Too Busy to Write!

I did so much over the weekend that I never got time to sit down, much less write about what I was doing!

Just for the beauty. Not a native tree!

A lot of my stuff was work-related, so I wrote about that over on the other blog. Much paint selecting, light fixture choosing, office rearranging and such. I’m actually quite surprised at how little my arms hurt after wrangling giant tables.

Fuzzy willow blossoms and a bit of the bluebonnet I was sniffing. They smell great.

Luckily, there was also some time to check out what’s blooming and flying overhead. I think the black willow flowers are really pretty, like fuzzy caterpillars.

Flying ducks

And all over town, as I was driving between projects, I enjoyed hearing the gurgling sounds of the black-bellied whistling ducks as they flew over.

I’ll try to get a closer photo.

I was not at all upset to need to take our helper, Kim, home, because I knew I’d get closer looks at the ducks. They really have day-glo beaks and feet! I love their visits, especially when I can spot them in trees.

Cedar waxwings backlit.

The cedar waxwings are still around, too, and their little chirps often surrounded me. Kim had to be very patient when I took a bunch of pictures. I had to!

And I’m friendly, too.

Saturday night we spent a bit of time with this fellow. He’d spent two weeks in the rye field across the road. He finally figured out there is a big gap in the fencing and took a stroll. After much discussion it was determined he didn’t belong to any neighbors and got taken to a sale barn where they’ll try to find his owner. You’d think someone would miss a Charolais bull this handsome.

See my sweaty back? I’m so tired.

My final weekend fun was getting the poor horses all sweaty. We went all over the ranch and did brave things. Fiona kept dawdling, so Sara and Spice kept herding her. Once we just waited in the cool shade of a wooded area. When Fiona finally made it, we looked down to see the grass higher than her belly. She looked like she was a toy in an Easter basket. Wish I’d had my phone!

More later. I guess it’s good to be busy!

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Green and Greener: A Photo Essay

Look! A fairy!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, the day when those of us with Irish ancestors (or Irish children or both) celebrate their heritage. This day always coincides with the part of the Texas spring when it’s so green that it almost hurts your eyes.

Dewberry on a fence

Each year I try to burn the spring green into my brain, to carry me through parched brown summers.

New growth

So, yesterday, when the late afternoon light was especially suited to enhancing the green of spring, I took many photos. Some were interesting. Others breathtaking. I hope you enjoy the Hermits’ Rest at its greenest.

The Hermits Creeklet with budding willows and dewberries.

Very green

Wow. That’s green. Alfred is king of the woods.
Cedar elm

My favorite
Baby blue eyes say thanks for looking.

Ranch Life. Not for Wimps

Yesterday I went to feed the horses but they would not come down to where we usually feed. They whinnied from the end of the narrow passage to their water trough.

We aren’t coming any closer, thanks.

I gathered their feed tubs and turned around to go get food. There I saw a very sad sight. A poor cow had died giving birth. Poor beautiful mama. I won’t share photos.

No wonder the horses would not come up. Even food didn’t convince them, so I took them their food.

Thanks for Indy, Human Mom.

Then I heard it’s harvest day for the sheep. Well, that’s their job and all, but sigh.

You really toughen up and remember life is hard when you live in the country.

But here are happy cows and green grass.

Weekend Ranch Excitement

It’s been a fun weekend here at the Hermits’ Rest. I managed to go horseback riding twice, which is rare, and Apache and I had lots of fun.

Sara is setting up our cone obstacle course.

Sara set up cones, so we got to ride in patterns. He did way better on Day 2, like he figured it out. I also prevented him from eating thistles unless it was my idea.

Today we went into the pasture where a lot of cattle were. Spice did a great job herding them, and Apache managed not to panic when a big mama came toward him. Baby steps.

The new veggie garden at the cabin. Tyler hopes it will be chicken free.

Meanwhile, Fiona was “helping” Tyler work on his new vegetable garden. And hee-hawing. He has patiently built a fence and covered it, to keep the chickens out. That’s nice of him.

Let me out of this car.

Even more exciting was the fact that the sheep’s owner had come to pick them up to shear them. She got the male in her SUV but the ewe would NOT be caught. She thinks she’s a cow, dang it. In the end, they let Sheep Man back out. That’s one for them!

Ooh! Carrots and celery! Thanks!

As for the chickens, they were excited this weekend by food fun. I got them some dried mealworms, which they love. They’re sort of creepy, though, because they look sort of alive when you pour them. Plus, they got even more excited when I bought them veggie leftovers from the dinner I was cooking.

One of these eggs is not like the other!

The it was my turn to get excited! The chocolate brown eggs have started! It’s amazing how tiny pullet eggs are. I want to save the shell!

Homemade chicken and dumplings. Comfort food rules.

Now to eat my chicken and dumplings. Dumplings are secretly flour tortillas cut up. Chicken is not from my hens!

Little Wonders

It’s a beautiful day today, so I’ve done a bit of wandering around. I’m always surprised at the beauty I see, just walking around the ranch.

