Just Good Morning!

Let’s take a break and celebrate the sky. The sunrise yesterday was made more beautiful by the silver clouds shining above the sun. What a great way to start the day!

Sunrise, February 28, 2019.

I hope you saw the snow moon last night, too. I remembered it when I saw a light reflection on the glass coffee table that didn’t match any of our fixtures. Sure enough, the moon was saying a misty good evening.

Beef ribs by me and crispy potatoes by Anita.

I am doing well with the Instant Pot thing, by the way. These beef ribs came out so tasty and tender. I even properly deglazed the pan. I’m a chef!

There’s rain today, but I’m driving back to the ranch to attend an event. I can check up on the critters, too. Then back to Austin. Busy social schedule. Never thought I’d say that!

Ranch Gets Clean with Donkey Help

Yesterday was the final day of the great chicken coop cleanup effort. Before that, though, I had to clean my dang horse, who has started to shed his thick winter coat. Fiona the mini-donkey did not want to be left out, either.

This may not be the right brand, but this is the sort of thing we used on the horses.

It was too cold for me to ride, but I wanted to hang out with Sara and brush Apache out. Of course, Fiona had to come along. Sara had bought these new miracle tools, which look suspiciously like something you’d clean your barbecue grill off with. I tried it out on the very dirty Apache, and wow, did a LOT of long white hairs come off. He seemed to like the way the cleaning tool felt, too. Neither Spice nor Fiona were shedding like Apache was. Must be the Arabian in him.

I’m embarrassed that my tail looks so perfect, so I”m hiding it. Snort.

While I was at it, I also trimmed his tail, since it was reaching the ground again and getting all dirty. I hope he appreciated it.

May I please come in?

I kept having to go back into the tack room to get things. I heard a noise, and there was my little “helper” wanting to come on in and check out the food dishes full of beet pulp that were soaking.

Fine, then, I’ll just go over and check out this hay, since these feed bowls are obviously empty.

When I told her to move, she happily went over to help get rid of that last bale of hay that was hanging around from when the horses were in the corral. Such a little darling.

Also had hen helpers

That’s Fluffy Butt in front, with Candi in back.

Later in the afternoon, I came back to finish cleaning out the chicken coop. I was very proud of myself for emptying out all 24 nest boxes and replacing the old mulch with new pine shavings, which are what the new chickens are used to, anyway. The job was made both harder and more fun by the new hens, who were very interested in “helping” me.

The golf balls are pretend eggs, Ralph says they work, so I put one in each next box.

In fact, after I finished, I was picking up more glass off the ground, and Fluffy Butt, the new Barred Rock hen, came up repeatedly, so I fed her some chicken scratch right out of my hand. She was very delicate!

A better view of fluffy pine shavings. Ah. Comfort.

About that time, Mandi and Randy showed up to help me with the floor and parts of the coop I could not reach. A real cleaning ensued, with the feed trough cleaned out, the top of the chick raising area cleaned, and ugh, a dead chicken that got wedged behind the cage removed (one final owl casualty, I guess, though it had been a while).

Mandi also swept all the droppings and stuff off the floor, which now will be some fine mulch, once it composts a bit more. It may be an old coop, but it’s a clean one now.

This picture is from before the floor got cleaned. Imagine it all smooth and with no poop.

Once Randy discovered the pieces of glass in the pen, he started picking it up, and by the time we were ready to go, we had another large amount of glass! I sure appreciated the help.

Now I’m just hoping that the new hens and the old hens get along. They definitely hang out in separate groups. But we already have a couple of eggs from the new gals. Hooray!

Great Hen Adventure Time!

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Entry to the farm. We knew we were in the right place.

Previously, I hinted that I was going to add some chickens to our flock. I’d met a woman at the Master Naturalist Christmas party named Cindy Vek, who told me all about her chicken farm, Bird and Bee Farm, between Rockdale and scenic Milano, Texas. I was intrigued.



A welcoming display from the Tom!

So, yesterday, Mandi and I fired up the big, black pickup and headed over there, first stopping at Tractor Supply for the supplies I’d needed earlier.



Welcoming committee.

I’m always grateful for map apps. It sure makes finding places way in the middle of the country easier. After a drive through some really pretty Milam County countryside, we found the place, conveniently labeled, as you can see from the first photo.

Continue reading “Great Hen Adventure Time!”

Coop Cleanup

The Raising Chickens for Dummies book told me that coops of free-range chickens need to be cleaned out every six months to a year, and since I couldn’t remember the last time anyone cleaned it, I decided now is the time.

Much less glass is in among those rocks now.

Besides, the massacre appears to be over, egg production up, and I was thinking about enlarging the flock.

My original plan was to replace all the nest box material, but we couldn’t get any straw yesterday. So, instead I cleaned off all the roosting areas and obviously soiled bedding.

Mandi and I are probably the only people who think this is a beautiful sight. Nice smooth dirt.

Then I spent an hour raking up sticks and shards of glass in the chicken run. Y’all, there is a serious glass issue in there. Also pieces of crockery. Sara says that they’d gotten rid of all of it when they lived in the cabin next to the chickens. I’m pretty sure the next renters did, too.

A sample of the variety of debris I picked up.

As it rains and the chickens peck, more glass comes to the surface. The chickens don’t eat it, but it looks bad.

As I raked and stuffed the mess into two huge feed bags, I pondered why people of the past would just throw bottles out like that.

This is how you know I’m not from around here. It suddenly dawned on me that Elaine Laywell, who used to own this ranch when it was much bigger, told me they’d used the cabin as a hunting cabin.

Well, heck! The hunters probably sat around and lined up bottles and crocks for target practice! There’s probably hundreds more shattered bottles in there.

Thank you for your efforts! Now where’s my new cousin?

