A campfire story for our traveling friends…
Along about 2006 we, Lana & Chancie, bought the first 120 acre portion of the ranch that ended up being 460 acres total. It had previously been farmed & included the remnants of an old, burned down homestead up by the hard road, old farming equipment, an out-house, clothes line posts, remnants of old livestock sheds & half buried fencing & tin. As we were still living in SW FL at the time we didn’t have much occasion to head west & visit. We continued to lease the 120 acres back to the local farmer/rancher, Brian Kane, whom we had purchased from. He grew cow peas, hay grazer & winter wheat. While our FL friends, the Castellito’s – a family of four at the time, purchased the larger, northern 340 acre portion of the ranch. They had a two story, two bedroom cabin built into the 50 year old hay barn centrally located on that parcel. It was just a shell of a structure & it only took one Texas panhandle winter for them to decide they weren’t cut out for it & they headed back south.
The Old House
As things unfolded there had been an old, abandon house on a little over an acre, across highway 1547. It was part of the entirety of the deeded land when our two families purchased & split the ranch. Though the metal roof was intact, a tree had blown over on it, windows were busted out & all manner of small animals called it home in the prior 15 years it had been vacated. A few years after the Castellito’s departure we were able to get that old, abandon house. We gutted it to the studs, re plumbed, re wired, & re roofed it, laid new tongue & groove pine flooring, new drywall, windows & doors, big front porch, carport & built a barn. Accomplishing everything with the help of my mom, Anita & my uncle on my daddy’s side, Larry Flint, who came up for a couple weeks one winter to help with the wiring & drywall… & a few good neighbors. One day during that process we were beating out the old drywall to expose the old, black cloth covered electrical wiring for replacement & studs so we could install insulation. In the SE corner of the house there were about three sections, floor to ceiling between the studs, 16” on center that was solid honeycomb. The bees were crawling all over it & honey was just flowing down the wall & onto the floor. Immediately the scripture came to me about the promised land flowing with milk & honey.
The near completion of that project allowed us to move in that old house May of 2009. By the end of that summer, in the nick of time, we were able to get hooked up to the county water supply. We were very thankful as cold weather was coming & we’d been doing all our bathing, dishes, etc… outside utilizing a 500 gallon water tank borrowed from Brian Kane.
We then discontinued the lease with Brian on the 120 acre farm field & started hauling up our cattle & horses from FL. Though we had more head than the 120 acres could carry we brought young stock first as we could fit more on our trailers & they would consume less right off the bat than the grown cows.
About three years later we were able to purchase the 340 acres to the north that had been owned by the Castellitos & the ranch was once again put back together whole, under one owner. That was a fantastic achievement as we were then able to bring the rest of the cattle herd & horses up from FL.
The Barn House
With the purchase of the additional 340 acres that included our new Old barn …. we immediately finished out that shell of a structure in the barn with insulation, wood stove, propane heat, re plumbed, a/c, windows & doors, flooring, appliances… everything we needed to be able to get through the winters & summers.
Part of revamping that skeleton of a cabin was sealing up an area between the ceiling of the upstairs and the actual roof of the barn. Somehow the original design left a few feet of space that had become home to a family of owls.. who were quite perplexed at our intrusion into their domain.
The first & second story decks would come a few years later & we felt like we owned the world with that wonderful, additional space to be able to sit outside in the mornings & evenings before & after our work. Not only was the space & view wonderful, but sinking those power poles in the ground really helped steady that tall barn. The most severe winter storms that blew hard from the north, hitting it broad side gave occasion to us laying in our beds upstairs at night & watching the ceiling fans sway with the gusts of wind. Lagging those deck joists to the side of the barn made the windstorms less intimidating. That labored over & loved structure is now the Lone Mound Ranch Barn House.
Not only the barn, but the fences also were 50-60+ years old. I think more posts were pushed over or rotted off than standing & much of the wire was so rusty that it just broke as we tried to pull it tight again. Along with my mother Anita’s help, we started re fencing the entire perimeter & cross fencing it every ¼ mile. Miles of fence we built together over the course of a few years between daily chores. During the summers working in the mornings until it got too hot, we’d break until evening & work until we couldn’t see any more at night. Eventually we had most the cows staying In.
