What’s Recuperating from the Cold and Snow?

Since the weather is warm and it hasn’t started raining yet, I decided to see how the life around here is faring after last week’s bad weather. The first thing I found was that, indeed, the cold has messed the chickens up. Look what poor Buttercup laid!

Buttercup’s little egg, next to the normal one I found this morning.

Not all is bad for them, though. While they seem to dislike something in their scratch grain mix, the damp weather has been perfect for sprouting whatever it is. That will make good browsing for them or new chickens that we get!

At least the chicken run won’t be all dirt!
We prefer bugs.

I wondered if any insects and such were out, so I was happy to find a checkered butterfly and two lady bugs! I saw a moth, but it was too fast for me!

I found that most of the usual plants for this tome of year were blooming, but I was surprised to see a cranesbill had already managed to produce seeds!

Here are a few of the other blooming plants I saw. It was good to see them recovering.

I also found the wildflowers in good shape, including my favorite yellow daisies and bluebonnets. We’ll have color this year! And speaking of color, the cold gave some unusual leaf colorings.

I heard a lot of frog sounds from across the road, and plenty of birds. I heard a whooshing sound and turned around to see I’d disturbed some ducks on one of the tanks/ponds. I did get a photo of them flying, though I don’t know what kind they are.

Ducks, trees, clouds.

Spring is coming. Winter can’t stay forever. I’m glad I got some entries for iNaturalist today!

Cute Li’l Animal Tails/Tales

Now that the weather is more normal, I’ve been enjoying the antics of all the local animals. I haven’t seen them all—for example, Lee saw a large, striped bobcat cross the road yesterday. I missed that!

Obviously not a Bobcat

I did get to see this charming kitten with a crazy tail today. She’s been hanging around the cabin and barn for a month or so, and the neighbors feed her. We haven’t had a cat stay on the ranch since Cathy and her menagerie moved.

Anyway, I said I’d feed her this weekend, so I had my eye out for her when I walked by the cabin on the way to feed horses. I didn’t see her, but I saw a black dog, though I knew Copper was out of town with his owners. Wait…that was Tess the cattle dog, great-great granny of these sweet pups.

Gratuitous photo of Jess and her pups. Cattle dog pups start out white with black spots.

So, I was pretty sure ole Tess had found the kitten’s food. She isn’t too old to sniff out any morsel of food! And sure enough, the bowls were licked clean and the kitten was looking disappointed when I came back down the driveway. I refilled the bowl, and she chowed down fast.

I better eat fast. That dog might come back!

I love how the kitten holds her tail angled back like that. And she is sweet. It makes me happy to have a cat to pet again. Lee’s allergic, so we can’t have one in the house, but maybe we can get barn cats if our horse barn happens.

More Cuteness, Cattle Style

I’ve also been enjoying the cattle on our property. They get friendlier and funnier all the time.

Yesterday, I took some more food for Big Red, the chicken who lives with the horses. It was in a plastic feed bag. It was misting rain, so I was concentrating on not stepping on cow patties. I opened the gate to leave our pasture, and when I turned around, I saw that the brown cow was like three feet behind me. I didn’t hear her at all! The others were lumbering behind her.

I guess they really miss getting cattle cubes from Kathleen, and were sure my bag had cow treats, not chicken ones. She sure looked sad when I took the bag with me.

Today, the cows were insisting on standing in my path as I walked to the gate. Maybe they were thinking of shaking me down for treats. I got to the gate, then heard thundering footsteps. Jim had let Vlassic out, and he wanted to join me, like he did yesterday. But, Sara’s dogs would be there today, so Vlassic had to go back for his safety. That made me have to intrude on the cows again.

When I came by the third time, after taking Vlassic back, I had to stop and watch them. They were playing like little calves, butting their heads and jumping in circles. It was a pleasure to see them enjoying the more pleasant weather, and it was a shame to stop them, just because I was now late. I wish I’d gotten a video! The cows aren’t too far past calf-hood, so I guess they still have urges for fun.

Heck, so do I. My fun for the day was listening to this red-winged blackbird, way at the top of a willow tree.

TWEET!!!

He was alternating between the familiar chiming song they make and repeated tweet calls. I think he thought someone was answering him, because he was so loud that he had a robust echo. I wonder how long he kept that going?

There. Not every post has to be a rant or controversy. I needed some cuteness in my day today!

Hey, How about a Different Disaster?

I woke up this morning and walked to the front window, as I do every day, to check out the sunrise. Whoa, those are dark clouds, I thought.

Weird sunrise.

I then looked to the right and saw fire! What the heck?

