Amazing Adventures Near Junction, Texas

I think my idea of Junction, Texas was that it was some kind of wasteland with some gas stations in it. I was wrong, and I’ll always be grateful for this year’s Bennett Trust Women’s Conference: “Building A Legacy of Environmental Stewardship”, which concluded today with the field trips. We went to three very different places in the Junction area. I learned a ton, PLUS I got to add a bunch of observations to the 2022 Texas Pollinator Bioblitz over on iNaturalist!

Look at all the moths!

Native American Seed

Our first stop was a visit to a place I’d never dreamed I’d actually get to visit: the farms for Native American Seed, one of my favorite catalogs. Not only that, we got greeted by Bill Neimann, co-founder of the company. He comes very close to being one of the coolest humans I’ve ever met. He lives his life principles every single day, and spreads a great message across the world.

Listening to Bill Neimann orient us to the business

The farm is located in a beautiful spot on the Llano River, and they have places where people can stay and have programs, etc., too. Plus a friendly guardian dog. Was I in heaven? Yes.

Hi, Alfred!

The view from the main house was spectacular, as it overlooked an area planted with native plants that spread out to acres and acres of native grasses under cultivation. Mind-blowingly beautiful.

While we were there, we had three presentations, one on bird-watching that resulted in one loggerhead shrike and a loud but hidden chickadee. That’s OK. There were so many great plants that I was fine. There were many I’d never seen before, so I was in Suna Happy Place.

The second presentation was on doing ecotourism, and I learned some good tidbits about making money from people who want to look at birds on your property. I wish I could bring the storks in on cue!

Our speaker on bird tourism doesn’t actually like birds.

The third presentation involved going into the growing fields. We were short on time for this, which was too bad, but I was in awe of the people who work there and have figured out ways to grow these now-rare plants for seed to distribute all over the place. Plus, I got to watch harvester ants, you know, harvesting.

Silver Farms

Next, we went to lunch, but it was much, much more than just lunch. It was a farm-to-table lunch with all the aspects of it prepared by women. The farm raises show goats and sheep, as well as some meat lambs. We had the best roast lamb I ever ate for our main course. For the salad, a company that consists of two homeschooled teens prepared it. That was one of the best salads ever, too, and I’m not making that up. There was goat cheese in it, home-grown greens, local pecans, etc., in it. I had two helpings and was not alone in this. There were also cheesy potatoes, homemade herb breads, and a chocolate dessert.

Getting ready for lunch. No lunch photos because we were eating!

Oh, and there was wine from friends of the owners, and it was all delicious as well. When we finished eating, all the people who brought the meal together spoke to us about how they came to do what they do. It was really encouraging to see all these new businesses cropping up in rural Kimble County.

Once that was over, we got to go look at the sheep and goats! You know that was a highlight for me! They were Hampshire sheep, which are nice and big. There was one pen full of ewes getting worked on by one lucky ram. You can tell which ram got to a ewe, because they put paint on his chest and it rubs off on the lucky gals. The ram in the pen had red paint, but a blue one had been there earlier.

There was another area where the show animals were. They all wear little outfits to protect their coats. I was not aware of this practice. They were a hoot to watch, though, but we had to leave.

Texas Tech, in Junction

Back on the buses we went, to find the Texas Tech campus in Junction, which looks mostly like a summer camp. That was fine with me, because we got to go look at the river. Hooray, I love the river. The presentation here was by folks from Texas Parks and Wildlife and AgriLife. It covered managing riparian areas and dealing with axis deer.

It was shocking to see how badly the deer had grazed the area down, compared with an area they had fenced to keep wildlife out, which had lovely long grass and a variety of kinds.

I learned a lot about how to tell if your land is holding a good amount of deer or is being over-grazed, depending on what plants they have eaten. I am happy to report we have plenty of the stuff deer like to eat, and also that there aren’t any axis deer on this side of I-35 yet. Whew.

We’re pretty but not welcome in Texas. You can shoot us any time of year, if you pay someone enough money. Sniff.

What are axis deer? Imported animals native to northern India and the area around there, who have escaped and gone crazy breeding in Texas.

Anyway, it was all extra interesting, and I had a grand time, all the while taking more and more pictures of wildlife. I got into the top 50 of the BioBlitz just by taking all these pictures. There really were lots of butterflies and moths. There was one plant I saw four or five types of moths on at once!

Enjoy just a FEW of the photos I took, including some of the new things I saw.

The only negative thing is I have to get up early and drive home in the morning. But, that’s not the end of the world!

Glad for Goods and Good Vision!

I’m just plain glad and just plain good, I guess. As always, I’m glad for nature. When I stepped out of the house at 6:45 am to drive to Austin, I discovered we had a visitor. We looked at each other, I took her picture and bid her a good morning. Kathleen said she was still there when she came out to go to the gym, so I sure hope she found someone else to visit before the dogs woke up!

Young, confused skunk.

As I drove down the side road to US 77 (to avoid the potholes of our road), I saw a deer jump across the road. Thinking that if there was one, there were probably more, I slowed down. Yep, another one jumped by. When I got to them, I saw that they were both mature bucks with beautiful racks of antlers. I’m always glad to see the deer population recovering in our area.

Excitement!

All that nature love fit right in with my new license plate, which came in yesterday. It’s even prettier in person, and has my nickname surrounded by hearts on it. The plates raise money for our organization, and look way prettier than the standard one. Those are some good goods.

