Progress, Despite Heat

It’s the time of year that we can’t get much done outdoors, but Lee and I are getting a few things accomplished (mostly Lee). His pond project has made it to the “proof of concept” phase, in which he connected all the parts, added water, plugged in a pump, and saw it work. It makes a nice sound, and you can even hear it over the sound of the giant fan we need to make sitting on the porch possible.

Watching the water flow

The dogs like it, and it’s getting prettier and prettier as he adds rocks and such. Plans include adding river rock and some larger rocks around it, and then adding more water features, like a stream bed and another pond. I’ll wait and see how that comes out before trying to describe it.

When he first got it running. The top fountain part is a concrete planter.

Lee also did a lot of work on the small pond, mainly smoothing out an edge, for easier dog and frog access.

Any excuse to fire up the backhoe.

He also added more rock to the front walkway, which I think makes the front of the house look better. It no longer looks like the house was just plopped down in the middle of a pasture (which it was, of course; in fact the concrete was poured seven years ago, yesterday).

Finally, some landscaping is in progress!

What Was I Up To?

Meanwhile, I had to stay inside much of the day, due to not feeling up to par (I am sleepy so much, and can’t figure out why!). I spent a long time on yesterday’s blog post (thanks for the nice comments!). Then I decided to start another knitting project with some interesting yarn I bought years ago. It’s called Haze, from Queensland, and has corn fiber in it, along with cotton.

Goldie and Carlton are helping me nap.

I had been looking for a pattern, and didn’t think I’d found exactly what I wanted on Ravelry, but then my knitting friend Terri posted a photo of what she had started. That looked like what I wanted. It turned out to be one of the projects I’d already been considering, so I knew it was right. It’s a popular pattern from back when the Bones television show was on, named after Dr. Saroyan. It will be fun to knit. The leaf pattern edging is weird, but it ends up looking nice.

It’s a start.

Eventually, I knew I had to go out and mess with the horses. Sara came over and we sat in the shade, which wasn’t too bad, thanks to a slight breeze. I practiced making Drew stay out of my space, but also enjoyed him and Goldie (and precious Fiona).

They do like each other.

Eventually, we got up the gumption to do some work. I got Apache in the round pen, to see if Sara thought he had lameness or what. We are still not sure. Next, we got his food and put it in the trailer, because I want him to be comfortable getting in and out for lessons in Milano. Feeding him in there is how Sara had gotten him used to her trailer many years ago.

I’m in and eating! Of course, the first thing I did was poop. Sara got a picture of that, but you don’t need to see it.

I didn’t have much trouble at all getting him in. The trailer makes some weird noises and has a floor surface that was new to him, but he handled it fine. The main problem was that Goldie kept trying to “help” and when we were busy with Apache, she snuck in and ate his food. I do not want my fancy supplements going into the dog, sheesh.

It’s a long way in here!

I do plan to clean out the poop before the trailer is used to haul more of Anita’s stuff. But, we successfully got Apache in and out twice, despite the dog’s “help,” so I’ll practice a few more times before next Saturday, when he’ll actually go somewhere for the first time in a long time!

Here are some pictures from this morning of all the animals I saw.

Otherwise, it’s a burning hot weekend, so I’m mostly going to relax. I’ve been out petting and saying hi to the other horses a bit, but they’re just happy in their pasture. Everyone needs a day of rest; I guess that’s why so many religions mandate them!

Late afternoon sky to the south. No rain found us!

Lee Has a New Project

This is exciting! Lee has been thinking of doing something for a long time, and decided that now’s the time to get going on it. He’s working on a series of decorative ponds for the front of the house (these will not be cattle tanks, but nice ponds, with water plants and such).

A project begins. That orange paint got all over Lee, by the way.

He got started over the weekend, and spent much of yesterday digging the holes to hold a waterfall and a main pond, next to our new walkway. Since it was a very hot day, this all went in stages! Kathleen and I served as consultants and beverage fetchers. That’s very important!

