Neighborhood Crime Drama

Usually the biggest criminal activity on our road at the ranch is people driving way too fast (once you know how to drive weird and avoid the potholes, I guess you can do that). Mandi and I are watching YOU, white dually that is not Gary’s and shiny red pickup!

cows under a tree
When not sleeping, these ladies are also watching bad drivers.

We worry about it, because we have two neighbors who jog or walk down the road often, a guy on the world’s slowest scooter, and a family that enjoys going down the road in their utility vehicle. These seem like easy targets for someone driving fast and looking at their phone (like the above folks).

However, today, there’s evidence of a Federal crime, right at the edge of our property, where the Vrazels’ other cattle are!

mailbox that is damaged.
That doesn’t look good. Note you can see our house. Thanks to the criminal for obliterating the address stickers for privacy.

Someone shot up the mailbox of the family across the street from us rather thoroughly. At first I thought someone had put a firecracker in it, but then I saw all the shotgun shells. Whoa!

damaged mailbox
That’s just so classy. Not.

It’s odd that all the other mailboxes were fine. Sure, there can be many explanations. Maybe it was a birthday prank. Maybe they planned to get a new mailbox and shot up the old one for fun. Right next to the road, near valuable livestock, and in line of sight of our house. Glad they just blasted parallel to the road, I guess.

Feel free to imagine the reactions among our family. The one I am not scared sh**less of involves another game cam to detect vehicles. I didn’t call the sheriff, since it isn’t my mailbox and I’m pretty sure the mail carrier will report it. Federal crime, tampering with mailboxes!

Anyway, I feel bad for the neighbors, since the mailbox may have had sentimental value, having belonged to the previous resident, their family matriarch. Sniff.

Safety Time at the Pope House

What an achievement! We have half a safe stair rail at the new office. Today, Chris got the big rail all painted a shiny black. It was cool how he held it up.

Later he and our strong assistant administrator, Meghan, hauled the gigantic contraption upstairs. I think they’re both glad that only has to happen once!

It looks pretty good, doesn’t it? I’m obviously feeling very safe now that it’s screwed in. Yes. Safety achieved. Now he’s working on the smaller stair section, which shouldn’t take too long.

Woo hoo! Rails!

As for my office, I just did a few little things. I brought over the big art pieces and even hung my favorite! Tomorrow the rest of the furniture comes, other than the computer. Can’t actually work here until it’s all certified.

Sitting in my chair looking at flowers.

I ordered lighter and pinker rugs for the seating areas and a very pink chair to put in the dark corner. All was deeplyon sale, so if it looks awful, I can change it.

Sure, I Relax

It was nice to get home from work and think about what’s eternal.

One thing is learning. I’m loving the book I’m reading, perhaps too much. The person who wrote How to Be an Antiracist has managed to clarify all sorts of muddy questions and gut feelings I have about race, class, and political systems. Perhaps this is not the most relaxing book ever, but it makes so much sense that my brain feels tidier or something. More on this when I’m done!

The other eternal thing is life going on about its cycles. I’m surrounded by birth, death, old age, and metamorphosis every day. The new calf, Nicole’s son who will arrive in a month, the lady in Cameron who died in the fire and had cooked all those burgers, Lee and me, a butterfly. I treasure all of it!

Now to stop writing so much and share photos of what relaxes me.

Tomorrow will be Rip’s week-a-versary.
He liked head rubs.
Gulf fritillary.
Happy to enjoy our golden years (ha ha) at the Hermits’ Rest.

Office Move, Phase 2

Today I spent my lunch hour moving some of the things I can carry myself over to my new office. First, Chris helped me position the desk on the rug, so we know that will work fine.

Ooh, what’s behind the door?

Then, I brought in my plants, who will be happy to have a “home” at last. I was able to bring over my hat rack, chairs, and some big decor items, and it already is looking cozy.

Ooh, why is the plant blocking our view?

Most of the stuff in the office will shift around as we finish things off, but it makes me happy already.

Ooh! It’s the desk!

What’s Next?

This weekend I will get the filing cabinet and rolling drawers moved over, as well as a bookcase I’m gonna use until Chris makes the built-ins behind my door.

Ooh, look at all the stuff. It’s the view from the desk chair.

