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.
Hooray for being back at the Hermits’ Rest! by the time we got home, I was all shaky and frazzled, and probably the relatives thought I was babbling. But the dogs sure were glad to see us. It felt fantastic to have my Carlton in my lap again. It was great to get back in my bed, and even great to have Penney lined up right beside me all night!
The trip through Louisiana was beautiful, mostly following US84, and then following roads that made up the original El Camino Real de Tejas, which goes right to Milam County and is what our Master Naturalist group is named after.
Highlights included a whole area devoted to catfish farming, including a place that made al the nets and a huge catfish food plant. Talk about specificity! The catfish farms also could have passed for egret farms. There were so many birds!
We also drove through many beautiful national forests, and I carefully observed all the logging activity. Mostly it was lush and beautiful. There were plenty of cute towns, town squares, and such as well. It’s nice to see thriving small towns with no television presence to make them go into tourism overdrive.
The farther we drove, the wetter it got. It’s apparently been drizzling all week at the ranch, which slows down the fence-building operation. Today it’s pouring, but I did manage to go see Apache, Fiona, and the other horses to help put some medicine on poor spice, who has a big wound where a growth was removed. Apache has developed thrush in his feet from all the dampness. Can that poor horse catch a break? But the highlight was seeing the newest member of our farm animal family, Haggard, who is a young Black Angus bull from the sale barn. He’s tame as a kitten, and looks like he’ll be a nice small bull, perfect for first-year heifers to get easy births from.
Right now, Haggard is in quarantine, but he sure loves it when people show up with food!
I said hi to the chickens yesterday, but didn’t see Steel, who is the only chick left and keeps escaping to hide in some tall, thick grass behind the coop. At least that one didn’t wander off and get lost. I’ll try again with chicken babies!
Otherwise, all is well. I may have more fun news later in the day, after I go into town for a bit, but right now I’m just trying to get settled back into a routine and figure out what’s going on. I’m lucky that this week is our work’s week to go do volunteering, because that will let me catch up on the volunteer work I have to do! Ain’t that great!
It sure is good to be back home, especially since Kathleen cleaned the dickens out of the house. They sure did a great job taking care of things while we were gone. Now maybe we can have some FUN.
Now that the weather is more normal, I’ve been enjoying the antics of all the local animals. I haven’t seen them all—for example, Lee saw a large, striped bobcat cross the road yesterday. I missed that!
I did get to see this charming kitten with a crazy tail today. She’s been hanging around the cabin and barn for a month or so, and the neighbors feed her. We haven’t had a cat stay on the ranch since Cathy and her menagerie moved.
Anyway, I said I’d feed her this weekend, so I had my eye out for her when I walked by the cabin on the way to feed horses. I didn’t see her, but I saw a black dog, though I knew Copper was out of town with his owners. Wait…that was Tess the cattle dog, great-great granny of these sweet pups.
So, I was pretty sure ole Tess had found the kitten’s food. She isn’t too old to sniff out any morsel of food! And sure enough, the bowls were licked clean and the kitten was looking disappointed when I came back down the driveway. I refilled the bowl, and she chowed down fast.
I love how the kitten holds her tail angled back like that. And she is sweet. It makes me happy to have a cat to pet again. Lee’s allergic, so we can’t have one in the house, but maybe we can get barn cats if our horse barn happens.
More Cuteness, Cattle Style
I’ve also been enjoying the cattle on our property. They get friendlier and funnier all the time.
Yesterday, I took some more food for Big Red, the chicken who lives with the horses. It was in a plastic feed bag. It was misting rain, so I was concentrating on not stepping on cow patties. I opened the gate to leave our pasture, and when I turned around, I saw that the brown cow was like three feet behind me. I didn’t hear her at all! The others were lumbering behind her.
I guess they really miss getting cattle cubes from Kathleen, and were sure my bag had cow treats, not chicken ones. She sure looked sad when I took the bag with me.
