The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!
To get to the Hermits’ Rest, you have to go 2.2 miles down a county road for the last leg. As a county road in a poor county, you don’t expect immaculate maintenance. But, you might expect to be able to go in a straight line.
Not on our road! You know it’s a local driver when you see a lot of weaving and slowing down. There are spots where those in the know look like they are doing a slalom. There are areas on the hill where people driving what they think is a reasonable speed can go airborne.
We call that the roller coaster. When you first turn onto County Road 140 there’s what we call the washboard. It’s caused hubcaps to fall off. And there are at least two danger pits where I have no doubt people unfamiliar with the road have experienced damage to wheels or suspension systems.
When we brought Harvey home from where he was dumped at the Rattlesnake house, the vet said he was about the same age as Brody, so I assigned him the summer solstice as his birthday. Sigh. Brody would be four now.
Anyway, Harvey is doing well. Not as porky as he was for a while, thanks to Carlton keeping him moving, but nowhere near the bag of bones he was when Ralph first found him cowering across the street, waiting for his owners to come back.
He seems a lot calmer now, and less prone to his growling habit. He only gets testy when Carlton gets too relentless in his play requests. He also enjoys running and playing with Vlassic, which provides us with hours of fun.
He looks so incredibly happy when I get back from Austin every week that it makes me tear up sometimes. All that love coming barreling at me warms my heart. He and Alfred both just have the most expressive faces.
That’s really all I have to share. I just don’t talk as much about Harvey, it seems, but rest assured he’s always in my heart.
[Note: that should say “toad,” as you will see later, but I like that the title rhymes.]
Last night, while our merry community members were sitting on our porch watching the weather, we noticed that Vlassic, the little black dachshund mix was looking at something else. He was very intently observing the water trough that the dogs drink from and swim in (one that will soon hold some fish).
We soon realized he had spotted a frog-like creature in the trough, who seemed to be trying to get out, but with little success. Upon further examination, it appears to be a Woodhouse’s toad, but I’m waiting for confirmation on that. We had a long discussion about the difference between frogs and toads, but hey, they all go rivet rivet.
Meanwhile, Vlassic was running up and down, sticking his feet into the tub to try to reach his little buddy. It was really entertaining, so we let it go on.
Yowee! Did we ever get a variety of weather yesterday! After a muggy morning, clouds began to build up, but rain kept going all around us (which often happens, at least in our perception. I guess severe weather is just going to be the norm as “global heating” continues.
The wind got whippier and whippier, though, and by the time we were getting Father’s Day dinner ready, it became quite breezy on the porch, where we spent a lot of time watching clouds make interesting formations.
After eating our harvested squash, fresh beans, most delicious little roasted potatoes, and yum yum, a great meat loaf by Sara, we realized the wind was really, really hard and it was much cooler.
As the days grow longer and longer here in Texas, our harvest starts arriving. It’s lots earlier than in other parts of the US, where nothing’s ready until August, but hey, it gets hot here early.
Some Good News
This has been a great year, too, with the rain continuing to fall much later than usual. It’s raining now, in fact, and it’s only 79 degrees (too bad it was up to 93 at the end of our horseback ride this morning).
I think I’ve mentioned that our neighbor Tyler started a vegetable garden this year. Yesterday, as I was looking for chickens, I peeked in and saw a really, really big yellow squash. And Tyler is out of town.
So, this morning after putting up the horses and Fiona (who went with us on our whole ride and caused no trouble), Sara and I went in and harvested the giant squash and zucchini that were lying under the large, healthy vines. We have to hand it to Tyler, his fencing and netting combination have worked great to keep meddling animals, birds, and others out of his crops. We left him plenty of small squash to harvest for himself once he gets home.
There’s always a surprise lurking around the Hermits’ Rest. Some of them are dangerous. I came home from checking the chickens and snakes yesterday evening to see Alfred with “something” between his legs. He sure looked happy.
Upon closer inspection it appeared to be, um, skin. Huh? He was loving it. If Carlton or Vlassic approached, he roared like a lion. It seemed to be skin from a deer.
Lee said Carlton found it by the arroyo. But Alfred took it over. Okay.
