Olypmic Park Dog Gymnastics

Today was the last day for my second batch of visitors, but we decided to go have lunch before they left. We went back to the restaurant in Park City where I met the nice server who saved my phone, because Kathleen wanted to get a t-shirt for their Polygamy Stout.

I just pictured peace, quiet, and a raven while the drunken child went on and on.

They didn’t have any shirts the right size, but we did try the beer, and it was good. All the food was delicious, though the visit was marred by some rich, drunk kids yelling. They kept shushing the loudest one, and I swear it would have just been more fun to listen to him go on and on.

I mentioned that I’m almost out of yarn and would probably need to Uber to the local Michael’s to get something else to knit on (yes, I am capable of knitting with inexpensive yarn, if I must). Kathleen said they’d take me before they left, so off we went. Wow, the regular shopping center outside of town was hardly recognizable for the tweeness of the signs and mountain-y style. Best Buy looked its best, that’s for sure.

That’s the shopping center, off in the distance.

I didn’t find exactly what I wanted, but did get two contrasting colors to make the scarf pattern I found, but larger, as a wrap. Chris was really impressed by giant skeins of self-striping bulky yarn, and I saw a nice slip-stitch afghan pattern on the label, so I said I’d make him one if he selected the yarn. That would be a fun gift, right? I still have a thing to finish at home, so I need to get back in the groove and find some way to protect knitting from the dogs.

Inexpensive yarn for something to sit under and watch television.

As we were leaving, we realized that the Olympic Park from the 19th Winter Olympics was right across from the shopping center. So, since we happened to be there, we checked it out. The views were spectacular from the venue, and it was really fun to see where all the ski events took place.

We didn’t have time to see the museums or anything, but the outsides were pretty.

On our way back down, we passed lots of hiking trails just full of people, since the weather is well above freezing today. Then we saw dogs, lots of dogs. We just pulled over to the side of the road and watched at least a dozen very happy dogs on the leashless dog trail.

One dog was on the wrong side of the trail, but did not mind.

There was so much frolicking. They all seemed to get along well, and definitely loved the snow. They ran back and forth, play-bowed and leapt.

Running full speed

One black dog kept jumping into piles of snow and biting at the snow. That particular dog must have run a mile just while we were watching. It was pure joy. I kept picturing Carlton out there with them, except he’d be invisible.

Black dog in its snow pile.

What a great send-off for K. and C.! They decided to drive their rental car back, which meant I could give them some of the stuff I’ve bought, so I won’t have to try to pack it all. I feel like I may have dodged a bullet there. I will not be bringing home all the food they left for me, but I also will NOT need to buy any more restaurant food while I’m here. I’m all set for a week of working by day and relaxing in the evenings.

The weird Coke won’t be left over, however. Not bad.

And now that I figured out how to get my watch to track elliptical workouts, I will be able to keep the exercise up, no matter how bad the weather gets. Today, though, I’m gonna get more walking in.

Second Most Hated

I spent most of last night trying to figure out why my post from yesterday got so many hits it blew my stats out. Did someone love reading about putting one dream aside to focus on another? Of course not. Someone was upset about something peripheral. But thanks! All those hater-inspired hits make my SEO look good.

Speaking of hate, when I was heading over to my Google search console, I got distracted by this headline:

We’re Number Two!

First I got all indignant that Texas wasn’t number one. I mean, gee, we have so much to dislike, first among which is that Texans think they’re number one at everything. Ha ha! Not in hate by others! We’re probably number one in racists and misogynists, though, just by population size.

I know you’re dying to know whether Florida or California is most hated. At least I was. But no! It’s New Jersey! I guess New Yorkers skewed that!

Kansas? What did they do? Anyway these stats are from click2houston.com.

My guess is adjacent states have something to do with it, especially when I saw that most Texas haters came from Oklahoma, New Mexico, etc. Sigh. I’d like to know the most loved states!

