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Welcome to Ranch & Rural Living

The Changing West Texas Culture

Herds of cattle ran free without fences in early West Texas days.  Care of livestock is different now, but it remains a part of our Texas Heritage.  Courtesy of West Texas Collection, Angelo State University.  Ragsdale was the photographer.

By Barbara Barton

Published February 2015

What is our West Texas culture, and is it changing?  According to Mirriam-Webster, “Culture includes the beliefs, social forms, and customs of a particular society, group or place.”  It can also be the characteristic features of everyday existence shared by a people.  I would like to discuss the traits we West Texans share.

In the 1800s when our area of the state began to be populated with ranchers, the men on horseback chasing the bawling cows only saw their neighbors at branding time.  Cattle drifted southwest during the wintertime, and cattle wearing every brand imaginable would show up along the Devil’s River or other common barriers.

The coffee pot and camp fire are a part of cattle round-ups even in present days. Location of this round-up was 50 miles north of Van Horn on the Six Bar Ranch.  Photo courtesy of Bob Hedrick, the man on the right. The need to help each other recover the lost cows and sort the livestock according to brand brought people together.  These ancestors of ours loved their chosen profession and cared about the people who shared their same occupation.  John Chisum who ranched in Brown and Coleman counties along with Jim Coffey and Richard Tankersley, met at the branding sites and discussed their families.   Chisum made many cattle drives toward Kansas to the railheads to sell his steers.  If ranch houses were close to the round-up, families met over meals and maybe some dancing took place to the sound of fiddle music.  John Chisum didn’t chat about a family much because he wasn’t married, but he let his fiddle do the talking.


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The 'Wild' Life TV Program Features Bow Hunting Adventures

Mike and Heather Ray take viewers on bow hunting outings on various ranches in the Southwest.  Their TV show, “The ‘Wild’ Life” allows viewers to experience the new, the different, and the attainable for the average outdoors person. By Shelby DeLuna
Published January 2015

Hunting and fishing became a way of life for Mike Ray growing up. So, it is no surprise that the east Texas native would start a TV show that educates people on how to bow hunt and fish. The show is called “The ‘Wild’ Life” and is co-hosted by Mike’s wife, Heather.

Mike is a former camera man for long-time friend Ted Nugent’s hunting show called “Spirit of the Wild.” That’s how he learned what goes into producing a hunting show and decided to start his own.

“We are on our third year filming the show,” Mike said. “It is a 95-percent bow hunting show where we travel all over the country hunting whitetail, bears, and hogs. You name it and we hunt it.”

Heather grew up with hunters in the family but unlike her husband, had never hunted until she met Mike. “I think before I met Mike, I physically sat in a deer blind once and was bored out of my mind,” Heather said. After she met Mike, she quickly fell in love with the challenge of bow hunting. “With bow hunting you have to be so much closer to that animal that it intrigues me. That is what keeps me coming back for the challenge.”

The show features two kills on each episode which consists of Heather taking an animal and Mike killing one. They show proper techniques on how to hunt and feature different ranches that often invite them to hunt on their property.

If you are not used to bow hunting there is more to it than you may think. For starters, the Rays recommend that you get fitted for your bow before trying to go out and shoot one. They do not want one bad mishap to ruin the experience for you.

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Kuebel Family Generations

Perry Kuebel, left, and nephew Colten Kuebel and niece Carlie Kuebel show some of the family’s dairy goats. The Kuebel clan has raised Angoras for decades and now have added dairy goats for more income. Photo by Kay Kuebel
Perry Kuebel, left, and nephew Colten Kuebel and niece Carlie Kuebel show some of the family’s dairy goats. The Kuebel clan has raised Angoras for decades and now have added dairy goats for more income. Photo by Kay Kuebel

By Perry Kuebel

Published July 2014

The Kuebel family’s love for raising goats began decades ago when Fritz Kuebel, Sr., and his son, Junior, raised goats along the Blanco River about 12 miles west of the small Hill Country town of the same name. Fritz Kuebel, Jr., purchased his first registered Angoras after returning from the Army in 1958. He started with 40 head of old Angoras he obtained from Mr. Bernard Fuchs of Cypress Mill. He has worked hard to improve the herd ever since.

