What the Heck Is This Eggplant Altar?

Have I missed a trend? Am I incredibly out of it? Can someone kindly tell me what is going on here?

Answer Below!

Look closely at this hollow stump.

Y’all, there’s a parade of eggplants around this stump, which, by the way, is in the middle of Walker’s Creek cemetery. What‽

Okay. I know an eggplant emoji is used to symbolize male appendages. Is this a pee-pee parade?

I could not find any articles on occult eggplant 🍆 rituals. I sure know nothing about such things, and I’ve studied symbols and such.

Well, maybe someone feeds the squirrels at that stump and left them there, but the squirrels didn’t like them?

I guess I could think of weird sorority or fraternity rituals, or maybe a farm kid prank. Instead, I’ll ask YOU.

What is going on at my local cemetery? I will share any fun guesses here!

Answers I Received

I’ve learned this much, but I would still love to know who arranged the altar and why, in this specific case.

  • Maxwellthedog pointed out in comments: Not just any eggplant. A Japanese eggplant. A nasubi.
  • Chris Lindsey shared this link to the goddess Oya, pointing out that she often received offerings of eggplant.
  • And Kathleen knew all about it. She shares: The guardian of the cemetery Oya. Sometimes if you look closely there are slits cut in the eggplants with notes placed inside.
Oya! From The Orishas: Oya, link above.

Further reading makes me realize it’s part of the Santeria religion. Well, THAT adds a lot to the current history of Walker’s Creek. How cool!

She watches over cemeteries, guarding the dead with one foot in the world of the living and one in the world of the deceased. Oya is deeply connected to those who have passed over and she is said to guide those who have died through the cemetery gates to their eternal resting place. While she is known for her passion and strength, she exudes unwavering compassion for all of our ancestors.

The Orishas: Oya

Even More

It’s amazing what I can learn when I know what to look for (eggplant and ritual were not enough). I found out that Oya’s feast day is February 2. That’s a familiar date. Why, it’s right at Imbolc, the feast day of St. Brighid! Lo and behold:

Ọya (Yoruba: Ọya, also known as Oyá or Oiá; Yansá or Yansã; and Iansá or Iansã in Latin America) is an orisha of winds, lightning, and violent storms, death and rebirth. She is similar to the Haitian god Maman Brigitte, who is syncretised with the Catholic Saint Brigit.

Wikipedia: Oya

Well, welcome to my pantheon, Oya! I will have to learn more about the Yoruba and Santeria aspects of her.

Book Report and More: You Are a Badass

Here’s another book I started out hating, so I put it down for a good while. It all worked out for the best though, because I picked it up right when I needed it most.

Ooh. It’s trademarked.

You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, by Jen Sincero proved another point, too—you don’t have to buy into everything a self-help book says to benefit from it. I definitely disagree with stuff in the beginning and the whole ending section, but I loved the middle!

I got this book, because it’s the one my work book club selected. When I started out, I was really put off by the tone and all the assumptions the author made about who her readers were. They are most assuredly people who are not me. But then, those people need books, too, right? It’s meant for people in their twenties and thirties, from what I can tell from the popular culture references strewn throughout the text. And it is most certainly for Americans, for the same reasons.

Sincero does try to notice that not everyone has the privileges she has, but there’s a lot of exhortations to just DO a thing and all will be well. Plus, there’s an undercurrent of blaming people for their own misfortunes. I don’t think she intends it, but it does come across if you know anyone who is actually poor, abused, or has other big-ass hardships.

No doubt, a lot of people will enjoy her light-hearted tone and short, easy-to-read-in-a-sitting chapters. Sincero’s heart is in the right place, and I guess she’s just talking like a life coach, making me very glad, once again, not to have a life coach. She repeats that important notion that you’re fine just as you are, and that it’s okay to let go of things (andpeople) that don’t serve you. And I think for anyone setting out to figure out who they are and who they want to be, her ideas, visualizations, and focusing techniques can be truly helpful.

