Book Report: How Stella Learned to Talk

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Oh goodness, what’s not to like? A book about a dog named Stella who’s half American Cattle Dog? A book about language acquisition? A book with scientific evidence to back it up? Nice people to read about? For all the “yes” answers this book provides, I rather raced through How Stella Learned to Talk: The Groundbreaking Story of the World’s First Talking Dog, by Christina Hunger. I was pretty darned impressed and excited with all I learned.

I was not out shopping for a dog language book, but when I saw it, I had to get it. Like the author, I’ve always thought animals had a lot to say to us and were probably often frustrated that we were not doing a good job understanding their signals. Unlike me, she was a newly certified speech and language pathologist when she got her beautiful puppy and happened to work with augmentative and alternative communication methods (AAC), which allow many nonverbal people to communicate with their families and friends using technological aids.

Hunger was also curious, and when she saw the puppy going through similar developmental phases to babies and toddlers, she wondered if they could learn to communicate similarly. She uses buttons on the ground that “say” particular words, and slowly enabled Stella to build up a vocabulary.

What impressed me was when Stella began to string together words, use repeated words for emphasis, and create novel strings. That dog can talk!

This is a charming book, and you get to enjoy Hunger and her husband, Jake, as the fumble around figuring things out along with Stella. Well, they aren’t fumbling, since Hunger has the background to know things that are likely to work, just not exactly how they will work or how long it will take.

Knowing that many people will want to start working with AAC and their own dogs, there are hints for working with your dog at the end of each chapter, and they really make a lot of sense to me. I just love how she discourages the use of treats, forcing dogs to use the buttons, and other means of making them use their words. She found that Stella was motivated to communicate on her own and did better if allowed to figure things out herself.

This was our precious Stella in 2015. I never have stopped thinking about her and mourning her passing.

Hunger also points out that they let the dog have an opinion, include her in decisions, and treat her as someone with an equal say in the household, even when everything she wants can’t happen. Respect for Stella has certainly led to a happy family.

That reminds me so much of how we work with horses, where we pay attention to their nonverbal “statements.”

I’m sure it would have been fun to try this with our own Stella, back when we just had one dog. I’m not sure our household is cut out for AAC, but I certainly can pay more attention to our dogs’ cues. And hey, if you’re interested in learning more, you can visit the Hunger for Words website or search for Hunger4words, their Instagram page.

Sunday Musings: It’s a Good Life, All Things Considered

Today, I’m being more explicit about what I’m grateful for than my usual gratitude practice, which is more like, “Thank goodness X is in my life, or I can do Y, or Z happened.” I want to say how grateful I am to Lee for deciding to get our retirement property early, build a house on it, and start with the rural fun and learning experiment we call the Hermits’ Rest Ranch. It’s saving my butt, that’s for sure.

Every Sunday morning, I wake up, make coffee, and hang around with Lee and the dogs up in our bedroom. It’s a huge room, so it has a loveseat, chairs, a little dining table (now Lee’s desk), and coffee fixings. Usually the dogs take turns wanting to sit by me and get petted. It’s such a gentle way to ease into the day. Weekends are the best.

This morning I had Carlton for a long time, and he was not about to let me do anything with my left hand except pet his long neck while he stretched his head straight up. Then big ole Harvey wanted some time with me. I’ve mentioned before that he thinks he’s a lapdog now, and sure enough, he managed to drape himself over my entire lap. We had a nice snuggle (I originally wrote “struggle,” which may, in fact, be accurate), though that bulky dog sure is heavy.

Not pretty, but fresh!

It is nice to review your previous day up in the bedroom, so I thought back on how happy I was to find out that all the guinea eggs from yesterday were still good, and wondered what to do with them, since I’m not heading into Austin for a few weeks, I can’t get them to my coworker who’s allergic to chicken eggs, but not guinea eggs. I guess we eat them.

Here, Apache has just picked up a clod or grass and declared round pen time was over. Typical scene with Sara working with Ace and Fiona eating grass like there’s no tomorrow.