Honestly, though, every place I’ve been has some pretty awful aspects and some amazing ones. Texas has some horrible politicians and some pretty dull scenery. Plus Houston. But there is so much beauty, many kind people, and a fun cultural mix. So, no need to hate it, just some parts. Ditto all those other states and countries.

Even your sweet dog wants to chomp your hand, occasionally (playing).

Side story: I have a growing number of friends retiring outside the US. Each proclaims the wonders of their part of Mexico, Canada, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Portugal, etc. But I know each place has its frustrations, just like the US. One friend wrote about how people have twice stolen the telephone wires connecting their neighborhood to the main town, for copper. Another notes high COVID rates and insufficient medical personnel, even with socialized medicine.

No place is perfect! Or living thing, for that matter.

No donkey is perfect, but I can’t hate Fiona for chomping on me when I didn’t pay enough attention to her!

No blog, business, or person is. Hatred just wastes time. And energy. If you have a problem with something, pause to think if that issue negates all the good that’s also present.

One minute they’re growling, the next they are grooming each other. Good role models.

I’m just going to accept Texas, Cameron, Austin, my pets, and my beloved humans as they are. Try it! You’ll like it!

Dystopian Ranch Report

Dystopian? That sounds cheerful, doesn’t it? Well, it’s just a weird day. It’s still all hazy, which makes it feel like I’m walking in a science fiction story.

It really never cleared up all day.

And it’s so windy that chairs, empty troughs, and the chickens’ shelter blew all over the place. I had trouble walking to see the horses! Vlassic even spooked a couple of times (but was good with cows).

My ears may blow off. Or I may take off.

It’s not all bad, though. I checked on the new goldfish, and I was happy to see the water in the trough already more clear and with fewer mosquito larvae. I swear they have grown!

Vlassic likes fish food.

We’ve lost only one fish, which surprised me, considering how green the water was. At first I couldn’t see the fish if they weren’t at the top!

We’re working hard!

Other things are actually doing okay, even in adverse circumstances. My poor fennel plant that got replanted near the “folly” had been weed-eated and mown by Jim (he likes a smooth lawn) is coming back! I thought it was a goner. I put a bunny next to it, to remind him it’s there. Fingers are crossed!

Grow, fennel!

Even more amazing is that my asparagus patch, which had been treated with RoundUp, has come back! The weeds are in way worse shape, so maybe we can get that bed in shape.

I’m alive!

Even in the wind and haze, I keep finding cool living things around the ranch. Look at this beautiful insect! It’s a nuptial scorpionfly. Huh.

So pretty! I wonder if it stings?

And this caught my eye as I was going to check the mail. I wondered if it was aphids or some kind of goldenrod beetle. I guess I thought that since I recently found milkweed bugs and aphids.

White things…

I looked it up on iNaturalist and discovered it WAS something associated with goldenrod, but each white thing is a gall created by some tiny insects, Carbonifera goldenrod gall midge. That’s a new one for me.

Midge photo by David, CC BY-SC-NA

Always something new, even with the weirdness of 2020 continuing. The sun will come up tomorrow, dimly.

Saint Vlassic

This is a big dog event. This afternoon, when Vlassic and I were walking to feed the horses, all the young cows were standing on the drive. That was tempting!

The walk was weird due to a lot of dust brought in from a cool front. Weird sun.

Vlassic ran after one lone cow, but came right off when I called him. The rest of the way, he walked right next to me, even when the cows got closer and closer, hoping for food.

I was so proud of him! And he didn’t bother Big Red when she was eating, either.

Star is also glad he leaves her alone. And she’s drinking out of the trough.

On the way back, he and Copper played nicely, then the three precious white calves stood right there, taunting him. He was tempted. But, he didn’t run at them when they trotted off.

Step away, dog.

He made a move toward the last calf, but Mama put her head down. Vlassic got the message and set off with me. What a good boy, Saint Vlassic!

