Traveling to this historic Texas ranch makes memories to cherish in the Lone Star State.
Story by Sondra Sapper Butler
I grew up on a little farm in Missouri. From my bedroom window I could look out over the garden and orchard and see the sun rising. In the warm months, I often got up at daybreak and walked through the dewy grass and made my way to the hickory and oak trees at the edge of the woods.
I left the farm at 18. Since then I’ve tried to recapture a little of my country childhood through travel. My husband, Patrick, and I often stay in rural bed-and-breakfasts when we can. They have varied from a rustic Texas farm to a mansion in France. But the one that feels most like my childhood home is the historic Hasse House Ranch in Art, Texas.
We found it one April several years ago while traveling in Texas Hill Country to see the beautiful spring wildflowers. We had no place to stay that night until we saw an open gate by a B&B sign. We drove through the gate and up the little lane.Fields of wildflowers studded with ancient oak and pecan trees surrounded the old stone Texas ranch house. An old-fashioned windmill stood in the backyard.
I felt as if I had come home. Patrick and I have returned several times, because we find Hill Country and Hasse House Ranch one of the most peaceful places in Texas. I’ve wanted to bring along my grandsons, 4-year-old Jimmy and 2-year-old Anderson, so they could experience the wonder of country life. I finally got my chance last spring. As we left the plains of northern Texas and headed south into Hill Country, the landscape became more verdant and interesting. There had been heavy spring rains, and the wildflowers were more profuse and beautiful than in decades.
I was a little apprehensive about the boys’ reaction to the quiet Texas ranch, since they were used to living in a Dallas suburb with television, toys and many friends and relatives nearby. I shouldn’t have worried.
Jimmy ran into the Texas ranch house as soon as Grandpa Patrick unlocked the door. When he saw the large rooms with their stone walls and heavy beamed windows, his excitement exploded. He stopped in the center of the room and dropped the toys he carried. “Wow,” he cried, “this is a great place!”
The house is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. German immigrants Heinrich and Fredericka Hasse bought the land and built a log cabin there in 1860. They replaced the cabin in 1883 with the German-style stone farmhouse that still stands today.
Patrick started what was to become an evening ritual for the boys when he put them in their American Flyer and pulled them along the 2-mile nature trail to find and “say good night” to the cows. In the quiet evening before sundown, birds filled the trees, chattering their own good nights before settling down to roost. My husband and the boys returned to the house, happy but tired and ready to settle down to roost themselves.
The next morning the boys could hardly wait until after breakfast so they could go for their morning wagon ride to see the wild animals and make sure that the cows were up. They saw the best of Texas countryside: deer in a pecan grove, wild birds, turkeys, wild pigs, and cattle in pastures crowded with wildflowers.
Though months have passed since our visit to the Texas ranch, Jimmy hasn’t stopped talking about the ranch. A few days after we left Hasse House, he climbed onto my lap and said wistfully, “Grammie, will you take me back to the ranch tomorrow?”
“Not tomorrow, but we will go back,”
I promised with pleasure.