Just a beautiful day to have dog fun.

Today the dogs and I checked out the arroyo, and they had a lot of fun sniffing and stomping, as usual.

That is a BIG hole. Glad I know where it is, so I won’t step on it.

I was surprised to see just how big the armadillo’s hole has gotten. Every time I walk by there’s more dirt outside it. That is one busy dillo.

You can’t really see as much orange as I saw in person, but hey, these will be a lot of delicous berries!

The trees and bushes are all budding out, and sometimes the color really surprises me. The dewberries are all red and yellow, and look almost autumnal!

A brief pause between screeches.

There are also many, many birds out today, including a family of mockingbirds who would really like to be left alone. They yelled and yelled at me for messing around in “their” tree, trying to get a picture of some raccoon poop. I think the raccoon may hang out in the tree, too.

But the best!

The best nature sight came slightly off the ranch, on our county road. I saw something white as I was driving into town this morning, so when I came back, I parked to check things out. There, in the middle of a field, were dozens of white irises. They were so pretty.

The irises are right in the center of this picture.

I wish I could have gotten closer, but you know, snakes. My guess is that there was once a house where the overgrown trees and such are now. There is still a huge oak that may have been planted by someone. And, next door, there are a lot of the same flowers planted around a tree. Maybe they dug some of the ones in the field up.

Here you can see the flowers and the big tree. And an annoying post.

I’ll just have to ask the people who live there one day!

Ranch Gets Clean with Donkey Help

Yesterday was the final day of the great chicken coop cleanup effort. Before that, though, I had to clean my dang horse, who has started to shed his thick winter coat. Fiona the mini-donkey did not want to be left out, either.

This may not be the right brand, but this is the sort of thing we used on the horses.

It was too cold for me to ride, but I wanted to hang out with Sara and brush Apache out. Of course, Fiona had to come along. Sara had bought these new miracle tools, which look suspiciously like something you’d clean your barbecue grill off with. I tried it out on the very dirty Apache, and wow, did a LOT of long white hairs come off. He seemed to like the way the cleaning tool felt, too. Neither Spice nor Fiona were shedding like Apache was. Must be the Arabian in him.

I’m embarrassed that my tail looks so perfect, so I”m hiding it. Snort.

While I was at it, I also trimmed his tail, since it was reaching the ground again and getting all dirty. I hope he appreciated it.

May I please come in?

I kept having to go back into the tack room to get things. I heard a noise, and there was my little “helper” wanting to come on in and check out the food dishes full of beet pulp that were soaking.

Fine, then, I’ll just go over and check out this hay, since these feed bowls are obviously empty.

When I told her to move, she happily went over to help get rid of that last bale of hay that was hanging around from when the horses were in the corral. Such a little darling.

Also had hen helpers

That’s Fluffy Butt in front, with Candi in back.

Later in the afternoon, I came back to finish cleaning out the chicken coop. I was very proud of myself for emptying out all 24 nest boxes and replacing the old mulch with new pine shavings, which are what the new chickens are used to, anyway. The job was made both harder and more fun by the new hens, who were very interested in “helping” me.

The golf balls are pretend eggs, Ralph says they work, so I put one in each next box.

In fact, after I finished, I was picking up more glass off the ground, and Fluffy Butt, the new Barred Rock hen, came up repeatedly, so I fed her some chicken scratch right out of my hand. She was very delicate!

A better view of fluffy pine shavings. Ah. Comfort.

About that time, Mandi and Randy showed up to help me with the floor and parts of the coop I could not reach. A real cleaning ensued, with the feed trough cleaned out, the top of the chick raising area cleaned, and ugh, a dead chicken that got wedged behind the cage removed (one final owl casualty, I guess, though it had been a while).

Mandi also swept all the droppings and stuff off the floor, which now will be some fine mulch, once it composts a bit more. It may be an old coop, but it’s a clean one now.

This picture is from before the floor got cleaned. Imagine it all smooth and with no poop.

Once Randy discovered the pieces of glass in the pen, he started picking it up, and by the time we were ready to go, we had another large amount of glass! I sure appreciated the help.

Now I’m just hoping that the new hens and the old hens get along. They definitely hang out in separate groups. But we already have a couple of eggs from the new gals. Hooray!

Great Hen Adventure Time!

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Entry to the farm. We knew we were in the right place.

Previously, I hinted that I was going to add some chickens to our flock. I’d met a woman at the Master Naturalist Christmas party named Cindy Vek, who told me all about her chicken farm, Bird and Bee Farm, between Rockdale and scenic Milano, Texas. I was intrigued.



A welcoming display from the Tom!

So, yesterday, Mandi and I fired up the big, black pickup and headed over there, first stopping at Tractor Supply for the supplies I’d needed earlier.



Welcoming committee.

I’m always grateful for map apps. It sure makes finding places way in the middle of the country easier. After a drive through some really pretty Milam County countryside, we found the place, conveniently labeled, as you can see from the first photo.

Continue reading “Great Hen Adventure Time!”