My family likes to renovate homes. You may already know that! We’re low on actual homes, so it became time to renovate the rolling home, Seneca the Motorhome. Lee had a plan to make himself a rolling home office.
We hardly ever use the dinette that converts to a bed fit only for children. So, the men of the house got to work. It wasn’t too hard to get anything out except the seat belts. Those were in really well, which was a good thing when I was riding in there.
They unbolted the dining table and put it up the correct height to be a desk. They had to put it next to the couch, because that’s where electrical outlets are. I think it’s a good spot.
I like that you can more easily get to the bathroom when the slide outs are closed. And a person could watch television and work, as long as that person isn’t Lee. He needs to concentrate. He’s ordered a desk chair that will look good, and there will be tie-downs to keep the chair secure when we’re on the road.
I ordered a nice little vacuum cleaner for all the past and no doubt future mouse turds. It didn’t help that dog food was lodged under the dinette! All in all, I’m looking forward to our next outing.
The Bull Part
This started my day off right Sunday. I headed out to feed the chickens and check on the horses and noticed the horses were all near the pens, not out grazing. They do that sometimes, so it wasn’t a big deal. Then I realized something was amiss.
Hmm. Droodles and Apache were in the bull’s pasture and Haggard was relaxing in a horse pen. Interesting.
I was briefly concerned that I wouldn’t be able to set them back to not, but as the photo hints, the horses came back to be petted as soon as they saw me. Then Haggard just got up and sauntered back where he belonged.
Fiona wouldn’t come back, so she was stuck on the other side once I re-shut the gate (which some equine must have opened). By the time I came back to ride horses, she was braying to come back. No bull!
It was just a nice day yesterday. It ended with a big family dinner including the whole gang, for once. Vlassic enjoyed that we were all outside a lot. It was too nice to stay inside! We Texans treasure pleasant weather whenever it shows up.
I always wonder what the animals do all say when I’m working. Today I snuck out and spied on Goldie, to see what was going on in the woods. Soon the whole pack joined her for a very important meeting with the neighbors.
Apparently, the dogs and cattle had some items to discuss, and Goldie was in charge of getting things going.
At the above point, Vlassic and this calf appeared deep in conversation. The calf was nodding and seriously considering what Vlassic had to offer.
And the party is continuing as I type. The animals seem to genuinely enjoy their interactions. Humans with the agenda of napping, however, wish they’d find another venue for their get-togethers.
Today was fun until it wasn’t. I mostly practiced Tunisian crochet, thanks to a little book called Tunisian Crochet Workshop that I found on Kindle for free. It has good photos and clear instructions, so I was able to get through a bunch of different stitches on a sampler.
Simple stitch is the standard. The other ones I liked were knit, mesh, and extended. Reverse is icky. Good thing purl is similar. Anyway, now I know some stitches.
I spent some time today enjoying the dogs. I always hear them in the backyard barking. I realized they were barking at cows, but today I got proof that it’s fun for all involved.
The dogs bark, the mamas paw the ground, and the calves bounce up and down, trying to play. It’s so much fun to watch!
Alfred didn’t want me too close to the scary cows. When he realized I was approaching, he got between me and the action and herded me back. What a sweetie.
I wish Alfred had been there to protect me later. I’m having a lot of awkward moments. Yesterday I hurt my shoulder tossing saddles around. Today Drew and I got entangled in a rope and both fell down! That could have been a lot worse. He got clover stains and I hit my head and hand. No one bled.
I managed to get Drew saddled and we did all our stuff just fine, so I guess we weren’t hurt too badly. But when he was free, he sure rolled a lot. Thankfully, Apache is still calm and cool, so I managed to do fine with him. I’m so grateful for him. And glad Drew is forgiving.
Tomorrow I shall spend time in the hot tub. I need it.
There was frost last night! It’s amazing how quickly it goes from boiling hot to frost around here. Luckily none of my plants were damaged, since I thought they’d still be ok outside. I look forward to putting them in the greenhouse, though!
I decided to take one more sweep of the ranch for the pollinator BioBlitz, just to see if I would find anything different, and I’m glad I did, because I did stumble upon a few things. I’d say the most interesting one is the buffalo gourd.
Here’s some info on these plants, which Lee’s dad called “smell apples.” I’m always amused by giant squash in the middle of the pasture.