I also reminded myself how good I am at being patient in difficult situations, which yesterday’s time with Apache once again proved. Both he and Ace were antsy, like there was something going on around them that put them on alert. I never did figure out what it was, but it led to more dancing around and trying to do what HE wanted to from Apache. He just wasn’t thinking. But, we stopped, had a little chat, and eventually went on to have a nice ride. He really likes it when I talk to him calmly.

And for those of you suggesting lessons, I’m actually signed up for some with a local trainer. That’s why I got a Coggins test for Apache when the vet was here. Sara will take Ace and I will take Apache. That means we get to practice trailer loading, because it’s been a long time since we’ve gone anywhere out of town. He used to love going to Kerri April’s to learn Parelli stuff.

This is a cool brown skink that was in the hay feeder yesterday!

I roused myself from all my musings and went out to see what’s going on with the chickens and such. Every single step I took, Bertie Lee was right with me. She’s the Big Red of my main flock. That hen just likes me. When I checked the chicks, they’d knocked their little feeder over and messed up the water, so I fixed all that and gave Star more adult chicken food (the kind they don’t like, but my shipment of Grubbly feed has not arrived yet, due to high order volumes).

They are not starving, anyway, since every time I look in they are eating away at the plant growth in and around their little coop. I’m sure no bug stands a chance in there, either!

Here’s a pretty buckeye I saw yesterday.

Then I just sat around, watched the chicks preen their feathers (it appears that they are trying to get the fluff off, so their fine new feathers can grow out), and enjoying the pond, trees, and butterflies. I got to watch the little ones go up and down the ramp, and it’s clear they are way faster at it than their mom, who carefully steps down the ramp. They also jump up and down off the small tree branch I put in their area and flap their little wings when they go to land. They will be strong! I wonder how old they will be before they can fly?

Naturally, I looked up the answer on the Googles and found they start testing their wings at around a week (check), but they don’t get their flight feathers until around 5 weeks, so we have something to look forward to!

Just looking around the ranch keeps me focused and gives me perspective. My challenges are just small bumps in the road compared to all that goes on around me every day in nature. And, like my friend Vicki has been reminding me lately:

I’ve survived all those previous hard times,
so I will probably survive this one, too.

I don’t want to just survive, I want to thrive! So I’m going to keep focused on the fact that life is good, I’m surrounded by supportive friends and family, and the new events we’ll go through will make us stronger and wiser. This is what I hope for all you out there, too.

And don’t forget to visit the podcast if you need something to listen to that’s fairly uplifting and pleasant. For me, it’s a nice break between some of my more intense podcasts! And if you want to help out with my blogging fees, consider visiting the support link at the top of the page.

Love Is a Wet Puppy

Ah, the work week is over. I made it, and even did well. I only checked on the chicks three times today, and was able to watch one of them drink water. They’re definitely eating!

We did get more rain, but it let up in time to go see the horses with Sara. What a happy surprise it was to see little Bess along with her other cattle dogs. She’s such a cutie.

Look what I found!

Sara introduced her to Apache and told her not to chase Big Red. Big Red also told her! There’s certainly a lot for a young dog to learn!

I’m not chasing. I’m thinking about it.

After playing with Bess for a while, Sara went to get Ace. Bess was very interested, and watched intently.

There’s something big over there.

However, once that giant beast came walking up, Bess glued herself to my side, not taking her eyes off him. I petted her and told her she was okay. I could see her little ears trembling, so I volunteered to take her back to the house.

Puppies love a good stick.

Yeah, that was SUCH a burden, right? It’s so wonderful to hold a warm, soft living being who snuggles up to you and softly licks your fingers to show her contentment. Cattle dog pups are so soft, for dogs with such sturdy fur as adults. And since I was chilly from walking through the wet grass and getting jumped on by her tiny wet feet, she kept me cozy. Yep, love is a wet puppy.

Blurry cause she’s running so fast.

When I got my damp self back to the Hermits’ Rest, certain dogs were very aware I’d been with a puppy. Penney glued her nose to me for ten minutes. And when I sat down, with clean, dry clothes on, Harvey jumped into my lap (a new, awkward habit of his) and proceeded to sniff and drool extensively on my pants and shirt. I was all wet again.

