Highlight: a solarium in the gigunda master bathroom complete with potted plants and birds, starred in The Alamo!

When you live in Texas, there is just something about owning a ranch as a second home that is so dang appealing. It gets in your blood as the ultimate great escape for the weekend. Having hundreds of acres around you centers you with the wild things, and that agriculture exemption is real nice, too: running lifestock on the acreage holds down property taxes. Owning a ranch and living the ranch life just feels so very “Giant”. Or Larry McMurtry-esque, kind of a hallmark of Texas real estate. And I think the best ranches are to be found in the Texas Hill Country!

Austin developer H.C. Carter and his wife, interior designer Lynnda Colby-Carter have put their ranch in Dripping Springs, a charming Hill Country town off Highway 281 I know well, on the market for a whopping $5.6 million. But before you balk at paying that much for 270 acres, you have to know that life on the Carter Ranch is not exactly rough. Which is, of course, why it’s my kind of ranch.

The spread has more than ¾ of a mile of frontage here on beautiful Onion Creek, a spring fed, constant level river.  (Many lakes or “tanks” in the Hill Country get bone-dry in dry seasons, such as what we are experiencing right now. Was down there last week and the tanks at our place are lowest they’ve been.) This is property is a virgin –  never been on the market before. You amble up a road that crosses Onion Creek to reach to the guest house. The rustic but chic main house is completely updated like the Ritz with a beautiful backyard. 

According to the Austin American-Statesman, Hal Box, late dean of the UT School of Architecture, designed this space. A large picture window delivers tons of light and glorious sunsets. Elevated ceilings plus stained-and-scored concrete floors give the rooms volume. (I see a lot of concrete floors in the Hill Country, including down at the goregous BlueGreen development Vintage Oaks.) A stone wall, a must in every Hill Country ranch,  ties the rustic nature of the rest of the home into this new space.

The master features a tall, slanted ceiling, a kiva fireplace, and a wall of windows and glass doors that lead to the front porch and intimate sitting nooks.

The master bathroom is huge with a center solarium oasis, loaded with potted plants and caged birds. Talavera tiles surround a large, L-shaped vanity and walk-in car wash shower. An oval tub is set into the floor below an angled skylight.

The linen closet has glass doors etched with custom-designed deer and wild turkey etchings. The Carters each have a closet offering many built-ins; hers is the size of some bedrooms and large enough for a center desk!

Outside, sitting and reflecting spots everywhere. A back courtyard circles a fountain and is filled with ferns, palm trees and other lush flora. A large pavilion next to a koi pond and aviary contains picnic tables and an outdoor kitchen with a grill and smoker. This area was custom created when Carter hosted a barbecue for the Southern Governors’ Association’s annual meeting one year.

The guest house is an historic, 100-year-old log cabin the Carters moved in from northern New Mexico. Dogtrot-style, it features two identical bedrooms on either side of the breezeway with stone floors and stone fireplaces, old-fashioned clawfoot tubs, pedestal sinks and  pull-chain toilets. The log construction is Hill Country German style construction mortar and log. There is a 4-stall barn with bunkhouse, bath, tack room and hay loft. Over on Onion Creek, there is a dock for swimming or launching your canoe. Now when you entertain on a ranch, guests often have to spend the night — the drive is usually pretty far. That’s why there is an entertaining area will hold easily over 300 guests who can camp out in the log cabin.

Not only do you get all this, but the Carter Ranch starred in the movie, The Alamo. The film sets were left behind over on one ridge, making the ranch a popular spot for shooting commercials and one reason why its so popular for location shoots. So you could live here and send your kids to the rock-solid Dripping Springs school district, or become a weekend rancher now or later. Listed with Lynn Robin of Capital City Sotheby’s.