Cucurbita foetidissima is a tuberous xerophytic plant found in the central and southwestern United States and northern Mexico. It has numerous common names, including: buffalo gourd, calabazilla, chilicote, coyote gourd, fetid gourd, fetid wild pumpkin, Missouri gourd, prairie gourd, stinking gourd, wild gourd, and wild pumpkin. The type specimen was collected from Mexico by Alexander von Humboldt and Aimé Bonpland sometime before 1817. In Latin, foetidissima means ill smelling.
The feral perennial buffalo gourd has evolved in the semiarid regions and is well-adapted to desert environments. It contains high amounts of protein and carbohydrates and yields abundant oil. The carbohydrates that are formed in the tap root have led to the idea of growing the plant for biofuel.
The fruit is consumed by both humans and animals. When mature, a stage marked by increasing desiccation of vine, leaves, fruit-stem, and fruit, the fruit begins its final gourd stage. (from iNaturalist/Wikipedia)
I enjoyed seeing things other than the plants, too. There was a kettle of black vultures circling around. And I identified what they were all gathered around recently on my son’s driveway/access road. It was a skunk. What a cool skeleton! And I got greeted by the current “bull in residence” in the pasture next to ours. He is really friendly and beautiful. I look forward to his babies.
It’s pretty this time of year, and the grass has greened up a little. Finding plants is hard, so I’ve resorted to looking for spring plants that are coming up already and some pretty sad drought-damaged dock. But they all count, and I’m still ranked in the 30s in the BioBlitz. Wait until tomorrow. My camera will be snapping like crazy on the field trip I’m attending in Houston.
I was happy to see all the twin calves having a good time in the pasture behind us. The cow who was hugely pregnant did indeed have twins. I’m sure she’s really glad to get them OUT of her. The little one’s a hoot. He got hungry and started bellowing for her. She came through!
It’s simply restorative to just take in all that you see around here. Then I feel good heading in for more technical writing and helping lovely people with their software dilemmas. I even enjoyed the sparrows that eat all my chicken food. And of course, my horsies!
Another day of horse lessons has come and gone. And while my lesson with this innocent student was enlightening, I would have come away happy just having watched Sara.
Apache was very frisky this morning, probably because a front came through.
We started out sweaty at 9 am and ended up shivering by 1! I did round pen with him before we left, and ooh he was jumpy. And once we got to the training ranch, he was not interested in human agendas.
He did ok until the trainer got on, at which point he decided he didn’t want to do anything. It was so fascinating to watch her work through his stubbornness. There was lots of backing and angry horse faces. I didn’t take pictures, because I was watching so hard. She did stuff I am not capable of yet. And eventually he did fine. I even rode him better than last time and dealt with his issues.
He’s not easy. He hurts and has been ridden poorly. By me. But we are progressing. I ended my essay with a smile on my face, happy with all my progress and the support I got.
We were all glad for the lesson to end. But Apache was still antsy. I was glad to leave him to eat some hay and deal with calmer animals. That included Christmas the bull. Sure, he looks intimidating.
I had no idea he was tame, but he came up to me and licked my hand clean, then requested that he get some pets on his forehead and between his horns. Then, his cow companion came up and wanted a turn. This love fest was just what I needed.
As always, I enjoyed Sara’s lesson as much as mine. She learned some really complicated bending stuff and I was proud of how well she did. And Aragorn, too.
Aragorn didn’t even notice the fake bull that had startled Apache earlier. He was concentrating and throwing in fancy dressage moves so he wouldn’t have to bend the opposite way from how he was turning.
I was distracted by two things: a biting wind and cute animals. Between the dogs, the baby horses, and the donkey, I had a lot of entertainment! Who cares about the cold when you have ranch entertainment?
Today seemed to last way longer than your average day. It is always that way when I think I have something all planned out, only it actually isn’t. I thought the pool people were coming this morning, but nope, that got postponed again due to rain…somewhere.
Then I thought a technician was coming to repair my dead laptop. They said it was scheduled (they being some disembodied text bot). But next, I got the message that the part was delayed, so I would have to wait until Monday. I got annoyed, to say the least. Then, boom, the technician drove up.
Erica, the technician, was a fun woman, and we had a reasonably good time working on my system. She had about a five minute task to do (replacing the brains of the thing), but she could not get the cover off. Three of the screws would not completely unscrew. Now, Erica didn’t want to break my new computer, so she called tech support. That went about as well as when I called them earlier this week.
