The Caliche Times Vol 2, No 1   7/30/99




Smoky Haze

I understand from my relatives that the atmosphere down on the coast of Texas has also been very smoky hazy in the last few weeks. The burn-offs in the Mexican states of Nuevo Leon and Tamauilipas sort of closed in on Corpus Christi and the Coastal Bend. They didn’t know it but it came here as well. You will recall last summer the burn-offs in Mexico got out of control and created hundreds of forest and range fires and we shared the smoke from those areas. Health warnings were issued in some areas.

Peanuts a Crop of the Past

The dust and smoke has settled a lot here in Eastland County now. Most of the peanut quota was sold to West Texas counties so most of the dust blowing your way is coming from the plowed fields out in West Texas. Our county is cultivated now to plant crops for grazing animals. Peanuts are a crop of the past for this county. We have lots of grazing animals now such as cows, Llamas, Emus and wild hogs. We don’t have to travel out of town anymore to see animals that should be in a zoo someplace.

Emus just Hang Around

You can see Emus occasionally just walking around like they belong here. Apparently they don’t fly they just hang around. If they could fly they could join the Sand Hill Cranes and at least help with the peanut harvest in West Texas…. we don’t have anything for them to eat around here. Maybe we will discover they like grassburrs.

Nutria and Beaver

We have visits sometimes by nutria and beaver and some people say "Yeah, sure you have beaver." We don’t care, we know the difference. You can see a large beaver lodge just below the Pioneer Lake Dam as you drive by on Hwy 36.

Feral Hogs and Dogs

The feral hogs have made their way into many refrigerators this year north of us and we don’t look forward to having to harvest them if they move farther south. I guess a little for sausage won’t hurt though. An interesting note from Austin "State Rep. Ron Wilson, D-Houston, filed legislation to outlaw hog-dog fights. The proposed ban drew the praise of animal rights advocates. It also drew the condemnation of some farmers and ranchers who use dogs to hunt down crop-destroying, livestock-killing and property-damaging feral hogs. Wilson said his intention is not to curb the use of dogs for hunting. The purpose of the bill, he said, is only to stop the penning of hogs and dogs together to make them fight." A man can’t have any macho sports anymore.

Llama Guards

Just up the county from us you can see and visit a Llama farm that has been in business for many years now. The same fellow Dean Madison (who went to school in Rising Star and whom you might know) just recently put in a new and very nice floral shop across the street from the First Baptist Church in Rising Star. Now that is diversified farming. I understand there is a market for the Llama to help protect goats from predators. The flower shop business goes in as a competition flower shop with the Rising Star Flower shop that belongs to Monty Jones (whom many of you will remember from the Jones Feed Store of many years ago.)


New Mexico, that other Country

We left the country just a couple of weeks ago and went to New Mexico. New Mexico is a different country, you know. If you read their magazine you find that many people are not sure if New Mexico is part of the United States. As far as we are concerned it is a nice country and full of some really friendly folks. We traveled there as members of the Central Texas Gem and Mineral Club. Fourteen members and one guest made the trip. New Mexico, that other country! We made a rendezvous with our other club members in Glenwood, NM. We spent several days following mountain roads and valleys going to destinations to find specific rocks and minerals. It rained almost every afternoon and we enjoyed the cooler weather. Lou Jane really enjoyed her first extended trailer trip.

No Rain - No Run Off

We have some relatives that live in New Mexico and some that are part time residents of Ruidoso.   By contrast, if you live in the desert foot hills right below the mountains, like in Hobbs, NM or Denver City, you have to have a sense of humor about the weather.   Dois Maness said that it usually rains about 5-10 inches a year and they already had their quota for this year.  So my brilliant comment was "You don’t have much run off water with that kind of rainfall do you?" He said "No, the water hardly every runs here."   I spend a lot of time thinking about run off water because we haven’t had significant run off water since July 4, 1999.  Oh, I had one new stock tank that I had dug last year to get full and "run over" but a week later it was dry again. Had a hole in the bottom, I guess.   So much for the new tank, it looks good but a tank with a hole in it is just an expensive hole in the ground.

Beer Bottles in Vogue

We had a good visit with Dois and Florence and they drove us over to Denver City. Cousin Willie Mae drove us over to see her daughter Sandi and to see their new residence in the suburbs of Denver City.  Well, we even visited some with her husband David who had, three days before, been appointed the new junior high principal.  He still liked the job.   David said that even with all his new responsibilities he would still find time to send me another email sometime this year or next year.  He said on second thought, he was slightly offended at my use of the term "Beer Hunters" in previous emails.  Well, life gets boring out here sometimes and for entertainment as we drive home over the country roads we see how many beer cans can be flattened by driving over them.  Then in the next few days, we can pick them up for recycle.  The fun has been taken out of that sport though because as Lou Jane informed me "beer bottles are more in vogue now" and have now become the thing to throw down on the road during a good tailgate party.  I guess a good beer, BS and a pack of cigarettes about tops off a good evening here in redneck country.

Uncle Ray McCoy and the Guadulape Pass

Lou Jane and I went to Dell City, Texas on our way to New Mexico and spend two days with her Uncle Ray McCoy who is 89 years young. Mr. McCoy ("Uncle Ray") and his sons live in the irrigated portion of the desert just below Guadulape Pass or El Capitan the tallest mountain in Texas. Mr. McCoy has always been goal oriented, ambitious fellow or is that redundant. I won’t go into all his background but to say that on or about his 80th birthday he had his Grandkids go with him and he climbed ole El Capitan and put his name in the book at the top of the mountain. Right now he is writing his memoirs. The days we were there, knee-high Alfalfa was being cut for hay. After it cures then it will be baled into 1 ton square bales. All the baling is done at night to maintain the right moisture content. They hire the baling done because the equipment costs around $600,000. If you bale Alfalfa during the heat of the day the leaves will drop off the stems and be lost. All the irrigation there is done with crevice water. Farmers in Dell City prefer not to have any rain because rain splashes alkali soil on the plants and hurts the quality of the hay.

Rattle a Bucket of Water and Bring a Fly Swatter

Well, y’all come see us. The thermometer is sitting on 103 as I write this and was on 104 at this time yesterday. If you come be sure to bring a fan and a sprinkle of water.   It used to be that all we had to do to get the cows to come to the house was to rattle a bucket of cubes, but times have changed and now we just rattle a bucket of water and a fly swatter.


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