I was too shocked to get a photo with the fireball.

I told Lee something bad had happened. Sure enough, it had. By the time Lynn H and I talked we found out it was a horrible train/semi truck accident on the other side of Cameron in the Marlow community. You could see it all over the county. The photos were so scary.

Our Sheriff took this one.

The train cars had some petroleum products and coal in them. Luckily the hazardous material got quickly moved. The good news is no one died and not many structures were damaged.

This is the picture that scared me!

I do have friends who will have a hard time getting to work until this is cleared up. it will be a while, apparently. The fire is still burning, too.

6 pm this evening

It was even on the BBC News! And the ABC news on TV!

Unfortunately they showed the wrong footage…

I was so shocked that I said to a coworker, “This is probably the worst disaster in Milam County since…uh…last week.”

Local TV News.

I’d be fine if we actually did NOT have a disaster every week from now on. I was really out of it trying to do a presentation at work, because I wasn’t yet sure my friends who live near there were okay.

Dang.

I tried to take a cheerful walk to see Apache and Fiona. When I got home, there was Vlassic running around with a dead baby bunny. GEEZ!

It’s a present for Jim. I hope he likes it.

I’m ready to chill out with no icky things. I’m gonna spend the evening coloring. My book is too scary and I’m too worn out to knit.

Yay. Coloring.

The Big Blue Shawl Update

I started this shawl when I ran out of yarn for my other project, yarn which is still not here yet, thanks to a combination of me messing up the order and the weather. Who knows if I will EVER get it? The last tracking update was February 13…

So, I kept going on this mostly stockinette pattern, but adding little bits of lattice patterns in it. I added a swath near the edge of the shawl, as well as at the bottom of the triangle. I’m not sure what it will look at when I’m finished, but it was fun to do, at least!

Lumpy main body of the shawl. I can’t stretch it out, because it’s much longer than my knitting needles.

When I realized that the shawl edge was longer than my arm-span, I figured it was about as long as it ought to be, so last night I looked around for a border to put on the edge, as a bind-off. All my books are in Austin, but I found a pattern online on a fun site for free vintage patterns. It’s not too easy and not too hard!

End of shawl without a border.

I got through two repeats yesterday, so it will go pretty quickly. The instructions are a bit old-fashioned, but I figured them out.

Here’s what I’m trying to make as a knitted-on border

Confused about knitted-on borders? Well, they are lace patterns knitted back and forth over a fairly short repeat, like you see above. You can use them to bind off a project by knitting to the end of a wrong-side row of your project then casting on the right number of stitches for the border and following the pattern. The straight edge (top above) connects to the main project (my shawl, for example) by knitting the last stitch of the border together with the next stitch in the main piece of the project, then, turn and go back out. So for every two pattern rows, you have one fewer stitch on the main needle.

There is a little gap between the border stitches and the main shawl stitches. At the end of this row, I’ll knit the two stitches on either side of the gap together, turn, slip that stitch without knitting, and knit back out to the edge.

It is a fun way to end a shawl, scarf, sweater, or any project you want a nice, flowing edge to. Speaking of fun, guess who had fun romping with me, Lee and all the other dogs yesterday? Vlassic! He was so happy it got warmer and he could escape the RV for a while!

He had just licked me on my face.

Laughing at Ourselves

After all the stress of the last week or so, it feels good to be able to find humor in life again. I must admit that, at a certain point yesterday, I had lost all humor. But, hooray! It’s back now, and I am happily laughing at myself, my animals, and my friends…and of course myself. Here we go.

Yesterday, as it was thawing out like crazy, Sara asked me to come help her and Ralph with some water-related chores. The water in the big, blue barrel where the horses all were, had gotten quite low. Since it was sitting crookedly and was quite full of algae and other yuckiness, it was declared to be a good day to clean it out and stabilize it.

This was not a neat and tidy job. We were in huge mud puddles that had horse/donkey poop in them and were very slick. Sara did a great job making a fairly level spot in the mud where the barrel goes, while Ralph worked on the water supply. Major oops, a water pipe had burst in a very dramatic way, so there will be no using the barn toilet until that can be fixed! That made everything even muddier, and cause cursing and such.

My job was to clean out the barrel itself. I am not the tallest of humans, so I could not reach my hand in and get to the bottom of the barrel. I had to climb in and scrub it with handfulls of hay. I felt ridiculous. Little did I know, I also looked ridiculous, and Ralph got this photo to prove it. I laughed my substantial rear end off when I got this picture!

Now, that’s dignified! You can see the mud that Sara was trying to shovel through, too.