Today, the cows were insisting on standing in my path as I walked to the gate. Maybe they were thinking of shaking me down for treats. I got to the gate, then heard thundering footsteps. Jim had let Vlassic out, and he wanted to join me, like he did yesterday. But, Sara’s dogs would be there today, so Vlassic had to go back for his safety. That made me have to intrude on the cows again.
When I came by the third time, after taking Vlassic back, I had to stop and watch them. They were playing like little calves, butting their heads and jumping in circles. It was a pleasure to see them enjoying the more pleasant weather, and it was a shame to stop them, just because I was now late. I wish I’d gotten a video! The cows aren’t too far past calf-hood, so I guess they still have urges for fun.
Heck, so do I. My fun for the day was listening to this red-winged blackbird, way at the top of a willow tree.
He was alternating between the familiar chiming song they make and repeated tweet calls. I think he thought someone was answering him, because he was so loud that he had a robust echo. I wonder how long he kept that going?
There. Not every post has to be a rant or controversy. I needed some cuteness in my day today!
I can tell this story, because it’s happy, and I like happy baby stories. We’ve had a calf on the property for a week who was having trouble immediately after birth. I saw one of the lease guys pick it up and put it in the utility vehicle. I noticed it wasn’t standing.
I was relieved to see the little feller in the pen the next day. He was sure cute, and his mama was very protective. I noticed he sorta scooted around.
The next couple of days I figured out there was something wrong with his front legs. He always stood with his hooves folded under. It turns out his tendons had gotten stretched at birth, and it’s not uncommon. Usually it resolves itself in a few days.
The other issue was he was having trouble nursing. Not being able to stand very long couldn’t help. But, the guys who own him were not giving up. He got bottle fed twice a day, and believe me, milking a beef cow is not a romantic event where you sit on a stool with a pail. No, she had to get squeezed in the chute so she’d hold still!
Monday, the cow looked way better, and sure enough, we saw the calf nursing. My resident experts were concerned that his tendons hadn’t settled back yet. Both Sara and Trixie said they’d never seen it last so long. That worried me.
Today was all rainy, but I sure was glad to see the little family still in the pen. And hey, look who was standing and walking around like a calf? Our little guy! I needed that happy sight.
After a week, he’s almost normal and obviously gaining weight from all that delicious moo milk. I found out he hasn’t had a bottle since Monday. Looks like all that patience and extra care was worth it! Just look at that smile!
He’s a friendly fellow, but mama isn’t. I know she will be glad to get back in the pasture! I really admire the guys who care for these cattle for being willing to take extra care of their herd. Ranchers with good hearts! (And they’ll make money, too.)
Perhaps my title is better than this post will come out to be, but this points out to me that I need to stop trying to write about two things in one post, just to not appear to be blogging crazed.
Bull, Big Load
Yesterday, Vlassic and I went to feed the horses after work. He was happy, because I gave him his yummy heartworm pill, so we had a nice time on our walk. I looked up and said hi to Apache, then turned to say hi to Spice and Lakota, when something moved in the holding pen. WHOA. It was big.
Yep, there was a bull I’d never seen before. He was, to say the least, beefy, quite a load of bull. I was like, uh oh, he probably won’t like me going around messing near him. I could see that he’d been upset and dug the dirt and mud up in the pen. So I said hi.
I went ahead and fed the horses. Every time I walked by the pen, the bull followed me. It occurred to me he might be a NICE bull. When Vlassic went up to him and they just sniffed each other, I was pretty confident.
I got him a bit of fresh hay, and he walked right up and took some out of my hand! Then he poked the water tub. It was empty. Ah, someone is thirsty. As I filled the water tub, I checked out his ear tags. It appeared he was an All American bull.
We chatted for a while as he ate and drank, and he seemed happy to hang out with me. That’s obviously someone’s former show bull or something. And wow, he sure has big feet. I wondered why he suddenly was in the pen, all by himself. As we know, I am NOT a part of the cattle operations, but I still wondered.
