More Waterfalls and Flowers and DUNG BEETLES!

I did promise to finish writing up my trip to Pedernales Falls State Park. Gosh, I hope you like wildflowers and scenery and stinky insects. I had lots of energy for hiking/looking at plants, thanks to sleeping so well. Ahh. Total darkness and no barking or licking makes for great sleep.

Lee needed coffee, too.

So, once I woke up on Sunday morning, had my coffee, and analyzed bird songs (so many vireos), I took off for the other nearby trails. First, I took the Coyote Crossing trail, which led deep into a very humid woodland area and crossed a mostly dry creek that feeds into the river.

There were many interesting fungi, ferns, and vines in the moist environment. I also got to see a ladder back woodpecker. Mostly I enjoyed the deep green solitude.

Once past that trail the scenery was very different, with seemingly endless swaths of black-eyed Susans and their friends. There were lots of new flowers there, and I had one of those “Linda Jo moments” when I got practically giddy over plants. But I didn’t have a fellow Master Naturalist to exclaim to!

The next trail was the one that led to the swimming area of the river. I must admit I forgot there was a river to go to, because I was so mesmerized by the flowers. The trail went down steep steps. Every time I stopped I said to myself that THESE were the prettiest flowers I ever saw.

And there were so many butterflies that I felt like Snow White in the meadow. They were flitting all around me. It was magical!

I finally got to the river, and was happy to see it wasn’t crowded. There were just a few families wading around and playing, plus a woman with a big dog.

Eventually I turned to go back, stopping to photograph lizards and more flowers. I let the family with the dog pass me on their way up, then encountered the dad resting halfway up. I said something about taking it slow because I was a naturalist, and we got to talking about his interest in foraging. Talking to them made me not even notice the steep climb! Finally, someone was interested in my blathering.

They left to take a bathroom break and I headed back along the road, where I found some phlox and other plants that like sand.

The family drove by and asked if I would like a ride back, and to be honest, that sounded good. So I joined them. They said they were thinking of driving to the big falls, and invited me along. I’m glad they did. It was a ways down the road.

We had a fun walk to the falls. The best part was when I saw a dung beetle rolling a ball of poop across the path. Carl (the dad) got all excited, because he didn’t know we had them in Texas. That got the two boys and the wife excited, too. She took movies and we had a grand time watching the beetles while all sorts of people passed us, probably thinking we were weird. But it was educational!

We finally made it to the overlook, and it was gorgeous. We saw a wedding party, too. We were all too tired to go down to the river, but they were going to go Monday morning. I was fine just looking down. The photos don’t do it justice, for sure.

And that’s about it for adventures. The rest of the day we sat outside a lot and went in to watch movies. I don’t know what to think about the Legion of Superheroes movie. They did stay pretty true to the characters…but it was nowhere near as good as Ant Man and the Wasp. Marvel does make a good movie.

Listening to me talk about birds.

Back Home

I was glad to get home on Monday, but sure enjoyed my wallows in nature. I needed that rejuvenation. Of course, there’s plenty of nature here. Just look at the baby birds in a nest on our back door!

Too tired to peep. A storm kept them awake.

Speaking of storms, one showed up out of the blue yesterday and dumped a ton of rain in a short time. It was full of thunder and lightning. The dogs were NOT thrilled, and since I was the only one in the house, all five indoor dogs clustered around me. Penney and Carlton were under my desk. Harvey was beside my chair. Alfred was standing on the other side of the chair panting into my face. At least Goldie just stayed on “her” couch.

Eventually, Penney wormed her way into my lap and did that unbearable wiggling and trying to squirm up to the top of my head, or inside me. I’m not sure what her intent is, but it’s hairy, hot, and whiny. Thank goodness I discovered the guys were stranded in the garage so I “had” to take them umbrellas. That allowed the dogs to distribute themselves among three people. Whew.

Help ME!

And oh yes, I’ve had my dose of cuteness. look at Jhayati! She’s so soft! And like my dad, she’s never met a stranger. Sara is in love. I’m pretty thrilled, too.

I Collect Collections

Do you have any collections?

Todays blog prompt made me lol. Do I have any collections? Afraid so. And it started early. Heck I still have some of the first things I ever collected, porcelain horses from my grandfather, as I mentioned recently.

