Meadow of Meadowlarks

When I woke up this morning, my Facebook feed was full of beautiful pictures of the heavy snowfall in North Carolina last night.

Gina’s puppies didn’t even wait for daylight to check out all their snow. Photo credit: Gina Loffink

My friend Gina has two labradoodle puppies who experienced the joy of snow for the first time, and I just had to share her photo of their adventure.

Here it’s just wet and cold, but still beautiful. When I looked out the front window this morning, it looked like the ground was moving. My binoculars revealed there were dozens and dozens of Eastern Meadowlarks bobbing and hopping in the meadow.

If I go out and take pictures, they’ll fly away. So here’s a stock photo.

It’s great to see them in such large numbers, because they are one of the species in decline due to loss of habitat. I’m happy to say that our meadows full of native plants (and tasty bugs) are just what these guys want!

Meadowlark migration from Giphy.

Welcome, winter visitors! Migrate here any time!

Just Enjoy the Season

This row of cypress trees has only been at my office in Austin for a couple of years, but they already make a striking autumn display.

I often just walk around and enjoy whatever season we’re experiencing. It’s the last part of autumn here, and in central Texas that’s when the leaves change, and for a week or so, it’s really lovely. It’s been that way in Austin and Cameron this week.

The sky last night was very moody. It rained later. Too bad we hadn’t set up the weather station yet.

Last night I got home after a late meeting, just after sunset. The landscape looked so stark and beautiful in that light.

Brody the cattle dog sniffs the excellent smells of the mown hayfield.

The guys who lease the Wild Hermits land have just made hay out of our pasture, and the dogs love the smells. And the dead mice, no doubt.

I love leafless trees. The structure fascinates me.

Enjoy what I saw last night!

Carlton and Vlassic roll in…something.

How Are the New Dogs?

A couple of people have asked me how Carlton and Vlassic, the two dogs we most recently brought into our ranch community, are doing. As I work on my next family history post, I’ll take a break to talk about these two sweethearts.

As people keep saying, he’s SO white!

Carlton the Dog Man

Carlton was the little, sad dog I got from the Cameron dog pound, A Touch of Love. He had been chained up outside since separating from his mother at just 6 weeks. I thought he’d make a great small dog to take back and forth to Austin with me. I wrote a long post on his genetics a few months ago.

Carlton is now a great, cheerful, medium-to-large dog who stays at the ranch with his three other ranch dog buddies. He is still one of the most beautiful dogs I’ve ever seen, and he is full of love and happiness. He will be a year old the first of the year, so we hope he has mostly stopped growing. It’s nice that he is about the same height as Brody the cattle dog and Harvey the chunky Rottweiler-ish mutt.

They bought this massage chair just for me!

He does not look much like we thought he would. He is slim and muscular, with very long legs. He runs like the wind, as long as he knows where he is going. We’ve had his eyes looked at again, and he seems to have a cataract in one eye that’s slowly growing, but he sees much better than we’d feared he would. 

He is as soft as he is lovely.

Classic Vlassic

Vlassic just showed up out of nowhere in August, right as we were realizing Carlton did not have the personality of an indoor Austin dog. We took him home from the neighbors’ house, intending to find him a home. Well, we found him our home!

Where is my human to sleep on?

This little dachshund-mix charmer melts hearts everywhere he goes. and has turned into a great little commuter. He goes back and forth with me to Austin, where he’s brought out the “real dog” in his friend Pickle. They run and play, and it makes us so happy to see Pickle not acting like a grumpy old lady all the time.

The vet said he was about a year old when we got him, so we have assigned him a birthday of when he showed up. 

I’m trying to get my smell all over the new couch, says Harvey.

Sleeping at our house

With all these dogs, sleeping might be a challenge. We do not have crates for them all! So what do we do?

  • Alfred the Anatolian Shepherd sleeps outside. He guards the ranch.
  • Brody the cattle dog mostly sleeps on the couch in the bedroom, but joins us some of the time.
  • Carlton has a dog bed he likes in the bedroom, unless it is really cold. He usually gets in bed at sunrise for snuggle time.
  • Harvey sleeps in the bed and growls grumpily if anyone moves and disturbs his beauty rest. He is quite an immovable object.
  • Vlassic sleeps directly glued to a human being all night, preferably completely under the covers. It’s a good thing he doesn’t stink. 

Amazingly, Lee and I sleep fine.

I finally don’t hate the way the living area at the ranch looks. Come see us!

PS

We replaced our stinky dog couch with one less likely to get ruined by the dogs. We also got a new rug, table, and lamp. Don’t worry, the dogs have already messed up the rug. But, that’s life with five dogs on a ranch.

Just Another Chilly Day…

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Suna was keeping Carlton warm, or vice versa, this morning.

Autumn arrived with a bang yesterday (that high school football game was CHILLY!), and it got me to thinking I ought to write more little “slice of life” posts in among the more serious ones. So, here’s what’s going on today.

