Columns Ranch & Rural Living Magazine, monthly periodical print version as well as online sample articles about sheep, goats, cattle, horses, rural life. Tue, 23 May 2017 01:06:17 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb New Year's Keys to Peace Lesli NolenBy Lesli Nolen

Published January 2014

The decorations have been taken off the tree, the stocking are down from the mantle and the presents have been unwrapped. Once again the holiday’s have come and gone and another year is upon us. New resolutions, new goals and new beginnings are all proclaimed this time of year, but instead of broken resolutions and frustrated emotions I give you peace. Peace that only comes from the peacekeeper.

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About Christmas Carols Lesli NolenBy Lesli Nolen

Published December 2013

As far back as I can remember Christmas Carols have always been a big part of celebrating Christmas. I remember singing them in our elementary school plays, singing them at home while my mom played the piano and singing those favorite carols on a hay ride through town. I did some research and found that Christmas carols have been around for a long time, but haven’t always been as they are today.

The definition of “carol” is a song of praise or joy, especially for Christmas and can refer to a round dance often accompanied by singing. The word carol, or carole, is a medieval word of French origin. It is believed to mean a dance song or a circle dance accompanied by singing. Carols express religious joy and are associated most with the Christmas season.

Carols originated in the 14th and 15th centuries and were most popular in the religious song form. The themes often revolved around a saint, the Christ child or the Virgin Mary. It was considered art music. They made very elaborate arrangement for the carols and they were considered an important contribution to English medieval music.

]]> (Lesli Nolen) Lesli's This and That Sun, 01 Dec 2013 06:00:00 +0000
Thankful for Blessings Lesli NolenBy Lesli Nolen

Published November 2013

I have once again called on my Facebook family to help me with my column. In keeping with the spirit of Thanksgiving, I wanted to know what their biggest blessing has been in 2013. I asked them, what has God done in their life?  Here is what they said:

Todd Harrell—He (God) keeps me going day after day after day. We can always and forever thank God for giving His sons life for us.

Sandy Stockton Adcock—So many blessings; new marriage, new career, healthy kids, healthy pets and so many good friends that make my life wonderful.

Charity Wise—My son, Braxton.

Chelsie Schmidt—New house and better job.

Tara Hohensee Ellisor—My baby boy Kade.

]]> (Lesli Nolen) Lesli's This and That Fri, 01 Nov 2013 06:00:00 +0000
A Frightening Holiday Lesli NolenBy Lesli Nolen

Published October 2013

It was dark. I was walking up to a house—alone, I think. I felt scared. My hands were sweaty, my heart was racing and I didn’t want to be there. I rang the doorbell and waited. Slowly, the door creaked open. Cobwebs everywhere.  I looked up and saw something. I didn’t know what it was. I stood there helpless, unable to move. Then I heard screaming, more screaming, and finally realized it was me doing the screaming. Somehow I was able to make my legs move and I turned and ran to the car. I jumped in and grabbed my mom, holding on for dear life. I was crying uncontrollably. She was telling me it was okay, but I couldn’t stop. I looked up through the front windshield of the car and there was that monster again! I screamed. The monster hit the windshield with his fist and I looked up. He began removing his mask.  It was a man. A man I had seen before.

I don’t remember what house it was, I don’t remember what I was wearing, I don’t remember how old I was, I just remember it was the scariest moment of my life. It was Halloween night.

]]> (Lesli Nolen) Lesli's This and That Tue, 01 Oct 2013 06:00:00 +0000
Loving Fall Lesli NolenBy Lesli Nolen

Published September 2013

Welcome back, fall! Welcome back, Friday night lights, new season of TV shows and my favorite—fall fashion. The kids are back in school, the weather is cooler and I love it. The fall season is one of my favorite times of year. I love how the leaves begin to change color, from green to bright orange, red and yellow. The heat of summer begins to dissipate, leaving us with crisp cool mornings and countless stars and constellations to fill the night sky.

I love to dress for fall weather. I know we don’t usually have the typical fall weather like some do north of us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still make a fashion statement. I love the changing colors that fall brings and the changing colors of the fashion palette, too. I love the deep shades of orange, gold, red, rust, the purples and the greens. These colors help us express a range of moods, with hues representing sophistication and structure to those bringing vivid life and excitement.

]]> (Lesli Nolen) Lesli's This and That Sun, 01 Sep 2013 06:00:00 +0000
It's Vacation Bible School Time Lesli NolenBy Lesli Nolen

Published August 2013

For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.  

—2 Timothy 1:7      

This verse and a roller coaster are the theme for this year’s Vacation Bible School at the church we attend, Harris Avenue Baptist Church.

With the hallways and classrooms decorated we prepare for a week of Bible study, games, songs, snacks and prayer. We usually average around 100 kids ages 4-18. Most VBS’s do not include high school-aged kids, but we have done so the past two years. Last year we averaged 12 high school youths and look forward to at least that many this year.  It’s exciting to see the older kids coming in with the same excitement as the younger children.

