Arrivals and Departures

The population of the Hermits’ Rest is always changing. Today there’s someone new who arrived and someone old who departed. No one died, to put a spoiler in there.

Pet me once more

Dear old Granny, the skinny old mare with the inability to properly eat grass, has been sent off to hang out with Dusty and Kathleen’s other horse at the farm in Yorktown. She can wander around and squirt and quid all she wants, hang out with cows.

Enjoy your new friends!

I must admit I’ll miss her bony old self. She is awful with other horses, but she’s a real sweetie with people. I enjoyed hanging around with her, and gave her lots of love every day.

New resident

This little guy just moved into Lee’s pond. It’s one of our many baby bullfrogs from the spring mating fest.

I like my rocks.

He’s not as friendly as Granny, but he isn’t too afraid of people. Somewhere around here is a little toad, too. Lee found it in the house and put it back out.

I’m a toad.

Another new arrival is this skink. I think they are really cool. I’m not sure if we have one or multiple. I’ve spotted skinks a few times in the last couple of days.

One other visitor I have no photos of, but my guess is it’s a pocket gopher. I hadn’t seen any here, but Sara had some. I guess they hiked over here to enjoy chicken food. I blocked the holes last night, and lo and behold, there was a lot more food left this morning. I may end up just sharing my fancy chicken food with them.

Stay out of our food!

And in other chicken news, I tried letting Babette back in with the other chickens. An hour later, she was all bloody-headed again. Darn. So, she’s back in her isolation ward.

I’m a delicate flower. But at least I’m finally laying eggs regularly.

Apache has normal eyes again, and the dogs are fine. That’s it for our comings and goings.

Rainy Escapades

I know it’s October, because the rains are back. No pool guys today! But, that is just fine.

I went out this morning to feed Granny and the chickens, and heard a strange noise. What was it? Goldie. She had somehow gotten out and had joined me. I figured I’d determine what happened there later. I headed out to feed Granny, only to be met by four hungry faces.

All the other horses were out and wandering around. Huh. What in the world? I then ran the gauntlet of Apache, Remington, and Mabel, with Fiona trailing behind. I was impressed that I managed to get the food to Granny and not slip in the mud while doing so.

Gleeful escapees

Next, I walked toward the gate to Apache’s paddock. Apache and Fiona nicely followed me, so they were easy to get in. I saw that the gate had been pushed open. So, either one of them unlocked it or (more likely) I had it draped over and forgot to fasten it when I went back to the house yesterday.

Then I went to find the other two horses, which is when I took the photo above. They were just milling around, so it was easy for me to just lead them into the pens by holding their halters. They got lots of pats and love, too.

At least the baby chicks had not escaped, so I managed to keep one type of animal where it belonged! And when I took Goldie back inside, I went out and saw that she (or another dog) had managed to move the big gate that is leaning across the patio to keep the dogs away from the pool. I managed to give myself a couple of nice, sharp cuts trying to put it back (it’s heavy!), but for the rest of the day, so far, everyone’s been in their places.

Tiny cut, but was actually pretty deep. Hurt like heck.

It sure is nice to see the tanks/ponds starting to fill back up, even if it means pool delays!

I also wanted to share that I have a new friend right outside my window. She has a beautiful web, as orb weavers tend to have, but she seems drawn toward my hanging web decoration. I’ve had that thing since I lived in Champaign, Illinois! The rain isn’t bothering her, or her smaller friend who is up higher on the window, one bit.

Pretty White Things

While I’m pretty tired from the amount of meetings and learning I’m going through, I’m grateful to be surrounded by kind people and fun friends, including the non human ones.

Ready for his closeup

Lee took this beautiful picture of Carlton today. I need to frame it! Between him and Gracie, there’s a lot of white dog beauty around here.

Gracie taking over the big bed.

One more white thing is very new! Billie Idyll has finally laid an egg, and it’s a big one for such a small chicken. And it’s a lovely, creamy white. I wish Henley hadn’t stopped laying, so you could compare it to her extremely white eggs.

Compared to a Buff Orpington egg from Blondie.

Good ole Billie did good! Yay funny-looking hen!

You think I look funny, you should see Babette’s head! No wonder she’s sticking her chicken butt out.

