A View from the Top…of a Horse

I’m never going to be a great equestrienne, and that’s fine with me. I started way too late, ran out of money for lessons, and don’t have enough time to really get to be great. But, I’m better than I was, anyway!

One of the things I’ve always wanted to be able to do when I’m out riding Apache is to take pictures of some of the interesting plants, wildlife, and scenery I see when I’m out riding around the Hermits’ Rest. Up until recently, I haven’t been comfortable taking my phone along on rides, because my phone is a good one, and I could break it if I fall.

Walking the line of evergreens.

Sara has an inexpensive phone she uses, so that if there’s an emergency she can let our spouses know to come help. I just relied on that, until a few weeks ago when Sara ordered us some really nice holders that have a water bottle and a cell phone pocked in them. They attach to the front of the saddle and can be secured really well, so they don’t bounce and irritate our mighty steeds.

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A Year of Classic Vlassic

It came as a shock to me when my calendar popped up that August 1 is our sleek black weenie dog mix, Vlassic’s “birthday!” Only a year ago, Sara saw something strange on her picnic table and called me over to get my new dog.

A year of me? I’m glad!

We never saw any posts looking for him, which is good, since he crawled immediately into our hearts. He’s my faithful companion who travels back and forth between Austin and Cameron every week with me. He sleeps next to (or on) me every night, and spends a lot of his waking time on my lap.

Luckily he spreads his love to other people’s laps, often unannounced. He has caused many beverages to spill. But when he rolls over and stretches out for a belly rub, you can’t be angry.

Let me demo my belly rub face for you.

He loves his canine friends a lot, too, though he has to occasionally remind them he’s small. His little jaw snaps repeatedly when he’s wrestling with Carlton or Harvey. And when Penney joins in, it’s glorious. We humans just have to smile.

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Test Driving a Canine

It’s been hard on us since Brody died. Lee and I finally decided to look into a female dog, thinking we could use some balance. I talked to a couple of people about potential new dog friends. One sweet girl lives in Mexico and looks like a bigger Vlassic. One is a large and beautiful puppy. I don’t think we can do another puppy for a while.

Look at my pug wrinkles and loose skin! And this nice man.

I kept going back to a dog called Izzy I’d been following at the Cameron pound. She isn’t spectacular to look at, just a plain reddish dog. So, no one has adopted her. Apparently her mom is a pug/dachshund mix, but the dad is an unknown Cameron roaming stud. She gets pug wrinkles when she’s concerned.

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Donkey Feet and Horse Teeth

So, I started yesterday feeling all fancy and business-like as we got our pictures taken by the Chamber of Commerce, because Hermits’ Rest Enterprises is the July Business of the Month. Mandi and I had on nice clothing and jewelry, and Mandi’s hair was all straight and fancy. (See the Hermit Haus blog for more details.)

Then, by mid-afternoon we were back at the ranch, and I had morphed into Cowgirl Suna, with jeans, boots, and hat to meet Trixie the farrier to look at the horses and Fiona. I asked Mandi to come along, since she’s the one who doctored Fiona and knows more about horse health than I do.

Fiona’s Footsies

Fiona went first, and she was pretty good, though she did get the idea to try to file her own hooves. It didn’t work out.

Now that I’ve got this thing, how do I use it?

Trixie said that Fiona’s “bad” foot was really interesting, and that she’d never seen one like that. The footbed still seems longer than the outer hoof wall. We went over a lot of possibilities for what could have caused it. We settled on the bag abscess she had on that front hoof causing the outer walls to not grow like usual, which caused separation and other issues.

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Batty Bits

It’s been quite a week with so much work and such that it’s been hard to find time to write. I may perhaps have too many jobs and volunteer positions, but I love them all!

I especially enjoy my Master Naturalist group and its members. I get a lot out of observing their personalities and learning their interests. Sometimes they are a bit quiet, but always in an endearing way.

Last night’s chapter meeting dealt with bats, a topic our speaker, Cindy, is very attached to. I wrote a lot about her talk in the Master Naturalist blog, so here I’ll just say I learned a few bits of information I didn’t know before, and they will stick with me.

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Did I Save a Baby Bird? And Summer Glory

Isn’t it about time I got back to nature observations? I think we all could use some sweet stories and pretty photos, so I’ll try to give you some of each.

I love this image of a wheel bug on the window at work.

The Dangling Finchlet

First, I’ll tell you about the house finch families who have taken up residence at the Hermit Haus, who entertain me and Mandi when we hang out by the carport. They sing and sing, and fly right next to us or sit in big groups chirping and looking spiffy (especially the males).

Hey, it’s hay and more hay.

Well, as we came out to leave this afternoon and I was trying to load paper towels in the car, something brushed against me. I looked left, and there was a poor little baby finch flailing away, but unable to fly off, because a piece of nesting material was stuck on its leg.

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What Goes Yip-yip…Eww?

I’ll tell you! It gave me a happy surprise yesterday, and who doesn’t love a happy surprise? I especially love one that leads to nature observations and stories.

I was leaving work around 5 pm, as workers tend to do, and turned left out of the parking garage. That road leads between two sets of offices, but is shady and has lots of trees. It once was a lovely park-like area, and some parts of it still are.

I looked ahead after making the turn and saw something in the road. Usually, you see deer, since the herd that’s always lived in the area is still here. But, no, this looked more canine.

As I got closer, I ruled out dogs. As I got even closer, I easily ruled out coyotes by looking at the tale. It was a native gray fox! You usually don’t see them when it’s light out, but we were in a dim area.

The fox seemed very happy. I soon realized it was not alone. In the proud little fox mouth was a sizable, but lifeless, striped skunk (also native). I knew foxes ate small mammals, but I didn’t realize they’d eat a skunk. Heck, this skunk was hard for Foxy to carry.

Artist’s rendering of a fox that looks more like a dog or a horse with fox ears, carrying a very accurate skunk.

I lucked out, and there weren’t any cars behind me, so I got to watch the fox trot along an office building, probably looking for a place to settle down to a nice, but potentially stinky meal. I didn’t get to grab the phone camera, but no doubt you enjoy the fact that I can’t draw for squat.

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