In 1885, San Antonio architect Alfred Giles began buying the land that would become Hillingdon Ranch, eventually accumulating 13,000 acres near the town of Comfort in Kendall County. As the property passed to succeeding generations, the holdings got smaller, and more family members shared a stake in the ranch. Today, dozens of Giles descendants own pieces of it, ranging in size from ten to several hundred acres.
Yet Hillingdon remains a working ranch, with day-to-day operations managed by Robin Giles, grandson of Alfred Giles; his wife, Carol; their son, Grant; and Grant’s wife, Misty. The cattle, sheep, and goat business they built has become a model of stewardship and sustainability. While managing family relationships can often be as complicated as managing livestock and forage, the ranch would not exist without the commitment of the large extended family, now in its sixth generation on the ranch.
Hillingdon Ranch: Four Seasons, Six Generations chronicles how one family has worked together over many years to keep their ranch intact. It is also a beautifully photographed portrait of a ranching family and their life in the Texas Hill Country, where work is guided by the seasons, increasingly influenced by technology, and inevitably affected by drought.
In learning about the family’s successes and challenges, readers will gain a greater appreciation of what the Giles family’s efforts mean to the rest of us: food, fiber, clean air, wildlife, healthy land, peace and quiet, and, perhaps most important of all, clean and plentiful water.
What Readers Are Saying:
“In Texas, 94 percent of the land is privately owned, so the future of the Lone Star State depends on the care of individual land owners. Hillingdon Ranch: Four Seasons, Six Generations tells the story of how one family's passionate stewardship translates into environmental benefits for our entire state. The Giles family's commitment to conservation is a model for all Texans as we work together to protect our state's clean air, clean water, wildlife habitats and magnificent natural landscapes.”—Mrs. Laura Bush, Former First Lady of Texas and the United States of America
"Hillingdon Ranch: Four Seasons, Six Generations tells a story that is important to all Texans. Within its pages, you’ll discover how one family’s passionate stewardship of their land translates into environmental benefits for society as a whole. It is a story that plays out on ranch after ranch, and in family after family. While land stewards bear the direct responsibility, we can all work together to keep our legendary open spaces open and environmentally productive."--Nolan Ryan, Baseball Hall of Fame, rancher, and former Texas Parks and Wildlife Commissioner
“As tough and as hard as it looks, our ecological system is fragile. It depends on us to take care of it. Hillingdon Ranch: Four Seasons, Six Generations tells the story of just that. They have been environmental caretakers on the frontline for 128 years. Successive generations of the Giles family have had the joy and responsibility of being land stewards. It is through their passion and commitment, along with others like them, that Texas, despite its amazing growth, still has clean water, clean air, and great wildlife habitat, not to mention our legendary wide open spaces.”--George Strait, Country Music Hall of Fame and rancher
"More than a history of a Texas ranch, Hillingdon Ranch: Four Seasons, Six Generations is an allegory of a family and the land, how their stewardship for more than 100 years has sustained Hillingdon and how that land has nurtured and shaped Alfred Giles's descendants. . . Hillingdon Ranch is a rallying cry for urban and rural Texans to understand their intertwined fortunes and combine their substantial talents and energies towards ' . . . policies that conserve the common good, while protecting the heritage of private landowners.'"--Texas Wildlife
"A new book which is filled with more than 200 photographs... [and] has a strong environmental message that good stewardship of our open lands is key to the ecological health of the state...
The family also has played a crucial role in 'managing and improving watershed's condition...'
Langford [captures] numerous up-close images of cardinals, finches, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, warblers, wrens, and killdeer." -- Charles Ealy
"If you're looking for the perfect coffee table book for yourself or to give for Christmas, you'd have a hard time finding a better one than this. It offers a multitude of color photos that bring to brilliant life the factual narrative about the 13,00-acre Hillingdon Ranch...
While Cantu's narrative is esssential to bringing together the multitude of color photographs, it will be the visual images that first capture the attention for those who open the book's covers... It is impossible to view just a few of Langford's photos without turning another, and still another page to see the next. It's a beautiful book. Buy it as a gift or for yourself, but either way, be sure to enjoy both the photographs and the text." --Marie Beth Jones