I learned a lot at work meetings today and got to hug various people who I missed very much during the pandemic times. At one point, my cheeks hurt from smiling at old work friends. That’s way better than my back pain from all the shoveling and Drew wrangling I did over the past few days! All good, though. Goodness.

And in addition, I got to enjoy good vision, finally, because I was able to pick up my two pairs of glasses at the optometrist. They are still very serious about their masking and such. It’s a very clean office. Anyway, the round ones are transitions lenses, which I know aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but work great when I’m messing with horses and having to go in and out of the sun.

I hope you enjoyed that tour of my lip wrinkles and saggy jowls. Both glasses look much better in reality than they do in these photos! But, what matters is that I can see better; good vision is good. I am curious to see how the ones I ordered online came out. They should be done soon for which I will be glad. That will certainly do for glasses for a few years!

That is just about all the goodness I can dredge up right now, but I’m sure something will come up. Are you good? Any goodness to share? Do you hate it when people say “Are you good?” to mean “Are you well?” Are you glad I’m moving on from the topic of goodness and gladness?

Horses Heal Hearts

I feel so good right now. Sara and I just went on a long ride on Apache and Spice. Due to our schedules, we hadn’t been out for a while.

Look what we did! We put the bowl in the trough! Hee haw!

I was a little worried that Apache would be hard to ride after so long, but he seemed as glad to go explore as I was. We had a blast.

It’s so pretty.

The light and foliage were spectacular, and because we went way to the edge of the property, we got to see some longhorns next door.

Shining ranch. We love it here.
Scenic longhorns.

Spice started getting antsy when we saw some deer in the distance, and had trouble settling down. Fiona was too busy eating to notice the deer at first, so when they ran across the field, she ran all over.

There is a deer in the picture.

Going home was a challenge for Sara, but she handled Spice really well. She went round and round in circles a lot.

I was here!

I enjoyed myself so much. I wished the ride would never end. I feel so calm and serene, like I have no problems. I feel healed. And I think the horse is as happy as me.

Our newest calf, Grazzi. Sort of like thanks.

Can’t Help It. Had a Good Weekend.

I’ve learned that cheerful posts don’t get as many hits, but, too bad. I had a really nice weekend, and I can’t change that fact. We didn’t go far, but it was quite relaxing in Lago Vista, Texas, capital of the North Shore of Lake Travis.

As I mentioned before, Lee and I spent the weekend at the condo where I showed you all the deer and flowers, along with our business partners, Carol and Russell. We hadn’t spent much time together in person lately, so this was a much-needed time to relax, reflect, have fun, and plan.

A fish powered by a lower brass instrument. Just right for a Pisces musician.

And we did! We chose going to thrift shops as out first “team building” activity, which was a lot of fun. I liked the fish sculpture.

We had to bring our own champagne, but that wasn’t a problem.

Later, we had a celebratory dinner after our “big meeting” where we decided to move forward in a new direction with our real estate redevelopment business. We went to Broc’s, an Italian restaurant in Lago Vista, where we were absolutely charmed by the crooner singing 60s standards, a family with a toddler as cute as my son Kynan was at that age, and the whole family that owned the restaurant celebrating the owner’s 70th birthday.

This guy was quite good and not too loud. I also cove the grape lights for our wine room.

This place had surprisingly good food. Lee couldn’t stop talking about the alfredo sauce he had. We all tasted it and agreed, it was both light and creamy, with a side of buttery. And their red sauce was such a wonderful combination of flavors that I bought a pint to cook a dinner for Anita, Declan, and Rylie (the younger son and his partner) on Wednesday.

Relaxing with no

Today we sat on the patio and talked and laughed and had ideas. We decided we need to do that more often, since we come up with great ideas when we are relaxed and not under pressure to accomplish this or that or meet deadlines.

Russell got the pond working at one of the houses we looked at. It was a nice size and had a huge workroom.
Continue reading “Can’t Help It. Had a Good Weekend.”

Did I Save a Baby Bird? And Summer Glory

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.

I love this image of a wheel bug on the window at work.

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).

Hey, it’s hay and more hay.

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.

Continue reading “Did I Save a Baby Bird? And Summer Glory”

Observing the Seasons

One of the things I really wanted to do with this blog is make note of the passing of the seasons, when things come into bloom, when birds arrive and depart, etc. Today has been a great day for that, because even with the unseasonable chill in the air, the plants and animals remind me it is spring!

Not my picture, but exactly what I saw, down to the pond and tall grass.

On my way to work today, I had to turn around and go back to my friend’s house, because she needed something. Only she didn’t. But I couldn’t be upset, because the second time I drove by the first property after Walker’s Creek, a deer went over the road. On the other side were six more, of varying sizes. I can’t tell you how happy that made me, since we used to have very few deer right around here. I know they lost a big daddy buck during deer season, so I am happy there are new ones coming up.

Come and get us, bees!

As I drove on up the hill, lovely native Mexican plum trees (Prunus mexicalis) were blooming. They are all over the wooded areas in this part of Texas. The photo you see here is from the one hiding in our woods, from last year. They are my favorite sign of early spring in this area.

A dewberry flower, from last spring.

I remembered to look down as I drove, and sure enough, the dewberries have started to bloom. Oh hooray! The bees will be even more happy to see them than I was, and we can look forward to more treats!

The redbuds that are native are also blooming away, which makes sense for March 1. My favorite month for flowers has begun!

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