Category Archives: Country Living in the Hill Country of Texas

Country Living: Fat Stock Show vs Livestock Show


The San Saba County Livestock Show began Thursday, January 19, 2012, with the check-in of all show animals.  Friday and Saturday will see the showing of sheep, goats,pigs, and steers.  The show has made a few changes since I showed my first lamb in 1956.  That’s me in the above photo.  I was five years old, I won a ribbon, I beat my brother, and my lamb sold for the highest price a lamb had ever sold for at the county show.  The next year the rules changed.  Five-year-olds could no longer participate.  Participants had to be in at least the 3rd grade in school.  As a matter of fact, lots of things have changed about the show.   When I began raising lambs for show, all judges wanted to see a fat lamb, the fatter the better.  Now, they want the lambs lean and muscled.  In the 1950’s, we did not shear the lambs.  Later, we sheared a strip down their backs so that the judge could “feel” the muscles and not have to feel through the wool.  Finally, we began shearing the entire lamb before the show and washing them.  Gone were the days of spending hours carding the wool and trimming it to make it perfectly even.  Today, students shear all but the legs of their lambs and wash them until they are sparkling white.

To the right is a photo taken yesterday of one of my students and the Agriculture teacher.  they are shearing her Boer goat.  When I was a kid, the only goats in the county show were “hair” (mohair) goats, and there weren’t very many.  Now, there are no “hair” goats, but many Boer goats.  There are also breeds of sheep that produce a long “hair” rather than wool.

I haven’t been to a show in a while, so tomorrow, I hope to catch up with the latest goings on at the County Livestock Show and Youth Fair.  Many of my students are entered in both.  Some of the students entered their weave poems; others have a goat, a pig, a steer, or a lamb.  If you’ve never visited a local show, you would be amazed at the expertise of these young people.  They are trained in how to raise the animal, train the animal, and show the animal, and show they do!


Country Living, Fog and Gardening!


                                                                                                  Tuesday morning as I headed to school from our house in the country, I saw the most beautiful fog I think I’ve ever seen.  I had my little camera with me, but the photos I got really don’t do it justice.  As my husband said,  “The hills looked like islands, floating on a sea of fog.” Driving ten miles in to the school where I teach isn’t any fun in fog, but it really wasn’t too bad.  How and why did I get to be so lucky to see such beautiful sights every day?!

If you live in the country, your mind should be turning toward gardening and planting because spring will soon be upon us.  My cousin has already tilled the soil in preparation for his spring vegetable garden.  We will garden in a small way, but we are still eating yellow and zucchini squash out of our freezer that I put up last summer, as well as okra.  All vegetables taste so much better fresh from the garden!

Daughter Stephanie gave me an herb garden for Christmas, but I haven’t gotten it planted yet.  This will be my very first herb garden, so I’ll keep you informed as to all I learn about herb gardening.

Then, we also have to get some flower and shrub gardens going.  This past week we got some flower beds trimmed out with large pieces of stone.  Some of the stones weighed about 100 pounds each.  Good thing we had some strong men to lift those rocks!  Now, to get dirt in the beds and plants in the dirt.  So, so ready for spring!

We will also head over to Womack’s nursery, near Comanche, Texas, and purchase some more fruit trees with Grant’s Christmas gift certificate.  We are thinking of trying some apple trees.  Has anyone ever grown apples here in Central Texas?  Last winter we planted pecan, plum, pear, peach, and apricot trees, as well as antique blackberry vines and spineless blackberry vines.  I’m getting hungry just thinking about all the fruit we’ll have one day!  Maybe the  grand-kids will be old enough to pick by the time the trees make fruit!

Sunday Sunrise


     Rise and shine/ And give God the glory, glory/Rise and shine/ And give God the glory, glory/Rise and Shine/And/Give God the glory, glory/Children of the Lord.    Did you ever sing this little song as a child or did you ever hear someone else singing it?  I used to sing this to wake my children in the mornings.  I doubt they remember it, or if they do, they probably would say how it drove them crazy, but I love this little song. According to the Internet, the writer of the song is unknown,  and evidently, it has various titles such as “Children of the Lord” and “The Arky Arky Song”.