I thought hard about it and realized I know who I am, where I want to be in life, and how I’m going about getting there. I know where my blockages are and am laser focused on moving through them. (I am NOT perfect; I just already introspect the heck out of myself and keep changing and adjusting.)

Here’s What Was Serendipitous

The cool experience I had with You Are a Badass (registered trademark) is that I set it down from November until last week, when I realized I needed to read the next section for our long-delayed book club meeting soon. Then I said to myself, “Let’s just get this book over with, and kept plodding away.

Now, I’d been dealing with a person who’d been in my life a while, but whose habits and actions really bothered me. I talked about it in my bully post. I knew perfectly well what I needed to do to stop letting myself feel annoyed, and deep beneath my subconscious there was an elusive piece of insight I knew I needed to apply, but it had slipped my mind. Not to worry, by delaying reading this book until the right moment, my reminder popped up, right there on page 180.

p. 180, BINGO

I’ve heard that before, and even applied it to myself (for example, I learned to deal with a constant “my problems are worse than yours” friend by realizing I had that tendency, too, forgiving the friend, and working on my own shit. Y’all do NOT get to read about all my problems here (just things I want to share, in case they are helpful to someone), and you can thank that friend.

But yeah. Sincero’s example was even right on. This person feels as if he just HAS to be the smartest person in the room, delivering lectures at the drop of a hat, and not entertaining alternate ideas or thoughts. That is another tendency I fall into myself. I hate being wrong (or screwing up). Luckily, this is another thing I’ve worked on (and had a LOT of opportunities since I came to rural America). I no longer feel it necessary to trot out my knowledge of whatever it is I’m so knowledgeable about unless I really think someone WANTS to know about it or would make any use of my expertise. I’ve been called out on this a few times (Suna, aren’t you a professional writer? Why didn’t you say anything to that person pontificating about writing?) Unless it’s worth the effort, I’ll just let people figure stuff out for themselves; I don’t have to be Professor of Everything I Know About.

But, that does explain one reason that person annoyed me. That person also has a savior complex, and feels that it’s their duty to fix the problem of every sob story they hear about (human and otherwise). Helping others is good. Helping others to get attention for it is less great. And oh have I been accused of doing that in the past! I am pretty sure that, while I’ve helped some people, my motives may have been messed up some of the time. No wonder seeing that in someone else annoyed me.

Seeing this made me feel much better about needing some distance, and also helped me get over being annoyed. That leads to the next nugget I ran into, all about how to get past being irritated and move on. I needed a reminder of this, too.

page 123, the nugget of goodness

Right on! I am learning to talk to people I care about if I have issues with them, and to listen when people do that to me. She’s right, it can bring you closer. But, in the case of the bully, Sincero is dead right. It is totally useless to think about revenge, proving myself right (I am), or some other vindication. It’s not worth the mental effort nor the physical symptoms all that vitriol can cause.

I knew I needed to just let it go. I had been telling myself that, but this passage helped me realize it was for my own good to do this. If karma bites that person in the butt, I may not see it, but that’s fine. If it becomes clear to them that I was doing the right thing all along by resisting the bullying, well, maybe that will help them, but it won’t be my problem. I’m over here with people who like me, learning about being a better human being, and dealing with my own issues.

That’s plenty, right? I’m glad I came across those passages right when I needed them.

Small Warning

The last part of the book, where she goes into full-throttle, goal-setting, laser-focused dream achievement is something you might want to skip. The end of the book has advice that, if I took it, I’d be one miserable human being. I think it would be very hard to be so focused on some goal that you have no other life. Also, her belief in the Secret, or whatever it is, that things come if you just focus on them, well, it’s great for some stuff.

But it felt to ME that she came from a really entitled white lady space in a lot of the last part of the book. I don’t think she knows REAL struggle, systemic racism, and the like.

Just my thoughts. If you fit her intended audience, though, maybe you, too, can bring out the internal badass that’s always been there. I find that Brene Brown says similar things in a way that resonates more with me. But then, she is closer to my age.

Flora and Fauna at Walker’s Creek Cemetery

I promised I’d write more about my visit to Walker’s Creek cemetery. I ended up observing close to 50 different plants! Check out my pretty pictures and witty prose!

