About Jack County, Sue and Her Photos

 

Sue and Her Photos

We have a ranch in the northeast part of Jack County, Texas, that we call the Double Trouble. We have some cattle, but mainly it's a place to slip away from the city to do a little hunting, fishing, and relaxing.

In the spring of 2001 our friends in Jack County were talking about what a good year it was for wildflowers, so I took our old Canon AE-1 35mm camera out to do some photographing. Our nest is empty now, so I had the time and was ready for a new project. It turned out to be great fun, and I got some pretty good shots.

By the spring of 2002 I had a new Olympus C-700 digital camera to use. It has a zoom lens that is the equivalent of a 380 mm lens on a 35 mm camera, and I used its macro feature on most shots in automatic mode. With it I took at least three times as many pictures of each flower trying to get just the right one. Some blooms last only a day or two, so being able to review pictures on the TV at the ranch the same day I took them was a real benefit. I also found downloading on the computer at home to be much easier than having photos developed at the store! It was an easy process, and I got enough positive feed back to continue taking pictures.

The spring of 2003 found me trying to "upgrade" some of the shots from the year before. I also found quite a few different blooms that I had not seen in the past.

It was by accident that I got an exciting shot of a butterfly. That started a new challenge for me--photographing bugs, butterflies, birds, and animals around the ranch; and it has turned out to be a fun change of pace.

After three years of photographing flowers I was frustrated never having found a Mexican Hat, so in the summer of 2004 I spread out to all corners of Jack County. I found not only what I was looking for but also many new flowers to photograph.

Of the 180 plus types of flowers I have photographed, approximately 70% were spotted on our 700 acres of Jack County ranch land. Probably 20% were found within about a five mile radius of the property, and the remaining 10% were found over the rest of Jack County--on the road sides and fields close by (mostly the road sides, because we are advised that cattle will eat a few flowers in preference to grass, and you seldom find those flowers in the fields with cattle.)

In an attempt to identify my pictures, I used the following references:


Wildflowers of Texas by Geyata Ajilvsgi
Texas Wildflowers by Carolyn and Lynn Loughmiller
Butterflies and Moths by Paul A. Opler
Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country by Marshall Enquist
Wildflowers of the Western Plains by Zoe Merriman Kirkpatrick
Wildflowers, Trees, & Shrubs of Texas by Delena Tull and Geroge O. Miller
Our rancher friends, Jerry and Jean Henderson


Early on I also found that looking at different Texas wildflower websites was helpful and interesting. I hope that anyone who is pursuing a little amateur photography or just enjoys wildflowers might like this website. The pictures are only for pleasure--if you want to know about any of these flowers, I recommend the above reference books.

There are some flowers I could not identify, and I would sincerely appreciate any help with names. Please send me an email to the address on the home page.

 

Jack County, Texas.

Jack County is located about halfway between Fort Worth and Wichita Falls, and Jacksboro is its county seat. The Texas Travel Handbook has described Jack County as a large, sparsely settled ranching area with petroleum and petroleum service industries.

If there ever was a wild west, it may have been in Jack County where Butterfield stages ran, a major cavalry fort was located, a company of Texas Rangers was stationed, and Indian raids occurred before, during and after the Civil War. The Four H Club and the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association were both organized in or around, and originally headquartered in, Jacksboro.

The terrain is described as rolling hills broken by the West Fork of the Trinity River and other streams. It is mostly made up of sandy, dark brown and loam soils, with some bands of limestone rocks.

For more about Jack County, see The Handbook of Texas Online.

 

The Double Trouble Ranch.

As working ranches go, our 700 acres would be more accurately described as a ranchette. However, its terrain is significantly varied and includes some worn-out fields that were farmed long years ago, were depleted of some minerals, and are now pastures; some hills that were too rocky to farm; a number of old and new livestock tanks that provide some wetland areas for water-loving plants; and a 25-acre bermuda grass field that is fertilized and sprayed for weeds annually and baled for winter hay.

Goats were run on the ranch in the 1950's, and they significantly reduced the small trees and brush on the north end of the ranch. Feeder cattle were also run on the ranch in more recent years, and now it is moderately stocked as a cow-calf operation.

The predominant plants are little bluestem and other native and introduced grasses; post oaks, ragweed, and (in some years) broom weed; and a wide variety of other weeds, trees, flowers, brush and vegetation. Both in the past and in recent years, post oaks have been removed mechanically and chemically, and grasses, flowers and other vegetation have quickly replaced the post oaks. In other places, post oaks, greenbrier and other trees and brush are taking over pasture and cleared areas. Except for those in the bermuda grass, the weeds on the ranch have not been chemically treated for many years, if ever.

The elevation of the ranch varies from 1100 feet to 1260 feet. The soils are mostly sand, loam and a little clay. The rocks primarily are a sandstone and gravel conglomerate that are soft and show significant erosion. Jack County averages almost 30 inches of rainfall annually, but this varies substantially from year to year. May and June usually are the largest rainfall months. There are no significant streams on the ranch.

All of these and other factors apparently have contributed to an amazing number of blooms and wildflowers in a small area. Many other ranches in Jack County are equally blessed.

 


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