The Land Report

FALL 2015

The Magazine of the American Landowner is an essential guide for investors, landowners, and those interested in buying or selling land. The award-winning quarterly is known for its annual survey of America's largest landowners, The Land Report 100.

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88 The LandReport | FA L L 2 0 1 5 LANDREPORT.COM antlers nearby, so they named the site the Antler Creek Dugout. Using a Bobcat loader, Rick dug a 12 x 14 foot trench in an east-facing slope. It was 7 feet deep. Several days were then spent squaring the trench by hand with a shovel and pickaxe. The two fretted about wall and ceiling integrity. "Two tons of earth falling in on you, and it's over," Wyman says. They bolstered the walls with railroad timbers fitted into slots that they dug by hand into the walls. For roof support, six timbers were laid horizontally and secured to the vertical supports by driving in sharpened 10-inch x ½-inch steel rods. Twelve railroad timbers formed the front wall. Heavy 12-foot cedar poles formed the tops of the walls and served as a base for the ridgepole. All junc- tions were secured with 10-inch steel rods. Four 14-foot poles and a 16-foot ridgepole completed the framing. A couple dozen 6-foot poles formed the rafters. A custom stovepipe was welded into a 2 x 2 foot base and attached to the rafters with lag screws. Two layers of metal and two layers of black felt topped with four inches of evenly distrib- uted topsoil formed the base layer of roof — after a mere two days of shoveling. A layer of oil field plastic and a four-inch layer of local clay formed the water barrier. A board-and- batten interior— the boards were taken from an old smokehouse — over a plastic barrier, caulked to keep out critters, formed a snug interior. More shovel and pick work leveled the floor. Bricks and mortar formed a base for a wood stove. An old door from the JY Ranch, a gift from a rancher named Mike Gibson, was put to good use. A framed window and wooden shutter serve as a shooting port in the event of a raccoon raid. A stone floor would make the old-time line campmen roll with envy in their graves. Outside, a retaining wall of 53 red cedar poles, cut to conform to the slope, keeps the walk-in walls from collapsing. Several hundred pounds of local clay in exposed areas further staunch against wind erosion. Wyman has pronounced the project finished several times. Since the first pro- nouncement, a rocked, mortared patio, an adjacent elevated deck, and other niceties have extracted several acre-feet of sweat. Why all the effort? Wyman says, "We want to leave a tangible legacy to our children and grandchildren and those beyond. We built it strong and durable so that people long after us can get a glimpse of a way of life that was the foundation of America." — Henry Chappell Rick realized he had found the perfect place to build the iconic structure of the frontier prairie: a sturdy bank cut thousands of years ago by a shift in the Brazos River.

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