On September 4th, a fire started in the northern part of the Texas Lost Pines, eventually burning almost 35,000 acres and destroying 1,500 homes. In the middle of that fire was our property and Camp Wilderness Ridge. Robyn, Aaron and the boys were at the cabin for the Labor Day weekend. A friend drove up the road and gave them warning to evacuate immediately. They tossed the boys in the van, leaving behind all of the items they had taken for the long weekend. As they departed, a wall of smoke foretold the damage that was to come. All four structures on the property were completely destroyed, along with everything in them. Our goose-neck trailer survived the fire untouched. 50-80% of the forest was destroyed – we will not know for some time which trees will survive the heat and flames after two years of drought. We gained access to the property on September 13th and these pictures are from that visit. We were unable to salvage anything usable during the first visit but hope that there will be some hand-tools and other items found on future visits.

Camp Wilderness Ridge suffered a similar fate, losing most of their structures and a large part of their forest. They are planning to continue the ministry, rebuilding if there is adequate forest saved, relocating if not.

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Ran across a doe and her twin fawns a couple times this weekend

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They are a little over two weeks old. The noise you hear is them hissing at us as they spread out their wings to look intimidating. Of course, their mother has already run away. Unfortunately it is a little dark, as they are roosting in the back corner of the shed next to the barn.

2010 brings another pair of American Black Vulture chicks to the barn. I’m not that familiar with the individual vultures, but what I’ve read implies the same adult pair has returned to the roosting spot in the barn. We saw the eggs first on February 15th and then were away through most of March. This Saturday, the chicks were out of the shell, but still very small. Mom does not defend them, but takes off if we go back to where she roosts.

Vulture Chicks

The vulture chicks are getting bigger and it appears that there are adult feathers coming in on the end of the wings. They hiss mightily when you approach and the area smells much like you might expect.

Chicks are getting much bigger.

Also, I’ll share a shot of the group fishing at the lake. It was a beautiful day today at the camp and the fish were really biting. Several caught large-mouth bass and the boys were having great fun catching the perch in close to shore.

Fishing at Wilderness Ridge.

Vulture Chicks

March 14, 2009 — Leave a comment

No, I’m not talking about mean girls, but baby American Black Vultures.

We went to the property with Ben to look at the fire damage. We’ve lost some big trees and I suspect a few more will die. There has been almost 3 inches of rain this week, so things are starting to look better.

When we stopped by the camp, the assistant director told us there were a two eggs where the vultures had been roosting in the shed area attached to the barn. When we were putting the Ranger away we went back to see the eggs, but they were gone and instead there were two chicks.

One of the interesting things about Vultures is that they will regurgitate when they feel threatened, a truly disgusting self-defense mechanism. When I went back to take pictures of the chicks I got to see that in action.

American Black Vulture chicks in shed area next to barn.American Black Vulture standing behind roadkill lunch.Ben by Oak tree hollowed out by fire.

After acquiring an additional 18 acres next to the 8 we already owned near Park Road 1C in Bastrop County, Karen and I have decided that we will apply the name Dusty Boot Ranch to the property at 139 Pines Park Road in Smithville, TX. There are no cows (yet), but we’ve got the barn and a brace of buzzards that have been calling it home.

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