De-Fence-less

I didn’t work today and didn’t do too much, either. My biggest accomplishment was taking notes for a very long Master Naturalist Board meeting. I’m glad they were more boring when I was President.

I’m what you should have focused on.

Much of the day was spent writing a blog post on the big mushroom, which is finally dying. Turns out, it’s poisonous!

Bye!

The other highlight, if you can call it that, was grooming the horses. Poor Drew hadn’t been groomed since before he got sick, but he wasn’t too bad. He was shedding, but not too badly. But he was hungry, so I followed him around and got it done.

Grooming remnants.

Apache, on the other hand…oh my goodness that horse is hairy. I spent like 45 minutes and three different implements trying to put a dent in the hair. It had only been three days since he was brushed! It felt like grooming a bunny. I’ll try again tomorrow and maybe I’ll have time to ride. I guess birds have lots of nesting material now.

That hair gets in my way, says Buckeye.

Hey, what about the title of this post? We are fence-less in the side yard now. While I was blogging on the front porch, I got to watch the guys use both tractors to lift and pull and finally remove the posts for the fence we don’t need anymore. That tractor was jumping and flying, while the backhoe just carried stuff. I’m not sure they all were having fun.

It was fun to just relax, hang out with Lee, and do whatever I wanted to. I did knit a bit. Penney would like to show you my squares.

Outsmarting Equines

You’d think I’d be good at this by now, but I still have trouble getting the horses to eat their own special foods. I solved the problem with the four horses that aren’t mine by giving them all the same thing, one scoop of senior pellets, salt (or garlic+salt when I’m not out), and a supplement with magnesium. They still argue over it, but usually settle down.

Maybe I could mesmerize them with one of my sunflowers.

The other three are hilarious. Each thinks the other’s food is the best. Each of the horses wants Fiona’s plain diet horse food.

If I pretend to be invisible maybe I can eat.

Apache and Fiona want Drew’s alfalfa, oily stuff, special pellets, and salt. Drew is dying to eat Apache’s food, which doesn’t have enough calories for him. Sigh.

Mmm, dregs of Apache food.

I’d been wrangling the horses into separate spaces every day, but Fiona kept butting in on the expensive supplements. I really needed to have separate spaces for each of them.

I had to chase that darn donkey away from these delicious fattening Drew leftovers.

Wait, don’t I have four pens to put them in? Nope. Someone, who is a horse, managed to break one of the gates between the pens at the hinges in November. There are more important priorities right now than pen repair!

Hey, I have hands. And it’s International Women’s Day. I should do it myself. So, Suna the handy ranch woman handled it herself.

It’s a gate

I stood that gate up and went to get some wire. Of course, the black horse immediately knocked it down, because Fiona and her food were there. But I prevailed. I wired the heck out of that gate. I hope. And I was cared not to leave wire sticking out.

Out of horse pictures, so here are the flowers Lee got me. I was surprised they had sunflowers at the store!

Now the three equines get to eat their own food, with minimal squabbling. I hope, again. Because the horses kick each other when food is involved and Drew has ANOTHER unattractive chunk out of his hide. Real horses. That’s what they do.

Ranch Work Never Ends

That declaration should come as no surprise. There is always something new that needs to be done, or more likely, something broken that needs to be fixed. It’s a good thing we get to enjoy such lovely sunrises and sunsets! Today, the sky was pink 360 degrees around the ranch. Ahh.

A nice sight to wake up to!

The good stuff is that the dog fencing is all done, and most of the gates are in. The big ones are wide enough for a tractor or truck, so that equipment can get into the yard to work on various projects.

The gates are already handy, since some repairs needed to be done within the fenced area. For one, the pool guys discovered a leak in the pipe leading from the garage to the septic system. I guess it’s a good thing that water isn’t used too much. We would have guessed the earth shifted and broke it or something, that is until our intrepid team found the duct tape that had been holding the pipe together. There’s no way we would ever have known if the pool guys hadn’t dug that hole.

It’s fixed now.

Perhaps you now see why we no longer use the general contractor for this house. But wait, there are more reasons for that, right near the problem pipe.

Hmm.

Whoever ran the water lines and air conditioning stuff to our garage building did not bother to seal the holes into the building. That was sort of okay at first, since in the tack room (former office, living quarters, and other things) the walls kept the room sealed. But, something broke at some point and a hole had to be put in the wall.

You don’t want to know what’s in there.

You could easily see daylight from that hole in the wall. Guess who else could see it? Rats and mice. They got in and ate a bunch of chicken food and made a huge mess. Worse, they ate the plastic cover on my expensive refill container of fly spray. Why on earth? I really didn’t like them in there, and neither did anyone else, since they also ate cattle cubes.