Here’s a demonstration of Harvey gluing himself to someone. Both are very happy.

That Harvey. He really likes laps these days, especially Lee’s. And once he’s draped across you, you aren’t going anywhere for a while. I guess love is also a large wet dog.

Look Who’s Back! It’s Gracie!

Oh my gosh. Today got even better! There I was, talking to my boss, all serious-like, when Lee came in carrying something that looked like a small Carlton. Only it was GRACIE LOU! We hadn’t seen her in over a week!

Hello!

Of course, there was one place we hadn’t looked for her, and that’s where she was. She’d been in our garage storage room. One of us must have gone in there for some reason and she followed us in.

I’m still all happy and playful!

I have a sinking feeling it was me, because I vaguely remember going in there at some point. That guilt will stay with me forever, every time I look at that sweet face.

Thanks for freeing me. I need more variety in my diet.

I guess the “good” part is that we locked the right dog in there. Gracie, as I mentioned before, is a tough farm dog, despite her delicate good looks. It was obvious she had mice to eat in the storeroom and knew how to catch them. Wow.

We had to ration water when she first came back to the house, because we know too much water when you’re dehydrated isn’t great. She seems okay now, friendly and sweet as ever.

One thing we can’t figure out is why we never heard her barking. I spend a lot of time in the garage looking for eggs, after all. But, now that I think of it, I was in Austin last week! Ah! That explains it. Still, I didn’t hear her from Friday to today. It’s a mystery, I guess.

We’re here to distract you.

After all this drama, I went out to sit on the porch and stare blankly at the trees. I got to enjoy a fine show of Harvey, Penney, and Carlton chasing each other and playing. It’s like having my own circus act.

They’re doing acrobatics.

I’m so glad we found Kathleen’s sweet and tough dog. We’ve had enough losses and bad news lately!

Chicken Update

I made a mistake in my piece on waiting for the chicks to hatch! I said it took 15 days, and that’s totally wrong; it’s 21! I appreciate our supporter, Dorothy, for pointing that out and telling me how to candle eggs with a flashlight!

Mom let me peek out! Look at my cute feet!

Dorothy also tells me she’d rather have dishcloths than an afghan, which means my next supporter who gives more than a dollar a month can have an afghan! Who will it be?

Isn’t my butt cute?

Inquiring Neighbors Want to Know: Why Isn’t Your Lawn Mowed?

It’s a good thing we don’t live in town, or we’d be getting little notices that we need to mow. Actually, I’m surprised we haven’t gotten them for our town properties. Yes, our lives are filled with little clusters of impediments that drive us all to distraction, and the spring grass situation is one of them. We don’t want long grass by the house, because it attracts our snake friends, and some snakes we’d rather not be all that close to.

This is not particularly attractive, or safe to wander in. Plus, it’s mostly burr clover.

Many of you know that our usual ranch-mates have been stuck at the other farm for a long time, thanks to a snake bite that went bad, very bad. Kathleen can’t drive, so her devoted spouse has had to stay there and help. That is all fine by us! However, the equipment maintenance over here at the Hermits’ Rest is in his hands. That’s been a problem, though not his fault.

This is all sunflowers. Also not something we want to cultivate in such huge numbers (we usually leave a few, hence, more show up).

Why? Because every single one of our mowing devices has developed an issue that Lee and his brother can’t fix. The brother set out to mow one day, but boom, a belt popped off and he’s in no shape to fix it. We don’t know exactly what’s up with the ZTR, but it isn’t going either. And certainly the push mower is not cut out for our acreage…but it’s not working either.

Yep, this looks like snake heaven, too.

Well, Suna, any observant neighbor or in this case, Hearts Homes and Hands employee, would point out, the grass is so long and lush that we really need to shred it (in Texan, that means mow with an attachment on your tractor). We have a tractor (it runs!). We have a shredder (it works!). What we don’t have is anyone who can attach said shredder to said tractor.

Lee re-enacting a photo I once took with lots of evening primrose. Directly behind him is the SHREDDER.