The woman she talked to seemed to have no clue what Erica was asking. I realize she was talking through a mask, but she kept saying that the screw would not unscrew. The call went through several levels of support until they finally said I’d have to send the laptop in for a replacement, which would take even more time than I’d already taken.
Nope, I said, let’s figure this out. So, Erica called a guy from where she worked. Sure enough, this random guy, knew what the Dell Technical Support team did not, which is that those three screws do not come undone. You have to pop the case open with them still partially in. ARGH.
Once we had that down, it did indeed take five minutes to fix the computer. Naturally, one of the teeny screws fell off the desk. We spend another twenty minutes looking for that. Even the magnet couldn’t find it. All I found were dead bugs and places where Carlton had peed. He is having an issue this week, probably due to the Harvey episode.
But the afternoon got so much better. As Erica was getting ready to go, she looked into the main room of the house. She asked if she could please look at it. She ran into the room, just beaming, twirling around and exclaiming that is was Christmas! She said my decorations were just so cheerful. I can hardly express how happy that made me. No one here cares at all about decorations, so I felt very happy to know I cheered someone else up. My smiling muscles were hurting.
By the way, the laptop works and is almost set back up.
The other thing that got me all cheerful today was watching the dogs play with the mama cows and babies behind the house. The cattle are so curious and keep coming up as close as they can, until a dog moves and scares them into backing off.
I must have spent a half hour this morning just watching the calves and their antics and how hard Goldie tried to get them to play with her. Unfortunately, Carlton and Vlassic can’t help but bark at them.
I hope you enjoy these sweet bovine faces as much as I did!
The companionship I’ve been experiencing over the past couple of days has been with two horses. One is not a surprise, and it’s Apache. Wow, has that boy settled down since his lesson last weekend. I’ve been trying to do at least something with him every day, and that has helped. He has paid so much attention to me in the round pen that it’s not like the same horse. And we have been doing the thing where he needs to walk straight along the edge of the round pen, and by golly, that head has not curved ONCE in two days. Today we even sped up a little! As well, he has been walking with me practically glued in the correct position. I can feel him breathing at my elbow almost all the time.
Last night the trainer said what she wants more than anything is for us to be able to enjoy our time with our horses. Success!
The other horse that’s been a wonderful companion is Kathleen’s horse, Miss T. After Trixie looked at her and said she was in pretty good shape, I thought, well, why not pay her some attention? She sure seems to want it. Yesterday I gave her a nice grooming, and she was pretty patient while I worked on the issue she has with her tail (a big scab is growing out). We went for a nice walk, and Mandi checked her soundness. She stumbles a bit, on occasion, but it may be because she needs her feet trimmed (which will happen next week).
I put her in the round pen, just to see if she would trot for me. Did she ever. Everything I asked of her, she did, including turning, stopping, and showing a lovely balanced trot. I told Mandi it was sort of like driving a Jaguar car, so responsive and elegant.
Today I did that again, after going on a walk. She had never been in the front field before, but she followed me nicely, and the couple of times she got concerned, I just told her it was okay and we walked on. Hey, this is what I’ve been reading about horses doing. I guess it can actually happen! And when I put her in the round pen, she was so attentive that I decided to see what would happen if I took the lead rope off.
Wow. She did everything I asked, walking and trotting, turning and stopping. I tell you what, if you tell T, “Whoa,” you’d better be prepared for that horse to stop. She stops on a dime, and looks ready for her next instruction. She’s like the horses in videos of fancy quarter horses.
I hope we can do more with her as time goes on. T is a darned good horse. Maybe I will ride her this weekend, if there is any time at all. I wonder if the things planned for the weekend will go as scheduled or be absolutely unpredictable like today’s events?
I’m just glad we can sit on the porch and watch the happy lights on the fence turn on as the moon rises each evening. That brings a little bit of predictability.
Wow. It’s been the most pleasant evening I can remember. Once the sun went behind clouds, a breeze came up, and the stifling heat dissipated.
I took lots of pictures today, and when I went back to look at them, I realized it’s been a beautiful day!
And yes, a lot of work got done on the horse pens. It’s really moving along! After work and my Friends of LLL meeting, I got to watch the process for making the tools to set the vertical bars that are next. These hooks were made from straight pieces of metal.
