Semper Texas & Donkey Kisses

Sheila’s best Marlon Brando impersonation
We have something big & new on the horizon. I can’t tell you the details yet, but I can say that, like most new things we do, the inspiration for it came from something old and sacred – Texas. (Look closely and you’ll find some hints in the pictures in this article!)

For now, I want to take you to a new place full of Texas splendor. It isn’t a summertime tourist trap and you’ve likely never have heard of it. So let me introduce you.

Last month, I needed a very Texas place to take some photographs of some new (top secret) goodies I’ve been designing. I wanted to shoot them outdoors because what’s more Texan than the land herself? While scouting locations near Coleto Creek, I found a place. THE place. The perfect spot, with the beautiful land I wanted AND indoor plumbing! I made a reservation, loaded up and drove out to one of my favorite areas – Goliad County.

I love Goliad, with the rich and bloody history of the Presidio and its proximity to Refugio, where Hobart Huson lived and wrote, surrounded by his beloved Texana library. It isn’t flat and marshy like the Coastal Plains I call home. It isn’t showy like the Hill Country. Or lush with pines like East Texas or dramatic like West Texas. The terrain around Goliad is easy-going. The land rolls gently. Live oaks and mesquites punctuate the land, with brush and bramble thriving at their feet.

The place that I chose for the photoshoot was the kind of place where GPS doesn’t hold a candle to a carefully crafted set of directions. The mile-long road from the ranch gate leads you to a brush country paradise. Standing along the edge of the 700-acre ranch are 3 guest houses, painted a cheerful yellow and neat as a pin. It was a very happy sight. Welcome to the Barnhart Q5 Ranch!
The comfy back porch of the Maetze house is one of the best places in Texas for birdwatching
I stayed in the Maetze House (pronounced met-zee), built around 1877 in Goliad. The outbuilding that once served as Maetze’s kitchen? Well that’s now the Hummingbird House next door. A third, more modern guest house, Green Jay Cottage, rounds out the guest compound. Walking into the Maetze House, wood is the first thing that grabs you. Yes, the sight of wood – longleaf pine galore – but also the peculiar pleasing scent that only wood, sun and time can create. The space feels like a loving hug from Texas’ past.
The large and stately Jane Long Suite
Before I could even get my overnight bag unpacked, I was slammed in the face by a cannon shot of inspiration. Grabbing some of my new Texas creations from the car, I went to work. Over there was some stone – the perfect contrast for the new designs on wood. Beyond that was a wood pile – a nice textural complement for the slate items. The Texas flag floating on the breeze behind the blooming century plants…what better backdrop for my Old 300 designs?
One of my favorite product shots. A Texas flag was floating on the breeze in the distance
When it got dark, I continued my work inside. I was on a roll! All of the new designs were created with Texas history in mind, so they were right at home in the old house. 200 photos later and I was ready for bed. Nothing makes a sound in the night like the wind does…and the wind of a norther whipping through the oaks around Maetze House was a majestic, comforting sound.

I stayed in the Jane Long Suite….a large, airy space with 12 ft ceilings, a fireplace and pocket doors leading to the bathroom. The General Zaragoza Suite is done up in its original plant-pigmented green paint. The third suite is named for the Angel of Goliad, Francisca Alavez. The beds are festooned with locally made quilts. The bookshelves are stocked with some Texas classics and art pieces reflect the history of the area, and of the family who own the ranch.
The Zargaoza Suite – long, lean and veggie-dyed green
Maetze House was moved from its original location in Goliad proper to the ranch about 15 years ago and smartly restored. Nothing went to waste, either. Bricks that were once part of the original fireplaces now form a walkway outside. Beadboard from an old ceiling was used to accent the installation of a modern bathtub. 

The house retains the feel of a 19th century Texas home, with some tweaks for modern guests. Each suite has its own en suite bathroom – definitely an upgrade from 1877. But there is no TV. There is no internet. For us, there was scanty AT&T coverage. The Q5 Ranch was a respite from emails, phone calls, texts and the noise of modern life. If you want hustle & bustle, look to the front porch, where you can park your rump in a rocker and watch the traffic of birds of every hue at the feeders. There are rope swings, a swing-set, a stargazing platform, horseshoes, a BBQ pit…everything you need to spend time with your family (or alone) without the intrusion of technology. The Ranch is a place where you can reconnect with the things that matter – family, the land, your sanity.
Approach to the back porch of Maetze House
The present owners, Claire Barnhart-Korth and her husband Wilfred Korth, are both kind-hearted Texans with heads full of knowledge. The ranch has been in Claire’s family since the 1950s and has always been a part of her life. I had a chance to talk with her about the houses, Goliad, birds, history, plants, her father, all kinds of things. She’s an affable lady with a visible spark of curiosity in her eyes. She’s a great listener. All of this makes her the best kind of host – happy to share her knowledge or learn from your experiences, but equally happy to leave you be to explore the land and enjoy the quiet it offers. 

Mr. Korth was the director of nearby Coleto Creek Park for nearly forty years. The park was hardly a park when Wilfred began his career, the man and the park maturing together. The 50 developed acres we see today all came about with his guidance. The couple are very active in promoting the historical significance of Goliad and both are Texas Master Naturalists.

Translation: they know the land, the critters and plants on the land, and they know their history.
When life hands you cattle feeders…take product shots!
I roamed as much of the 700 acres as I could, off-roading in a golf cart, looking for the best places to take my photos. I crossed paths with some of the miniature donkeys who spend much of their day not far from the guest compound. One of them gave me a smooch on the face. I had a similar suitor the next day – a curious calf who thought my hand might be salty and delicious. (It wasn’t.) As I set up my photos during the magic hour before sunset, the herd followed along the fence-line. The cattle choir with their sonorous songs mooooo’d me on to victory as the sun retreated and the wind came on.

When it was all said and done, my dog ended up with a belly full of june bugs (26…I counted) and I ended up with 563 images. I hated to leave but I promised myself I’d return after we announce our new line of Texas goodies. When you plan your summer getaway this year, remember Goliad and remember the Barnhart Q5 Ranch. You’ll be glad you did. You can learn more and make your own reservations by visiting www.barnhartranchretreat.com

If you’re dying of curiosity about our new product line, give it a week or so. Just a few more tweaks and tests, and we’ll throw back the veil.

God & Texas,
Michelle

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