It’s been exactly 1 month since Heidi and I took off down a strange new Fork and began working for Gate Guard Services in Tilden, Texas. If you’ve been reading this blog, you know we’ve had more than a few adventures.
As with all true adventures, there are limitless opportunities to learn and discover new things. I thought this 30 day marker would be a good time to recap 30 things I’ve learned, observed or been told since arriving in Texas.
The order is random, my experience is limited to the very small area of the Lone Star State I’ve explored, and all of my information, a part from my own observations, comes from locals.
1. In Texas they have ranches, not farms. There are cattle ranches, of course, but there are also chicken ranches and pig ranches and hay ranches and hunting ranches.
2. Blue racer snakes make good pets (although they aren’t native, you can import them from Ohio) because they eat rattlesnakes.
3. It costs approximately $5 million to drill an oil well. The process can be greatly impeded by gumbo, which is a type of mud, not soup.
4. The highest concentration of scorpions in the US are found in AZ, CA, NM and of course Texas. The good news is that they’re primarily nocturnal and hang out under rocks.
5. There is a relatively high demand for chicken manure.
6. On a typical hunting ranch, you pay $1500 for one “set shot”. If you shoot and miss, it’s up to the ranchers discretion whether or not to give you another shot. If you make your shot, you pay for the buck, based on his rack. In Freer there’s a trophy buck that someone paid a quarter of a million to shoot. This one in Max’s Motel and Cafe in Tilden is only a $5000 buck.
7. Not everyone who asks for directions is lost.
For example, Heidi’s conversation with a trucker yesterday: Trucker: “Are you familiar with this area?” Heidi: “No, I’m from Oregon, originally from Iowa.” Trucker: “Oh, I was going to ask you for directions”. Heidi: “I have a Texas map, would you like to look at it?” Trucker: “No, that’s OK, I’m from around here.”
8. Never buy a brown outdoor carpet at Camping World for your RV. Rattlesnakes camouflage themselves on brown Camping World carpets and you could step out of your RV right onto one.
9. Axels confuse even guys. Not only do most of the big rigs stop and wait for permission to go into the site (see sign below), but I had this recent conversation with a really nice young guy in a Ford 150. He pulls up to the stop sign and says (not joking): “Howdy ma’am! Do I have 2 axels?” I say: “Yep.” He says, “I thought so, good, in that case my name is Bobby Joe!” I don’t know what his name would have been if he’d had 8 or 10 axels.
10. Money you don’t work for (like the money ranchers make from their wells) is called mailbox money.
11. It’s not a real good idea to discharge a loaded 12 gauge shot gun inside an RV.
12. It’s legal to shoot an attacker with a gun but not with wasp spray.
13. Javelina is spelled with a J not an H and there are over 4 million in Texas. They become agitated when dogs bark or they feel threatened by people. The official Texas web guidelines for encouraging a javelina to go away is: “attempt to scare them off by making loud noises and throwing rocks”.
This presents several problems for me: Henry barks at all cows pigs and is unable to distinguish between a pig and a javelina; I’m not very good at being loud or throwing rocks; and javelinas have a scent gland on their lower back which releases a strong, skunk-like smell if they are upset. I’m thinking Henry barking, me being loud and throwing poorly aimed rocks might upset them.
14. There’s a whole lot of spitting in Texas (already covered in detail in Feeling Spit-less).
15. A non-portable dump is a reason for celebration!
16. An average oil well with a 64 ml choke produces 60,000 barrels of oil per day.
17. The speed limit for county roads varies from 70-75.
If you feel someone is driving too slowly, you indicate your desire to pass by driving up to their back bumper and pass (in the no passing zone) when they begin driving halfway on the berm while maintaining their same speed. Not driving on the berm is considered very inconsiderate.
18. Potable drinking water is not drinkable.
19. Most cattle round-ups are done by helicopter since its too expensive to rent a cowboy,$75 per cowboy on foot, and an additional $100 an hour for the horse.
20. There are an estimated 2 million feral hogs in Texas , 50% of all the feral hogs in the U.S.
21. Lots of folks hunt hogs in Texas. Sometimes they put them on their walls.
22. Sometimes they serve feral hog for dinner. The best way to get rid of the gamey taste is to pack the hog in ice for 2-3 days before barbecuing.
23. It usually takes several months to establish an oil well.The riggers make $25-$30 per hour.
24. There is dust covering every surface an hour after you clean, giving new meaning to True Grit.
25. Direct TV is directionally challenged (2 installation attempts in the ocean and 1 in Mexico).
26. 90% of all pickup trucks on ranches and rigs are white Fords.
27. It’s not a great idea to teach yourself how to knit with a cheap WalMart DVD at 2:30 in the morning while wearing a security vest with Velcro strips.
28. You can rent-a-buck for your field of does for somewhere between $30-$50,000.
29. The “Cleanest Little City in Texas” stays clean because if you don’t mow your yard in a timely fashion, the city will mow it for you and charge you $75. Same is true for keeping your property trash and junk free.
30. And finally, after 25 days in Tilden I have no idea why the chicken(s) crossed the road.