Deep In The Heart of Texas, Yankee Style

It’s Monday and time for another Texas tribute. Can there any better way to pay tribute than through a song? There are a whole lot of songs about Texas. Perry Como, from Pittsburgh, took Deep in the Heart of Texas to the top of  Hit Parade Chart for 5 week in 1942. Personally, I prefer the rendition sung by America’s ‘original singing cowboy’, Gene Autry, a Texan through and through.

You know a song is a classic when you hear it in a stadium. The Owls and the Astros sing it, right after Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the 7th inning stretch. The Longhorns, Cougars and Horned Frogs all perform it for football fans to bolster enthusiasm.

These are the original lyrics for those who didn’t watch the above clip or are from north of the Mason/Dixon line:

Deep in the Heart of Texas

The stars at night are big and bright

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

The prairie sky is wide and high

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

The sage in bloom is like perfume

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

Reminds me of the one I love

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

The coyotes wail along the trail

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

The rabbits rush around the brush

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

The cowboys cry, “Ki-yip-pee-yi”

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

The doggies bawl and bawl and bawl

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

I love the (clap, clap, clap, clap)! It’s like going to a live performance of Grease where the whole audience does the Hand Jive. OK, well, that’s a little more complicated, but it’s still crowd pleaser.

You can’t improve on a classic.

This is just a Yankee version: same tune, same refrain, and definitely the same classic clapping:

Deep in the Heart of Texas

Red eyes at night gleam creepy bright

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

The prairie heat will melt your feet

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

The wild hogs bloom like skunk perfume

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

Reminds me of buzzards above

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

The mad bull wails along the trails

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

Rattlesnakes hush around the brush

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

The boars huge tusks shine white at dusk

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

Tarantulas  crawl and crawl and crawl

(clap, clap, clap, clap),

Deep in the heart of Texas.

I hope I did the song Yankee proud. Y’all come back now, ya hear?

Year in Review Part 11 – Southern Texas Survival Kit


This is post is word for word the orginal – so if you’ve read it, you might want to skip it. Word Press won’t let me post the new post I wrote yesterday, but seems to like this one written on back in March just fine.

There’s no tech support for WP until Jan. 3rd so I may just re-post a few of the old ones until then.


It’s in the mid 80’s every day. Where I come from, that’s summer even if this is only the second day of Spring.

The 7 items pictured above are the essential ingredients for a Southern Texas Survival Kit.

1. A round rock

Find a nice round rock, about the size of a baseball. This can be thrown at virtually all threatening things

2. Wasp spray

The first thing we were told to get when we arrived in Tilden back in December was that if we didn’t have a shot gun, we’d better be buying some Wasp spray.We have 4 cans, strategically placed.

One can is in the Jeep. Today I went into town to pick up a few things. Since it was 86 degrees and the freon has pretty much all eased it’s way out of the Jeep, I put the windows down while I filled up 10 gallon jugs of water. In the 5 minutes this took, 2 wasps took up residence in the front seat. It never occurred to me I’d need Wasp spray for wasps. I bought it for scary people and other kinds of snakes. I considered giving the wasps a squirt, but I had to question the wisdom of streaming it that close to my face if that is indeed how intend to fend of unwanted visitors carrying large backpacks and various snakes. I fanned them with a paper plate.

3. Driftwood

A good sturdy piece of driftwood, or if you don’t have ocean access, any hard wood will do. The key to the ideal piece of wood is the gradual narrowing, providing a club like handle.

4. Spider spray

Twice black widows crept out of our generator when we were checking the oil back in Shiner. I think the spray would most likely be ineffectual on tarantulas so, hopefully they’ll live up to their shy reputation and just go away on their own and the brown recluse will stay reclusive.

5. A long handled hoe

Today, Jerry and Kathy (our landlords)  came by in their 4-wheeler. While talking yesterday, they casually mentioned  the 6 Copperheads the guys killed at the  rig site 3 miles east yesterday. Earlier, JoJo  told us about the Bull snake he chased under our barb-wire fence and  Kevin stopped by to tell us he killed a 3 foot Rattlesnake at our site.

Jerry and Kathy asked what everyone asks: Do we have a gun? No, I said, but we have Wasp spray! They stopped by today with a garden hoe. Heidi’s Grandma always killed snakes with garden hoes and she had lots of guns. This is a very long handled hoe, which is good because ordinarily, a rattlesnake strike can cover a distance of between 1/3 and 1/2 of it’s length. The gate guard a mile up the road killed a 5 1/2 footer. I re-read the Wasp can. It doesn’t mention snakes but does mention scorpions(that’s good) and tent caterpillars.

