What Else Is New?

at the ranch, that is. There have been a few tidbits and sightings I wanted to share.

Weather. Ugh.

It’s bone dry, but there aren’t any bones.

First off, I know it’s hot and dry here, because the little runoff pond is bone dry. The dogs went in there to check for crawfish, but didn’t find any.

And the ground is now full of holes and big, long cracks. Along with extra-crunchy grass, this tells you we’re in the bad part of summer.

Hello, down there.

Yep. It’s hot. But there’s a stiff breeze making the front porch bearable for the moment.

Other Stuff

Three prickly pears.

Walking with the dogs always brings discoveries. Today I found things in threes, like these morning glories and prickly pear fruit. (Which reminds me of the carne asada con nopales I had Friday. Mmm. )

Three morning glories

As I was looking at the cactus, I heard a thump. Just to my left I saw that a large grasshopper had flown into the very sturdy web of one of our numerous yellow garden spiders. I started recording only seconds after it landed, which explains why I didn’t turn the phone landscape. 40 seconds later it was wrapped and paralyzed.

At least it didn’t suffer. Sara asked if I’d speeded the video up, but nope. Those spiders can MOVE!

It’s so weird. Those are holes, not raised mounds.

The other natural phenomenon I’ve been watching are the traps laid by doodlebugs, as they call ant lions here. I watch the ones over by the tack room spitting dirt out of their traps. It looks like little explosions.

Chicken Time

And I’ve figured out that two of the chickens roost next to their food. At least the other five seem okay back in their coop. For now. Tyler cleaned up the place where Buffy was hiding, but she still hangs out in the barn.

Buffy and Big Red stake their claims.

And I have a final piece of good news. After spending quite some time trying to figure out who could fix the cattle guard leading to the cabin, I looked up this morning to see the Vrazels had found someone. We thought that was part of their lease agreement, but Ralph had informed me it was my job. Dodged a bullet there. I thanked Mr. V. And the welder a whole bunch.

Dim photo of welding truck.

To sign off, here’s a differential grasshopper. Hey, it’s not a spider!

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A View from the Top…of a Horse

I’m never going to be a great equestrienne, and that’s fine with me. I started way too late, ran out of money for lessons, and don’t have enough time to really get to be great. But, I’m better than I was, anyway!

One of the things I’ve always wanted to be able to do when I’m out riding Apache is to take pictures of some of the interesting plants, wildlife, and scenery I see when I’m out riding around the Hermits’ Rest. Up until recently, I haven’t been comfortable taking my phone along on rides, because my phone is a good one, and I could break it if I fall.

Walking the line of evergreens.

Sara has an inexpensive phone she uses, so that if there’s an emergency she can let our spouses know to come help. I just relied on that, until a few weeks ago when Sara ordered us some really nice holders that have a water bottle and a cell phone pocked in them. They attach to the front of the saddle and can be secured really well, so they don’t bounce and irritate our mighty steeds.

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Whirlwind Family Visit

It’s not even noon on Saturday, and we’ve already had a busy and fun weekend. This may be a long post, but it’s just nice to write about something that went right. I’m hoping we were able to be good to others and relieve a bit of stress for them.

Yesterday, Kathleen and Chris came by, with Lee’s brother Jim and Eva, who is usually the caregiver for Jim’s wife, but was along on this trip to help out with Jim. Also among the visitors was 14-year-old Joe, Eva’s son, who gets to do some heavy lifting and helping out.

The gang’s all here.
Rose Gold. It’s subtle.

We all had a nice lunch at Dutchtowne, of course, where I spent a bunch of time taking pictures of my hair, because the light was good. I did also take a picture of the group.

After the business reason for the trip, in which Lee, Jim, and I signed a bunch of papers and Mandi notarized them, the family ran off to do errands in Temple (Vlassic asked to go with them, so he did, that traveling fool), while I tried to work as people took down the ceiling in our offices. I was forced out due to dust. This will be a topic of the Hermit Haus Redevelopment blog shortly.

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Guess Who’s Not Dead? Hint: Cluck Cluck

It rained a bit today. What a surprise! But that’s nothing.

I went out to feed animals around 6:30. Horses and Fiona were covered with burs, but otherwise fine. To get more exercise, I walked over to the chickens, more wary than usual, since there was yet another hefty rat snake, or in this case, chicken snake, in the henhouse yesterday.

Sure enough, no eggs (but snake is gone). I glanced over at the place next to the cabin, since I’d found four eggs there last week. Yes! An egg!

Medium brown mystery egg.

Hmm. That egg is definitely darker than Rosey’s and Mrs Stripey’s eggs, but lighter than Wild Thing’s speckled ones.

I decided to walk around and see if I could find any other hidden caches. I went in the barn and checked out random baskets an such. Then something caught my eye on a shelf.

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A Year of Classic Vlassic

It came as a shock to me when my calendar popped up that August 1 is our sleek black weenie dog mix, Vlassic’s “birthday!” Only a year ago, Sara saw something strange on her picnic table and called me over to get my new dog.

A year of me? I’m glad!

We never saw any posts looking for him, which is good, since he crawled immediately into our hearts. He’s my faithful companion who travels back and forth between Austin and Cameron every week with me. He sleeps next to (or on) me every night, and spends a lot of his waking time on my lap.

Luckily he spreads his love to other people’s laps, often unannounced. He has caused many beverages to spill. But when he rolls over and stretches out for a belly rub, you can’t be angry.

Let me demo my belly rub face for you.

He loves his canine friends a lot, too, though he has to occasionally remind them he’s small. His little jaw snaps repeatedly when he’s wrestling with Carlton or Harvey. And when Penney joins in, it’s glorious. We humans just have to smile.

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Doggie Doin’s

This weekend so far has been all about my canine buddies. Thursday night we had the quarterly board meeting for the Milam Touch of Love group. Lots more people than I thought were coming were there, which made me wish I’d moved into the sanctuary rather than in the conference room. That made it rather cozy but also amplified the sounds of the folks who wanted to carry on conversations while we were trying to go through the agenda.

I’m officially official.

Though it was really different from most board meetings I’ve attended, we did get to hear from the committees eventually. And wow, a lot of good work has been started, and many new needs identified! The organization will have to be careful to stick to its mission and work with other entities, like law enforcement and other organizations, so we can all work together.

What about Penney?

And to exit my soapbox, Penney became officially ours on Friday. She even came to the office with Lee yesterday. All the noises in Cameron made her a little nervous but she did okay.

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The Ranch Goes Solar!

This is a guest post by Lee Bruns, reblogged from our real-estate redevelopment blog, Hermit Haus Redevelopment. Since it’s also about the ranch, I figure it goes here, too – Suna

Sue Ann recently posted about whether or not installing solar panels makes economic sense—spoiler alert: it doesn’t; it’s more of a religious or magical decision than an economic one. So, I thought I’d spend some words (as few as possible) to describe the installation process with pictures. And even though a picture may be worth a thousand words, I’m not going to take that truism to the Ikea extreme. Sometimes you need words to understand the pictures.

Site Prep

a man runs a gas powered trencher

Our grid interface is dozens of yards from the building where the panels are to be installed. A trencher made short work of digging the trench. Okay, it took more than an hour, but that is much faster than digging an 18-inch deep trench by hand—especially through the compacted road base that makes up our driveway. The original trench for the power and water connections were about 36 inches, so there was little risk that we would cut power to the house.

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