Bootlegging through Texas

Meanwhile, another tale of the old days (1970‘s) in and about Austin Texas; this time about my days as a “bootlegger”

To get to the heart of this story I first need to add some (alot actually) background. In March of 72, the divorce from my first ex-wife became final, I had resigned from the only real job I ever had after the Military, and sold the house and most every thing else, planning on doing some traveling. My friend Dan McConchie, and his lady “du jure” Carol were going to keep for me the pregnant dog Green while I was gone. I hitched out of Austin headed to Baltimore where a college friend was heading up an urban commune, and then on to Philadelphia to visit with my folks. The trip was full of adventures, each worthy of a page, but to keep this from getting too far reaching, I’ll just get to the main stuff.

Green had a litter of 8 pups while I was in Baltimore, and 3 days latter, she decided to cross a street at just the wrong time. Dan and Carol, and another lady who’s house they were “sharing” decided to try and save the pups. God bless them, they managed to do just that with the help of a 6 month old doberman named lucy who decided it would be her job to keep the pups cleaned up, while Dan and Carol took charge of the feeding.
Dan made a point of letting me know just how happy he was about all that the few times we talked on the phone.

By the time I got back to Austin, the pups were about 8 weeks old, eating regular food, had all there shots, and it was obvious that my buddy Dan had taken a bullet for me. It was also well into the warm weather, and the three of us(Dan,Carol, & I)decided to get out of the city for a while. A friend had a place on the S.Bosque river west of Waco, and was game enough to have us camp out there for a while, so we all (including the pups, and a couple of adult dogs) loaded up my old 1950 Dodge sedan, and headed north. The ride up was uneventful, and we spent a couple of nice relaxing weeks on the banks of the old Bosque just hanging out, and doing the “stuff” Austin was notorious for during those days.

Some of that “stuff” was drinking massive amounts of beer, and we just happened to find a pearl beer distributor in Waco selling cases of longnecks for 3.00 a case. (Plus bottle deposit) Even in 1972, that was a real good price, and we took advantage of it throughout our stay on the Bosque. On our departure back to Austin, we also stopped one more time to stock up for the trip, and had 4-5 cases in the backseat along with all the dogs. It was a bit crowded back there to say the least. So here we are, three “hippy” looking folks driving a “hippy” looking, multicolored old car, making our way south on IH35 doing stuff that “hippies” did back in those days. Just another uneventful road trip until we were getting into Georgetown. It was then a light bar lit up behind us, and I pulled over for the DPS just under the HW29 bridge over the interstate.

I get out of the car, and with my hands in plain sight, and started back to the troopers car. (I realize doing so today would probably get a person shot, but back then, I figured it was just a common courtesy to meet the police in neutral territory, and so did most of them. Had numerous opportunities to put that to a test since the old dodge was stop bait most every where we went in it. Anyway, back to the roadside in Georgetown Texas. I handed the trooper my DL, and he started running the “make” which took a bit of time back then in the pre everything available instantaneously on computer days, and I walked around to get my insurance papers from the glove box. I was standing at the rear bumper when the trooper walked back to our vehicle saying the reason he stopped us was because there wasn’t a front tag on the car –it was on the dash board, having mostly fallen off back up on the river– which meant that it was mainly a curiosity stop since the missing tag was not really a violation.

The trooper glanced through the back window, and at that point, the following conversation issued.

DPS: you got beer in all those boxes?? ME: I certainly hope so.
DPS: then you’re bootlegging! ME: That’s not bootlegging–it’s a bargain.
DPS: You are only allowed to transport 96 Oz per person through a dry county. ME: Uh–what about all those dogs, do they count?? DPS: Looks to me that they are mostly minors

By then, the trooper was laughing, and I started to relax a little. We talked a bit more and then he said I was free to go, but if he ever caught me bootlegging through his county again, Id really be in trouble.

