Morning Star Farm
Price: $7,338,750 ($5150 price per acre)
Size: 1,425+/- Acres
County: Robertson County , Texas
PROPERTY OVERVIEW: For 10,000+ years the mighty Brazos River Valley with its seemingly endless sea of grass prairie, gave refuge to grazing herds of buffalo and the indigenous, nomadic tribes that hunted them. Civilizations have continuously lived, hunted, and prospered here since the dawn of humanity itself. Today, in an area well known for fertile soil, robust grasses, productive cropland, abundant water and plentiful wildlife, this Morning Star Farm is “For Sale” for the first time in over a century.
Morning Star Farm is a legacy property centrally located in Robertson County, Texas in the Brazos Bottom, one of the earliest and most agriculturally productive parts of the state. Today, the 1,425 +/- acre Morning Star Farm offers a wide array of operational and recreational appeal, with 1.73 +/- miles of Brazos River frontage, ½ mile of Little Brazos River, 12+ different pastures, working pens, grasslands, prolific groundwater, Historic-Use Permitted ground water rights and over 600 base acres eligible for Farm Service Agency (FSA) program purposes.
A significant portion of the farm is found in open, improved pastureland with excellent interior and exterior fencing, gathering areas, lanes, functional gates and a working set of cattle pens. Other parts are planted in winter grasses in support of feeder cattle production, and still others have been taken out of agricultural production and the native prairie grasses restored to support conservation and wildlife production. The timbered portions of the farm are home to abundant wildlife including whitetail deer, songbirds, dove, varmints, bobcats, otters, bald eagles, feral hogs and many other wildlife species. Robertson Lake is a shallow marsh also located on the property that can hold thousands of wintering waterfowl as the roost along the Central Flyway. Abundant water, both below and above ground has been utilized and expanded upon with impressive infrastructure powered by on-the-grid electricity, solar panels, and diesel to pump water throughout the farm. In terms of its history and location, Morning Star Farm is a unique, high-quality property that offers both high-capacity agricultural production and recreational appeal built around the Brazos River, Robertson Lake, and over 300 acres reserved to encourage the growth of native plants and animals.
It is especially rare in this area to find a farm of this size and quality on the Brazos River with limited structural improvements, abundant ground water, well-developed and maintained agriculture improvements, restored native habitat, and mature pecan, elm, post oak and cottonwood trees. We are honored to offer the Morning Star Farm to the market, and believe this property represents an unparalleled and rare opportunity to own a large sprawling, legacy property in the historically and culturally important Brazos River Bottom of Texas.
LOCATION: Morning Star Farm is located just 4 +/- miles north of Calvert TX on FM 2159 just north of the intersection with Closs Road only ½ mile from Highway 6, and includes about 1450 ft. of FM road frontage. Morning Star Farm is only 40-miles north of Bryan/ College Station, home to Texas A&M University, and a short 50-minute drive from Waco. The property is situated 130-140 miles from Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston metroplexes, and only 100-miles east of Austin.
BRAZOS RIVER: Originally named “The Arms of God” by the first Spaniards to see it, the prolific Brazos River originates in and flows through Texas for 840-miles, eventually into the Gulf of Mexico. Morning Star Farm fronts on the Brazos River for 1.73 +/- miles on the property’s western boundary. The frontage is both impressive and unique, with steep bluffs giving way to gentle beaches and unique rock outcroppings that offer access to incredible views. This stretch of the Brazos River features exposed fossils, sandy beaches, massive river rock formations, 15+ million-year-old petrified wood and a concrete platform great for fishing. Further down the river, and still along Morning Star Farm’s river frontage, another sand/gravel bar lends itself well to recreational camping, hiking and fishing in the river.
The closest public access point to the Brazos River is south of Morning Star Farm at Black Bridge Road (FM 979), 1.36 +/- miles downstream from the property. Upstream, the closest public access is at FM 413, 15.97 +/- miles up-stream from Morning Star Farm.
TERRAIN: Morning Star Farm ranges in elevations from ~370’ near the eastern boundary at the entrance to ~ 270’ along the Brazos River at the western boundary, for a total of ~100’ of elevation change across the property. The front entrance of the property on FM 2159 is situated on the eastern ridge of the Brazos Bottom, and provides a view across the Brazos and into neighboring Milam County. An ancient overflow channel connecting the “big” and Little Brazos Rivers meanders through the property, carving an undulating landscape that holds water for wildlife and livestock, and sets up a wooded homesite closer to the Brazos near an existing powerline extending into the western part of the farm.