I think this means just Betsy, the Americauna is still not laying, though since Babette got bopped on the head, she quit. I have quite the collection of merely decorative hens at the moment.

Betsy is upper left. She’s big enough to lay!

But they all bring peace and joy to the ranch, and that’s what counts. I’m glad for all the white, tan, red, brown, black, and spotted creatures around here.

My eggs may be small, but they’re the bluest.

We are still checking Star every day for chicks. They have food and water in case they hatch when I’m in Austin.

Bonus pic, because I love them.

I Have a New Shadow

A cute quick story for today. You see, Kathleen went on a quick trip, and I agreed to feed her old lady horse, Granny (formerly known as Amaretto). Granny’s teeth don’t work well anymore, so she can’t grind up grass enough to swallow it. Thus, she needs her high-calorie food twice a day!

I still eat a lot. Honest.

Granny is currently out in the yard so she can suck some grass and spit it out (it’s called quidding). It’s also because she HATES being confined to her pen and paces around nervously.

Example of quidding.

She gets darned excited when she sees a food tub, though. Yesterday, she ran up to me and I couldn’t get to her pen before she started chowing down. This morning, she followed me nicely into her pen. Since then, every time I go out, she trots up for pets, then follows me wherever I go, at a very polite distance, like a well-trained horse.

Here she comes.

She was right with me every step when I was setting up Apache’s schooling patterns, which made me laugh and laugh. I did put her in my pen while I was riding.

I won’t leave your side.

But the best thing was when I went to go back into the house. I figured she’d drop off and start grazing before I got there. But no, I heard her clip-clopping on the driveway. When I got to the front door this is what I saw.

Can I come in?

No, she could not, because part of her old lady issues includes peeing a lot, all the time. But you know what? It’s nice having her around. She can’t kick and bite the other horses this way, but she gets lots of human love on her skinny frame. We will take care of her as long as possible, too. Kathleen has her closely monitored by veterinarians.

Hey. Can I come in the tack room? My food is there.

And I’ve learned what quidding is!

Goldie the Great Dane Goes Mudding

You don’t have to go out of town to have adventures, as the Hermits’ Rest’s biggest canine, Goldie, discovered today. We made it home from Bandera and getting new job paperwork done in plenty of time for daily chores and a bit of fun.

Explorer Goldie.

The deer stand on the property had gotten blown over by the wind, so I went along to watch the tractor right it. Goldie ran alongside us.

It’s pretty here.

Once the stand was righted, we just had to enjoy the beauty of the back part of the ranch. I love it there, where all you see is grass and trees. It’s really fun on a horse, but pretty darned good on foot.

Up it goes.

We wandered around a bit finding big rocks for Lee’s pond. Then we went to check one of the small tanks/ponds that hides back there. I got all distracted by this walking stick on a Christmas cholla cactus.

The brown thing is an insect.

Goldie decided she was thirsty. After all, it got over 100 degrees today, and she ran all this way. She did her best to get to the water in the muddle of the pond, but nope. The mud was up past her knees.

I can’t get to the water.

The sound of Goldie pulling her feet out of the mud was the definition of “suck.” It was pretty funny, but I was glad she didn’t get stuck. She was too.

She was sooo dirty.

It’s hard to say what’s more

This evening, though, we looked down and saw Carlton patiently cleaning Goldie’s legs. They made a lot of progress before all the dogs erupted in play. Yeah, we miss our dogs when we leave.

It Was a Good Break, No Bull

Time for something that won’t get a zillion hits (so it’s not about changing jobs). I enjoyed this weekend’s little break at a ranch outside of Bandera, Texas. We didn’t even leave the place the whole time. Yesterday, everyone mostly sat around in the very comfortable house, read books, or watched football.

Howdy from me and howdy.

I, of course, went outside to see what I could see. You’d think 29 acres of pasture wouldn’t yield anything, but that’s not the case! There is a lot of native grass and other plants out here, so I was able to find some new things to put in iNaturalist. And since I’m always scrounging around, I found interesting poop and some dead things (a large mouse and a fairly recently deceased fawn (boo hoo)). I’ll spare you photos of that.

I had to get Kathleen’s picture with the big guy, too!