Thank you sir, and back in the car, driving south (out of Williamson county and trouble) to Austin. All three of us breathed a big sigh of relief –Had he actually searched the car, he would have found enough contraband (drugs etc) to put us all away for a long time. A few years later, I actually moved to Williamson county, but by that time, beer was a legal beverage in the precinct I had moved into.

lost month

think I mentioned having an upper and lower “scope”  scheduled.  Good news is that every thing checked out OK.  Bad news was the side dish of pneumonia that came with the procedure.   I was probably as sick as I’ve ever been for a couple of weeks, and am just now really getting back to speed.  Fortunately, my lady friend from down Austin way was able to arrange her schedule so that she could spend most of February here on the hunkerdown, and keep things under control, and another good friend was able to spend a few days helping with some major chores like picking up feed etc.  Good thing too, since the goats did not stop dropping babies while I was in bed, and as usual one momma decided she didn’t want to take care of all of her’s, so again, we have two bottle babies, and my friend (bless her) managed to get that going on top of every thing else.  Total is 23 babies with one doe still to go (if she is even fresh)

Being down like that really put me back as far as spring garden chores–only have a couple rows of peas, and some lettuce and spinach planted and peeking out from below ground.  Did manage to get a few more trees in–2 pecans, 3 peaches and another plum.  Also some new bush cherries to compliment last years planting.  A little rain today, and some more possible tomorrow and Wednesday is really welcomed by both the new plantings and  me.

Don’t imagine this years garden will be as extensive as last years.  Partly because of the late start, but mostly because this old goat is starting to feel the years, and I’m finding that I can’t get near as much done in a day as I could 10-20 years ago.  More and longer breaks seems to be the new rule which is frustrating for someone use to going strong for 5-6 hours straight without any breaks at all.  Guess a body has to do what it needs to if there is any chance for a future long enough to eat pecans off of those new trees.

Primary season-what a joke.  Guess I need to cross over to the other site.  So much has happened since my last rant I feel a great desire to vent coming on.



Lots of little goats

well, after three sets of triplets, 3 sets of twins, and a single, My herd has doubled in size–all seem to be doing well, although the little single gave us a bit of trouble at first–couldn’t get a hold of it’s momma’s nipple.  Doing ok now though.  10 males so far, so we’ll have a busy neutering session in the near future.  Still have 4 does to go yet–2 are so big I would have thought they would have dropped last week  but what do I know!

Been doing a little welding–friend gave me a 300 gal fuel tank, and I’m building a rack for it.  Doesn’t look to pretty, but if it holds together and supports 300 gals of diesel fuel, I don’t particularly care how it looks.  Want to get it all together while the price of oil is so low.  Would hate to miss out on a bulk delivery of 2.00 / gal or less.

The coming week is sort of divided, and I may not get much done–undergoing the “scope” on Wednesday, and Tuesday will of course be dedicated to prepping.  Not looking forward to that, but after the procedure, I  hope I can convince my PC at the local VA that I really need to see an ENT to get the problem diagnosed.  Have been having trouble with my voice changing and being rather rough–going on now since last May.  Started almost immediately after I inadvertently inhaled a big old cloud of dust and mold while peeling some straw off of and old round bale.   Doc treated it as an allergy for the first couple of weeks, and then ordered a “barium swallow”  which showed a couple of interesting things, none of which were related to the voice issue.  She then ordered an endoscopic exam, but the VA in it’s infinite wisdom translated that into a gastro/intestinal issue and decided I needed both ends checked out.

That was in August, and we requested a fee basis procedure so I could have it done locally instead of having to go to Temple, spend a night there and OH–needing a driver.  Well—congress decided that we needed this veterans choice program, so now I contact an organization called tri-west, they contact the VA, the VA gives them approval (or not) and sends my pertinent medical files to them. They then find a local doctor willing to deal with so much bureaucracy, and I get an appointment for a consult and finally the procedure.  What use to take a couple of weeks at most through the fee basis office has taken 6 months–just what the VA needed-another layer of bureaucracy (one that I suspect is in it for a profit)–thank you very much congressional idiots for fixing something that wasn’t broke.

That’s it from the hunkerdown for now


Spring Time ?? on the Hunkerdown

Yesterday, (Jan 17)  i was presented with two new born goats when I went out for the AM chores.  The momma was halfwide–a nigerian dwarf that had a real difficult breach last spring and lost that kid.  This morning, Tatters (named for a torn ear) was being stand-offish from the herd, and by noon, she too had twin babies.  Great start to this springs crop, although a little earlier in the year than the previous three years.  But then, I don’t do anything to restrict their activities so I suppose it’s just nature taking it’s course.  Ten more ladies in waiting–praying for a birthing season sans problems–last years was not all that good.

