All posts by R.C. Lumpkin

Sand Burrs – The Scourge of the Ranch

Sand Burr at Oakridge Ranch, Nov 2014.
Sand Burr at Oakridge Ranch, Nov 2014.

The wet spring, dry and hot summer, and then the wetness that followed gave birth to a bumper crop of burrs all over the ranch.  We’ve had many suggestions about how to be rid of them, from home remedies such as corn meal, pre-emergent herbicides such as X L 2 G, or simply continuous mowing.  From what I hear from neighbors, nothing seems to be the tried and true solution.

Jean Herring has recently found another approach.  She found a reference to using sugar, yes, everyday granulated sugar, applied as a soil amendment.  While not a quick solution, it seems that the sugar in the soil enriches the “good” bacteria, thus making the soil richer and less attractive to weeds.  Over time, the grass burr weed has to compete with other plants and slowly dies out.

We are curious to know if anyone has actually tried this and if so, what result was realized?  So please let us know.  Our grandkids, visitors and pets will surely appreciate having a burr-free property on which to roam.

Wildlife Habitat Seminar Offered Nov 14th

Wildlife Habitat Federation Field Day
November 14 @ 8:30 am – 4:00 pm,   $20.00

WHF_NovSeminar_Pic1

http://www.whf-texas.org/nov14flyer.html

The Wildlife Habitat Federation’s (“WHF”) Third Annual Field Day will be held on Friday, November 14, 2014, at the Atwater Prairie Chicken Wildlife Reserve near Eagle Lake. Registration is slated for 8:30 – 9:00 a.m. with the program beginning at 9:00 a.m. and lasting until 4:00 p.m.  A registration fee of $20.00 per person will be charged at the door.  With the registration fee, participants will be provided with refreshments, lunch and handout materials.

The purpose of the field day is to provide landowners with a better understanding of why restoring native grasses and forbs can benefit both the livestock producer and conservationists. Following the success of its first 7-mile native habitat corridor, WHF is now helping landowners restore thousands of acres to native prairie grasses and wildflowers.  This interest has largely been due to a desire of landowners to reduce long-term input costs, like fertilizer and hay; to have more drought-tolerant plant species that attract wildlife and to better protect our natural resources, including soil, water, air and wildlife.

This meeting will be held at the Atwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Reserve, which has become the epicenter for WHF’s rapidly expanding program.  Come and learn from specialists, demonstrations and field tours how and why WHF is working with partners on sites in 12 surrounding counties to provide landowners with technical and financial assistance based on the belief that we can progress and still protect our prairies (which includes, but not limited to, wildflowers, bobwhite quail and scores of other birds, butterflies, bees, box turtles, little bluestem and other native grasses).

WHF_NovSeminar_Pic2

For more information about the field day, contact the Wildlife Habitat Federation.  To register for the event, contact Jim Willis at (713) 201-3559, or visit the website http://www.whf-texas.org.

Three CEU’s will be offered to pesticide applicators.  Two in the general category and one in Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

Brush Piles To Burn

Now that the burn ban has been lifted, many of us are thinking of burning our brush piles.  Here are some things to consider before light off:

  • brush piles are actually beneficial for a variety of critters such as rabbits, song birds, quail and of course, some not-so-desireable ones including raccoons, skunks and possum
  • brush piles eventually deteriorate and return the variety of remnants to the earth

If you wish to burn your pile(s), OVFD Assistant Chief Wayne Wolfford has some very important tips to follow:

  • keep piles to a medium size 30-40 ft. in diameter
  • clear grass away from around the pile 10-15ft.
  • if it is a large pile, call  OVFD a couple of days in advance so they can look the pile over
  • OVFD will do a standby with 2-3 firefighters plus needed gear and equipment
  • the day of the burn OVFD will look at wind, humidity, and temperature and will also notify the Colorado County dispatcher of the location of the burn

Safety for each property owner, resident, the ranch property and all of our neighbors is critical so please proceed with care and caution.

Fall Food Plots

Fellow Oakridge folks, if you enjoy observing whitetail deer, like to hunt them or just want to add to their nutritional resources, planting a food plot is a great way to meet your deer objective.  You do not have to be an experienced “farmer” to be successful and it doesn’t take a huge amount of time or money.

