Laughing at Ourselves

After all the stress of the last week or so, it feels good to be able to find humor in life again. I must admit that, at a certain point yesterday, I had lost all humor. But, hooray! It’s back now, and I am happily laughing at myself, my animals, and my friends…and of course myself. Here we go.

Yesterday, as it was thawing out like crazy, Sara asked me to come help her and Ralph with some water-related chores. The water in the big, blue barrel where the horses all were, had gotten quite low. Since it was sitting crookedly and was quite full of algae and other yuckiness, it was declared to be a good day to clean it out and stabilize it.

This was not a neat and tidy job. We were in huge mud puddles that had horse/donkey poop in them and were very slick. Sara did a great job making a fairly level spot in the mud where the barrel goes, while Ralph worked on the water supply. Major oops, a water pipe had burst in a very dramatic way, so there will be no using the barn toilet until that can be fixed! That made everything even muddier, and cause cursing and such.

My job was to clean out the barrel itself. I am not the tallest of humans, so I could not reach my hand in and get to the bottom of the barrel. I had to climb in and scrub it with handfulls of hay. I felt ridiculous. Little did I know, I also looked ridiculous, and Ralph got this photo to prove it. I laughed my substantial rear end off when I got this picture!

Now, that’s dignified! You can see the mud that Sara was trying to shovel through, too.

With the trickle of water that was coming out of the hose, we managed to finish cleaning it and get it set up, then we took our muddy selves over and replenished the hay. We actually had fun in between banging on things and getting frustrated!

The barrel filled up eventually and looks pretty good.

My intention is to never have to do that again, so next time I am in Temple, I am going to get some goldfish to put in here! I am pleased to report that our little goldfish made it through the freeze AND the cow pooping in their home and are swimming around happily, with their trough topped off, too.

The tiny orange spot is one of the fish. Note how clear the water is (this was before it refilled, when I had put a few gallons in by hand).

Today was a lot easier in the horse department. Spice and Lakota got moved back to their pasture, and Lakota is still standing, mostly. Fiona and Apache are happy as can be, now that it’s all warm again, and Fiona is still curious about everything. Here she is fascinated by one of the dead birds we keep finding (at least this cowbird isn’t eaten up).

Is that food?

Fiona is a very patient donkey, even when Sara and I got a case of the giggles and put the bird on her head (bird will become falcon food for the neighboring falconers).

I didn’t ask for a crown! Grow up, humans!

Other things to laugh at are the chickens. They are back to hanging out in the garage, and I thought this picture of Bruce and Bertie Lee was cute. I think you can see where poor Bruce’s comb is worse for wear. On the other hand, they all made it!

We like it up here.

It appears that Vlassic found yet another dead bird, a dove, and messed with it. When I came out to see the chickens, they were fighting over it. That seems strange until you remember that chickens are omnivores. At least nothing is going to waste around here…I guess.

A Bertie feather

The chickens got some new food, Grubbly, which has some sort of grubs in it. They didn’t like the plain grubs at first, but now they do. Yesterday I opened the bag of that brand of food and put some in their dishes. It disappeared very quickly, so I think I’ll switch them over. I’m so glad all the animals made it through the challenging time and that all of us still have our senses of humor, even if they are weird.

What’s in the willow tree?

One more piece of cheerful news. Not only is the ice all gone in the trees, but I heard a familiar sound yesterday afternoon and followed it. Sure enough, the male redwing blackbirds have arrived! Maybe it WILL stay warm! (The females were already here.)

NOW We Lose Power!

Now that it’s warming up and the ice is melting, boom. The power went off for us and our closest neighbors. It’s been off close to 24 hours. I guess melting ice isn’t great for power lines, because there are spotty outages all over.

Enjoy a pretty ice photo.

We slept fine last night, and I’ve sure gotten a lot of reading done, in between emergencies and such. the old horse was down yesterday when I went to check. I did manage to give him colic medicine but not correctly, but I tried.

Down horse.

Sara found him up and eating today, though, so I didn’t kill him by not knowing exactly what to do. Whew. And Sara is back, so I don’t have to worry as much. I worry about Lakota.

Up horse

Otherwise it’s okay here. Chickens are alive , though Bruce has some comb damage, poor guy. But they are alive! The dead songbirds still make me sad.

Best chicken photo I could get.

I did take a little walk yesterday and got photos of the sun shining through ice. I think I’ll miss the little ice penises the most. It’s from little stems that stuck up out of the snow. They made me laugh.

Anatomically correct!

It was so shiny still! It doesn’t really come through in the photos, but I’ll share anyway. I’ll write more when we get power. I’m in the car charging things!

