The Billig Farm Mr. Billig bought the first piece of the property in 1971, and over the years added adjoining smaller tracts to reach the current acreage. The land is a gently rolling, moderately dissected wooded plain. The vegetation consists of open areas (pastures) interspersed with forested areas of mixed hardwoods (mostly post oaks and eastern red cedar). This property contains the headwaters of Bluff Creek and Paint Creek. Approximately a third of the property consists of blackland soils and two thirds are claypan soils, in 13 different soil series. Mr. Billig practices a rotational deferred grazing system. When the pastures are properly grazed, Mr. Billig moves to the next pasture. The amount of time in the pasture depends on the amount of grass and the number of animals he is grazing at the time. Thirteen (13) pastures are used in the rotation. There are 13 man-made livestock ponds on the property. "I don't like the pond in the blacklands because the cows get bogged in it and I have a problem pulling them out", says Mr. Billig.
He cultivated many of the fields when he first owned the property, but for at least 20 years, he has ranched. Previous owners terraced and farmed the land. Cotton and corn were the chief crops, but peanuts and hay were also produced. Livestock production was tried in several ways. A Mr. Young and a Mr. Greater raised goats but according to Mr. Billig, "in about 2 years the coyotes had eaten most of them and goat ranching disappeared". Turkeys were raised, slaughtered, and barbecued, then sold across the fence at what is now Billig Lane. The owners built a large BBQ pit near the fence to make it easy to cook and sell. Folks came from all around for the BBQ. In the 1950s a dairy was operated. The old milking barn still stands and is used as a garage for tractors. Today cattle and wood cutting are the money makers for the farm. Mr. Billig has done extensive work to bring the farm to its current condition. As he explains, "When I bought the land you could not even see down to the first pond. I expect I spent 50% of my time working the land to control mesquite. I used every method you can think of to get rid of it." Among the many trees planted here and cared for by Mr. Billig are Live Oak, Bald Cypress, Mimosa, Mulberry, Pecan, Black Walnut, Persimmon, Red Bud, Pyracantha, Plum, and Crepe Myrtle. Native Hickory trees occur on the place. In cooperation with the Texas Forest Service, he planted Slash Pines for a windbreak; some of those Pines survive today. He also established a large Brazos Blackberry patch. Several other plants were brought to the farm from other locations. Down by the cattle chute is a Loblolly Pine brought to the farm by Mr. Billig's sister. The Mulberry trees came from Brenham.
There are several house sites around the land and two standing houses. The "old place" is about 100 years old. Mr. Billig laughingly said, "I was going to tear it down, but it was so sturdy that I decided not to. Now it's home for the pigeons." There is an old in-ground cistern beside the old place; it has been filled in for many years. The "new place" is situated on top of the hill and has a beautiful view of the cow pastures, barns and a large pond. The main barn is a large gabled barn with shed roofs running the length of both sides. There used to be another barn just like it to the north of the cattle chute but according to Mr. Billig, "it was built with green wood and the worms ate it down." Several money-making operations were attempted on the land. A neighbor once collected petrified wood off the place and sold it. During World War II (about 1945) a telephone pipeline between Houston and Austin was installed. Lead coated cable was laid. The lead weighed 9 tons per mile. In order to help keep out moisture, the pipeline was pressurized. The cable has since been removed.. In addition to the surface water, there are several wells on the farm. None are currently in use but the water is there. One well with a large opening is on top of the highest hill. It marks one of the old house sites. A rock dropped down it fell for several seconds before splashing into water. The opening is covered for safety. The hand dug wells have been filled in. Currently the Lee County Water Supply Corporation has a water delivery line running through the farm Wild animal habitat maintenance and improvement is a large part of farm operations today. The landowner is member of the Paint Creek Wildlife Management Association, sponsored by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Several food plots are planted each year for the wildlife, mainly by deer and turkey. Some of the plants that are planted are turnips, ryegrass, rye, arrow leaf clover, crimson clover, soybeans, vetch, and cow peas. In one pasture, a wildlife-watering pipe has been installed. This pipe places a trickle of water approximately 100 feet in the riparian woods downstream form the pond. No endangered species have to date been observed on the Billig Ranch, but the property is located within the potential habitat area of the endangered Houston toad (Bufo houstonensis).
In the future, wildlife habitat will be continually enhanced. The farm will be protected and kept intact for the benefit of all animals. The resulting preserved open space will benefit all people as well.