Ranch Ownership Resources and Information

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and ranch values to regional events and happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

Jan. 29, 2019

Groundwater, Policy, Politics and Land Prices in the Texas Hill Country

Groundwater, Policy, Politics and Land Prices in the Texas Hill Country 


In Part I of this series, we took a close look at how the popularity of Texas hill country land and the empowering of Groundwater Conservation Districts (GCD) in 2001 marked the beginning of the run up in land prices statewide.


Now it’s time to take a look at the underlying resources and the politics that to this day, effect the value and usability of Texas hill country land.


Before we dig in, it helps to understand the broken slab and broken pipes geological nature of the Texas hill country, illustrated to some degree in the following map of major Texas aquifers:


Of particular interest to landowners in the Texas hill country are the violet and blue Trinity and Edwards aquifers.


Outflows along and from the from the base of the Balcones Escarpment form many of the most famous and prolific springs in the state. The natural springs of Texas best illustrate the health, and need for protection of, our underground aquifers.


Consider this: In Gunnar Brune’s seminal work “Springs of Texas” (1981), 281 major and historically significant fresh-water springs were identified. Four of these springs were designated “very large” springs with outflows of 100 cfs. Today, only two of the original four maintain the “very large” status: Comal Springs in Comal County and San Marcos Springs in Hays County. Of the 31 springs classified as “large”, only 17 remain today. (editor’s note: from a pricing standpoint, the “Springs of Texas” is suitable to enjoy with or instead of a bottle of 18 year old Macallan Single Malt).


It is likely that the legal principle, of the “rule of capture” established via precedent by the Texas Supreme Court in 1904 is one of three contributing factors contributing to the diminishment of Texas springs in the past decades.


Population growth in the Texas hill country is another obvious contributing factor. As developers and landowners sought to help fulfill the dreams of a “home in the country” for those looking for a quiet place to call their own; ranches were cut up and land parcels were subdivided into small acreage tracts, ranchettes, and large lot subdivisions on which the new owners were allowed to drill a water well and practice the “rule of capture.”


When, in 2001,  the Texas State Legislature empowered existing Groundwater Conservation Districts to limit or alter the “rule of capture” via rules promulgated by the GCD, the first steps were taken to preserve the integrity of the aquifers. Note that 2001 also marked the same year that land prices in Texas began a steep climb from the trends of earlier years (insert link to previous article here).


A third, more contentious and ongoing contributing factor is the existence in Texas of “white zones” where, in the absence of an established GCD, the 1904 “rule of capture” is in full effect.


Take a quick look at the map of existing GCDs below. See all of that white space?

The white areas are the “white zones” where individuals and entities enjoy the unlimited protection of the “rule of capture” due to the lack of a regional GCD.


Nothing better illustrates the impact of population growth, limited groundwater, free-enterprise, “rule of capture” fallout and the impact of growth near the Texas hill country than the controversy generated by a Hays County, Texas “white zone” as depicted in the map below.


In fact, within the white zone illustrated in this map, there is an abundance of Trinity groundwater.


It’s helpful to note that the I-35 corridor running through Hays County is one of the fastest growing areas in terms of population in the United States.



It didn’t take the folks at Electro Purification long to understand that a line drawn from the Hays County white zone to just about anywhere along the booming I-35 corridor would easily pay for itself and its investors.


Plug “Electro Purification” into your favorite search engine to see that, even though the property owned by Electro Purification was annexed into the Barton Springs-Edwards GCD in 2015, the fight to protect the Trinity aquifer is still in full swing.


Essentially, as illustrated by the Electro Purification controversy, the existence of “white zones” and the “rule of capture” stand as a threat to the health of aquifers throughout the state of Texas.


As landowners better understand the dynamics surrounding the scarcity of groundwater, its inevitable regulation, and the popularity of the Texas hill country, land prices will continue to climb in the Texas hill country.


Resources and reading

Texas Water Development Board

Springs of Texas, Volume I, Gunnar Brune

Jan. 25, 2019

US Drought Monitor and Summary, Jan. 25, 2019

South: Warmer than normal temperatures dominated the region with departures in west Texas 6-9 degrees above normal. It was a mainly dry week over the area, with just portions of eastern Oklahoma, Arkansas and into Louisiana recording above-normal precipitation with departures of up to 0.50 inches above normal. With the continued dryness in south Texas, some new areas of abnormally dry conditions were added this week with an expansion of moderate drought in far south Texas.

Looking Ahead: Over the next 5-7 days, the eastern United States has the greatest potential for precipitation, with the greatest amounts over the Southeast and into southern Florida. The northern United States also should see precipitation from the northern Rocky Mountains into the Great Lakes and New England. Temperatures look to remain colder than normal over the Midwest with departures of high temperatures of up to 20 degrees below normal. Warmer than normal conditions are expected over the West with high temperatures 3-6 degrees above normal.

