Sunset Photo Shoot

Here’s another post high on imagery and low on content. Because I’ve been out as late as possible lately working with the horses, and because the dusty air has made for such pretty sunsets, I decided to do a fun exercise and take pictures of the barn residents and caretakers last night. Have fun with moody lighting and sweaty masked caretakers.

Excited about photo time.

Sunset and horse and donkey butts.

Hungry Apache.

Very clean Fiona.

Suna unable to get the light adjusted. But cute sloth mask.

Big Red insisted on her own photo. So dramatic.

Socially distant Sara, with Spice and Lakota.

This is how you have fun in the hot Texas summer of 2020.

Fingers Crossed for Mr. Horse

I’ve been being really careful with Apache since that day he couldn’t walk earlier this week. He’s rested and had some more pain meds.

We like hay.

This morning when I gave them their hay, I noticed him walking over to pester the chicken. Yes!

Tonight Chris and I went to feed the horses, and cows were getting moved, so I needed to take Apache and Fiona out. Apache walked like a normal horse and didn’t try to stop every three steps to eat. Whew.

Also. Sunset. Mmm.

He just seemed happy to be out with all of us humans (Ralph and Chris and Tyler were all talking about fencing). Honestly, just spending time with Fiona and Apache is good for my soul.

Who wouldn’t love this face?

We did get an appointment with Trixie to come out Monday and try out a boot. After that, if he still needs more, we’ve had some great other veterinary suggestions to try, so we won’t stop our battle with navicular disease.

Thanks to everyone for your support!

Thanks from me, too.

I Love My Horse, Okay?

On the local radio station’s morning show, good ole Joe always tells us what “days” are being celebrated. And today, Joe informed us that one of the many things celebrated on July 15 is National I Love Horses Day.

I have celebrated this day every day since I was given “hee haw,” my toy stuffed horse as a toddler.

The radio hosts (Joe and Rose of the Rose and Joe Breakfast Club) also like horses, so they had a good chat about that before launching into today’s recipe of Mexican Zucchini Casserole. I do enjoy the local KMIL radio.

Digression complete. Because I love horses, I worry about mine a lot. Yesterday, when Sara and I showed up to take Apache on his evening walk, he was not wanting to move. He’d started off a little stiff the day before, so I kept encouraging him. By the time he’d gotten only a little way down the path, I looked in his eyes and could see he just didn’t want to walk.

Monday night’s sunset, after I put ointment on his hooves.

We patted him a lot and let him eat a little grass, then turned around and went back. He was really having a hard time. What had changed? Well, Sara had gone riding on her horse yesterday and the day before. While she did that, she let Apache into the “normal” paddock to eat some grass, probably 45 minutes each day.

All she and I can figure is that even that much free grazing is too much for him right now. I’m really worried. If we can’t get him able to at least walk around comfortably and graze some, his quality of life will be pretty bad.

I also like cattle. But they’re more Kathleen’s thing! I just like the grass in her mouth.

Selfishly, I want to keep this guy around, because I really love him and have worked so hard to build a good relationship with him. I just hope that some more time and care will get him back on the mend. When you have an animal companion who relies on you to keep them safe and healthy, it’s a big responsibility. I want to do all that I can for my equine companion.

So, there will be no more extra turn-out for a while, and more pain meds, at least for a short while. I would prefer to only have him on the herbal stuff. I’ll be sure to be gentle as I try to get him to walk around a little. All of us at the ranch care about him, so I’m sure we’ll come up with more ideas.

From happier times earlier this year. Hoping we can get back to this some day, minus the bridle. I do hope to try the bitless bridle I cleaned up for him!

Do celebrate the day, today! Whether you know a horse “personally” or not, send our equine friends some love today. They are really special creatures.

Mostly Good Animal News

I hope all of you who celebrate Independence Day in The US have a safe and fun holiday. And now for the news update.

Guinea Drama Part 2

I went out to feed the birds yesterday, and lo and behold, there were only five guinea keats. I fed them and was confused. So when Chris got home, I asked if we weren’t supposed to have seven. He said yep. Crap.

I then looked more carefully at their cage. Since it got put in the chicken pen, it’s been on grass. That made what WERE small holes into bigger holes. Two of the little dickenses had escaped.

The five remaining ones, nicely arranged.

About that time, Alfred skipped by looking very happy. Well, there was one keat. We still haven’t found the other.

Henhouse Happiness

As we were standing around lamenting the loss of the guinea fowl, Lee asked when we could combine the two chicken groups. I said now, I guess. So everyone is together now.

We’re taking over!

The older ones definitely are the bosses, but they aren’t attacking or anything, other than Clarence, showing what a manly rooster he is. He and Bruce are okay.

Gracie wanted to help Bertie and Ginger eat grass.

