At one corner of Park and Custer in Plano stands the familiar Walgreens. But the view of the opposite corner causes a lot of head scratching. What’s the story behind the llamas in the pasture, and how about all those campaign signs plastered to fences? Rodney Haggard recently gave Plano Magazine a tour to help answer such existential questions, and explain the property’s history.
An oak-lined lane loops up to Rodney’s boyhood home, built in the 1960s. Passing beneath the arched gatekeeper, one starts to feel it – that sense of drifting back in time when the town of Plano was tucked away neatly to the East. Farms dotted the landscape to the West of what is now US Highway 75.
Fairview was just such a farm when Clinton Shepard Haggard and wife Kate built their new house there in 1884. The land that now hosts a much smaller version of their homestead is sandwiched between Park Boulevard to the South and Custer Road to the West. New homes fill the northern pasture where cattle, horses and sheep once grazed.
Rodney fondly recalled watching the crop dusters flying low over the surrounding fields, guided by flag men, impressing him with their aerobatic skills. His desire to become a pilot was inspired by such flights of fancy. He laughed, remembering the repeated confusion about his mother’s name. After marrying Walter O. Haggard Jr., the former Merle Anna Mayo became Merle Haggard. Rodney’s father, Walter, planted the trees along the drive and is the namesake of the largest library in Plano.
Livestock seen from countless automobiles passing the farm has changed shape over the years. Herefords still nip the grass as they did a mere decade after Plano welcomed the railroad in 1872. The llamas in a separate pasture are a more recent anomaly. The South American natives were brought in to protect the sheep which were long raised on the farm. Coyotes preyed on the sheep relentlessly despite attempts to stop them, first using large dogs and then donkeys. But donkeys tend to pester sheep so the llamas were a last-ditch effort to foil the coyotes’ predation. Now they provide wool once sheared from ewes.
Political signs blanket the fences from time to time, and not always with permission. As long as they get removed after campaigns end, the tradition of using the fence lines for free advertising will continue. Patting a faded red pickup truck, Rodney confirmed that the Aermotor windmill in his backyard still pumps water for the livestock, although its squeaky nature required a fix. “We didn’t realize how loud it was until the new neighbors complained. We’ll have it repaired and reconnect it.”
Driving out between the rows of live oaks, the brick standards at the entry catch the eye. Engraved on one of two gray stones reads “C.S. and Kate Haggard Founders Residence 1884 – 1930.” Time marches on, but the past is never far away at Fairview.