The 6-10 day outlooks show that temperatures are likely to remain colder than normal over most areas east of the Rocky Mountains, with the greatest likelihood of below-normal temperatures over the Great Lakes and Tennessee Valley regions. Areas along the west coast and also in Alaska are anticipated to have the best chances of above-normal temperatures. The highest probability of below-normal precipitation is along the west coast and into the Southwest and southern Plains while Alaska, the northern Plains and much of the coastal areas of the East have the greatest chances of above-normal precipitation. Learn more about it here. 


US Drought Monitor and Summary, Jan. 25, 2019 | Texas Premier Ranch Realty | Texas Hill Country and South Texas Ranches for Sale

Jan. 11, 2019

When is the best time to castrate bull calves?

Research shows time and time again, whether it is because of profit or pain management, that the earlier you castrate, the better. A Kansas State University study showed that bulls castrated and implanted at an average of 3 months of age weighed 2 pounds more at 7.5 months of age than did the intact bull calves in the same study. At 7.5 months, the bulls were castrated, and then both groups were weighed 28 days later to assess gain. The steers castrated as calves gained 48 pounds, while the bulls that were cut at an average of 578 pounds only gained 33 pounds. That is a lost potential gain of 15 pounds, as these late-castrated bulls had to deal with the stress of healing from surgery. Learn more on how to get the most out of your ranch and raising cattle here.


Castrating Bulls for Market | Texas Premier Ranch Realty | Texas Hill Country and South Texas Ranches for Sale

Jan. 11, 2019

US Drought Monitor And Summary For Jan. 8, 2019

The long standing drought we experienced over the summer of 2018 and in the past several years is slowly fading for most of the state. The creeks and streams are starting to run all over the Hill Country and the rest of Texas. While the drought has left Texas for the most part some of the nation is currently experiencing extreme drought. Check out more on the drought situation nationwide here. 


US Drought Monitor And Summary For January 2019 | Texas Premier Ranch Realty | Texas Hill Country and South Texas Ranches for Sale

Jan. 3, 2019

How does the government use eminent domain to seize land from Texans?

The government has the power to seize land from citizens to build things like schools, roads and border walls although it is required to fairly compensate them. That power is more limited at the local and state level, where officials have enacted policies to protect landowners. Meanwhile, the federal government could feasibly take private land and begin building on it the same day — and pay the property owner later. Learn more about Eminent Domain and this issue here. 

Eminent Domain | Texas Premier Ranch Realty | Texas Hill Country and South Texas Ranches For Sale

Dec. 21, 2018

2008 Built Toyota Land Cruiser for Sale LC 200

For Sale at eBay Motors now. https://www.ebay.com/itm/173702814624

Two owner 2008 Land Cruiser 200 Series. Meticulously maintained with maintenance records available from Toyota of Boerne.

12/26/18: Maintenance Records added at link below.  Note, the passenger seatbelt detection module has been recalibrated a few times by Toyota and will occasionally give a warning light when lighter riders get in and out of passenger side while engine is running. 

Click here to view maintenance records

Click here to view upgrades and installation invoices

174,000 miles. 