As we walked by, the people who would have the answers happened to drive up. I said I gave that All American bull some hay. They laughed and said that is actually his name! He had just been brought over, and probably just shoved in the pen and left alone. No wonder he was lonely and craving company, poor guy!
When we got back, Vlassic had to tell Gracie Lou ALL about his adventures with the gargantuan being. Or at least I prefer to think so.
I’m hoping All American has been led to his harem by the time I get to feed horses today. I look forward to some very pretty golden calves in the fall!
Dillo in the Dirt
And now for another mess. When I looked outside this morning, a part of the field in front of the house looked suspiciously blackened. What could that have been? I hoped it wasn’t hogs. I was at an angle to where I couldn’t see exactly what was going on.
We went out on the porch later, and could see that there wasn’t massive upheaval, like hogs would create. But there was definitely a disturbance in the dirt.
After my morning meetings, I headed out to inspect in person. DANG. It looked like a wild pack of armadillos had come through and feasted on something.
I have my suspicions that the delicacy is whatever is making tell-tale piles of castings all over the property. Earthworms or grubs are my guesses. In any case, the feeding frenzy has done a great job of aerating the soil.
Ah, memories. Back when Lee’s dad was still around, he liked to tell us all he knew about cattle. He knew a lot, since he spent most of his time with cattle, not people.
One of his favorite things to tell us was that cows were very smart, and that they had definite habits. He’d tell us he always knew where his cows would be at any time of day, and what they’d be doing. He knew when to go outside and take a nap with them, when they went to get water, and when they went to the back part of the farm to graze. He was a very find observer of bovine behavior!
Well, for the past few days, since I have been sitting at my home office window, I’ve been watching the chickens. I now know that they start out hanging around under the RV in the mornings. Around midday, most of them (Springsteen the Jersey Giant hangs around the coop) head over to where our cattle troughs are and peck at the hay. They also drink out of the fish tank…I mean water trough.
At mid afternoon, they hike over to our house and visit the porch, then at least four or five of them head ALL the way out to the edge of the woods.
And of course, as it begins to get dark, they head back to the coop area, before turning in for the night. Just like cows, chickens have habits. I don’t know if that makes them “smart.” I don’t think it’s at all smart of them to go way over there, knowing the chicken hawk lives here, too.
An Anniversary Year
When I was looking for a photo of Lee’s dad’s cattle on an old blog, I found a picture of the first time we ever stayed overnight here at the Hermits’ Rest, which was in November, 2011.
Wow, ten years of this property. No wonder we’re getting to know it so well. Guess who else I’ve known for ten years? My precious horse! Here he is as a strapping 5 year old!
Apache and I are proud to report that we got to be a horse and rider pair again today. I think we were both happy about it.
Just before he was declared un rideable, I’d gotten this side pull bridle and fixed it up for him. He never got to use it. So, I figured I’d try it today. It annoyed him at first.
But, he got used to it in the round pen pretty quickly. We then headed out to one of the pastures and rode around. Apache did pretty well other than wanting to eat grass a lot at first. I got him to stop, though.
The main problem we had was that I didn’t cinch the saddle tightly enough. I remembered he’d lost weight and checked, but not well enough. I’ll fix it next time. All in all, we had a good riding reunion. My legs hurt though, so I need to get back into saddle shape.
A Little Cow Cuteness
On my way home, the new group of cows that are behind us were investigating the chickens. When they spotted me walking toward the coop and all came to see me.
As I chatted with them, I heard mooing from behind me. A couple of the cows who live on our property came up to meet the neighbors. I got this cute shot of a calf and cow saying hi to the new gals.
Getting in touch with your emotional truth, by processing feelings to improve the human condition in the 21st century. Living out loud by my motto,"Triumphing over Trauma" 🌈
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