Water will flow out of the top one, which will be covered by a big rock.

The idea with the pond is to eventually have the current one flow down a little creek lined with river rocks into a much larger pond, then recirculate back up. Rain overflow will go into another planned diversion.

The general idea of the pond. The pipes are for going under the path, I think. I need to get rid of that grass.

We will have to see whether we can put anything in there other than native mosquito fish, because we don’t want goldfish washing into Walker’s Creek, which is bad news! And we realize birds will want to snack on fish, dogs will want to mess with the pond, etc. So, this is all to be determined. At this point, Lee is going to get the small pond and waterfall going.

The stream will go down that low area, over to the new pond at the corner of the house. We like ponds.

And Dogs

I can’t resist sharing dog stories. Yesterday, before our biweekly Board meeting, Goldie decided I was a chair. I guess anything’s a chair to her.

I’m gonna nap right here.

We’ve also been enjoying watching all the dogs play. Goldie and Carlton have ended their embarrassing love affair, now that Goldie’s heat is over at last, and are now just buddies again. They have a lot of fun together.

Playtime is all the time!

Let’s see what further adventures this new week brings!

Rocking and Rolling, with Rocks

If I needed to take my mind of things today, I was in luck, because today we got lots and lots of rocks and pebbles delivered to make our driveway more driveway-like. That had needed to be done, um, a few years.

Not exactly a before picture, because it’s already been smoothed out.

There was a low area from when we put in the electrical lines, and a few dips that made icky puddles. So, first we borrowed a box blade kind of thing from the neighbors and smoothed out the existing driveway. That also at least slightly annoyed the grass trying to take over.

The smoother

Then, a guy came in a big dump truck with a bonus dump trailer. The dogs liked that.

Off to scare off that truck.

The dogs seemed to think they were a vital component to the whole operation.

Helping.

They were fascinated by the dumping process as well, especially Alfred and Gracie.

Boom!

After the first load was emptied, we realized Alfred thought the rock was a gift to him. but all the dogs were fascinated.

Thanks for the new hill!

The second load surprised them all, but then they sniffed some more.

What? There’s more?

It didn’t take long for all that stuff to be laid down and the area by the cars smoothed out.

Ready for more.

A Doggy Diversion

In an hour or two, another load was scheduled. In that time, we went to get diesel and put trash in our dumpster. Yes. That’s how we do trash here. Vlassic jumped in the truck and rode in my lap, cuddling, like he loves to do.

My baby!

All was well until he jumped out of the truck at the old church and took off. He trotted down Main Street and disappeared into someone’s yard. I called and called. He finally emerged with a big ole sandwich crust in his mouth. I think he thought he’d found a new family. Too bad. I took him home.

Hmph.

Back to Rocking

The second load arrived and got laid out just fine. Then we looked up.

Uh oh. Dark clouds.

Of COURSE the day you get loads of rock will start out sunny and cloudless, then end up raining like crazy. Thus, frantic rock smoothing ensued.

The tractors were flying like dancers as the rain came down harder and harder. I was really impressed.

Then came a welcome surprise! I got a path from the driveway to the front porch! That’s huge! There are two drains in it to drain rain, which got tested immediately in the rain storm.

Path in progress, with drain pipes.

I was able to help a little by smoothing the piles down to make a slightly more level pathway. It was fun to work in the rain! And it wasn’t hot! I’m glad I get to help out some.

Lee inspects the path, as the smoothing continues in the rain.

I hope to border the path with leftover limestone brick from the house, once we get it smooth and the right width. That will be so fun.

Now we have to wait for the new rock to dry, see where there are new low spots, and fine tune it. I’ve waited a LONG time for a safe, smooth path. I know it would have helped my sister when she lived in Cameron.

But That’s Not All

The front-end loader got a lot of work in today. Before all the road base arrived, it had its narrow trench digger attachment put on, and it dug the long trench for the water line to the cattle trough.