And Now We Have Fish

It quickly became obvious that our new cattle trough was also a great breeding farm for mosquitoes. We certainly couldn’t poison them, because that’s the water for the animals. And it’s too big too tip over regularly.

So, we went with the time-honored technique of adding fish to the water. There are many options, including gambusias, which are actual mosquito fish. We went with goldfish. Because I’m a big spender, I went with the 32-cent ones rather than the 16-cent ones.

Regular old comet goldfish.

If we are right, they’ll eat lots and grow fast. The trough is deep enough to keep them safe from birds, I hope. I put them in the trough to get accustomed to the water temperature.

It looks icky in there.

In zero seconds, onlookers appeared.

Hey, Suna, whatchya doing?

Those guys stood back, but Rip was really curious.

Ima come check this out!

He got right up to them and bopped them with his nose.

Can I eat this?

After a while, the fish were freed.

Uh, we’re just fine in this bag, thanks.

Within a minute of being released, they were noshing on algae and chasing larvae. They won’t need the fish food I got them!

We love this green water! We have space! There’s food! Woo’

I look forward to seeing how they do. The trough adds new water when the cows and chickens drink, so the water won’t be stagnant. We will see.

Black Weenie Dog Unsure about Cameron, TX

by Vlassic Bruns Kendall

Hi, I’m Vlassic, like the picke company, only with an extra s. I am a small, black dog. I travel a lot, now that Suna goes back to Austin more often. I like it in Austin, mostly. I get to hang out with Pickle the chiweenie, play with Anita, and snuggle lots and lots with Suna.

Snuggling makes me very happy.

I have some friends and enemies in Austin, but mostly friends. Last week a dog kept yapping at me until her human took her away. And for some reason, my old buddy, Percy, was mad at me much of the week. But, we sniffed butts and had a nice walk last night. I love walking in Austin. Suna and Anita pick up my poop, so I try to go as much as I can.

This morning, I got to go for a car ride (yay) and we ended up at this place in Cameron, where some of my family are, plus some nice people like Meghan and Jenecia, who give me treats and pet me. It’s a little weird here, but I have toys and a water dish, which helps a lot. Plus, I get to visit and “help” people work!

I’m having a meeting.

Suna took me for a walk today, and that convinced me I do NOT like Cameron. Everywhere I turned there were more dogs barking and running up to me. The first few were behind fences or attached to something that saved me. Whew.

I like the sidewalk, because there are no grass burs. And look, Suna picked up my poop, like she was in Austin or something!

But, a giant dog (Suna says a medium-sized old, sweet dog) came rushing out of a garage and barked LOUD. Suna screamed. She was embarrassed, she told the old human who came running out. In the end, I liked that dog fine, and we sniffed butts. Suna says she has no pictures because she was so busy protecting me. Thanks, Suna!

Parts of the walk were good, like I found a dead thing to sniff, and lots of places to pee.

MMM. Dead thing.

But, danger is everywhere! There were all sorts of grass burs on the sidewalk where the vacant lot had been mowed. I had to stop and remove them, but then, yay! I got to eat them. They are tasty snacks, actually.

Then ANOTHER dog came after me. Suna knew this one would be there, so she talked to it. He wagged his tail, barked a little, and went home. Suna saved me again!

By the time I got home I was exhausted. I tried to regain my strength by eating stuff out of the trash can, but she emptied it.

No luck with the trash can. I’ll just lay down.

Suna felt sorry for me, so she found a nice blankie for me to snuggle up in while she works.

I’m comfy and cozy now!

I’ll just take a nap now, and hope Suna takes me back to the ranch, where my other human, Jim, likes to hang out with me, and where I can run free with the other dogs, even bad ole Penney, who I actually like, now. And my chickens! And all those cute calves. I think I’ll dream of chasing them. Bye!

Thank Goodness for Family, the Equine Kind

Let’s think about what makes for a nice day. For me, it’s being out in nature with friends of the human and animal kind. That’s just what Sara and I got yesterday afternoon, only marred by how hot the humidity made us feel.

