In Praise of a Dog

It was very nice of the humans to get this giant dog bed for me.

Let’s recover from my downer of a post last time by looking at a beautiful animal that can defend itself, good old Alfred the Anatolian Shepherd.

I walked into the living room at the ranch last weekend to see Big Al stretched out on the new couch, and he looked so beautiful and peaceful that I couldn’t bring myself to ask him to move.

I look wise. That’s all that matters.

He’s looking pretty good other than a couple of burrs in his ears, and is feeling so good now that he is on a daily glucosamine and pain medication regime. It makes me so happy to see him romp and play with the other dogs. Something that large acting like a puppy just has to make you smile.

You guys, I was napping. (There were no non-blurry photos of them playing.)

Since he’s feeling better, he’s a lot more patient with the younger dogs, and will sit there and bat at them as they crawl all over him, like a very patient elder statesman.

He isn’t all that old, probably a bit over 2 years, but his size and dignity lend him a kind of gravitas.

Hope you little dogs are having fun (even though Carlton is NOT little anymore).

He does great work keepying the coyotes at bay (and they do like to get close), and at the same time, he’s very kind to the cattle behind the house. He knows he is protecting them.

About the Cattle

I just have a little aside about the other dogs and the cattle. Brody the cattle dog and Carlton the extremely white fellow love to chase cows. Well, the ones we have behind us now have been there for many months, and they are wise to the dogs.

When Brody goes after them like a rocket, they turn around and look at him like, “oh, him again,” eventually herding HIM back to the fence, where he barks as if he’s in command.

We like a little fun. Not too much, though.

And the cattle have developed a game with Carlton. He will chase them back about twenty feet. Then they will chase HIM about twenty feet. Back and forth they go until someone gets tired. The cattle are really obviously playing, which usually they don’t do once they get to a certain size.

I know the dogs aren’t supposed to make them run, so they will be more marbled, but these are mama cows who get to hang around a long time. They can have a little fun, I think!

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Not So Cheerful News

RIP Big Red. You were a good guy.

When I went to feed the chickens yesterday, for the first time since I got back from vacation, I was sad to see that one of the latest victims to our resident owl was Big Red, the rooster with the red eyes. He just loved sunflower seeds, and Mandi said she realized he was gone when no one came to the stable for their treats.

I’m really sad about the chicken situation, though we did get the first egg in many weeks yesterday. The only way to keep the owl out would be to cover the chicken yard, but it’s not my chicken yard, and the person who built it is not interested in adding netting. Plus, my house is too far away to keep an eye out on the poor things.

Here’s Buckbeak and the hens back when we actually had white ones.

That leaves me and Mandi with the not-so-fun task of coming in every few days to find we are down another chicken. I feel like it’s sort of cruel to subject them to nightly terror like that. I am also not thrilled with having to dispose of them, even though I am trying to be the “tough ranch person.”

Before you ask, the chickens are much too old to eat, not that I want to eat them; that’s why they are now MY chickens. My former co-owner wanted to make them into sausage, and I didn’t. Who knows, maybe he had the better idea after all.

So, if you would like a nice chicken, I have a variety to choose from. We still have a few Americaunas, some red ones, some black ones, and two black-and white ones. And Buckbeak, the older rooster, is still with us.

I don’t have any chicken transportation devices, but I’d give you food and stuff if you want to get them. I am sure they will start laying again soon, now that the days are getting longer and if they aren’t so worried about owls. I really like these guys, as you can see in my first chicken post.

It’s illegal to kill an owl, you know. I learned that in Master Naturalist Class! I’d just prefer not to provide them with so much food. There are plenty of free doves out there.

Future Plans

Both Mandi and I want chickens, so I hope to be able to get a secure chicken house with a large covered run closer to my house. Alfred might be able to help guard them, and it would be easy for me to lock them inside at night. Mandi hopes to put a chicken house on her property, too. I hope this is soon. I miss sharing eggs with my coworkers.

One More Light Inspiration

While two of these people aren’t related to me by blood or marriage, this constitutes the family who joined us on our holiday. They are all goofy.

I took a day off to drive, and am back in Cameron. Naturally, I was happy to reunite with the Hermits’ Rest and all its charms (and dogs). I did want to share one more holiday event and why it makes me glad to have a ranch home.

That’s just pretty. The live oak leaves add a mossy glow.

On Christmas evening, we piled the family into cars and drove to Johnson City to see the lights there. They have two main sets of lights, plus the town square. The first set we visited are courtesy of the Pedernales Electric Co-op, one of the larger electric co-ops in Texas. They want to remind folks of who brings them light everyday, by sharing a LOT of light.