Trenching away.

And now the trench is full of water. At least all that goes in there is water line!

There are still some fun things coming up for the horse pens, like the structure to support the roof extensions and making custom gates. Oh, and a lot of welding. All those cross bars are only tacked up, I’m told.

Still, all is well. We’re getting close to move-in day. And the driveway is gonna be way better.

I Could Have Worked Harder Yesterday, But…

Now, I’m not referring to my paid employment, which did get it’s time in, but to my after-work job, helping with the pens and other jobs. It was an uncharacteristically pleasant day, so I can’t blame the heat. No, it’s my little buddy Vlassic who kept me sidelined for at least 45 minutes.

I deserve attention.

I went outside around 5 to water the chickens and check on progress, and I sat down to watch the hole-digging process in the stall area. Vlassic jumped in my lap.

We are fascinated.

He obviously needed some Mama love, because he only got down once for a minute until 6 pm, when I had to get out of the hard chair and help out. He snuggled, he licked, he cuddled, and he sighed from happiness. I love when the weather lets me hang out with my doggie dude.

Before digging holes. You can see one of the water troughs set up and markers for posts to divide the stalls.

Now that the dirt is all moved, the stalls can be completed. There will be four of them (thus limiting the number of horses that Kathleen and I can acquire). Each trough will be shared by two stalls. It will be cool.

Goldie likes to be involved.

The holes in the pens were easy to drill, but there were also three holes farther out, to support a water trough area for the cows.

The new posts are past the big gate. The water line has to go way out there.

The last hole was a doozy! The auger just wouldn’t go down. It just bounced and bounced about a foot down. It took at least half an hour to get that hole dug, and the soil had to be loosened, and the auger had to go sideways for a bit. But, once it got past the hard stuff, it happened. It turns out there are a few areas of really compacted soil right there. That’s interesting, because just a few feet away, there was no problem.

Looks like a normal hole, but it is not.

The good news is that all the poles are in their holes, to make a rhyme. And I DID get some work in. I filled in some of the holes, including a large and very wet hole where the water line got cut and had to be repaired. Let me tell you what, damp clay soil is heavy. My back reminded me of that!

It may look like an area with dirt and some random fencing stuff, but that used to be a big hole.

Of course, that was all a drop in the bucket, compared to all the work that has to be done on this project, but it’s nice to get some sweat equity into my project. By the way, Lee also filled in two holes. Nice, dry holes, I want to point out.

Look at those fine poles.

It looks like, at least for now, we have all the posts needed for the horse area. Now, to just fill everything in, finish burying the water line (ugh, a great deal of hand trenching is involved), set the troughs up with their floats and stuff, and add gates.

While the “getting the horse over here” part of the effort is coming close to an end, the project will go on and on, so I’ll keep chronicling it. Why? Mainly for me, I guess. It’s fun to look back on things once they are done. I sure enjoy the photos of building our house!

The container gets to be turned into a tack room and hay storage, while the second container, once it get here, gets to be other storage. Or something. Plans are fluid. Then, the great cattle fencing stage of the operation will begin. Our ranch will look very different, and there will be lots more space for rotating cattle and adding to the herd (which, to be clear, is NOT my area, but it’s fun to watch). Speaking of cattle, the new young heifers behind us want to not only be friends with Goldie, but also the chickens!

These birds are fascinating.

Pitching in to Get Apache His New House

After taking a few days off for other stuff, we’re back in the final stretches of finishing the new horse pens over at our covered shipping container at the Hermits’ Rest. While I haven’t done the heavy digging or lifting, I’ve contributed more than the dogs have.

Why work, when you can relax beside the new giant porch fan?

Humans have been quite busy, though. Yesterday the trench was dug (by hand!) and the water lines put in for the two horse troughs and a sink/horse washing station. Doesn’t that sound fancy? No, I will not wash the horse in a sink; those are two separate things.