The South West Hillside Cabin
After having moved from the original, old house across the road & into the Barn House we sold the old house. A year or so after that Mom decided she would leave FL & come up to the panhandle to live & help us out as we were nearing 100 head of cattle & starting to get our hands full with rebuilding the ranch infrastructure & tending livestock simultaneously.
Mom had long been interested in & done a lot of research on environmentally friendly, sustainable, energy efficient, earth bermed type houses & many other unconventional structures. She was in no way limited by cultural norms & had great imagination & loved sketching floor plans & designs.
Meanwhile, part of cleaning up the land lead us south, down the hill from the barn to another old homestead.. It, also, must’ve burned or succumbed to time & disrepair. All that was left, besides debris & miscellaneous concrete foundations, was a 20’ x 30’ x 6’ deep concrete rectangle in the ground. It would have been the basement to a house we presume. Over bygone decades previous generations had used it as a trash hole. It contained untold amounts of old, barbed wire rolls, bailing wire, house hold trash, you name it… it was in there. We hired a fella with a backhoe to claw everything out into a dump truck to haul to the dump. Then Mom, Chancie & I climbed down in there with shovel, wheel burrow, buckets, trash bags & brooms & got every last everything out of there. Next, power poles have always been free from the electric company in Pampa, TX. So, we hauled several trailer loads back for building fence braces & to use as ceiling beams in Mom’s soon-to-be new dugout cabin. We hired an incredibly skilled Mexican friend in town named Ricky Lopez. He used to say he was a Mexi Can… that he Can do anything. I think I believe him. Anyway, Ricky formed up some wall extensions to create a shed roof angle on the existing, level cellar walls & laid the power poles as beams creating an 11’ vaulted ceiling. With our old international tractor he cleared soil from a portion of the southwest facing wall. There Ricky cut the concrete away & installed a set of double glass, patio doors that let the sunlight flood in. He also cut out space for a couple sliding glass windows just above ground level. Along with staining the concrete floor, installing plumbing & electricity we walled off an area making it a two room cabin. A short retaining wall, deck & trusses has transformed that dump hole…. Into what is now the secluded, rustic Lone Mound Ranch South West Hillside Cabin.
The Bunk House
The near completion of those two structures (is anything ever 100% done when you have a good imagination?) leaves the story on the little bunkhouse just north of the barn. Back around 2014 my dad, Bobby, who had faithfully followed the treatment plan of modern medical doctors back in FL, was in very bad health. His prescription dope list was long & his outlook was short & bleak. Having done quite a bit of research & having had some personal experience with holistic/integrative/natural doctors/medicine we brought dad out for some fixing. While we were restoring his health, we relocated a shed a neighbor wanted out of his yard & brought it to the ranch. Dad was only around a few months that summer so he just needed a little place to hang out. Of course we skinned that little shed down to the bones, insulated the heck out of it, re roofed it, ran some electric & water lines over to it & added a porch roof. A few staple appliances, one outhouse later & presto.. dad had his little house on the prairie. That little place is now the Lone Mound Ranch Bunk House.
Another undertaking during those years was the completion of our solar water system. The cattle operation & the Barn House were completely functional off grid. We had tied the two water wells on the property together. They both pumped to a 500 gallon water tank mounted on a 17’ tall, water tower we built at the east end of the barn. There wasn’t much pressure after sundown, but it was sufficient for laundry, dishes, toilets & a low pressure shower in the barn. The rest of the Barn House off-grid infrastructure included a propane powered water heater, cook stove & heaters in both bedrooms & downstairs. All those improvements which included the wood burning stove downstairs & a plethora of candles & lanterns made us self sufficient during a significant winter ice storm that knocked out electric power for two weeks. Thanks to our solar & propane preparedness we weren’t fazed. Though some folks in the area were quite distraught & stressed as they had solely banked on their supplied electric service for survival.
Ultimately the chem-trails had gotten so intense around 2015-2016 that installing a new pump & newer panels still couldn’t collect enough sunlight to sustain the ranch & cabins. We were forced by circumstance to pull the solar pump, pack the panels & install a grid tied pump. Unfortunately we just had too many irons in the fire to afford or address the continued self-sufficient water system. Though the spraying had seemed to virtually stop throughout the Trump presidency so far… time will tell if we’re to be completely freed from that contamination. I am hopeful.