I also spent a lot of time with the longhorns that live here. The steer (Howdy) is really well trained, and used to work at shows and stuff. He puts his giant head down so you can pat him between the horns. That’s the safest place. When flies bother him, he flings his head, and those attached horns, pretty dang hard. Anyway, that’s the no bull part. The cow is Little Sister, and she is friendly, but just learning to accept pats.

Really, though, the woman who owns this place is great with animals. The two horses are so well behaved and happy, the longhorns are friendly, and her dogs are a total hoot. She has one Aussie shepherd that apparently is a double merle, so he is deaf and can only see in one eye, so the other one leads him around and fetches him when she calls. Aww. (Sorry no pics.)

These are the broodmares next door. They have very fancy hay feeders.

Enjoy some of the things I saw as I wandered around looking at the neighboring very fancy quarter horses and the random plants. I’m heading back home after a work meeting (yay Zoom) to pee in a cup and prove I am a US citizen for the new job. Then it’s back to “normality” for a couple of weeks.

Watermelon Fun Overload

Today we had some old watermelon to dispose of. Usually I give melon to the chickens, who immediately go into a pecking frenzy. Today it was suggested that I see if Fiona wanted some.

This looks suspicious.

She sniffed it carefully. When I broke off a piece and offered it to her, she delicately took it between her lips, then went to town chomping. But, when I set it back down, she went up and touched it, but switched back to grass. Maybe it was too cold for her.

Brr. It’s cold!

Hmph, I thought to myself. I’ll see if any of the other horses appreciate it. I conveniently forgot I’m not supposed to give Mabel treats.

Hey, what’s this??

Lucky for me, Mabel didn’t get much of it. Dusty, one of the Buckskin Buddies, must be familiar with watermelon, because he chowed down big time. Much smacking and melon tossing went on, and I was completely charmed by his happiness. Here he is picking it up for better chomping.

This is fun.

The chickens did get to enjoy some, too. They eat it down to the rind.

Watermelon is for chickens!!

Okay, I’ll close with a happy picture or two. This is the first Ruby-throated hummingbird I’ve identified here at the Hermits’ Rest. All the ones I usually see are black-chinned ones. But, they’re migrating right now. What fun!

Oh, I just keep seeing cool things. That’s what I get for writing from the porch.

Penney Gets Traumatized

Poor Penney! We all know she’s a neurotic dog with special needs. Today she had a surprising episode that had us really worried.

I feel better now. Thanks, Lee.

This morning, the dogs were full of energy, so I took them out while I moved horses. I noticed Penney stayed up with Lee, which seemed odd. When I came back in, she was at the top of the stairs, whining. Huh.

Whine, whine!

Pretty soon we realized she wouldn’t come down. We called and called. She wouldn’t come. Visions of pee all over the upstairs passed through my mind. Lee went up to encourage her, with dog help, of course.

What’s the matter, girl?

We wondered if she’d tripped going downstairs in the night. My idea is that she didn’t want to be near Gracie Lou. Gracie, the tough little farm dog, is always dominant over her, but for the most part, I assumed they were playing. Hmmm.

Lee said to wait and see if she’d come down on her own, so we waited a while and she was just standing there whining. Then I went up to encourage her in a very cheerful way. I got her to come down one step. Then dogs came up and she backed up. Sigh.

I’m scared.

Then Lee went up and “encouraged” her to go down. Note that Gracie is on top of her.

I’m trying here!

The poor dear rushed down, and Gracie immediately jumped on her. Much peeing ensued. Poor Penney. I eventually got her outside where she trembled as she pooped. She’s a nervous wreck.

Ready to pounce.

Gracie is gonna spend some time in her room today until we figure out what’s up. I’m sure it can be worked out. Lee still thinks she might have fallen. Poor dear.

You sure never know what’s next with dogs. Send Penney vibes of calming and safety. And hope she’ll come down after she goes back up. And…she’s back up and whining. Stay tuned.

Things I Never Thought I Would Say: Poop Edition

Since moving here, I have found myself uttering phrases that the old Suna never would have come out with. Things like: Hey, I only sweated through two bras today!

My horsies!