Last fall I planted my first two plots in mid-September and before long, I had 2, quarter-acre plots of very nice oats and wheat.  I had chosen spaces in the woods that were open enough for sunlight.  They were in the secluded areas and not spots that a large tractor with big implements could easily access.  However in a couple of hours I had both plots semi-tilled, the seed spread and then hand racked over.  I have an aversion to deep tilling so I simply pulled a rake behind my small John Deere 790 to break open some soil.  I did not remove the grass or roots to get to a clear plot of bear soil, I just broke enough ground to have a place for the seeds to land and be covered.  Again, within a few weeks I had a growing crop of cereal grains that lasted through our winter.  I did not hunt these plots as they were simply there for winter nutritional supplement.  I did walk through them regularly to observe the presence of deer.  I actually never saw deer in the plots, but I did see their hoof prints and other signs of evidence of them eating the crops.

All of this to say, it is not too late for a cool season plot.  The old saying, “better late than never” is very appropriate for this subject.  There is even time for some growth to appear before the bow season opens if you want to enhance your hunting options.

There are many on-line resources for review and research.  There are many sources for seeds and seed mixes.  Local stores such as Tractor Supply, Wal-Mart, Bass Pro Shop, Cabela’s all carry seed products in a wide variety.  Since we are in the “late” time rather than advanced, I suggest purchasing seeds from the local sources.  Also there are several ranch property owners who have lots of experience with food plots and are very willing to offer advice and guidance.  If you have questions just send us an email and we’ll have someone get to you quickly for some guidance.

Some points to remember:

  • food plots only contribute to, or supplement the overall habitat management, such as proper herd/harvest management;
  • fall/winter plots do attract deer but they are primarily used for their nutritional value;
  • cool season plants include oats, wheat, brassicas and clovers.Try it and send us some photos of your efforts [send photos to oakridgeranchwma@gmail.com].  You’ll be glad you gave it a try.  Then you just may want to put in some warm weather plots to support our herd during the spring and tough summer months.
    RC Lumpkin, Habitat Chairman-ORWMA

Review of the recent Texas Deer Study Group Seminar

The Texas Whitetail Deer Study Group, held April 10-11, 2014 seminar included over 160 participants and twenty plus  wildlife biologists, DVM’s, and doctorate-level wildlife scientists from various agencies and practices.  This very significant program was co-sponsored by the Texas Wildlife Association, Texas Parks & Wildlife, Texas A&M AGRILIFE Extension and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservations Service.  The seminar’s subtitle was “Great Expectations: Optimizing Deer Management in the Post Oak Savanna and Gulf-Coast Prairies.  The majority of the participants were individuals who have small parcels of land, with a few others that owned or operated very large ranches.  Here is a summary of the educational points  presented:

  • The small parcel phenomenon has been made successful by the amount of cooperation amongst landowners vis-a-vis wildlife management co-ops or associations.
  • As a result of co-ops and antler restrictions the Texas deer population of 13.8 million is the largest in the nation.
  • The ratio of doe to buck in Colorado County is >3.3:1 and according to all biologists present should be reduced to <1.5:1.   The primary concern is the increased pressure on available food, leading to reduced available nutrition and thus declining physical condition and survival rates.  The biologists also strongly recommend harvesting only mature bucks which are more than 5 years of age.
  • Habitat should be diverse in structure and plant availability.  Deer need brush, tall grasses and timber, all of which provide safety and privacy.
  • Nutrition is best derived from a variety of plants in the habitat and deer will decide for themselves what is best for their bodies at any given time.  They are very selective, choosing according to protein or other nutrient chemicals that are necessary for their growth and maintenance.
  • Deer consume several pounds of plant material and 1.5 gallons of water per day.
  • Nutrition sources include: sporadically available forbs (which includes most wildflowers) and  soft and hard mast (fruit, berries, acorns and nuts) ; and, continuously available browse such as Beautyberry, greenbriar, sophora, oaks, poison ivy and mustang grapes.  Deer seldom eat grass or sedges and only when these plants are young and other nutrition is not available.