Meanwhile, as we were re-creating the ranch the cattle were procreating. We had purchased some new ‘heifer bulls’ that threw low birth-weight calves. Meaning, no more pulling calves in the wee morning hours in our bathrobes out in the cow pens. The previous Herford & Angus bulls we had threw fantastic, big, healthy calves… out of grown cows. A lot of times our first-calf heifers just couldn’t handle it. We had lost more than a few calves, & heifers also, during the birthing process over the years.
In all that success creating beef we were busting at the seams & thankfully able to pick up some lease land. We had an additional, beautiful, ¼ section a few miles to the NE owned by Russell & Cheryl Bockmon. And 1600 acres about 25 miles north owned by Rusty & Kathy Henderson. All in all both parcels were great blessings & we were running on over 2,200 acres. A challenge came in March of 2017 when a deadly wildfire ripped across the Texas panhandle. It killed 3 people, burned equipment operators trying to cut the fire off & untold numbers of cattle & horses. Some of which did not die in the fires, but had to be shot after the fact. By the grace of God (a whole miraculous story in itself) none of our cows, bulls or new born calves were killed… though the lease land was lost in the fire. A few neighbors stepped in & allowed us temporary pasture within a few days until we could come up with a plan. Ultimately we had to sell some older cows & Everybody else came to the home place.
Real Beef Direct to Consumer!
Throughout the process of the above story unfolding, there were other things brewing. Spurred by the health issues of family members, my new perspective from moving to the Texas panhandle (from ignorant bliss of generations in the cattle industry in SW FL).. I got a whole new, “behind the scenes” education on the perversion of our food supply & disease in society. Being able to have direct contact with the feed yards where they finished the beef & the local farmers who (are not evil.. just ignorant) regularly & systematically use toxic chemicals on their crops, be they gmo or not. Boy, did it just make me sick to see the orchestration of what is happening. Dark players in the world are quite literally killing us… ‘soft kill’ as it’s often referred to. I became a Lot more open to theories that get passed through back channels after seeing & experiencing what I have in the past 16 years. You can’t ‘un-see or un-know’ things.
Anyway… business-as-usual was no longer an option, as I love all of creation & so highly value & understand how imperative it is to stay committed to God’s design in every area to the smallest detail. We immediately started the transition to nutrient dense, grass fed & finished beef, free range chicken eggs & meat & all our dairy goat products. No guest of mine, ignorant of this situation or not, will ever receive a contaminated product from our ranch.
In addition to the humans & animals, the farmland itself had been degraded with all the previous decades of tilling & toxic chemical application. The minerals & microbiome in the soil was all but gone & dead. After much research & contemplation we reseeded the 120 acre, former farm field in native-mix grasses in 2016. We started ‘high intensity, rotational grazing utilizing portable solar chargers & temporary, poly braid fencing. And shortly thereafter in 2018 we were both grazing open range up & down our county road either horse back with our working cow-dogs or the ATV. Including high intensity grazing our neighbors. Both methods instantly jump started bringing life back to dead soil & therefore increasing plant density & diversity on every acre we utilized. The basic premise is mimicking the Natural bunching of hooved herbivores (the more variety in the mixed herds the better) & moving them daily as would happen with predators & no man made fencing in place.
The Second Fire
As we were getting those plans in action, Chancie & I had been out over-seeding rye into the new grass field October 26, 2019. We broke for lunch about 2-3:00 & headed for the hillside cabin we had started living in by that time. Upon arriving we were shocked & jarred into action when opening the front door as thick, black smoke came billowing out & we could see flames inside. Though we had been using the wood stove for a couple weeks already that fall… apparently some form of back draft had occurred & caught fire to the contents of the cabin. The cabin itself, being almost entirely concrete, did not catch fire. THANK GOD. Though our cat, Little Orange , had no chance of surviving we were able to salvage a lot more of our belongings than we had anticipated. Weeks of scrubbing every single surface ensued. Some plastic items had burnt causing Everything to be coated in OIL. The fumes were so thick we had to sleep with wet handkerchiefs over our faces & our covers over that. The minute the handkerchief dried out it would wake us up & we’d go re-wet it & go back to sleep. It took us a month or so of scrubbing, wiping, washing every single, solitary surface of every single item, whether in drawers, cabinets or not, including the cabin itself to get back in order. Finally, a fresh coat of paint. We were blessed making it through a second fire.
