A Hardworking Heavyweight in the Pasture

Hooray! I have a ranch project I can talk about! We’re getting the front pond dug out more, so it will be bigger, deeper, and hold more water. The pond was originally made from an arroyo (ditch) that made it hard to build a driveway into our homestead area. The dam is our driveway.

Removing willows that are in the way.

While it’s all dry, the tenants have had the ponds (cattle tanks) in the area between our house and the creek dug out. They silt up and need it every so often. since the guy already had the dozer here, Lee seized the chance to dig ours out, too.

It looked familiar, but don’t they all look alike?

It turns out the bulldozer is the same one that built the pond in the first place! The current operator got it from the previous guy when he gave up the dozing. It’s pretty cool! Plus the dozer guy (see, I’m not naming names) grew up right down the road, so he knows how the drainage works from first-hand experience.

Dozing with scenic ragweed.

I’m looking forward to seeing how much our budget will buy in pond digging. He’s first digging deeper into what’s already there, then enlarging it. I’m confident all the water plants will return. After all, they showed up quickly once the pond was dug in the first place!

I took a walk and enjoyed the cool October morning air today, too. What a refreshing work break! I got to pat all the equines and see what was blooming and growing. The horses were mostly ignoring me and staring intently to the north, though.

Alert!

It turns out one of Sara’s horses was walking down its pasture. They sure keep an eye out for each other! I know they miss Drew, who is making new friends, I hear.

All right then, these are some more pictures from my day. One good thing about starting work at 6:30am is having time to take pictures after work!

As they say, getting out in nature is good for you, even if it’s just a horse pasture.

Vacation Rental in Cameron?

Are you one of the hordes of people who’ve been looking for a comfortable, rustic retreat to stay in for a few days while you do business, visit family, or vacation in Cameron, Texas? Do you have more visitors than space in your home when there are big events like football weekends, Steaks Stein & Wine, or livestock events? Look no further, because we here at the Hermits’ Rest Enterprises (that’s me and Lee and our family helpers) have something you might be interested in coming soon!

It’s got a hermit! Pumpkin has already fallen over. I need to put a brick in it.

We’ve acquired one of the most charming homes on one of the prettiest lots in the area, colloquially known as the Red House. It is convenient to the airport, schools, and the town, but off the main road. Family friends owned it until they needed to sell, so we did one of our famous quick cash purchases. That’s a joke, because just like the one we just sold, this one took a lot longer than we anticipated. So, I’ve been sitting on my photos for a while now!

The Red House

We have repainted the interior, removed all carpets, added fresh window coverings, and will soon have some new appliances to put in the cute blue and white kitchen. The house has good heat and air conditioning and is on a shady lot.

Obviously not staged yet!

We can imagine lots of fun being had on the porches and in the amazing screened-in garage, which will soon be a recreation area. We can also imagine small conferences and meetings being held on the big table in the large dining room. The previous owners did a great job fixing this house up for the occupant, and then they cleaned the heck out of it before they left. That’s unusual for a house we purchase, but then, they are great folks.

This garage is so cute.

While the house has only two bedrooms and one bathroom, it will sleep a family or small group, with a king bed in the main bedroom, a bunk with trundle in the front bedroom, and a sleeper sofa in the living room. We haven’t put the furnishings in yet. That’s next!

There will be more than a stool in the main bedroom. But look at the floors!

We will list the house once it’s furnished. I’m glad I had a lot of kitchen stuff from my other house that’s in good shape and usable, and that we have some nice furnishings and decor. I can’t wait to get the house ready to rent!

Huge back porch built for relaxing. That’s the garage at left.

We will keep you posted on the progress. In the meantime, use the comments or Facebook messenger to ask questions.

Yarn Failure – DOH

Sometimes I wonder about myself. Other times I laugh about myself. Today I am laughing. You may recall that I am making an afghan that looks kind of like a quilt with a heart in it for Kathleen. When the yarn arrived, I realized that the cream color for the heart was not in the order. Well, I figured, I’ll order it and by the time I get to the heart, the yarn will be here.

Time marched on. In the meantime I got halfway through the squares for the macho camo toddler blanket I’m making for Kathleen’s grandson for Christmas. It looks like that one will be done in time at the rate I’m going!

Stack o’ camo squares

I began to be annoyed at how long that cream-colored yarn was taking to get here. I got ready to give those people at Knitpicks a piece of my mind! What slow shipping! Grr!