Suna

Nature Along the El Camino Real

by Sue Ann Kendall, your blog editor

Many thanks go out to Linda Jo Conn, who suggested that our chapter members should get outside and visit a local cemetery. I have missed doing iNaturalist stuff and actually getting volunteer hours for it SO much since we’ve been asked not to make observations on our own property, which rules out the 600 acres around me. But, ha! There’s a cemetery right down the road, just oozing with history and life.

A different photo of the entrance, since my personalblog post on the headstones had my other entrance photo.

Yesterday was a pleasant, if rather damp day, so I took off, camera in hand, to go see what I could see at Walker’s Creek cemetery.

The main entrance. They really want you to know this is an older cemetery.

I actually didn’t make it off the Hermits’ Rest Ranch before…

View original post 1,131 more words

Headstones and History

While I’ve written about Walker’s Creek cemetery before, I was compelled to write again, because our Master Naturalist event champion, Linda Jo, asked us to go out and observe at a Milam County cemetery this week. This place is so beautiful, I’m always happy to visit.

This is maybe a mile from the ranch.

I decided to do two things, survey what’s living and growing in the area for iNaturalist and see what I can learn about the area’s history from the tombstones. I’ll post the nature stuff on the Master Naturalist blog when it’s done.

Our area in a nutshell. I do have photos of the school, etc., somewhere on this blog.

As I looked around, I saw the graves of those founders and their descendants. The Jinks family put in new stones and is all fancy.

Very fancy, Jinks family.
Older Jinks graves. Marzillah, on the right, died in 1909 and has Heaven and other art on her stone. Her husband was a Mason. He died in 1886, making him probably one of the first ones here.

The Cages and Walkers had some cool old stones. I love how many stones throughout the cemetery have kind words on them.

Mothers often have poems.
Another beloved mother. “Rest, mother, rest in quiet sleep, While friends in sorrow over thee weep.”

Another thing I notice on the older headstones is that there are hands in them, like the one at our house, which has a hand pointing up. Here are a couple with a handshake and hands reading a book (Bible, I assume).

My favorite stone with an inscription was this much more recent one. Way to go, Sonny.

Yes. What a guy.

I do enjoy humor from the families. This is so cute cute

A cow, and a population sign. Fun Lucko family.

Lots of the gravestones looked like trees. They are Woodmen of the World stones, bought with burial insurance. When I was a kid, I thought it was an organization for guys like my grandfather, who was a woodsman (forest surveyor).

1919 grave of Luther Allen

As I looked around, I noticed a few things. One is that the people buried here aren’t German or Czech, like we see in the surrounding area. The names are mostly English, Scots, etc.

A Walker who lived a long life. Originally a Todd. There are Todds down the road.

Even the people I know who are buried here have English names. The late sheriff Green, his son, and eventually his wife, the Greenes, are here.

Newer graves lovingly cared for.

This is a great example of what I saw all over the cemetery, where people do sweet things like stack rocks or arrange rocks in patterns. I thought it was so sweet.

Notice the stacked rocks. Also, such a beautiful tree for the family to enjoy during visits.

The rocks hold up better than fake flowers, for sure. But, some of the graves are well tended. My former neighbor, Elaine, gets visited often. It helps that her son now lives across the street in her old house.

Notice the rocks, her favorite bird, and fresh flowers.

Another thing I noticed was that any tomb cover on a grave was all cracked up. I’m not surprised, seeing how much the soil moves around here. The Jinks grave above shows this. Here’s another example.

It’s all cracked.

This cemetery is in a beautiful spot, surrounded by woods and little ponds. I enjoyed my time here so much.

There were doves and cardinals around this pond.

Remember the sign at the beginning that talked about a church? Most cemeteries have a church associated with them. There’s not one here now, but there was one across the road, here.

This is where the church was.

I’d noticed the sign before, since we drive by here often.

Church site.

Only today did I see the sign, which appears to be on the old entry. Aha.

Very descriptive.