No Longer Fun or Funny, Now Boomy

Snow and bitter cold are okay if you have a warm and cozy house to stay warm in. Ours is not cozy, but can be made semi-cozy, because we have electricity and space heaters. Most of my friends in the Austin area are without power at all or for long stretches, and there are also water outages (not to mention burst pipes). It turns out that yes, your water supply can be affected by power outages. It doesn’t just flow without help. That is NOT cozy.

Horses in the snow, photo by Ralph.

Okay, here’s a funny story, though. Apparently someone yelled at a water company employee in our area when they said the water wasn’t working due to electrical outages. They said they KNEW you can’t mix water with electricity, so they have nothing to do with each other! At least they know ONE fact.

Another fact: ice expands. It has broken the gutters in a couple of places.

I’m happy to say the chickens are still with us, and are sharing their scratch with the wild birds, who are not faring all that great. One thing that’s helping them a lot is that water is dripping off the house, so they can drink. And the sun is so bright that it has melted some bare spots. At least one little brown bird is actually finding stuff to eat!

I found the food, says Mrs. Sparrow.

The birds here do have a lot of shelter and plenty of food in the woods, but we are still getting casualties. On my front porch just now I found poor dear yellow-rumped warblers (male and female), as well as a white-winged dove. I am so sad for these creatures.

On a happier note, someone was out exploring this morning!

Bunny evidence.

The cows are running low on hay, so I’ll have to ask the neighbors for more, and they are certainly not helping their water supply. One of them pooped into the trough, and of course the poop froze to the ice. I did not enjoy trying to get all that out. Cows.

Here, look at this cool ice formation instead of cow poop. You’re welcome.

This would be all well and good if it weren’t for the fact that yet another huge wave of awfulness is coming tonight, and there might be one after that. People have no water and no heat already! I am very worried about elderly and very young people. And I no longer think my mohair shawls are “too hot.”

This shawl is JUST RIGHT.

Boom

I said there were booms, didn’t I? Yes. We have a metal roof. The sun is very, very bright right now, which means it’s warming the roof. As a consequence, very large sheets of ice are falling from the second-storey roof onto the first-storey roof. It sounds like a dump truck is in the ceiling.

Smaller ice that fell

As you may have already guessed, dogs are not happy with those booms. Harvey is as far under my desk as he can get, all scrunched into my blanket I’m under and the towel I put under there for him.

Make the booms stop.

Carlton squeezed himself into a ball in my chair. They are not thrilled one bit. Plus it is still a balmy 55 degrees in the house (not complaining; my sister and Anita both have it much worse).

I’m trying to dig a hole.

The sounds really are loud, like cannons. It turns out they are just icicles falling. Here, watch!

Wait for it…

All of you in the grips of this weather system have my sympathy, even if you live in a place that can cope with the cold and with an electrical grid that has actual PLANS for bad weather.

The Aftermath: Brr + Ow

Honest, I’m not a weather wimp. I recall only recently writing a post about how much I love to exercise in the snow. I do! It’s hard to exercise on ice, though, and that’s what we still have at the moment here in the middle of the Texas icefield (subject to change). Today was just not a great day for me to have to get out and deal with the cold and its consequences.

Carlton was not about to go out with me!

But, I am doing the needful, as they say in India, where it might be warmer right now, at least in some parts. The problem is that I am that lucky rare person to get ALL the vaccine side effects! Yippee! So, my arm feels like a dead weight and prefers to not be lifted, thanks. And I have had a raging headache since yesterday, plus I feel like I have the flu. This will all be temporary, but I sure didn’t want to venture out into 26-degree F weather this morning.

As Sara pointed out to me while she was texting my instructions, you have to be a responsible livestock owner. And right now I’m responsible not only for my livestock, but the cows over here and all the horses. Sara is stuck at her other house for a few more days, so I am happy to help. Luckily, Ralph is helping out with his cattle and is going to bring over a LOT of hay, which will make things easier.

I wish I had a picture of my horse feeding outfit. I was plenty warm, especially because I had a great combo of a ear-covering band, a hoodie, and my facemask to keep my head warm. My thick gloves worked great until they got wet from breaking up ice in water troughs, but I know all the livestock appreciated it. Kathleen’s cows were looking at me like, “Help!” this morning, even though they DO still have water in the arroyo.

The chicken water is totally frozen, but they also have other sources once they are out of their coop. I’m sure glad we built that small pond near the house!

Visual proof all horses have been moved.

When I got to the horses, my job was to move Spice and Lakota from the pasture they are in to the pen where Apache and Fiona are, so they will have more shelter and some hay. I was really glad when my fellow rancher arrived to help me open the frozen gates to the pen where the tiny calf had been (tiny calf was spotted yesterday romping through the icy field with his buddies!), which gives the horses more shelter AND Fiona a more accessible water trough. There was much banging (which totally annoyed Big Red, who was trying to eat her chicken scratch).

