Hard Scrabble: Observations on a Patch of Land
By: Scott Graves
University of Texas Press; Reprint edition (February 9, 2016)
Hard Scrabble is a book about just that. It’s about an old man scratching out a sliver of civilization on an ancient and rocky piece of land. I know the exact kind of ranch Graves is talking about here. I know it for two reasons. First, because Graves’ ranch eulogized here is about three hours north of where my parents settled in Kerr County. And second, I know it because my dad and I spent the better part of a decade hammering out a homestead on our little patch of Texas too.
Two of my favorite quotes:
Sensitive youths fled from the plow and from brute earthbound fathers and migrated to the great world where, sometimes as writers of books, they spent much of the rest of their lives looking back in relief or fascinated rage at the numbing labor and sloppy manure they had left behind.
To the archaic and musing eye of one who leans, sometimes despite himself, toward the Old Fart school of land use, the best answer to the problem of controlling hardwood brush looks to be goats. They are pleasant animals to have around, and feed by preference on the leaves and sometimes the bark of such plants, concentrating on different species in different seasons. Tumbling along with frequent bleatings behind their billy and a couple of senior does, snatching mouthfuls of leaves as they go, often pausing as an entire flock to concentrate on one bush and strip it, they work hard and daily on your problem, providing also a bonus of plump young wether kids to barbecue and perhaps mohair, if you run Angoras.