Guinea Freedom

Sigh, we only have two guineas left, but they are big enough to do okay in the main pen. So, today my sister was here for dinner and got to see them enjoy their first taste of freedom. It’s fun to share bird stuff with her.

Fancy Pants still knows she’s the queen. For such a bulky gal, she can really catch grasshoppers.

At first they ignored the open door. They’d just gotten fed, after all. Then they hopped around and got confused when Hedy went in to check on their food. Of course, I was watching too hard to remember to take pictures.

Finally, the gray one went out. Then she went back in. They did that a couple of times when they realized there was some scratch on the ground.

The first guinea is on the branch.

Suddenly, there was a frenzy. The brown one flew across the pen and landed on the branch. The gray one looked confused, then dashed over to join its remaining buddy, knocking a couple hens off.

Get out of the way, hens.

I think they will be okay. Now if anything tries to go after them, they can get away. I do hope that trap catches something other than Vlassic or Gracie, though.

Two guineas and poor Henley, trying to roost. Gracie is trying to find that delicious tuna she smells in the raccoon trap.

The Vines of Hermits’ Rest

I thought I’d take my own advice and get out in nature this morning, so I made up a project to see how many different vines I could see along the fence in front of and beside the ranch house.

Mustang grape. I know because it’s silver and hairy on the bottom.

It hadn’t gotten stifling hot yet, so Vlassic and I set off. I knew a lot of what I’d see, but figured I’d find at least seven different vines.

Vine
Looks boring, right? But if we hadn’t been aggressively mowing, it would produce cool little lanterns. It’s Cardiospermum halicacabum

I actually ended up with 12! At least I hope so. Most weren’t blooming, but I recognized them. The white morning glory had closed up and I couldn’t get to the flowers to photograph.

I was especially glad to see passion vines in more than one place, because I’d worried the poison ivy had crowded it out.

Passion vine with no beautiful flowers.

Also I was glad to confirm that we have sorrel vine here, since the Master Naturalist who lives not far from here has a lot of it.

Sorrel vine or Cissus trifoliata. It’s known as possum grape, too.

Otherwise, it’s the usual prickly, rash-inducing, invasive and/or pretty plants.

Of course I had to snap a few other pretty sights. Plus, there’s action around the hen house. There’s a new spider building a web right in front of where I get the eggs from. Luckily I have another way to get eggs.

And Chris put a live trap by the chicken run. We need to stop whatever took almost all the guineas and a hen! Hopefully, once it cools off, he will come up with more safety measures.

These are prettier than water hose, right? Lady Bird’s Centaury.

We do have a much more elaborate water system, though, since the other one was trying to make the hoses explode. Chris used new water hose/pipe and fittings to make a safer temporary setup until we make the fancy underground one. It’s also too hot to safely dig the trench for that.

At least the dogs are happy we’re inside all day. 102 is too hot for any of our outdoor projects! Happy July.

It’s weather fit for sunflowers!

Me: Feeling Feisty – Office: Feeling Fancy

I can tell I’m getting back on a more even keel, mentally. I did a good job, for once, dealing with one of those, “It has been reported that X has happened, and if you don’t fix it, dire consequences will befall you,” conversations pretty darned well. I just asked the information-bearer to ask the person with an issue to get in touch with me, and I’ll be happy to work with them to take care of things. And I repeated that. I just don’t need third parties telling me so-and-so said this about me or that about me. I’ll happily talk to them. That’s probably not as FUN for the person in the middle to participate in, since they don’t get to lecture me in that scenario, but it sure clears up misunderstandings. (I’m sure everyone has the best of intentions; it’s just easier to communicate directly.)

Is it a clown? No, it’s Feisty Suna. Colorful!

Though I still haven’t heard from the person who needs to talk to me, I am doing my best to remedy the problem, anyway, because it’s a good thing to do. Treat others as you’d like to be treated. I mostly manage it! If you don’t let people bully you and put you down, they can’t make you feel bad, so that’s why I feel feisty. I’m just going to do my best to be strong, confident AND kind.

