Big skies and clear minds, getting back to the ranch in Texas

The Texas countryside gets into your blood. Even in the heart of the city, it’s always lingering out on the horizon - open spaces fading off to the edge of your vision, like the ocean. The areas around the metroplex have drawn entrepreneurs, iconoclasts, and homesteaders for more than 175 years. The rolling plains offered newcomers a blank slate for building up rich pasturelands, farms, and for finding their own peace of spirit in the broad-skied land.

So much of the Texas identity is rooted in its agricultural beginnings. Barbecue? We’ve been hosting them since the 1800’s!  Longhorns? Their independent nature and survival skills were nurtured by area ranchers, leading to the legendary cattle drives. Even our current highways owe a debt to the movement between farmers and the city. “Farm-to-Market” roads became the frame on which our state’s system developed.

Take a look at our sports teams: Mustangs. Cowboys. Mavericks. Brahmas. Rams. Aggies. As Texans, we are all part of a primal hankering for a grassy green view, a good pair of boots, the peacefulness of a dark night sky, and a clean breeze in the air. It’s only natural that so many of us begin to look to the rural countryside for a piece of the land that we can live on and grow with.

When considering a move out to a ranch property - well, it’s deeply personal. There are, however, some popular reasons that encourage people to take the leap. It’s likely that at least one of these has been involved in your plans.

Outdoor Recreation

This part of the state is blessed with 4 seasons, mild winters, and the same natural beauty that brought settlers here in droves. Thanks to well-managed resources, the Fort Worth and greater D/FW metroplex area is also surrounded by a huge variety of lakes. There’s a good reason that the west side has its own Cabela’s, Gander Mountain, and Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World. For the insomniac with outdoor tendencies, the latter even offers a 24-hour boat showroom.

For access to the best fishing and deeper waters, however, you must venture outside the city limits. Once there, the access to fishing, boating, and other activities is easy. Ranch properties also open up recreational opportunities for ATV’s, dirt bikes, hiking, backpacking, and camping.


More than 1.5 million hunters are licensed annually in Texas. It’s a strong tradition. For many, the pull of ranch land involves the sport of hunting the abundant whitetail deer and game birds that populate the areas outside the cities. Having private lands for hosting and participating in game hunting goes with ranch land ownership. The same qualities that draw nature-loving folks out to the rolling countryside also draw in herds of deer and other wildlife.

Equestrian Pursuits

Some get the bug early on - some come into it later on in life. Life with horses is best done when you have your own acreage and access to the venues. Unlike some parts of the country that were settled on horseback, Texas shows no sign of loosening its grip on the collective horse-loving psyche. It’s not a coincidence that the American Quarter Horse Association is headquartered here.

Although the mustangs stampeding on the square in Las Colinas get us in the frame, the best spots to experience the real thing are out of the metroplex. The land and location combine to give unbeatable access to every type of equestrian activity. If your dreams involve trail riding, horse shows, breed competitions or even polo, the DFW area is renowned for the number and type of activities it hosts. Horse heaven is attainable - how many parts of the country can compete?


In some ways, the cattle drives never really left this part of the state. It’s not just the ghosts of Longhorn cattle haunting the grasslands out there - agriculture is still a way of life, and a source of pleasure for even smaller operations.

Situated on an intersection of native grassland prairies and ranges, the DFW area has been supporting cattle and other livestock since settlement. Little has changed. The areas surrounding Fort Worth nurture meat and dairy cattle, sheep and goats, and even the occasional alpaca farm. And, as with horses, the competition venues are second to none. If you are looking for rare breeds or the opportunity to join in the community, there’s an event almost every weekend in the area - from shows to rodeos.

Feed Your Soul

There’s a very good reason that so many feel the pull to the open spaces just outside the metroplex. Maybe you’ve weighed out the benefits - you’ve read the studies on how your blood pressure drops, your family becomes more active.

Maybe you just find yourself driving outside the city limits on weekends, feeling your spirits lift and the tension leave as you watch the fence posts click by your window and smell the scents of fresh hay and rain.

It’s some powerful stuff, Texas countryside. It makes poets out of some - and just plain contented residents, in general. Deep down, everyone who’s thinking about a move knows this, but here’s the low-down on how it does a body good.

There’s a reason that cities have moved towards incorporating “green” in their city planning. Greenbelts. Green Spaces. The craving for nature, exercise, and verdant hues is as hard-wired in us as breathing. So is looking at the night sky.

Do a quick Google search on “nature and mental health”, and you’ll soon be down a rabbit hole of data, news articles, and published studies on the benefits. In case you don’t want to step away to do that, here’s just a few:

  • Walking in nature reduces brooding. (2015 study)
  • Visiting natural areas reduces stress hormones in city dwellers. (2014 research results)
  • Or, as one expert recommends, that we all simply:

“Point our rocking chairs towards the West

And plant our dreams where the peaceful river flows

Where the green grass grows”

(Noted singer and researcher, Tim McGraw)

Or, there’s the getaway aspect. If you’re looking at a rural property as either a primary residence or a weekend home, you’ve just gained a valuable commodity: a place that qualifies as a vacation destination.