This means we can add our new nesting boxes and expand the run some more. We’re working on that, and more shade, today.

The new hens clustered for a while but it’s better now.

How’s Apache, You Ask?

I’ve been walking him a little bit every day. Today Chris came over to observe his gait, and we are pleased to report he’s walking pretty normally.

Grass! Yay!

So we let him and Fiona enjoy some green grass and loving for a while. They’re so good, just relaxing with us.

Happy to be out of that pen.

And you can sure tell Apache has lost weight. That’s one fine butt with no belly showing through!

His best side?

And of course we need to end with the cutest thing ever.

Do you have a treat?

Animal Farm Report

No, this is not a report about a book I read in high school that’s eerily reminiscent of today. I’m just updating on the ranch animals.

How’s Apache?

We continue to monitor the heck out of him. He’s walking fairly normally, so we will slowly start exercising him. Yesterday Sara and I walked him around for about ten minutes. And yes, he stuffed as much green grass in himself as he could.

Still eating hay.

He’s on a different feed, new supplements and the Buteless herbs. And he gets his coronal band painted most days. Pampered!

As for Fiona, she loathes sunscreen. Sigh.

Today we’re going to get a lot of straw that we can leave out for them to chomp during the day, since Apache and Fiona are in the dry lot a while longer.

The Other Horses

Today I tried a real ride on Lakota, the dreamy palomino. It was interesting to ride such a well trained horse. He sure backed up well, and he trotted over obstacles!

The ride was helpful for me, because I was able to convince him eating grass was not on the agenda. And my use of the reins got better, thanks to Sara’s help. Making strides!

Spice is getting fungus medication and it’s making her look worse, so far. But that may be appropriate. She and Lakota are now eating down the grass in the small paddock, so it will be bad enough for poor Apache, eventually. Ugh.

And Birds?

The guinea keats are growing like crazy and starting to lose hair on their necks, as you can see here.

We think we’re cute.

They’re still pretty ugly, but will be beautiful adults.

No more fairy eggs! The ones on the left are from yesterday.

Clarence the rooster has finally been accepted by Bertie and Ginger. He’s usually out with them now. I just hope he starts fertilizing them soon. Poor Fancy Pants keeps brooding.

At least we’re in the same general vicinity.

The others are developing personalities. Hedy seems to be the boss. I see her eating oyster shells, so I hope that means she’s a hen. Her tail is suspiciously attractive.

Pretty Hedy

And Bruce never ceases to amuse me. He’s bossing like a boss and fluffing his crazy feather variety all the time. And trying to crow (no luck yet from either rooster).

I think I’m cute.

Cute Animals for Scary Times

Really, I do understand why people are being cautious these days. The rate of coronavirus infections in Milam County has skyrocketed. I have been limiting where I go, and even wearing my mask to cross the street. I ordered a lot of new masks today, too, since I’m wearing them more and getting them dirty.

Question mark butterfly
This question mark butterfly is stunningly beautiful, and was right outside my office door.

My family and the companies I am affiliated with are all being very careful. There have been two people die who work for my Austin employer, though I do not know what caused it. Sure makes you pause and want to hug your loved ones, though you can’t.

Sleeping white dog
For the past three nights, Carlton has been lying on top of me until I get to sleep. Dogs are so loving.

What I can do is tell you some fun/mildly interesting stories about animals and share some pictures! Okay!

A house finch nest
Mama Finch says she likes it on THIS side.

First, all the birds around our Cameron offices have been continuing their festival of babies. The mockingbirds finally left their parents this week. I miss them, but Lee says now we have a carport squirrel. The swallows are down to two babies who are about ready to fledge. And the every-valiant house finches re-built their nest on the OTHER side of the garage and are sitting on eggs.

I love that nature just keeps plugging along. Some things just don’t change.

One thing that doesn’t change is Alfred and his abundance of hair. We had him pretty well cleaned out, but yesterday we noticed Harvey was getting lots of hair out of him. So, Kathleen sat and patiently removed hair for about ten minutes, before Alfred ran out of patience.

Large pile of dog hair and two dogs
I’m not sure I like this…

The rest of the night, if Kathleen even LOOKED like she was heading toward him, he ran away. Not much makes him run. We laughed a lot, and laughing is good. I hope some day we can work on his other side!

A jackrabbit in Milam County, Texas
Just chillin in the pasture.

I got a new animal sighting today, too! I saw my first jackrabbit in Milam County, right on the ranch. Someone had said they saw a really big bunny, so I think this was the one. Those are some big ears, but I felt a lot better with my ID when a couple of local friends confirmed my sighting. I am happy to see them and hope their population grows.

