Donkey versus Dog, and Other Ranch Sights

Maintaining my detachment from things out of my control is a challenge right now, so there are LOTS of nature walks going on. The benefit is that you get to see drama, birth and death, and beauty throughout the day. This morning, for example, I went out to do the usual chicken feeding and horse moving while it was still relatively cool out. That meant all the animals were frisky, especially the dogs and equines. As I was trying to give Apache his daily hay, Goldie was “helping,” as usual. She made the mistake of getting between Fiona and the hay, and Fiona finally connected with one of her kicks, and got poor Goldie on the side. Much yelping occurred.

Goldie may even be taller than Fiona at the shoulders.
Perhaps too extreme of a close-up, but it’s worse than it looks here. But, Goldie is fine and her usual cheerful self.

Fiona has been warning Goldie and the other dogs to keep back by flattening her ears and back-kicking (to the extent that I no longer stand behind Fiona when dogs are around), but she’s just so fascinating to Goldie, who is her match in size, but not in bulk. Carlton has learned to keep his distance. I’d like to say Goldie has, but the photo above was taken AFTER the kick.

There’s always someone kicking, scratching, or biting someone else around here. That’s how they maintain their pecking order (literally, in the case of the hens). I also got to enjoy watching the beautiful swallows figuring out their pecking order from their morning launch station. There are always dozens of them sitting on east side of the house each morning as they get those insects.

Lee is always telling me how observant I am, and I know that just comes from a lot of practice going on hikes and entertaining my younger son with all the different bugs and flowers we saw. Anyway, this morning was one of those sparkling mornings with lots of dew. Also some of the really ephemeral parasol mushrooms that appear and quickly fade away were up. They are so delicate that they tremble at any slight breeze.

A little later in the morning, it was Lee’s turn to want to get some nature walking in, so I accompanied him. We went over to the dam, and found all sorts of interesting things. The MOST interesting is that there are dozens of baby catfish in the overflow area. There are so many of them, and I know that water will dry up way sooner than our other ponds, so I think I will try to catch some and transfer them.

Look at all those little guys!

When I was young, my mom caught some baby catfish in Noonan’s Lake near Gainesville, Florida. She put them in our goldfish pond, and we watched them grow and grow. By the time we moved away, they were a foot long and we loved to try to drop food straight into their huge mouths. The goldfish were also really big. Dad did a great job on that pond.

When we turned around to go back, after enjoying the fishies, I saw lots and lots of insects on the velvetweed. At first I thought there were three kinds, but when I uploaded to iNaturalist, I realized I saw juvenile and adults of the same insect, the eastern leaf-footed bug. There was a stink bug of some type, too, but I failed at taking its picture well enough to ID it, as you can see below. Well, and there were zillions of differential grasshoppers, zzz.

Well, that just shows you what you can find if you look hard and are patient. Focusing on the teeming life all around you reminds you that you are just a small part of the big picture. And watching the animals handle their disagreements with no hard feelings is a good lesson for us, too. Now if I can just maintain that feeling of oneness with the Universe, detachment from unhealthy attachments, and goodwill to all!

When You’re Irritated, Go Outside

No matter how many times I try to convince myself not to care to much about my work, I keep doing it, and the way things are set up now, I really need to just roll with the changes. But, I’ll try to do that again, next time.

Goldie is rolling with the changes. Keep on rolling, keep on rolling, as REO Speedwagon advised.

So, today I made a point of going outside and enjoying a relatively cool August day with the animals. I did some excellent breathing, then went out to see how the horses were doing.

What, I’m supposed to be rolling? Usually you make me stop!

I got Drew out and tried to groom him. Oh my gosh, he, too, had been rolling. In the sand. While sweating. He was now an orange horse. He had clay-like clods in his mane that would not brush out. I got my exercise in!

I don’t know what she’s talking about. I look just fine…from a distance, backlit.

We went for a walk, which was fine until Harvey took off after him and he bolted away. Drew is very pretty when running. And he waited for me. I took a deep breath and we finished our walk. Then we went in the round pen, and Drew totally made up for running off. He has improved so much! At least I feel like I’ve taught him something. He slows down, stops, turns, and comes to me when asked.

I’m not so bad. Also, Fiona’s empty dish tastes better than mine.

Then I fetched Apache, who was much less filthy but more bothered by flies. I see why Drew was rolling in the sand. Both got fly spray, so they will be better for a few days. I put Apache in the round pen to see if he’d move better after some pain killer the night before.