My office chair will come in from the ranch house, too (that one fits better in the room. And I’ll build the big bookcase that’s in a box in the bathroom. I’m hoping Lee can help hold up some parts while I put it together. I want to let Chris concentrate on the stair rails.

Ooh, the seating nook. It needs the lamp and a table. And no one likes that rug. The little fireplace will be sitting on the tile at right.

After that, all the furnishing will be done. We are still waiting for the glass in the interior window and the shelves that will go in there. That will hold shiny glass stuff. The glass top for the desk is also important, especially since leaving the doors outside for so long has additionally “aged” them. More character! I do have a smaller piece of glass on my current desk that will be a fine substitute.

Ooh, you can see the red inside the desk from here. The new chair will be white. My big tree art will go above the upholstered chair.

And Chris said he would build a cool custom shelving unit behind the door, which will be triangular. I have a hanging light fixture for the seating area that will need some work to install, plus something to hang the spider plant from.

Ooh, I like my pink vases. Wish I’d gotten the third one before Pier 1 went out of business. My sister gave me the cool old chair.

But I can use the office while that’s going on, for sure. And I can leave things in the old office until there’s a spot for them. I hope you enjoy the current pictures, and look forward to Phase 3 (with maybe some art, too!) as much as I do. It’s the most exciting thing of my quarantine period! Well, maybe next to Rip the bull calf.

That bottle will go somewhere else. But, that’s the view from the desk.
Bathroom door shut. Peace plant in corner. I can hang a picture from those electrical conduits.
The hat rack and second seating nook with mother-in-law tongue plant. That door is permanently closed. There will be art above the door, probably my bluebonnet painting. The filing cabinet will be under the window.

Two hours later: I already decided I didn’t like the way the chair looks in the above photo, so I moved it.

Ooh, that’s better.

Happy Farming

Everyone is finally settling in at the ranch. All the chickens seem to get along fine now that they’re free ranging. And a sign of this happiness was we had a three-egg day today, the first since Lacy Legs passed a few months ago. I’m grateful to whichever new pullet is finally laying!

New hen, Bertie, and Fancy Pants!

They are tons of fun to watch outside, and are friendly as heck. I gave them a big overripe tomato this evening, which led to great joy.

And little Rip is hungry as heck, which is great.

Mmmmilk

He even sucked on my finger today. He has a cute little black tongue and is quite gentle. I obviously could not get a photo of that, so here are his milky little lips.

It’s Office-ial

The day I’ve been waiting for has come! Fancy Pants finally started laying eggs again! That took a while.

No longer Miss Broody! I love her ombré eggs.

No, that’s actually not the big news. It’s that I am able to put things in my new office. Chris said so!

Ooh. Ahh. The rug in the back left blends in a bit much, so I may change it out.

The rug for my floor magically showed up, so Lee and I spread it out. Hmm. It’s blue. No idea why I bought that rug, but the color goes nicely with the ceiling and the wall decor thing.

Looking out. The window will have stained glass hanging in it. The bathroom contains the bookshelf that I’ll build this weekend.

The pole thing shows where my desk will go, approximately. The desk has made it to the Pope house, but isn’t put together yet. I’m not sure if we’ve ordered the glass for it yet.

The window in this picture will be frosted to let in light but have privacy.

It looks like this weekend I’ll move more stuff in, though I’ll have to stay at the other office until we can officially occupy the building. The stair rail is almost done, too!

My favorite view, where you can see the ceiling. Picture the little stove over by the mantel, a chair in the corner, and my desk on the rug.

Hey, Hay!

I think the long saga of me needing hay for Apache is over for a while, at least. It’s nice to have kind Master Naturalist friends to come to my rescue.

I thought I was getting square bales from Pamela, who lives nearby, but it turned out her baling guy would make no fewer than 200 bales (understandably). I just don’t have the funds for that.

Pre-moved hay and great sign.

So then my other Master Naturalist friend, Cindy, said she had some old hay for my preferred price (her new hay was too expensive, and besides, the older the better for Apache). That’s probably the best for us, anyway.

That is one neat tack room.

