Let the Tours Begin

By Lisa Milewski

On Saturday, October 12, 2019 the Rancheria Grande Chapter of the El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail Association conducted a tour of several significant, certified sites along the El Camino Real in Milam County. 

Local history buffs John Pruett and Geri Burnett discussed county and trail history along the route. 

The tour started in Cameron at 9:00am and ended back in Cameron at the Milam County Museum at 5pm.   

Dr. Alston Thoms, Professor of Anthropology at A&M, and Dave Cunningham provided rich and insightful commentary about Sugarloaf Mountain and the surrounding area.

Dave Cunningham

The Tour began with an introduction by Dave Cunningham on the Sugarloaf Bridge as well as a brief history of the area.  Sugarloaf Mountain is privately owned and permission is needed for tours/hikes. 

Sugarloaf Mountain
Continue reading “Let the Tours Begin”

Busy Weekend for Us

This past weekend our Chapter members were busy learning and sharing what they learned.

The Chapter members who are also members of the El Camino Real de las Tejas National Trail Association attended their conference on Friday and Saturday. They shared our new wildflowers of Milam County brochure with all the attendees. (I was unable to go, so I don’t have any photos.)

Viewing the photos of the land conference attendees got to see in person.

Yesterday they did field trips of Milam County sites that were on the trail, including the property of Joyce and Mike Conner, Cedar Hill Ranch, which has some important sites on it. They also went to Sugarloaf Mountain and Rancheria Grande. Many thanks to our chapter members who volunteered to help out with the tour.

Chapter members tell a visitor about what we do.

Meanwhile, other members put together a lovely exhibit of plant samples for the herbarium that members of our group helped collect. It was located at the at the Milam County Historical Museum.

Plant samples for use in herbaria.

There was also a display of beautiful photographs Christopher Talbot’s A Photographic Journey of the Trail exhibit. The photos were quite impressive, including a photo of the Graham Swale that Ann Collins and Connie Anderle claimed was theirs, because they are from the Graham family. So yes, fun was had.

Ann Collins and her “family swale.”

Ann, Donna, Linda Jo, and Scott did a great job answering questions and passing out material. After the tour was over, the trail conference attendees came to enjoy the exhibits. Lots of people came in, since the Steak, Stein and Wine Fest was also going on. It was a fine way to do some outreach, and the weather was just perfect.

Good Intentions with Wrens

by Dorothy Cook Mayer

Disclosure: Dorothy didn’t really write this, so blame any inaccuracies on Sue Ann.

I found some older baby Carolina wrens at my house a few days ago, with no parents in sight. They were hungry! I waited to see if parents would arrive, but didn’t see them. I’d seen them earlier, but they seem to have disappeared.

Thanks for the food, Dorothy!

So, like a good Master Naturalist, I looked up what to do with them and called and talked to a lady at a rescue organization. I got some of the meal worms that you feed to chickens, and the babies loved them.

I brought them to our Chapter Meeting, so I could feed them whenever they got to peeping. The good thing is they slept pretty often. Everyone seemed to enjoy seeing them and the chirping just added sound effects to Donna Lewis’s presentation on purple martins, anyway.

We enjoyed the Chapter Meeting, but are glad to be home.

The next day I took them to a rescue organization. They told me the babies probably were not abandoned, and they’d do better back at home, so I dutifully took them back. I didn’t believe she was right, but did as told and put them back in the nest.

I actually finally saw a bird that looked like it was coming to check on them and did a quick u-turn upon seeing me.

The reason I felt so strongly they’d been abandoned is because I started watching so closely at only seven days old. It turns out the parents check on and feed the chicks less and less to encourage them to fledge. I suppose that process begins way earlier than I’d have thought. So, I learned something, and they survived me, I suppose.

I do wish the rescue lady would have told me to return them to the nest via one of my initial phone calls. But, at least I now know where the place is and can share that information with others, when needed.

A Spring Outing

by Catherine Johnson

Gary and I went to an auction near Cameron, because I wanted to see if I could get some neat things for the Wildscape and an antique stove Rosie wanted.

And for once Gary wanted to go, because it was at an old homestead with farm equipment and such. It had some big wheel spokes I was interested in and windows etc. 

When we arrived, lots of people were there, even though an alert had sounded for tornadoes. So we walked around, I registered and got my number.  There was tons of neat stuff like enamel ware, quilts, cast iron sinks, as well as  a whole house and many out buildings. 

The weather got worse with pouring rain and wind, but the auctioneers said they would proceed. We were under a tent, and it got so bad the top flew off and Gary and others were trying to hold it on. It blew off and then the posts fell down and we all huddled in one garage as the auction continued.  The auctioneer told us to beware of rattlesnakes as they had already killed a lot.  

Catherine and Gary with some of their haul from the rainy auction

The auctioneer and helpers were great. You had to think quick so as not to overbid or lose a bid, which we did.  There were both a lot of high bids and some good deals. 

We went for antiques but left with Gary’s huge meat saw (!!) and my fertilizer spreader (I use them for mobile planters) and the most gigantic shop vac, which you can see in the picture. 

Auctions would be fun in good weather, and I learned to bring a chair, bring snacks, wear boots, how to bid, and more. I said goodbye to my wheel spokes and  on the way back, my huge vac flew across the back seat and Gary stopped, wrapped it and put it the bed! 


When we got home, it cleared up. After we got home, we learned of the tornado that hit nearby Franklin, Texas. Our hearts go out to all the families involved, and we are glad that so many local emergency workers were able to go there and help out.