Other inquiring neighbors might ask, well, why don’t you just get someone to fix your mowers? Or pay someone to mow? Well, heck yeah, those are good questions! I’m sure it’s occurred frequently to the poor people across the road, who mow many acres to a carpetlike perfection weekly. They have to look at our flower-covered mess, shudder, and shake their heads.

If we’d mowed, we’d have missed these backyard beauties.

The thing is, every week we expect to be reunited with our family. Once we’re all back at the ranch, we’ll be a well-oiled machine of accomplishments and the doing of things. Every week, the darned wound will not heal. I can assure you we are ALL frustrated by this, but you have to deal with what life hands you.

Heck, even the mock dandelions are enjoyable, especially when they have a cool long-horned bee in them.

The good news is that we are finally breaking down and seeing if our tenant will fix the mower belt and hope to see if he’ll help Lee attach the shredder. That would let us at least get started. I won’t be quite so worried about a snake in the long grass biting ME that way.

The Bright Side

Of course there’s a bright side to all this! We have beautiful wildflowers all over the fields in front of and behind the house now. Because we don’t spray herbicides on our pastures, all kinds of native grasses and flowers are showing up.

Every one of these flowers came off our “lawn.”

We have way more scarlet pimpernel than I ever noticed before, and the blue eyed grass has made it to the back part of the house. I have to say an entire wildflower meadow for a yard, that I didn’t even have to plant, is a fine thing.

The little scarlet pimpernel.

I can’t think of anything prettier than fields of evening primrose, either. I remember when we first moved here and Sara and Ralph were still ranching on our larger pastures, they would bloom into a sea of pink. It was spectacular. But, we have our own little ponds (or tanks?) of pink in the parts we maintain!

This “tank” of pink evening primrose is waving in the wind like an actual body of water.

Still, we do know we need to mow. We do wish the deities of functioning machinery weren’t so hard on us and that the germs in south Texas weren’t so tenacious in that snake wound. But, THIS week things will change, one way or another! (We will leave some flowers, though.)

It turns out that the trampweed doesn’t really flower. It goes straight to these happy little puffballs.

Pet News, Some Good, Some Not

There’s been a lot going on in the pet department around our ranch community. The first is good news, which is that right now there are two puppies to enjoy over at the neighbors’ house. They use Australian cattle dogs as working animals, and the elderly matriarch (Tess) is no longer able to do much. So, they decided to allow their breeder friend to get puppies from their youngest female (Jess) and one of the breeders’ unrelated males. The two female pups and Jess came home from the breeder’s house this weekend, and I got to enjoy them. They are so soft at this age!

Bess is the one with brown on her, who’s on the go. The other one’s a real snuggler, so her new family will enjoy her!

One of the little cuties has another home, where she’s going in a week or so, but we get to enjoy the other one (Bess) and watch her grow. Nothing like a bunch of rhyming cattle dogs to brighten the neighborhood! They now have 5 generations of the same maternal line at their house.

Other nice pet news is seeing how well Ace is fitting in with the other equines. We caught him touching noses with Fiona yesterday, which was so sweet. Immediately afterwards, though Apache broke up the love fest. I guess Fiona is HIS lady.

Hello, little buddy.

The amusement we’re getting out of the paint horses shedding continues. There are interesting areas of white in the pastures. When you get up close, you can see they are horse shaped, if that horse happened to be rolling on the ground. Spice left one where you can actually see her brown spots and her white ones, like a map of her coat. I couldn’t photograph that, since we were wrangling three horses, but I did get a picture of one from Apache, which is all white. Poor Spice will get brushed out next time I’m back at the ranch, since she looks like Apache did last week (since Sara hasn’t been riding her, she hasn’t had her usual amount of grooming).

It’s like Apache made a snow angel with is hair.

The sad pet news is that we appear to have lost Gracie Lou, Kathleen’s little white dog, and Vlassic’s favorite companion out here. She just never came in Saturday. We can’t keep her fenced in, because she’s so little that she slips through the gates, but she always has come in and asked to go nap in her bed in Kathleen’s room, and of course, to eat.