I headed on over to the website to check on my order, in quite a huff. Um. There was my order, just sitting there. I remembered I’d also wanted to get a collection of striped yarns to make something for the tack room. They were there, too. Someone had not clicked the “order” button. I was that someone.

That certainly explained why the yarn had not arrived. I placed the order like the competent adult I often believe myself to be. And lo and behold. The yarn took less than a week to show up. I think I will buy that yarn winder that’s on sale to make amends (since I haven’t found the missing part of my old one).

Here it is, plus a preview of the next project in line, which may be knitted or crocheted.

I was so happy to see the yarn that I started singing, “Yarn, glorious yarn!” to the amusement of the entire family.

In other senior moments, I did start work on the heart afghan again last night. I decided to work on it when I could concentrate and keep the camo blanket for long meetings and when I chat with friends on Zoom. It took less than a day to get frustrated by leaving the crochet hook where I last worked and having to fetch it.

Ta da. Note the cute little hermit salt and pepper shakers. Great gift!

At around 9:30 pm last night it dawned on me that I own more than one size G 4.0mm crochet hook. I’d bought two sets recently just for this kind of situation. All right, then, I’m set. Let the festival of squares continue!

This is just one side of the afghan, but shows I got the heart started. So far, it does not look like a heart, according to my husband.

Maybe I need to take some of Lee’s memory pills.

Handy Crafting

I’ve been steaming away on my latest project, which is a crocheted ruana called Augustina. I used a bunch of leftover yarn from other projects (mostly that Lion Brand Mandala, but with a couple of other “el cheapo” Red Heart yarns along for the ride), along with one new colorway of Mandala that I bought to be sure I’d have enough to finish. Last night I finished the last triangle (it’s a big square with three full and two half triangles, which create the opening).

All my triangles and the inspiration image, which would have cost about $400 to make, so I didn’t use that yarn.

Last night, I spent some time looking at different ways to join crocheted pieces, since I wanted to try something new. They certainly could not stay like this forever!

You can sorta get the idea of how it’s constructed. I am also really impressed with how okay all my random colors from unrelated yarns look together.

At last I decided to try a zigzag slip stitch join for the squares. I even endured a video with sappy music playing over it to be sure I understood the technique. That’s dedication from this gal who hates to learn from videos (I just MAKE educational videos, not USE them). I think it comes out interesting and I’m happy at how flat the join is.

It looks like a braid and seems quite decorative.

Then, I looked on the other side of the first triangles I sewed together. Well, huh, that looks pretty good, too. As long as I use that shade of yarn, it’s almost invisible.

Not bad at all. I guess the ruana will be reversible.

Now, the colors didn’t work out quite right, so one half triangle ended in the gold color, but I think it will still look fine as long as I don’t run out of that tan color, which I’m pretty sure I won’t. Once the seaming is done, the ruana gets a double crochet edging all around, and then it will be ready for any hippy-dippy outing I care to take it on. I swear it looks just like the vests my grandmother crocheted for me in the 60s. I could probably still wear the turquoise and purple poncho she made me back then. (Yes, she DID make me stuff.)

Anyway, I’m ready for my next project! And what do you know, the yarn for it arrived today in a giant box. I’m making a blanket for Kathleen out of these lovely colors, which she selected and surprised me with.

The colors!!

Now, my job will be to put all these colors together and surprise her back. The blanket (shown below) will have a cream center rather than white and use these purples and pinks. I can’t wait to get going on yet another crochet project, one that takes me back to my granny square roots! Yes, my first childhood project in crochet was a granny square afghan in many bright colors with black borders. I still have it stored in my blanket box.

I will have one more crocheted item to make before going back to knitting. That yarn may be here tomorrow. I’m so glad that stress makes me crochet fast, because I’m just churning stuff out!

My Thundering Herd

Today’s electrical work got delayed, but not to worry, the next priority awaited. That was moving the fencing for the horses so they could eat some of the grass that hadn’t been touched yet. It’s still dry, but at least it’s long.

New fence has ties to make it visible.

It was such a hot, hot day for the guys to work in the sun, but they set out poles and moved an electric fence out to the driveway. They also put one up in the back so we can rotate. The original idea was that we’d keep Apache and Fiona there, but I’m told Apache violently vetoed that idea and got all worked up.

Do NOT separate me from my friends. (Mabel just wants grass)

It took a while for the horses to figure out the fence moved, but the agitation got them moving. I didn’t see the beginning but I did get to enjoy watching them running around like a feral herd. The video features a lot of Apache snorting, too. Like he’s the stallion king.