Here in Central Texas, we have some mighty impressive sunrises, but they barely last long enough for you to grab your camera!

Favorite verse:

It rained and poured/For forty daysie, daysies/It rained and poured?For forty daysie, daysies/Nearly drove those animals crazy, crazies/Children of the Lord.

Have a blessed and glorious Sunday!

Country Living Bathtub


   Currently the object holding water in the photo is serving as a water trough for wild animals such as deer and turkeys and for many birds.  A water trough has not always been this metal object’s purpose.  When Grant and I were living in the 7.5 feet by 15 feet, one room “cabin” with no running water and electricity, this was my bathtub in the winter.  Grant chose to bathe in a children’s plastic swimming pool outside.  During the summer, when the sun was strong enough to heat up the water and the air was warm, this was fine with me, but during the winter, I lost my courage and stamina!  That is when I had an idea as I waited on Grant one day at a hardware store.  I saw this nifty tub and thought to myself, using my creative drama teacher mind-set of course, there must be a million uses for these kinds of tubs.  We bought the tub and brought it “home”.  Of course it had to stay outside except for when I was bathing because there was no room for it inside the cabin except in the small, very small empty space.  When it grew dark, Grant would bring the tub inside, and I would heat two metal coffee pots of water on the Coleman camp stove.  We would haul in additional water.  One would be amazed at how very little water it actually takes to bathe and get perfectly clean when you have to haul the water and bring it inside from the outside and heat it on a Coleman camp stove!

Sunrise in the Texas Hill Country


Wow!  What an amazing beginning to a Friday in the Texas Hill Country.  As I got in my car and headed east off the “mountain”, this photo is what I saw this morning.  I  had to stop and take a photo and give thanks to God for such an opportunity.  We can see the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets from our home.  I can barely drag myself away to go to work at the school.  It was a great day with Cheyenne Tharp winning first place in the essay contest and a trip to Washington D.C.!

Taking down the 1st tree


Today, the day after Epiphany, we took our first Christmas tree on top of the “Mountain” down.  Our first Christmas on top of the “Mountain” was spectacular and wonderful.  All but one of our five children were here to enjoy this special time of the year with us and both of our grandchildren were here, as well as Cousin Henry, Trish, and Jay.  The tree was a 9 or 10 feet tall pine.  Formerly we cut a live cedar (Juniper) tree in the pasture for our Christmas tree, but the girls and my husband are a bit allergic to cedar, so this year, we bought a traditional pine tree.  I must admit I miss the smell of a cedar tree brought in from the pasture.  The smell is so strong and so heavenly and reminds me of my childhood when Daddy and I would go in search of a tree for our house and for my grandmother’s house, and for my bedroom.  We would come back with three sizes of trees.  A giant one for our house, a medium-sized one for Granny’s, and a tiny one for my bedroom.  I have always loved cedar trees, but all of the ranchers in this rural area despise them because they soak up a tremendous amount of precious ground water, and apparently, they are good for nothing!  Nothing likes to eat them, and they grow like bad weeds.  Well, I guess they are bad weeds!

The second photo is of the last cedar tree we had when we still lived in the cabin, but had our Christmas in the barn.  Of course that was before the barn was full of “stuff”.  I must admit that making paper chains, hanging candy canes and bells, and wrapping our presents in brown mailing paper with twine tied around them was a blast!  The oil candles were fun, too.  It was a little chilly in the barn since we didn’t have much in the way of heat or light.  We did have some Coleman lanterns hanging from the ceiling.

I hope you have special memories of a special tree, and these two trees will always be very special to me!