The same feelings that draw you out there are present for your friends and family. Moving out to the country provides a retreat. When you ponder that many people are limited to dogs, cats, and the occasional squirrel for exposure to animals, it’s no wonder that visiting a world that holds horses, roadrunners, cattle, and frogs can be well - exotic.

Here’s the thing: It will never get old. You’ll always have your vacation in the countryside, even if you’re driving home to it every evening.

Settling In

It’s one thing to put on a pair of boots and head out to a concert or a rodeo. It’s another to actually use them while you’re on your own property. Texas, with all its big cars, shopping malls, and glitz, is, underneath, a place that was sewn together by adventurers, settlers, and cowboys.

The area around DFW still holds communities that were named after early pioneers and have main streets that followed cattle trails. The real Texas is still there, soaked into the dust and grass and rivers that cover the farm communities.

Moving out of the urban area gives you the best of both worlds. The metroplex is a big, busy world of possibilities, culture, and business. And - just beyond it, there are places that narrow down to two lanes, let you see the stars, and get to know everyone at the local steak restaurant. It’s Texas life at its most pure and basic levels, and there are millions of people who never get to experience it.

Starting the process

Searching for a rural property is like learning a new language. There’s a learning curve, and there are likely to be topics you never even thought to explore.

Undeveloped property is marketed on its potential. If you’re just starting to look at rural properties, it helps to identify features that will be important to your future plans. Exploring property listings will help you train your eye, and prepare you for working with your real estate agent.

Property access will be the first item you’ll encounter. You’re in the country, now, and not every piece of property will have direct roadway access. There are sometimes easements, sometimes shared. Road maintenance may be the county’s responsibility; the owner’s or may be shared.

Water will be mentioned prominently in listings. Some properties will have river or creek access, or ponds. Existing wells are desirable. Utility access will also be featured prominently in listings, and is important if you will be doing any sort of development on the land.

Fencing and cross-fencing are important for livestock operations, and should be in place if the land is already in use for agricultural purposes. If it is currently being grazed, it’s important to determine “carrying capacity”, and how many head of livestock it can support.

Your needs will be specific to your plans. For example, for a hunting getaway, pasture quality is not as critical. For daily commuting, you may want direct road frontage.

Perhaps your vision is more in line with a turn-key operation. In addition to the points mentioned with undeveloped properties, there’s a wealth of agricultural infrastructure, so to speak. Be prepared to learn the ins and outs of pipe fencing, stall fronts, run-in sheds, and arena footing, if you’re exploring horse properties.

Thinking about pastures usually doesn’t include trees, but they’re also important to any livestock operations, and are valuable because of the shade they provide. Good farmland deals with a lot of proportions: water, number of animals, trees, and grass.

If you’ve never thought about soil-testing, sandy loam, or well water, you’ll soon be immersed with data. Texas has 21 distinct types of land areas - and 5 of them circle the greater DFW metroplex.

Even with proper soil and resource management, the type of grass on your agricultural property is important. Yes, you want grass. If the pasture will require work to remove weeds and to seed in the correct grass type, you’ll need to know about forage grasses and names like Bluestem, Alfalfa, and Bermuda.

Making It Happen

The magic of rural living, it seems, lies somewhere in the middle of agricultural science and blissfully low blood pressure. It’s passing tractors during the summer, and daydreaming about your hunting cabin at your desk. It’s learning a whole new vocabulary, and realizing that you finally have a legitimate reason to stop at the farm supply store.

When the first settlers arrived in this part of Texas, they had little to work with. Even arriving from adjacent states, they were encountering new terrain, new plants, new weather. Staring at an overhead shot of a property, reading about well tests and agricultural exemptions - it may feel just as new and overwhelming as a Longhorn did, staring down a new resident in the 1850’s.

Fortunately, you don’t have to do it on your own - nor should you. As a buyer in the DFW metroplex, you have access to the knowledge and experience of The Chicotsky Real Estate Group. With deep roots in the area, they understand the ins and outs of rural property purchases, and have the talent pool to address any special needs or issues that could arise.

Your vision could begin with a piece of raw property, or encompass an established operation. Your guides through the process should be totally qualified to make that dream happen. When you can leave the research to them, and rely on their knowledge base, you can focus on the details of what’s important - finding your best fit among all the properties that are out there.

Take a deep breath, and tell your inner Texas pioneer that you’re ready to do this. With the Chicotsky Real Estate Group working for you, you’re going to enjoy every part of the journey ahead.