More to Come

I’m honestly too tired to write. The good news is all animals got vaccinated and Goldie got spayed today. All survived so far. Much tranquilizer was used.

What happened?

Vlassic and Harvey were quite the pains in the butt. Carlton hid. But he was good. Shocking: Alfred let them cut his toenails like a gentleman.

No no no no no

That’s all I can muster. Long day for my family. But we are grateful for Dr Amy the mobile veterinarian!

Stress Relief

Between concerns about family member health and work intensity, I’ve got no blogging brilliance. The heat doesn’t help.

Things are just upside down.

It’s getting really dry around here and we’re surrounded by katydids and prairie boopies (grasshoppers). They are everywhere. But, there’s a life and death fight going on that has me fascinated. The garden spiders and one dog are trying to help. Who wins? Check it out.

Yeah. Way too little water and too many grasshoppers this year. I’m glad today’s project for the guys was more power washing. The ceilings of the porches and the exterior of the house sure look good.

Clean house.

It’s gonna be a long summer. I’m extra glad for that pool. I can even get exercise in it. By the way, since it’s a salt-water pool, it feels good to open your eyes underwater! Lee says it’s like eye drops.

I assume these cows won’t open their eyes under here!

Harvey, He Loves Babies

Yesterday my friend Mandi visited. She recently gave birth to a tiny boy named Cuyler. Yes, she’s got a 22-year-old son. But also has this surprise gift.

I’m a baby.

We sat and talked with her in the rocking chair that I sat in when my kids were born (which reminds me that I gave birth for the last time 29 years ago today).

Declan being rocked to sleep by the dryer.

Anyway. I enjoyed meeting the baby, and I guess I wasn’t the only one. Harvey was fascinated. I’m told he also loved a visiting toddler that came when we were out of town, too.

Mandi and Cuyler

What warmed our hearts, though, was that Harvey went over, got a toy, squeaked it a couple of times, and then tried to put it in Mandi’s lap, for the baby to play with. Isn’t that sweet?

We also got to sit on the porch.

I’m enjoying all the new life around here. I wish them peace and safety throughout their lives.

Peace.

Easter Walk

Much nature has been seen today, which makes for a perfect celebration of rebirth. Kathleen took me out to the woods and pasture to see some trapdoor spider nests (which I didn’t get a picture of). Penney joined us, and she had a lot of fun.

I’m exploring.

We found some really fun things, including lots of rocks. This one looked like a skull to us.

We love our rocks.

There were tiny mushrooms, dead crawfish (thanks to the crop duster), three types of sedge, a beautiful snakeskin in the tree that no longer is covered with grapevines, milkweed, water butter cups, wild garlic, and so many evening primroses.

The best sighting of the day came from my friend in Milano, Tarrin. Look at all these icky tent caterpillars! Wow!

Ready to make a tent, I guess?

I have a lot of horse stuff, which I’ll share later. Now I’ll enjoy my family.

Why Do I Work the Hardest When I Feel the Worst?

First, I do not have anything contagious; my lunch (which was delicious) disagreed with me. And I felt okay this morning, when I worked on so many different things that it made my head spin.

I need to stop and admire the flowers, like Fiona.

After a fun time telling a new coworker fun things to do where she lives (one neighborhood over from where the kids grew up in Brushy Creek), I headed out to lunch with Anita for our newly traditional weekly gab-fest. It was so nice to just share our week together like we used to.

I told her they got this far on the pool house deck.

By the time I finished getting groceries that Lee had missed when he went out (plus ice cream—why I usually stay home), my stomach was sad. Rather than go to bed and rest, I instead dove into every work project I could think of, including some stuff that hurt my head. Me learning SharePoint is probably like my coworkers trying to learn Planview. It is counterintuitive and won’t let me do what I want to do.

Another exciting home improvement is this screen door to the garage. No chickens allowed!

Actually it is probably descended from the bane of my existence when I did websites, the dreaded Microsoft FrontPage, which let you make any website you wanted, as long as it looked just like one of its templates. I digress.

Goldie says, “Focus, Suna.”

But by golly, I made a thing I find absolutely hideous, but is quite SharePointy and full of big margins, giant useless images, and not enough information to tell you anything. Yay. It did, however, take my mind off my stomach hurting.

I’ll clean your ears.

I then wrote a bunch of blogs for other organizations, did miscellaneous to-do items, and nearly checked off all the bullets in my bullet journal for the day. So far I only have one bullet for tomorrow. Ah. Horse stuff with Sara!

Another Topic

By the way, I got recertification for another year as a Texas Master Naturalist! I’m enjoying it more this year, since it’s a lot less stressful just being the secretary. And no, I will not take over the website until I retire from paid employment. Boundaries! I have them!

Hey, look, I’m with my most faithful blog reader, Catherine!