One hole blocked. And yes we need to get the mold off the north side of the building. Of course, the pressure washer is broken. Ranches also break a lot of things.

Today we got them sealed out or in. All holes have been covered up. Now we just have to kill off whatever rodents are still in there. Otherwise, they could live a long time, and reproduce just like rodents tend to do. I’m not sure what we are going to do, since I don’t like keeping rat poison anywhere around dogs.

The really bad hole, also fixed.

Now wasn’t that an appetizing blog post? Let’s see if I can produce something less icky for tomorrow.

I Follow My Own Advice about the Woods

Any person who has read dozens of books about how wonderful trees are and how going out in the woods is so good for the psyche had BETTER go check out their own woods as often as possible. So, yesterday, after a day of writing and staring at screens, I went to check out the woods around here. Much has changed, but much has not.

Ah, trees and water.

As I mentioned earlier, fencing is going in to make a better experience for the dogs and us. To accomplish that, they had to make space for tractors to get in and build the fence. Many cedar elms and mesquite sacrificed their lives for that, but it was unavoidable if it’s eventually to be part of the residents’ cattle ranching empire.

It was a scorched earth policy.

I know perfectly well that a whole bunch of wildflowers and such will pop up immediately, so the earth will not be scorched for long. There has been talk of benches for viewing the woods and a treehouse being erected. We’ll see how long it takes for cattle to eat it, if it comes to pass (one thing I’ve learned about this family is they like to make plans, but only SOME of the come to fruition (probably for the best; I’m not complaining, just stating).

Currently, the chickadees think we built this pile just for them.

On my forest bathing adventure, I went past the tree cemetery and enjoyed some time listening to birds, trickling water, and leaves gently falling. While we probably do have an over-abundance of cedar elms, the wonderful thing about them is that they’re deciduous, so we get to enjoy some autumn color and a new view while the leaves are gone. They also explain why the soil is so rich and beautiful.

Where the fish and crawfish live.

I ended up just following the deer paths that wind through the wooded area between our house and the creek bottom. It was fun, but once I got home, I realized that all that ducking under branches had left me with interesting tree stuff in my hair. I washed my hair this morning, for your edification.

The path the animals use.

I checked out the pond in the bottom, which still has plenty of water in it, though it really didn’t rain much the whole time I was in Colorado.

I do love this pond. And hello, neighbors.

I also enjoyed the wide spot in the stream that leads to the creek, which I always called Deer Haven Pond, but now realize is a part of the stream and only a pond when the stream stops flowing. It is where all the animals hang out, because it’s quite hidden.

The “pond” enjoyed by deer, cattle, and apparently hogs.

The smells in the woods (other than cow poop) are so rich and earthy that I ended up just standing around and enjoying the scents and sounds. A little bunny hopped by, which alerted me to the many holes in one spot that must be their dens. Many little animals must enjoy all the fallen trees (mostly from the drought over ten years ago) as well.

The drought damaged many trees, so they keep dying off, slowly.

The coral berries are also decorating the woods. They don’t have a nice smell, but the color livens up the place and provides bird food all winter.

Cheerful coral berries.

In any case, just visiting my favorite area on the property was enough to keep my good mood flowing, even when the Bobcat Lair property failed to fund yesterday like it was supposed to, and our plans for the evening all changed. Big deal. I’m just living day by day and enjoying whatever comes up. I must have excellent blood pressure now!

Enjoy a few more images, and have a good day, whatever is going on in your part of the world. Unless it’s shopping. Ugh. I’m tired of Black Friday ads. Who had to invent that just to make yet another holiday all about shopping?

Ranchin’ Time

I had fun today getting reacquainted with the ranch and its inhabitants. I sure was glad to see that Peeper, the only chick we ever got past babyhood, is still peeping and growing. She has her comb coming in, and she looks like a darker version of her mom.

The dogs were glad to see me, ranging from black and white to copper and gold!

And of course, I was so glad to see the horses and Fiona. Apache is as furry as a teddy bear, but sound and happy.

I’m not out of condition; I’m fuzzy.

We went for a ride with Kathleen and Mabel. We had a good time until suddenly Kathleen disappeared.

Where did they go?

I looked and saw them zipping away. Mabel was dancing around. Finally Kathleen got off, and we went to check things out. She was waving and Mabel was kicking at her belly.

Kathleen yelled, “bees!” and I saw a bee around Mabel’s legs. It appeared to be a ground bee. They hadn’t bothered Apache, but Mabel must have stepped on their nest! Finally, the bee that chased them stopped on Mabel’s belly and Kathleen killed it with her shoe. Poor horsie!