TREE COVER & PASTURELAND: Approximately 15% of the ranch has been left in native timber forests; where cedar elm, blackjack oak, burr oak, pecans, cottonwoods, yaupon, hackberry, mesquite trees and other native species dominate the flora. The remaining 85% is primarily open improved pastures. The diversity of vegetation, cover, reliable water sources, and natural travel corridors created by the landscape all combine to provide high-quality wildlife habitat.
FENCES, PASTURE MANAGEMENT, HAY PRODUCTION & CATTLE: The fertile bottomland of the Brazos River Valley is present throughout Morning Star Farm which produces abundant grass pastures marked by scattered mature pecan trees. Improved, Coastal Bermuda and Tifton 85 pastures are found throughout the ranch. Most pastures are sprayed and fertilized on a regular basis. Some pastures are overseeded for winter grazing. Over 12 pastures are created by quality interior cross-fencing and the perimeter is fenced with the exception of the Brazos River frontage and Robertson Lake. Cattle are not grazed on all 12 pastures, as the current lessee harvests hay on 120 acres out of a 180+/- acre pasture next to the Brazos River. There is also no grazing allowed in the house pasture at the entrance and the pasture where native vegetation has been planted adjacent to Robertson Lake. All pastures that hold and graze cattle include water troughs and/ or stock tanks as well as functioning gates to neighboring pastures. There is also a functional set of working pens. Current management grazes approximately 300 animal units in a cow-calf operation and a small number of stocker cattle on 941+/- acres or 1 animal unit per 3+/- acres.
SOILS: The main soils on the ranch consist of Ships Clay, Westwood Silt Loam & Clay Loam and Yahola fine sandy loam. The quality and fertility of the soils here have been proven through time by the prolific agricultural culture here in the Brazos Bottom, a place once known for being the “Cotton Capital of the World”.
PERMITTED WATER WELLS & GROUNDWATER: The Brazos Bottom, located between the Brazos River and the Little Brazos River, is known for the shallow, prolific groundwater, and the associated fertility of the soil. Both the Brazos River Alluvium Aquifer and the prolific Simsboro Aquifer are located beneath the Morning Star Farm.
Current ownership has permitted and constructed infrastructure to provide water to livestock and wildlife. Four Historic-Use Permits were issued to the current owner by the Brazos Valley Groundwater Conservation District, and today three of these four irrigation wells pump water to troughs, ponds, and wetlands. A fifth exempt well located on the grid pumps filtered water from the Brazos River Alluvium for residential use.
These four permitted water wells and their associated irrigation rights will transfer with the sale:
Morning Star Farm Well #1 – Brazos River Alluvium Aquifer, not to exceed 750 GPM and a maximum annual production of 379 acre-feet
Morning Star Farm Well #2 – Simsboro Aquifer, not to exceed 1000 GPM and a maximum annual production of 600 acre-feet
Morning Star Farm Well #3 – Simsboro Aquifer, not to exceed 1000 GPM and a maximum annual production of 600 acre-feet
Morning Star Farm Well #4 – Brazos River Alluvium Aquifer, not to exceed 750 GPM and a maximum annual production of 379 acre-feet
Total Historic-Use Permitted Water Rights to transfer with sale of Morning Star Farm: 1,958 annual acre-feet.
WATER FEATURES: In addition to the 1.73 +/- miles of Brazos River frontage, the Morning Star Farm has approximately ½ mile of both sides of Little Brazos River, Robertson Lake, 7 water features including a 1.14+/- acre pond in the southeastern corner of the property. Fishing along the property’s Brazos River frontage for Small and Largemouth Bass fishing can be productive, as well as catfish, eels and freshwater drum. Local populations of white bass can also be targeted and caught here at certain times of the year.
PECAN PLANTATION POTENTIAL: The combination of shallow groundwater and tremendously fertile soil in the Brazos Bottom would lend itself perfectly to a pecan plantation. While current agricultural management grazes livestock and harvests hay, pecan cultivation could be an additional or alternate source of income on Morning Star Farm.
