Behind the Lone Star Series: #1

As in many other once wide open spaces, North Texas land is being torn up and turned into shopping areas and subdivisions. It makes me sad. So, I started the Lone Star series as my way of saying to the land “I miss what you used to be.”

Fields with cows aren’t just in Texas, but how can you think about a Texas countryside and NOT imagine cows? Some states are just historically cow country… or used to be.

As a kid, I spent a lot of summers around cows over in Oklahoma. Stepped in quite a few “cow patties” too. (Now that’s something I’ll never miss.) As a kid, I liked rodeos until I saw a calf get roped and its head snapped so hard it was injured. Didn’t want to see anymore after that. At least not the roping part.

Then and now, I have a deep appreciation for these animals. Like other livestock found on farms and ranches, they provide so much for us, and ask so little in return.

The painting above is done in oils mixed with cold wax and applied with palette knives. My favorite way to paint.

The Cows are Slowly Disappearing

No more cows in McKinney, Texas?

No, nothing strange is happening and it’s certainly not a mystery why. It’s called development. And it makes me very sad because the cows are disappearing from the landscape.

Field Day

When we first moved here six years ago, we were thrilled at the wonderful way “city” co-existed with “country”. To quote the city’s tag line, McKinney was indeed “unique by nature”. You could drive short distances, often inside city limits, and see cows! As well as other kinds of farm animals and scenes. Unfortunately that is changing and it’s changing at warp speed. Developments, both commercial and residential, have come in like locusts taking away the once lovely pastures full of cows as well as the lush acres of corn, cotton, and wheat both here and all around the city … for miles and miles and miles. Cows are disappearing along with the trees, grasses, and habitat for animals that have lived here for longer than humans have.

Cows Are Disappearing, But Taxes Aren’t Going Anywhere

I’m not against making fast (or even not so fast) money, I understand the motivation for landowners to sell, sell, sell. It’s really hard to make a living off the land with the financial burden of taxes and bad years like when the whole area was in a long severe drought. Farmers, ranchers… they took a big hit. I also realize that people don’t view land as something to work with, but as an investment to make money off of.

But to see land being destroyed for “pad sites” and sprawling cookie-cutter neighborhoods where houses are packed together like cookies in a plastic container just hurts my soul. Cows are disappearing. Wildlife is disappearing. My grandfather was a farmer and he LOVED his land. He knew every inch of it, he worked it, he coexisted with what was on it. But that was then and this is now. It’s a different world. My family and it’s farming history died off when he passed.

Back to development. The city (and county) tells us all this growth and new development will help to control taxes. Well, throw the flag ladies and gentlemen! That doesn’t seem to happen now, does it? Mostly because the independent school districts continue to bleed taxpayers to death. More than half of our yearly property taxes go to the local school district. More development means more people, more people means more schools, more schools means… more taxes. If you’re retired and on a fixed income… it sucks. But I love McKinney (in spite of the taxes) so here we will stay, as long as we can afford to.

On a final note. Publishers Clearing House has a giveaway in a few days. If I win the BIG ONE, I might just buy a big chunk of land and bring back some of those cows that are disappearing. Taxes be darned. My grandpa would be proud.