Getting the garden ready, and have some seeds started in the cold frame.  Hoping for a nice average year’s precipitation, but with the two new wells drilled last year, I do have water on hand if momma nature decides we need to be dry again.


room addition–misadventures in carpentry

As previously mentioned, one of the bigger projects here on the HunkerDown was adding a room to the 2 room cabin.  Having already had a little experience with the “weird” construction methods used to build the cabin, I knew that there would be some complications, but little did I know!!!

The original structure was 16ft. X 24ft. long axis oriented north/south.  A porch had been added on the south end, again 16ft wide by 8 ft or so deep.  My plan was to put the addition on the west side tying into the old structure through what was the “kitchen area” of the front room.  I knew that there were some floor leveling issues, so I figured the first attack would be some leveling.  My assumption was that the cabin was basically a portable building sort of thing, but when I  took my first good look at what was holding the cabin up—big surprise.  There were three double 2×6 beams running the 24 ft length–one on each perimeter and one down the middle –which meant that the floor joists (2×4) were spanning nearly 8 feet.  The piers the beams rested on were 6 foot apart front and back with a 12 foot span in the center–the beams were only supported at 4 points across 24 feet???.  And,  the west side beam had been cut through for the toilet drain pipe without any additional support or scabbing –just flopping around in the breeze so-to-speak.

I hired a crew for the major carpentry work–framing, roofing etc, and the first job they under took was adding two more 2×6 beams  at the midpoints between the originals, and adding the needed piers under those sagging babies.  Wasn’t the easiest of jobs, since the structure was not even 2 foot off of the ground at it’s highest point, but those guys managed, and did their best to level things out.  I say their best, as it would have required cutting the water, sewer and electrical service to jack that west wall up enough, and since we were living in the cabin while this was going on, I let them slide a little on that.  Something that would cause me other problems and lots of fun later on.

The addition was to be 12 ft x 18ft. with the long axis again running north/south, and the roof ridge running east/west so as to intersect the old roof at 90 degrees–no big deal, and the crew knew what they were doing and work progressed rather quickly.  The only issue was tying into the front wall of the cabin with the new framing.  Seems that the original front wall of the cabin was about 3 inches out of plumb top to bottom–back wall also but that didn’t effect things just then –leaning to the south.  Got all the new construction dried in, and then it was time to open the wall between the two.  Now, I’ve worked construction–mostly as a mason –for 40 some years, and never before did I see a framed wall without a double top plate.  In fact there wasn’t really a top plate at all as the stud tops had been cut off to match the roof pitch, and the top plate was nailed to them in such a way that the roof trusses didn’t have to be notched at the wall but were just laid on top and toenailed in.  I was already aware that the framing did not adhere to any sort of regular spacing, so much so, I’m still not sure if they ( the original builders) were trying for 16 inch centers or 24, or were just nailing up studs where ever it seemed right to put one.

Anyway, we got through that mess and all of a sudden, I had just about doubled my floor space, and it was now my turn to get to work.  I wore the plumber’s hat, the electrician’s hat, the trim carpenter’s hat and was the finished flooring guy too.  More about all that later.


New years day 2016

Knew it had been quite a while since I last made a post. Didn’t realize that come march–it will be two years. I resolve (we all know how that works) to post on a more regular basis.

Meanwhile–lets just say it has been a busy last couple of years. Added a kitchen addition to the little cabin which is slowly finishing up. Expanded the garden area, added some more fruit and nut trees. Bought an old 64 dodge D-100 pickup and have been working on it some–drives well enough to drive it into Brownwood for the bi weekly load of feed. Also have been busy clearing some in the pastures, and now have a PTO powered Chipper which is (and will be) a great help in cleaning up. Especially all the stuff the goats have killed up to brows height +/- 6 foot. If I’m lucky enough to have a few more working years, it might actually start looking good here on the ranch.