The blue lights are for the co-op’s corporate colors.

I’m proud of the work that all the co-ops do in Texas. The one in Cameron is the much smaller Heart of Texas Electric Co-op, with HQ in scenic Rosebud, Texas. We love getting their magazines and reading the inserts specific to our area. We see that they give money to local charities and institutions from people rounding up their bills. That just makes me happy. And as a co-op member, we own our utility. All good.

Anyway, we also visited the city’s display, which is nice because it also looks good in the daytime. Someone spent a lot of time cutting out and painting cartoon characters for this display.

We found the courthouse especially lovely. They just draped lights all up and down it, and they lit up the tower on top. You have to hand it to these small towns. They have spirit.

Just one more pretty tree for good measure.

We will have to work to get Cameron this spirited. They did much better this year, and had some nice signs from business sponsors, and very cute wreaths made of green painted tractor tires. Next year we can go for more!

Old Catholic Cemeteries

Yesterday was certainly the most active Christmas I’d spent in a long time. That’s great, because going on walks with my kids is among the greatest pleasures in my life. I love listening to them talk about their lives, about local history, and about the plants and animals we see along the way.

Another beautiful old stone, right next to what appears to be an old windmill, which was converted to a bathroom, Not a nice one, according to my kids.

The house we are staying in has views of the local Catholic cemetery, past the radio station. So, while our turkey was cooking, we took a walk over to see it. There were many, many headstones in the local granite, so the colors were nice. There obviously weren’t too many Catholic families, since certain names repeated often, such as Klein. There were many, many Klein graves.

Many of the beautiful grave markers in this cemetery are in German.

There was a very large section of children’s graves, which made me sort of sad. You could tell when that flu epidemic occurred in the early 1900s. Declan and Rylie took a lot of artistic photos of each other, which is a charming thing they like to do. Kynan had gone running, which is also a thing he likes to do, but he joined us at the end.

Continue reading “Old Catholic Cemeteries”

Birding at Christmas

There’s always an Audubon Society-sponsored Christmas bird count that naturalists and bird lovers do every year. While I didn’t do that, I did enjoy the easiest bird watching ever, right outside the door of our rental house.

I shared the photo above on Facebook already, so you may have already seen it, but I was so happy to get a good shot of the cedar waxwings taking off from the tree where they’d been feasting on berries. I love all the different wing positions.

The waxwings were there all day, singing harmony when my kids were playing music, and just being beautiful.

I did try to get photos of the other birds, but I had to do it through the patio door, and that was awful. So, here’s a plain old list of who I saw!

  • Cardinals
  • Cedar Waxwings
  • Eastern bluebirds
  • English sparrows (of course)
  • Mockingbirds
  • Robins
  • Tufted titmice
  • Yellow warblers (yay!)

As you can imagine, it was quite colorful!

Rest Your Weary Eyes on Timeless Granite

If you’ve had enough of lights, commercialism, and noise, come join me in remembering the timeless beauty of Enchanted Rock. Anita, Kynan, and I climbed to the top, then scrambled through the Echo Canyon train and the trail around the park.

The beauty in winter is that you can see for so many miles, and when you do hit upon a bright spot of color, it feels really special. No more talking, just pictures.

Christmas Fun

Sending seasonal love and peaceful thoughts to all you readers.

Many of you will be celebrating Christmas with friends or family this year. We have both. Even if this isn’t one of your holidays, looking at cheery lights at the darkest time of the year isn’t all bad.

The square in Fredericksburg, Texas.

So, that’s what we did last night. Lee drove me, Anita, and my son, Kynan to the downtown square in Fredericksburg to enjoy the lights and fun. It was a crisp, but not cold, night, so you didn’t have to shiver and rush your viewing. It felt “Christmas-y.”

This is one big Christmas pyramid.

We really enjoyed watching the little kids running around, looking up into the trees, and saying ooh and ahh at the German carousel thing going round and round. Ah, thanks to Wikipedia, I know that these are called “Christmas pyramids.” I guess I thought they’d have a more exotic name. Anyway, it sure was a big one.

The tree was also really big, and delighted the small children.

We are saving the lights in Johnson City for tonight. Kynan says they were spectacular when he was driving to Fredericksburg from Austin.

The face looks sad, and the looming cross makes an interesting statement, if you are into that kind of thing.

Oddly enough, my favorite things I saw were some statues that are in the park all the time. This one of a Native American who had lived in this area looked really thoughtful in the light of my camera flash.

This is one of the municipal buildings across the road.

While we wait for the final family members to join us, I’ll try to share some more images, so there may be two posts today.