Before picture.

As for my office, today it’s getting a beauty makeover! We decided to put the really pretty wall hanging that looks like a quilt square made of tin, brown wood, and white wood under my mantel piece, to make it look like a unit.

It looks like it was made to go together.

After realizing there was no way to actually hang it, Chris screwed it into the mantel, and now it looks like one big, beautiful unit.

Then we went mirror shopping.

WHAT, you went out in public and SHOPPED?

No, no, we went upstairs where there are four or five different mirrors that came with the Pope Residence. We tried two of them, and one really was a winner.

On its way to goodness.

When installed, it will block the hole where the woodstove pipe used to be, so we don’t have to run a fake pipe in front of the mirror. The faux woodstove will be fine without it, since it’s electric.

I have cleaned the mirror and frame, but we are leaving it brown. There’s enough white in here now.

The other mirror we brought down is made from an old window. We are going to paint it white for Kathleen and then put it in the other bathroom instead of the tiny mirror that’s there now.

Here’s the window mirror, cleaned but not yet painted.

Oh yes, the counter top edges got dry enough to trim. That’s a manual job with a big metal file, when you don’t have a cabinet shop. But, they look good now.

I also ordered paper towel holders and a toilet paper holder, so all the bathrooms will have appropriate cleaning accessories. However, I’ll patiently wait until my office is finished to put art up. I’m so patient. Who are you kidding? I’m not, but things can only go as fast as they can go in these times.

But wait, there’s more! Here’s the stained plywood to finish the stair area. The wood looks like zebra print or something. I actually like it.

Stained plywood.

More Chicken Housing PLUS

So, how did that chicken coop project we started yesterday come out?

Well, while I was crackling the doors, Chris finished the roof and ventilation area.

Little coop.

Of course, it needed steps up to the roosting and nesting area.

We need stairs!

I got busy using up the extra white paint to cover most of the wood surfaces. I left a little paint free to look rustic. I may paint it later. Maybe red!

The nest box is painted well, since water will drip on it.

While I painted, the ramp got built, so I painted that last. It’s just got to dry then we can set it up.

Happy hen house.

Next thing I knew, Chris was working with PVC pipe. I looked up and, boom, he’d made chicken feeders he’d seen on Pinterest.

Quick and easy project!

We took them over and set them up on one of the few walls that aren’t moving soon. I put food in them (and the dispenser worked!).

This is interesting! Clarence is more interested in the bug-filled dirt where the old feeder was.

Next, we herded all the chickens into the feeding area. They found the water holder then noticed the food dish had moved. It only took a minute or two for Steen to figure out the feeder. Others joined in!

There’s food in there!

Good news at last: Fancy Pants MAY be getting les broody. We are seeing her out more and more. Sigh. Just in time for fertilized eggs. Ha!

I got bored in there.

I do enjoy these guys.

Arts and Crafts, with Glue

Suna used white glue to crackle paint her desk made of old doors.

For my new desk, I wanted a rustic look to go with the rest of the office. Yesterday I showed you how I painted the doors that will be part of the desk a very bright red. To remind you, it’s this color:

I used leftover paint to revitalize this concrete cardinal.

Today the fun began. I made crackle paint and did the doors. How? First, you splatter white craft glue all over and then brush it on, leaving thick and thin parts.

Doesn’t that look festive?

You let the glue just start to dry, then slop your top color on. In this case, it’s the trim color at the Ross house. You have to go fast and resist the urge to go back over it, or you get this.

Just painted. Looks like a crappy paint job!

Then you wait. As the glue dries, cracks show up. There are little cracks where the glue is thin, and bigger ones where it is thick.

Drying. Cracks have appeared.

The really thick parts take a long time to dry. I may have over-done it on the first door, which still has wet spots as I write this. I’m sure I’ll be able to sand this evening, though.