Yep. He’s trotting.

He acted like normal Apache. He trotted around and around until I asked him to stop. He turned around when asked. He just kept going. I think maybe it’s just he abscess growing out.

Look, you can almost see my ribs!

We had a good walk, and when he started wanting to eat every time I stopped, I practiced starting and stopping after different numbers of steps. That made him think, and his head stayed up.

My head is up, geez.

Sara has me reading a depressing article on sugar in grass. It makes me feel doomed at slimming him down again until winter. I can’t let him out only between 9 pm and 3 am. Sigh.

I can’t help it. I was born this way. Or mismanagement. Or something. This is my bad angle!

By the time I did all this, I felt better. Keeping myself centered to work with the horses helped a lot! Animal therapy. I’d say it’s free, but horses are not cheap.

Donkeys are cute and cheap!

Going Cuckoo over Gloomy Beauty

It’s time for another post with mostly photos. The rainy day brought a lot of sights, from a bird and insects I’d never seen before to animals dealing with water. That’s right, the title of this post isn’t an insensitive ableist phrase, I actually saw a cuckoo!

In the center is a yellow-billed cuckoo!

I knew we had them here, but I’d never seen a cuckoo before. It must have been recovering from the most recent downpour. I read that these birds are called storm birds, because they tend to sing after a storm. This one wasn’t singing.

Close up.

The other fun part of today was enjoying the wet animals. Poor Fiona thought she was trapped in one of the pens until Apache walked over and showed her it wasn’t a lake.

I’m outa here!

Here are some other images from around the pens.

Here are my insect finds. most are new to me, but not the fire ants. They messed up my foot night before last.

I’ll close with more moody weather photos. It was a pretty interesting day after all.

Lughnasadh Blessing

Yesterday was not only our third anniversary of Vlassic arriving at our ranch, but it was Lughnasadh or Lammas, the early harvest festival in the Celtic tradition I enjoy observing (among many traditions).

This is our fun wheel of the year calendar we hang on the wall. You rotate it to put the current season on top. From sacredsource.com

One thing people do for this celebration is thank Mother Nature for her bounty. Today we’re thanking her for a surprise rain event that’s filled up the little pond and made some good puddles.

Lee’s new and improved drainage system also works!

We had already had an inch of welcome rain by the time I went out this morning, and we’ve had more heavy showers since. Wow, we might have the creek flowing well into this month! It had started to dry up from the previous rain, but this is a nice reprieve!

View out my window.

It’s a good thing Lee got lots of dirt moved around and made the bigger drainage pipes yesterday. His new pond might have gotten messed up.

Making a better path.

When he got overheated, he could sit and listen to his fountain, which makes it worthwhile!

Making things smooth. The rain will help!

I’m glad the horses are getting a free bath, and sure hope it dries out by afternoon! The rain has killed my ability to upload or download, so my work, both paid and voluntary, is hosed. The joys of rural life!

Note to grasshopper: that’s a fake plant. Hope it starts growing soon.

Enjoy whatever you’re celebrating this time of year. I’m going to rejoice in the fact that it’s only 77 F outside!

Happy 3 years to V. He is my biggest blessing of the season. Also, his nose seems to be healing.

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!

Reluctantly, the Dogs Have Their Vet Visit

Every year there are more dogs to look at here at the Hermits’ Rest. It makes the fee for the vet to come to us rather than us going to her quite the bargain. Yesterday, while I was in Austin away from the heat, Dr. Amy came out to see all seven dogs (Alfred, Goldie, Harvey, Carlton, Penney, Gracie Lou, and Vlassic). I always feel like I’m forgetting one, but it’s probably because Fiona is the size of Alfred.

They didn’t get rid of all my grass burs.

The big deal was that Alfred got his big problem dealt with, his dew claws. Both of the ones on his back legs have been problematic since he showed up. They grow in a circular shape, and eventually start growing into his leg, leading to pain and infections. Every time we cut them, he has to be sedated, and too much sedation isn’t good for dogs like him. So, we came to the decision that he’d need to have them removed, even though we’d wanted to avoid it.

So, when he finally got zonked out, they put sterile cloths under him where he fell (the floor in the entry to the house), and did it there. Lee has instructions for caring for the wounds and keeping him out of pain. He already walks better. Let’s hope this makes a big difference in Alfred’s quality of life.

Surprise! I’m overweight.

