Friday, July 31, 2009

Jump in!!

The water is fine!!
Shadow, my parent's dog, even wanted in.

Ready, set, JUMP!!

CJ's turn!

Cristian in enjoying the water too.

CJ's swamp monster.

Now wasn't that refreshing?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Possum Kingdom Lake

My brother Brad invited us out to his lakehouse at Possum Kingdom Lake, which is in the foothills of the Palo Pinto mountains less than 75 miles west of Fort Worth. Possum Kingdom is The Great Lake of Texas, with more than 18,000 acres of crystal clear water, a Texas oasis surrounded by beautiful cliffs and rolling hillsides.

And a fun place to go cool off in the water on a hot day!

This lake house belonged to my grandfather. Pawpaw would spend lots of time out here gardening and just hanging out. He loved this place. When he passed on, my brother bought it.

A red-winged blackbird wanting some food.

Going for a walk on the dock.
Randi, friend from high school, and her family came out with us. Her son Cristian loved playing with Katie

They both enjoyed kicking the soccer ball around.

Brad's little dog wanted in on the fun too!

The kids are ready to get wet! Is your suit on too?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Six Flags

A trip to Texas isn't complete without spending a day at Six Flags over Texas. At least that's what the kids think! I'd rather do something else.

They love riding the rides though. Grammy and Grampy go too, and get talked into riding with the kids. I take pictures of them, so I do get to have some fun too!

This year, I didn't get too many pictures though, as my camera battery died. And I though I had changed them before we left home. Oh well, nothing much I could do.

I did get to take a few photos of the kids with some of their favorite TV characters.

Marvin the Martian is still one of my favorties!

Scooby must be so hot with his fur coat on!

CJ and I rode the Texas Giant once, and decided it was too bumpy and rough to ride it again.

A true Texan is one who works at Six Flags for the summer!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Lotta Bull

The city of Fort Worth is still in the cattle business. The Fort Worth Herd lives at the Stockyards and is driven down the street by cowboys twice a day.

It's really neat to see a herd of Longhorns walk by!

The horses are also owned by the city, and the cowboys work for the city. They are all dressed as they would have been back when the cattle were being driven to Fort Worth to be sold and shipped out on the railroads.

The Texas Longhorn is a breed of cattle known for its characteristic horns, which can extend to 4 feet tip to tip for steers and exceptional cows and bulls in the 70 to 80 inches tip to tip range. Horns can have a slight upward turn at their tips or even triple twist. Texas Longhorns are also known for their extreme diversified coloring.

The descendant of hardy Spanish cattle, the Texas Longhorn can thrive in country where no other breed can live; subsist on weeds, cactus and brush; range days away from water; and stay fit and fertile whether it’s living in the scorching, parasite-infested tropics or in the arid, subzero winters of Montana.
The leaner longhorn beef was not as attractive in an era where tallow was highly prized, and the longhorn's ability to survive on often poor vegetation of the open range was no longer as much of an issue. Other breeds demonstrated traits more highly valued by the modern rancher, such as the ability to put on weight quickly.

The Texas longhorn stock slowly dwindled, until in 1927 the breed was saved from almost certain extinction by enthusiasts from the United States Forest Service, who collected a small herd of stock to breed on a refuge in Oklahoma.

A few years later, J. Frank Dobie and others gathered small herds to keep in Texas state parks. They were cared for largely as curiosities, but the stock's longevity, resistance to disease and ability to thrive on marginal pastures quickly revived the breed as beef stock. Today, the breed is still used as a beef stock, though many Texas ranchers keep herds purely because of their link to Texas history.

The Texas longhorn is the Texas State Large Mammal.
The Texas longhorn is an official symbol for the city of Fort Worth, which is nicknamed "Cowtown".
The Longhorns is the name used for the sports teams of The University of Texas at Austin. The school mascot is a longhorn named Bevo.
Texas Parks and Wildlife maintain an official "State Longhorn Herd", Portions of the herd are kept at various state parks within Texas.
Around 1933, pioneer Texas Longhorn breeder Graves Peeler mentioned that some of the Longhorn cattle that he had been collecting recently were for the western movie star Tom Mix, and over the years at least four other publications repeated the Tom Mix story. Later, it became known that Mr. Peeler was actually collecting the cattle for western movie star and recording star Gene Autry.
The 1966 film The Rare Breed starring James Stewart charts the replacement of Texas Longhorns in the 1880s by British Hereford Cattle.