I’m quite proud of my fellow volunteers, though, and so glad I get to see them again. I just had to hug a couple of women I’d missed so much. And I was very sad to learn that Sam, one of our members in the last class, had passed away this week. He was so helpful to our older members and did some good work.

So yes, life’s short. That’s why I spent good time with my horses and Fiona this afternoon. I groomed and loved on them as hard as I could. It was my reward for getting through the afternoon of mental and physical owies. It’s just so peaceful when everyone is in a good mood and crunching away on their dinners.

It’s not peaceful on the patio. By the way, Alfred is just to the right of the photo, pawing for attention.

Whatever you are celebrating this weekend, enjoy it. I’ll enjoy what everyone else is celebrating, with thoughts of peace and kindness to all, even those who want to cause you pain. I’m just not letting it happen!

A Rare Sighting of Wonder

Yesterday, my friend Mandi dropped by to pick up the baby blanket I finished recently, so her imminent little boy will have a nice warm blanket, perfect for Texas summers. Ha. Well, it will be perfect for cold air-conditioned rooms and draughts. Drafts. Whichever.

We spent most of our time over by the horses, because she needed some horse time and I had to feed the equines. I showed her the new and improved tack room, into which I am slowly moving my things.

Vlassic is fond of the chair, which Mandi shared she had tried to give away or throw away multiple times, but must have been waiting to serve as the tack room chair all along.

She also got to enjoy watching me work with Drew briefly. He acted like a doofus at first and was running off to eat grass with no regard to me, but once I got him into the round pen, he remembered what he was supposed to be doing and was just fine. I didn’t want to work with him too much, since he’d had so much time off and had been sick, but at least he got a few jumps and circles in to remember his job.

You starve me, human (he now is on the other pasture with more grass).

When we were done, we walked over to the hen house to gather the day’s production (they are in extra-productive mode right now, with 6-7 eggs a day, which is not bad for just eight hens).

I saw something in the corner of my eye and looked up. There, whirring and spiraling, was a flock of birds. They weren’t geese, since they were the wrong shape and there was a noticeable lack of honking. The birds were not in any particular formation, either, which also ruled out cranes or ducks. They really weren’t making much noise at all.

This is pretty much exactly what we saw, only from someone else near Dallas a few weeks ago. Image © Russ Hoverman Creative Commons.

Of course, I didn’t have any binoculars. I even had left my phone elsewhere! That’s not like me! So, I memorized what they looked like. To me they looked like seagulls, not something you see often here, due to a lack of sea. I took note of the black wing stripes.

An idea of what the formation looked like. Image © Russ Hoverman Creative Commons.

After that, we just watched them fly. They sparkled in the sun as they turned and spun. We were in awe. There must have been a hundred or so, shiny, white and swirling. We watched until they flew out of sight, heading northward.

Screenshot of Merlin Bird ID

When I got back to my phone, I immediately pulled up one of the most helpful bird-watching apps I’ve found, Merlin Bird ID from Cornell Labs (an institution I happily give my charitable donations to). This app has you input a few facts about the bird you saw, then gives you a list of possible birds it could have been. What’s really GREAT about the app is that it knows exactly where you are and has a huge database of past bird sightings for different times of year to draw from.

And that was the key to my bird identification. The app knew what tends to migrate at this time of year in the center of the United States. We were witnessing the migration of Franklin’s gulls (Leucophaeus pipixcan) from South America as they head up to the Great Lakes and marshes in the center of North America. How lucky we were to be outside and looking up in time to see that!

This is the kind of thing that makes life worth living for a naturalist. I’ll remember the sight for the rest of my life.

As it is, life goes on. The gutters are functional now and they got a little test yesterday when we got actual normal rain without any tornadic events.

They go into the ground now. Fancy.

In more Hermits’ Rest news, today the guys are building an entry deck for the pool house. That is going to make bringing things in and out much easier than trying to step on a couple of cement blocks, from which Lee almost fell yesterday, anyway.

Deck in progress. Getting it level was not easy.

It’s currently hard to work, because cattle in the next field are having some sort of moo-off. They can be impressively loud when they are in a cow-tizzy. The dogs are doggedly protecting us from these invisible monsters.

Shut up, cows.

And just for laughs, yesterday I put my new pool float in the hot tub. It was mighty comfortable. I was told it looked like I was on a tiny version of the Lazy River ride in Schlitterbahn (a water resort in Texas), where you get in an inner tube and float around and around in a circle of river water. I don’t care. It was fun (yes, this was also the image from yesterday’s little bitty blog post).

Have a great Friday Eve.

Horsemanship Goals Achieved, with Fun and Friendship

I wanted to share some of the things I’ve been doing with Drew and Apache over the past few days, in the wake of Drew’s choking incident and me putting in a lot of work with Apache on leadership and partnership. It’s all good, so that’s a huge relief!