Gracie joined us last April.

We put a notice on Milam Touch of Love and asked all the neighbors (all four of them!), but no one has seen her. I went up and down the road and didn’t see any evidence of foul play, either. She just vanished. Maybe she encountered a hawk or a coyote, or a big cat, but only the hawk makes sense, because she disappeared in daylight, AND the harrier’s been around. Lee’s favorite theory is that she was sniffing on the side of the road and someone picked her up, thinking she was lost of something. She is very friendly and will jump into cars.

So, we’re hoping someone realizes we are looking for her and brings her back. She’s always been such a tough ranch dog, and more of an outdoor animal than indoor. It seems weird for something to get her after she survived the farm in Yorktown for so long, as well as our place for over a year! Keep your fingers crossed she turns up again.

A New Supporter!

Let’s end this on a happy note, though. I’m going to have to get those knitting needles warmed up again, because The Hermits’ Rest blog and podcast have a new supporter! Thank you to Kathleen Caso of Hearts, Homes and Hands for becoming a monthly supporter! She’s hoping to share podcasts about the ranch with our home-bound clients, who enjoy listening to stories. I enjoy telling stories, so THAT all works out. And then, if they want to see pictures, they can look at the blog. Great idea, right?

You, too can support us for as little as dollar a month by signing up at https://anchor.fm/sue-ann-suna-kendall/support – or just keep reading and listening. I’m happy to have all of you around!

Stinky and Dangerous Ranch Drama

Just when you think everything has calmed down, of course it has actually has NOT. These are not calm times at the Hermits’ Rest!

Last Night’s Stinky Drama

Last night I took a lovely, calming bath to help with sore horse-riding muscles. Right as I got my pajamas on, I heard Lee yelling at the dogs sort of frantically. I figured he was dealing with whatever it was and went in the bedroom. At that point, Carlton ran in and dived under the bed. Immediately I knew why.

We would like to go chase something, please. Maybe something stripey and stinky?

The dogs had upset a skunk. We have lots of them out here, and usually all is well, but apparently when Lee went to let Gracie (the little white dog of Kathleen’s) in, she had just discovered a skunk and ran toward it. The other dogs followed, naturally. Lee says he heard Penney make a yelp, then she acted like she was convulsing. That seems to have scared Carlton enough that he turned around, so didn’t get skunked in the face.

I stink. I’m trying to lick all the stink off.

No one else got close enough, and Gracie dodged the pew-pew. That was the end of the calm evening, as I ran to find something resembling tomato juice (it was plain tomato sauce) and trap the dogs in my office bathroom. Lee and I made a good team and got both Penney and Carlton smelling less awful, but the house is still a bit odiferous.

That red liquid bath soap was pretty tasty, I must say.

Carlton was pretty irritated with us for a while, but eventually settled down, and we all got some sleep.

I still smell bad, don’t I?

Today’s Dangerous Drama

Today, meetings started at 8:30, as usual, with no scheduled let-up until noon. I was in the middle of doing some Agile ceremony or another when I got a call from Sara. This does NOT happen during working hours, so I knew something bad was up. She said, “YOUR horse has gotten out again. I can’t catch him. YOU need to deal with this.” It took me a few seconds for this to sink in, since I wasn’t expecting that, at all. I didn’t mean to upset Sara, but I had to figure out what to do AND do my part in the meeting. I did not multi-task well.

As soon as I possibly could, I left the meeting and zipped over to the horse area. There were Apache and Fiona, in the middle of the greenest and longest grass for miles around. EEK! Didn’t I JUST get finished treating him for last year’s founder episode from eating too much green grass? That’s exactly the wrong thing for his delicate constitution!

This pretty ragwort was in the middle of the patch of incredibly lush grass they were eating from.

I quickly got the halter and some horse treats and cheerfully approached the naughty ones. Fiona was all like, “Hey, good to see you, Suna!” but Apache moved to an even longer patch of grass. I got worried he was going to leave, but no, as soon as I called him and offered the treat, he picked up his head, walked over, and let me halter him. Thank goodness for all that training.

