Category Archives: Country Living in the Hill Country of Texas

Magnolias Here and There

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English: Looking north across Lafayette Avenue...

This past week I was on spring break from school, and I went to Shreveport, LA. with my daughter and grand-baby.  They were looking for a house in which to live since my son-in-law was transferred there in his job.  We saw some beautiful homes as well as beautiful country.  The green grass was a foot high in places, and the pine trees and rolling hills were stunning.  We saw lots of magnolia trees in the yards of the homes that we were viewing.  The area was pleasant and interesting.

The  magnolia on my mind at the moment is our high school UIL competition cutting of Steel Magnolias by Robert Harling.  We’ve been working on the production for a little over two months, and now it is time for our public performance.  The students will present their play to the public tomorrow, Sunday, March 18th, at 1:30 p.m.  They will host a fish fry lunch prior to the performance of the play.  The luncheon will be from noon until 1:30.  The director (me!) is a nervous wreck because the students have all been on spring break for a week, and we have not had a rehearsal or even given a thought to the play.  I’m just hoping and praying that they haven’t forgotten everything we have learned.  The six young ladies in the cast are, indeed, beautiful magnolias and steel ones at that.  They have been the most congenial group of girls I’ve ever directed.  There is no diva.  The girls all have adversity in their lives, and they are all strong and intelligent young women.  I’m proud to be involved in a small moment of their lives.

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First Bluebonnets of 2012

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  This past Friday, I took my high school one-act play students to Bandera, TX.  On the way there, we saw bluebonnets in bloom between Llano and Fredericksburg.  I thought that those blooms were way ahead of our personal bluebonnets, but no, not at all.  Saturday afternoon, we drove around the Mountain Pasture, and there they were, just beginning to peak their little blue bonnets out of the green plants.  Above and below are photos of the first ones of the year here at our place in Central Texas.  We welcome you, bluebonnets and spring! 

An Early Spring?

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  Watch out little peach tree!  Several of the fruit trees my hubby planted last winter are now blooming.  I think it might be too early!  The last frost has not arrived yet, I fear!  The old-timers go by the mesquite trees, and those trees have not begun to put on green leaves yet.  They remain dormant.

This little apricot tree doesn’t know any better either!  Both of these trees were planted a year ago.  Can’t believe they are already making blossoms like this.

..and the clover abounds since there are no horses around this year.  Ah, the power of rainfall and warm weather!

More About Texas Bluebonnets

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The bluebonnet is the state flower of Texas.  The blossoms resemble the bonnets of pioneer women.  We have an abundance of the plants here at the Mountain Pasture.  Summer before last, a friend gathered some seeds from our prolific plants.  She planted them.  They haven’t come up.  She is distressed.

I was reading about bluebonnets today, and the success rate in planting seeds is 60%, and sometimes they don’t produce blooms for two years if they do come up.  The plants are survivors, and they are very careful about protecting themselves.  It is best to plant the seeds in the fall in soil that has good drainage.  Some recommend that a person scar the seeds before planting them and barely cover them with soil. There are many recommendations on the Internet for planting bluebonnet seeds.

Sheep and goats eat bluebonnet plants as quickly as they poke their heads out, but cattle don’t care for the plants.  I think we’ll have a fairly good crop this year.  Below are some photos of the current state of the plants at the Mountain Pasture.  Can’t wait to see them in bloom!

A Year’s Growth in Gardening

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Here is a photo of a blackberry plant that my husband planted a few weeks ago, and the next photo is of a blackberry plant planted last year about this same time.  It is amazing what a year’s growth amounts to!  Wow!  Maybe, we’ll get a handful of berries this year!  I can’t wait until I can make a fresh, blackberry cobbler!  mmmmmm, good!

Here is a photo of a fruit tree planted a year ago, and the next photo is of a fruit tree planted this year.  I just can’t believe they have grown this much in a year, especially with the Texas drought going on.  Due to the dedication of my husband to keeping the trees alive, he watered them twice a day, every day last summer, and he did it by hand with a water hose, the trees grew by leaps and bounds.

Texas Drought of 2011 at Mountain Pasture

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Texas climatologists have determined that Texas suffered the worst one-year drought since 1895 this past year.  Streams were running well below normal and reservoirs were at fifty percent.  The land at the Mountain Pasture certainly suffered this past year.  As my husband and I hiked through the pasture last weekend, we couldn’t believe the dead trees that we came upon.  Trees that had been here for many years are now decaying.  We were saddened to see the results of the drought, but were overjoyed to see that the rains of this month of February have put water back in our tanks/ponds and brought the bluebonnets to life and given the countryside as well as its people hope for the future.

Results of the Texas drought of 2011 at the mountain pasture pictured below:

…and then there are always the survivors:

bluebonnets,  tank water, and water running into the dry creek bed!!!!

Rain & Green Thumbs

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I’ve been neglecting my blog because I am caught up in the web of One Act Play at the high school.  I’m the director, and that position takes the time of a football coach, but the extra money for all the hours is not there, of course.  I accepted long ago that the great state of Texas values football more than just about anything!  I like it too, so I do what I do because I love theatre.

Today, on the mountain, it is raining, a heavy but slow, soaking rain.  After last year’s drought in Texas, we are more appreciative of any rain.  I suspect that this rain will make the Texas Bluebonnets, the state flower, come on strong, and we will have some great bluebonnet photos to show you in about a month.  Today, water is running away from the house and into the tanks.  We are praising God!