The Great Blessings
With that stage set, circumstances came about that we had been renting out our cabins to our hunters that came every winter. The transition to travelers came quite smoothly. We’ve been so blessed opening up the ranch to short term & longer term guests both. I can’t begin to express in words the absolute treasure of relationships & memories we have & continue to receive with every booking. Husbands, wives, sons, daughters, young adults, dogs & I even met a special cat. Everyone is on an adventure & has life stories that we are so thankful to be a part of. The hand written notes & drawings from children are gems. The reviews on the hosting sites we receive are humbling, heart-warming & inspiring. I’m in the process of compiling a notebook containing these valuable souvenirs we get to take away from the precious souls that pull in through our front gate. To live on this amazing land is beyond what I dreamed as a child thinking of ‘out west’ adventures… being able to share it with so many.. another degree of fulfillment in this purpose driven life.
The Grill Barn & Ranch Store
Our Airbnb, Hipcamp, Harvest Host & hunting guests had been leaving fantastic reviews on the quality & flavor of our food & filling their coolers upon departure. Which was great, as requests from subsequent guests increased. We were running from one end of the ranch to the other delivering everyone’s orders upon check-in. I decided to build a convenient meeting location where folks could come make their selections & enjoy some social time. I chose a deadline of Nov 6th 2021 as it was opening weekend of hunting season & we offered, complimentary to the hunters & public, grilled beef dinners. As with most things, I created my own challenge. Lol My good buddy, Rusty Henderson, Chancie & I built the 22 x 32 grill barn in 8 days. Pure adrenaline & busted knuckles. The grill barn included an outdoor kitchen, bar & seating for 12 under the light of rustic chandeliers in the dining area, & an accompanying outdoor seating area to enjoy the “everyone-welcome” campfires. The immediately adjacent, ranch store is a repurposed, repainted, refurbished, insulated semi body. It’s a cozy place where folks gather out of the weather to tell tall tales of heroism & share life-journey adventures. It’s definitely a group effort. Besides freezers & refrigerators full of our own beef, dairy, eggs, etc…, Rusty’s wife & my friend Kathy, from Ranch House Magic, keeps us in a myriad of home canned goods, sweets, breads, goat milk soap & ice cold kumbucha. Another of our neighbors, Gary Oldham from SOS From Texas, raises organic cotton. After harvest the cotton is sent to North Caroline to be woven into T-shirts, among other things. They’re then shipped back & our neighbor ladies screen print them & they’re shipped all over the world. We’re just crazy happy that our local SOS family supplies all our Lone Mound Ranch organic cotton T shirts in our ranch store! The ranch store also serves as our headquarters for the ATV rentals & horseback ranch tours that Chancie ramrods. It is the central location for the families that want to interact with the goat herd & chicken flock or embark on a comprehensive ranch tour with yours truly. It is also command central for our beloved Direct to Consumer beef shipments or deliveries from Rochester, New York to Huntington Beach, California. A favorite thing is getting quality animal protein into the hands of friends everywhere!
Behind the Scenes
Behind the scenes is our long-time, encouraging, steady hand & true friend, Diane Horstman, from Busy Bee Inspirations. She creates the face of LMR & is also part of the beating heart. Diane single handedly produces not only our website, cabin fliers, beef fliers, truck signs, ranch sign & fixes computer problems, but she shows up with all manner of tools, materials & creative ideas on projects. Diane is a phone call away when I get stumped on a job. Beyond all this her ranch history includes showing up with boots, gloves & her superwoman cape to run the ranch when we were in dire need & she regularly helps me when I’m unable to see the forest for the trees.
This ranch is being built & maintained by a quilt of extraordinary folks who weave the fabric of life. They’re always a holler away & know we’ll all come together for each other, No Matter What. Chancie & I are rich to be counted in their company. Every accomplishment achieved we can look back & give thanks to our dearest families like Jeremiah & Tanya Soto (their entire brood included) who’s contributions to our natural & spiritual lives cannot be thoroughly written & every single neighbor & business owner in the community, too many to mention & some of which have already relocated to heaven.
All the glory for any of our adventures & progress goes to our Creator & his Son Jesus who have, so quite literally & miraculously, seen us through & to every challenge & victory.
Many blessings to you & yours,
Lana & Chancie Flint
June 16, 2022
Now… off to re-roof the cabins, build a saddle shop & gym!