Tag Archives: Stock Tank

Poprock Hill Pond Mist

Poprock Hill Pond Mist, March 14, 2010 (click to enlarge)

This is Poprock Hill Pond, also known as a stock pond, stock tank, cow tank, watering hole, runoff reservoir or catch pond.  In this region of Texas — central, west — they are called, cow tanks or stock tanks.  “Cow tank,” of course, has familial, idiosyncratic, usage:  Uncle Floyd’s ranch, Tom Parks place and many others.  Cow or stock tank does not have the Walden cachet that reflexively appeals to non-Westerners, non-Texans.  To many of us, however, the cow tank was the first place where we learned to swim, fish and observe water in a region of semi-arid climate.  It was a separate, exciting area, cupped in the earth.

The rivers of Texas, such as Brazos, Colorado, Llano, Pecan Bayou (yes, a river), San Saba, Concho, Pecos and Rio Grande (always drop the word, “river,” before you say or write Rio Grande) may be public in water rights, but only a few families own the land around the river banks.  The Walton family of Walmart has a large ranch along the Brazos River near Millsap, Texas.  The few families that control river banks have no duty to the public to give them access.  To canoe or float down these rivers in Texas, you enter the river at a public road crossing, such as Interstate 20.

For most of us owning land in Texas, our first exposure to large bodies of water — other than bathtubs — were cow tanks, such as Poprock Hill Pond or stock tank, photographed above.  Swimming in cow tanks with cousins was often the first time people saw another body without clothes or scant apparel.  Perch and bass fish were stocked in the tanks and in the winter, ducks arrived to feed, carouse.  The cow tank was a retreat from family conflict, a quiet place to throw stones in the water and watch the ripples circle out to the edges.  It was another visual reference for for drought or abundance:  cow tank down, way down, dry.  Or, the other way:  stock tank up, way up, overflowing.   During the summer, we camped on the northern side of the stock tank, so as to catch the water evaporation from the southwest wind at night as we would sleep in a tent or on cots beneath live oaks, pecan trees.  By the morning, we wrapped ourselves in old quilts or sleeping bags to ward off  the cold breeze from the tank.

Stock tanks, however, are primarily for livestock.  Angus cattle walk the dam and water daily.  Our horses, Star, Lilly, Hija, Fanny and Shiney, wallow in the shallows to the right in the above photograph, bathing and cooling themselves in hot weather.  Hija is a water nymph.  She wallows more than others, she plays in it:  nuzzling the surface, plunging her head down into the water almost up to her eyes, stomping the edge of the bank to splash water on herself.  She’s a fine horse, she is.  If she could, she would bring her stallion to the water’s edge.

This morning, the temperature was 41 deg. F. and I saw the mist arise from Poprock Hill Pond.  Before I threw hay to Hija — she’s a fine horse, she is — I went down to the pond and took the photograph.  I don’t know the temperature of the water, but I’ll get a thermometer one of these days and plunge it into the pond water, if it is pertinent to my tasks that day.  Then, again, I may not.  I may stand on the edge of the cow tank and think of my cousins and Sweet Hija, bucolically at play and passing time.  The registering of the surface temperature may have to wait as I look at the wind moving the surface of the water, the light film of natural oils, the young willows emerging along the banks and the sunlight reflecting.  And, soon — it always happens — I’ll forget myself, looking at a misty cow tank in Texas.

Closeup Mist on Poprock Hill Pond, March 14, 2010 (click to enlarge)

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Filed under Flying Hat Ranch, Recollections 1990-

When Will Duck and Heron Return to the Pond?

Flying Hat Stock Pond

[Originally published on October 12, 2009.  This post has been updated to include commentary for the summer of 2010.]

The photograph above is our stock pond or cow tank that you read a lot about on my blog.  It is about fifteen-feet deep, but you can see from the photograph that it is down by three feet or so.  That’s not unusual.  The horses will wallow at one end of the tank, about where the camera is.

When will the ducks come to the pond this year?  Last year the first ducks arrived during October when there was a freeze line back up north of Mingus.

What will be the date of the first arrival this year?  I would like to build a duck blind so I can take photographs.

Sometimes ducks come during the summer and warm weather.  I think they must come from some of the large lakes around here like those on Celebrity Ranch and Possum Kingdom.

I would like to type the ducks and take photographs of them and post on the blog.

The health of wildlife is measured many ways.  One of the best ways is by a field count.  My field count is not graphed on paper, but daily observations occur.

I have seen no ducks for several months on the pond, not even the resident ducks that may stay year round at Celebrity or Possum Kingdom.

Just as important, I have not seen the Blue Herons alight on the south side of the pond for several weeks.

The health of the waterfowl on Flying Hat Ranch is unknown.  They are gone for the summer or have relocated.  I presume the Blue Heron will return.  I shall post about them when they browse in the pond.

The health of wildlife?  None are present for a field count.

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Filed under Ducks, Flying Hat Ranch