Let’s celebrate another milestone.
August marks the 15th year I’ve attempted to serve Southwest farmers and ranchers through the pages of Southwest Farm Press. Some might ask, “Where did the time go?” Others might counter with, “Are you still here?”
I am. And I must say the last 15 years have been the most rewarding of my career. And I’m not done yet.
From day one, I felt at home. I attribute much of that welcoming attitude to the some 28 years of groundwork performed by former editor Calvin Pigg. Southwest Farm Press was well respected and as part of the staff I benefitted from that reputation. I hope I’ve done little to besmirch that credibility over the last 15 years.
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I do appreciate y’all putting up with an easterner. We are an acquired taste and may not readily adapt to some western ways. But folks here either ignored or simply accepted my eccentricities. No one ever made me wear those pointy-toed boots on my non-pointy-toed feet. I bought one pair. My feet hurt. I have not been required to wear a ten-gallon hat on my four-gallon noggin (though some might dispute the size of my head). No one said I had to buy a pickup truck, but I did anyway, two, so far, and I’ve rolled up a lot of miles on each of them.
I’ve bounced across a lot of teeth-rattling dirt roads, been lost more times than I like to admit and have admired the scenery from Denton to the High Plains on countless occasions. I’ve been stopped for speeding too many times but fined only twice. Even the troopers are tolerant —mostly.
South of Dallas the landscape is similar to the Southeast—rolling hills, a few woodlands and pastureland. The Valley and South Texas provide excellent options for winter-time stories as farmers take advantage of the milder winter climate to grow a variety of crops. I’ve found February to be an opportune time to visit the Weslaco or Harlingen areas and escape what can sometimes be a frigid month in North Texas.
I’ve learned to enjoy the peculiar gait of road runners scampering out of mesquite thickets along the roadside, looking for bugs or small reptiles.
And I love the sunsets, especially when a storm threatens and the clouds display hues from yellow, to orange to red to purple. Rainbows are rare, however. One sandstorm was enough.
The Far West Texas desert provides a stark, almost scary beauty. It’s nice to look at but I wouldn’t want to be stranded in it.
East Texas and Southwest Oklahoma remind me of places I covered many years ago in the Carolinas and Georgia. Woodlands surround many farmsteads, restricting field size. Pastureland typically is a bit greener because of usually higher annual rainfall.
Southwest Oklahoma offers the surprise of a rock mountain thrusting upward from the mostly flat landscape. And New Mexico terrain varies from near desert near El Paso, to plains up around Hobbs and mountains near Santa Fe.
I’ve found some good fishing holes—Lake Fork, the Pecos, Blue River, the flats off South Padre Island, and, my favorite, Lower Mountain Fork at Broken Bow, Oklahoma.
So, after 15 years, I feel more than fortunate to have had the opportunity to write about Southwest agriculture. Mostly, I feel fortunate to have met, interviewed and become friends with the farmers and ranchers of the region. You are good folk.
I love my job. Fifteen years? Time flies when you’re having fun.