So, after work, Chris and I took a trailer down to Cindy’s place, which is even more beautiful than I imagined. It’s a Suna Dream Property. While I enjoyed her Tennessee Walking Horses, Chris loaded the hay with the help of another Master Naturalist, Sam, and another nice helper.

They’d already taken the hay out of the hayloft, so it went quickly.

We got to look around and chat, too, which was so nice. I miss my friends! It was worth sweating away in masks! It’s a fine bonus to getting the hay. Also, I was so busy looking around and chatting that I didn’t get many pictures.

I also didn’t get any pictures of unloading the hay. At least here’s a picture or two of the loaded hay.

I went to get Lee’s brother a burger, and the onion rings took so long that I totally missed unloading the hay! But the food was good, so yay. And I did get photos of the beautiful stacks Chris made.

Speaking of beautiful, I tried to get a gorgeous picture of Fiona and yet another fine sunset, but every time I stepped back to take a picture, she followed me. This is my best try!

Here I come, Mommy.

By the way, my friends’ beautiful horse property is for sale. Want to bring your horses and come live near me?

Too Much Right Now

There’s just so much in my head that I’ve no time nor ability to write. I was analyzing work stuff in my dreams last night. I couldn’t stop dreaming about data.

Hey, grasshopper, you’re supposed to distract me.

I’ve pushed through everything today, which is great, but there’s still more coming up! Being occupied with work challenges isn’t all bad, of course. It keeps your mind off the state of the world, sick friends, and natural disasters.

That’s really a cool color!

I did enjoy a lovely sunset last night after the wee bit of rain. And I reconnected with a friend from grad school whom I greatly admired and had thought about often.

Plus, I can disguise myself with even more masks, since I got some pretty ones in the mail. Guess I’m not a plain black mask person.

I’m blinding and blingy.

Hope you’re handling your surprises and learning curves today. We’re all in it together.

Spooky pretty.

More Little Bits of Goodness

Today has not sucked. Chris is back at work on the Pope house, so I got a glimpse of the stair rail progress. Ooh.

Rail in progress.

And I got an awesome mask from my friend Angela in Austin, who knows I love The Who. She made me one like her husband’s. I looked better in the picture where it’s upside down, so you get two pictures.

Plus! Look what I found today! That’s right, one of the “new” hens finally went into production! I think they may all have white eggs, so I don’t know who laid it. But yay.

White pullet egg.

And…it rained a little. Enough to cheer up the free ranging chickens (and guinea).

Clucking in the rain!

I hope you had some small bits of goodness today.

This DID Go as Planned (Yay Apache)

One thing went really well, yesterday, and that was all my interactions with the equine family members.

When I went out to let Apache and Fiona out to graze, Fiona followed me out the gate and acted like she wanted to hang out. So, I had some bonding time with her. I got her all brushed and pretty, then we went for a nice walk together.

I decided to come on into the tack area, to see what Big Red’s food tasted like.

Fiona’s really improved on her walking on a lead lately, and it was a pure joy to go out and about with her. I decided to try to take some nice pictures of her, but she wasn’t very cooperative.

We had a nice visit from Spice and Lakota, who were in the next pasture. They seemed genuinely glad to see Fiona, though Lakota will NOT get close to the electric fence. I think he’s had a bad experience or two.

In the evening, I came back to meet with Sara and put Fiona and Apache back in what I am now calling the Pen of Deprivation (no grass, no fun). Apache had been out four whole hours. We tried taking him on a walk down the dreaded race, and he showed no signs of lameness.

I can even walk over the poles. Yay me. And I am so skinny. I want grass.
I just had to share this picture of Spice being really happy to see me. She’s a good girl.

In fact, he started acting like his old self and not behaving well. I was thrilled to see him acting “normal” and got to work correcting his pushing and rushing. Then, when we got to the part of the race he hurt himself on before, he said it was time to stop. I think he stepped awkwardly on a rut.

I asked him if his foot hurt, and he pawed the ground. I took that as a yes. So, to end on a good note, I had him walk up to me, and we happily turned around and went toward home. He walked just fine on the way back.

Sara and I agree that between his obvious better spirits and the really crappy shape our grass is in, he can probably be turned out half the day or so. That will make both him and Fiona much happier. This fills me with joy! I may even get to ride again!