Friday I had a late lesson over at Tarrin’s. Apache was not in the mood to go, but he did. I think the horses liked the other trailer better, because it was more open. But, we can’t tow it with the Tahoe, so too bad. Fancy trailer it is. By the time we got there he was all in a lather and everything was all dusty, but by gosh by the time we got to the working area, he was ready to work. Now, the work he did wasn’t his idea of a good time, at first, but he was a real sport about making attempts at jumping over the little jump. It wasn’t any fun for me, since I had to use the broken whip that tries to break my arm, and my arm was already tired from grooming him an hour the day before. He’s quite a good shedder.

But don’t I look good once all that hair is brushed off? I’m shiny!

After I got on him, we both learned a lot in an exercise involving trotting circles and side passing. Since I never thought I’d get that far in my feeble attempts at horsemanship, I was quite pleased to get the chance to work on it. We are both getting the hang of it, and again, Apache is quite the trooper at doing hard things. That way they will become easier!

The best part of the lesson was another test of Apache’s trail willingness. Tarrin walked behind us this time, and I got to practice being calm when he decided to turn around. It all went extremely well and we had a lot of fun. That’s when I spotted the violets in the woods and we forgot all about horse lessons and reveled in a new discovery. Plus, we got to look at all the axis deer in the next pasture over. No one spooked each other. That was cool.

Look at all those antlers.

It was such a great feeling to know that at last, he will go where I ask him to, because he trusts me not to send him anywhere scary. Tarrin got these nice photos of us looking all confident and happy together.

As for Drew, I told Tarrin I was concerned about him going so long between meals and not being able to do much in his pen. She told me she’d had a horse choke this week (it’s an epidemic, we think), and that she is feeding her wet food and watching her carefully, but she does have grass to eat. Our grass is still pretty short, so it would be hard for Drew to choke on it, anyway, so I decided he needed to be let out.

Apache is annoyed he doesn’t get the fancy soupy food.

I was also worried about him developing stomach ulcers from being without food, especially since the vet had indicated his tooth grinding was a symptom. Hmm. Well, what a nice coincidence it was that Kathleen had many, many syringes full of ulcer medicine that Mabel hadn’t taken. Drew is all set in that department now, too.

Yes, he is trying to open the gate. It is not like he’s starving.

That boy is eating a LOT and seems in a much better mood now.

All that continued yesterday, when nothing that the other horses were doing bothered him. Other than Apache starting back in on his grass eating, I could not complain. And Drew was so good and sweet. He comes right up for me to give him his Pepto Bismol stuff.

Thank you for the grass.

Today was really a big day for me and Apache, though. We went on a trail ride with Sara and Aragorn and I felt no nerves at all during any part of it. We managed to open a gate and at least push it shut. Score! And when I had to dismount to unlock the one with the barbed wire that tries to kill you, I had an easy time getting back on using the gate rails.

It’s pretty out here. And look who isn’t eating grass.

Then we walked and chatted and had a fine time. Apache did try the grass thing, but after whacking him with the saddle strings a couple of times, he got the idea. We went all around the creek, walked over logs, and easily settled when anything got scary. The best thing for me was that we were able to go up the hill to the woods, walk in, turn around when the way was blocked, and go back down calmly. We even went back up and walked up to the gate to our house to say hi to Goldie. Apache was good as he could be, possibly even having fun.

I love Sara’s new helmet brim! It looks so good and keeps her head shaded. I want one!

As you can see, it’s a beautiful day. We had a lot of fun trying new things and seeing what we could do. This was my horsemanship goal, to be able to go out on our property and ride around with my friends without worrying or spending the whole time feeling like I am in a battle. Sure, there will be challenges, and there were some today, but mostly we had fun and so did our hard-working horses, who got a break from cantering and leg yielding.

Penney says hi

This is my view from the front porch as I type. No complaints for me. I’m in a time right now where there’s anticipation instead of stress, peace instead of worry, and joy everywhere I look. Even a short period like this in your life is one to treasure. And in these times, it’s especially true.

I should work out here every day.

And oh yes, even the dogs are all mellow and happy. The chickens are all laying. And Fiona is free grazing, her favorite hobby. The Hermits’ Rest is a restful place today.

Hey

I have to write something to keep my streak of posting ever day up. So! Hey!

Violets

We found violets at Tarrin’s place during my lesson with Apache. We had to stop and have a moment of excitement. We both love violets. They make me think of my mom. and Apache did great at his lesson.

Saddle racks!

Hey! Look! The tack room now has custom saddle racks!

A baby!

And look! We have a lovely visitor who brought her baby, Kathleen’s granddaughter. I miss babies. At least I can borrow a grandchild occasionally.

Hey, look, we have a LOT of dogs.