There’s one more, but her leg needs to be repaired.

I come by this honestly. I love sorting and categorizing things, as did my mom. I guess it kept me out of trouble as a kid! I was so busy organizing piggy banks, making card catalogs for my books and lining up my Hot Wheels cars that there was no time to get in trouble.

One of two childhood piggy banks I still have.

So, I declare that collections are healthy and only a problem when you think they’re a problem. No, I’m not a minimalist.

Wine. Can’t forget that collection.

I have collected things with pansies on them for decades. They still make me smile. Mom loved pansies. Mom also had some cool purple glass stuff. I recently shared my purple glass window in the bathroom. Here are teacups.

These were also Mom’s

And there are still more horse statues. And rocks. And nail polish (I need to stop that one). And books, yarn, crystal, wine corks, dogs, horses, ugh. Too much. It makes me happy, sparks joy, or whatever.

If my collections become a problem later in life, I’m sure someone else will enjoy them when they go thrifting. It’s fine with me.

The vet came today. This is our annual reminder that having lots of animals is very expensive. But I’m glad we can avoid certain illnesses, know the dogs don’t have heart worms, and soon will know the horses passed their annual Coggins test.

The dogs were better than usual. That’s not saying much, since four had to be sedated. Goldie had a great time and volunteered to go back in the trailer numerous times, even though she got bonus shots for allergies and her leg sore she won’t stop licking.

I’m a good girl.

Penney, the unstable one, managed to get her shots like a big girl. Harvey still growled through sedation, Alfred got real zonked, Vlassic had to be carried into the trailer, and Carlton was quite a challenge to catch. He even ran off while sedated. But they all did it!

I’m resting up.

I was too busy helping to take horse photos, but they were troopers, even when the assistant was learning to take blood and give shots. She did great! Mabel was deemed too thin, Apache was too fat, and the other two were just right. I’m glad to get that taken care of for another year.

I had an injured toenail. Who knew? All fixed.

So Many Tasks, So Little Internet

It’s good to be home after a fun few days. Many family members were glad to see me and Lee.

Other residents were not so glad.

Excuse me. Why are you barging into our baby bird and poop production area?

Horses were also glad, and I was relieved to find Apache semi-clean after big rain. Drew, on the other hand, has mud dreadlocks that I’ll wait until tomorrow to fix. They at least got their exercise and food.

It rained a lot. You can see how high the water got. Our backup culvert got used for the first time in over a year.

Luckily, the ranch didn’t get struck by lightning or hailed on. Just rain. I guess if lightning struck, it couldn’t break my internet access any more than it already is. Sigh.

Good news: black-eyed susans are in bloom.

I came home with a big to-do list, most of it involving accessing websites. I had four or five Master Naturalist blogs, two horse shows to register for, weather data to look up, etc. Too bad for me. I believe I’ve used up my personal hotspot bandwidth. I got one short Master Naturalist blog up after 45 minutes.

And every flower seems to have its own lynx spider!

The to-do list did contain some non-internet tasks, so I got them all done. At least I have rainbow nails ready for the work week, which I guess will start off at the Red House, until I get that router fixed.

Circle of Life Turns with a Boom

Life is hard on the animals around Walker’s Creek these days. And life is hard on humans everywhere these days. After dealing with the animals and watching the Parade of Dead People (the national television news) this evening, I lapsed into an anxiety attack. I have just about had enough of death and sadness.

Sunrise, sunset, yadda yarda

Those of you who are my Facebook friends know that early this morning there was a very big boom, which scared Penney half to death. The power proceeded to go out, but I tried to keep working until my phone hotspot gave up the ghost. We discovered my son’s power was also out, and Mandi’s, but not Sara’s. So it was local.

A good day to sit outside, which we did

It wasn’t too long until it came back on. Then, one of the nice people from the electric co-op came over to check on us. He said a squirrel caused the issue, across the road. I didn’t think much of it, because well, squirrels are always doing that form of suicide by transformer.

I spent much of the rest of the afternoon trying to resurrect my router, which was also killed by the squirrel. It is SO frustrating trying to get online customer service…but I did it and got a repair scheduled. Go Suna!

