Isn’t it about time I got back to nature observations? I think we all could use some sweet stories and pretty photos, so I’ll try to give you some of each.
The Dangling Finchlet
First, I’ll tell you about the house finch families who have taken up residence at the Hermit Haus, who entertain me and Mandi when we hang out by the carport. They sing and sing, and fly right next to us or sit in big groups chirping and looking spiffy (especially the males).
Well, as we came out to leave this afternoon and I was trying to load paper towels in the car, something brushed against me. I looked left, and there was a poor little baby finch flailing away, but unable to fly off, because a piece of nesting material was stuck on its leg.
To get to the Hermits’ Rest, you have to go 2.2 miles down a county road for the last leg. As a county road in a poor county, you don’t expect immaculate maintenance. But, you might expect to be able to go in a straight line.
Not on our road! You know it’s a local driver when you see a lot of weaving and slowing down. There are spots where those in the know look like they are doing a slalom. There are areas on the hill where people driving what they think is a reasonable speed can go airborne.
We call that the roller coaster. When you first turn onto County Road 140 there’s what we call the washboard. It’s caused hubcaps to fall off. And there are at least two danger pits where I have no doubt people unfamiliar with the road have experienced damage to wheels or suspension systems.
When we brought Harvey home from where he was dumped at the Rattlesnake house, the vet said he was about the same age as Brody, so I assigned him the summer solstice as his birthday. Sigh. Brody would be four now.
Anyway, Harvey is doing well. Not as porky as he was for a while, thanks to Carlton keeping him moving, but nowhere near the bag of bones he was when Ralph first found him cowering across the street, waiting for his owners to come back.
He seems a lot calmer now, and less prone to his growling habit. He only gets testy when Carlton gets too relentless in his play requests. He also enjoys running and playing with Vlassic, which provides us with hours of fun.
He looks so incredibly happy when I get back from Austin every week that it makes me tear up sometimes. All that love coming barreling at me warms my heart. He and Alfred both just have the most expressive faces.
That’s really all I have to share. I just don’t talk as much about Harvey, it seems, but rest assured he’s always in my heart.
[Note: that should say “toad,” as you will see later, but I like that the title rhymes.]
Last night, while our merry community members were sitting on our porch watching the weather, we noticed that Vlassic, the little black dachshund mix was looking at something else. He was very intently observing the water trough that the dogs drink from and swim in (one that will soon hold some fish).
We soon realized he had spotted a frog-like creature in the trough, who seemed to be trying to get out, but with little success. Upon further examination, it appears to be a Woodhouse’s toad, but I’m waiting for confirmation on that. We had a long discussion about the difference between frogs and toads, but hey, they all go rivet rivet.
Meanwhile, Vlassic was running up and down, sticking his feet into the tub to try to reach his little buddy. It was really entertaining, so we let it go on.
Yowee! Did we ever get a variety of weather yesterday! After a muggy morning, clouds began to build up, but rain kept going all around us (which often happens, at least in our perception. I guess severe weather is just going to be the norm as “global heating” continues.
The wind got whippier and whippier, though, and by the time we were getting Father’s Day dinner ready, it became quite breezy on the porch, where we spent a lot of time watching clouds make interesting formations.
After eating our harvested squash, fresh beans, most delicious little roasted potatoes, and yum yum, a great meat loaf by Sara, we realized the wind was really, really hard and it was much cooler.
As the days grow longer and longer here in Texas, our harvest starts arriving. It’s lots earlier than in other parts of the US, where nothing’s ready until August, but hey, it gets hot here early.
Some Good News
This has been a great year, too, with the rain continuing to fall much later than usual. It’s raining now, in fact, and it’s only 79 degrees (too bad it was up to 93 at the end of our horseback ride this morning).
I think I’ve mentioned that our neighbor Tyler started a vegetable garden this year. Yesterday, as I was looking for chickens, I peeked in and saw a really, really big yellow squash. And Tyler is out of town.
So, this morning after putting up the horses and Fiona (who went with us on our whole ride and caused no trouble), Sara and I went in and harvested the giant squash and zucchini that were lying under the large, healthy vines. We have to hand it to Tyler, his fencing and netting combination have worked great to keep meddling animals, birds, and others out of his crops. We left him plenty of small squash to harvest for himself once he gets home.
There’s always a surprise lurking around the Hermits’ Rest. Some of them are dangerous. I came home from checking the chickens and snakes yesterday evening to see Alfred with “something” between his legs. He sure looked happy.
Upon closer inspection it appeared to be, um, skin. Huh? He was loving it. If Carlton or Vlassic approached, he roared like a lion. It seemed to be skin from a deer.
Lee said Carlton found it by the arroyo. But Alfred took it over. Okay.
Later, I needed some exercise, so Lee and everyone except Alfred went for another walk. The light led to many stunning photo ops. I turned around after taking a picture, I saw Vlassic emerge triumphantly from the tall grass, with something as big as himself in his mouth, with Carlton trailing behind.
Oh my. I think it’s the other side of the deer. Yep. Where’s the inside? Where did it come from? Our guess is that someone had the hide on the back of their truck after dressing a kill, and it blew off. Well, it isn’t deer season. Hmm.
Any ideas? Who or what did this?
And watch your toes! And your nose!
As Lee and I were heading back to the house, we saw what looked like yet another hunk of skin. Oh no.
But I quickly recognized the shape. It was Snappy, our resident snapping turtle. Or maybe Son of Snappy (or daughter). I was glad the dogs were off rolling in poop, because I could do without them losing a toe or nose.
Luckily only Vlassic spotted Snappy, and he listened when we told him no. We got the dogs in safely.
I later looked out the window and saw Snappy ambling on toward the pond behind the house. I guess it was pond switching time.
I’ve had enough weird and dangerous things for a little while.
When we first moved to the ranch, I was worried that it would be isolating living so far out here. That’s what Lee, the hermit, wanted. I wanted to have a community to enjoy life with, as well as some peace and quiet. I’m happy to report we are well on our way to a real community out here.
We were relieved to find a place near our friends Sara and Ralph, who warmly welcomed us when we first got here and really helped us set things up. And what would I do without my horse riding companion? Life would not be the same without these folks. We’ve also been lucky to make friends with Cathy, who lived at the cabin when we first arrived, and Tyler, who lives there now and does my snake handling.
When we added Mandi and her family over at Rattlesnake, wow, we could have been happier. They are so helpful in so many ways. One son cares for the horses and hens when I’m in Austin, and another has been helping Ralph with his mowing. Grateful for them.