6. A camera

Besides the obvious attacker identification (they like to know which kind of pit viper bite it was or what the backpack looked like), a camera is also an effective weapon. Last night I heard a considerable racket outside (on the dark side) of the RV. I found a flashlight bright enough to cut through the pitch blackness of the undergrowth to find that I had not 1 but 2 nocturnal visitors.

Raccoon, afraid of the flash, falling off the barbed-wire fence

Just a couple of days before, Heidi had decided to try to draw some of the cardinals and chickadees to the fence line. It’s a jungle of mesquite and live oak all around us so it provides a natural habitat for quite a variety of birds, and others things. The cardinals have come, along with a pair of morning doves, a raccoon and a wild pig.

I found taking flash photos of the raccoon to be very effect. Every time he came back, I’d just shoot a picture in the dark and he’d fall off the barb-wire fence and run. He only came back twice and the feeders are now taking their place in the Jeep at night.

6. A creepy pig on a fence post carcass

To get rid of crows, they sometimes shoot a few and put the dead ones in the trees to scare away the rest of the flock. I don’t know if this same principle holds true with wild pigs and boars. The difficulty lies in finding decaying pigs to borrow.

7. The round rock in driftwood catapult

This needs to be a pretty precise fit: snug enough to stay in place during the back-swing and loose enough to leave the wood and hurl towards your target. The catapult gives range the wood alone doesn’t have and force throwing the rock bare-handed lacks. The disadvantage is that round rocks roll so practice rounds can be grueling.

8. A watch dog

In my case, Henry is a bull dog. He has acquired a great dislike for bulls. He lies down in front of the door(inside) and gives his best low guttural growl, which the bulls never hears, and 1 loud bark which the bulls ignore. At that point he considers his job done and proudly waits for praise and a treat.

If you have a shotgun,  you can throw out everything but the spider spray ( a shotgun would be over-kill) and, of course, you’ll want to keep your dog .

17 Lone Star State Facts

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.

Since they didn’t seem to know where to go, we’ve added ON IN to the sign.

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.

Havalina and the New Year

January 1, 2011

Happy New Year! I never would have imagined, even a couple of months ago, that I’d be ringing in the New Year (and I do mean ringing), in Texas!  But here I am on January 1st, 2011, a beautiful sunny 70 degree day on a ranch south of San Antonio.

Heidi set out to meet the neighbors this morning. The gate guards nearest us are not only from Oregon, but were park hosts at Turtle Rock last year! Turtle Rock is the RV park in Gold Beach where we began our Oregon adventures! As a matter of fact, we all learned about Gate Guards from Joanie, whom I hired last summer to work at the Front Desk at Pacific Reef part time while she was work-camping at Turtle Rock.

A little further down the road, 5 miles maybe, are two women from Iowa who work at Adventureland in the summer and work with GG in the winter. I don’t know whether I feel more connected or incredulous! It certainly makes these wide-open spaces seem less exotic.

Speaking of exotic, we’ve learned that this isn’t an exotic animal ranch after all, just a plane old ranch with a whole bunch of oil and quite a bit of hunting. If you call setting up blinds, putting out salt licks and charging $1500 to shoot a buck in your back yard, hunting.

Apparently the greatest dangers here are getting shot by a hunter (I had a guy in an oil tanker who wanted to borrow my orange vest for self protection), rattlesnakes and ‘wet-backs’. I can’t believe that’s such a common phrase and I’m honestly not sure who that refers to – illegals, I suppose? Anyway, we’ve been told by locals to get a shot gun on 3 occasions now. I’m not sure if that’s to shoot snakes or people? Heidi’s calling her Mom to see if she‘ll send her Grandpa‘s shotgun to the nearest gun shop!

It seems that people here don’t hesitate to shoot people who are a threat or perceived threat, but it’s not too PC to shoot rattlesnakes or wild boars or coyotes or havalinas! It’s a strange new world in this brand new year.

This picture of a Javalina was in front of our RV was taken at my Sis's in Tucson - haven't seen any here yet!

Henry and I walk a mile each morning. Today we came home with a pocket full of rocks, many are agates! New year, new location, and the Lord’s loving-kindness’s are new every morning! Agates that look just like the ones in Gold Beach, here on a back road on a Texas ranch!