I got them back in the pen with some hay. I could not figure out how they had gotten out, because I recall putting the safety chain on the gate, in addition to shutting it. We know Apache can move the latch, because he’s done it before. My guess is I didn’t wedge the chain in hard enough and he figured out how to lift it.

We would prefer to be out in that grass.

So I went out and found an old lead rope. I proceeded to wrap it all over the gate latch in various ways, just daring him to untie all those knots AND the fastener I put in the safety chain.

Try and unwrap THAT, horse. Note there’s a fastener attached to the end of the chain, which is now firmly wedged in, as well.

I went back to finish my meetings, along with googling grass colic and laminitis from too much green grass. I also called the vet. Around noon I headed back over there, to check on things. Apache was happy to see me (both he and Fiona peed in greeting), and I got him to walk up and down the pen a couple of times. So far, no signs of intestinal distress or lameness.

This is me, proving I can still walk just fine.

I canceled my trip to Austin for this week, so I can continue to check on him every few hours. He now has access to his dry-ish paddock again, so maybe he won’t be so starved that he’s driven to escape again.

I have nowhere else to put it, so look at this excellent moth I found last night! It is, I believe, a lettered sphinx moth.

I’m hoping that the drama for the week has all happened and I can get stuff done now! I hope you had a good weekend!

Feeling a Little Better about Nature’s Survival

After that unusual series of cold fronts, snow, and ice, I (and others) have been pretty worried about whether out friends out there in nature are going to make it through to spring and keep going. In the past day or two I’ve seen some happy signs. So, as long as I’m out in nature and not dealing with technology, I’ve been pretty happy.

Vlassic is happy, because I’ve been sitting on the porch with him and running around a lot.

My heart skipped a beat when I finally saw some Indian paintbrush plants in the field. Now that there are two or three of them, I know we’ll have at least a bit of our usual field of orange in front of the house (as long as we can convince Jim the brother-in-law not to mow until they are going to seed).

A brave pioneer in the big wildflower meadow (until someone turns it into a pasture).

The field is already lovely to me, with a whole lot of mock verbena mingling with crow poison and field madder, once you look close enough to see them. And I know more’s coming! That’s why I like this time of year. Every day something new starts blooming, and I record them on iNaturalist so that some day I can analyze the data and see if the weather changes when the wildflowers start up (that will be when I retire).

I don’t remember having so much of this charming plant in the field before!

A new “blossom” coming up yesterday was this dwarf plantain (at least that’s what iNaturalist identified it as). I thought it was the annual trampweed (which is also in the picture, along with chicory, burr clover of some kind, and a grass, but I was wrong).

But it IS something new blooming, whatever it is!

Another new bloomer is one I’d been worried about, on behalf of my stomach, and that’s the dewberries. They really got knocked back by the cold, but by gosh, they have recovered and started blooming. Even though there are only a few blossoms right now, it already smells good over by the stream.

Future fruit! Yay!

How about the non-plants?

Adult green-striped grasshopper that is brown.

I’ve been anxiously looking for butterflies and grasshoppers and such. Judging from the sounds I’ve been hearing, the green-striped grasshoppers I’ve been watching grow up have matured. I see them flying around the back yard and making their grasshopper noises. Here’s one that happens to be brown.

I’ve been seeing a lot of these hairstreak butterflies, along with some sulphurs and one red admiral that was too far away to photograph.

Hairstreak with chicory and tiny bluet.
This blurry shot is the best one I could get, as the butterfly never landed.

But, I had heard people were already seeing monarchs, but that there was nothing for them to eat. Sure enough, as I sat in the back yard yesterday waiting to go to the phone store, a steady stream of them passed by, but never landed on anything. I sure hope they find some nectar!

I know pear trees are blooming (native ones, not just Bradford pears), so the bees are doing well.

Maybe Carlton has some hunting dog in him. I caught him pointing (he turned his head when he saw me).

