Thursday, 29 November 2012

Random Texas pics

Water Snake

Barn Charm

Train in Lulling

Thanksgiving Turkey, a lot bigger than it looks

Misty Morning

Random Texas photo's

Barn store

the oldest continually run dance hall in Texas

Oil Field Pipe Line



Texas Flag

Pumpjack Art

Little Princess 2

Texas Dude

The long grass whispers

Store front

Store Shelves

Gruene, old German town

Old German Charm, not me... the Pavillion!

Holiday Art

Little Mermaid

Kayak in Autumn, followed by hot shower

Looney has escaped... approach with caution

Luling, oil town, smells like transmission fluid

Picnic lunch

Gruene Texas, Canyon Lake

Texas Gals, in our barn.
Note the rare long leaf pine wood.


'Nuff said..

Val, CJ, Jess & Michael

Deer at Canyon lake

CJ & Val

Birds of a feather

German Inn, Gruene

Giant bookshelf, this photo does it no justice.

Dragons be here
Where we wait for the school bus

Grill, a'la Texas

He he he

Cotton tail, Rat Snake & Skunk

You know you live in Texas, when your cute little 9 year old daughter in pigtails says
"If I want to be cool in school, I have to shoot a deer". It makes a change from the traditional need for designer clothes.  Siobhan chimed "Hey, that's not fair, I want to shoot a deer before Jessica".  Stuart's response was that to prove they meant it, they would have to shoot the cute little bunny that lives in the barn.  Jessica protested that she was not going to shoot "Chocolate Chip" while Siobhan was displaying a disturbing willingness to dispatch "Chocolate Chip".  Take it from me, nobody is shooting the bunny.

Speaking of which, we murdered a snake in the barn, and then upon further research discovered that it was in fact harmless.  We all had a moment of remorse.  The harmless snakes have round pupils, while the venomous ones have slit pupils.  I don't know how close you have to get to tell the difference, but I really don't like killing good snakes.  Yes, they do exist and they keep the rats away.  I'd rather have the good snakes.

While driving to school on the dirt rd a skunk nearly ran under my wheels.. I slowed down and started to open my window for a closer look. Michael protested "mom, don't stop, keep your window closed". We all laughed at the image of them going to school dripping skunk smell. Jessica said "my popularity will decline"! Before we came here the kids all wanted to know what skunk smells like.. there is no way to describe it. If I tried I would have to say its a cloying rancid oily rotten smell. You have to admit, they are cute!

Monday, 26 November 2012

Alligators in ditches

On the way home from school, Siobhan found this Alligator lurking in the ditch. She always wanted an alligator skin handbag, but this one still has it’s original contents inside! Well we all stopped to admire him, and then the inevitable debate arose... is it alive? Stuart began to toss small pebbles at it, to make it move, while wondering if it was actually alive. The rest of us were protesting that it was alive, and we could see it’s eye gleam and could he please get back from the ditch. I must say it’s hard to overcome the African distrust of crocodiles. People here tell us all the time that Alligators are not aggressive, unless you mess around with their eggs. My instinct sees a large reptile with many teeth and orders me to RUN.

While we were still living near the lake, CJ and Michael went kayaking. They deliberately rowed through some thick reeds and dead trees a’la David Livingstone... it felt like Alligator territory, and any minute they were expecting a hippo to pop up from under the hyacinth. Suddenly they realised that the very large harmless log that they were rowing close to was in fact a very large Alligator guarding her nest. They rowed out of there pronto, and then Michael fell off his Kayak... it was like a your worst nightmare, he just could not get back on the Kayak, every time he tried it rolled over and he fell back into the water. With Jaws music playing in his mind, he eventually made it back onto the Kayak and rowed back home for a reviving cuppa tea.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Oil and Gas - the big thing in Texas

Photograph by Stuart, in Brackenridge Park, TX
So whats new in Texas, oil and gas? Well actually nothing, but the Texans are breaking new ground, so to speak, when it comes to energy.

The Eagle Ford Shale gets its name from a town west of Dallas so called due to the shale outcrops that can be seen. the deposit is about 250 feet in thickness and is said to reach depths of 12000 feet and consisting of organic matter rich in marine fossil shale.  So its very rich in oil and gas and it has had an impact on the financial landscape as well as the physical landscape and extends all the way South to Laredo in a 50 km wide width.

Oil and gas has changed the fortunes of many struggling cattle ranch owners. South Texas has been the victim of many droughts and over the years some of these large ranches have been subdivided  or "cut up" into smaller ranches and farms and sold off to save the land owner from foreclosure. Texans have been experiencing severe drought even as recently as 2011. In fact when we arrived here in September 2011, the ground was a dry, brown to grey sun scorched colour (Americans read color) with little to no grazing grass. It was hot with temperatures at 115 degrees Fahrenheit.

So going back to the oil and gas in the Eagle Ford Shale play as it is commonly known, has changed the fortunes of Texans and provided plenty of jobs for Americans and Mexicans.

This photo was taken 500 yards from our house.

The oil and gas is harnessed deep below the earths surface by the process of "hydraulic fracturing" known as "fracking" and is made possible since the shale is made up of a brittle carbon layer.
"Fracking" is a process of drilling a well and pumping a highly pressurised fluid into the well which ultimately cracks the the sub soil and creates channels and this allows the trapped oil or gas to pool  into an area and is easily harnessed. This process  has been around for a long time but now has been further developed to where a well operator can drill horizontally underground to maximise the effect of the "fracking" technique and increasing the potential of a well. The fluid or proppant that is pumped into the well can be made up of different substances and is applied in the form of gel or foam but the most common is probably "slickwater" made up of 99% of water and 1% additive. The additive could be hydrochloric acid which helps to break down or dissolve certain rocks like limestone.
With one exception the use of "fracking" fluids for hydraulic fracturing was excluded from regulation from the American clean water act in 2005.