A Porch of My Own

A Porch of My Own

Thursday, March 10, 2011

You Can't Always Get What You Want.....

I headed out this morning on a hunt for shed antlers. Rickie let two big 8-pointers go this hunting season, even though he could have shot them several times on his numerous trips to the deer stand. He let them pass by because I had gotten attached to these two but he assures me they only got a pass this year! For Hill Country deer on low-fenced small acreage, they were plenty big. I was thinking that the good karma generated by this would cause the deer to shed their antlers here on our 54 acres. The fact that I have only found 1 shed antler in 22 years here did not dampen my enthusiasm, and off I went.

I wasn’t sure if they were shed yet. One of the spikes I saw has lost one side of his little spike antlers but I saw a fresh roadkill 8-pointer on the highway a couple of days ago and he still had his antlers.

(Photo - one of the antlers I was hoping to find!)

I put on my belt that has a water bottle, glasses, and bear spray on it, got my cedar walking stick and camera. We had a mountain lion in the area this winter and I have dreamed about mountain lions twice in the last week. As I walked through the oaks, cedars, and cedar elms, it was as quiet as it can be. I seemed to be the only one in the world. I moved my bear spray around to the front of my belt and made sure it was pointed to the front and the safety was in easy reach. I wanted to be ready in case that third mountain lion appearance was in real life and not a dream!

I came upon a group of trees and in the center the ground was covered with green moss. In this extremely dry country seeing anything green is cause for excitement! The tree canopy protected the moss from the harsh sun and it was beautiful in the filtered light.

I walked past a group of twisted yuccas and headed back in the direction of the cabin. As I approached the cabin, I heard turkeys by the milo feeder down the hill. When I woke up this morning and opened the window shades, I had counted 36 turkeys in the yard. Mostly hens with one big gobbler strutting around. They stayed in the yard for a couple of hours, some laying down under the trimmed up oaks and cedars by the swing, some preening themselves, some eating bugs and grass seeds. When I came outside to go work in the garden they left. Now they were back.

(Photo - taken through the screen door in the morning)

(Photo -  Gobbler is to the right facing away; hen on the left)

The gobbler was there and I tried to get a photo. His feathers were spread open in the sunlight and he was beautiful. By the time I got the camera pointed that way, he was moving out of sight. The hens stayed around the feeder. I decided to try to get closer to see if I could get a better picture of the gobbler.  I knew he wouldn’t go far with the ladies still there.

The wind was from the northwest blowing my scent down the hill toward the turkeys. I decided to try to flank them and come up on the east side of them. I crept down the hill, sending a half dozen white wing doves flushing from the trees, followed by a giant jackrabbit running by me in a blur! On my right side I could see the turkeys through the trees about 20 yards away. They knew I was there and were moving out down the hill and away from me, but they didn’t seem too stressed by my presence. They didn’t break into a run, just moseying away in the sunlight.

I managed to get the camera up and got a few shots of them walking down the fence line away from me. I could hear the gobbler but he was out of sight. The hens were making the noise turkey hens make. I think of it as a scraping chalky sound but that is probably because my husband’s turkey call uses a piece of thin wood rubbed on a wooden box that has chalk on the edge of it. This duplicates the noise they make once you get the hang of it.

I thought about following them, maybe going through the gate to the back of the property where the cliff is, but they had quit talking and I didn’t think I would have much luck. A scrub jay fussed at me from the top of a Spanish Oak as I turned to go back up the hill. I flushed the white wings once again from the trees they had settled in after I passed by earlier.

I noticed a v-shaped bone on the ground and flipped it over. It was the lower jawbone of a feral hog Rickie had killed a couple of years ago. I picked it up to bring back to the yard to show the grandkids when they come out. They don’t see these kinds of things in the city!

Once I got back to the yard, I heard the turkeys talking again. I love these birds. They walk with dignity and grace softly singing their song. They stay in groups and take care of each other. The hens raise their babies, fiercely protecting them from all dangers that come their way. They are my favorite thing of all the wonderful wildlife we have.

(Photo - Long and lean and young and lovely...........)

Through the year, they go about the business of living. They are at peace with their place in the universe. They quarrel sometimes but it is fleeting. Some people think they are not the most beautiful of the birds, but they don’t seem to worry about that. They are happy and secure with who they are.  I am a lucky one that they share this land with me. After an afternoon with them, I feel at peace with myself and happy with who and where I am.

You don’t always get what you want and I didn’t find the shed antlers today. But sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.


  1. I am touched by your blog and your relationship with your Mom. I lost my Mom (best friend) 3 years ago, and I miss her every single day.

    I also ADORE your little cabin!! This is EXACTLY what I want to build in the very near future. I'm 54 years old, single and am tired of "suburbia". Do you mind telling me how you found the land i.e. un-zoned land? Do yo mind tell me roughly how much it cost you to build your adorable home?

    All the best,
    Tammy Lake

  2. Thank you, Tammy, and I am sorry about your mom. It is a different world without them, that is for sure.
    We searched for 2 years before we found our property. We narrowed down an area we wanted and subscribed to newspapers from some of the little towns in that area. When we would see something interesting we would go and check it out.
    We originally only wanted 5 acres. But it is hard in this area to find that small acreage unless it is either in a restricted subdivision where you have to build a big house and in a short time period or else you never know what kind of messy neighbors you might have to look at! We had made that mistake once before. We purchased two beautiful acres in the piney woods and before we could begin to get a place to live we were surrounded by folks with trash all over their yards, and the beauty of the area was destroyed.
    Unless you know a rancher or farmer that will sell you a few acres of their property it is hard. So we ended up with 54 acres instead of 5.
    The shell, materials for finishing, labor we had to hire for things we could not do, all came to about $45,000. Then we had the septic tank, and caliche driveway added to this. Our property already had a well when we bought it and it was fenced.
    We could have built the cabin cheaper but we did some energy saving things, like radiant barrier under the roof, double pane windows, foam insulating panels on the walls in addition to the normal wall insulation.
    We had porcelain tile installed on the floor and in the shower. We wanted saltillo tile, which is cheaper, but it was more to install since it required about 4 times as much grout and had to be sealed. And the upkeep of sealing often also. So we went with a tile that resembled saltillo.
    We also used the tongue and groove boards in the living area and ceiling and that was more expensive.
    We are considering adding a bedroom on. If we do we will use cheaper finishes, such as a vinyl tile floor we can install ourselves and painted beaded board panels on the walls.
    The cabin could have been configured as is to make a bedroom, either by dividing the kitchen area in two, with a u shaped kitchen on one side and a small bedroom on the other. Or the back screen porch would make an 8 x 12 bedroom.
    Spring Branch Trading in Spring Branch, Texas did our shell. They also sell little cabins that they deliver to your property. For a little larger size, such as ours was, they built the shell on the property and it only took them a couple of weeks! Here is their website for some info and ideas.
    Good luck with your cabin! You will love leaving suburbia, I think!