It’s time for a brief weather report. It’s windy. Very windy. Our windows are rattling and things are banging around outside. The wind chill makes it feel ten degrees colder. I agree with the profane weather app!
When you live in a big field, you really feel the wind. Plus, anecdotal evidence says it’s windier here than in many places. That’s based on long-term neighbor observations and our own careful study when we were siting our ranch house.
We lived weekends in an RV, and Lee recorded the wind direction. Thus our house doesn’t face the road. It’s a little crooked.
And there is always a patio out of the wind, or in it, if that’s helping when it’s hot.
That’s an important ranch life principle, to get to know your microclimate!
You may remember that our Australian Cattle Dog, Brody, has been limping since early last week. Lee was unable to get him to the vet last Thursday, due to the floods, but this week he got Bro-Bro in to Dr. Amy (she is only in town on Thursdays, and Brody is not great at traveling long distances).
For her to be able to look at his foot, she had to sedate him, so Lee left him at the Fancy Vet Trailer and came back later to find a dopey fellow who had trouble licking his face.
The diagnosis was a severe cut between his toes, but nothing broken. It also was not infected or healing wrong, so that was even more good news. Because Brody is out in the woods and such all the time, we got some antibiotics just in case it gets messed up later.
As a bonus, he got clean ears. He seems to have some proclivity to messing them up, too. Otherwise, he’s now back home, still limping, but putting more weight on his foot. He’ll live!
We have a guest blogger today, my friend and fellow member of the Hermits’ Rest community, Mandi.
First, I will go back to lay the scene. When the sheep first came to the ranch, I set out to make them understand I was a friend, because sheep and goats can get through any fence that water can get through. Many years with goats and every fencing imaginable has taught me that. I needed to be able to call them somehow, if I ever needed to put them back in the pen (hich has happened).
I am very much one of those people who is going to give my animals, your animals, a passing by animal, etc. a treat if I have the chance. The two sheep would hang around, fascinated when we fed the horses. They wanted what was in their feed bins.
This made Fiona (or FiFi as I call her) very annoyed. Apache (Patchtastic) and Spice (No real nickname, I just yell, “Hey Spice! Tell me what you want, what you really, really want!”) had the “Munch, Munch, GET BACK, Munch, Munch.” reaction to them. But Fiona is only little, so to the sheep she is just a really weird looking sheep with big ears.
Just wanted to share that the owl seems to have literally flown the coop, and we haven’t lost a chicken in a couple of weeks.
As you can see, they are looking happy. Buckbeak is glowing! We have at least ten left.
And we are now getting ONE egg per day! 100% improvement over zero! Let’s hope things keep picking up from here. I’m still looking into coops, but it’s sorta complicated.
Other bird news
I saw a cool bird sight on my way back from feeding the chickens yesterday. I stopped to punch in the gate code and heard a lot of commotion. Much screeching and cawing. I saw half a dozen of our large crows yelling at a hawk, who was yelling back.
It looked like the hawk had robbed the crows of something. The crows took turns pecking until one of them got the hawk away from crow territory. That crow kept circling back and making it very clear that Crows Rule!
Look at this Austin sunset! We’re having a bumper crop this year!
Here’s a doggie who could use your thoughts for a while. Our poor Brody always seems to get the bad end of his brotherly altercations with the other dogs (mostly Harvey; they are so well matched that they have never been able to decide who’s number one).
Last week they had their monthly battle while I was in Austin, so I missed it. Lee said Harvey bit Brody on the foot, causing it to bleed. He got that stopped, but Brody still can’t put weight on his foot. Of course, the day the vet was in town happened to be the day Lee was stuck at the ranch because of the rain.
We’re pretty sure he has a broken toe, and since you can’t really put a dog toe in a case, we are just treating him with pain killers and rest.
Well, we try to get him to rest, but he has figured out how to run and jump and perform all his usual antics on just three legs. We went on a long walk yesterday, and he even took off after a rabbit.
Unfortunately, Carlton, the very white dog, also took off after it. The rabbit went through the spring that’s been flowing again since all the rain started the past few months. Carlton came back very strongly resembling a dalmatian. He had fun, though.
A bonus horse story
The horses had less fun in the mud. There is a spot near where they usually eat that has mud like a foot deep. Both Apache and Spice have slipped in it and nearly fell. When Spice did it, she ran off, splattering Sara’s back with another dalmatian effect! Nonetheless, we have found the water hazards that have popped up are great horse confidence builders. Apache is always really proud of himself when he gathers his courage and marches across a big puddle.
I’ll get those photos taken and continue with the arts and crafts series next!
Let’s recover from my downer of a post last time by looking at a beautiful animal that can defend itself, good old Alfred the Anatolian Shepherd.
I walked into the living room at the ranch last weekend to see Big Al stretched out on the new couch, and he looked so beautiful and peaceful that I couldn’t bring myself to ask him to move.