Buried old Gypsy a year ago now, but Missy has more than filled her place. Burt and Ernie are starting to show a little wear, but still going strong doing the job they are supposed to do. Goat herd is like an accordion–expands and contracts depending on the season. Not but 16 out there right now, but took about 3 dozen to auction during the spring and fall last year. Suspect things will start expanding again here in another month or two.

Have been feeling a need to add some more to the HisStory section. Might be the only way my girls will have a clue as to the journey their old man was on back then. Been living a different life for a long time now, but have no regrets about the old me either. As they say, we are nothing more than the sum of our experience, and each choice made, each fork taken is what has brought me to who and where I am today, and I wouldn’t change places now with anyone.

might just need to vent a little more often over on the other site too. So much going on in the world that shouldn’t be happening.

hope to be back real soon

Ides of March–2014

Thinking that this is my first post this year—my where has the time gone!!!

March–in like a lion, out like a lamb.  The first part has been extremely true this year here on the HunkerDown, and today, the wind has been over the top.  In fact, this entire winter has been a bit over the top here as well as other places in the country.  More reminiscent of those winters of my childhood 1950’s than those of the past few decades.  Hauling water from the house to the goats and chickens got old in a hurry, and there may be another freeze tonight.  Hope not as most of the fruit trees are now in bloom and leafing out.

Speaking of goats, we are in the midst of spring kidding season.  So far, 6 does have dropped a total of 9 kids, with at least 9 or 10 more due soon.  Double wide–the little Nigerian pygmy who had the quads last fall started the show back in late February with triplets.  She sure has been prolific to say the least.  Her daughter halfwide had twins this go around, while the other 4 (3of which are first time moms) had singles.  All seem to be doing well, and the kids are bouncing all over the place.  However, in an interesting turn of events, it seems that the kidding has lead to some status challenges amongst the does.  Lots of head butting going on–makes me flinch just to watch, and I hope that it all works out without anything other than pride being hurt.

I guess the good news is that the sale of the LH property went through–closed just before Christmas.  On my birthday in fact, so it was a good present.  Took a good chunk of the proceeds and payed off the note on the HunkerDown–two monthly notes finished for good.  My fixed retirement income sure goes a lot further now, and several things have been happening here on the ranch.

Moved in a little portable that we have finished out on the inside, and DL spent most of a week painting to match the cabin.  It will be my “office” space where I can keep all of my crap (books, magazines, and the like) in one spot, and not strung out all over the house.  Also plan to build a closet in there so we can keep seasonal clothing in the limited storage we have in the cabin, while the other stuff, and clothes I don’t wear but for “special” occasions can be secure, but out of the way.

Also have been working on some additional pens for the goats–basically small individual birthing areas, as I like to give the new moms and kids space for themselves, and a little special attention feed wise for a few days before putting them back into the general population.  Think it will help in separating out those going to market also.  My friend Joe, from Leander has come out a few times for several days, and has been a big help with both current projects, plus spending time down in the pit with the hammer drill, feathers and wedges, and whatnot, quarrying out the stone I need removed for the eventual root/storm cellar.

Expanded the raised bed garden area from three to eight 8ft x4ft beds and one 16×8 ft that I am prepping for those acid soil loving blueberry plants.  Adding lots of organic material, oak leaves, compost and some sulfur to the already slightly acidic sandy soil native to the place.  Want to bring it down from around 6.5-6.7 to the mid to low 5’s.  Doing some of the same for the apple trees although not to such an extreme.  Also planted 3 pecan trees, several pit fruit trees and some blackberries at the back (northside) of the raised bed area where they wont be disturbed.  Still have about a 60×60 foot area that I’ll work with the tractor for row crops and melon mounds.

Near future plans include drilling a well and rainwater collection from all the various roofs growing on the property, and a small addition to the cabin in order to have a real kitchen area, and a little more space in the living room.  Would like to add some solar and wind generation, but that will come later rather than sooner.

Hope to update on a more regular basis, and I’m thinking it’s time for a little rant over on the other site.

Pray for rain–we are really hurting for moisture on the ground here in NW Brown county, and every chance seems to pass us by—North, East and South.  I has got to be our turn as the bulls eye soon, I hope.


