Too Hot to Rockhunt? You Can Still Buy Agate by the Bucketfull

For those of you who don’t live in Texas, Friday, May 1 was when some restrictions on travel ended.  Hotels and motels in the Big Bend can open back up at 25% of their capacity, and restaurants can, as well, if they have room for social distancing.  However, the nice spring weather happened while we were sheltering in place, and now it’s pretty much summertime conditions: very hot, often windy, sometimes rainy, with occasional thunder storms which can bring lots of hail, or perhaps a tornado or two.

Because of the weather conditions, Aaron and I have decided that we won’t be leading field trips again until Fall.  We have lots of people tell us that they can take the heat because they’re from the Gulf Coast.   But the heat we have here is very dry heat, and you can get dehydrated here very quickly.  The combination of the elevation, the dryness, and the heat with no shade has sent many people to hospitals with heatstroke over the years, and we won’t lead field trips in conditions which may permanently injure your health (or ours!).

On another topic, my rock sales are going well.  All of the Walker Ranch cutting agate buckets have been sold,  as well as the buckets of agate nodules.  But there’s lots of other good agate still available.  Both the Singleton and Stillwell Ranches are great locations that are not open to the public any more. In my last email, I detailed the reason that I dropped the price on the Singleton Ranch tock buckets, but I’ll repeat it here:  Unlike the Walker Ranch buckets, where I separated specimens and cutting material, the  buckets of agate from the Singleton Ranch are completely unsorted.  That means you’re apt to get specimen material along with the cuttable agate. In order to make sure you feel like you’ve gotten a good deal, I’ve lowered the price of a bucket of Singleton Ranch agate to $125 for an unsorted bucket.  Or you can spend $250 for a bucket where I’ve combined two of the unsorted buckets and removed most of the stuff that won’t cut.

The Singleton material has some bouquet agate in it, and in general those pieces run fairly small.  Many will make only one cab, and to do that you’ll need to hold the piece in your hands while you grind a flat spot to glue the dop stick on.  The colors are usually pastels, and there’s also quite a lot of black and white plume agates there, as well.  There’s also water-level agate, which is where the silica that formed the agate was dissolved in ground water flowing horizontally.  The different minerals in the solution at different time made different color bands, mostly blue, grey, black and white. The bands are absolutely straight, so the material looks great if you cut diagonally across the bands for your cab. There are moss agates and occasional tube agates, and some very neat stuff that is brecciated common opal with a background of chalcedony. The opal can be any color from white through the buff, pink, and red colors into brown, and the chalcedony background  can be clearish, white, light blue, dark blue, or black.  The buckets of Singleton material are  $125 each, since I never separated the specimen material from the cutting material.  Or, I can send you a bucket that I’ve “curated”, taking the best cutting material from two Singleton buckets and putting them into one bucket, for $250.  that saves you shipping cost for the second bucket and doesn’t leave you with a bunch of specimen material you don’t want.
 The Stillwell Ranch had a whole bunch of different types of agate, jasper, flint, chert and petrified wood.  Pieces can be quite large:  perhaps the size of a brick.  I am continually surprised at the variety in the Stillwell agate.    In one afternoon a couple of years ago I found agatized petrified wood in nine different color combinations.  The pieces appear not to have grown in the location where they’re found.  There are several hills on the ranch that are actually just giant rock piles, deposited there in prehistory when the Rio Grande was many miles wide.  There are plume agates, mosses, fortifications, tube agates and some others that I can’t begin to describe.  There will also be colorful petrified wood, and perhaps some flint and chert that were exceptional for some reason.  They may have originated any where along the course of the Rio Grande, from Southern Colorado through New Mexico and the Big Bend of Texas.  Because this ranch is now closed to rockhunting, the buckets are $250 each.
 The South Larremore Ranch is very interesting.  It has gravel piles sticking up above ground level.  These piles were the bottom of an ancient lake, and they have some incredible agate in them.  It also has the creekbed for Calamity Creek, which is the creek that goes through the former Woodward and Walker Ranches, and picks up pieces of plume agate on its way down.  So there’s material there that looks like what you would find on the Walker and Woodward Ranches, in addition to the pieces in the gravel piles that can look like the spectacular fortification agates from Mexico. There’s also agatized wood, and perhaps some flint and chert that were exceptional for some reason.  Pieces are generally small.  South Larremore Ranch agate is $200 per bucket and the South Larremore Ranch is still open for rochunts in fall, winter and spring.

Feel free to look at my website,

for other rocks for sale, and email me if you have any questions.

Regards, Teri & Aaron