Butcher Ranch – Part Two
Posted on July 3, 2014
“We had a recent article on Houzz, where there was an immense amount of feedback; some on the house that I had designed, yes; but more so, on the client himself, Milton Butcher. Given the tremendous response, I wanted to take a moment to tell more of Milton’s story here.”
-Michael G. Imber, Butcher Ranch – Part One
The ranch was choked with mesquite a tree commonly known for its subtle flavor added to smoked meats, but in Texas; it was a pestilence, choking acres of ranch land with its scrubby thorny branches. Imported to Texas hundreds of years ago by Texas Longhorns herded up from Mexico, the tree had subsumed thousands of hectares of grazing land. Milton had a vendetta against the tree, and was set upon eradicating it from his land and restoring the landscape to the oak-dotted prairie it had once been.
After picking our way through the forest of thorns, careful to avoid rattlesnakes, we located a heritage oak tangled in the tentacles of an ancient mustang grape vine. Although hidden in the thicket, the tree was within a short distance from his barn where he stored Hunky Dory and Dinky Dory, the two wooden boats he had built by hand (despite the lack of any nearby water). We had found the site for Milton’s new ranch house.
Over Mexican food and beer at a dusty dive down the country road, we discussed his idea of a ranch house. This wasn’t Milton’s “first rodeo”. He had recently restored the landscape of a central Texas ranch deep in German Country- a part of Texas where German was still mostly spoken. Milton ordered his meal in fluent Spanish then launched into a side-stitching story about Busta Hooty, a local townsman, interlacing his story with spats of German. I was floored; once more, simple country Milton in his cowboy boots and coveralls had surprised me with his ability to speak three languages, fluently (I was later to learn it was four). As we settled down to business, the ranch was to be of a simple German aesthetic; small, with a bedroom for himself, a guest room, a small functional kitchen and laundry and a large space for his art, and of course, a sleeping porch. It was now time to design.
Milton was patient and intuitive. We looked to the German Sunday houses of Fredericksburg in the Hill Country of Texas, Milton always gently pulling on the reigns when I got too ambitious, and indulged my elaborate architectural renderings of the simple structure. He had a keen modern eye and kept things simple, always editing more than adding. In the end, we were both pleased. We had arrived at a clean, well- proportioned building that, although small in size, was bold and confident in form; my first Texas ranch house.