SUPPLANTED COTTON AS "KING". THE LARGE TOWNS THAT GREW UP SURROUNDING THESE AGRICULTURAL ACTIVITIES ARE NOW JUST A MEMORY. THE POPULATION OF THE AREA HAS DECLINED & THE RURAL YOUTH OF TODAY ARE LEAVING THEIR BIRTHPLACES TO SEEK FAME & FORTUNE IN THE BIG CITIES.

SINCE ONLY 10% OF THE RANCH'S 400 ACRES WAS OPEN LAND, IT WAS NECESSARY TO CLEAR MUCH OF IT BY BULLDOZING THE HARDWOOD TIMBER STANDS. RECLAIMING FARMLAND FROM THE WILDERNESS IS A VERY EXPENSIVE AND TIME CONSUMING PROCESS. THE TREES & UNDERBRUSH ARE FIRST BULLDOZED INTO LONG WINDROWS WHICH ARE BURNED MANY MONTHS LATER AFTER THE WOOD HAS DRIED AND RAINFALL HAS WASHED OFF SOME OF THE REMAINING SOIL. ONLY 50-75% OF THESE WINDROWS ARE CONSUMED BY THE FIRST BURN. THE NEXT STEP INVOLVES RAKING THE UNBURNED WOOD FROM THESE ASHY WINDROW REMAINS. A LARGE RAKE WITH LARGE STEEL TINES IS ATTACHED TO THE BULLDOZER BLADE FOR THIS PURPOSE. THE RECOVERED WOOD IS STACKED INTO LARGE PILES FOR THE SECOND BURN. THIS PROCESS IS REPEATED UNTIL NO WOOD REMAINS. USUALLY 3-4 BURNS ARE REQUIRED. AFTER THE SOIL HAS BEEN PREPARED BY DISKING, THE LAND IS FINALLY READY FOR PLANTING OR SEEDING OF GRASSES SUCH AS COASTAL BERMUDA OR BAHIA.

BEFORE CATTLE CAN BE PLACED ON THESE NEW PASTURES, THEY MUST FIRST BECOME WELL ESTABLISHED AND ADEQUATE FENCING IN PLACE TO CONFINE THE LIVESTOCK. THE BUILDING OF FENCES FOR THE RANCH WAS ANOTHER MAJOR UNDERTAKING, SINCE A GOOD PORTION OF THE PERIMETER FENCE REQUIRED REPLACEMENT IN ADDITION TO NEW CROSS FENCES THAT DIVIDED THE RANCH INTO NUMEROUS PASTURES. WELL OVER 50 MILES OF 4-POINT BARB WIRE WAS STRUNG WITH THE HELP OF MY WIFE EILEEN & OUR FIVE DAUGHTERS (CLARE, ANNE, MARY, HEIDI & BARBARA).

THE FIRST REGISTERED BLACK ANGUS CATTLE TOOK UP RESIDENCE AT THE RANCH IN THE FALL OF 1974. A SMALL HERD OF BRAHMAN CATTLE WAS ADDED IN 1993 FOR CROSS BREEDING, BUT WAS SOLD IN 1998. THE SIZE OF THE CATTLE POPULATION ON THE RANCH IS MAINLY A FUNCTION OF THE WEATHER THAT DETERMINES HOW MANY ANIMAL UNITS/ACRE CAN BE SUPPORTED DURING THE SUMMER AND THE HAY SUPPLY AVAILABLE FOR WINTER FEEDING. FOR EXAMPLE, DURING THE DROUGHT YEARS 1996 & 1998, A 50% REDUCTION IN HERD SIZE WAS REQUIRED.

THE FIRST NATURAL GAS WELL WAS DRILLED ON THE RANCH IN 1978. A PAY ZONE WAS ESTABLISHED IN THE COTTON VALLEY LIMESTONE FORMATION AT A DEPTH OF 11,500 FT. PRODUCTION OF NATURAL GAS CONTINUED UNTIL 1987 WHEN THE WELL WAS PERMANENTLY CAPPED. A SECOND, DEEPER GAS WELL, THE ZIEGLSCHMID NO. 2, WAS DRILLED IN OCTOBER OF 2001 AND IS CURRENTLY IN PRODUCTI0N. ZIEGLSCHMID WELLS NOS. 3 & 4 WILL BE DRILLED IN 2003 AND 2004, RESPECTIVELY. THESE WELLS WILL BOTTOM OUT AT A DEPTH OF 13,500 FT. AND ARE EXPECTED TO HAVE MULTIPLE PAY ZONES BETWEEN 11,000-12,500 FT. WITHIN THE COTTON VALLEY LIMESTONE FORMATION.

UNFORTUNATELY IN 2006 SOME PRISTINE AREAS OF ROBERTSON COUNTY, INCLUDING OUR RANCH, WERE DEFILED BY THE STARTUP OF HUGE LIGNITE STRIP MINING OPERATIONS ADJACENT TO OUR PROPERTY AND CONSTRUCTION OF TWIN MEGA-WATT LIGNITE BURNING POWER PLANTS LOCATED ONLY 6.5 MILES SOUTH OF THE RANCH. THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT LOCALLY & WORLDWIDE, AS WELL AS THE PUBLIC HEALTH IMPACT ON THE CITIZENS OF TEXAS IN THE PATH OF THE EFFLUENT DISCHARGE FULLOUT, WAS MUCH TOO SERIOUS IN OUR OPINION TO ALLOW THE CONTINUATION OF OUR PUREBRED BEEF CATTLE OPERTION IN ROBERTSON COUNTY. WE SOLD THE RANCH WHICH WE HAD DEVELOPED OVER 34 YEARS AND RELOCATED IT ON 610 ACRES PURCHASED IN EASTLAND COUNTY, HALF WAY BETWEEN RISING STAR & CISCO, TX.

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