In horse news, Apache is walking close to normally, for which we are all very grateful. He, Fiona, and Big Red the chicken are all getting tired of living in the tiny pen not sure why Big Red is always there, but maybe she thinks shes part of the herd.

Big Red, Apache, and Fiona
Good morning. We would like to eat now.
Ginger the chicken
I did not ask for a husband.

And in bird news, the guinea fowl are growing like crazy, and the new chickens are, too. The ladies are growing in their combs. Clarence, the newest rooster, has not won over Ginger and Bertie Lee yet, but its getting better every day. Thank goodness!

We think Bruce is about to get his crow going, which will be fun. At the moment he makes some funny sounds we cannot really identify.

So, that is the non-COVID news from around here. Office update soon!

Book Review: The Nature of Texas

A review of a field guide to the nature of Texas, suitable for beginning naturalists

Here’s a new book that some of you who live in Texas might want to order. It’s a field guide called The Nature of Texas: An Introduction to Familiar Plants, Animals and Outstanding Natural Attractions, by James Kavanagh and illustrated by Raymond Leung.

The cover of the book, The Nature of Texas
Any book with an armadillo on it is a book I like!

This isn’t one of those huge compendiums of every single living organism in the state; instead, it highlights plants and animals that an average person with an interest in the nature in Texas might run into. The descriptions are brief and in lay terms, and the illustrations are really lovely (good job, Raymond Leung).

It’s a bit too basic of a book for me to carry around, but I could easily imagine giving it to a teenager or older child who’s going camping and wants to know what they might find out there, or someone who just moved to Texas and wants a nice overview. It would be fun to put on the bedside table for your out-of-state visitors, or on the coffee table of your rental property.

an open page of a book, with information about fish
An example of the text and illustrations.

The back of the book has two handy features. One is a brief list of interesting places to go to see the natural wonders of Texas, with clear maps. The other is a series of checklists you can use to mark off wildlife and native plants that you see in your travels. That would be a fun family project (though I’d have to add a bunch of things, like more owls).

I do recommend The Nature of Texas, just for the beautiful illustrations alone. And the introductory essay, “But a Watch in the Night,” written by James Rettie in 1948 is a real treasure, too. It’s a great reminder of how little time humans have actually been present and messing around with our planet.

Horse Improvement May Be Expensive

The good news, for sure, is that Apache is walking a lot better. The bad news is that between the vet yesterday and the farrier today, plus new medicine, he is one expensive pet. But, I knew going in that horses are not for the penniless.

Apache declares’s he’s worth it. That’s me, watching him on FaceTime.
This is NOT dignified.

Yesterday, while I was at the closing on the Ross house and helping stick colored glass in the floors at the Pope house, Dr. Amy came to the ranch to float teeth on all the equines and give them their shots. I was so sad to miss that, since I’ve never been there when their teeth were floated (that is when the veterinarian takes some sort of giant buzzing raspy thing and makes their teeth even, so they can chew more easily and won’t hurt their tongues on sharp teeth.

She ended up doing all of them, even poor Fiona. Of course, they said what a great donkey she is, etc. I felt sorry for her with the giant mouth-opening appliance in her. The good news is that they do sedate the animals for this undignified procedure.

I’m smiling, really, Fiona says.

Since I could not be there, Sara was kind enough to FaceTime me, so that I could see everything. That’s why my head is in most of the photos.

Apache was very good for his floating. I am sure it was easier to keep him still, because he wasn’t wanting to walk very much.

He made Dr. Amy laugh.
No fun for anyone.

He also showed that his feet weren’t TOO bad by picking each of them up so that Mark (Sara’s friend who used to train thoroughbreds) could paint some goop on his hooves. I think he thinks Apache is gonna croak at any moment, but we think he is already getting better.

Dr. Amy prescribed some powdered Bute, which I went and bought for $45. Of course, he hates it. ARGH. We agreed he needs to eat empty calories, and she prescribed some food that fits the bill (though his current beet pulp does, too), as well as a supplement with a lot of turmeric in it. I take it, and it helps ME!

I haven’t seen the bill for that yet, but I feel a lot better having him with all his shots up to date and with an actual doctor looking at him.

Today, Trixie came by to do the long-awaited adjustments on Spice that she’d been holding off on until she got her teeth floated. As always, that was fun to watch. She also did Lakota, but I missed that part, because I was at the other work. Anyway, she said Spice is incredibly stiff. She’s coming back in a few weeks to work on her again. On the other hand, Lakota is in such great shape she could not believe he is in his late twenties. She kept gushing about his conformation and how great shape all his joints are in.

Lakota is Mr. Popularity.

Fiona was declared fine, so she didn’t get any farrier work. YAY!