December 14

Was taught a bit of a lesson today here on the Hunker Down.  And, my teacher was none other than Missy the rescue dog.  I was spending some “quality time” on the internet since I had a signal I could depend on for the first time in a couple of days. (we just love AT&T here about)  Missy was out in the front yard chasing squirrels when she suddenly took of for the back garden area, and started raising all sorts of cain.  I figured she had one of the guinea hens treed , and even went out on the porch once to call her on it.  Noticed at that point that she was on the far side of the goat pen.  Got her to come in, but she was still in this agitated sort of mood, barking at me, pulling on my pants leg and pulling the kerchief from my back pocket.  All in all making it hard for me to concentrate on whatever was more important at the time.

SO,  I ran her outside again and settled back in front of the computer when the incessant barking over by the goat pen started up again.  It’s really not like her to make so much noise, so this time, I walked out that way.  Didn’t take long to realize that the goat we call Tricky had managed to catch her hind foot up in the wire of one of the hay mangers, and was literally hanging from it.  Poor girl was in quite a lot of distress, but not having my “ears” in, all I could hear was Missy barking, and no distress cries from the goat.  Wasn’t hard to un-catch her–just picked her up and once her weight was no longer pulling on it she lifted her foot right out, and although she is limping around, she is putting some of her weight on it, so I’m hopeful that it isn’t hurt too bad.

Now isn’t that something.  That little dog was trying her best to alert me to some trouble, and I just wasn’t paying attention.  Next time she sets off on a tare like that, you best believe I won’t waste any time checking out the reason…”What is it girl??  Timmy fell down the well again??”  Smart little dog, and a dumb old man here on the Hunker Down Ranch


Dec 7

It’s been a long time since I last posted from here on the Hunker Down.  One might think that is because I have been spending my time “hunkered down” but truth be told, I’ve been busy as that old one legged man in the 4th of July sack race was.

Haven’t had any internet access for the past 2 days, –guess it froze up along with everything else around here.  It’s Dec 7th, and we have already had two healthy cold fronts.  This one came with a bit of snow and freezing rain, and since the temperature is going to stay below freezing today, the stuff is going to stick around for a while.  That doesn’t happen very often in this part of the world, and while it may be a treat for the neighbor’s kids, it’s a royal PITA for me.  Took a spill this morning while carrying some liquid water from the house  to the chicken pen—feet went right out from under me—and have been carrying water and breaking up the ice on the goats water tank a couple time a day.  But since I’m not too interested in spending any more time outside than absolutely necessary, it’s a good chance to bring the blog up to date, and watch the birds at the front yard feeders.  Pretty neat to see 8-10 male Cardinals gathered in the cedar (ash juniper) tree –the only green left in the yard.  Rather appropriate for the season I guess.

Some of this I probably have covered before, but without internet, I don’t know exactly when the last post went up.

Missy dog—the lost little pregnant pup had her puppies which were all adopted at the proper time, and she has now been altered so puppies will not be an issue any longer. (at least how things stand now).  She is a good little dog, and I’ve enjoyed having her as a traveling companion (more on that later).  She is a bit rambunctious, though and she does show too much interest in the chickens and guinea hens.  We are working at resolving that particular problem, although the only bird I’ve lost has been to Bert the LGD.  He has gotten ahold of a couple—just holds them down and licks on them.  The one that died, I didn’t get to quick enough, and Bert literally licked it to death—well, it was still alive when I got to it, but it was so traumatized and denuded of feathers, it didn’t survive the night in spite of my attempt to keep it warm and dry.  Missy also has decided that 8 am is long enough for me to stay in bed, and she starts barking and pulling at the covers until I get up.  Would have liked a dog like that when I had kids in school!!!

What has been keeping me busy has been the potential sale of the Liberty Hill property.  Had a good contract with a hefty earnest money deposit, and a closing date only three weeks off.  This was back in October, and since I had been trying to sell the property for about a year and a half without any offers, I was pretty jacked up about it.  Anyway, since we had left the place furnished, and hadn’t done much about cleaning up the shop space we got busy—bought an 8×12 storage building, rented a uhaul truck, gathered up a lot of friends and family, and dove right in.  Got most everything from the house in the uhaul—could have used a bigger truck,– and got it up to the Hunker Down without any trouble, and stuffed the storage building and much of my tractor garage also—could have used a bigger storage building too.