“Sue” is one of the family’s dairy goats and is featured on the product label for Kuebel Family Generations. Still living along the river but just 4 miles west of Blanco, the Kuebels are known for their fine haired Angoras.  Over the years Fritz has received numerous awards, often having high selling bucks at sales such as the annual Texas Angora Goat Raisers Association sale.

With the help of his wife, Hazel, and children, Cecilia, Mark, Perry Ann, and Larry, the tradition carries on. Perry is in charge of kidding season and getting Fritz to meetings, shows, and sales. Her boyfriend, Walter, and brother, Mark, do most of the hard manly labor on weekends. Everyone helps out, especially when it comes to bottling cute goat kids, the grand-kids’ favorite job. And, if there’s anyone who can save a goat or any other animal for that matter it’s Grandma Hazel.

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Grown in Gillespie County

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The Area of Central Texas Settled by German Immigrants
Produces Peaches, Berries, Grapes and More

Published June 2014

Shops along Main Street in Fredericksburg draw visitors, but so do the county’s peaches and wines. Photo courtesy Fredericksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau. When, in 1845, German settler John Meusebach set out from New Braunfels, Texas, and traveled 60 miles northwest to select the second settlement of the Fisher-Miller Land Grant, he chose well. He selected a valley situated between two creeks, now known as Barons Creek and Town Creek, and surrounded by seven hills. He named the settlement Fredericksburg, after Prince Frederick of Prussia, a kingdom in what is now northwestern Germany.

The rich farmland around the new settlement would allow the new Texans from Germany to prosper, both in livestock production and farming.

Today, agriculture is an important part of the Fredericksburg area’s economy. According to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, ag production and related industry in Gillespie County averaged nearly $50 million annually between 2008 and 2011. Half of that total came from beef cattle production. The agriculture industry in the county employs nearly 1,000 residents, with an annual payroll of nearly $7 million.

Though peach growers have been through some tough years of drought, they are still at it, producing some of the best tasting peaches anywhere. Vogel Orchard peaches ready for picking. Photo by Sharla Schmidt.When folks in Texas think about Fredericksburg and the surrounding area, they think about German heritage, wines, beers, picturesque farms in a Hill Country setting, cattle, sheep—and peaches.

Peaches and Fredericksburg go together like bratwurst and sauerkraut.

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Camille Sanders

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Talented Young Texas Singer/Songwriter
From Concan Has Performed Since Age 9

Camille Sanders By Gary Cutrer

Published January 2014

At just 17, country music performer and songwriter Camille Sanders is already a veteran of the music world, if you count the years she’s been singing and playing the fiddle, since age 9. Camille’s most recent performances include acoustic sets with Ace in the Hole Band leader Ronnie Huckaby. Yes, that Ace in the Hole Band, George Strait’s backing group. She released her second CD in April 2013, “Smile.” Her first, a self-titled CD of cover and orginal songs, came out in 2011. The Camille Sanders Band performed a set at the 2011 San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo and has opened for several big acts.

Though Camille has yet to garner the kind of huge attention that mean’s a performer has “arrived” in Texas and across the country, she has already charted hits in Europe, where, by the way, many people love American country music. And, recently, Camille made her acting debut in a made-for-TV movie starring Dolly Parton.

It was Camille’s maternal grandfather, Howard Yeargan, who spurred her early interest in music, she said. “I started learning how to play the fiddle when I was 9, and we would go from church to church and play gospel shows together and I’d play the fiddle and my grandpa would play the piano.”  Her fiddle playing then was a little rough compared to now, she said. “It was a little squeaky.”

Her fiddle skills improved, and at the same time her grandfather taught her to play the piano. “My grandpa passed away,” she said. “I thought, well, I’m going to continue what we started together, so I learned how to play the guitar.”  She had the music basics down, she said, but she needed some polish. “I needed real good training and stuff so I started training with my fiddle teacher, Dick Walker. And we would work together all throughout the summers trying to get theory and stuff, and I learned how to play the guitar and I started covering songs and writing my own music to play at a show in Concan.”

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August 2015

Ranch & Rural Living August 2015

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