After that we tried to ride again, but neither horse was remotely interested. They wanted their saddles off and some petting. As did Fiona and Remington, who were out with us.

Enough drama for one day.

Everyone was apparently starving by dinner time, because Fiona kept grunting at the dogs, and when she was done, she tried to drag poor Remington’s food away from him.

Remington is not pleased. Note strongly braced donkey legs

We guess she was tired from her own antics, which included getting into the swimming pool when I was riding. Sigh. And we were worried about the dogs! luckily, the new fencing that should keep donkeys out of the area around the house is being worked on now.

More to come tomorrow! But now it’s time to get some rest, because tomorrow starts another work week. Once again, Anita and I will share an office, except when I have to talk. I’ll show you why she can’t work in her own house in the next post.

Sunset, dog, and ranch stuff.

Mysterious Structures

Hmm. Our front “yard” suddenly has interesting sculptures or something. And it’s not rebar, it’s metal pipe.

Life-size hangman game?

They just erupted this evening. They weren’t there earlier today!

Another one.

They certainly look sturdy. Luckily I figured out where they were coming from, because I found a welding table over by the garage.

Aha. A fabrication area.

There’s actually a good reason for these structures. There will be a new fence going up, a bit sooner than originally planned. That will give the dogs the ability to run around in front of the house without the problems we’ve been having.

Who us? Cause problems?

Yeah. Goldie loves to go across the road to visit the neighbors. The very cute neighbor dogs like to come over here. We are all worried our dogs will get hit, like Brody did. and our dogs like to chase slow vehicles and people who are running or cycling. We don’t want that! They get over-excited and misbehave.

The dogs will have lots more space.

So the fence that was supposed to go up after the pool was done is going up now. There will be a temporary gate for pool vehicles. There’s plans for gates that will make it not too annoying for us.

It will be fun to see what happens with these.

Still, it looks like modern sculpture to me.

Getting Started on the Pool of Dreams

Getting started already? Where’s the concrete mixer? No, before the pool people get started, the Hermits’ Rest team has to prepare for their arrival. The first step for that is to reconfigure our fencing so a) the equipment can get into the back yard, and b) the dogs are kept out of the construction zone.

The dog part is made difficult, since we have to block off part of the back porch, but lucky for us, there’s a gate waiting to be used for something.

That will work, yep.

Then we had to figure out where to put a temporary fence. It was important to Lee to have as much space as possible for the six dogs to poop, and I certainly saw his point! The first place we selected was deemed too close to where pool workers will have to be.

This was deemed too close to the future pool.

Eventually we figured something out, and vowed to get more fencing up in front, which is already in the plans anyway, so the dogs won’t feel confined. The poor dears. After that, it was a quick matter of putting in the t-posts.

There was much dog supervision.

Only one post got all bent up by a rock or something, so that was pretty good. I got to fetch more posts, and had the challenge of getting them out of their packaging with nothing to break the strap that held them together. Ranchhand Suna managed just fine!

There we go.

The posts aren’t in all the way, so it will be easier to get them out when the project is over. Next up is adding the actual fencing material. The plan is to re-use some old shorter lengths of fencing rather than use any of the new rolls, which we will want for permanent fencing that is going up soon.

After that, the fence between the house and the garage will have to be removed so that bulldozers, bobcats, cement trucks, and equipment delivery vehicles can get in. One good thing about having absolutely NOTHING behind the house other than one pitiful tree is they won’t harm anything as long as they stay away from the propane tank and septic area (which will be marked!).

Hope your weekend was productive or restful, whichever YOU prefer!

Pitching in to Get Apache His New House

After taking a few days off for other stuff, we’re back in the final stretches of finishing the new horse pens over at our covered shipping container at the Hermits’ Rest. While I haven’t done the heavy digging or lifting, I’ve contributed more than the dogs have.

Why work, when you can relax beside the new giant porch fan?

Humans have been quite busy, though. Yesterday the trench was dug (by hand!) and the water lines put in for the two horse troughs and a sink/horse washing station. Doesn’t that sound fancy? No, I will not wash the horse in a sink; those are two separate things.

Once the water lines were in, it was time to move some dirt. The idea is that the ground should slope away from the shipping container, so that no pools of water will form if it rains hard from the south, or an enthusiastic drinker splashes a lot. So, more dirt was needed. Where did it come from?

The dogs won’t have their hill to climb much longer.

There’s a reason for making that small pond up by our garage. We needed to move some dirt and add it to low spots, and this stuff does the job. It’s certainly pretty soil, but rather clay-filled. Maybe that way it will shed water.

