President’s Message, November 2013

November is almost gone!  How time flies.  With the arrival of much needed rain, all our ponds are full and we even experienced water over the low water crossing on Oakridge Road, Miller Creek Loop, and County Road 215. The leaves are now falling and it is too easy to get stuck in the sand.

UPCOMING EVENTS:
Wounded Warrior Hunt – December 14-15, 2013:
Each year ORWMA hosts a deer hunt for wounded warriors from BAMC in San Antonio.  Up to 20 soldiers and their guests join us for weekend full of deer hunting, hog/dog hunting demonstrations, great food and fellowship.  Everyone from the Oakridge community is invited to join us.  The main meal is Saturday, December 14th at Noon.  Bring a side dish or dessert and visit with the soldiers and other community members.

IN THE WORKS:
Preparations are under way for our Annual Wounded Warrior Hunt.  Let us recognize some volunteers for this Event:

  • Vernon Wallace– Communication with Brooke Army Medical Center, overnight accommodations;
  • Vickie Wallace- Hunting jackets through her employer SM Energy;
  • David Mitchem– Acquiring deer stands, allocating permits;
  • Barbara Mitchem-w/Carolyn Trickett, Peggy Wilcox—Gift Bags;
  • Cecil & Donna Stevenson- Allowing us to use their barn for the main location;
  • Wayne Wolfford- Heading up the cleaning station at Community Center;
  • Douglas Mason- Enlisting TDHA volunteers to clean deer;
  • Jerry Rogers- Coolers through his employer CBI, Inc.;
  • Ray Poole, Douglas Jeske- donating and cooking briskets for Saturday lunch;
  • Jean Herring- Setting up all the food.

This year we will also be making chili for the Saturday night supper for our wounded warriors.  Come join me for a day of fun and fellowship, be part of the chili team.  As in previous years, this will be at the Petter Place Wednesday, December 11, 8:00 AM.  Breakfast and coffee will be available from 7:30 to 9.  Contact any ORWMA Board member if you can help.

Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving Day is a holiday celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday in November. It has been an annual tradition since 1863, when during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens” to be celebrated on Thursday, November 28.  As a federal and public holiday in the U.S., Thanksgiving is one of the major holidays of the year.  Have a safe family holiday from your ORWMA Committee.

If you have not kept up with our website you are certainly missing a lot——-
Check out our website:   http://orwma.org

Larry Petter, President-ORWMA
November, 2013

Has Winter Arrived Early at Oakridge?

A wise man once said…….”Just pay close attention to the birds & animals to know what the weather is going to do and how we humans should prepare”, quoted from Jack Rachal.   The Eastern Phoebe arrived in Oakridge near the first of November, possibly heralding an early winter season.

Winter has arrived with the Eastern Phoebe; Photo by B.LaVergne, 11-09-2013.
Winter has arrived with the Eastern Phoebe; Photo by B.LaVergne, 11-09-2013.

This pretty little songbird winters in our area spending it’s time ridding our woodlands and fields of pesky insects.  This fly-catcher is an amazing bird to watch, although it is a shy bird.  It’s song is nice to hear at this time of year when many of our songbirds have fled to warmer climates.

Eastern Phoebes often perch on lower branches, making short flights to capture insects and often returns to the same or nearby perch.   They have a beautiful plumage at this time of year, showing a butter-soft yellow on the abdomen, with grays, whites & brown over most of their body.   Watch & listen for them as they spread their fall/winter song of joy!   And, as always, live life outdoors!

Eastern Phoebe scoping out the area for insects from his perch on a Fleur-de-lis; Photo by B.LaVergne, 11-09-2013.
Eastern Phoebe scoping out the area for insects from his perch on a Fleur-de-lis; Photo by B.LaVergne, 11-09-2013.

Resurrection Fern

Dried fronds of Resurrection Fern; Photo by B.LaVergne, November 2013.
Dried fronds of Resurrection Fern; Photo by B.LaVergne, November 2013.

Have you noticed this dead looking curly stuff on your tree branches?   During drought times, the plant curls inward so the spores on the bottom of the leaves are exposed to the wind, helping to propagate this amazing plant.  Pleopeltis polypodioides is common in our area and is native to the Americas and South Africa.   This intriguing little plant is often called Resurrection Fern or Miracle Fern because of its ability to spring back to life after appearing dead.   Resurrection Fern is a perennial, coarse-textured epiphytic fern, which simply means it takes its nutrients from the air while growing on top of another plant such as oak, cypress & pecan trees.   No nutrients or water is taken from the host plants.   Other such epiphytic plants you’ll recognize are Spanish moss, orchids and bromeliads. 

Resurrection Fern spores; Photo by B.LaVergne, Sept.2013.
Resurrection Fern spores; Photo by B.LaVergne, Sept.2013.

Resurrection Fern blankets many larger branches of an oak tree much the same way a blanket is placed on the back of a horse.   This fern appears to provide comfort and adds a beauty all its own to the trees that are hosting it, often giving a Live Oak a more graceful & aged appearance. 

ResurrectionFern2_BLaVergne_09-29-2013

This plant can easily lose 75 to 80% of its water during drought seasons and spring back to life once provided with water.   By contrast, most other plants will die after losing approximately 10% to 15 % of water during a drought.  

Try removing a few rhizomes (bulb-like pieces of the root) from a host tree and transplanting them.   Just plan on providing plenty of water for the rhizomes at the new host site until the plants are established.   And for even more fun with your children & grand-children:  find a site that’s on an easy to reach branch, spray water about every 30 minutes on the dried fern and watch it come to life.   Allow the children to participate, watch, take or draw pictures and write about their experience.  Enjoy!