With all these animals, of course the topic turns to what comes out of them. More than once I’ve had an in-depth discussion of what makes a healthy cow pie, and why it’s okay for them to have the runs at certain times of the year. So, yes, I’ve said, “Wow, that’s some fine looking cow dung!”

Today’s phrase I never would have thought I’d ever say is:

I really enjoy shoveling horse poop.

The poop shoveling equipment.

But, it’s true! I find myself looking forward to cleaning Apache’s pen while he and Drew eat their delicious food and supplements. It’s fun chasing all those stray horse apples, honestly. And it looks so great when you are done (which lasts approximately zero minutes to one hour, depending on horse digestion).

Hey, you just cleaned this, so I needed to make a new deposit. You’re welcome.

It sure makes it smell better, too. Of course, some poop shoveling is not fun. I put trying to clean the stock trailer in that category. It’s a really nice trailer with flooring that helps the animals stay steady on their feet. However, that flooring makes it very hard to remove poop, and let me tell you something, an animal placed in a trailer will poop, probably before you finish tying them up, or shut the door.

I went out this morning when it was “cooler” to finally tackle the trailer after Apache’s lesson a week ago. Wow, that was a frustrating job, but at least most is out. Obviously we need to pressure wash it, which will happen when we have a pressure washer that’s not stuck on one hose in the back yard.

Yes, this is AFTER I tried to clean it.

And apparently, if you create an enclosure, equines will poop in it. I had left the “gate” to the round pen open so it could get mowed, and sure enough, Fiona ONLY pooped in there when she was out free ranging. That makes it fun for the human in the center working with the horse, or walking around with it.

Thank goodness, now that it’s mowed, the Fiona poop isn’t so obvious.

In good news, I went over to Sara’s and got the cones I forgot I owned (bought with the portable round pen and the other dressage accessories). I can now set up my circle much more accurately for our schooling practice.

They don’t have to be fancy cones to do the job. Here, they are up high so the grass can be cut.

Sounds like I have a fun weekend ahead of me, with poop shoveling as a feature, not a chore.

And feeding me, too. Don’t forget to feed me.

When You’re Irritated, Go Outside

No matter how many times I try to convince myself not to care to much about my work, I keep doing it, and the way things are set up now, I really need to just roll with the changes. But, I’ll try to do that again, next time.

Goldie is rolling with the changes. Keep on rolling, keep on rolling, as REO Speedwagon advised.

So, today I made a point of going outside and enjoying a relatively cool August day with the animals. I did some excellent breathing, then went out to see how the horses were doing.

What, I’m supposed to be rolling? Usually you make me stop!

I got Drew out and tried to groom him. Oh my gosh, he, too, had been rolling. In the sand. While sweating. He was now an orange horse. He had clay-like clods in his mane that would not brush out. I got my exercise in!

I don’t know what she’s talking about. I look just fine…from a distance, backlit.

We went for a walk, which was fine until Harvey took off after him and he bolted away. Drew is very pretty when running. And he waited for me. I took a deep breath and we finished our walk. Then we went in the round pen, and Drew totally made up for running off. He has improved so much! At least I feel like I’ve taught him something. He slows down, stops, turns, and comes to me when asked.

I’m not so bad. Also, Fiona’s empty dish tastes better than mine.

Then I fetched Apache, who was much less filthy but more bothered by flies. I see why Drew was rolling in the sand. Both got fly spray, so they will be better for a few days. I put Apache in the round pen to see if he’d move better after some pain killer the night before.

Yep. He’s trotting.

He acted like normal Apache. He trotted around and around until I asked him to stop. He turned around when asked. He just kept going. I think maybe it’s just he abscess growing out.

Look, you can almost see my ribs!

We had a good walk, and when he started wanting to eat every time I stopped, I practiced starting and stopping after different numbers of steps. That made him think, and his head stayed up.

My head is up, geez.

Sara has me reading a depressing article on sugar in grass. It makes me feel doomed at slimming him down again until winter. I can’t let him out only between 9 pm and 3 am. Sigh.

I can’t help it. I was born this way. Or mismanagement. Or something. This is my bad angle!

By the time I did all this, I felt better. Keeping myself centered to work with the horses helped a lot! Animal therapy. I’d say it’s free, but horses are not cheap.

Donkeys are cute and cheap!