When we got to the horse area, Apache was drenched in sweat, which got us worried, but, he acted happy enough, so we decided to take our walk in a shadier area at the back of the cattle pasture, to get out of the sun. First, we successfully moved her cattle from that pasture to the one Spice and Lakota had been in, moved Lakota to the cattle pasture, and got Fiona in to walk with us. It took no time at all. Sure is nice when everyone already wants to go where you’re trying to send them!

Lakota and Fiona noshed their way through the walk, right along with us.

Then we just walked and walked. And that meant ALL of us. Lakota followed us around like he was being led, like Apache was. Sure was good to see him acting peppy again. Sara says she worries about letting loose horses walk with horses being ridden, since she got kicked by a horse and broke a bone that way once. But, Lakota was a real gentleman.

Yep, they were having fun.

It was a little spooky where we were, since it’s behind a ridge and you feel hidden from the rest of the ranch. Fiona liked it, though, and ran around exploring.

It’s very green and spooky down here!

Even Apache seemed to have fun. He plodded right along with us, only occasionally distracted by yummy grass. Going up and down the little rises was probably good exercise for all of us!

I love how the color came out on this picture! You can see the rise behind Sara.

We saw osage-orange trees, which makes sense, because the area we walked in is an arroyo/wash that stays wet a lot. Those trees like dampness.

The fruit is easy to spot.

We were happy to also see a lot of milkweed. These were green antelope horns, and they had seed pods, some of which had opened. The opened pods had lots and lots of these extra-cool milkweed bugs. Aren’t they pretty?

We went out again this morning, minus Lakota. The weather was better, but Apache was not in a great mood to walk, which makes me think yesterday’s walk made his poor feet hurt. Let’s say it was good practice encouraging him to do what I wanted him to.

This is what he wanted to do. And yes, Spice photobombed many photos yesterday. We laughed.

We also saw this incredible jumping spider. I believe it’s an Apache jumping spider. They look like “velvet ants” (which are really wasps), and are quite good mimics! They fooled us.

It hardly looks real!

And when I went to pick up my tack box, I almost set my hand down on this lovely mantid. I was able to get her back outside to go eat bugs and stuff.

Please get me out of here. There are no delicious bugs on this plastic thing.

That made me feel good, and contributed to another nice day. I really enjoyed taking my mind off complicated issues and just enjoying my walking companions, my ranch family.

Lakota, the Circle of Life, and Being Startled

I’m guessing that today you’ll be wanting to find out how our boarder horse, Lakota the elderly fancy palomino, came out after his rough time yesterday. Last we heard, he’d been sweating and heaving, and Spice was standing over him like she was guarding his life. Sara is happy to report that after he stood up and made a big poop, he walked off, normally. She did keep checking through the night.

This morning, to our great relief, he was standing under a tree with Spice, and they both had been sleeping. It was probably a rough night for them, too. They both kept yawning and yawning, and were very loving and affectionate. Poor guys.

He just let me hug and hug, and he hugged back.

Sara had a couple of ideas about what had happened. Her current theory (and it’s just a theory) is that he ate some of the nightshade (Silverleaf Nightshade Solanum elaeagnifolium) that had been mown in the pasture (because she is allergic to it). Apparently, horses and cattle don’t eat it when it is alive, but for some reason think it’s tasty when it’s cut and dried. I hope that’s all it was.

It does have pretty flowers.

Thanks to me looking up alternative veterinarians, Sara was able to get in touch with Dr. Brimlee, who works with Milam Touch of Love, and while he couldn’t come last night, we are scheduling him to come soon (Apache’s teeth need to be looked at, too). In any case, we were both really relieved to find two horses standing under the trees this morning!

Spice was a good friend and nurse last night.

After this, my morning went downhill and my anxiety went uphill, but that’s the way the circle of life goes, I guess. As I approached our gate, I saw lots and lots of black birds in the pasture. What, a crow convention? As I got closer, I realized it was vultures. I also saw this.