With the trickle of water that was coming out of the hose, we managed to finish cleaning it and get it set up, then we took our muddy selves over and replenished the hay. We actually had fun in between banging on things and getting frustrated!

The barrel filled up eventually and looks pretty good.

My intention is to never have to do that again, so next time I am in Temple, I am going to get some goldfish to put in here! I am pleased to report that our little goldfish made it through the freeze AND the cow pooping in their home and are swimming around happily, with their trough topped off, too.

The tiny orange spot is one of the fish. Note how clear the water is (this was before it refilled, when I had put a few gallons in by hand).

Today was a lot easier in the horse department. Spice and Lakota got moved back to their pasture, and Lakota is still standing, mostly. Fiona and Apache are happy as can be, now that it’s all warm again, and Fiona is still curious about everything. Here she is fascinated by one of the dead birds we keep finding (at least this cowbird isn’t eaten up).

Is that food?

Fiona is a very patient donkey, even when Sara and I got a case of the giggles and put the bird on her head (bird will become falcon food for the neighboring falconers).

I didn’t ask for a crown! Grow up, humans!

Other things to laugh at are the chickens. They are back to hanging out in the garage, and I thought this picture of Bruce and Bertie Lee was cute. I think you can see where poor Bruce’s comb is worse for wear. On the other hand, they all made it!

We like it up here.

It appears that Vlassic found yet another dead bird, a dove, and messed with it. When I came out to see the chickens, they were fighting over it. That seems strange until you remember that chickens are omnivores. At least nothing is going to waste around here…I guess.

A Bertie feather

The chickens got some new food, Grubbly, which has some sort of grubs in it. They didn’t like the plain grubs at first, but now they do. Yesterday I opened the bag of that brand of food and put some in their dishes. It disappeared very quickly, so I think I’ll switch them over. I’m so glad all the animals made it through the challenging time and that all of us still have our senses of humor, even if they are weird.

What’s in the willow tree?

One more piece of cheerful news. Not only is the ice all gone in the trees, but I heard a familiar sound yesterday afternoon and followed it. Sure enough, the male redwing blackbirds have arrived! Maybe it WILL stay warm! (The females were already here.)

Grateful for Help and Relief

We are so relieved. The power came back on after just 28 hours. Lee and I were talking about spending the night in a hotel just to take showers and sleep normally, when Sara alerted me that she saw a power truck going toward our house. They did something at Mandi’s and across the street, and that fixed it!

Even my avatar who doesn’t look like me is relieved.

Lee and I were able to stop by and tell the Heart of Texas Electric Coop employee thank you. These people, especially linemen, work so hard in bad weather and good.

It’s a small rural electric coop. They are great.

I’m also grateful to my kind friends who offered to let us take showers at their houses, too. Also to our friends who are helping my sister, and our caregivers who whisked Lee’s brother to a place with heat and light last night. Plus, Ralph baked us some bread.

The cup of coffee Lee made me once we had power was incredibly delicious.

And my Austin neighbor dug out my water main control so if a disaster with water happens to us, we can fix it. After the adventure other neighbors went through last week, this brings peace of mind.

To be honest, we’ve had enough of this weather event, and are glad we’re on the backside of it. I still know folks with no power or water, though. I’m glad there are water distribution sites and warming centers.

Carlton is relieved that it’s over 60 degrees in the house for the first time since last weekend.

Please keep people in Texas in your thoughts. Most of us had nothing to do with weird power grid decisions and such. So many of us are embarrassed by uncaring elected officials and greedy jerks.

Enough. I’m gonna get ready for all the book reports I’m going to write!

NOW We Lose Power!

Now that it’s warming up and the ice is melting, boom. The power went off for us and our closest neighbors. It’s been off close to 24 hours. I guess melting ice isn’t great for power lines, because there are spotty outages all over.

Enjoy a pretty ice photo.

We slept fine last night, and I’ve sure gotten a lot of reading done, in between emergencies and such. the old horse was down yesterday when I went to check. I did manage to give him colic medicine but not correctly, but I tried.

Down horse.

Sara found him up and eating today, though, so I didn’t kill him by not knowing exactly what to do. Whew. And Sara is back, so I don’t have to worry as much. I worry about Lakota.

Up horse

Otherwise it’s okay here. Chickens are alive , though Bruce has some comb damage, poor guy. But they are alive! The dead songbirds still make me sad.

Best chicken photo I could get.

I did take a little walk yesterday and got photos of the sun shining through ice. I think I’ll miss the little ice penises the most. It’s from little stems that stuck up out of the snow. They made me laugh.