Once the water lines were in, it was time to move some dirt. The idea is that the ground should slope away from the shipping container, so that no pools of water will form if it rains hard from the south, or an enthusiastic drinker splashes a lot. So, more dirt was needed. Where did it come from?

The dogs won’t have their hill to climb much longer.

There’s a reason for making that small pond up by our garage. We needed to move some dirt and add it to low spots, and this stuff does the job. It’s certainly pretty soil, but rather clay-filled. Maybe that way it will shed water.

Goldie helped, when not trying to make friends with cattle.

At one point there were three supervisors and one heavy equipment operator, though in my defense, I had done some piddly little helpful things. Nonetheless, it was fun to watch the attempts at smoothing out those clay clods. And it was cool to see nothing under that shelter for the first time in many years!

Smoothing.

While this was going on, and while I wasn’t off horsing around, I did things that I could do. For one, I picked up a bunch of horse and donkey poop out of the pen where the equines currently spent much of their day, and brought it over to mix with some chicken poop compost to make some fine fertilizer for plants Kathleen is going to plant.

The other stuff I did was small, but saved some time for our tractor operator. I picked up a lot of the little pieces left over from the fencing rails. Some of it can be recycled into pieces of gates and such, and I have a feeling even the little things will be useful someday, somewhere. This was the second time I picked up scrap, and I brilliantly noted it was easier to put them in a wheelbarrow than to carry pieces in my hands. Guess what? That stuff gets hot in the sun.

And I picked up the larger pieces of rock and concrete that were hanging around the area, causing us to trip, or potentially bruising a horse hoof. They will be used in the planters, as well.

I was impressed my arms still worked after picking up all the hay on Sunday, but I was only a little sore. I even made my back feel better by riding Apache a bit, which was stalled by an unfortunate encounter with a moving utility vehicle. Apache thought it was Evil Personified. Sigh, all my fault, too. I’d forgotten there was someone down the race moving cattle. At least I enjoyed finding nature stuff to enjoy over by the new pens.

BUT. Through everything, through the rain, the heavy lifting, the horse challenges, and even some work shit that’s about to go down, I’m doing remarkably well. I did just knock on a wood product after typing that, though it was a piece of petrified wood.

Have a fun day. I plan to.

Spic and Span Ranch

Hey, here’s a quick update on the things going on here at the Hermits’ Rest. For one thing, a lot of mowing has been going on and a lot of shredding. The appeal of using the shredder on really high grass is that it can be done in the air-conditioned tractor. It’s good to report that all along the sides of the road and the area on the other side of the arroyo is now shredded.

We should have baled it, huh!

Two benefits to that are 1) you can see if cars are coming from the left as you leave the driveway, and 2) the ragweed has been cut down, eliminating some distress for the resident humans.

Everything is very neat and smooth now that the wildflowers set seed and were mowed.

Well, there are still a few flowers to enjoy. Yay.

The front-end loader, who’d been grounded for a while due to a giant hole in her ancient battery, is back and huffing and puffing again, with shiny new batteries. That will make moving fencing supplies a lot easier. It was sort of rough with the little tractor.

This should keep the old guy chugging a little longer.

And, look! We have the beginnings of the horizontal rods in the pen fencing. That is really exciting! The end is near!

A finished section.

It’s cool to see how the tool to hold them evenly spaced works. How clever!

Gracie thinks the hanging spacer thing is cool, too.

I’ll be out killing more grass and supervising fencing later today after work. These long summer days are GREAT.

I’m happy it’s summer and I have a pond.

A much more exciting post should be out later today, I hope. Happy summer to all.

Compare and contrast! The smallest dog and the biggest dog.

Oh What a Beautiful Evening

Wow. It’s been the most pleasant evening I can remember. Once the sun went behind clouds, a breeze came up, and the stifling heat dissipated.

Awesome.

I took lots of pictures today, and when I went back to look at them, I realized it’s been a beautiful day!