Brown cow guarding two calves.

I drove overo where the feasting birds were, and found one of the three calves was no longer with us, and hadn’t been for a day or two. That certainly startled me. I don’t know what happened, and I probably won’t, but it was sad and a bit of a shock to see him laying there. Circle of life strikes again.

On the other hand, the chickens are all still here! Haven’t lost one in weeks! And Hedley seems to have given up on being broody, but hasn’t started laying again. I hope she does. She doesn’t seem sick or anything. They all got quite a treat out of a bunch of tomatoes Kathleen donated to them.

Hey, this is good! Thanks! Hedley is the one by the water trough, looking perky.

Even Buttercup and Butternut ate a tomato, which is a first. Maybe they’ll start branching out and eating more than just their feed and only their feed soon. I do enjoy them, and they cheered me up.

THEN I went to drive to the office. There was a giant wasp in the car, the black kind with red wings (sorry, no ID). I usually don’t worry about them, but two of my friends have had bad wasp reactions in the last week, and it started buzzing my head. As I tried to shew it away, I ran off the road. Luckily, I just drove through a lot of long grass, and probably made County Road 140 passersby curious. I am just not having a calm day so far! I’m still shaky. On the other hand, I did find some pretty groundcherries in the overgrown office lawn. These are clammy groundcherries (Physalis heterophylla).

The blossoms face downward, so you often don’t spot them.

So, I will go do my other Saturday writing tasks and breathe deeply. Has anything startled you today?

Horses: Worry? Don’t Worry?

Two quick horse things. The farrier was in again on Tuesday. There were so many things that came up, I had to take notes. The most interesting finding was his hooves. She said his hooves were full of blood that had pooled there when he foundered, which may have been long before we realized it.

I feel better now.

Sara and I had the aha moment that perhaps the reason he was so hard to ride and kept insisting on turning around was sore feet. At that time, they looked fine. From what we deduce, the damage didn’t show up, because it was hidden.

No wonder he’s like a different horse! And I was right that something must have caused him to start acting so weird. Poor guy. The best news, though, is that his hooves are growing in really well. Hooray.

And Lakota

So, this evening I was feeling all good about stuff. We even saw a really pretty rat snake, thanks to a vigilant cattle dog spotting it.

Getting the heck away from the dog!

Poor Lakota feels bad. He keeps lying down and rolling. He tried to eat, but laid back down. We couldn’t get him up, so we called his owner.

Sad horse

Mary said he’d colicked before, and since then, he’s occasionally done that lying down thing. Still, we’re worried. Sara has called many vets, so I hope she hears from one soon. We sure can’t get him up to go to Texas A&M.

Sara put fly spray on him for his comfort.

Say a little prayer for poor Lakota. I hope it’s just his occasional issue. He’s a nice old guy. If it’s his time, that’s fine. He knows he’s loved. Spice is watching him. And Sara keeps checking.

She says he finally got up, pooped, and walked off normally. Well. Do I worry or not? Horses!

Enter Here for Surprises and Adventures

Hmm, the adventures thing may be exaggerated a bit, but I did get a new gate to go from our part of the property to the rest of the ranch. In addition, Chris smoothed all the dirt that had been disturbed when running the water line, and did a bit of grading, too. The chicken house area looks marvelous.

It’s all smooth now. At the rate the Bermuda grass grows, it will be covered in a week to ten days. Notice the feathers on the ground, which I mentioned in my previous post. It’s your fault, Bruce.

The highlight of the day was seeing this big gate that swings open mightily and allows me to easily head to see the horses. We had the gate already, so it didn’t cost anything. It’s very sturdy on the hinge side, since Chris drilled a big ole bolt through the roof support pillar. The other side is only temporary. The fencing project is not done, but at lease those of us who have to go into that pasture can do it easily (thus, Jim could drive the riding mower over the the horses to mow this morning).

