What Once Was the Prairie!


Due to the number of photos on this page, it may be slow to open.

Wild Winter Rye Grass--In my yard, seed heads on mature plants bounce and wave in a strong southwest wind heavy with moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.

Life on A Farm in South Texas

Following are photos from our family farm in rural Nueces County, Texas, in early April of 2003. This land is situated in the heart of the Texas Coastal Prairie and once waved in miles and miles of grass broken up every only every so often with motts of oaks. Later, brush overcame the native vegetation and changed the vista. Now it is that hand of man that determines the view. Most all of the rich, dark clay soil of the coastal prairie has been in agricultural uses since the early part of the 1900's.

A Recently Planted Cotton Field--Here the elements of sky and earth battle. The rich, black soil is crusted over and wears a coat of sand due to a 3.6 rain that fell after it was planted. The storm that dropped the rain included hail. Luckily, the cotton had not sprouted at that time.

Remnants of Past Years--Milo stalks, root clumps, and stubble from last year's crop still litter the field where cotton has been planted this year. The great dry spells desiccate the parts of plants not harvested. And, although farmers try to return them to the soil to replenish the organic material in the soil, the weather conditions often make it a losing battle.


Boldly Pushing-Pushing Forth Cotton--The broad, flat first leaves of sprouting cotton force the heavily-crusted clay soil up and away.

My Cousin's House--There across the fields (just to the left of center) and before the High-Voltage Power Transit Line sits the home of my cousin, Michael Rektorik, who now farms the Rektorik Brothers Farm. Except for the residents, this part of Texas is mainly a transit vista with NAFTA traffic and tourists to the coast and Mexico.

Neighbors--There miles across the planted cotton field are the homesteads of my Hlavac neighbors. The color variations in the field are due to the fact that every other set of eight rows has been driven over by a tractor pulling an implement (Rotary Hoe) with spiked wheels that break the crust and set up small clods of earth that slow the wind and stop the sand from blowing wildly on the 35 mph winds and burning the new leaves on the sprouting cotton.

The Rotary Hoe--This is the implement pulled behind a tractor at a relatively high rate of speed that breaks up the heavy crust on the surface of heavy clay farm land so that the sand that accumulates on the surface after heavy rains does not blow on strong winds and burn the new leaves of sprouting cotton.

The Green Pasture--at this time of year, the greenness of this small pasture stands in stark contrast to the barrenness of the barren fields. The "Depression Months" are just ending. Soon there will be miles and miles of vivid green fields. This little pasture serves as a wildlife haven with many migrating birds resting and feeding here. The large white goats are my Saanen Dairy Goats. Each goat can produce up to two gallons of extra rich milk a day.

An Oasis is Each Homestead--After seventy years and several hurricanes, this farmhouse (my father's) is now surrounded by trees and undergrowth. Here too migrating birds gather in great masses as the travel the central flyway.

Natures Bold Return--This photo of Evening Primroses and the following one of an Aster Daisy evidence the return of natural vegetation to the small pasture.


Photos and Text copyrighted (C) by Susan Rektorik Henley, April 3, 2003. All rights reserved.