Brr

I was so cold night before last that I bundled up extra last night by sleeping in my bathrobe. I guess the dogs were cold, too, because at one point I had two heads on me, plus one at my feet. I just did my best to roll over. When Lee woke up, he saw me sleeping with Carlton under my arm. The little weenie dog was totally under the covers!

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That door will now go up and down, as a door should. Lee is telling the garage door guy all about our real estate business model in this picture. Always looking for houses to buy.

A Much Needed Repair

And today the chill didn’t stop a garage door repair guy from cheerfully showing up and getting the right side door of our big garage working again. It had shaken itself totally out of alignment. Those are BIG doors.

Now I can park my car under there again. I think the mouse population has decreased and it will be safe again. Plus, I never put food in my car!

So, that’s today’s excitement. Later the horses may get groomed (they sure need it) and we’ll see if there are any more dead chickens. The sheep are still with us, thankfully.

Glorious Autumn

I interrupt my sharing from the conference I attended to share what a lovely afternoon my spouse, dogs and I had at the Hermits’ Rest yesterday.

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This is the back of a red admiral butterfly. I just love how this photo came out.

I came home from work, and just felt like taking a long walk. I gathered a few dogs and started my usual route around the property. As I went down toward where the arroyo stream meets the woods, something smelled wonderful. I realized it was a large bed of fall asters. The little valley had trapped the aroma.

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Asters and small bees.

The aroma had attracted more than just me, too. The flowers were literally abuzz and aflutter with bees of all sizes and at least six types of butterflies. I was really happy to see Lee come down to see me, so he could enjoy the sights, smells, and sounds with me.

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The monarch was in flower heaven.

I really didn’t take all that many photos, because we were just observing. Still, I have to share that we got at least one migrating monarch in the bunch! There were also Gulf fritilaries, a red admiral, fiery skippers (lots), and some painted ladies.

Continue reading “Glorious Autumn”

Dogs and Toads Don’t Mix

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Not much room for common sense in that brain.

We have been trying to get used to having five dogs here at the Hermits’ Rest. It’s quite a circus when they are all awake and wanting to play or tussle. Luckily, it’s quite calm when they are all zonked out from playing.

Our newest buddy, Vlassic, has really been fitting in well with the pack. He is playful, especially with Carlton and Harvey, but also cuddly in the extreme. Quite the lapdog he is.

He is also very much a dachshund. We’re guessing he may be more than half. And it’s his doxie heritage that got him in trouble this week!

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You can tell by the mud on his face that Vlassic likes to put his nose into things!

It’s so cute, but…

Lee was out walking the dogs in the late afternoon, as is his practice. It’s beautiful and not so oppressively hot once the sun is behind the trees. The puppies found one of the toads that lives around here. I do wish I had a photo to ID it, but it’s the usual toad.

Carlton and Vlassic were fascinated, especially Vlassic. He was jumping straight in the air and then poking it, like a doxie going after the vermin it’s bred to go after. Lee was really enjoying the antics of the dogs as they played. Vlassic even play-bowed to the toad, to try to get it to play back.

Then, Lee realized that the black bouncer wasn’t just poking. He was nipping at the toad. Whoops. Toads have secretions to keep animals from doing just that. They are NOT good for puppies.

As Vlassic began to foam at the mouth, Lee rushed the dogs back into the house and proceded to do his version of first aid, which, according to him, consisted of basically water-boarding the pup. The idea was to rinse all the toad secretions off his face and, is possibly, from inside his mouth.

Vlassic was not thrilled. But he did stop foaming. He ate all his dinner and fell asleep.

About 5:30 am, all that food came back up. But, once that was taken care of, he seemed okay.

Poor Lee was so relieved that he hadn’t let our little friend get poisoned to death.

Moral: keep dogs away from toads, even if they look friendly and playful.

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Carlton says he is too smart to eat a toad. Yeah, sure.

Keep Vlassic in your thoughts. Tomorrow he loses his favorite body parts. Doing our part to be good citizens and not create more unwanted pets.

I Believe We Have a Pack

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Carlton thinks we went out and got him a friend. Note the slobber on his back. That’s from Alfred, the Big Dog.

Who’s that playing with that puppy we only got a few months ago (and by the way, happy 7 month birthday to Carlton!)? Why, that’s Vlassic, so named by Sara the neighbor, because he looks like Anita’s dog, Pickle.

Honest. Not looking for a dog.

We’ve only had the beautiful Carlton for a few months, and we’ve been enjoying him very much. He gets along great with the other dogs, and we’re happy.

But, on Sunday, Sara was meditating in her office, when she saw something on the porch. She thought it was something one of her kids had left outside, but then it moved! It was a very, very black dachshund mix dog. He turned out to be very friendly, very healthy, and obviously a house dog.

Continue reading “I Believe We Have a Pack”