I can now go from here to there without crawling under a fence or climbing over a fence and nearly knocking it over.

The entire family was pretty giddy about getting the new fence, as Lee shows here.

That man cracks me up. And there’s Alfred before I pulled those clumps of hair out.

Surprises and Adventures

I’ve used the new gate to go visit the horses twice already. Last night, I went to join Sara to feed them, and I got quite a surprise. In the field where the 18 cows should be, there were just three cows, each with a little white baby.

Who the heck are they?

These are not the 18s. First, they were afraid of me. Second, their ear tags were in the left ear, not the right. Um, where were my friendly cow buddies? Where was 18-1, bravest calf ever?

As I walked up to the barn, the Vrazels were driving by. They warned me of another surprise, a large cow and her newborn calf were in the pens. I said, hey, um, where are the 18s? Tyler laughed and laughed. “They’re in Oklahoma!”

Oklahoma? Yep, they sold them all and trucked them off when I was at work one day. I didn’t even get to say goodbye. Cattle ranching. Not for the sentimental. I am sure they got a HUGE payday out of those young cows, all of whom were due to calve in November. But still. Sniff.

On I went, and sure enough, there was a very large red Angus cow with a very small and shiny black Angus calf. I blurted out, “Hi, Sprinkles,” and Sara asked if I had to name everything. I guess I do. In any case, Sprinkles is cute as can be, and seems to have recovered from being sick and needing to be penned up. Mama, on the other hand, was mostly pissed off.

Sprinkles and I would like to leave, now.

She mooed and snorted and ran around until we left.

This morning, I came back to do some horse fun, around 9 am. It was NOT hot outside! But, dew drenched my shoes, since I wore the wrong ones. Sprinkles and Mama were still there. Between Sara’s dogs and Lakota having the utter gall to stand quietly tied to the gate, she was in a huff.

Lakota just stood there and ignored her. A real quarter horse! We proceeded head off down the race, to see how Apache would do. Sara rode Lakota, who plodded along like a livery stable horse and was generally uninterested in anything. I led Apache (hope to get riding permission soon). Here’s where it became and adventure, the good kind.

We walked all the way down the race, the place where he was refusing to ride earlier, and the place where he has been all nervous and pushy when we walked for the past month or two. Today, Apache walked beside me, not in front of me and not behind me. He stayed about two feet away from me. He did stop to get a mouthful of grass, but started right back up, every time. He did not crowd into me. He did not try to turn around. He did not rush ahead, or refuse to move forward.

He completely ignored all the “scary” parts of the path where there are big ruts. The scary tree got a nod. When all of the 19 heifers came thundering over to check us out and walk along with us, he and Lakota both looked at them, then kept going. The giant bull didn’t phase them. DAMN!

Sara and Lakota, with Fiona-bomb.

We then went on out to the big pasture where it floods (the bottom). We all walked and looked at stuff. Sara’s dogs came along, and no horse paid the least bit of attention. Even Fiona didn’t dawdle and pitch a fit. She followed right behind us cheerfully. Every time we went through a gate, everyone was fine. Even when Jim drove by on the lawn mower, they just stopped and looked for a minute.

WHO WERE THESE ANIMALS AND WHERE DID MY JUMPY HORSE GO?

I have no clue. Sara and I tried to figure out what was different. Well, we had Lakota instead of Spice…but Apache likes Spice. It was morning, not afternoon. He wasn’t starving. That’s all we could come up with. My attitude is the same (I am pretty calm even when he’s jumpy, to try to keep him calm).

We’re just in a good mood. What can we say?

I’m just going to have to accept that we had a wonderful morning, got lots of exercise, and ALL enjoyed ourselves (even Lakota, I think). I look forward to more of this kind of adventure and these kinds of surprises (but I do hope Sprinkles and his Mama go back to the pasture soon; she didn’t enjoy Sara and me pulling up some grass burs right next to the pen, either).

I hope you have some bright spots in your weekend!