We begin each night with a short video that relates to the Bible verse and theme. We say the pledge of allegiance to the flags and Bible then close in prayer before breaking into groups. The youth, or older kids group, breaks off and goes upstairs to the youth room.  There we have tables, chairs, ping pong table and art supplies. We start off with a little game to get everyone comfortable. We then begin our Bible study. Having older kids, we are allowed different time restraints. We still rotate stations, but not as quickly as we do with the younger kids’ group. Our youth Bible study is usually 30 – 40 minutes of active participation. We then have arts and crafts time, snacks, songs and prayer time.  We are blessed to have the space upstairs so we can implement a whole VBS series. ]]> (Lesli Nolen) Lesli's This and That Thu, 01 Aug 2013 06:00:00 +0000 When I was a Kid . . . Lesli NolenBy Lesli Nolen

Published July 2013

When I was a kid, life was simple. I didn’t always see it that way, but now that I’m grown and have children of my own, I can look back and see I had it made. I grew up during a time of morals and values; when your word meant something. I grew up in a time where I had chores after school, we had dinner together and then I was free to do what I wanted. I grew up with only four or five channels on the TV. I grew up riding my bike and having to be home when the street lights came on. I grew up knowing what was expected of me and doing it. I grew up with small town roots.

]]> (Lesli Nolen) Lesli's This and That Mon, 01 Jul 2013 06:00:00 +0000
Another Poverty Grass By Jake Landers

Published July 2013

Jake LandersBleached and weathered Red threeawn grows in clusters around a Harvester ant bed where it can become established without being destroyed by the ants.Might as well continue with another depressing range story because at the time of this writing it looks like the hot dry spring will continue into a hotter and drier summer.  I hope I’m wrong.

Recovery of our grazing lands at this time depends 99 % on rainfall and 1% on management, but it’s always good to think about the plants that we need to know more about in our attempt to make ranching a sustainable enterprise.

Red threeawn is another poverty grass.  Its leaves are short and thin without much to graze on.   It matures in a hurry and quickly looses any forage value for livestock.  Once it was more common on the ranch than it is now.   I remember seeing a sea of red on our Mesquite flats in early summer when the grass was full of seed heads.  The red comes from the long awns or tails of the seeds which are important in pushing the seed into the soil to establish a new plant (and, unfortunately, into the wool and hair of sheep and goats).  Why they are red defies explanation, for sure it’s not to attract pollinators.  All grasses are wind pollinated, and there is no need for color, attractive odor, or nectar to attract Butterflies and Bees.

Monstrous Red threeawn grass grows in town with abundant water, plenty of sunshine, and no  competition.Red threeawn takes advantage of soil disturbance to get established.  Heavy grazing and drought that destroy the turf allow the seeds to penetrate the soil and benefit from the light showers that wet the top of the ground.   Individual plants last a few years, and with time, they are replaced with better adapted plants, depending on available seed, adequate moisture and protection from heavy grazing.  I’m confident the abundant plants I remember were established in the 1930’s and again in the 50’s and were less obvious as Dad became a better manager.

Red threeawn, sometimes called Purple threeawn, has the scientific name of Aristida purpurea var. longiseta.  It extends from Canada to northern Mexico as a rather variable plant.  In recent years it has been grouped with one big taxonomic mess of perennial threeawns consisting of about seven species, now varieties, in Aristida pupurea.

Today on the ranch it exists as a minor species.  Red threeawn establishes easily on two rather different soil conditions.  On a repeatedly overgrazed Mesquite flat it can be a dominant grass, a red carpet when the seedheads are ripe.  And it can be the only grass growing on Harvester ant beds.  It is easy to spot an ant bed in the pasture every 100 feet or so by the Red threeawn, which because of the weather has been bleached to straw color, no longer red.

The part of the ranch that I inherited was extremely overgrazed in 1938 when Dad acquired it.  Under his management he has left it better than he found it, and I am intent on doing the same.  And that means less Red threeawn and the other poverty grasses: Texas grama, Red grama, and Hairy tridens.   

Reading The Landscape

A Edwards Plateau pasture in dry winter. What kind of tree is prominent in the center?  What is the dark gray green understory shrub? What is the green plant in the fenceline?

A Edwards Plateau pasture in dry winter. What kind of tree is prominent in the center?  What is the dark gray green understory shrub? What is the green plant in the fenceline?     —JL

See below for Jake's answer

Reading the Landscape: Answer

Jake’s comments: The tree is Chittamwood or Gum Bumelia which reacts to Mistletoe by making “witches broom” clusters; beneath is Algerita; green plant in fenceline is Sacahuista or Beargrass, poisonous to sheep and goats in spring.  It appears to be a well managed pasture with a bit too much Algerita.       —JL

]]> (Jake Landers) Range Plants Mon, 01 Jul 2013 06:00:00 +0000
Picking Strawberries in Fredericksburg Lesli NolenBy Lesli Nolen

Published June 2013

You know how when you really don’t want to do something but you know you have to do it and then once you’ve done it, it wasn’t that bad after all? Well that was my husband a couple of weeks ago.

He didn’t mind taking a day trip to Fredericksburg with the family, but he wasn’t looking forward to the event of strawberry picking. We drove up on Saturday morning and met my family at a local restaurant for lunch.

Then we did the tourist thing; we walked up and down the streets of downtown Fredericksburg, browsing the different stores. After some candy and coffee we decided to hit the road to Marburger Orchid. My daughter Skylar and I were excited about picking strawberries. How cool is that? It’s definitely something you don’t get to do every day and it sure beats buying them in the store.

]]> (Lesli Nolen) Lesli's This and That Sat, 01 Jun 2013 06:00:00 +0000
The Poverty Three By Jake Landers

Published June 2013

Jake LandersTexas grama is starting to fill in some of the bare ground as the drought continues on central Texas rangeland.A rancher who depends on Hairy tridens, Red grama, and Texas grama for forage production for livestock is on the road to poverty.   They are the first to recover from a drought, usually from remnants of a root system, but also from seeds produced even during the worst drought conditions.  They survive because they are small enough to avoid grazing by cattle, and the close nibbling by sheep doesn’t take a killing amount of leaves.

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