The other dogs got ALL their many shots (including rattlesnake vaccine), got de-wormed, and checked for heartworms (all negative). Lee says they all are getting a bit skittish. Maybe the horses warned them about vaccines?

We knew there’s have to be another sedation, because Vlassic was awful last time they went to trim his toenails, but his sharp toenails are a problem for poor Jim (and the rest of us, to be honest). When they went to get him, he showed up with a big…thing…on his nose!

What the heck?

Both Lee and the nephew had been playing with him earlier in the day, and he was fine then. Whatever it was happened during the afternoon yesterday. Dr. Amy said it looked like an encounter with something sharp, like a cactus or barbed wire (things we have in abundance).

Yuck.

It’s just horrible looking, though he doesn’t act upset. We have stuff to put on it twice a day, so it doesn’t get infected or worse. If he isn’t better in two weeks, she will try to remove it. It’s very weird that it came up so fast! Keep him in your thoughts. At least his toenails look way better!

But, he’s still happy

In other ranch news, chickens laid eggs in one of their new laying box choices, so I took the two that didn’t work out away. Now let’s see if the young hens ramp up and start producing.

And Drew was so happy to see me when I got home that it made up for the fact that I had a tire blow up about a quarter mile from the ranch entrance. I knew those potholes would be my downfall! But, I was driving slowly, so I didn’t lose control, and it’s entirely possible to get it fixed, eventually. I’m not going to stress about that!

New Chicks Are Laying, I Hope in the Right Place

There’s good chicken news all around. First, Star’s three days of solitary confinement seem to have worked, and she is now running around and acting like a normal hen again. That’s just in time, because this morning I found a new egg, on the ground, over by where the new hens hang out.

Big for a first egg

It’s a different shade of brown from any of the others, so I know it’s a new one. Plus, it’s really not much smaller than the eggs the older hens lay, so good job, whichever one of you laid that! However, the middle of the ground is not a great place to lay. I thought I’d better get some fake eggs to put in the boxes, since I keep taking up every egg I find (to thwart the snakes).

So, off I went to the local feed store. Of course, they didn’t have any, so I sat in my car and pondered other places where I could get some fake eggs. It dawned on me that I have some about ten feet from where I am sitting at my desk right now.

Yes, the bird themed bathroom has fake eggs in it (and non-bird items).

That was quite a duh moment, when I realized I hadn’t had to make that trip into town (though it was good to get gas). I went home and gathered up the fake eggs, as well as some sturdy cardboard boxes. The reason I did that is that the new chickens still seem more comfortable over in the west end of the chicken run, where they were when they first got here. So, I made a few nest boxes and stuck them in various potentially enticing spots. Since it probably won’t rain again for quite a while, cardboard will be fine, and when I figure out where they like to lay, I can get a wooden one made, or buy one.

Blondie is already checking one box out, and Betsy had been looking until I bothered her.

I also took some of the endless supply of grass clippings and fluffed up our other nest boxes, to try to get them interested in laying where the other hens do. I’ve seen them going in there and looking around, so maybe someone else is going to start laying soon!

Enticement

And if my fake yellow eggs disappear then, more’s the better. I’d like to see a snake digest one of them!

We’ll see, as Lee’s dad always said.

Broody Hen, Moody Horses

What better thing to do on a full moon than to try new things? Right. I did it anyway. Good ole Star went broody again, and with something taking the eggs every night, it was fruitless to let her set on them. What to do?

Do something about that hen!

She was also hogging the preferred egg-laying spot, which made me worry about the new chickens when they go to finally start laying. Hmm.

Enjoy a passion vine in bloom while imagining me trying to figure out what to do.

Finally, reading the backyard chickens for newbies group paid off. Someone shared that if you put a broody hen in a dog cage with airflow under it, they would feel the cool air under them and go back to normal. It’s called a broody breaker. Why, there’s one of those in our coop. So…

What are you in jail for?

I thought I’d need help, so I gathered Lee and Kathleen around. But all I needed was someone to open the door for me. I just picked her up and set her in there, with food and water. She is not happy. I hope this works!

It’s cute how all the other chickens keep checking on her. Bruce is especially concerned. He’s such a good rooster.

Moody Horses

I’m not having a lot of horse luck. I’m beginning to think it’s user error, and maybe I should not be riding until I get my lessons going. After not having much luck with Apache the previous day, I figured he’s not feeling well, so I just walked him (and Fiona) around.

Yet another picture of Apache eating.