I’m never alone when I’m out looking at all these plants and insects and such. Carlton and Penney are especially close to me wherever I go, while Alfred and Vlassic explore more. It always makes me happy to see that the pets have as much fun as I do. We are all really lucky to have acres and acres to explore and nobody to tell us what we can and can’t do out here. Ranch living may have poor cell reception, but it makes up for it in the kind of freedom that matters to me, which is freedom to observe nature and be a part of it, not try to dominate it.

As usual, Penney was by the water.

I hope you are enjoying the signs of spring where you are (and if you’re in Colorado, I hope the snow is melting).

Dogs Love Springtime

As weak as I was feeling today, I had to get outside some. After all, it’s getting to be spring! So, I dragged myself around the property while the dogs played.

Time to play!

They love it when it’s warm and windy, especially when they have water to splash in. Alfred and Carlton, the two white dogs, both enjoyed the front pond.

Let’s splash

Heck, even big ole Harvey got some wading in, and he’s the one who usually gives up after five minutes of frolic and goes to sit by the front door. He was as frisky as the rest of the gang!

See, I can have fun.

Vlassic could not resist bothering the cows, but he was easily distracted by going to the other side of the driveway, where I had to check to be sure our new spring was still flowing.

Tiny black spot is Vlassic

For some reason, this little hole in the ground with water gushing out of it makes me really happy. It’s such a positive change, and it’s providing water for the birds and wildlife.

Still spewing water!

Now that water has been flowing for a few months, water plants are growing in the spring, and I’m excited to see what shows up between now and when everything dries up (as I’m sure it will, given our climate).

Happy water plants

I ended my trudge around our field by watching Penney, who’s our current water dog, as she checked out all the water sources. She loves the stream, and I loved seeing willow leaves sprouting.

Fun for Penney

The walk made me tired, so I napped the rest of the afternoon. The side effects are weird, such as burning ears. I guess it’s flu-like symptoms. My immune system is kicking in! And damp Penney kept me cool until cows showed up and got the dogs into bark mode.

Alert! Cows!

Since my sister got the one-shot vaccination yesterday, we will be fully protected at the same time. I can’t wait to go to the Bistro for dinner again!

How are you?

I Found a Spring! And Pollinators!

I started out my morning nature break trying to find pollinators and check for damaged flowering plants for a survey of pollinators and plants used by monarchs on iNaturalist. I was very happy to have found bees and a butterfly, and was watching the water flowing in the stream with the dogs.

Then, Lee showed up, wanting me to help get the dogs back up so he could feed them. I said, okay, but look how well the stream is flowing! He noted that the runoff from the pond did not seem to be flowing, but the place where it dumps into the stream WAS making nice little waterfall sounds. So, where was the water coming from?

The stream is flowing so nicely and consistently that actual aquatic plants are growing.

Lee pointed out to a new puddle or marshy area that seems to have (no pun intended ) sprung up since the snow event happened. I’d been meaning to check on it, too.

The newly wet area. You can see it doesn’t have any water plants yet, so it’s new.

The puddle was very full, not like all the other ones that have dried up. Then, lo and behold, I spotted a little hole. That little hole was full of clear water, and it was bubbling up! I finally found the source of one of our intermittent springs! I was pretty excited.

Not much to look at, but it is full of bubbly water!

So, water is coming up from this hole (perhaps from the pond, who knows?), then flowing to the marshy puddle, then heading to join the pond runoff water, and on into the big hole that starts the stream.

I labeled the new spring’s path, since it’s hard to see for the grass.

Yay! Farther down, the water is running really fast, thanks to at least two other springs. We had heard that there have been springs all through that area, but most of them have not flowed since we got here, which was when the big drought of 2011-12 happened. I guess the aquifer has finally recovered! Wow!

This springy area has been holding up since last year.

Anyway, I was happy to find a Sulphur butterfly, a hairstreak and lots and lots of bees outside. They were pollinating the henbit and dandelions.

Also, one of the young willows in the small pond has started sprouting, plus I saw a bullfrog in that pond (and heard another one jump). I found one wolf spider and another insect that got away. That means some of them lived. This all makes me very happy.

I do hope to see turtles soon. I am worried about them. But, wow, so happy to have found a spring!