Later, I needed some exercise, so Lee and everyone except Alfred went for another walk. The light led to many stunning photo ops. I turned around after taking a picture, I saw Vlassic emerge triumphantly from the tall grass, with something as big as himself in his mouth, with Carlton trailing behind.
Oh my. I think it’s the other side of the deer. Yep. Where’s the inside? Where did it come from? Our guess is that someone had the hide on the back of their truck after dressing a kill, and it blew off. Well, it isn’t deer season. Hmm.
Any ideas? Who or what did this?
And watch your toes! And your nose!
As Lee and I were heading back to the house, we saw what looked like yet another hunk of skin. Oh no.
But I quickly recognized the shape. It was Snappy, our resident snapping turtle. Or maybe Son of Snappy (or daughter). I was glad the dogs were off rolling in poop, because I could do without them losing a toe or nose.
Luckily only Vlassic spotted Snappy, and he listened when we told him no. We got the dogs in safely.
I later looked out the window and saw Snappy ambling on toward the pond behind the house. I guess it was pond switching time.
I’ve had enough weird and dangerous things for a little while.
You’ve heard all about our snake and chicken issues. Today I was happy to see the hens in the chicken yard, so I could give them some new food. But as I walked toward the yard with the food, I saw a funny-looking garden hose. That was yet another snake. It was heading under Tyler’s bedroom, where I’m thinking the eggs now are. Sigh.
The chickens didn’t care. They just wandered by it and went out to eat bugs. Sigh again.
I wrote this post about reclaiming the strip-mined land at the Alcoa plant near Rockdale, Texas. for the Master Naturalist Blog. I thought you might like it, too. I know this is a controversial topic, though I just wrote what the guy walked about.
Our June Chapter Meeting speaker was Marty Irwin, who had a long and successful career doing range conservation for Alcoa and other companies who performed strip mining for coal in this area. After Gary Johnson introduced him, Marty shared some pretty fascinating details with us, so I thought I’d summarize them for any who were unable to attend. (I was so busy writing that I didn’t get my usual zillions of blog photos. Oops.)
If I get any facts wrong, I apologize in advance. Also, note that his presentation wasn’t compatible with our laptop, so we all imagined what he was talking about as he went along. Thank goodness he was good at describing.
My energy levels have been changing lately, and I must say I just don’t understand it. Most of my life, I’ve sort of trudged through the day, then got a burst of energy late afternoon through the evening. I always wished I was a “morning person.”
My guess is I perpetuated this by arranging my life to suit those proclivities (and I lucked out to have kids that liked to sleep and jobs with flexible hours). Lucky me.
These days, though, I have been feeling a lot of energy throughout the day. I’ve been able to focus more and get a lot of stuff done. I’ll get home from work and marvel at all the things I got done, things I didn’t forget to do, and plans I’ve made for more things to do.
Of course there is a consequence to all this. I’ve been getting pretty darned sleepy by 9 pm, which makes me feel like one of my parents or something. I just run out of steam and have to have a snooze. I often perk back up and can read/watch television a bit later. But I would be a failure on the party scene, for sure.
What Caused It?
I’ve actually started taking some pro-biotics that have all the B vitamins with them along with chicory and something else to make the gut flora all perky. It’s been a couple of months, and lo and behold, not only is my tummy all happy, but I’ve felt more alert and focused. (It’s by United Naturals, but I don’t want to do a commercial for them; you can look them up.)
The promised weight loss has not happened, but I can focus on eating more helpful things, and that should come along, even though menopause changed my metabolism to be even worse! I think the energy means my metabolism is better. I look forward to getting a lot of walking and yoga in each day, which pleases me.
I think I’ll just revel in all this energy. It’s a gift. It feels good to feel good, even when life has its challenges!
It was a sad day today, as one of my coworkers and a member of my team has his last day today.
We had a nice Indian lunch with him where our whole team got to say goodbye, other than the coworker we had bagels with last week, who couldn’t be with us.
I am glad his new job will be close by, so we can still see each other, and we both spend our weekends up north, so Jon: you can’t get rid of me! Good luck!