I think Fiona styled herself the lead mare. Drew was the fast little youth. That horse can GO. I watched him come from behind and pass all the others.

Glorious.

I just enjoyed their beautiful selves and got a laugh out of their curiosity about the pond and the area around it. We had worried they’d sink into the pond, but they didn’t. I hope they stay safe while seeking out delicious treats. I also hope it doesn’t mess up Apache. But really, it’s all dry.

Checking it out.

The horses ate dinner just fine and are now grazing calmly. The world changed on them, but they are okay. Here are some of my pictures of their fun.

There was even a bonus! Tarrin was able to analyze Apache’s form when he was running. In one picture he was in a tizzy and out of alignment, and in the other, he looked all lifted and balanced. That one is our goal under saddle.

And in Pest News

The trend of poisonous creatures visiting daily has not ended. Today I heard a rustling noise. I looked down and there was a scorpion. I wish the black cloud delivering plagues would move along!

Not dead yet. Dead now.

Shocking News?

It’s shocking, all right. The electric lines are being laid for all our outbuildings, but we do t think any actual shocks will happen since we are using professional electricians. It’s nice to see a little bit of progress after all the setbacks and such.

The Ditch Witch chugged into action on Wednesday and started digging the trenches for the electric lines. Then, it suddenly stopped working after getting the lines to the tack room, shipping container, and much of the chicken house done. That was disappointing, since the electricians were due today.

One long trench

Luckily, they got her up and running again this morning and finished the trenches so that the conduit could go in. None of this was easy in the baked clay soil we have in this part of the ranch. The worst parts were where they had to dig by hand and carve out curves in the path. My son looked like he was about to pass out, though of course he was well hydrated and got breaks.

Conduit, with curve, hard earned.

Now that all the pipes are in, the electrician could get exact measurements for all the wiring and such that they’d need. Everything’s so expensive right now that no one wants to waste any money on excess supplies. They will be back tomorrow. By then there should be an air conditioner for the tack room, too. Am I excited? Yes, I sure am. And very grateful. The chickens will be, too, when they get a fan to help keep them cooler.

Long…

What else is new since I got all whacked out about my diagnosis? Well, it IS the Hermits’ Rest Ranch, so of course it’s not shocking that another poisonous beast had to show up. This little darling was right under my feet while I was working. It is now a former bloodsucking conenose (or kissing bug, Triatoma sanguisuga). These bite people on their mouths and feed on the blood while the people are sleeping. Then the people get sick. Luckily, they have never been seen upstairs here.

Also luckily, Marcus spent part of his day spraying all around the house and pool for spiders. He found a big nest of black widows on the back side of the pool. They are former spiders now. I may be a Master Naturalist, but things that want to kill me need to go live outside my personal bubble. I’m tired of killer insects and spiders.

Yesterday

And it’s not a day at the Hermits’ Rest if someone doesn’t need to see a doctor. Today it was Goldie. I noticed a swelling on her yesterday, and thought it looked odd. It wasn’t there last time I looked.

Much bigger!

Today the swelling was bigger. It being Thursday, her favorite human was able to take her to see Dr. Amy and get it looked at. Turns out it was a scratch or bite or some other kind of “booboo” that got infected.

I gots an owie.

Dr. Amy drained it and disinfected it and put poor Goldie on antibiotics. She seems fine now, but now she has lots of scars on her belly!

Let’s hope tomorrow is a peaceful day. We could use one.

It’s Looking Good Inside, Not So Good Outside

There was a surprise waiting for me when I got home last night. My bedroom was no longer a poop brown color. It’s now yellow! Maybe it’s not the exact perfect shade, but it sure is more cheerful than before.

New sitting area

Lee knew how much I liked my bedroom in the Bobcat house, so he had the guys paint it while we were gone. Then he rearranged all the furniture and put up the art again.

The bookshelves show up more!

I’m very happy with the new look. Everyone says the room looks bigger and lighter. I still have some chests of drawers to bring in, along with my good mattress. Then the room will feel like it’s partially mine, not just Lee’s and the dogs. Of course, the dogs slept on me last night, but it was sweet.

I missed you.

Outside of the house things look less good. The drought is taking its toll. The big pond is going down fast and the little pond dried up completely.

Poor pond.

The grass is horribly brown. And it is very crunchy. Of course the grasshoppers are still here, but fewer of them.

Not pretty.

I asked my son to start giving the horses hay while we were gone (I can’t open the door to the storage container) and we’re going to keep that up until we can give them more grazing.

