Since the weather is warm and it hasn’t started raining yet, I decided to see how the life around here is faring after last week’s bad weather. The first thing I found was that, indeed, the cold has messed the chickens up. Look what poor Buttercup laid!
Not all is bad for them, though. While they seem to dislike something in their scratch grain mix, the damp weather has been perfect for sprouting whatever it is. That will make good browsing for them or new chickens that we get!
I wondered if any insects and such were out, so I was happy to find a checkered butterfly and two lady bugs! I saw a moth, but it was too fast for me!
I found that most of the usual plants for this tome of year were blooming, but I was surprised to see a cranesbill had already managed to produce seeds!
Here are a few of the other blooming plants I saw. It was good to see them recovering.
I also found the wildflowers in good shape, including my favorite yellow daisies and bluebonnets. We’ll have color this year! And speaking of color, the cold gave some unusual leaf colorings.
I heard a lot of frog sounds from across the road, and plenty of birds. I heard a whooshing sound and turned around to see I’d disturbed some ducks on one of the tanks/ponds. I did get a photo of them flying, though I don’t know what kind they are.
Spring is coming. Winter can’t stay forever. I’m glad I got some entries for iNaturalist today!
Now that the weather is more normal, I’ve been enjoying the antics of all the local animals. I haven’t seen them all—for example, Lee saw a large, striped bobcat cross the road yesterday. I missed that!
I did get to see this charming kitten with a crazy tail today. She’s been hanging around the cabin and barn for a month or so, and the neighbors feed her. We haven’t had a cat stay on the ranch since Cathy and her menagerie moved.
Anyway, I said I’d feed her this weekend, so I had my eye out for her when I walked by the cabin on the way to feed horses. I didn’t see her, but I saw a black dog, though I knew Copper was out of town with his owners. Wait…that was Tess the cattle dog, great-great granny of these sweet pups.
So, I was pretty sure ole Tess had found the kitten’s food. She isn’t too old to sniff out any morsel of food! And sure enough, the bowls were licked clean and the kitten was looking disappointed when I came back down the driveway. I refilled the bowl, and she chowed down fast.
I love how the kitten holds her tail angled back like that. And she is sweet. It makes me happy to have a cat to pet again. Lee’s allergic, so we can’t have one in the house, but maybe we can get barn cats if our horse barn happens.
More Cuteness, Cattle Style
I’ve also been enjoying the cattle on our property. They get friendlier and funnier all the time.
Yesterday, I took some more food for Big Red, the chicken who lives with the horses. It was in a plastic feed bag. It was misting rain, so I was concentrating on not stepping on cow patties. I opened the gate to leave our pasture, and when I turned around, I saw that the brown cow was like three feet behind me. I didn’t hear her at all! The others were lumbering behind her.
I guess they really miss getting cattle cubes from Kathleen, and were sure my bag had cow treats, not chicken ones. She sure looked sad when I took the bag with me.
Today, the cows were insisting on standing in my path as I walked to the gate. Maybe they were thinking of shaking me down for treats. I got to the gate, then heard thundering footsteps. Jim had let Vlassic out, and he wanted to join me, like he did yesterday. But, Sara’s dogs would be there today, so Vlassic had to go back for his safety. That made me have to intrude on the cows again.
When I came by the third time, after taking Vlassic back, I had to stop and watch them. They were playing like little calves, butting their heads and jumping in circles. It was a pleasure to see them enjoying the more pleasant weather, and it was a shame to stop them, just because I was now late. I wish I’d gotten a video! The cows aren’t too far past calf-hood, so I guess they still have urges for fun.
Heck, so do I. My fun for the day was listening to this red-winged blackbird, way at the top of a willow tree.
He was alternating between the familiar chiming song they make and repeated tweet calls. I think he thought someone was answering him, because he was so loud that he had a robust echo. I wonder how long he kept that going?
There. Not every post has to be a rant or controversy. I needed some cuteness in my day today!
Now that it’s warming up and the ice is melting, boom. The power went off for us and our closest neighbors. It’s been off close to 24 hours. I guess melting ice isn’t great for power lines, because there are spotty outages all over.
We slept fine last night, and I’ve sure gotten a lot of reading done, in between emergencies and such. the old horse was down yesterday when I went to check. I did manage to give him colic medicine but not correctly, but I tried.
Sara found him up and eating today, though, so I didn’t kill him by not knowing exactly what to do. Whew. And Sara is back, so I don’t have to worry as much. I worry about Lakota.
Otherwise it’s okay here. Chickens are alive , though Bruce has some comb damage, poor guy. But they are alive! The dead songbirds still make me sad.
I did take a little walk yesterday and got photos of the sun shining through ice. I think I’ll miss the little ice penises the most. It’s from little stems that stuck up out of the snow. They made me laugh.
It was so shiny still! It doesn’t really come through in the photos, but I’ll share anyway. I’ll write more when we get power. I’m in the car charging things!