New Year’s Day in the Country, 2012


Upon rising this morning, I began baking the “Apricot Bars” which I planned to take to the brunch that is given yearly by a local family.  The brunch is hosted by our neighbors, who live about five miles from us.  I was moving a bit slower than planned, and we didn’t arrive at the assigned time of 10:00 A.M., so when we got there, cars and pick-up trucks, mostly trucks, were parked all over a couple of acres of “yard”, and the blessing had already been given by a minister who lives three hours away in Fort Worth.  It looked as if there were over one hundred people outside milling around and eating.  The Airdale dog met us with a friendly greeting as we made our way toward the front door.  As I deposited my “Apricot Bars” on the bar, I looked around at all of the food that the host family provides, and out of curiosity asked how much bacon they had cooked:  10 pounds!  Oh yeah, and 10 pounds of sausage and 20 pounds of potatoes, and 300 quail.  The birds were fried outside under the carport in two large vats/pots of grease which were heated by flames from portable propane tanks.  Volunteers, men, were frying the quail.  They had on matching, camouflage aprons:  cute!  Sitting on the counter was the largest pot of cream gravy I’ve ever seen.  Joining it were homemade biscuits, a delicious cheese bread, hash browns of various kinds, three kinds of fruit salads, and desserts out the kazoo.  It looked like a Luby’s cafeteria, but with a much better and tastier selection of homemade delicacies. As we joined the long line, we came to the drink selection which included Mimosas, Bloody Marys, juice, tea, water, soft drinks………you name it, it was there.

How do these generous, kind-hearted people do it year after year?  And they look so fresh and as if they had not been up all night preparing and cooking which I suspect is exactly what they had been doing.  After we filled our plates, we headed outside to see nearly every spot taken at rows and rows of portable tables.  We spotted just two chairs which happened to be next to good friends, Winnie & Tiny.  Yea!!!

Not only was the food delicious and the New Year’s greetings sincere, but it was pleasant to hear what everyone had done over the holidays with the news that the principal’s wife had twisted her knee as they snow-skied in Taos, Winnie & Tiny had celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary, Cydney continues to have trouble with her back, Fern had attended church and prayed for those of us who skipped today, young Tyler had graduated with an engineering degree and is working in Scotland, the Locker/Starr wedding is on track for this summer and the reception will be held in the Locker’s large barn, and Weldon has received news that his cancer is operable and is offered new hope.  What a wonderful occasion and wonderful place to live.

Now, I must get some sleep because school begins tomorrow, and it is off to work I go tomorrow, but hopefully tomorrow, I will share my “Apricot Bars” recipe with you.  The dessert received many compliments, and it is so easy and quick that I know you will want to try it.

New Year’s Eve in the country


Tonight, we will drive 2 miles to the old schoolhouse at LakeView, Texas,  where my mother went to school as a young girl in the 1920’s when the school house was only one room.  Now the old, abandoned school house has two rooms.  The larger room will house a D.J. on one end and some benches on the opposite end, as well as benches around the perimeter.  The other room will host foods of all sorts, shapes, sizes, and kinds brought by people of the community, as well as a huge pot of black-eyed peas, boiling on the stove. I will take sausage rolls this year.

The larger room’s old hardwood floor makes a great dance floor, and young and old alike will twirl around the floor until well past midnight.  My husband and I will attend, dressed in our western boots and jeans.  There, we will visit with local friends that we have made here in the past three years, as well as the principal from the local school where I teach and his family, the athletic director and his family, and the Rodeo Association President and his family.  People will show up from Austin, Texas, 120 miles away.  Deer hunters will wander in as well as teenagers and people from the largest town in the county, San Saba, population 2666.  Babies and small children will come, and 5 year old boys will be asking 4 year old girls to dance.  If the Miller girl is there, she will win the limbo contest, as usual.

Inside the old schoolhouse, people will be visiting, reminiscing, tell tall tales, making new friends, dancing, playing dominoes, eating, drinking sweet tea and generally just having fun.  Outside the old schoolhouse, adults will be drinking a beer and checking their portable ice chest coolers to make sure that none of the teenagers have stolen any of the beer.

Hopefully, this year there will NOT be a skunk living under the old schoolhouse.  Last year, no one was aware that a skunk had made his home underneath the old structure, so every time the dancing picked up, the skunk would spray, and everyone would rush to open all of the many windows for a breath of fresh air.  Soon, the windows would slam shut because of the cold wind that soon permeated the room.

At midnight, everyone will hug, and guys will kiss their sweethearts and girlfriends and wives.  Some will go home to cook for tomorrow’s brunch, and some will, as the old song states, “stay a little longer.”