I saw so much of historical interest here, right down the street! I look forward to writing up all the plants and animals I encountered.

Knitting Progress and a Memory

Someone surprised me by asking how my knitting project was coming along. Sure, I’ll share.

Knitting plus ever-present lap dog.

I’m close to getting through two repeats of the lace pattern. I’m also awfully close to finishing the first skein of yarn, which means this will be more of a mat than a table runner. So, I’m going to see if there happens to be any of that yarn out there in the world. Who knows?

Pattern up close.

The black part of the yarn makes the lace pattern not show up as well, but that’s a risk I took by not doing this in a solid color. I’m not a perfect decreaser but I’ll smooth some of them out later.

Dark Lace

Just because a yarn is dark doesn’t mean you can’t make a lace project out of it. One of my favorite shawls is this beautiful one made from natural black sheepswool from American Shetland sheep. The shawl was made in 2010 and still looks new. No evil moths have attacked it.

Hey, that hunk of quartz makes a nice shawl display.

The style is Faroese, a traditional British Isles style. The way the center pattern and border intersect is so elegant.

Fun lace. Simple beauty.

The wool is spun a little scratchy, but that makes it stay on your shoulders and drape beautifully. I had Lee take a few pictures of me wearing it, since Ravelry only had pictures of the shawl alone.

It’s very light, but warm. I’m so glad the dogs are old enough that I can wear shawls again. Anyway, dark lace can be lovely.

Those of you wanting to make one can go to my Ravelry page for the project, which lists the source, yarn, and other details. Gosh, I still remember the day I bought the yarn and how helpful the shop owner was. We both kept patting the beautiful wool.

All the details!

Memories. I do have something percolating in my head to write more seriously about, so I’ll be back later. Now I must go on an adventure!

A Clean Chicken Is a Happy Chicken, Perhaps

Back to cute little animals and ranching activities, which everyone can enjoy! I still have seven outdoor birds, five laying hens, Bruce the rooster, and Gertie the Guinea. They always surprise and entertain me, as you can tell from how many blog posts I manage to take up with Poultry Tales. But, they are my buddies!

Bruce rules the roost with a gentle hand, or wing. His pointy feathers on his neck and back are gorgeous.

I mentioned earlier this week that they’re creatures of habit. But, sometimes they do change their minds. All of last year, the chickens preferred to sleep on the branches in the chicken run. They would all line up, and when we had lots of them, it was quite a sight. Now that it’s winter, though, many of them have decided to roost in the roosting area of their henhouses. That’s all fine. I’m sure it’s warmer and dryer.

But, when the chickens spend more time in the henhouse, there gets to be more poop in there. The nest boxes had become noticeably more poopy as of this week. I’d prefer cleaner eggs, and I’m pretty sure the hens prefer cleaner nests, since I found an egg just sitting on the roosting area yesterday.

So, today I put on a mask (hey, at least I own a lot of them!) and cleaned out their little world. I didn’t realize how much bedding and such was in there until I removed it all. The tub got pretty heavy! I’m hoping we can use the material in compost.

A lot of pine shavings and poop (and a piece of wood)

Naturally, it was harder than it could have been, since all the things I could find to scoop out the material were exactly as wide as a nest box. I know I own a bunch of garden trowels, but they must be put away very well.

Ooh, aah. We do still need to fix the missing divider. We have all the parts. They still lay eggs there.

As soon as I was finished, Springsteen, the homebody, RAN in and checked out the white henhouse. Then she RAN to the red one. Much clucking occurred. She’s a good housekeeper. Or maybe it was her egg-laying time, since she hadn’t laid one yet.

The gentle giant, Springsteen. You can see some green highlights on her feathers.

While it was a messy job, I enjoyed it, because I got to spend time with my bird friends and Vlassic. I hope you enjoy these close-ups of some of the younger chickens. It’s neat to see how they change as they grow up.

Hedley, in the rear, is the shyest hen, and won’t let me get close. Bertie and Gertie are overly friendly.

And can you believe good ole Bertie is over a year old? We will have had her a year next month, and she was four months old when we got her.