Goldie helped, when not trying to make friends with cattle.

At one point there were three supervisors and one heavy equipment operator, though in my defense, I had done some piddly little helpful things. Nonetheless, it was fun to watch the attempts at smoothing out those clay clods. And it was cool to see nothing under that shelter for the first time in many years!

Smoothing.

While this was going on, and while I wasn’t off horsing around, I did things that I could do. For one, I picked up a bunch of horse and donkey poop out of the pen where the equines currently spent much of their day, and brought it over to mix with some chicken poop compost to make some fine fertilizer for plants Kathleen is going to plant.

The other stuff I did was small, but saved some time for our tractor operator. I picked up a lot of the little pieces left over from the fencing rails. Some of it can be recycled into pieces of gates and such, and I have a feeling even the little things will be useful someday, somewhere. This was the second time I picked up scrap, and I brilliantly noted it was easier to put them in a wheelbarrow than to carry pieces in my hands. Guess what? That stuff gets hot in the sun.

And I picked up the larger pieces of rock and concrete that were hanging around the area, causing us to trip, or potentially bruising a horse hoof. They will be used in the planters, as well.

I was impressed my arms still worked after picking up all the hay on Sunday, but I was only a little sore. I even made my back feel better by riding Apache a bit, which was stalled by an unfortunate encounter with a moving utility vehicle. Apache thought it was Evil Personified. Sigh, all my fault, too. I’d forgotten there was someone down the race moving cattle. At least I enjoyed finding nature stuff to enjoy over by the new pens.

BUT. Through everything, through the rain, the heavy lifting, the horse challenges, and even some work shit that’s about to go down, I’m doing remarkably well. I did just knock on a wood product after typing that, though it was a piece of petrified wood.

Have a fun day. I plan to.

Rainy Blurry Day

I’m sorta typing this without really looking, since I suddenly have a pretty bug ocular migraine deal going on. I’m sure not fond of those things, and still don’t know what is causing them. The good news is that I can type with my eyes closed, I guess.

What’s wrong with my eyes?

What I wanted to write about is the fact that it’s been rainy the last few days, which came as a surprise to all of us, but a welcome one! It usually stops raining by this time of the year, so we will enjoy every drop we get.

It’s not bad enough to stop things from happening, though. I’ve managed to move the horse and Fiona, and I’m still impressed about how easygoing they are with being taken to the dry area. They just follow me over there and act grateful for their treats.

As you can see, it’s still very green.

Since it’s a lot cooler today, I’m hoping the rain lets up long enough to ride Apache today. I’ll just take him down the race, so he doesn’t put any dents in Ralph’s perfect grass.

Isn’t this pretty? It’s in the mallow family.

The pens at the Hermits’ Rest are getting worked on again. The area under the roof is all cleaned out, and a ditch is getting done to hopefully drain runoff from the future water troughs. Once that’s all clean and graded, the rest of the fencing can go into the stall area, gates can go up, and we will be ready for occupants.

Only stuff that’s being used is in here now, like the chair, the fan, the tunes, and the Vlassic swimming pool.

Well, that’s about all I can write with my eyes closed, so I’ll just leave you with hopes that you are having a good end of June. I feel remarkably chipper and calm (other than my eyeballs), even though I know it’s going to be a doozy of a week!

Spic and Span Ranch

Hey, here’s a quick update on the things going on here at the Hermits’ Rest. For one thing, a lot of mowing has been going on and a lot of shredding. The appeal of using the shredder on really high grass is that it can be done in the air-conditioned tractor. It’s good to report that all along the sides of the road and the area on the other side of the arroyo is now shredded.

We should have baled it, huh!

Two benefits to that are 1) you can see if cars are coming from the left as you leave the driveway, and 2) the ragweed has been cut down, eliminating some distress for the resident humans.

Everything is very neat and smooth now that the wildflowers set seed and were mowed.

Well, there are still a few flowers to enjoy. Yay.

The front-end loader, who’d been grounded for a while due to a giant hole in her ancient battery, is back and huffing and puffing again, with shiny new batteries. That will make moving fencing supplies a lot easier. It was sort of rough with the little tractor.

This should keep the old guy chugging a little longer.

And, look! We have the beginnings of the horizontal rods in the pen fencing. That is really exciting! The end is near!

A finished section.

It’s cool to see how the tool to hold them evenly spaced works. How clever!

Gracie thinks the hanging spacer thing is cool, too.

I’ll be out killing more grass and supervising fencing later today after work. These long summer days are GREAT.

I’m happy it’s summer and I have a pond.

A much more exciting post should be out later today, I hope. Happy summer to all.

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