Category Archives: Habitat

Update on Fawns & Spring/Summer Mowing at Oakridge

BabyFawn_LPetter_June2015

The picture above was taken by Linda Petter of a new fawn found by Larry in their yard here at Oakridge.   As noted below does often leave their fawns for several hours in tall grass while they go find food.  Please check your grass over prior to mowing to ensure there are none hidden in your grass.   You might also think about not mowing a couple of areas in order to provide places for the does to hide their young.   We are still having new fawns born here at the Ranch, some as late as August.

Doe with new Fawn, Photo by J.D. Ray, May 2015
Doe with new Fawn, Photo by J.D. Ray, May 2015

Our does have begun dropping their fawns as seen in the picture above.   Take care when mowing around your place.   A doe will leave her fawns in tall grasses while she feeds.   A fawn has no scent for the first few days of its life, giving the it time to get stronger.  Thanks, J.D., for the nice picture!

Live life outdoors!

Bee Keeper at Oakridge

Bee Keeper at Oakridge, Photo by C.Jetton, Spring 2015.
Bee Keeper at Oakridge, Photo by C.Jetton, Spring 2015.

Hi neighbors.  My name is Jack Jetton and I’m a beekeeper here on Oakridge Ranch.  I thought I would take this opportunity to discuss bees and their challenges.  First here are a few interesting factoids about the honey bee.

  • The honey bee is not native to the USA. They were originally imported from Europe.
  • 60% of the fruits, nuts, and vegetables we eat depend on pollinators like the honey bee to produce.
  • Honey bees will fly up to 3 miles from their hive in search of pollen and nectar.
  • Honey bees never sleep.
  • The typical life-span of a worker bee is 30-45 days in the spring/summer
  • There are 3 types of bees in a hive: Queen, Workers, and Drones (males).
  • All worker bees are female.
  • A healthy hive will have 40,000 to 60,000 bees.
  • And many, many more.

The honey bee faces many challenges in its survival such as pests (Varroa mites, small hive beetles, wax moths etc.), disease, and chemicals (insecticides and herbicides).  The last is one where you can help.  As we prepare our places for spring consider allowing the wildflowers (weeds) to grow and produce their flowers.  They love yaupon, dewberry, beauty berry, thistle and horse mint flowers.  Before you spray an insecticide, please consider the potential impact on our pollinators.  Even if the bee is not directly contacted by the poison, the nectar and pollen they take back to the hives can build up the levels of toxins to the point the entire hive will perish.

As we get further into spring/summer you may see swarms.  This is a normal occurrence and the way the hives expand.  When honey bees are swarming they are simply looking for a new place to call home and are normally pretty docile.  If you find a swarm please give me a call (281-910-1432) and I’ll try to see they are safely removed for you.

Thanks for considering the bees as you work around your properties.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to give me a call or email me at jackwjetton@gmail.com.

Thanks,
Jack

Bee hives at Oakridge Ranch, Photo by Jack Jetton, Spring 2015
Bee hives at Oakridge Ranch, Photo by Jack Jetton, Spring 2015

Watch for Winter Visitors at Oakridge Ranch

The Lamberts saw Cedar Waxwings and American Robins this morning on their walk.  If you’ve never seen a Cedar Waxwing previously, check out these pictures, as well as others online.  Don’t forget to click on any picture you see here to enlarge it.   These are beautiful birds that come to our area each winter.  Before leaving in the spring, they will eat all the berries from your Yaupons.   These birds come to the Ranch in the hundreds!   Watch for them and enjoy!

Cedar Waxwings with a Northern Cardinal feeding on Youpon berries; Photo by B.LaVergne, Feb 2014.
Cedar Waxwings with a Northern Cardinal feeding on Yaupon berries; Photo by B.LaVergne, Feb 2014.
Cedar Waxwings; Photo by B.LaVergne, Feb 2014.
Cedar Waxwings; Photo by B.LaVergne, Feb 2014.

The Northern Cardinal is an ever-present bird in our area.  But they really stand out during the winter months.   The American Robin is a fascinating bird, also.  They will eat everything from insects, to worms, to berries & fruit.   And like the Northern Cardinal, the American Robin has a beautiful song.   Live life outdoors!

American Robin: Photo by B.LaVergne, Feb 2014.
American Robin: Photo by B.LaVergne, Feb 2014.
American Robins early morning bath; Photo by B.LaVergne, Feb 2014.
American Robins early morning bath; Photo by B.LaVergne, Feb 2014.

Beautiful, Yet Deadly

The Eastern Coral Snake is a beautifully colored creature; yet it is ranked as the second deadliest viper in the world.  We often think the rattle snake is more deadly, but it’s not.  Both the head and tail of the coral snake look much the same; both are small and rounded.  The coral snake chews on it’s victim, or hangs on, allowing for the snake to deposit more venom than snakes that strike.

This snake came out to warm itself in the sunshine as many cold-blooded creatures do after a cold snap followed by mild weather.   Never attempt to touch one of these or pick one up.  The following little poem is the best rule of thumb to know if it’s an actual coral snake or a less venomous look-alike; teach it to your children.
Red on black, venom lack;
Red on yellow, it will kill a fellow.

Enjoy our beautiful fall weather.  But stay aware!   Be watchful and wear boots.   Live life outdoors!

Easter Coral Snake; Photo by B.LaVergne, Nov 19, 2010.
Easter Coral Snake; Photo by B.LaVergne, Nov 19, 2014.

 

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

Antlerless Deer Permits

ANTLERLESS DEER PERMITS

ALL of Oakridge Ranch is included in a Managed Land Deer Permit administered by Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

ALL deer taken must be checked in with one of our designated deer checkers to insure accurate harvest data required by TPWD.

Antlerless Deer may only be taken with a MLD Permit issued by TPWD & ORWMA’s Deer Management Program.  You cannot use the doe tags on your license on Oakridge Ranch.

ALL Oakridge Ranch property owners are members (active or not) of Oakridge Ranch Wildlife Management Association sponsored by Texas Parks & Wildlife.  To become an active member of ORWMA, please contact us at oakridgeranchwma@gmail.comor call one of the ORWMA officers.

Larry Petter
ORWMA–President
September, 2014