Countless memories flood my brain when I start daydreaming about hitting the road for the next family ranch trip. Our ranch has been my escape. A place where so many great memories have been made and many life lessons have been learned.
I remember loading up in the back seat of my dad’s 1996 white Ram pickup truck, tucked between the hunting gear and groceries for the weekend. Cruising down Highway 90 on a sunny Friday afternoon, clouds of geese would tornado into rice fields outside my window as we got closer to the ranch. As we pulled up to the gate, I would roll down my window. When that fresh country air flooded into the truck you could not stop yourself from taking a deep breath through your nose. I think it was not the smells that I was in love with as much as what they meant.
As kids, my friends and I had free rein to roam our neighborhood from sunup to sundown, with an occasional check-in to mom on a friend’s landline. But the ranch was a different type of freedom. It was not only a freedom to explore, but the freedom to learn. I had many of the typical ranch “lessons” about hunting, fishing, driving a tractor, and the list goes on. The best part about learning at the ranch was it was okay to fail. I’ve had many self-taught lessons out there, too. Most of the time failing was, and still is, how I learn out at the ranch. I like to think of it more as problem-solving than failing though. Those of you who have sunk your father’s tractor, UTV, or truck in the mud know the fun life lessons learned there. I have successfully done all three of those things and even two at the same time. But those life lessons taught me a sense of responsibility at a very young age.
As I grew older, I had a desire to be a part in carrying on the good land stewardship at the family ranch. I enjoyed envisioning a project and finding ways we could improve things around the ranch. The first thing I jumped into was pond management. Fishing with my grandfather was always a pastime we enjoyed together. As our ponds got older they became overpopulated, capping the growth ability of our younger fish. Over the years I have learned techniques on how to manage small ponds to produce fun fisheries for all levels. If that interests you, read my article, “Steps to Growing Big Bass” on our website. Land and wildlife management does not have to be intimidating either. There is a wealth of information online to help get you started and I will link a few of my favorite resources below.
Over the years I have found that what you put into the ranch typically returns itself in many facets, from enjoyment to a sense of accomplishment, and even added value. I am grateful for the memories I have made and the life lessons I have learned from working on the ranch. They have shaped me as a person and have helped in many other areas of my life.
Republic Ranches Blog Posts – https://republicranches.com/category/blog/
Texas A&M Agri Life Extension – https://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu
Texas Wildlife Association – https://www.texas-wildlife.org/resources/publications/category/wildlife-resources/