He’s looking pretty good other than a couple of burrs in his ears, and is feeling so good now that he is on a daily glucosamine and pain medication regime. It makes me so happy to see him romp and play with the other dogs. Something that large acting like a puppy just has to make you smile.
Since he’s feeling better, he’s a lot more patient with the younger dogs, and will sit there and bat at them as they crawl all over him, like a very patient elder statesman.
He isn’t all that old, probably a bit over 2 years, but his size and dignity lend him a kind of gravitas.
He does great work keepying the coyotes at bay (and they do like to get close), and at the same time, he’s very kind to the cattle behind the house. He knows he is protecting them.
About the Cattle
I just have a little aside about the other dogs and the cattle. Brody the cattle dog and Carlton the extremely white fellow love to chase cows. Well, the ones we have behind us now have been there for many months, and they are wise to the dogs.
When Brody goes after them like a rocket, they turn around and look at him like, “oh, him again,” eventually herding HIM back to the fence, where he barks as if he’s in command.
And the cattle have developed a game with Carlton. He will chase them back about twenty feet. Then they will chase HIM about twenty feet. Back and forth they go until someone gets tired. The cattle are really obviously playing, which usually they don’t do once they get to a certain size.
I know the dogs aren’t supposed to make them run, so they will be more marbled, but these are mama cows who get to hang around a long time. They can have a little fun, I think!
When I went to feed the chickens yesterday, for the first time since I got back from vacation, I was sad to see that one of the latest victims to our resident owl was Big Red, the rooster with the red eyes. He just loved sunflower seeds, and Mandi said she realized he was gone when no one came to the stable for their treats.
I’m really sad about the chicken situation, though we did get the first egg in many weeks yesterday. The only way to keep the owl out would be to cover the chicken yard, but it’s not my chicken yard, and the person who built it is not interested in adding netting. Plus, my house is too far away to keep an eye out on the poor things.
That leaves me and Mandi with the not-so-fun task of coming in every few days to find we are down another chicken. I feel like it’s sort of cruel to subject them to nightly terror like that. I am also not thrilled with having to dispose of them, even though I am trying to be the “tough ranch person.”
Before you ask, the chickens are much too old to eat, not that I want to eat them; that’s why they are now MY chickens. My former co-owner wanted to make them into sausage, and I didn’t. Who knows, maybe he had the better idea after all.
So, if you would like a nice chicken, I have a variety to choose from. We still have a few Americaunas, some red ones, some black ones, and two black-and white ones. And Buckbeak, the older rooster, is still with us.
I don’t have any chicken transportation devices, but I’d give you food and stuff if you want to get them. I am sure they will start laying again soon, now that the days are getting longer and if they aren’t so worried about owls. I really like these guys, as you can see in my first chicken post.
It’s illegal to kill an owl, you know. I learned that in Master Naturalist Class! I’d just prefer not to provide them with so much food. There are plenty of free doves out there.
Both Mandi and I want chickens, so I hope to be able to get a secure chicken house with a large covered run closer to my house. Alfred might be able to help guard them, and it would be easy for me to lock them inside at night. Mandi hopes to put a chicken house on her property, too. I hope this is soon. I miss sharing eggs with my coworkers.
Today was beautiful, sunny and cool, but not cold. It was a perfect day to saddle up the paints and explore the big pasture.
Apache was amazingly well behaved as we warmed up, but Spice had a hard time when Sara went to mount her and the men working with unhappy bulls decided to turn them loose. So much yelling and mooing!
But she was fine after that, and we checked out many interesting things, including delicious sedge in the wet spots, Mandi’s house across the road, many pretty heifers, and a fascinating stick.
Things that interest horses are very different from what interests us!
I was both chagrined and happy to realize I’d forgotten to leave my phone at the tack room (because I don’t want to fall and break it). The light was golden and bright in the late afternoon, though, so having the camera let me record these moments.
I have been over-doing it in the decorating, lifting, toting, and moving department for the last week or two. I need to learn to do a few things, say “good progress, me,” and stop.
But no, once I get into a frenzy of decorating, unpacking, or moving furniture, I cannot stop until I feel like it looks to some unknown outsider like I’m finished.
So today, despite having a sore back from lifting heavy objects the day before, not only did I completely decorate my new office in the old church building we bought, but I unpacked all the other office stuff, “cleaned” the kitchen (really made it less dirty), then rearranged all the furniture in the main room of the church building to look like a meeting area, an eating area, and a lounge area.
I felt all justified when an unexpected visitor (the president of the bank who loans our business money a lot) showed up. It looks like people are working here, even though it is obviously an unrenovated space.
My guess is that I am, at my core, a nester. I feel incomplete if the space I am in does not feel comfortable. Still, someoene MAKE ME STOP.