Amazing Adventures Near Junction, Texas

I think my idea of Junction, Texas was that it was some kind of wasteland with some gas stations in it. I was wrong, and I’ll always be grateful for this year’s Bennett Trust Women’s Conference: “Building A Legacy of Environmental Stewardship”, which concluded today with the field trips. We went to three very different places in the Junction area. I learned a ton, PLUS I got to add a bunch of observations to the 2022 Texas Pollinator Bioblitz over on iNaturalist!

Look at all the moths!

Native American Seed

Our first stop was a visit to a place I’d never dreamed I’d actually get to visit: the farms for Native American Seed, one of my favorite catalogs. Not only that, we got greeted by Bill Neimann, co-founder of the company. He comes very close to being one of the coolest humans I’ve ever met. He lives his life principles every single day, and spreads a great message across the world.

Listening to Bill Neimann orient us to the business

The farm is located in a beautiful spot on the Llano River, and they have places where people can stay and have programs, etc., too. Plus a friendly guardian dog. Was I in heaven? Yes.

Hi, Alfred!

The view from the main house was spectacular, as it overlooked an area planted with native plants that spread out to acres and acres of native grasses under cultivation. Mind-blowingly beautiful.

While we were there, we had three presentations, one on bird-watching that resulted in one loggerhead shrike and a loud but hidden chickadee. That’s OK. There were so many great plants that I was fine. There were many I’d never seen before, so I was in Suna Happy Place.

The second presentation was on doing ecotourism, and I learned some good tidbits about making money from people who want to look at birds on your property. I wish I could bring the storks in on cue!

Our speaker on bird tourism doesn’t actually like birds.

The third presentation involved going into the growing fields. We were short on time for this, which was too bad, but I was in awe of the people who work there and have figured out ways to grow these now-rare plants for seed to distribute all over the place. Plus, I got to watch harvester ants, you know, harvesting.

Silver Farms

Next, we went to lunch, but it was much, much more than just lunch. It was a farm-to-table lunch with all the aspects of it prepared by women. The farm raises show goats and sheep, as well as some meat lambs. We had the best roast lamb I ever ate for our main course. For the salad, a company that consists of two homeschooled teens prepared it. That was one of the best salads ever, too, and I’m not making that up. There was goat cheese in it, home-grown greens, local pecans, etc., in it. I had two helpings and was not alone in this. There were also cheesy potatoes, homemade herb breads, and a chocolate dessert.

Getting ready for lunch. No lunch photos because we were eating!

Oh, and there was wine from friends of the owners, and it was all delicious as well. When we finished eating, all the people who brought the meal together spoke to us about how they came to do what they do. It was really encouraging to see all these new businesses cropping up in rural Kimble County.

Once that was over, we got to go look at the sheep and goats! You know that was a highlight for me! They were Hampshire sheep, which are nice and big. There was one pen full of ewes getting worked on by one lucky ram. You can tell which ram got to a ewe, because they put paint on his chest and it rubs off on the lucky gals. The ram in the pen had red paint, but a blue one had been there earlier.

There was another area where the show animals were. They all wear little outfits to protect their coats. I was not aware of this practice. They were a hoot to watch, though, but we had to leave.

Texas Tech, in Junction

Back on the buses we went, to find the Texas Tech campus in Junction, which looks mostly like a summer camp. That was fine with me, because we got to go look at the river. Hooray, I love the river. The presentation here was by folks from Texas Parks and Wildlife and AgriLife. It covered managing riparian areas and dealing with axis deer.

It was shocking to see how badly the deer had grazed the area down, compared with an area they had fenced to keep wildlife out, which had lovely long grass and a variety of kinds.

I learned a lot about how to tell if your land is holding a good amount of deer or is being over-grazed, depending on what plants they have eaten. I am happy to report we have plenty of the stuff deer like to eat, and also that there aren’t any axis deer on this side of I-35 yet. Whew.

We’re pretty but not welcome in Texas. You can shoot us any time of year, if you pay someone enough money. Sniff.

What are axis deer? Imported animals native to northern India and the area around there, who have escaped and gone crazy breeding in Texas.

Anyway, it was all extra interesting, and I had a grand time, all the while taking more and more pictures of wildlife. I got into the top 50 of the BioBlitz just by taking all these pictures. There really were lots of butterflies and moths. There was one plant I saw four or five types of moths on at once!

Enjoy just a FEW of the photos I took, including some of the new things I saw.

The only negative thing is I have to get up early and drive home in the morning. But, that’s not the end of the world!

Evening Exploration

It was a long day of “working from beach” today, but it was fun doing my individual meetings on the balcony. I still have things to do, but I’m plowing through them, and some of the stuff is getting interesting.

I guess I’m relaxed

We had to leave for a while in the early afternoon, because they were going to turn the power off in the building for some test. We took that opportunity to visit the new and trendy Market Commons area, which is sort of like the Domain in Austin, but a bit prettier.

Dining spot.

Lee was not impressed, but I’d have a lot of fun with Kathleen or Anita there. The shopping looked excellent, and there were many nice places to eat. We had sushi, and it was fresh and interesting. My lemon roll was divine, and I also had a yellowtail ceviche in a ponzu sauce. The air was just right for outdoor dining, too.

Lemon roll.

Of course, Lee found numerous plants to be allergic to, especially the gorgeous plantings of jasmine. But hey, he’s not allergic to azaleas! He says if he lived a hundred years ago none of this would be bothering him, since he’d have died from some allergy in childhood. Cheery!