But, Trixie was fascinated by Apache’s feet. Like I’d noticed before, his hooves do not feel hot to the touch (usual for laminitis, which is his current diagnosis). She also said his hooves looked pretty normal, not like the hooves of a foundering horse. Hmm, that’s what I thought, too. Maybe we’ve caught the issue in time to get him better.

Your feet are fascinating, Patchy.

What she DID see was that the bony area in the middle of his foot, around the “frog” area was longer than the hoof. Now, that’s like walking on your nail bed. It would hurt like the dickens. She trimmed him all up (and again, he stood on three legs just about as well as he normally does), and we are waiting to see how he does. It’s a short trim (someone was concerned, so I am adding this), but will be fine and allow healthy hoof material to get to the end of his foot faster.

Being a good boy and holding his foot up.

I’m sure none of the horses feel all that great, with all those shots, scary dental appliances, and hoof trimming. To be kind, we have delayed worming, which would be a final indignity, until two weeks from now. Lucky guys.

Horse Tragedy, Dog Comedy, and Fairy Eggs?

Sometimes life sends you from one extreme to another so quickly that it takes your mind a while to catch up. Today was one of those days.

I was walking to the horses so I could feed them, accompanied by Vlassic, who was jumping around eating grasshoppers, chased a cow, and had a grand time. As I came past the bales of hay, I looked toward the cattle pen, to see how Apache was doing.

My heart stopped. He was lying motionless in the dirt. Fiona said hee-haw and he didn’t move. I quickly walked up and said, “Apache?” In what I’m sure was a stricken pet-owner voice.

I’m okay, mom. See? I’m trying to be funny and stepping in my dish.

He flipped his head up an whinnied. Whew. But, had he foundered? Could he stand up? Did I have to call the vet? He answered that question by hauling himself to his feet and shaking. He’d just been napping.

He’s up and eating!

By that time, I’d called poor Sara, who said, “You do know they lie down, right?” But she understood why I’d panicked.

Actually he is walking marginally better today. He’s still not great, though.

Fiona always stays close.

Meanwhile, Fiona kept nudging me. I turned to see what her problem was just in time to see a little black butt slipping into her water tub. Vlassic was apparently hot.

The tub, the water, the dog, all black.

Fiona was not amused to see him in HER water, but I went straight from my fear for Apache and his feet to laughing maniacally at the dog. That was great.

That was NOT funny. Also, this pen is too small.

We fed the other horses, who are on their best behavior, then went back to chicken world to get today’s eggs.

We’re over here, being good, eating our own food.

All the ladies and Bruce were fine, but there were no eggs. Then, on the ground, I saw this:

That is one small egg!

What the..? I went to the Googles and found that Ginger had laid what is called a fairy egg! They are tiny eggs, usually with no yolk. They are also usually lighter or darker than a hen’s usual egg.

Lee’s thumb, usual egg from Ginger, fairy egg. Yep, it’s darker.

They happen when something disturbs a hen’s reproduction process. Well, of course! Ginger and Bertie were quite disturbed by being cut off from their pen and all those new pullets showing up.

We will have to see if Bertie pops out a fairy egg tomorrow. Little do they know, but tomorrow they get a new boyfriend. Oooh. Don’t tell them.

We Got Horse Trouble

Ranch life. It’s always something. We get the chicken situation under control, and the horse situation goes bad, or worse. Here’s how the week with Apache went.

He was out in the pasture with the other horses Sunday and Monday. Tuesday I thought I’d try riding him. It was to be a big day! Nope. He just stood there. Crap. He’d had too much rich grass and was starting to founder. Panic time.

Pretty sparrow egg. Just something to distract you.

I got him moved over to the “dry” pasture where he spends most of his time. Next day, he was worse. Mandi came over and we decided to give him bute, the powerful horse painkiller. We gave a small dose, and he seemed more comfortable.

Since then, he got one more dose, but that’s it. Last night Chris suggested I move him to the cattle pen, where there isn’t much grass at all, and the ground is soft.

We’re fine now.

So this morning, after determining the keats’ water dispenser sucks and had soaked their shavings, I headed over to move him.

As always, Fiona was right by his side. He had trouble walking at first, but eventually made it to the pen. He was very sweet about it, and I let him take his time.

I also like this hay dispenser.

Once he got in, he found his hay dispenser and noshed a bit. I’d emptied out Fiona’s water tub, because it had mosquito larvae in it. He checked that nice clean water out and enjoyed the cool dirt.

Then he came over and loved on me. That’s when I called Sara to see if I was doing the right things. She remembered we have some natural anti-inflammatory stuff in the tack room, Bute-less. Aha!

This is good water. And thanks for the shade.

Apache likes that stuff just fine and ate it up. Let’s hope that helps and isn’t dangerous like the big drugs. It takes a village!

The vet comes Thursday but if he’s worse, I may have to call sooner.