Those open gates were not easily accomplished. So grateful for the help!

Moving the horses went fine, and I was pleasantly shocked to find that Spice’s blanket was still on her. She’d somehow torn the back of it up, and completely broken off one of the straps. I managed to McGuyver up a way to keep it on, and by gosh, it was still on this morning! Yay! I also found one more blanket, which is good. If that one goes, there is a spare. There were none in Tractor Supply yesterday, and my friend Courtney said she bought the last one. (As an aside, her story of making their pony a blanket out of a fleece blanket, some plastic, and duct tape was pretty funny, at least to humans; the pony was not amused.)

Yep, it’s on, all right. Not shown is the makeshift attachment in the rear. She is able to poop, which is all that matters, I guess.

Spice and Lakota got all excited to be in a different place and ran around like crazy. I guess that will help keep them warm. Apache and Fiona were like, “Wow, this is a lot of hay,” and were chomping away when I left, which was hampered by the fact that the condensation on my glasses, which I’d had to remove, had actually frozen. Yep, it’s cold.

It’s only going to get colder! I’m really hoping we all keep power and heat! You may have to endure more snow pictures in the next few days. None of us remember it ever being so cold for so long here. I guess we will have to get used to it for the future. I know I plan to get a trough warmer when/if we get our horse barn here!

Got any cold-weather stories to share?

Just Some Love

I wanted to share how pleasant it was today when Trixie came by to trim the horses’ hooves. When it was Apache’s turn, he was so relaxed that he kept leaning his big horse head on my shoulder. When I had to move, Fiona then showed up, and after a little fooling around, she let Apache rest his head on her. Such friendship.

They both have closed eyes.
Goofing off while getting hooves trimmed.

I made him happy by letting Apache graze while Spice got looked at. At least he let me get a couple of pictures of his Arabian-esque profile and his newly slim physique.

We are considering letting Fiona become a mommy to a pony mule. Wouldn’t that be cute? Another buddy for the rest of my life!

Sorry for all the horse posts. Apache’s energy really helps me feel centered and grounded. Who can’t use that today? Plus, horses smell so good and let you brush their hair.

We All Have Our Limits

On yesterday’s horse ride, Spice didn’t seem to feel well. So, today Sara trotted out (ha, no trotting involved) Lakota to ride. First she groomed him, and the amount of hair he was shedding surprised us. Sara’s vest changed colors! We tried to tell him a cold front is coming, and it’s too early to shed.

Those are little hair cakes on the ground.

Apache proudly showed off his trotting over barriers skills, and even Lakota eventually got more interested, and off we went.

We cheerfully headed off down the race, with Lakota plodding away. We got to the end, where Apache was sad, but I was happy to see that the tree limbs that attacked me last week had been trimmed. Thanks, Sara and Ralph!

Damn. The path is clear and I can’t panic over the mud.

When we went through the gate, Apache was not happy. I told Sara it was probably because Spice wasn’t with him. She agreed. We walked a bit, but Apache was a bit squirrelly. He hit his limit.

Water is scary without Spice around.

Lakota, meanwhile, was having a great time exploring. He tried to be a good role model, but Apache said, nope.

I’m a good old guy.

So, we went back, then tested Apache’s limits going the other direction. Sure enough, he did fine until he hit his limit. Coincidentally, it was where he could no longer see Spice.

So, I now know what I’ll be working on with him. We will be building confidence in going places without Spice. I’ll see if Fiona counts as company or not. Sara has some good ideas for how to work on this, since she dealt with it a lot when she first got him. I look forward to the challenge of helping my buddy feel more comfortable.

Bravery, Equine Style

Apache is one of those horses who does better around his friends. He’s braver than he thinks, though. Today we walked around, and he happily investigated a truck and two giant tanks full time f a mystery liquid (probably fertilizer). He noshed on grass, since he’s grass deprived.

Hee hee. Fiona knocked into Suna and messed up her only photo of me.

But, as soon as I walked over to the side of the property where Spice was, he remembered to be scared. I just had to laugh as he called to her, pranced, and was totally ignored.

I reminded him that Fiona and I were still there, and he settled down, eventually. Then, when I put him in his pen, he realized Fiona wasn’t there! Neigh, canter, tail swish!

I’m coming, already! I was just enjoying some solo Suna time.

They acted like star-crossed lovers when she came in with me. Then I got to hug each of them a lot. I sure love them.

Failed selfie.

Now that I’m all goal focused, becoming a better horseman is something I’ll focus on. Did I do great today? I give myself a C+. I didn’t get frustrated, though, and that helps.

What Did the Horses See?