Once again, I went outside to breathe. The woods is my friend, long as I’m careful.

I was already a bit nerved out by all this, when I went out to get some fresh air and eggs. That’s when I noticed the vultures had found Neighbor Coyote. I’m not sure if I’m thrilled that it is lying in state where I can see it.

We’re the janitors

I went into the chicken house only to find the rat snake lounging across the chicken nests. Oddly enough, though, I got five eggs today (including one from Not Dead Betty!), so that can’t be what’s keeping the snake so thick and shiny…I think it’s eating the mice. If that’s the case, we’re still buddies. That is the biggest rat snake I ever saw, though. I could really see how thick it was today (no phone for evidence).

The circle of life is still chugging along for the rat snake, and it is with the horses, too, even though Apache and Mabel weren’t really interested in the farrier visit today. Eventually Apache came in with me, but I had to take a bucket of food out and rattle it to rouse Mabel. Of course, she was the one who needed to be trimmed the most. Her hooves are cracking and it’s hard to trim them, because they aren’t growing too much. On the other hand, Apache’s heels are growing like crazy from the grass, even though I’m rationing him. That’s stressing me out, too.

Mabel had her eye on those vultures

The thing that got me in the big downward spiral was finding out that it wasn’t just any squirrel that killed the power; it was the neighbors’ pet squirrel, Sandy. They’d been feeding and taming her for three years! These folks really love their animals, too. That sounds almost as bad as when I lost Stella and Brody and could do nothing to help them.

I have a sinking feeling this squirrel that visited last week was Sandy. Sniff.

So, Sandy and her friends across the road are also in my thoughts.

I do wish I hadn’t come home from buying horse food to try to relax, only to have Lee watching the news. Young man killed by cops. Multiple people killed by some messed up person. That’s in the US. Then war and more war and starvation. I try so hard to have a good perspective on the balance of good and bad in the world, but it’s just one of those periods where my balance is off.

Penney says she will cheer me up

It doesn’t help that I keep falling down. I’m either having a clumsy period or still getting used to my new glasses prescription. Nonetheless, it’s annoying. No, I don’t think I’m sick, have MS, or have Parkinson’s. I did JUST have a checkup!

The week can now go uphill. It has my permission.

Mostly Square and Mostly Wet Photos

It’s rained for many hours. That usually doesn’t happen here. Today’s rain was what Lee calls “a good soaking rain,” which I hope means soil moisture is being replenished.

Wet red yucca, one of the few plants actually planted here.

I endeavored to find inspiration today, since it’s so cold and wet. The temperature has changed so little today that I wonder if my temperature blanket will have a solid square when I get to today.

I finished February last night. You can see it getting warmer.

My sick chicken got upset being confined so I let her out. This morning, there she was, all wet on the ground. So I took her into the warmer and dryer hen house. I thought at least she could feel less damp. But no, I went to check late this afternoon and she had dragged herself all the way to the other end of the chicken run. At least she’s under the covered part. I’m not good at veterinary tasks.

Poetically wet thistle.

Taking pictures of wet things, and cropping them square, has slightly cheered me up. All the plants and insects are hanging in there, at least.

Rain bounces off me!

I can’t get to the horse pens to feed them. The drainage situation there is hard to solve. But they seem fine with all the nice grass and don’t mind wading through puddles to get in their shelter. Apache is probably enjoying the lack of sun on his pink skin.

The rain returned as soon as I came back inside. I guess the ponds will keep flowing into Walkers Creek.

It’s time to snuggle with dogs and stay dry. I hope you enjoyed the wet or square things.

Celebration of Floral Diversity

Long day that at least brought good rain without an accompanying tornado warning, that’s what it was. I did get out in the dampness to look for new flowers. Two I saw yesterday when I didn’t have the phone with me were hiding thanks to the rain, but I was pleased to spot our patch of interesting paintbrush flowers.

Four shades.

These usually red flowers do sometimes show some variety. My friend nearby has some yellow ones, too. I think they look wonderful in yellow, though, even if it makes them less interesting to hummingbirds. The apricot one is pretty spectacular, too.

