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!
Just wanted to share that the owl seems to have literally flown the coop, and we haven’t lost a chicken in a couple of weeks.
As you can see, they are looking happy. Buckbeak is glowing! We have at least ten left.
And we are now getting ONE egg per day! 100% improvement over zero! Let’s hope things keep picking up from here. I’m still looking into coops, but it’s sorta complicated.
Other bird news
I saw a cool bird sight on my way back from feeding the chickens yesterday. I stopped to punch in the gate code and heard a lot of commotion. Much screeching and cawing. I saw half a dozen of our large crows yelling at a hawk, who was yelling back.
It looked like the hawk had robbed the crows of something. The crows took turns pecking until one of them got the hawk away from crow territory. That crow kept circling back and making it very clear that Crows Rule!
Look at this Austin sunset! We’re having a bumper crop this year!
Here’s a doggie who could use your thoughts for a while. Our poor Brody always seems to get the bad end of his brotherly altercations with the other dogs (mostly Harvey; they are so well matched that they have never been able to decide who’s number one).
Last week they had their monthly battle while I was in Austin, so I missed it. Lee said Harvey bit Brody on the foot, causing it to bleed. He got that stopped, but Brody still can’t put weight on his foot. Of course, the day the vet was in town happened to be the day Lee was stuck at the ranch because of the rain.
We’re pretty sure he has a broken toe, and since you can’t really put a dog toe in a case, we are just treating him with pain killers and rest.
Well, we try to get him to rest, but he has figured out how to run and jump and perform all his usual antics on just three legs. We went on a long walk yesterday, and he even took off after a rabbit.
Unfortunately, Carlton, the very white dog, also took off after it. The rabbit went through the spring that’s been flowing again since all the rain started the past few months. Carlton came back very strongly resembling a dalmatian. He had fun, though.
A bonus horse story
The horses had less fun in the mud. There is a spot near where they usually eat that has mud like a foot deep. Both Apache and Spice have slipped in it and nearly fell. When Spice did it, she ran off, splattering Sara’s back with another dalmatian effect! Nonetheless, we have found the water hazards that have popped up are great horse confidence builders. Apache is always really proud of himself when he gathers his courage and marches across a big puddle.
I’ll get those photos taken and continue with the arts and crafts series next!
I had a post for yesterday, but I need an image from Austin, so it will have to wait. Instead, here’s a weather report!
There’s strange fog this morning. It was clear at sunrise. Lee said it was a glorious orange. (I slept through it.) But now it’s getting foggier and foggier. You can’t see the field across the road.
I’m guessing this is the rising temperatures and very damp soil are causing this rare midday fog. It’s definitely warmed up, and we’re enjoying a respite from yet another round of floods last week (you know it’s been wet when heavy flooding doesn’t even warrant a photo).
Speaking of weird weather
I wish my camera could have captured what greeted my eyes yesterday. Looking out the same front window you see above, I saw an intensely sunny morning. It had gotten cool enough to cause a heavy frost, which completely covered the field across the road, which has a cover crop a few inches high on it.
The sun was at just the right angle to make the frost shine like crystals. The result was an amazing shiny, sparkly field instead of green rye.
It wouldn’t photograph through the window screen, and it would not have looked the same from ground level, so it’s just a memory to savor for me, and something to imagine for you. Not a bad thing!
One thing my genealogy forays didn’t turn up is the fact that I’m descended from a long line of artists, mostly fiber arts, but many other types as well. What got me thinking of this was looking around my Bobcat Lair rooms and realizing that most all of the art is by someone I know, much of it by relatives. Granted, some of it may be “crafts” to some of you (needlework kits and such), but it’s all art to me, because the makers had lots of design decisions to make, even in a kit.
Let me introduce you to a few of my talented family members, then I’ll share some art by friends and acquaintances in another post. Note that most of the pictures don’t go with the text, since some of the things I talk about don’t have photos to go with them.
My maternal side in Florida was a bunch of crazed crafters/artists. The foremost in my mind was my great-aunt Susan Canova. Because of her mental health issues, she was mostly confined to her home (she liked to take stuff). But she made a living for herself by creating amazing table cloths, beadspreads, blankets, curtains and trim. I am happy to have a number of pieces of her tatting, a linen tablecloth with filet crochet borders, and other treasures. She was very productive, and I think it’s really cool that she made a good life for herself despite her problems.
While I’m working on a longer post, which may be a series of posts, I thought I’d share what struck me as I went out to the car to go to work this morning: you don’t have to go far to be in awe of natural beauty. I just looked across the street and saw the neighbor’s tangle of overgrown plants practically glowing in the gray, rainy light. I love how he has managed to convince the landscapers to keep the greenery so high and full.
Then, I literally turned around and saw little jewels. The ball moss in the crepe myrtle was shining and shimmering against the dark bark and dark cedars behind it. It probably would have glistened more if the sun were out, but I was quite charmed by what I did see, so I tried to capture it in pictures.
I guess Anita was up to the same thing inside the house, because she took this photo of how beautifully the roses have opened up in our cheerful post-Christmas flower arrangement. That bouquet has definitely helped cheer up the Bobcat Lair during the dreariness of 2019 so far (I hear it will clear up this afternoon).
As an aside, I love how the grocery store advertises the fact that there is a straw bow around each of these arrangements. They are “hand tied!” Woo! I’m pretty sure the other arrangements are “hand taped” to hold the plastic on them, too. I guess you take what you can get to differentiate flowers and charge a dollar more.
We are in the middle of no one’s favorite season in the Hill Country of Texas, and that’s the “Cedar Fever” season. According to many news reports, this was supposed to be one of the worst seasons ever. If you’re reading from outside of Texas, you may be saying, “What the heck?”
Lots of people call the tree found all along our hills Mountain Cedar, but it’s really Ashe Juniper. I first noticed them, like many new residents, during my first winter in the area. I was walking my baby around the neighborhood, which was still under construction, looking at all the limestone and stuff, when the tree in front of me started to smoke! I said some version of, “What the heck,” and called my La Leche League co-Leader (the only native Texan I knew) to ask her what was up. “Ah, the cedar is pollinating,” she told me.
What is this plant? The Ashe Juniper has been around this area since before Europeans showed up, but it’s thought that they spread out of their native “cedar brakes” to take up more of the area once cattle showed up and messed with the delicate balance of native grasses and trees. Thanks, Euro-Americans.
Well, according to the calendar used by most of the world, it’s a new year. I celebrate it as the day I start scratching out the wrong year and changing it to the right one. And it’s a day off, so this is the only blog I’m writing in.
At least we got a lovely show from Mother Nature last night, as the sunset was pretty darned spectacular. I enjoyed seeing many views of the same clouds from different places in my Facebook feed. Since some of you readers may not be in central Texas, I’m sharing a couple of my photos. I especially like the stripey one by the hill.
Speaking of Blog Readers
Since this is the first year of this blog (though the Hermits’ Rest Ranch Facebook page goes back a lot further, to October 25, 2014), I thought it would be interesting to check out how we’re doing, readership- and fan-wise.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!