Current Edition – Fall 2019
Erath County Living magazine is published twice per year and distributed throughout Stephenville and Dublin. We produce each edition with exceptional quality and content to become long-lasting, coffee table-quality magazines.
The magazine is printed on high quality thick paper stock to give it a better feel and increased thickness. The spine of each publication is perfect-bound to resemble a book, and to hold together for many years to come. The covers are UV tinted to withstand exposure and maintain a quality our readers have come to expect.
Editions of each publication are proudly displayed throughout businesses, professional waiting rooms and state legislative offices around the area. Being area-specific, the content within the pages of each publication is sure not to become dated or out of style. Residents have stated that each edition is a legacy, holding information about its people and events that one can reflect on and show for years to come.
We would like to say Thank You for all those who’ve made Erath County Living possible. We look forward to bringing you many more editions for years to come. Please let us know if you have any article suggestions, or have an event you’d like featured in the pages.
A Shepherd’s Cheese
The first mention of cheese in the Bible is from 1 Samuel when Jesse sends a young David to check on his brothers in what was originally their standoff against Goliath. David was simply to deliver a gift of ten cheeses to the unit commander and bring back a report, but his fateful errand turned into his defeat of a giant. “Since David was a shepherd, those would’ve been sheep cheeses,” notes Rachael Gwassa, who spends her days caring for her own flock of sheep, sixty strong, on her family’s farm just north of Dublin.
Dairying and cheesemaking are quite familiar to Rachael. As the oldest of Stuart and Connie Veldhuizen’s seven children, she grew up within their journey of opening the Veldhuizen Cheese Shoppe. Rachael was six years old and remembers when the family moved from Minnesota to Texas.
“We got here and the house was full of spiders and scorpions. There were tall weeds everywhere. Dad and Grandpa worked day and night to get the dairy barn ready since 300 cows were being trucked down.”
Over time the Veldhuizen’s shifted their focus from being a commercial dairy to creating artisan, raw milk cheeses which are now found throughout the state and are much-respected for their quality and flavor.
As an adult, Rachael spent several years in Zanzibar with her husband and children. They returned to Dublin in 2015 where she decided to become a cheesemaker in her own right, focusing on an animal in which she’d long held an interest. She and her dad drove to South Carolina to bring home ten Awassi sheep, a fat-tailed breed common in the Middle East.
Five Decades of Rodeo Action Photos
Dudley Barker returned from Vietnam with a camera and a photographer’s eye for a story in the fast lane. I recently caught up with him between rodeo shoots and promoting his book, 5 Decades of Rodeo Action.
Dudley explained. “I moved to Stephenville in August of 1975, attended Tarleton State University. I was just hanging around the rodeo cowboys, h
ad the camera I had used in my spare time in ‘Nam, and the rest is history.”
To be exact, forty-three years of history as a Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) Photographer, receiving notoriety as a PRCA Gold Card. I asked Dudley how he captured action-packed photos.
“In every event, there’s a sweet spot, what we call a classic photo. In every run, each cowboy or cowgirl is a client, so to speak. You have to capture their photo at their best moment—provided they create that moment. They have to rope the calf, spur the bull, they have to make the ride. Out of every rid
e, the rodeo photographer has to recognize it for what’s about to happen and then capture that second. A good rodeo photographer has to be consistent at it. But you can’t capture the sweet spot in a bronc ride if he never goes to the front end, toes turned out and spurs up at the neck. It’s easy to get a highlight picture for the newspaper, but you need to have a picture of the winner. Essentially, you want the best shot of each person.”
Dudley understands rodeo. Born in 1944 in Taylor, Texas and ranch-raised in Central Texas, he shared his memories of growing up. “Mom was a teacher and we didn’t have a TV until I was a senior in high school. My younger brother and sister and I lived a simple life of school, sports, and the ranch. We ate what we grew.”
Coffee, Camaraderie, and a Country Store
Halfway between Stephenville and Desdemona, out on Highway 8, sits an old, rock building called the Lingleville Country Store. Blink and you’ll miss it. But look a little longer and you’ll be glad you did.
“Every day we get people who’ve never been here; who heard about us from a friend. Or they’ll say, ‘I finally stopped in and oh-my-gosh I had no idea!’,” says Lance Battenfield, proprietor of the shop that opened in 1884 and has been in continuous operation ever since.
Walking into the store is to walk into a blend of history, culture, and vision that just feels right. Authenticity permeates every aspect. You find yourself wondering why you took so long to get here and simultaneously making plans to return.
The store has the basics you’d expect from a tiny-town grocery—milk, bread, snacks, Hunts Brothers Pizza, a few plumbing and auto supplies. It’s even home to a small post-office which allows zip code 76461—and Lingleville, by extension—to exist.
But it’s what you don’t expect that has people talking. You’ll find a considerable assortment of vintage sodas, hand-chosen craft beers and good wines, breakfast burritos, brisket tacos, made-from-scratch pies and muffins, along with free wi-fi. And coffee. Oh, such coffee.