He had just gotten out of his pen, so he really wanted to eat. That was frustrating, but we had fun anyway. Fiona followed us, and really seemed to enjoy exploring her new territory.

Hey, wait for me! (She’s that fit in the horizon)

Both of them liked the change of scenery, and I enjoyed the restful interlude.

This poison ivy looks fascinating.

I then tried to ride Andrew. I managed to eventually get the saddle and bridle adjusted for him. And he did okay in the round pen, but will now only go one direction. Anyway, I mounted, and he acted all barn sour and was hard to get to move out. Eventually he followed Dusty some, but I had to hood on through some spooking, and he crowded poor Kathleen and Dusty. In the end, Kathleen walked us around until neither he nor Dusty would do anything but investigate a feed dish. I’ll try another day. Who knows where the issue lies? I need help, but will get it soon.

I’m so glad Jim mowed. There’s hay everywhere. All I want to do is eat and gain weight and go lame. I’m a load of fun.

I just want a horse I can go riding on and learn new skills. I can’t do any of the exercises in the working equitation book, because I don’t have a clue what driving through the hindquarters means, and no horse of mine can side pass. I need patience! It’s not a race and is supposed to be fun. Maybe I’m the moody ones here.

Saturday Morning Ranch Sightings

Here at the Hermits’ Rest, weekend mornings start early for some and slow for others. But there’s always something lovely to see or fun to do. This morning was typical. Lee has started taking a walk every morning and asked me to join him. He may not do it again, as I had him go with me to feed the chickens and move Apache into his pen for the day, but we did eventually get to walking and looking at what’s growing and changing along our arroyo, which is still springy after the recent rains. I’m rather fond of the native plants and even the bad ole invasives (the water primrose) that line the stream.

It’s pretty to me.

Heck, to me tie vine is as lovely as fancy morning glories, and the ruellia is as pretty as a garden petunia. Plus, they are free!

A plant I hadn’t noticed much before is blooming right now, and the blooms are so tiny and hidden among the leaves that you almost wouldn’t notice them. It’s called scarlet toothcup (Ammannia coccinea). It’s a riparian plant, which means it grows in moist areas along streams and such. I think the little flowers are lovely.

Lee and I enjoyed many sights. What a great start to the day!

Next it was time to do some work, since the rest of the household had already been up working with horses and other chores. I got to help cut mesquite down where Sara’s horses currently are, in preparation for the cows that live here to rotate there. That was a lot of fun, and I saw some beautiful iron weed growing in that field.

It was good to be able to help by loading branches and opening gates. Plus, I got to see the other horses and more native plants and insects. I’ll spare you the endless supply of grasshoppers.

Everyone was busy this morning. The tenants were haying and Kathleen was horsing with her herd. I enjoy watching her ride. They’re all progressing according to plan, from what I can tell.

The dogs are just having fun, as usual, swimming, running, and rolling. I love seeing a happy Alfred!

All the Horse Health News That Fits the Blog

With all these skinny new horses, we have to keep an eye on their health. Kathleen was getting worried about some cuts on poor Mabel’s legs, and we both thought she seemed sad. We weren’t sure if she was sick or what.

Mabel in the stable

So today they took her to yet another equine facility, and Kathleen liked them a lot. Mabel got all bandaged up so she can heal from what are apparently rope burns from being tied, from a previous owner. That makes us all even more glad she is here now. Other than her weight, though, she’s okay. Her sadness is just her taking time to adjust to her new surroundings, which makes sense.

I think she already feels better, because while confined to the mini-pen we discovered can be made from our flexible gates, she actually came up to me and asked to be rubbed on. What a good sign!

What about me?

Meanwhile, my little pony Andrew (not really a pony) is also feeling better. Today’s the first day his eye hasn’t been all goopy in a week! I’m sure he’s glad people aren’t messing with his eyelids anymore!

These guys love each other, but Remi picks on Granny Amaretto

Today Lee had to take his car in for recalls in Rockdale, so I followed him and took the opportunity to get horse supplies from Tractor Supply. The highlight, for my steeds, was new hanging feed bowls for them, like Kathleen’s horses have. These hang on the fence and give them a chance to eat at a different height, which I read is good for them.

Happy spotted butts.

I also got a different girth for Drew, the kind the nephew recommended, and wormer for Fiona. She will love THAT. Plus, I got new treats. No sugar, low carb ones for a certain tubby paint horse. He ate one, so I guess they’re ok!

What about meee?

Don’t worry, dog lovers, my next blog will feature them!