ResurrectionFern_BLaVergne_09-29-2013

Live life outdoors!

Wounded Warrior Hunt Upcoming

We hope you make plans to participate in ORWMA’s Annual Wounded Warrior Hunt coming up on December 14 & 15.   We host several wounded warriors from Brooke Army Medical Center for the 2-day period and give them a chance to hunt at Oakridge Ranch.  For more details on how you can participate, please click on the “Groups” tab, then “Deer”; next click on “Wounded Warrior Hunt“. 

Oakridge Ranch’s Douglas Mason gives away several wounded warrior hunts throughout the year.  Below is a nice picture of a recent successful hunt Douglas (& his dogs) had with Jeremy Spoerle and his family.  Jeremy was wounded in 2007.  Pictured are Jeremy with family members Barb, Callie & John.  Thank you, Douglas, for what you do for our wounded warriors all year long!

Spoerle Family Hunt with Douglas Mason, November 2013.
Spoerle Family Hunt with Douglas Mason, November 2013.

 

Making a Home at the Ranch

Who lives here?   Can you identify the critter(s) by their homes?   It’s a challenge.

Who lives here?   Photo by D.Burrows, December 2011.
Who lives here?   Photo by D.Burrows, December 2011.

Burrow2_DBurrows_Dec2011

Burrow3_DBurrows_Dec2011

Burrow4_DBurrows_Dec2011

[The pictures above were all provided by D.Burrows, December 2011.]

Click on “Leave a Reply” and leave your comments on what type of burrows you think these are.  We’d love to hear from you! 

Have you seen these hogs?

My beautiful picture of pigs; Photo Courtesy of Larry Petter,11-08-2013.
My beautiful picture of pigs; Photo Courtesy of Larry Petter,11-08-2013.

We have all seen the black pigs. Let us know if you have seen this white and black pig. It almost looks like a Holstein calf!
Pictures taken at the Petter property, Miller Creek Loop.

Bobcats in Oakridge

Bobcat walking to water; Photo Courtesy of D.Burrows, February 2013.
Bobcat walking to water; Photo Courtesy of D.Burrows, February 2013.

Bobcats, Lynx rufus are normally elusive and nocturnal, but our game cameras are picking up more instances of their presence here.  Even in the day time.  This beautiful cat was walking toward a 40 gallon water tank we have in “the back 40”, where we have a turkey feeder near-by.  There is a water barrel continuously supplying water; therefore, it has become a regular to this spot.  We are glad to be in the  cat’s territory, representing a healthy, balanced environment; they are a vital part of our ecology.

Bobcats primarily eat rabbits, woodrats, mice, squirrels, voles, gophers, birds and reptiles.   Occasionally, they will take young deer, although most likely they take advantage of carrion.   Like most cats, they hunt by stealth and are not capable of extended chases.  Their leaping pounce from cover can be up to 10 feet.

Bobcats are territorial, with the female having a home base, excluding other females.  The male’s territorial range may include the ranges of several females.   In Texas, studies indicate some 48 cats per 62 miles.  There is a “carry capacity”, of a particular area usually determined by food and water availability.  And since kittens can sometimes be killed by adult males, a natural balance can be achieved.  The bobcats also will/can adjust their home ranges to compensate for varying factors.  Like coyotes, they are consummate adapters and survivors.

Bobcat at Deer Feeder off Trails End; Photographer Unknown, 11-07-2013.
Bobcat at Deer Feeder off Trails End; Photographer Unknown, 11-07-2013.

Did you know:  running at full speed, bobcats can have a bobbing motion similar to a rabbit; they can live up to 13 years;  their natural mortality fluctuates with the seasons;  kittens purr when pleased and play like your normal house cat; typical litters are 2-4 kittens; kitten dispersal can be from 9 months to 2 years, depending on how skilled at hunting they are; they can not expect to eat well, or mate until territory established; over time, they are loyal to their established territory, marked by scat and scrapes; they spend most of their lives alone; their natural predators are humans, domestic dogs, coyotes, foxes, owls, eagles, hawks.

There is so much more to know and appreciate about this remarkable predator.

In Search of Darkness

Can you still see the Milky Way at night?  It is a beautiful sight; not something to be taken for granted in our artificially lit world.  You look outside and see a dark night; but just a few years ago, Oakridge was an undeveloped 4400 acres, a darker place than it is now.   We have in our power, as a community, to work to keep light pollution down within our boundaries and contribute to our overall environment.

I’ve just finished a new book from Paul Bogard titled The End of Night, Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light.   He covers all aspects of the increasing artificial light, often poetically.   But he raises major concerns about the effects, not only to humans, but to all our wildlife in “five primary areas: orientation, predation, competition, reproduction and circadian rhythms.”

The (John) Bortle Scale of ranking dark skies ranges from 9 to 1.  Texans probably need to drive to Big Bend National Park to get close to a dark enough night to rate a 1, or 2.   A Class 1 is described as “a sky so dark that ‘the Milky Way casts obvious diffuse shadows on the ground“.    http://www.stellar-skies.com/#!thenightskies/c44

It is a more complicated subject than you might think at first glance; an important subject I think.  Maybe as members of the community of Oakridge, we should educate ourselves to the global effort to work with the issue.  And do what we can.     http://www.darksky.org/

http://conservationreport.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/artificial-light.jpg

A quote from Wendall Berry:  “To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.  To know the dark, go dark.  Go without sight and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings, and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.”