NATIVE PRARIE RESTORATION: In 2017, in an effort to encourage the return of native bobwhite quail, approximately 135 +/- acres of Morning Star Farm was enrolled in the Texas Parks and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Pastures for Upland Birds Program, converted from improved pasture, and restored to native Texas prairie. A mixture of native grassland seed and 9 pre-selected pollinator/forb plants were re-seeded in this acreage located adjacent to the heavily wooded area surrounding Robertson Lake, and have since added dramatic improvements to the biodiversity and soil conservation elements of the property. This program has expired and there are no restriction or requirements for this acreage.
WATERFOWL & ROBERTSON LAKE: For the Central Texas waterfowl enthusiast, Morning Star Farm represents incredible waterfowl potential. Found on the northwest boundary, Robertson Lake is a shallow marsh with flooded green timber that can hold thousands of wintering ducks as the “roost” for this part of Robertson County.
Together with Robertson Lake, several sloughs and depressions already hold water in the winter and provide forage for migrating waterfowl. The terrain of the farm would support several additional areas of waterfowl habitat. Specifically, across the railroad tracks from Robertson Lake sits a shallow area with a single riser pipe. This area is a natural depression and is planted and irrigated from the Simsboro aquifer using existing infrastructure and equipment in the winter. Japanese millet, barnyard grass and other highly desirable waterfowl food sources flourish here.
In combination with the permitted water rights, abundant groundwater, Robertson Lake, and Little Brazos and “big” Brazos Rivers, the waterfowl development potential of Morning Star Farm is unmatched in the area.
WILDLIFE & HUNTING: The array of wildlife on Morning Star Farms is a unique and virtually unpressured asset seldom found on large acreage properties available today. The whitetail deer herd regularly produces bucks in the 130” to 140” B&C class through active management and little recent hunting pressure. In 2009, the Texas Big Game Awards awarded recognition to Morning Star Farm and a buck that was harvested here. This deer was scored at 151 5/8ths net non-typical, standing testament to the quality of native wildlife habitat on this low-fence property. Morning Star Farm has been involved with the TPWD’s Managed Lands Deer Program for 10+ years.
Other local wildlife includes feral hogs, bobcats, coyotes, red and grey foxes, squirrels, raccoons, Sandhill cranes, ducks, Wilson’s snipe, bats, and various species of small herbivores such as gophers, mice, rabbits, skunks, and armadillos. A wide variety of birds – mockingbirds, cardinals, dove, predatory birds like the osprey and bluejays – are also native to Morning Star Farm, and migratory non-game species also provide an element of interest for birders.
AREA HISTORY: The area surrounding Morning Star Farm has been continuously inhabited for over 10,000 years. From Paleolithic tribes hunting mammoths with spears, to the era of Indigenous Native American tribes chasing vast herds of buffalo, to the mid-19th century when Texas cotton was king – humanity has always thrived in today’s Central Texas landscape.
When the first Europeans arrived in the region in the late 1500’s, it was dominated by Tawakoni, Tonkawa, and Waco Indians. Occasionally, the Comanches, Kiowas, and Lipan-Apaches made forays into the area, hunting game on the open upland prairies and raiding enemy Indian villages. Buffalo herds numbering in the millions then grazed upon the open prairies between the Trinity and Brazos rivers, attracting these nomadic tribes of the Great Plains.
In 1822 a group of European immigrant buffalo hunters camped at the Brazos crossing of the Old San Antonio Road, and in 1823 six families from Kentucky built a temporary settlement at the mouth of the Little River. The same year Sterling C. Robertson, the county’s namesake and several other Tennesseans representing the Texas Association of Nashville explored the area with the view of eventually colonizing it.
On December 14, 1837, the First Texas Congress passed a measure establishing Robertson County from portions of Milam, Bexar, and Nacogdoches counties and naming it in honor of Sterling Robertson. During the mid-1830s Robertson County was the scene of numerous battles between Anglo-American settlers and Indians. Among the most famous was the November 1836 Massacre that occurred next door to Morning Star Farm. The Indian raids, however, began to abate after 1838, when a company of Texas Rangers commanded by Eli Chandler was stationed at Old Franklin. By the time Texas joined the United States in 1846, the frontier had pushed farther west, and Indian raids in Robertson County had all but ended.
During the next decade numerous new settlers arrived to take advantage of the fertile Brazos Bottom. In just ten years, from 1850 to 1860, the population grew more than five-fold. By the early 1850s a thriving economy, based almost entirely on cotton, had begun to emerge.