I know my friend Sara will enjoy today’s horse story. I made it back to the ranch between meetings. It was a beautiful afternoon, so I took off to feed the horses after my last meeting of the day. I felt so good that I even jogged there. I guess the Wolf Moon DID make the world feel like a better place for me!

There were no problems feeding Apache, Fiona, and Big Red, who enjoyed their hugs (not the chicken) and grub. Then, I went over with the food for Spice and Lakota. Hmm. They weren’t standing there waiting for me, like they usually are every afternoon!

So, I called them. I saw Spice raise her head, way at the far end of the pasture, over by Sara’s house. I called again, and the head didn’t move. I them spotted the immobile form of Lakota. Why on earth weren’t they thundering their way over to me?

I walked and walked. I got to the narrow, muddy space they have to go through to get to where I feed them. There they were, staring at me in the way that horses that are nervous stare. I called them. More staring, then turning around and going the other way. That was NOT like them.

I really didn’t want to walk across the mud. Ugh. But they were WAY over there.

Now I was really curious as to what was up with those two. I finally walked up to them. Lakota was pacing, turning, and breathing hard. Spice was frozen, staring across the fence.

I see something. I don’t like it.

I looked across the fence. There I saw a whole lot of robins, a couple types of sparrows, random meadowlarks, and some brush. I couldn’t imagine that rowdy robins were that scary. Was there something in the brush or the woods? Meanwhile, Lakota is breathing hard and flaring his nostrils. Spice looks like she sees a ghost. Maybe she did.

Lark sparrows blend in with the background.

That was enough of that, so I started back, encouraging them to come with me. They did, slowly. When I got to the muddy spot, they froze again, this time staring at the wooded area they usually hang out in all day JUST FINE. I began to wonder if there were hogs in there or something. Or a bobcat. Eek.

Bravely, I went back through the squishiness. As soon as I got across, Spice decided it was time to make her escape. She zipped through the mud, followed by Lakota. Luckily no mud landed on me as she flew by me. They proceeded to leave me in their galloping wake as they beelined toward the water trough and area where we feed them.

Getting the hell out of there.

I looked carefully for unfamiliar things as I walked back. Nope, nothing was out of the ordinary that I could see. No hog evidence or any other oddities. I guess there were ghosts in the woods.

When I finally reached them, they were drinking water like crazy. I guess they’d been “trapped” over at the other side of the pasture for a long time. You can rest assured, of course, that they weren’t so frightened that they couldn’t eat. They ate just fine.

I have absolutely NO idea what the drama was all about, though I was glad to see this little trailer that had apparently brought some fill for the biggest of the potholes on the driveway to the cabin and barn. That will be fun to ride the horses near and see what they think.

I will not miss that hole.

That made a nice break for me!

Best Day for Unusual Snowfall Is Sunday

Hooray! The minute I wrote that the weather was boring, it started getting interesting. While we do get a dusting of snow here in Central Texas, today is the first time I’ve ever seen it really snow. It’s been as pretty as when I was in Utah!

Here’s the woods next to the house.

We got around 4 inches as the day went on, and at times it snowed pretty hard. I’m so glad I didn’t have to work today, because all I did was look out the window

Around midday

The most fun, though has been going out and playing with the dogs. Here’s the best one.

Alfred discovers snow. It’s barely covering the ground here.

Penney and Carlton acted like the snow was a big present for them. I’ve never seen them happier. Here’s the first time they went out.

Whee!

Harvey finds sheltered spots to pee, then comes back in. Not a snow dog. The others sure are. I took Penney and Carlton out in the woods, and the joy all three of us felt was enough to erase all my stress.

Continue reading “Best Day for Unusual Snowfall Is Sunday”

Literally Back in the Saddle Again

Apache and I are proud to report that we got to be a horse and rider pair again today. I think we were both happy about it.

Ignore bad form and look at happiness.

Just before he was declared un rideable, I’d gotten this side pull bridle and fixed it up for him. He never got to use it. So, I figured I’d try it today. It annoyed him at first.

This thing’s dumb.

But, he got used to it in the round pen pretty quickly. We then headed out to one of the pastures and rode around. Apache did pretty well other than wanting to eat grass a lot at first. I got him to stop, though.

The main problem we had was that I didn’t cinch the saddle tightly enough. I remembered he’d lost weight and checked, but not well enough. I’ll fix it next time. All in all, we had a good riding reunion. My legs hurt though, so I need to get back into saddle shape.

A Little Cow Cuteness

On my way home, the new group of cows that are behind us were investigating the chickens. When they spotted me walking toward the coop and all came to see me.

These are the 19 series, from different places, apparently.

As I chatted with them, I heard mooing from behind me. A couple of the cows who live on our property came up to meet the neighbors. I got this cute shot of a calf and cow saying hi to the new gals.

Hi. Hey. Hello.

That’s a cheerful end to my weekend.