I can tell this story, because it’s happy, and I like happy baby stories. We’ve had a calf on the property for a week who was having trouble immediately after birth. I saw one of the lease guys pick it up and put it in the utility vehicle. I noticed it wasn’t standing.
I was relieved to see the little feller in the pen the next day. He was sure cute, and his mama was very protective. I noticed he sorta scooted around.
The next couple of days I figured out there was something wrong with his front legs. He always stood with his hooves folded under. It turns out his tendons had gotten stretched at birth, and it’s not uncommon. Usually it resolves itself in a few days.
The other issue was he was having trouble nursing. Not being able to stand very long couldn’t help. But, the guys who own him were not giving up. He got bottle fed twice a day, and believe me, milking a beef cow is not a romantic event where you sit on a stool with a pail. No, she had to get squeezed in the chute so she’d hold still!
Monday, the cow looked way better, and sure enough, we saw the calf nursing. My resident experts were concerned that his tendons hadn’t settled back yet. Both Sara and Trixie said they’d never seen it last so long. That worried me.
Today was all rainy, but I sure was glad to see the little family still in the pen. And hey, look who was standing and walking around like a calf? Our little guy! I needed that happy sight.
After a week, he’s almost normal and obviously gaining weight from all that delicious moo milk. I found out he hasn’t had a bottle since Monday. Looks like all that patience and extra care was worth it! Just look at that smile!
He’s a friendly fellow, but mama isn’t. I know she will be glad to get back in the pasture! I really admire the guys who care for these cattle for being willing to take extra care of their herd. Ranchers with good hearts! (And they’ll make money, too.)
I wanted to share how pleasant it was today when Trixie came by to trim the horses’ hooves. When it was Apache’s turn, he was so relaxed that he kept leaning his big horse head on my shoulder. When I had to move, Fiona then showed up, and after a little fooling around, she let Apache rest his head on her. Such friendship.
I made him happy by letting Apache graze while Spice got looked at. At least he let me get a couple of pictures of his Arabian-esque profile and his newly slim physique.
We are considering letting Fiona become a mommy to a pony mule. Wouldn’t that be cute? Another buddy for the rest of my life!
Sorry for all the horse posts. Apache’s energy really helps me feel centered and grounded. Who can’t use that today? Plus, horses smell so good and let you brush their hair.
I came up with a goal today that I truly want to achieve. I want to stop my frenzy at least three times a day, pause, and notice what I’m grateful for wherever I am.
Here’s a thing many religious traditions get right. So many ask practitioners to pause to pray, reflect, chant or perform a ritual at intervals throughout the day. Think of all those nuns, monks, and traditional lay people who rise to pray, bow to Mecca, ring a bell, or whatever. They stop what they are doing and appreciate what they’ve got.
Slowing down to the speed of life is so good for the soul. It’s a gratitude practice any of us can do. Or it’s a way to stay close to our Source, whatever we call it.
One thing we’ve all become aware of lately is how quickly things change. It’s more obvious to me every day. So tonight I’ll appreciate the wool running through my fingers as a sweet, white dog curls up in my chair. I won’t have it forever, so I’ll treasure it now.
Every day, at least three mindful pauses! Go, Suna.
Requests come in for more about the dogs. Ok, fine. Today, they were all wound up, so I took the dogs out to explore the woods and creek. They love that.
We must have looked cute, because someone stopped to take a picture of us! Alfred insisted on taking a drink out of every pond or big puddle he came across.
We had a blast, even though it was a bit chilly and windy. The dogs smelled many things, rolled in poop, and found things to chew on. Penney found a possum skull. Ick. No pictures of that! She wouldn’t put it down, and spent most of the afternoon enjoying it.
I know my friend Sara will enjoy today’s horse story. I made it back to the ranch between meetings. It was a beautiful afternoon, so I took off to feed the horses after my last meeting of the day. I felt so good that I even jogged there. I guess the Wolf Moon DID make the world feel like a better place for me!
There were no problems feeding Apache, Fiona, and Big Red, who enjoyed their hugs (not the chicken) and grub. Then, I went over with the food for Spice and Lakota. Hmm. They weren’t standing there waiting for me, like they usually are every afternoon!
So, I called them. I saw Spice raise her head, way at the far end of the pasture, over by Sara’s house. I called again, and the head didn’t move. I them spotted the immobile form of Lakota. Why on earth weren’t they thundering their way over to me?
I walked and walked. I got to the narrow, muddy space they have to go through to get to where I feed them. There they were, staring at me in the way that horses that are nervous stare. I called them. More staring, then turning around and going the other way. That was NOT like them.
Now I was really curious as to what was up with those two. I finally walked up to them. Lakota was pacing, turning, and breathing hard. Spice was frozen, staring across the fence.
I looked across the fence. There I saw a whole lot of robins, a couple types of sparrows, random meadowlarks, and some brush. I couldn’t imagine that rowdy robins were that scary. Was there something in the brush or the woods? Meanwhile, Lakota is breathing hard and flaring his nostrils. Spice looks like she sees a ghost. Maybe she did.