The horizontal pipes are going up!

And yes, a lot of work got done on the horse pens. It’s really moving along! After work and my Friends of LLL meeting, I got to watch the process for making the tools to set the vertical bars that are next. These hooks were made from straight pieces of metal.

Hooks, tape measure, torch.

The hooks were shaped on this piece of pipe, which made cool smoke when the metal got hot.

This will ensure the hooks hang from the vertical pipe.

It’s fascinating to watch the tools being made. Such craftsmanship!

Meanwhile, I watered the chickens (Buttercup loves the hose spray), watched the dogs playing happily, and then saw what I thought was Vlassic chasing the cows. When I got up to yell at him, I realized it was a little too big of a fast, black animal to be him. It was our cute little calf, Baby Blue, who is just about the most playful calf I ever saw.

Racing back to the herd.

She ran around her mom and two others, then tore off like a racing cow, if there was such a thing, then ran all the way to the edge of the pasture. She then zoomed back up to her mama for a refreshing drink. I could NOT stop grinning.

I‘m tired now.

Really, who needs television? It’s darned entertaining around here. And I couldn’t even drag myself back into the house, because clouds beckoned.

It’s just beautiful.

I hadn’t seen a nice sunset in a long time. It was too rainy for a long time, then it’s been so blazingly hot I didn’t go out to look, though Lee reported at least one good one. Tonight? Glorious.

Dog, clouds, rain shower

You just don’t get many days this pleasant, that’s for sure. And even though I got a lot of work done, Goldie “made” me take a nap.

A nap for two.

Treasure your good days. Let them fill your heart with joy.

Make hay while the sun shines! Tyler V. did!

The Gate to Adventure

Maybe it isn’t that, but it’s the gate to our livestock pens! This is so exciting to me!

The second gate support up.

The chickens weren’t the only new additions to the property. There are also lots more holes and poles than yesterday.

I love this picture of the dirt flying!

It’s so much fun to watch the progress. This area will be so darned sturdy when it’s done!

Holes ready for poles.

I lucked out and finished work in time to watch some of the process of erecting that second giant gate support. It is a delicate process using huge machines.

Unfortunately, I realized I was supposed to be feeding horses instead of being mesmerized by tractor ballet.

While I was gone, the giant H got in the holes, and the front-end loader was holding it up, ready for concrete. Lee arrived and helped out with the other tractor, and soon it was in!

Lee is helping.

We now have two big H braces. They would make great supports for an adult-size swing set. So, that won’t happen, because it would need mosquito netting. Holy cow, the recent rains have created swarms. Trying to find a sneaky calf this evening ended up being a buzzing, stinging nightmare.

Maybe this fascinating spider will eat mosquitoes. It’s a giant lichen orbweaver.

We’ve been having fun working and enjoying the animals. Carlton is out with us often. He’s gotten so well behaved that he’s a great outdoor companion.

I’m a good boy.

Who cares if work’s hard? After work is great on these long days!

Gonna Have a Fence Soon

Two good things happened today, both thanks to drier weather. First, Jim was able to mow the “yard” (non-pasture land around the house). I sure feel more comfortable walking around now that I could see any snakes in the grass. He’s been wanting to do it, but this was the first dry day in a while.

It’s very green still.

The second good thing is it was dry enough to work on all the bracing for the new horse fencing. We need to get Apache and Fiona over to the Hermits’ Rest as soon as possible, but the rain didn’t cooperate. Now, though, things are coming together!

When you work alone, your tractor is your best helper

I got to watch work being done on a big h-brace. There is a lot of straightening and measuring involved. I can’t imagine how long it must take to learn to do all that cutting and welding!

There’s a plumb bob in there to help keep things straight. There was also a cool magnetic level.

I had to go to a meeting in town, and when I got back, these had appeared. They are things that go with gates. I’ll understand it better when it’s all set up.

A lot of welding occurred.

