If you’ve looked into The SnK, you might have read that it is 408 acres of family land, that my Grandfather Schindler began to piece together in 1936. The place is divided into 3 main areas: 40 acres in the front, that has hardly any trees, other than Mesquite and Huisache; about 168 acres in the middle that has some open areas, Mesquite, Huisache, mixed brushy areas and Live Oak and Post Oak trees; and about 200 acres, at the back, which is similar to the mid 168.
Since the “Front 40” has been tree-less, Coastal Bermuda grass was established by one of the “Cattle Men” that leased the place over the years. Coastal Bermuda grass is not native and we really didn’t know much when we agreed to have it put in. I don’t really remember what was in the front 40 before then, as it has never looked like the back acreage. I think it had non-native grasses planted, even before then.
Fast forward to 2011. Selena and I had grown tired of cattle on the place. The stink, the inconvenience and the lack of rotational grazing was taking a toll on the land, as well as our patience. Cross fences had been put up, and a well with troughs installed, to allow for rotational grazing, but it never happened. We grew tired of dealing with cattle in the drive, patties all over the place, the stench, the flies and picking up hay bail twine.
Luckily our current cattle lease owner was ready to down-size. We came to an amicable agreement to terminate the lease early and have lived cattle free since then. About the same time, Selena and I looked into converting our ag exemption to a wildlife exemption. We didn’t want to lose those tax advantages, and a wildlife exemption would allow us to keep them. With the help of a TPWD Biologist, we wrote a wildlife management plan, which as approved.
The SnK was now totally wildlife and we were happy. Selena applied for a number of wildlife certifications, and we came up with the name The SnK Wildlife Reserve, as we were reserving the property for wildlife. Nothing’s official at this time, but we are looking at setting The SnK up as a non-profit. Since that time, we’ve been looking at what we can do to improve the place. Somewhere, Selena came upon the Grassland Restoration Incentive Program and looked into it. We contacted the TPWD biologist in charge and are now in the application process.
The program will involve killing off the Bermuda and planting native grass seeds. With that, brush clearing has begun. This will not only provide for less competition between the new grasses and the brush but will also allow the spray truck to maneuver more easily. With that cutting and spraying has begun.
Selena and I make a good team. I cut with the chainsaw and she comes along behind, spraying the cut stumps. We’re using a diesel fuel and Remedy herbicide mix, per TAMU publications. Cut and spray is not the fastest system, but it is one that we can do on our own. No need to hire somebody to do the work, when one is willing and able to do it one’s self. Being retired has its advantages.
The photo above is just a small amount that we’ve cleared. I had already begun burning the first pile, and intended to include a photo, but for some reason, my little camera didn’t do its job. Oh well. We’ve got quite a bit to go, but it’s heartening to look out the front window, or up the drive, and see the progress that we’ve made. Until I moved to the country I wouldn’t have understood this kind of fuss, but out here, it’s quite a little victory, Bustin’ Brush.
Until next time, Peace!
Keith, the K in The SnK