Lee wasn’t allergic to this palm flower.

When I finished working at 6, Lee wanted to go see small towns, so we drove on the inland road to Georgetown, SC. We passed many beautiful forests with hardwoods, Wild magnolias, and pines.

Speeding by woods

Much of it looked exactly like northern Florida from my childhood, including the many plantings of pines for harvest. All the big rivers and swamps we passed also made me feel at home.

Pine forest, thinned

As we approached Georgetown, Lee wondered if we were near the sewage plant. Nope, another memory from childhood blasted in and told me what I soon confirmed: there’s a large paper mill just outside of town. You can’t miss that smell.

Stinky but cool.

Other than that, though, Georgetown is beautiful, one of the oldest cities in South Carolina. It currently has a scary looking old steel mill as another industry.

Steel mill

But, as I read one of the information signs around the boardwalk, I recalled where I’d heard of this place. Not only was it a center for growing rice (as evidenced by the rice museum in town), but it was also an early indigo growing center! I’d read about it in the book on indigo I read last year.

And there are boats!

I must say, this is a gorgeous town, with a fixed-up downtown harbor area, a boardwalk, and many places to shop and eat. We had another outdoor meal, with a bonus of watching a Great Dane sit on a kid’s lap.

Both of these families own Great Danes, so the kid was fine with him. He just kept scratching the dog, and the dog kept smiling.

We are glad we will come back later for one of our boat rides (assuming I book them), so we can see more of the beautiful old homes and such.

This old house is a museum.

Lee and I both are excited about our upcoming adventures! We wish we had folks with us, but wow, there’s a lot going on!

Sunset in the rear-view mirror and reflected on our vehicle. Artsy.

Once again, I’m thinking of all my friends and family who have been undergoing treatments and surgeries and such. Healing wishes to you all.

Went Down to the River, but the River Was Dry

When I go on a trip, my main goals are to look at the nature and the architecture of wherever I am. Even in small towns, I love looking at buildings. Check out the Bandera County Courthouse, especially the manger scene. I don’t think they actually had turkey vultures in Bethlehem a couple of thousand years ago!

Jesus is visited by vultures, a longhorn, merino sheep, white-tailed deer, a cactus, and cowboysl

It’s So Cowboy Here

Lee and I had a lot of fun shopping today, especially since I actually needed a couple of “cowboy accessories” and so did he. I got a Resistol summer weight hat that fits me like a glove, and has already made walking around here in the bright winter sun easier. I really loved my other hat, but it got set down within the reach of certain blue-eyed dogs, and became a former hat. Grr. You only have to forget to hang the hat high ONCE to lose the hat. I’d had it five years or so, though, which is good for the kind of hat you sweat all over (it’s a work hat).

New hat protects me from blazing winter sun.

And I realize most women don’t wear cowboy hats unless they are in a rodeo, but too bad. Baseball hats aren’t as comfortable to me, and they don’t provide as much shade for my pale little European face. At least I live in a hat-wearing part of the US half time!

Lee got a new belt, which is really nice. The Cowboy Shop had a better selection than other Western shops we’d been in lately.

Anyway, after a protracted stop at a Native American jewelry store, where I got some Effie earrings (Hopi ones by an artist who always puts snakes on her jewelry) and some lovely Navajo White Buffalo turquoise earrings (white stone with black in it)…and Lee got a RING, we came back so Lee could yell at Verizon about a mix-up. I left.

River?

I headed back down to the river where I saw all the armadillo munching away yesterday. I only saw one today, but that’s because I walked through the river. The bed is glaringly white, since it consists of polished limestone with a layer of white sediment on top of it. It’s positively lunar.

Continue reading “Went Down to the River, but the River Was Dry”

Rio Guadalupe Love

Today was our day to get out of town, so we decided to head down the most scenic highway we could think of, the road from Fredericksburg through Kerrville and on to Hunt, Texas. You may recall that I took this same drive when I attended the Bennett Trust Women’s Conference.

This time, Lee, Anita and I took things slowly, stopping for lunch outside of Kerrville at an excellent local Mexican restaurant, which happened to be on the banks of a dam by a creek leading to the Guadalupe River. It was our first glimpse of this winding waterway and its many tributaries, which many claim is the most beautiful river in Texas.

As we drove down the road, we enjoyed many crossings, then dropped by to visit some friends of ours, the Hudsons, who build and sell amazing hand-made lawn furniture. Lee has known Jack since high school. We got some great pictures and caught up. We should visit more often, that’s for sure.

Then we went back on a long road with many Guadalupe River crossings. I hope you like my photos through the car window!

The highway also wound through some of the most beautiful Hill Country ranch property there is. One reason it looks so great is that the ranchers have made a huge effort to remove most of the ashe juniper (cedar) trees, so the land looks more like it used to look.

I think one reason I find the Guadalupe so fascinating is that it goes through such semi-arid territory. And the banks are so white, thanks to all the limestone.

The terrain strongly resembles African savannahs, especially since we saw, for the most part, mainly African animals behind all the very high fences. This is the heart of the exotic ranching area, and it’s quite obvious. We didn’t see a cow other than one herd of longhorns, until we were almost back to Kerrville. There was one flock of goats, but otherwise, gazelles, antelope, pronghorns, and other animals I have forgotten since I visited the exotic animal organization headquarters filled the pastures (well, mostly it was empty, because of good range management).

The animals didn’t hold still, so no photos, but hey, you know what they look like: funny looking deer.

Tomorrow we hope to go somewhere and hike with at least one of my kids. More then!

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