This isn't the best quality video, but still gives the feel of the cattle drive.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Stockyards Station

For the drovers heading longhorn cattle up the Chisholm Trail to the railheads, Fort Worth was the last major stop for rest and supplies. Beyond Fort Worth they would have to deal with crossing the Red River into Indian Territory. Between 1866 and 1890 more than four million head of cattle were trailed through Fort Worth which was soon known as “Cowtown.”

When the railroad finally arrived in 1876, Fort Worth became a major shipping point for livestock. This prompted plans in 1887 for the construction of the Union Stockyards about two and one half miles north of the Tarrant County Courthouse. It went into full operation about 1889.

It soon became apparent that instead of shipping to other markets to process the cattle, it would be much more desirable to keep more of the business in Fort Worth by having local packing plants. A search began to lure major packers to the City. By about 1900, after much work by local businessmen, both Armour & Co. and Swift & Co. were persuaded to build plants adjacent to the Stockyards.

Construction began in 1902, but not until after the exact site of each plant was decided by a flip of the coin. Armour won the toss and selected the northern site and Swift began to build on the southern tract which was the site of the original Livestock Exchange and Hotel. Swift & Co. received an unexpected financial bonus when a large gravel pit was found on the southern site which was ultimately used in the construction of both plants.

The new Livestock Exchange Building in its present location, as well as the pens and the barns were also started in 1902. The new building was designed to house the many livestock commission companies, Telegraph offices, railroad offices and other support businesses.

At the height of World War I in 1917, the Fort Worth Stockyards was the largest horse and mule market in the world. Military officers from Allied countries came to purchase the animals to support their war efforts. Total sales of all livestock continued to grow during the war years.

During World War II, the Fort Worth Stockyards processed 5,277,496 head of livestock making 1944 the peak year of the entire operation. In later years sales at the stockyards began to decline and by 1969 they had dwindled to 1,045,158 head. By 1986, sales reached an all-time low of 57,181 animals.

There were many reasons for the decline of the Fort Worth Stockyards but one of the largest factors was the rise of the trucking industry on the newly paved roads after World War II. Because of their lower operating costs and their greater flexibility, much of the advantage that railroads had in bulk shipping was lost. The market moved to the shipper with the creation of local livestock auctions and feedlots. It was a whole new way of marketing livestock. Not only was Fort Worth affected, all the major plackers in the United States struggled with this new way to market livestock.

Both Armour and Swift had huge outdated plants that were straddled with risings costs and wages and administrative expenses. Armour was the first to close their Fort Worth plant in 1962 with Swift hanging on until 1971. Partial demolition followed over the years after several fires. The unique Armour office building was lost, but the classic Swift headquarters building was put to use as the home of a popular restaurant. While local auctions continued to be held in the Stockyards, the volume diminished until it was unprofitable to continue. This vibrant part of Fort Worth history fell on hard times as the Stockyards area continued its decline.

In 1976, the North Fort Worth Historical Society founded by Charlie and Sue McCafferty, was chartered to ensure that Fort Worth's’ livestock heritage would be preserved. Since then, the Society has worked to promote the history of one of the greatest livestock and meatpacking industries in the country.

The Fort Worth Stockyards National Historical District was also established in 1976 and many of the area’s landmarks have been restored including the Livestock Exchange Building and the Coliseum. Recently, the historic Swift & Co. headquarters building underwent an almost total restoration. Today the Fort Worth Stockyards Historic District is one of Texas’ most popular tourist destinations. Many events of all kinds are held every year, new businesses and lodgings have been established adding to the history and fun that is the Fort Worth Stockyards...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Horses on the farm

My parents have a few horses on their farm. They raise Arabians there, but none of them are ridden. Their trainer moved to California and comes back only twice a year, not leaving enough time to break them. They are beautiful though, and this absent trainer loves to take pictures of them.

This is Annie. I had to scratch her back to get her to stand still enough. Otherwise she would knock me over telling me to scratch her back.

Azziza got bathed while we were there, and Katie helped Grammy out. Azziza has Cushings and wasn't shedding her winter hair, so we bathed her then clipped all her hair off. She felt much better after that!

Haseem and Dudley, who are half-brothers, trotted along the fence.

Haseem enjoying his freedom.

Katie wanted to go riding, so we went over to a friend's house and rode one of her horses. This is Tuffy. He's a POA, which stands for Pony of Americas. This is Katie's first time of controlling the horse all by herself. Way to go Katie! Remember, toes up and heels down!

Harou gazing off into the sunset.