Back to Life, with Dogs and Hotels

There was something like regular life last night and today. Work was normal. Animals were normal. Weather was spring-like.

Dogs were typical

Lee and I tried our darnedest to watch a Nature show about animals in the Rocky Mountains. However, Goldie decided to watch with us. Wolves and coyotes made her run out and bark away at the intruders. She liked the elk, but when they went into a city and caused traffic jams, the car horns made her run out to see who was visiting. This continued for most of the show.

Why are all these objects torturing me?

(By the way, she also tried to ear Mr. Robotto again.)

Goldie had a love/hate relationship with this bear and her cubs.

Luckily she loved Grizzly 399, who had triplets. As the photo shows, she was fascinated. we were glad Penney ignored it and Carlton watched quietly.

What about me?

Alfred has been having a hard time. A couple of days ago I noticed blood on the floor. No, Goldie wasn’t in heat. It was Alfred! He had a wound on his side. It hurt. I’ll spare you photos. So we sprayed Cut Heal on him, which pissed him off but stopped the bleeding.

I’m a delicate flower

We still don’t know what happened. We looked everywhere but found nothing suspicious. No one shot him, either. He’s been safely in our dog area. So, Lee gave him antibiotics and pain killers. He was sad for one day, but has perked up. Naturally, he rolled in dirt, which caked in the ointment. But hey, no blood.

Thank you.

There hasn’t been any other drama, just work, knitting, worrying about family, and looking for signs of spring. Here’s are some flying friends.

I drove to Austin today for a much-needed haircut. I finally got it short enough. On the way I saw some tornado damage that made me sad. On Chandler Road, the house with the dog training space looked awful and their neighbors had horse barn damage. I hope the horses were ok. I saw a couple that looked ok.

I like it, and that’s what matters.

In my old neighborhood it looked much more spring-like than at the ranch. 80 miles south makes a difference! I love the redbud trees and Texas Mountain Laurel. Ahh.

My former neighbor’s yard was full of birds.

Another normal thing that happened was getting to go to book club. It was so great to see folks I really care about in person again. Plus I met Marsha, who bought the Bobcat Lair, which was a pleasure. And the discussion is always good. I get to host in the summer. I guess it will be at the pool.

And now I’m in that same weird hotel, but tonight in a quiet room. Ahh. I enjoyed trying out night mode on my phone camera.

Hail Drops Keep Falling on My Head

What a day! I’ve experienced laughter, surprise and true joy today. Where to start?

Surprise

Let’s start with surprise, shall we? I got a voicemail from the local florist saying I had flowers and I’d better hurry over before they closed. I’d been in a long meeting, so we went over just in time to get the flowers, all the while wondering what the occasion was.

This is some fine floral arrangement.

Well what a surprise to find out that these beautiful spring flowers were sent to me by the four horses I’ve been caring for since my niece has been dealing with health issues. I guess they really appreciate the magnesium supplements?

Awwwww

I’m just glad they are okay! It what a sweet surprise. I was really touched. Now let’s talk about laughter.

Moo!

The dogs were going on and on this morning while I was trying to concentrate. There was also much mooing. It turns out that the young cattle next door wanted to play and were actually mooing to get the dogs’ attention.

The sky was beautiful.

Lee and I got a good chuckle watching the dogs and calves run and play with each other.

Speaking of laughing, I’m laughing because we actually managed to get most of the skunk smell out of the house! The stuff we used worked! Even Alfred is ok. Go Angry Orange stuff!

But what about the pure joy? It has to do with the hail drops in the title of this post. It was getting stormy tonight, so I enjoyed taking some cloud photos.

Rain on the horizon.

I ran out to put the chickens in and let the horses out after dinner as raindrops began to fall.

Storm front.

After dinner I took a few photos, because it was cool how it looked clear to the south and very stormy to the north.

The pretty side.

By the time I could get out to the hot tub to try to soothe my back, drops of rain were falling. Poor Lee really needed the hot tub after falling yesterday. We both made it in as the rain started falling harder.

There was lightning and constant thunder, sounding like machinery. Now, I know you should get out of the water when lightning is happening. But I thought what the heck. I’ve achieved all my life goals. Let’s enjoy the show.

Aftermath.

While I didn’t care about me, I didn’t want to damage my phone, so there are no photos of my joy. But wow, it was beautiful to sit in the hot water with cold rain falling and making beautiful patterns on the water.

Then, ooh, little sharp pains hit my face and ears. Hail was falling! There were tiny ice cubes all over the patio. It was so much fun to sit there and experience Nature in her fury.

Horses on their way to hide. I knew all was well when they came back out of their shelter!

Soon the storm passed. I was so full of joy. I was also lucky. Apparently the storm picked up strength and is bringing bad hail to the east of us. I’m glad giant ice rocks didn’t fall on my head!

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