Within the last month, rain fell on central Texas and upon my place, Flying Hat Ranch, or ranchito. My former professor, Donald Worcester of TCU, used to say of his 142 acres near Fort Worth was a “ranchito,” due to its size and to the calculations of John Wesley Powell, noted surveyor of the West in the nineteenth century, who opined that a ranch in the semi-arid West should be at least 2,560 acres to run cattle and attain self-sufficient for a family. So, notwithstanding a definition of terms, my 53 acre ranchito has received rain. And, we are forecast for more rain starting at 4:00 p.m. today.
Since the flourishing of grass and trees this spring, I have observed large eruptions of milkweed. More milkweed has grown about the pastures and especially the roadways, such as Texas State Highways 16 and 114, than I have ever seen since moving here in 2000. In certain places, where I would seasonally see ten blossoms of milkweed, I now see a hundred. Monarch butterflies, however, have not passed by here. I see one or two in my grove, but no more than that–for now.
Rain and milkweed abound. Yet, there is a different caliber of field news. Worms have destroyed many elm trees on the ranchito. I saw an elm tree covered in worm strands down by the grove, encased like a cocoon. I have not counted the loss precisely, but my elm tree loss is between fifty and a hundred trees. Some elms survived the worm infestation and remain hardy; others have partially damaged limbs. I shall bring out the axe and chainsaw to harvest the dead trees.
I am closing with a video of my petting a wild, juvenile cottontail rabbit. I have seen its parents in the tall grass, not far from where I rescued the roadrunner from the water trough. Yes, I know as you do, cycles of life and death on ranches, farms, cities, and this good earth. And, lately, rain has fallen.