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!

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.

The Rebel Radio


The view from our balcony.

When we got to our vacation rental, we noticed there were a lot of satellite dishes across the street, and big towers. Then we looked to the left and saw a 50s style building. It had letters on its sign: KFAN.

Of course we had to look it up, and when we did, we found out that we are adjacent to a real treasure: Texas Rebel Radio. Lee remembers listening to it in his past, though I’d never heard of it.


The station headquarters.

KFAN is one of those legendary independent AM and FM stations with LOTS of power. Once I read about the station and its owners, I began to love it more and more. Here are a few tidbits:

The station was founded in 1990, and has been run by the same family since then. They play album-oriented “rebel” musicians, like Willie Nelson and Marcia Ball, but also new artists they discover. I guess it’s Americana/Country/Folk-ish. This is a blend I can listen to, since the kind of country I like is the less “commercial” kind.

Their description on the Alexa site says:

Texas Rebel Radio is variety with a Texas twist. In one hour on KFAN fm 107.9 you can hear country, blues, rock, zydeco, ballads, current and classic music all blended together. The thread that runs through it all is Texas. KFAN breaks all the rules when it comes to programming. No other station in Texas, the country or the world has a format quite like it. It’s not corporate radio. It’s radio the way it should be with music you won’t hear anywhere else.

Amazon Alexa listing

They claim to have fought the Supreme Court to let them have more broadcastinig power to reach all of the Texas Hill Country. I guess that explains all the towers!

They have a blog they haven’t updated since 2014 and supposedly stream on the Internet. Oh good, that works; some country gentleman was reading “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Give them a listen here. I think I’m going to do so when I have a chance!

Rio Guadalupe Love

Today was our day to get out of town, so we decided to head down the most scenic highway we could think of, the road from Fredericksburg through Kerrville and on to Hunt, Texas. You may recall that I took this same drive when I attended the Bennett Trust Women’s Conference.

This time, Lee, Anita and I took things slowly, stopping for lunch outside of Kerrville at an excellent local Mexican restaurant, which happened to be on the banks of a dam by a creek leading to the Guadalupe River. It was our first glimpse of this winding waterway and its many tributaries, which many claim is the most beautiful river in Texas.

As we drove down the road, we enjoyed many crossings, then dropped by to visit some friends of ours, the Hudsons, who build and sell amazing hand-made lawn furniture. Lee has known Jack since high school. We got some great pictures and caught up. We should visit more often, that’s for sure.

Then we went back on a long road with many Guadalupe River crossings. I hope you like my photos through the car window!

The highway also wound through some of the most beautiful Hill Country ranch property there is. One reason it looks so great is that the ranchers have made a huge effort to remove most of the ashe juniper (cedar) trees, so the land looks more like it used to look.

I think one reason I find the Guadalupe so fascinating is that it goes through such semi-arid territory. And the banks are so white, thanks to all the limestone.

The terrain strongly resembles African savannahs, especially since we saw, for the most part, mainly African animals behind all the very high fences. This is the heart of the exotic ranching area, and it’s quite obvious. We didn’t see a cow other than one herd of longhorns, until we were almost back to Kerrville. There was one flock of goats, but otherwise, gazelles, antelope, pronghorns, and other animals I have forgotten since I visited the exotic animal organization headquarters filled the pastures (well, mostly it was empty, because of good range management).

The animals didn’t hold still, so no photos, but hey, you know what they look like: funny looking deer.

Tomorrow we hope to go somewhere and hike with at least one of my kids. More then!

Keep Looking Up

Look up! Hi sparrows!

Since I’ve been vacationing I haven’t forgotten to look up. Since we’re in a house over a garage, it’s easy to look up and see lots of cute sparrows.

This is just one of the many great ceilings we saw.

In the town, I discovered that quaint tourist spots are great for up-looking. There is a cool ceiling everywhere you turn, it seems.


Lovely gas lights.

And we’ve seen more gas light fixtures than I’ve ever seen in a short span before. The restaurant we ate at last night (Navajo Grill, with wonderful food that was too expensive for Lee, so he bought a burger afterwards), had lovely gas light fixtures, too.


Ceiling in the fancy men’s store. And great light fixture!

Every time I come to Fredericksburg it becomes a little less kitschy and a bit more aimed at the wealthy. We went to a men’s accessories and doo-dads store that certainly was not aimed at regular folks. But, it was beautiful and had a great staircase.


Ceiling in the Casa Santa Fe, where we are staying.

We intend to have fun today looking at Mexican pottery, and maybe finding a winery or two. Yesterday we just had an actual day of REST to celebrate the solstice. Ahh.

PS: I had a bit of trouble editing this, so the captions aren’t actually with the pictures. But I think you can figure it out.