Unfortunately, the presenters’ notes were not included in the handout materials.  Presentation notes have been requested and will be made available if possible.

 

Texas Deer Study Group, April 2014

A flyer was available at the recent CCWMA banquet, announcing a two-day seminar to be held April 10-11, 2014 at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Columbus.  The program  is offered through the Texas Wildlife Association with additional sponsorship from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Texas Parks & Wildlife and Texas A&M Agrilife Extension.  A few of the topics to be included are:

  • history of deer management in the Post Oak Savanna and Gulf-Coast Prairies
  • habitat changes
  • managing deer on small acreage
  • an overview on deer nutrition

The second day of the program includes a field day at J3J4 Ranch for habitat management techniques, native and introduced vegetation identification and deer necropsy.

The seminar fee is $75 before 3/31 or $100 after 3/31 and includes meals and handout materials.  You may register online at www.texas-wildlife.org/resources/events/texas-deer-study-group.  More information is available from Clint Faas   cfass@texas-wildlife.org or 979-541-9803

I have registered to attend and look forward to learning more about how ranch habitat management and deer management go together.

Oak Prairie Habitat Management

http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/landwater/land/habitats/oak_prairie/habitat_management/

Here is a link to an interesting article posted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.  Larry Petter referred me to this and I think it deserves to be shared.  Here is the summary copied form the full article.

Summary:
Today it is very important that land managers understand basic ecological principles of plant succession, plant growth, food chains, and water, mineral and soil nutritive cycles as they affect range, wildlife, and grazing management.  In addition, we should know and recognize the basic needs and preferences of the livestock and wildlife species for which we are trying to manage.  It is equally important to manage for a high level of plant succession and quality wildlife habitat using the basic tools of grazing, rest, fire, hunting, animal impact, disturbance, and technology.  This not only produces high quality habitat and animals, but also can lead to more stable conditions during stress periods such as droughts and winter.

Controlling Field Sandburs

http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/archives/parsons/turf/grassbur.html

Here is an article on controlling Field Sandburs, (aka grass burs) by James A. McAfee, PhD, an associate professor with Texas A&M.  We’ve all probably dealt with these stickers and/or continue to deal with them.  We find them in the most interesting places inside the house, freshly washed and dried bath towels, socks, carpet and rugs, etc.  Our Beagle finds them whenever she wanders around the pastures and open spaces around the house.  She patiently waits until we come along to remove them from her pads.  Hope this article is of benefit to you.  FYI we will be using XL 2 g pre-emergent herbicide.  The article provides a list of several other choices. Good Luck!

By Way of Introduction – RC Lumpkin, Habitat Chair

Ruth and I are very happy to be residents and property owners in Oakridge Ranch.  Being here is fulfilling a lifelong desire to have steward duties to part of God’s earth.  While I enjoy all aspects of the land and outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing and gardening, a large part of my enjoyment comes from having accepted my responsibility as a steward to the land.  No sermon here or forthcoming…I just believe that it is a privilege to be here for the time given and I’ll do my best to take care of my parcel while I’m here.

“HABITAT” is a very broad topic.  The definition includes:  the natural home of an animal, plant or other organism; a place that is natural for the life and growth of an organism; and, all living and non-living factors or conditions of the surrounding environment.

Property owners, residents and guests are certainly included in the “animal” portion of this above organism list.  So whatever affects the habitat affects us as well, not just the flora or fauna.  Our quality of “country-life” and the subsequent enjoyment received is directly related to the health of our habitat.

Here are a few of the habitat topics about which I hope to share: showcasing the Post Oak Savannah (this is the name of our ecological area); native trees, grasses, orbs and brush; habitat maintenance and development for deer, turkey, quail, dove and songbirds; control and/or eradication of non-native, non-beneficial plants; control of the pesky sand/grass burr; pond management; the benefits of brush piles; and, continuous use of the many TPWD and AgriLife resources available to us.

Please let me know of any additional habitat topics of interest.  I welcome your input and requests:

RC Lumpkin, 1154 Trails End, 512-948-5025, r.c.lump@gmail.com