The hooks were shaped on this piece of pipe, which made cool smoke when the metal got hot.
It’s fascinating to watch the tools being made. Such craftsmanship!
Meanwhile, I watered the chickens (Buttercup loves the hose spray), watched the dogs playing happily, and then saw what I thought was Vlassic chasing the cows. When I got up to yell at him, I realized it was a little too big of a fast, black animal to be him. It was our cute little calf, Baby Blue, who is just about the most playful calf I ever saw.
She ran around her mom and two others, then tore off like a racing cow, if there was such a thing, then ran all the way to the edge of the pasture. She then zoomed back up to her mama for a refreshing drink. I could NOT stop grinning.
Really, who needs television? It’s darned entertaining around here. And I couldn’t even drag myself back into the house, because clouds beckoned.
I hadn’t seen a nice sunset in a long time. It was too rainy for a long time, then it’s been so blazingly hot I didn’t go out to look, though Lee reported at least one good one. Tonight? Glorious.
You just don’t get many days this pleasant, that’s for sure. And even though I got a lot of work done, Goldie “made” me take a nap.
Treasure your good days. Let them fill your heart with joy.
Today I spent much of the morning watching new fencing going up. Since I was there to keep an eye on them, I was able to take the dogs with me.
There was all sorts of fun stuff to explore, like puddles that were revealed when the future Apache pasture was mown very short.
All the dogs frolicked in it, but one in particular was in ecstasy. Harvey was absolutely hilarious. He’d plop himself in a puddle, then jump up and stick his head in the water, shaking vigorously.
He must have done this ten minutes, running from puddle to puddle. That’s a lot of play for our most sedentary fellow. Carlton and Gracie joined in and got almost as muddy as Harvey, but he looked like a chocolate covered dog at one point.
I laughed so hard my cheeks hurt.
Meanwhile, the cattle were having their own fun. Haggard the young bull has joined the happy mini-herd, and he’s fit right in. He and the black cow have been “having fun” but not really figuring it out. They’ve certainly been trying. I’ll spare you images of cattle sex, however.
To be honest, they were as interested in the fencing operation as the dogs were. They had to go up and sniff all the new material.
The fancy white heifers currently behind us were quite jealous and wanted to join in the fun. They played with the dogs and the black cows as much as they could, and mooed at Haggard.
All in all, everyone had a good time. I did, too! I sure missed dog and cattle fun when I was gone!
I even got to have some quiet time with Vlassic today, and it was hreat, except he deposited mud on all my clothes.
Today Sara and I went and did something together! What? Yes! We ranch ladies went off and did a horse thing somewhere near Waco. We hadn’t done anything together since last year!
We went to a beautiful facility and audited a working equitation class. The clinician was really nice and let us stand close enough to hear her. It was tons of fun learning all the things horses and riders do in this relatively new sport in the US.
The idea is that working equitation includes aspects of cattle working from European, US, Mexican, and South American traditions. There are dressage elements (fancy horse steps), cattle working elements, finesse, and speed.
Another cool thing about it is that riders wear apparel from their own tradition. So you see all kinds of saddles, tack, and riding outfits. Some horses are big Andalusians, others are gaited horses with fancy walks and runs, while you also see quarter horses, too. Sara and I sure enjoyed all the beautiful animals and skilled riders!
My favorite of the things the students learned was picking up a pole in a barrel, snagging a ring on it and depositing it in another barrel. the gate opening task was fun, too.
I can see why Sara is interested in this sport! We learned all the patterns and figured out some of the skills we’d need to learn (me way more than Sara). Now we just need horses that are healthy and can learn with us. I still have faith in Apache.
Tomorrow we’re going to watch a show, which also will have dressage. This is all new to us cowgirls, but everyone was so nice to us, supportive of each other, and eager to learn. The horses all seemed to be having fun, and most of them were sweet animals, too.
In other news, there were more floods and rain today, but some fence work did get done. And I got to play with Vlassic much of the morning.
Another fun thing this morning was watching how curious the cows are about all the fence work. They are compelled to explore each new piece.
And the little steer has been so cute and friendly. He kept coming up and licking my hand with his rough, black tongue. I can’t wait until Haggard joins the friendly cattle (hoping that will be tomorrow, since he is officially cleared).
Anyway, despite the rain and more rain, it was a fun and educational day. Hope yours was, too.