The coming of the railroads and the steady growth in population led to strong growth of the county’s agricultural-based economy. Cotton, corn, and cattle, which had formed the mainstays of the economy after 1850, continued to be the leading products through the second half of the nineteenth century. Acreage in the county devoted to cotton cultivation rose steadily from 50,000 acres in 1880 to 150,000 acres in 1925.
Today, Robertson County’s economy is still closely tied to agriculture, ranching and farming. Beef and dairy cattle were the largest source of income; while leading crops included cotton, sorghums, small grains, watermelons, and corn. Leading industries were agribusinesses, brick manufacturing, and a coal powered electric generating plant. Other important sources of revenue include oil and natural gas and mined lignite.
MINERALS: The current owner is offering his interest in the surface estate and its associated rights.
AGRICULTURAL LEASE: There is currently an active grazing lease that expires May 31, 2023 with a longtime agricultural tenant who is very skilled, dedicated, and takes beautiful care of the production acreage he leases. That current agricultural lease generates in excess of $30,000 in annual income through relatively high per-acre grazing rates, while at the same time reserving the front pasture with the structural improvements, Robertson Lake and/or the native prairie grassland restoration area from grazing. The right to hunt, fish, and trap on the entire property have been reserved by the current owner, are not currently under lease, and will convey immediately upon closing.
STRUCTURAL IMPROVEMENTS: The improvements on the property are humble but functional. Just inside the main gate sits a ~1,250 SF, two story cabin and a nearby ~550 SF barn, both built in 2016 with asphalt shingle roofs, concrete floors and dusk-to-dawn external lighting. The insulated cabin was designed and manufactured in Connecticut and features hot and cold running water, electricity, air-conditioning, and heating. The kitchen, living space, dining table and bathroom are on the first floor. The second floor with interior staircase is used as sleeping quarters with dormer windows looking out across the Brazos Bottom. The cabin also has sliding doors that open wide enough to create a space for vehicle storage. The adjacent barn has a large overhead metal door that stores a supplies, tools and equipment.
RIGHT-OF-WAYS: Found along the western side of the Morning Star Farm, Sunoco Pipeline L.P. operates a crude oil pipeline easement near the river. This pipeline appears to be well maintained, and has no detrimental impact on the property.
MISSOURI – PACIFIC RAILROAD: Morning Star Farm controls access to two railroad grade crossings serviced by swing-gates and cattle guards, and three under-rail cattle crossings. These two private railroad grade crossings are key to the proper functioning of this property, along with the under-rail cattle crossings which allow animals to easily move without danger from the east to the west side of the railroad right-of-way. The railroad has also done extensive rock retaining work on an area along the Brazos River, and built a roadbed across the top. Finally, the owner has installed all-metal pedestrian stairways that allow ready access on foot from the wetland development just on the east side of the railroad tracks to the native prairie restoration and Robertson Lake on the west.
UTILITIES: Electricity is provided by Navasota Valley Electric Cooperative, and a power line with metered connection to the cabin, barn, and well house runs parallel to the public road frontage at the main farm entrance off FM 2159. A second power line comes onto the property just east of the railroad tracks and stretches to a metered location powering a water well near the Brazos River. This second line also stretches southward across the property close to a potential wooded home site near the best Brazos River access point on the entire farm.
EQUIPMENT: Several pieces of equipment are included with the offering: a John Deere 6300 tractor, shredder, and broadcast spreader; two manufactured and locking weatherproof tower blinds with steps and aluminum windows, one shop-built tower blind, one shop-built ground blind, shop-built duck blind, one site-built duck blind, four battery-powered spin corn feeders, and one gravity protein feeder that are all on site, in place, and ready to hunt.
SCHOOL DISTRICT: Calvert Independent School District.
PROPERTY TAXES: The property taxes for 2021 were approximately $2,601.02.
ASKING PRICE: $5,150 per acre ($7,338,750)
BROKER & COMMISSION DISCLOSURE: Buyer’s Agent/ Broker must be identified upon first contact with Listing Broker/ Listing Agent and Buyer’s Agent/ Broker must be present at the initial property tour in order to participate in the real estate commission. Commission splits will be at the sole discretion of Hortenstine Ranch Company, LLC.