This had gotten particularly dirty, and the roost area in front was also a mess. This is way better. Golf ball is a fake egg. All the eggs in these pictures are the ones we were trying to hatch, which are now dummy eggs.

I Understand Why People Hate Timeshares

As faithful readers may have noticed, Lee and I bought into a timeshare, after swearing we’d never do that. But, we reasoned that by paying into it, we would be more likely to take the time out of our schedules to go travel, and it would be like having a second (okay, third) home without having to maintain it ourselves.

We (or I) have enjoyed visiting various spots, like North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and Utah. We also had a fun trip within Texas through the system. I have no complaints about the facilities or staff, and was really impressed by how careful they were when I went to Utah and managed to avoid humans and their diseases.

But, it turns out that the resorts and amenities are a small part of the operations, which really seem to be focused on aggressively pursuing late payments and trying to get people to default on their loans. If a payment isn’t received immediately, debt collection calls start. I’ve never had debt collection calls from anywhere, ever before!

It turns out that our problem is that Lee prefers to make payments by postal mail, using the coupon books provided by the company and personal checks. That’s a legitimate way to pay, and I used to pay for things that way, too. This does make us dependent on the US Postal Service to get our payments to the company on time. Payments sent a week before due date were a few days late a couple of times since we got the timeshare. As soon as I realized the calls were legit, I always paid the bills by credit card. They kindly took the checks, too, once they arrived. I guess it applied to principal.

But then, around Christmas/New Year’s, I kept getting calls and calls. It seems that they didn’t get TWO payments. Lee swore he’d paid them. Well, ha! He had sent the payments all right, but they got RETURNED to us for sending them to the wrong address (the address on the payment coupons). Well, changing your address and not forwarding mail to the new one sure is a way to get lots of late fees.

Thanks a lot, postal service

I called their debt servicing folks, and a lady gave me two entirely different addresses to send payments to. She said she never heard of the one on our coupons. Uh huh. Too bad, so sad.

I sent their email address proof that we DID make the payments and that the postal service had returned them. I asked that they not report me as not paying my bills.

So, beware. Timeshares can be fun and simplify travel, but I’d pay cash up front if I ever did it again, which I won’t.

Horror stories of your own are welcome!

What’s Digging Up Dirt around Your Place (or a load of bull and dillo dirt)

Perhaps my title is better than this post will come out to be, but this points out to me that I need to stop trying to write about two things in one post, just to not appear to be blogging crazed.

Bull, Big Load

Yesterday, Vlassic and I went to feed the horses after work. He was happy, because I gave him his yummy heartworm pill, so we had a nice time on our walk. I looked up and said hi to Apache, then turned to say hi to Spice and Lakota, when something moved in the holding pen. WHOA. It was big.

Who the heck are YOU?

Yep, there was a bull I’d never seen before. He was, to say the least, beefy, quite a load of bull. I was like, uh oh, he probably won’t like me going around messing near him. I could see that he’d been upset and dug the dirt and mud up in the pen. So I said hi.

Hey. I’m a bull. Nice to meet you.

I went ahead and fed the horses. Every time I walked by the pen, the bull followed me. It occurred to me he might be a NICE bull. When Vlassic went up to him and they just sniffed each other, I was pretty confident.

I like hay. It builds muscles.

I got him a bit of fresh hay, and he walked right up and took some out of my hand! Then he poked the water tub. It was empty. Ah, someone is thirsty. As I filled the water tub, I checked out his ear tags. It appeared he was an All American bull.

Here you can see he has TWO labeled ear tags. And a nose ring. Obviously he is used to being handled.

We chatted for a while as he ate and drank, and he seemed happy to hang out with me. That’s obviously someone’s former show bull or something. And wow, he sure has big feet. I wondered why he suddenly was in the pen, all by himself. As we know, I am NOT a part of the cattle operations, but I still wondered.

As we walked by, the people who would have the answers happened to drive up. I said I gave that All American bull some hay. They laughed and said that is actually his name! He had just been brought over, and probably just shoved in the pen and left alone. No wonder he was lonely and craving company, poor guy!