We have three new gates ready to install, plus some to re-use. By the time all the pens are constructed, there will be multiple uses, entrances, and exits. And then, finally, the cattle and dog fencing can start, along with the tack room and hay storage. It’s a LOT of work, and I am not much help besides watching and appreciating!

New gates.

I’ll also have a round pen set up, since I bought the portable round pen sections that have been temporarily creating cattle pens. It will be pretty nice!

Way in the distance are the braces for the two horse pens. They are long and narrow.

Apache will have two pens to rotate between. Right now the grass has been mowed down once, but it will be again before he moves. We have to keep him on very little grass thanks to his metabolism. my guess is we won’t have much more rain until the dry season starts, the grass turns crunchy, and it will be okay for him.

I know you love me.

But I’m happy to report that I was watching him this afternoon, and he was walking pretty well. Whew. I wonder what it’s like to have a normal horse? Well, Sara says there’s no such thing as a problem-free horse.

News from Back at the Ranch and Seaside Sights

It’s a good thing folks back home sent me news, because I literally had meetings at 10, 11, 12, 1, 2, 3, and 4 on the books today. Luckily one got moved and a few of them were short, so I had time to breathe. And I snuck in some content creation, too. Go beach me.

News from the ranch ranges to worrisome to great. What’s worrisome is that Apache still isn’t 100% and Trixie the farrier/body worker isn’t sure why. Even on his extremely limited pasture, he’s managing to put on weight, too (still seems thin to me). Sara is taking good care of him, and even got to ride him. It turns out though, that Apache’s favorite object is now Sara’s back massager. Trixie used it on him, and according to Sara, he “melted.”

Happy horse time. More, Trixie, more!

We will figure out some way to get Apache’s diet right so he can feel okay again. That will be made better by the fact that I ordered a major ton of pipe yesterday, which will provide the foundations for our new world of fencing, pens, stalls, cattle working area, and expanded dog run (so the dogs can sit with us out front). This is going to be SO much work!

Look at all that pipe! And you can see dogs, too. Hi dogs!

Luckily we had the equipment for dealing with this stuff. We heard the Kubota tractor could not handle the weight of the pipe, so the front-end loader had to come to the rescue. We just knew that purchase was a good one.

I can handle anything.

We also hear that the dogs are having lots of fun “helping” out on the project. I can tell Harvey is having a good time!

I got to go for a ride.

Over here at the beach, we’d wanted to go back to Brookgreen, but I had too much work! I did get a moment to pick up a thank-you gift from Irina, the lady who helped us get more condo time. She is the first person I ever met from Moldova, and she was so impressed I’d heard of her home country, that she shared some of her wine with us. Who knew that Moldova was “the wine country?”

Can’t wait to try this, though I’d like to share it with friends and family.

I also got a tiny walk in between meetings, where I saw that workers were testing out some of the fancy new rides being set up near our condos. It looks like it will be a permanent installation amusement park, not a roving carnival. I will tell you this: I will not be getting on that roller coaster with a section that goes around and around in it.

Nope, not getting on that thing, ever.

It was really windy today, so we probably didn’t miss much not going anywhere to look at nature. Of course, I continued my hunt for natural beauty on Myrtle Beach, because I can’t help it. I found a rock with rainbow bubbles and a fresh little fish, soon to be seagull food.

But, the best thing we found were these jellyfish that washed up. They are just the most interesting creatures. It’s hard to believe they’re real when you look at them up close!

And now, it’s on to another evening of ocean watching, wine drinking, and eating delicious food (I made a huge piece of salmon last night, and seasoned it with crushed Doritos, since I’d forgotten to get any seasonings, and it was surprisingly tasty!).

We got to so many families enjoying themselves playing games together, got to watch a dog who couldn’t believe how lucky he was to find so much dirt to dig holes in, and even met a woman walking on the beach alone, wearing a tiara. It was her birthday, and she was rejoining her family in our building. I hope you are having fun enjoying the simple things, wherever you are.