4R Ranch 2019 Summer Update
As decorated historian David McCullough most thoughtfully said “History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are.”
The hay is in the barn, the cows are fat and we still have good cover in our pastures entering the hottest stretch of summer. Yes, Mother Nature has been kind to us in 2019 and for that we are most thankful.
I make it a point to read prior years newsletters before embarking on the current years dispatch. Weather, dry or wet has been the dominating theme of many past newsletters. 10 years ago we were in the grips of the worst drought in 50 years. 10 months ago we had 40 inches of rain in 40 days. It is those extremes that we tend to remember most vividly and it is those events that bring out the extremes in our own nature, optimistic or pessimistic. I reflect on weather because it affects our business. I also reflect on the weather because of my family history. Both my mother and father were raised on ranches in Central Texas and had a front row seat to the 1950s drought. My mothers’ family lost everything and had to sell the ranch and relocate. My fathers’ family was more fortunate. They lost their livestock, raised no crops for several years, but they held on to their farm. The drought left such an indelible mark on my father that upon graduating from high school he went off to college at Texas A&M, the only child of 10 to do so. When I asked him many years ago why he left his boyhood home of Richland Springs, he did not hesitate in his answer. The drought! He hauled water, fed cows, went to the Dakotas to harvest grain and whatever else needed to be done in order to help the family get by in those most perilous of times. He told me many times that it was not a matter of what you were going to do everyday after school, but what time you were going to get done. To this day, Dad still goes out on his porch during a turbulent storm to enjoy the rain and all it brings. If you did not know him, you would wonder why that man was standing outside watching it rain. Fortunately for me, I know his history.
Puppies have dominated Jill’s and my life this summer. Q, O, Poco and Bell-Bell landed us 21 healthy & rambunctious pups. This has been the first summer that both Jill and I have been able to dedicate all of our time to pups and it has been most rewarding. We have sent 15 of the pups to their new homes and they went home 95% kennel broke, retrieving to hand in a controlled setting and sleeping most of the night. I told my daughter if she wanted to have a kid, this is the time to do so. Our sleep schedules are so fouled up, I don’t even set an alarm clock. The pups sound their own unique alarms as to when its time to get up and moving. And if you hit your mental “snooze button”, a fresh pile of puppy poop will be there to greet you if you don’t get up at the sound of the first alarm! What a joy it has been!
The news from the kennels is all good news. We have had continued success in our battle against Chagas Bugs. To date we have found less than a dozen beetles in our barn, all dead. We tested several young dogs recently and all were negative. This did not come about by accident. The fight against Chagas Bugs is an everyday battle. Every barrel in every kennel is sprayed with Deet twice daily. Every dog is wiped down with Picardin repellent twice daily. We spray a pesticide band around the kennels each day. And weekly we spray the entire barn down with a strong pesticide. All in all it takes 20-30 minutes a day for preventative measures. However, if you know our history with Chagas Bugs, it is worth every minute.
As is the case every season, Scotty & I will have new dogs to inject in our lineups. Dot, Sally, Speck and Dolly are all getting long in the tooth. However, I made my annual pilgrimage to Tennessee and purchased 6 new Pointers that we will ease into the lineups to give the dogs mentioned plenty of time to rest in between shifts. Most all of you have hunted with us long enough to see the changing of the guard as it pertains to our Pointer lineup. There is nothing more exhilarating than working a young dog on a customer hunt and see that neon moment where all the training, all the reps and all the patience come to fruition. In contrast, it is equally rewarding watching the dogs mentioned above just do their thing. Those seasoned Pointers make what they do look so effortless that you expect every dog you hunt with to be of equal caliber. If it were only that easy...
Our calendar after hunting season ends is somewhat rigid. Since we are at the mercy of Mother Nature, some things just won’t wait. We have to get our hay fields plowed and planted by April 1st to maximize our opportunity to capture spring rains. We have to work young dogs as much as time will allow by May 15th. After that, history tells us it will be getting too warm to work the hounds. All that being said, our summer projects are coming to a close. Scotty is topping the scrub oak motts in his course as I write this note. Scotty and his crew just completed expanding and stretching new netting on our quail barns last week. He informed me that a 12 pk of Dos XX was a must after stretching net. I believe the final count was 6 tools thrown, 8 pipes kicked and many cuss words thrown in the mix... Stretching net is much like assembling a swing set on Christmas Eve. Enough said.
As we enter our 15th season, we thank all of you for carving time out of your busy schedules to come hunt with us. We have the best gig on earth and are humbled you choose to spend your free time at the 4R.
Adios for now;
Deryl & Jill McKinnerney
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