When we got back, Vlassic had to tell Gracie Lou ALL about his adventures with the gargantuan being. Or at least I prefer to think so.

I’m hoping All American has been led to his harem by the time I get to feed horses today. I look forward to some very pretty golden calves in the fall!

Dillo in the Dirt

And now for another mess. When I looked outside this morning, a part of the field in front of the house looked suspiciously blackened. What could that have been? I hoped it wasn’t hogs. I was at an angle to where I couldn’t see exactly what was going on.

We went out on the porch later, and could see that there wasn’t massive upheaval, like hogs would create. But there was definitely a disturbance in the dirt.

Who’s been digging?

After my morning meetings, I headed out to inspect in person. DANG. It looked like a wild pack of armadillos had come through and feasted on something.

That’s way more concentrated than the usual armadillo holes.

I have my suspicions that the delicacy is whatever is making tell-tale piles of castings all over the property. Earthworms or grubs are my guesses. In any case, the feeding frenzy has done a great job of aerating the soil.

Whatever’s in there is pretty deep.

Thanks, dillos!

Three Gray Birds Outside My Window

I’ve mentioned that I’m spending a couple of weeks quarantined in the Hermits’ Rest house, working from my little den (which is lovely, other than poor connectivity). A real highlight has been looking out the window, where I can see a long fence that leads to the woods.

The view out my window, bordered by the computer monitors I try my best to focus on. Notice that the window also tells me how to not be a better conversationalist.

The main thing I regret about my window is that there’s a window screen. Otherwise, I’d be getting some really good photos of gray birds. Gray birds just love that fence. It’s apparently an ideal insect-hunting platform. Let me introduce you to the friends I see every day.

Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos

Like most of you in North America, I’ve lived around mockingbirds my whole life. They are the state bird of Florida, where I grew up, so I’ve known them my whole life. When I was a kid, I thought they were a boring bird. I have changed my mind!

Northern mockingbird. Photo copyright BJ Stanley (CC)

Through the years, I grew to love the birds that sat on the streetlight outside my house in Brushy Creek, Texas. They would sing so many songs, and occasionally emit the sound of a car alarm or cell phone. They are amazing singers.

Now that I’m at the ranch and working in Cameron, I watch mockingbirds every day. They’re big and bold, and very hungry. I love watching them catching bugs and finding food on the ground. The flash of white you see when one of these guys takes off means something interesting’s about to happen. I always know them on the fence by their long tails that are quite mobile.

Over at my fence, the mockingbirds are pretty bossy. They often make all the other birds move, so they get the best observation spot. They are fearless.

Here, the mockingbird chased off one phoebe, and moved the other one out of the prime viewing area.

Now, the mockingbirds don’t only hunt out in the open. I often see them flying into the woods, and singing from the tip-tops of the trees (when crows aren’t using those spots!). So, I salute these fascinating creatures, my first gray bird friends.

Eastern Phoebe Sayornis phoebe

I had never run into phoebes until I got to the ranch here. Since then, I’ve heard and seen them often in my house in Austin. I guess there just weren’t any at my first Texas house.

These may be gray, but they’re striking. Their heads are founded, and they have lovely light breasts. Photo copyright Pedro Alanis (CC).

Here, you can’t miss the little darlings. They have been nesting and raising babies in our porches, and sitting on the porches announcing their presence. They conveniently announce who they are by strongly shouting, “Phoebe! Phoebe!” You can’t miss them.

When they’re out on the fence among the other gray birds, the easiest way to distinguish phoebes from the others is the shape of their heads. They have some feathers at the top of their heads that makes it look bigger or more rounded than other birds. It makes them look sort of “husky.” They also have much shorter tails than the mockingbirds.

This photo by Benjamin Schwartz shows the little crest on its head.

Phoebes are flycatchers (actually tyrant flycatchers), so it’s no wonder they are out there every day going after insects. It’s their job. They’re so acrobatic, too, making loops and circles before heading back to the fence to chew and spot the next bug.