I’d have had some beautiful wine cups to share, but yesterday the tenants turned the field behind the house into little while marshmallows of haylage. My hope is that they come right back.

Former wildflowers. And oats or something that they harvested.

Oh well. I have a few spots with grass making blossoms. Here’s some pretty peppergrass and little quaking grass.

You know, if you don’t mow until the flowers go to seed, you get a lovely show every year. Here are the two sides of my road. I like my side.

I guess we each get to do what we want to on the land we’re in charge of. We have some freedoms still! Speaking of which, now that the fish are gone, Mabel is free to swish her nose in the water all she wants.

Well, good, cause I’m thirsty. (Her ears are back because Apache is coming up behind her to make her move.)

And the sickly hen seems a bit better! You never know.

Thanks for the update, Suna!

Roses Are Red, but Bluebonnets Are REALLY Blue

Not much exciting going on today, so I’m sharing some jaw-dropping photos of bluebonnets on our property, taken by the great photographer and legendary hermit, Ernest Lee Bruns, Jr.

My contribution to the theme is the latest temperature blanket square, which is grass green and celestial blue.

This also happens to be the colors of the kids’ high school, McNeil High School. Not easy colors to work with.

One more photo by Lee. He and Carlton balance each other out beautifully.

My sleepy boys

More tomorrow, perhaps!

Rolling Home Improvements – No Bull!

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.

Hey, where’s the dinette?

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.

It’s not a table now, it’s a desk!

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.

I don’t own a huge, black horse.

Hmm. Droodles and Apache were in the bull’s pasture and Haggard was relaxing in a horse pen. Interesting.

We like having him around.

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!

In Conclusion

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.

Martha and Vlassic had a lot of catching up to do.

Goldie and Her Friends Attend to Important Matters

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.

Hello, hello, let’s all take our places.

Apparently, the dogs and cattle had some items to discuss, and Goldie was in charge of getting things going.

Now let’s settle down!
Where the heck are the refreshments? The cows aren’t sharing their milk.
It’s time for the meet and greet. Let’s all touch noses. Wait your turns, Brownie and Blackie!
Now that we’re all here, let’s go over the dog agenda. You cows need to stop moving around in the woods at night. We can’t hear the coyotes and hogs for all your stomping.
Wait wait! The rest of the dog committee wants to make our points!
Ooh. It’s Alfred. We have to listen to him. He guards us. Let’s all touch his nose.
Dang it, I’ve lost control of the meeting. You guys, get back with the group. Penney, go back inside.
We’re breaking into subcommittees. Mooers to the left, stompers to the right, please. Barkers in the middle.
I’m lobbying for less barking and more nose touching. Will you go along?

At the above point, Vlassic and this calf appeared deep in conversation. The calf was nodding and seriously considering what Vlassic had to offer.

Meeting adjourned! Let’s go bark, moo and stomp!

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.

Things I’m Grateful for Today.

To be truthful, the number one thing I’m grateful for is my tack room. It smells pretty good in here for a room full of horse feed.

It’s clean, mouse free, and cheerful. And not stinky.

Number 2: Happy horses. Apache is calm again today, Drew has been running around with Dusty, and Mabel has let me rub all over her.

Nice smelly thing, with view of Dusty putting his leg in his food tub.

Number Three: Good health news about dear friends. I was so relieved to learn a former neighbor is recovering from a bad stroke, and my friend Jeff got his eye worked on again.

Number 3.5: the goldfish enjoying their evening snack (food that falls off horse lips after they eat)

Number Four: Returning birds. I was greeted by the sweet sound of a red-winged blackbird this morning. Plus, the barn swallows are swooping and chattering outside my office. I love that sound.

Swallow at work

Number Five: I got to see some local friends when I went to get a prescription filled. I was off really early because I’d started work at 6 am today. You can edit a lot of job aids in that silence.

I’m Not Grateful for…

Why was I working so early? Because I was awakened by the familiar horror of skunk breath. Yep, Goldie got another one. Once more I had to remove pitiful remnants of an animal who was where it shouldn’t have been. Once more Lee and I were trying to deodorize a giant dog. Ugh. But the rest of my day has been fine.

Ole Skunk Breath.
something poetic

(formerly The Lost Kerryman)

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