A former apprentice took most of the more exotic carving stock I had on hand, and also asked to buy the forklift,  I guess we spent much of three weekends moving rock tools and equipment , and the buyer dropped off a load of doors and windows for the work he was going to do to the shop.  2 days before closing, the buyer’s wife (of only 6 weeks) filed for divorce, and that deal was off.  Felt so bad for the guy, I couldn’t even keep all of his earnest deposit—we split it – but what a letdown—was already putting that equity to good use in my dreams.

Anyway, the buyer’s realtor got busy and had another contract presented, and before I could get back down to LH to sign it, another contract was also presented, so we had a little bidding war, the result being quite favorable for me.  However, the new closing date was not until Dec 10th, and now that has been pushed back also.   I just want it to conclude ASAP.

As for the traveling and Missy’s companionship, I guess between that first weekend and this past Monday I made at least 2 dozen trips between here and there.  Put lots of miles on each of my vehicles (about 250 mile round trip), and ran up some sizable fuel bills—over 900.00 for October, and over 600.00 for November.  Shoot, the F-450 diesel drank over a hundred in one trip alone. Now Missy threw up the first 2 times I took her anywhere, and then hasn’t been car sick since.  I’m thinking that since she was obviously just dropped off by her previous human, she, thinking the same was about to happen all over, stressed out so much about being in a vehicle again it made her physically sick.  Since she now knows a ride is just a ride, she is a good traveler, and she gives me an opportunity to sing to someone other than myself during those long country highway miles.

As to what has been happening on the ranch—not much.  I have been able to spend some time prepping the garden.  Built 5 new raised beds, three of which are ready for early planting, plus a double length raised bed for some blackberry bushes.  Have picked up one load of stable cleanings from Maria in Clyde, and should be getting another soon (once the ice clears).  And we have been digging up as much of the Bermuda grass runners as we possibly can—I once let that stuff get ahead of me and it is hell to deal with then.  One of the first improvements once that equity is in hand will be some water storage, and some rain water harvesting system so I can water without running up the utility bill.  Need to make good use of what little water we seem to get here, and that is something that needs attending to.

Goats are all doing well as far as I can tell.  The new billy (Buddy) appears to have been doing his job—several of the does, including double wide the baby factory, are expanding nicely .  Hoping for a good crop of kids early this spring.  To market to market off we go.

Will post this up soon as AT&T lets me

That’s how it is on the Hunker Down Ranch


October 10

Been a couple of real busy weeks.  Won’t be making a lot of comment right now, but do want to get a few pictures up.  First, I went and bought a new billy for the girls.  Some how he is now called Buddy:grand daughter Zoe + new pups etc 028 (800x528) He is what is called a “percentage” boar goat, 6-7 months old, pretty gentle right now.  The does were enthralled with him when I first put him up in the smaller side pen.  They had his pen surrounded pushing on the wire and flirting their tails off.  The thought was to keep him separated for a few days, but I guess we forgot to tell him.  He managed to get out and joined the herd on his second day here, and has fit right in.grand daughter Zoe + new pups etc 030 (800x536) - Copy

Also the puppies have been —well being puppies.  They have discovered the freedom of the yard, and don’t really want to be penned up except at nap time, and after dark.  They will be 8 weeks this coming Sunday.  Anyone looking for a nice “wonder” dog??grand daughter Zoe + new pups etc 032 (800x422) - Copy grand daughter Zoe + new pups etc 033 (800x534) - Copy grand daughter Zoe + new pups etc 040 (800x536) - Copy grand daughter Zoe + new pups etc 046 (800x529) - Copy grand daughter Zoe + new pups etc 022 (800x522)The cat is named Nemis, and he has decided it is his job to keep the pups well occupied.

Final news–have a contract on the Liberty Hill property.  Cash sale, and the closing date is on the 18th.  Much of our time has been tied up with trying to move every thing.  Have a U-haul box van reserved for this weekend and hope to get all the furniture and the boxed up stuff in one trip, and a new double loft 8×12 storage building should also be delivered here to the hunker down by the time I arrive with the load.

Weather forecast is for rain which I’ll welcome, even if it means working wet.