Right now I have at least a pair of them hanging around (the males are slightly darker), so I often get to enjoy two at a time. I’m so glad to share my home with them!

Loggerhead Shrike Lanius ludovicianus

I’ve written about these birds before, but they are the third gray bird I keep seeing on my fence. I feel honored to have a rare bird on the property.

Loggerhead Shrike Lanius ludovicianus along FM 2810 SW of Marfa, Presidio Co., Texas 12 September 2005. Photo copyright Greg Lasley (CC) – he’s one of the guys I looked at shrikes with before.

These are incredibly beautiful birds. I was just out back looking at a flock of American robins (they were eating smilax berries so loudly I could find them by ear), when I saw one of our shrikes in a tree by the pond. Their black-and white feathers are really striking from behind.

This beautiful photo by Jonathan Eisen (CC) of a parent and baby shows how easy it is to ID them from the back.

When I try to look at the gray birds out my window, the phoebe and the loggerhead shrike are initially hard to tell apart, thanks to the darned window screen, since they are both grayish birds with pale breasts.

That IS the shrike, however.

But, the phoebe is a more brownish gray, and has an entirely dark head, while the shrike has that cool “bandit mask” through its eyes. And of course, their behavior is different. I really enjoy running across the kills made by the shrikes, who impale them on our fences.

Here’s a photo I took last September of a bug caught by a shrike. You don’t even have to see them to know they were here!

As you can imagine, I keep seeing movement in my peripheral vision and feel compelled to check it out. Usually it’s one of these gray birds, but that’s not all I see. Right now I see a male cardinal (who I’d been hearing in the woods when I was looking at the robins), a mockingbird and the female phoebe. A few minutes ago, a troop of eastern meadowlarks (Sturnella magna) came marching by in their quest for bugs on the ground.

Oh, and three large duck-shaped birds with rings around their necks flew over, and I had no idea what they were until I checked Merlin Bird ID and realized they were wood ducks! I sure wish I’d seen them in the water, since they are so beautiful

Winter is a FUN season for bird watching around here!

What can you see at your house?

PS: I looked out just now and saw another gray bird, but I easily identified it as Gertie, our guinea fowl.

What Chickens and Cattle Have in Common

Ah, memories. Back when Lee’s dad was still around, he liked to tell us all he knew about cattle. He knew a lot, since he spent most of his time with cattle, not people.

I found this 2011 photo of one of Lee’s dad’s mama cows who nursed two bull calves, well past the usual nursing time.

One of his favorite things to tell us was that cows were very smart, and that they had definite habits. He’d tell us he always knew where his cows would be at any time of day, and what they’d be doing. He knew when to go outside and take a nap with them, when they went to get water, and when they went to the back part of the farm to graze. He was a very find observer of bovine behavior!

Well, for the past few days, since I have been sitting at my home office window, I’ve been watching the chickens. I now know that they start out hanging around under the RV in the mornings. Around midday, most of them (Springsteen the Jersey Giant hangs around the coop) head over to where our cattle troughs are and peck at the hay. They also drink out of the fish tank…I mean water trough.

At mid afternoon, they hike over to our house and visit the porch, then at least four or five of them head ALL the way out to the edge of the woods.

They spotted me, so they’re running back toward the house.

And of course, as it begins to get dark, they head back to the coop area, before turning in for the night. Just like cows, chickens have habits. I don’t know if that makes them “smart.” I don’t think it’s at all smart of them to go way over there, knowing the chicken hawk lives here, too.

An Anniversary Year

When I was looking for a photo of Lee’s dad’s cattle on an old blog, I found a picture of the first time we ever stayed overnight here at the Hermits’ Rest, which was in November, 2011.

There’s Ursula, our first RV, sitting pretty much where I could be seeing her outside my office window.

Wow, ten years of this property. No wonder we’re getting to know it so well. Guess who else I’ve known for ten years? My precious horse! Here he is as a strapping 5 year old!

Apache is pissed off that Sara is riding her previous horse, Aladdin. She traded him for Spice.