Damp and Dreary Can Be Cheery

Today started out bathed in fog, and as the sun sets it’s still drizzling. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful day. You can find beauty anywhere if you just look around! Just look at all these beautiful water droplets!

Anita stayed over last night, sleeping on my gradually softening air bed. Shoot, that was a GOOD air bed. We had the nicest discussion, just Anita, Lee, and me, as we drank our hot beverages and finished cleaning up after last night’s delicious Thanksgiving dinner. I felt so relaxed, with Carlton curled up in my lap, and the fog draped over the trees outside.

Web of glistening sparkles.

I got Anita to walk the dogs with me and pose like she is out on the misty moors. It was fun to walk through all the tiny air droplets. It wasn’t too cold, so it was good walking weather.

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Horses Heal Hearts

I feel so good right now. Sara and I just went on a long ride on Apache and Spice. Due to our schedules, we hadn’t been out for a while.

Look what we did! We put the bowl in the trough! Hee haw!

I was a little worried that Apache would be hard to ride after so long, but he seemed as glad to go explore as I was. We had a blast.

It’s so pretty.

The light and foliage were spectacular, and because we went way to the edge of the property, we got to see some longhorns next door.

Shining ranch. We love it here.
Scenic longhorns.

Spice started getting antsy when we saw some deer in the distance, and had trouble settling down. Fiona was too busy eating to notice the deer at first, so when they ran across the field, she ran all over.

There is a deer in the picture.

Going home was a challenge for Sara, but she handled Spice really well. She went round and round in circles a lot.

I was here!

I enjoyed myself so much. I wished the ride would never end. I feel so calm and serene, like I have no problems. I feel healed. And I think the horse is as happy as me.

Our newest calf, Grazzi. Sort of like thanks.

Guest Blogger: Are You Ever Safe from Snakes? No.

by Mandi Shuffield
Sarge, 9 years old. He will let his boys do anything they want to him. They seem to love putting things on his head…

The weather is finally cooling off here in Central Texas! I see a lot of folks are catching up on yard work and home improvements. I know the contractors I ‘ve talked to are sure happy about not sweating to death just from stepping out of their houses! But does this mean that we should be lured into believing that the venomous snakes are not active right now? It does not!

I have seen people share a post that gives the seasons that snakes are not out at this time of year. In my experience of almost 38 years, I’d say ignore that and pretend that even when there is ice on the ground, you could find a snake.

Just be vigilant, and then you won’t have to retrain yourself this spring. Don’t get lulled into security because some zoologist somewhere says they are “less likely” to be active. That’s the key phrase there, “less likely.” That doesn’t mean there is a 0% chance of finding them. That’s especially true if you’re moving leaves, debris, or climbing under a house where it is probably sort of warm.

Continue reading “Guest Blogger: Are You Ever Safe from Snakes? No.”

Ranch Return. Ahh.

Being away from nature for a week was hard on me! I was so glad to come home to the ranch and see familiar sights. The trees, the cattle, the birds, my dear pets. It even smelled like home.

Back exploring with my buddies.

I got to check out what has changed and what’s new this evening. I also got to walk the dogs through beautiful autumn light. Here’s a report!

The old cedar elm at sunset.
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Book Report: Unnatural Texas?

Hey from Austin! You didn’t think my holiday was all traipsing through the mosquito fields and staring at the ocean, did you? Of course not. I also read a lot. Admittedly, I read a few magazines, but I got deeply into this book, which I got at the Texas Master Naturalist Conference a couple of weeks ago. It’s whole title is Unnatural Texas? The Invasive Species Dilemma, and it was written by Robin W. Doughty and Matt Warnock Turner.

The authors didn’t want to put “invasive” in the first part of the title, because, as they frequently point out, none of the plants and animals they talk about actually invaded in the first place; someone brought them to this continent. In fact, the only animal who’s actually “invaded” that they talked about is the nine-banded armadillo, who’s been going farther and farther northward, on its own, for the past couple of hundred years. (I would add to this list the caracara/Mexican eagle and a couple of other birds that are coming northward since it’s getting warmer).

This dude invaded our neighborhood all on their own.
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We Invade the Plantation

Yesterday was a bit more of the same vacation stuff as the rest of the week. We have a routine where Anita works all morning (that’s why I have time to blog; otherwise I’d be doing activities) and then off we go. I made a lunch with our eggs and turkey and cheese all scrambled together, making me glad we got the grocery delivery package when we got here. That way, most days we don’t have to eat out but once.

We See Sea Pines

One of the negative things about Hilton Head Island is that lots of it is not easily accessible unless you live there. It’s divided into “plantations” (which were actual plantations with all the sadness that went with them), and they are gated, so only the well-do-do who live there can get in without a pass.

Entrance to the preserve we visited.

Luckily, for $8 they will let you into Sea Pines, so we made the most of it and drove all over the place yesterday. There’s a large forest preserve in the middle, which the developer of the property kindly deeded to the residents. We trundled through there and really enjoyed the boardwalk area with lots of labeled plants and interesting terrain.

Anita in her Halloween shirt enjoying the boardwalk.

The land was reclaimed from being a rice plantation and now actually provides drinking water. That’s a great story. We saw a couple of alligators and lots of birds, plus some huge trees that survived Hurricane Matthew.

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Ahoy! We Set Sail!

Admission: we were not on a sailboat, we were on a ski boat, but nonetheless, Anita and I had a glorious time with Boat Captain Scott out on the waters surrounding Hilton Head Island yesterday. We spent two action-packed hours as our guide took us to beautiful spots filled with birds and dolphins. It was a very high tide, so we could get into all sorts of tight spots, too.

When the son did come out, it was very sparkly.

It was a gray day, so none of the photos look spectacular, and of course most of the birds were way too far away for photos, but I sure got my money’s worth out of the binoculars, which I was gracious enough to occasionally share with Anita, when I wasn’t all mesmerized.

What was your favorite, Suna?

Thanks for asking, hypothetical reader! By far my favorite sight was all the little blue herons in the marshlands. They were harder to spot, but so blue! Of course I couldn’t get pictures, but here’s what they look like.

By Sandhillcrane – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=75471386

There were dozens and dozens of great egrets, a good number of great blue herons, and a lot of sweet snowy egrets. The marshes were crammed with them. We also saw two tricolored herons, so it was a good day for that family.

Continue reading “Ahoy! We Set Sail!”