2008 Land Cruiser 200 for Sale | ARB, Slee, Warn | Built Toyota Land Cruiser | LC 200

2008 Land Cruiser 200 for Sale | ARB, Slee, Warn | Built Toyota Land Cruiser | LC 200

2008 Land Cruiser 200 for Sale | ARB, Slee, Warn | Built Toyota Land Cruiser | LC 200

2008 Land Cruiser 200 for Sale | ARB, Slee, Warn | Built Toyota Land Cruiser | LC 200

2008 Land Cruiser 200 for Sale | ARB, Slee, Warn | Built Toyota Land Cruiser | LC 200

2008 Land Cruiser 200 for Sale | ARB, Slee, Warn | Built Toyota Land Cruiser | LC 200

2008 Land Cruiser 200 for Sale | ARB, Slee, Warn | Built Toyota Land Cruiser | LC 200

2008 Land Cruiser 200 for Sale | ARB, Slee, Warn | Built Toyota Land Cruiser | LC 200

2008 Land Cruiser 200 for Sale | ARB, Slee, Warn | Built Toyota Land Cruiser | LC 200

2008 Land Cruiser 200 for Sale | ARB, Slee, Warn | Built Toyota Land Cruiser | LC 200

2008 Land Cruiser 200 for Sale | ARB, Slee, Warn | Built Toyota Land Cruiser | LC 200

2008 Land Cruiser 200 for Sale | ARB, Slee, Warn | Built Toyota Land Cruiser | LC 200

2008 Land Cruiser 200 for Sale | ARB, Slee, Warn | Built Toyota Land Cruiser | LC 200

2008 Land Cruiser 200 for Sale | ARB, Slee, Warn | Built Toyota Land Cruiser | LC 200

2008 Land Cruiser 200 for Sale | ARB, Slee, Warn | Built Toyota Land Cruiser | LC 200

2008 Land Cruiser 200 for Sale | ARB, Slee, Warn | Built Toyota Land Cruiser | LC 200

2008 Land Cruiser 200 for Sale | ARB, Slee, Warn | Built Toyota Land Cruiser | LC 200

2008 Land Cruiser 200 for Sale | ARB, Slee, Warn | Built Toyota Land Cruiser | LC 200






Dec. 6, 2018

Cattle and the Climate Change Debate

The debate on cattle and its effect on climate change has been an ongoing subject for sometime now, but good news has come for ranchers as researches have debunked the cattle and climate change myth! As ranchers we have all heard that cow burps are destroying the ozone layer or that the gas they release daily is contributing to the demise of our climate, now its time this myth was ditched once and for all.

As our industry zeroes in on topics of sustainability and ways we as beef producers can improve for the better, I continue to beat the same drum--- cattleman and women already do a spectacular job of managing our land and water to produce more beef using fewer resources. Simply stated, beef production isn't just sustainable it's regenerative, and despite what the naysayers claim, cattle grazing and consuming by-products of crop production play a critical role in our ecosystem. Learn more about what Amanda Radke has to say on the research and this topic here. 

Cattle and the Climate Change Debate | Texas Premier Ranch Realty | Texas Hill Country and South Texas Ranches for Sale



Nov. 28, 2018

Texas Crop and Weather Report for November

Texas Weather Report from the Texas Southwest Cattle Raisers Association.

Fewer planted acres, summer drought and late-season rains caused a significant drop in peanut production around the state, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert. Dr. Emi Kimura, AgriLife Extension statewide peanut specialist, Vernon, said planted peanut acres dropped to 155,000 acres from 275,000 acres in 2017, a 43 percent reduction.

SOUTHWEST: Temperatures were cooler with little to no rain. Some counties needed more rain, while others were hoping to dry out following recent rains. Some counties experienced the first frost of the season. Some pecan harvest was negatively impacted by wet soil, including the sprouting of some pecans. Livestock and wildlife were in fair condition.

SOUTH: Conditions were cool to cold with mild days and short to adequate soil moisture levels. Drizzling rain was reported in Frio County. Kleberg and Kennedy counties reported half an inch of rain. Forage producers cut their last little bit of hay. Peanut harvest was in full swing. Beef cattle producers increased feeding hay and supplemental protein. Wheat and oat planting was completed, and a majority of fields emerged. Pasture and rangeland conditions continued to decrease due to a recent hard freeze. Native rangelands and pastures continued to provide adequate forage for livestock in some areas. Zapata County reported improved pasture conditions. Body conditions scores on cattle remained good overall. Coastal Bermuda grass was already dormant. Zavala County reported cooler conditions provided excellent growing conditions for spinach and cabbage. Some supplemental water applications were made to spinach, onions, cabbage and carrots. Baby-leaf spinach harvest was expected to begin soon. In Hidalgo County, harvest of citrus, vegetables and sugarcane continued.

Learn more about your area here. 

Texas Crop and Weather Report for November | Texas Premier Ranch Realty | Texas Hill Country and South Texas Ranches for Sale





Nov. 22, 2018

What Texas Pricklypear Steals from Your Land

Pricklypear is associated with loss of grazing both from competition and the physical barrier it presents to livestock. Left untreated, pricklypear tends to get worse. University researchers have documented that, during drought, pricklypear density can increase 25 percent to 30 percent each year while other plants decline. At that rate, pricklypear density doubles every three years. On good range sites, access to forage can be 2x to 3x greater in the absence of pricklypear. Learn More about what you can do here. 


What Texas Pricklypear Steals from Your Land | Texas Premier Ranch Realty | Texas Hill Country and South Texas Ranches for Sale

Nov. 16, 2018

In search of the Texas Unicorn | Groundwater and It's Influence on Land Prices in the Texas Hill Country


Common scenario at our sister brokerage, Hill Country Dream Team Realty: Brokerage phone rings. Agent picks up phone. Caller on the other end of the phone is from out of the area or out of state. Caller is interested in making a small acreage purchase in the Texas hill country. Sample conversation follows:


Caller: “I am looking for 3-5 not in a subdivision. You know, enough space to allow for a barn and workshop with no neighbors to tell me what I can or cannot do on my property. Oh, and by the way, my budget is no more than $15,000 per acre.”


Agent: “Okay great! So for that barn, do you want me to locate one or two unicorns?”


Now, truth be told, our residential and farm and ranch agents take a decidedly less smart-aleck approach to these conversations.