So, we’re setting a bucket outside the chicken yard, and all of us chicken caregivers will pick up a few pieces every day.

We got bedding in Rockdale today, so we will replace the old stuff tomorrow. Egg-ward and upward!

Next: New chickens!

Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream

I think the James Taylor concert I went to gave me strange vibes. I got home a bit late, thanks to having to retrieve my tiny purse from a locker (only clear bags at concerts!), so that probably helped.

In his mind he’s going to Carolina. No clue where MY mind is going!

So I dreamed that my husband, Lee, and I were going to a conference or something (I always dream about conferences) and we were going to join our friend, Jennifer Swan, there.

When we arrived, we startled her on the balcony of the hotel room, in the embrace of a man. We were surprised to see it wasn’t her husband, but a larger fellow with an interesting cheesy skin tone.

They both looked at us guiltily. We can’t help ourselves. It just happened!

Lee and I just looked at each other and went along with it. “Just call me Don,” said Jen’s new beau.

Lee can’t believe Jennifer’s behavior.

The dream proceeded along with “Don” being funny, generous, and gracious. “All that other stuff is just an act,” he confided over a glass of wine.

Later, we each slept in separate beds, with Don serving coffee in the morning. Jen kept giggling happily. I kept saying, “He’s so nice!”As we stepped outside into the morning, I had a question for Don. Then I spotted a perturbed looking man in a dark suit.

That’s it! Where have all the Secret Service people been? “Hee hee, I ditch them all the time!” the Current President of the USA said.

Maybe it was something I ate.

Strange dream. This is the second or third time I’ve dreamed of that fellow being a perfectly nice guy. What is my mind trying to tell me? Don’t analyze this dream!

No matter what your political beliefs are, this has to make you chuckle.

Shouting Out in Love

A couple of things lead me to today’s post. First, the combination of Valentine’s Day and the Parkland shooting combine in a weird way to remind all of us to treasure our loved ones, tell them and show them how much we care, and to help out our friends facing mental health challenges (and thereby keep our schools, workplaces, and gathering spots safe).

And you, and you.

Second, there have been some big ole challenges (not blog-eligible) in my personal circle lately, so I have had to be the one to reach out for support while also giving it. I’ve talked to friends from far away (this means YOU friends and family in Michigan and North Carolina) and near. Yesterday, after spilling my guts in a blog post that I didn’t actually post, I found myself repeatedly telling a small group of friends, ranging from young adults to people my age that I loved them. My heart was so full from the support we were giving each other.

And that’s a key to happiness, friends, at least according to Gretchen Rubin, of the Happiness Project: having close relationships. Here’s what she said in her online newsletter yesterday:

Appreciation for important relationships is important for all bonds, not just romance. We need close, long-term relationships of all kinds. We need to be able to confide, and we need to belong. In fact, people who claim to have at least five friends with whom they can discuss important problems are 60% more likely to describe themselves as “very happy.”

Gretchen Rubin – click to subscribe to her newsletter

My close circle of friends in Austin includes people from my church, who I rarely see anymore, friends I’ve met through my kids, work friends, wise counselors, and neighbors. In Cameron I have our little “community” out in Walker’s Creek by the ranch. And online I have a couple of close communities who support each other. They are all important to me. Even when I’m not saying anything, I’m thinking about so many people and sending good thoughts their way (like many of you would do in your prayers).

I added this one just because it made me cringe. I almost spelled you’re wrong yesterday, myself. I know my dear friends would forgive me.

I need to say it more, like I’ve been doing this week. Knowing you all are there helps keep me going, no matter what. You have my back. I have yours.

Everybody: use today as an excuse to tell your support network how much they mean to you. Pick a few to say something specific to. That’s my plan for today. And days to come.

Let’s tell people we care about how much we do care! Every day.

Waiting

Today I have to renew my driver license. Ah, the humanity. Of course I got gasoline on my hand while filling up. I’ll have to wash my hands again! Ugh.

Nice floor. I guess.

Interesting thing. The Spanish speaking line moves fastest. Bilingual friends, remember this.

There is a faster and newer place to go, but no, I always go to the one near work. I am glad I have my Wordscapes game to entertain me. I’ll be here a while.

PS

It only took an hour. I still don’t need glasses to drive! However, I am definitely older and more rounded in the new photo. Least of my worries though.

This Is My 61st Spring

There are huge oaks around my work. Check out the squirrel celebrating the first sunny day this month.

And spring never ceases to fill me with wonder and awe. The sun is finally out. We’ve been waiting for the light.

We will bid farewell to the yaupon holly berries soon. But the sun is glorious shining through it.

It’s time for renewal. For new beginnings. For starting over.

Hooray! The cinnamon grape scent is back. Hello, Texas mountain laurel.

Know anyone trying to start anew? Cut them some slack.

The rosemary has bloomed all winter.

Enjoy these spring plants.

Flowers Help.

I’ve seen bluebonnets on the side of MoPac this week. I heard they are way early. But flowers are supposed to make me happier, not worry about global warming.

Old-fashioned single camellia in Clute

So. Hooray for the camellia blossoms I saw last weekend that reminded me of home and my mom. She hybridized them. She had so many issues, messed up so much, but she was my mom and loved me.

Not quite open yet.

The Hoya plant reminds me of the year I contract worked at 3M. Nobody really talked to me in my department, but I got to have lunch with my friends Bill and Scott sometimes. And that plant bloomed and bloomed. It’s still going.

There’s stuff going on in my family, stuff going on with friends, stuff and more stuff. Ah, but even grocery store flowers remind me that we retreat and rebloom in cycles. Good times will come and the flowers will bloom again.

Hug a friend. I’ll try to write something more profound or fascinating next time.