My desk top, all crackled.

And since I had a little red left over, I painted some trim on the old chicken house. That may protect its paint a little. And it looks more rustic now!

Red matches the ranch theme!

Now I’m painting other things. That’s for the next blog!

Independence Day for Hermits

Chris and Suna create desktops and chicken coops from scraps and leftovers.

One thing’s for sure, the hermits of Hermits’ Rest sure know how to celebrate without leaving the property. I’m proud of us.

Most of the day, Chris and I worked on two projects, a second hen house and nest box, and my new desk.

My project was the desk. First I spent a couple of hours sanding the doors, one of which is the desk top and one the “modesty panel.” I’m so modest, you see. I just wanted to rough them up a bit.

The modesty panel door.

By the way, the doors came from the Pope Residence, and were a bathroom and closet door, so smaller than standard.

Here it is with a coat of red paint.

The desk top was painted white. It’s paint was peeling and hard to sand, so it took a while. I forgot to take a “before” picture. I’ll blame the heat. I did really well not overheating today!

The desk top looks much brighter, since it’s base was white.

No doubt you notice the doors don’t match. It’s okay. This interesting shade of coral red (made by mixing my bathroom tomato red with the red from our Christmas float) will be an undercoat.

Two coats on. Red enough.

Both doors look nice and “rustic” so I’m happy. Tomorrow the MAGIC will happen, so come back for Day 2 of the door desk paint project!

Meanwhile, Chris was finishing the nest boxes he started, which are nicely hinged now.

Hinged box.

Then he got to work turning a shipping crate that held the tile for our house 5 years ago into a chicken coop. He added a roosting shelf, and attached the nest boxes.

Roosting shelf.

The outside he covered in more of the tin we used in the Pope Residence.

He just improvises. But measures carefully.

By the time we called it quits, he’d measured the roof and got the supports up. The hardware cloth (wire mesh) is ready for the ventilation openings. This should also get done tomorrow!

Roof supports are up. The triangles will be air vents. Hens need them.

We also hope to get more shade cover for the birds and to enlarge the pens, like I mentioned earlier. That will keep us busy at home for another day!

Did I mention that these projects only cost us labor? All materials are scraps or leftover stuff from other projects. Fun doesn’t have to be expensive! It does help to have a creative and talented team lead, though. Go team!

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?

Murder, Most Fowl

It’s a chicken pun, and a guinea story.

Ah, ranching. It’s never dull. So, a couple of nights ago, something got into the guinea pen and did away with two light ones and one dark one. Damn.

It’s a real murder mystery, because whatever it was got into the pen somehow and broke their necks. One’s head was out of the chicken wire, but the rest weren’t. It’s as if something got them but couldn’t get them out!

They were way off the ground!

Whatever it was either had to climb up high to get in, or fly, because they were on a shipping crate. And the holes in their cage were small.

In any case, they gave up, but left a scent that the dogs all smelled, especially Gracie that morning.

We like the new water fountain!

The panicked flock is now well inside the chicken run, where Bruce is guarding them, along with his gals. They are happy to have grass and bugs to enjoy, and they can bond with the chickens.

Thanks for our new digs!

Those are all fine. Clarence is very happy now, and filling out nicely. His green tail feathers are so pretty.

Clarence the cockerel

The old ones do seem okay with their dude now.

We want to go out and chase grasshoppers. Even that big new interloper.

The new ones are getting more and more accustomed to us feeding and coming in. They run around after bugs and away from Bruce.

Bruce corralling his gals.

They don’t eat out of my hand like the other three hens, but Patty is especially friendly. She’s also very beautiful, even though she’s still the smallest.

Pretty and friendly Patty.

We hope to finish their nest boxes soon, since they are maturing, and to join the two runs. Next is another expansion. Chicken World will be glorious.

You just want to paint those nails! Pandemic activity!

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!