Anatomically correct!

It was so shiny still! It doesn’t really come through in the photos, but I’ll share anyway. I’ll write more when we get power. I’m in the car charging things!

The Sun Is So Bright

That yeah, we need shades. Wow is ole Sol making fast work of the ice. Even though it’s well below freezing outside, the ice is crashing and booming off the roof, and clear patches are starting to show up.

The image doesn’t do justice to the shininess.

The trees had rainbow diamonds in them this morning, and just look at the Chihuly sculpture our rain chain made!

Ice ice baby

I couldn’t write or work much yesterday, because the cell towers weren’t working. So Lee and I watched movies on DVD most of the day.

Cloudy yesterday.

I did make it out to check animals and see if we got any mail (no). Penney loved running and sliding on the ice. She went full tilt.

This is fun.

The layer of ice was over water in lots of spots. It was hard to find the right places to step. Neither Carlton nor I moved very fast.

This is NOT fun.

Ice is now falling off the roof again and booming, so the dogs are close by me. Penney and Carlton are even getting along!

All the toting and fetching of water has been hard on Ralph, so Sara and I are taking over for him now. I’m pretty sure the driveway has melted enough to get out! Freedom! Of course, the water supply is spotty.

From yesterday.

But, all in all, we see the light at the end of the tunnel, so I have my sunglasses ready. Maybe it will thaw out the water heater and heat pump and we can be clean and warm again inside!

Such a dreamer.

Diamond trees

I’m hearing my friends and coworkers in Austin are getting heat and power back, too. I sure hope some of the infrastructure issues can be fixed.

Coping with Chaos!

In my bullet journal this morning is an entry saying:

Blog without whining

Suna

All right then. Today Lee and I are camping in the bedroom, where it is warm. Penney has discovered the space heater and has freed up Lee’s lap.

Happy dog, and coffee station.

Meanwhile, Carlton is under my layers of blankets and knitting. Oddly enough, I haven’t knitted much, due to checking in on people who have things much worse than I do. We certainly can’t go anywhere, as we now have a pretty layer of ice!

Carlton and shawl project, with Harvey butt.

I’m grateful to helpers today! Kathleen’s cows got more hay, and I have no idea how they got it there, unless they did it last night. And Ralph is heroically caring for the horses. He deserves a medal. I will eventually creep over to the chickens with warm water and food. I’m hoping they are still there.

Still, we cope.

Anita and Kathleen are both still without power. I’m grateful for Anita’s gas fireplace and Kathleen’s endless supply of candles.

Meanwhile, one of my coworkers has come down with gall bladder symptoms. For gosh sake! They already have no power and certainly can’t drive to a doctor. Another colleague had water coming through her entryway light fixture, and we ALL know water and electricity don’t mix! And, word just came in that an Austin neighbor has water pouring into their garage. No whining! At least it’s the garage and not inside!

Cameron residents don’t have to worry about water pipes bursting at the moment, since the water is off. Too many water lines burst. I’m just hoping my poor sister muddles through, since we can’t get to her! I appreciate all the news my friend Lynn sends, since she gets all the alerts.

And newsflash! Pamela reports no mail because no mail trucks have arrived in days. Lee says they also have computer trouble. At least the weather has downplayed that potential conspiracy theory generator.

Once again, though, I’m impressed with how people are supporting each other and staying in touch. My friends and family are being so kind and caring about sending me news! Now I gotta go check in on more folks.

Take care! We’re coping!

Warming Trend?

Lee and I are laughing now, as we got all excited that tomorrow will be warmer. Of course, I’m perfectly warm with a dog and heating pad.

Carlton is never far from my lap.

It’s going to snow and sleet but not get so cold tonight and we’re ridiculously chipper about it. Maybe the heat can get it above 60 in the house!

Tomorrow looks sooo warm, right?

I admit to being a bit scared, which is why I keep writing. I feel like it’s a test, and we’re all doing okay on it, but not enjoying it. Now it’s all the water getting cut off. It just seems like the planners didn’t plan for this stuff very well, even though we know weather extremes are on the way. Sheesh.

At least Lee managed to get a few supplies today, most important of those being chocolate. I’ll be fine as I worry about friends and family, with a little chocolate!

Uh, I got plain Hershey’s.

Hoping my Austin friends keep calm and stay safe. I’ve already heard about enough frozen and burst pipes, fires, carbon monoxide stuff…eek. Well, I’m concerned about all of you and sending warm thoughts.

It’s gonna get better and, we will have learned lots and have many stories to tell!