Thanks!

If things settle down a little more we can put some temporary fencing on the part of the front that we’d planned to fence in this spring. Keep your fingers crossed that Kathleen improves! At least the in-law suite is done and Lee’s brother is happily installed there. Progress!

Bonus. I got an Apache horse for the tack room. We spent so much time on Apache land I wanted a tribute. I always feel weird that Apache isn’t a Native American horse, but I guess paints are, historically.

We Have a Fancy Chicken Nursery

You may know we have yet another broody hen. This time it’s Billie Idyll. What a surprise! I let her set, and she still has three eggs under her. It’s about hatching time, so I knew the babies couldn’t hatch in the nest boxes. They’d fall.

Honest, it’s a palace

Our dog crate that we use for babies is not quite right for them, because they could slip through some holes. Last time, we used cardboard to try to keep them safe, but only one made it to adulthood. And he was a rooster. Bruce didn’t like that.

I liked it fine here.

So today, the renovation team renovated the chick nursery. They did a great job. They used hardware cloth to seal all the cracks, cleaned it up really well, then built Billie a nest box.

I am NOT interested.

When they were done, I put Billie and the eggs in the nursery. Whoa, you should have heard her yelling! She wanted back in her nest box! She squawked and squawked. I showed her the eggs, but she didn’t care. Squawk!

Eggs? What eggs?

It took a couple of hours, but finally she figured out that her eggs were there. I hope they will hatch. Certainly they didn’t get too cool. It’s hot again!

Fine. I’ll set here.

Chicks are due in the next couple of days. I’m hoping they’ll make it at least a few days. And maybe there will be a hen? I’ll just keep trying. I do enjoy the chickens and their fancy new house. And of course, I love the doggies.

Too Hot to Paint but It Happened

I felt bad for my kid today. He is a very hard worker, not doing what he thought he’d be doing at this point in his life, but learning a lot. But wow it’s hot right now. And he’s been painting.

That shipping container blends in!

He and his coworker had already painted the Suna Shack red and white. But we also had the two shipping containers over in horse world. One is to be the hay storage and one storage for equipment. Both were reddish, but not red.

Another view.

In well over 100° heat, the second container got painted without the coworker. I was really surprised to see him patiently painting on white trim on it. I guess the nephew said to make it all match. Wow, it looks sharp so far!

Not quite done on this side, but I sure don’t miss all the shipping letters on the container. (Roof is getting replaced when it cools off)

I’m glad no one went along with the idea of painting stripes. Whew. I’m feeling like I’m a fancy barn owner, but not at such a high price. This is all done by my family (and Marcus). It means so much more than some prefabricated thing! I do love my kids and wish I’d been a better mom after their dad left. Oops. Back on that topic again.

Apparently this one gets white trim, too. Let’s see if they paint the poles.

Still. The horses will rest in so much style now! Speaking of style. I believe I found the loudest nail polish on earth. It’s called Mardi Gras. Obviously I’m not painting barns.

Yow.

But I do work, and I found out today that I’ll get to stay another year at Dell. We’ll see what I decide to do after that. And tomorrow I hope to do some painting for a good cause!

I hope I don’t mess up my nails!

Progressive Progress

More and more progress is happening here at the Hermits’ Rest. My favorite thing is the power washing extravaganza that went on today. The part of our garage that faces north has been mildewing, as north-facing surfaces tend to do.

Partway fixed

I was really happy to see the guys cleaning it, because Kathleen and I have been joking that the mildew ruins our view from the pool. And hey, power washing is a good job in this weather!

That’s not the only power washing that went on. After some trouble with not enough voltage to run the electric washer and having to coax the gas one to life, all the shipping containers also got power washed.

Cleaned of horse products.

Our old one was primed years ago by me and Lee, but it never got painted. The other one is also primer color. They are going to get painted!

The hay barn.

It’s been decided to paint them barn red with white trim to match the two portable buildings. I sorta wanted all the buildings the color scheme of the garage, but this will look nice, too, and farm-like.

The idea is that the pool house will match the house and garage, so it will be obvious which buildings house people and which house animals or their supplies.

Horses were fascinated

Meanwhile, I got a little more furniture in the Suna Shack part of the tack room. Kathleen got my pink chair from my former office and I put a couple of decorations there and in the chicken area.

And ooh. The cabinets, microwave, and sink are ready for installation in the brother-in-law suite. Progress!

Glad I was inside writing all day, though. I could get tired!

It tired out one dog, anyway!
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