I was hoping that one could inherit a green thumb, but I don’t think I got my mother’s.  She could make anything grow, and it would be the biggest, most beautiful plant you’ve ever seen.  Did I mention her ivy plants?  She got two little ivy plants from someone.  In a blink, they were climbing up peat posts inserted into the flower-pots, and soon they were about 5 feet tall.  We named them “Beowulf” and “Grendel”, names from the famous Anglo-Saxon poem.

My little tomato plants look rather pathetic.  Someone commented on my blog that I should move them to a south window asap!  I’m directionally challenged!  When I was a kid, Daddy would make us all ride horses when he wanted to round-up the cattle or sheep or goats.  He would tell each person which direction to go and where to bring the animals back to.  He would often say something like, “Patsy, ride to the south fence and push everything toward the north corner.”  He soon learned I had NO idea which fence was the south fence or where the north corner was.  I would usually run into my brother or one of the hands because I was lost.  I was useless.  I always wondered why he kept me riding, but perhaps, he was a teacher at heart, and he didn’t want to give up trying to teach me.

I digress.  I put the tomato plants in the kitchen window, thinking they were in a south window.  Nope, that’s a west window!  My son came over and said,  “Mom!  get your plants to a south window!”  Bingo!  It dawned on me.  Now, they are in a south window, but they are still spindly.  They have turned a darker green, and the stems have turned a reddish color.  I don’t have a grow-light, and we’ve had very little sunshine this week, and I’m not home during the day to move them around.  Perhaps I should invest in a grow light.

Those plants above are the seedlings from the seeds I planted 3 weeks ago tomorrow, Sunday.  They are finally making the “real” tomato leaves.  What do you tomato experts think?

Below are my new seedlings my son and I planted a week ago tomorrow.  He gave me some of his seeds from his “League of Nations” garden.  They just sprouted this week.  It should be fun to see how these “different” tomato plants fare here at the Mountain Pasture.  You can check out tomato seeds with “stories” behind them and tomato seeds that do well in foreign countries at the tomato man’s website:  http://tomatofest.com/

Sunday Dinner—in the Past

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Sunday dinner was usually the same menu at our house because it “worked” for Mama.  She put the beef roast, beef raised by my father, in the oven around 9:00.  We went to Sunday School at 10:00 and got home from church around 12 noon; therefore, the roast was perfectly done about the time we got home.  The funny stories about the roast involve the Sundays on which Mother would suddenly get a funny look on her face during the sermon.  Then, she would jump up and leave or whisper in Daddy’s ear, and he would jump up and leave.  Usually it was because she forgot to turn the roast down or she left the potatoes boiling.  We always had the burned roast (we all loved it that way and do to this day), mashed potatoes which were sometimes very gluey because they had set in the boiling water the two hours that we were at church, green beans ( fresh in the spring time and straight from a jar that my mother had canned the rest of the year), homemade rolls, either a chocolate cream pie or a cocoanut cream pie or both, and strong, sweet, sweet tea, which the grandkids later labeled “MeMaw’s Sweet Tea”.  Talk about good memories.  We all sat down at the same table at the same time and enjoyed our meal and had family discussions, often about something the preacher had said.  Then, the kids washed the dishes (we had no dishwasher),  and Mother and Daddy read the newspapers from cover to cover.

It was long after I was an adult that I realized that not all people prefer burned beef.  We had it that way so often that we thought that was normal, and well-done or even burned became our preference.   I was also grown before I realized that not everyone got up and went to Sunday School and Church every Sunday.

Psalm 118:24   “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Summer in the Winter

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Yum, yum!  Can’t wait for supper tonight!  How nice it is to have electricity and a freezer and be able to preserve those yellow, summer squash from the garden.  I just got some out to thaw for supper tonight.  The package states the amount, but actually I have used out of this package before, so if that doesn’t look like 2 1/2 cups, it’s probably not!  These will simmer for a while with salt, pepper and butter and will taste nearly as delicious as when they were first picked from Grant’s garden last July.

It’s time to get your seedlings started and begin tilling your garden space if you live in Central Texas.  My father-in-law, who lives down in the Texas Valley, reports that he already has some nice-sized tomato plants that he is anxious to set out.  He, too, must worry about a freeze, but I’m guessing our freeze here in the Central part of the state will come much later than his freeze.  I was out and about this morning in the country, and I can hardly believe how green the landscape is.  The winter grasses and weeds seemed to have turned green overnight, but we are expecting temperature in the low to mid twenties tonight, so don’t put those plants out yet!

Moon Over Mountain Pasture

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Okay, I’m always writing about how lucky I am to see such beautiful sunrises here at the Mountain Pasture in Central Texas, but this morning I saw a totally different incredible sight.  As I looked out the bedroom window just before I left for work, I noticed that there was no impending sunrise, but there was fog hanging low.  I thought, “Darn, there won’t be any cool sunrises to see this morning.”   I got in the car and started down the mountain, and just as I passed the first little tank of water, I realized what I had just seen, so I hit the brake and began backing the car.  Sure enough, there was this beautiful reflection of the nearly-full moon in the small earthen tank of water.  I put my car window down and grabbed my tiny, little camera and snapped three shots before heading on in to school.  Usually the moon blurs with my little camera, but I thought these photos turned our fairly well.  Of course, you can also see how Central Texas looks in the dead of winter……..brown and gray!  The winter grasses have turned green since the recent rains, and a few weeds are peeking out green, so before we know it, the heart of Texas will put on her Easter bonnet of every color in the rainbow, but for now, here’s the amazing moon of this morning.