Of course we get the economic principle of supply and demand, but we know that there is a deeper issue that catalyzes the effect of supply and demand to further accelerate the increase in small acreage land prices.


Before we dig into the deeper issue, consider this evidence from the MLS system in which Kendall County, Texas resides:


The lowest price paid in recent history, per acre, for a 3-5 acre unrestricted parcel was $22,004. This was for a 4.05 acre parcel in Comfort ISD that closed in December of 2006. That is not a typo, December, 2006.


What gives?


Consider this: according to the Texas Environmental Almanac, in 2002, 61% of the demand for water was fulfilled by surface water and of the total water used. Again, those are the most recent statistics available numbers are from 2002.  


Also consider the following image comparing the Austin, Texas skyline from 2005 to 2017:


Austin Skyline Changes since 2005 | Texas Premier Ranch Realty


Needless to say, surface water supplies are being stressed. No new reservoirs have been constructed on the rivers of the Texas hill country since 2002.


Additionally, the intervening years have seen an explosion in population and at least one significant drought event. These factors have conspired to cast surface water as a tenuous resource for sustaining the population growth in the Texas hill country.


Not only that, the drought events have given those of us who live here visual evidence of the scarcity of surface water in the form of dried up creeks and significantly reduced flow rates in our rivers.


But surface water availability isn’t the big issue.


More growth equals more folks. More folks bring an increased demand for water. Given the static state of surface water supplies, folks in our region are forced to go underground for water. Especially those of us who live beyond the Colorado River/Highland Lakes watershed and the reaches of the Canyon Lake water supply systems.


Back to our phone conversation: Once our caller pulls his jaw off the floor, the inevitable question gets asked: “Why is land in the Texas hill country so expensive.”


Of course economics 101 comes into play, but a there is another, more complex and deeper dynamic: Groundwater.


A Texas Hill Country Spring | Texas Premier Ranch Realty 

Groundwater is indeed under our feet, but this two part series will attempt to illustrate, groundwater in the Texas hill country is a contentious, complex, and finite resource.history of land in the Texas hill country.


Why is this?


Now might be a good time to refresh yourself about the underlying nature of the Texas hill country before delving deeper into the subject of groundwater.


Let’s start with the landmark 1904 Texas Supreme Court case that established the “rule of capture.” Simply stated, the rule of capture holds that if the water is under your land, you can pump out as much as you want with no regard for the effect said pumping may have on your neighbor’s wells.


Until recently, the rule of capture was untouchable. However, in 2001, the Texas State Legislature significantly empowered the heretofore ad hoc network of Ground Water Conservation Districts enabled by the 1949 Texas Legislature by enabling the GCDs to promulgate rules and policies to limit or alter the “rule of capture”.


It’s worth noting that 2001 also marked the beginning of an acceleration in land prices throughout Texas and specifically within the Texas hill country as illustrated by this graphic courtesy of the Real Estate Center at Texas A & M University:



Texas hill country land price appreciation | Texas Premier Ranch Realty


By way of example, consider Kendall County, Texas. Beginning in 2001, the county development rules were changed regarding minimum acreage size requirements for parcels on which wells could be drilled. This minimum size was established at 6 acres.


However, parcels of less than 6 acres that whose plats were on record with the county prior to the establishment of this rule were exempted from the 6 acre minimum.


Of course as more and more folks moved to Kendall County in search of a bit of breathing room on acreage, the price of these grandfathered parcels of 6 acres or less went up accordingly.


In fact, just down the street from where I live, a 1.58 acre lot that was exempt from the 6 acre minimum recently sold for roughly $120,000. That’s about $75,950 per acre, slightly less than the price paid for our house (which sits on 2.99 acres). This sample sale is a rural lot in a subdivision established in the late 1970’s on which homeowners must drill a well (roughly $12,000) and install a septic system (roughly $10,000).


Point being that the ability to access water...to engage the “rule of capture” in Kendall County is an expensive privilege.


Subsequent to 2001, the Cow Creek GCD was established in the Kendall County area to further effect rules and policies to mitigate potential damage wrought by the “rule of capture.”


Likewise, throughout the Texas hill country and the state; the empowered and expanding GCD model adding fuel to the fire of supply and demand for Texas hill country land.


And so it turns out that unicorns actually do exist in the Texas hill country. These unicorns, however; do not live in barns. It turns out that the true Texas unicorn is an affordable, small acreage tract on which the owner is allowed to practice the “rule of capture.”


Not only are these unicorns moving toward extinction, but the scarcity of the Texas unicorn serves to amplify the increasing prices of Texas hill country farm and ranch properties.


We like to remind our clients to remember the unicorns and we encourage them to take heed to the old saw that land will likely never be as affordable as it is right now.