That was enough of that, so I started back, encouraging them to come with me. They did, slowly. When I got to the muddy spot, they froze again, this time staring at the wooded area they usually hang out in all day JUST FINE. I began to wonder if there were hogs in there or something. Or a bobcat. Eek.
Bravely, I went back through the squishiness. As soon as I got across, Spice decided it was time to make her escape. She zipped through the mud, followed by Lakota. Luckily no mud landed on me as she flew by me. They proceeded to leave me in their galloping wake as they beelined toward the water trough and area where we feed them.
I looked carefully for unfamiliar things as I walked back. Nope, nothing was out of the ordinary that I could see. No hog evidence or any other oddities. I guess there were ghosts in the woods.
When I finally reached them, they were drinking water like crazy. I guess they’d been “trapped” over at the other side of the pasture for a long time. You can rest assured, of course, that they weren’t so frightened that they couldn’t eat. They ate just fine.
I have absolutely NO idea what the drama was all about, though I was glad to see this little trailer that had apparently brought some fill for the biggest of the potholes on the driveway to the cabin and barn. That will be fun to ride the horses near and see what they think.
Perhaps my title is better than this post will come out to be, but this points out to me that I need to stop trying to write about two things in one post, just to not appear to be blogging crazed.
Bull, Big Load
Yesterday, Vlassic and I went to feed the horses after work. He was happy, because I gave him his yummy heartworm pill, so we had a nice time on our walk. I looked up and said hi to Apache, then turned to say hi to Spice and Lakota, when something moved in the holding pen. WHOA. It was big.
Yep, there was a bull I’d never seen before. He was, to say the least, beefy, quite a load of bull. I was like, uh oh, he probably won’t like me going around messing near him. I could see that he’d been upset and dug the dirt and mud up in the pen. So I said hi.
I went ahead and fed the horses. Every time I walked by the pen, the bull followed me. It occurred to me he might be a NICE bull. When Vlassic went up to him and they just sniffed each other, I was pretty confident.
I got him a bit of fresh hay, and he walked right up and took some out of my hand! Then he poked the water tub. It was empty. Ah, someone is thirsty. As I filled the water tub, I checked out his ear tags. It appeared he was an All American bull.
We chatted for a while as he ate and drank, and he seemed happy to hang out with me. That’s obviously someone’s former show bull or something. And wow, he sure has big feet. I wondered why he suddenly was in the pen, all by himself. As we know, I am NOT a part of the cattle operations, but I still wondered.
As we walked by, the people who would have the answers happened to drive up. I said I gave that All American bull some hay. They laughed and said that is actually his name! He had just been brought over, and probably just shoved in the pen and left alone. No wonder he was lonely and craving company, poor guy!
When we got back, Vlassic had to tell Gracie Lou ALL about his adventures with the gargantuan being. Or at least I prefer to think so.
I’m hoping All American has been led to his harem by the time I get to feed horses today. I look forward to some very pretty golden calves in the fall!
Dillo in the Dirt
And now for another mess. When I looked outside this morning, a part of the field in front of the house looked suspiciously blackened. What could that have been? I hoped it wasn’t hogs. I was at an angle to where I couldn’t see exactly what was going on.
We went out on the porch later, and could see that there wasn’t massive upheaval, like hogs would create. But there was definitely a disturbance in the dirt.
After my morning meetings, I headed out to inspect in person. DANG. It looked like a wild pack of armadillos had come through and feasted on something.
I have my suspicions that the delicacy is whatever is making tell-tale piles of castings all over the property. Earthworms or grubs are my guesses. In any case, the feeding frenzy has done a great job of aerating the soil.
Ah, memories. Back when Lee’s dad was still around, he liked to tell us all he knew about cattle. He knew a lot, since he spent most of his time with cattle, not people.
One of his favorite things to tell us was that cows were very smart, and that they had definite habits. He’d tell us he always knew where his cows would be at any time of day, and what they’d be doing. He knew when to go outside and take a nap with them, when they went to get water, and when they went to the back part of the farm to graze. He was a very find observer of bovine behavior!
Well, for the past few days, since I have been sitting at my home office window, I’ve been watching the chickens. I now know that they start out hanging around under the RV in the mornings. Around midday, most of them (Springsteen the Jersey Giant hangs around the coop) head over to where our cattle troughs are and peck at the hay. They also drink out of the fish tank…I mean water trough.
At mid afternoon, they hike over to our house and visit the porch, then at least four or five of them head ALL the way out to the edge of the woods.
And of course, as it begins to get dark, they head back to the coop area, before turning in for the night. Just like cows, chickens have habits. I don’t know if that makes them “smart.” I don’t think it’s at all smart of them to go way over there, knowing the chicken hawk lives here, too.
An Anniversary Year
When I was looking for a photo of Lee’s dad’s cattle on an old blog, I found a picture of the first time we ever stayed overnight here at the Hermits’ Rest, which was in November, 2011.
Wow, ten years of this property. No wonder we’re getting to know it so well. Guess who else I’ve known for ten years? My precious horse! Here he is as a strapping 5 year old!