I Discovered Something!

It’s been a great day, for many reasons, and a great weekend. We took Apache out again today, and he was his old self again! He and Spice were very brave when they came upon some people building a new gate between our two pastures.

This is as close as the horses would get.

But they had fun. Fiona kept plopping down and rolling whenever she found dirt.

The flies are bothering me.

I also had fun seeing things this weekend. One is that I see signs that I wasn’t mistaken, we DO have a loggerhead shrike this year. I didn’t see one last year, and I was bummed. Today I saw lots and lots of insects impaled on our fence, though!

Plus! I’m very happy to share that another chicken started laying. Her first egg is pinkish and has little blue spots! On the other hand, Hedley, the one that lays white eggs, has started spending a LOT of time in the nest box. She did lay today, but if she’s gone broody I’m just giving her three eggs and letting her go for it.

The new one is on the bottom. Cute!

I also found two new and interesting insects. First is the extremely cool Beelzebub Bee Killer Mallophora leschenaulti, which is a type of robber fly. This things is huge, loud, and intimidating. I saw two yesterday and two today.

The other new insect is what I’m excited about. It turns out that my entry of the Long-jawed Longhorn Beetle Dendrobias mandibularis is the first one Milam county and the farthest north it’s been seen.

I’m the first!

Also, this is one of the most beautiful insects I’ve ever seen. So colorful!

Look at those antennae! And it’s so shiny!

I’ve been waiting to finally see something new and different to share on iNaturalist and I finally did! I feel so scientific.

Enter Here for Surprises and Adventures

Hmm, the adventures thing may be exaggerated a bit, but I did get a new gate to go from our part of the property to the rest of the ranch. In addition, Chris smoothed all the dirt that had been disturbed when running the water line, and did a bit of grading, too. The chicken house area looks marvelous.

It’s all smooth now. At the rate the Bermuda grass grows, it will be covered in a week to ten days. Notice the feathers on the ground, which I mentioned in my previous post. It’s your fault, Bruce.

The highlight of the day was seeing this big gate that swings open mightily and allows me to easily head to see the horses. We had the gate already, so it didn’t cost anything. It’s very sturdy on the hinge side, since Chris drilled a big ole bolt through the roof support pillar. The other side is only temporary. The fencing project is not done, but at lease those of us who have to go into that pasture can do it easily (thus, Jim could drive the riding mower over the the horses to mow this morning).

I can now go from here to there without crawling under a fence or climbing over a fence and nearly knocking it over.

The entire family was pretty giddy about getting the new fence, as Lee shows here.

That man cracks me up. And there’s Alfred before I pulled those clumps of hair out.

Surprises and Adventures

I’ve used the new gate to go visit the horses twice already. Last night, I went to join Sara to feed them, and I got quite a surprise. In the field where the 18 cows should be, there were just three cows, each with a little white baby.

Who the heck are they?

These are not the 18s. First, they were afraid of me. Second, their ear tags were in the left ear, not the right. Um, where were my friendly cow buddies? Where was 18-1, bravest calf ever?

As I walked up to the barn, the Vrazels were driving by. They warned me of another surprise, a large cow and her newborn calf were in the pens. I said, hey, um, where are the 18s? Tyler laughed and laughed. “They’re in Oklahoma!”

Oklahoma? Yep, they sold them all and trucked them off when I was at work one day. I didn’t even get to say goodbye. Cattle ranching. Not for the sentimental. I am sure they got a HUGE payday out of those young cows, all of whom were due to calve in November. But still. Sniff.

On I went, and sure enough, there was a very large red Angus cow with a very small and shiny black Angus calf. I blurted out, “Hi, Sprinkles,” and Sara asked if I had to name everything. I guess I do. In any case, Sprinkles is cute as can be, and seems to have recovered from being sick and needing to be penned up. Mama, on the other hand, was mostly pissed off.

Sprinkles and I would like to leave, now.

She mooed and snorted and ran around until we left.

This morning, I came back to do some horse fun, around 9 am. It was NOT hot outside! But, dew drenched my shoes, since I wore the wrong ones. Sprinkles and Mama were still there. Between Sara’s dogs and Lakota having the utter gall to stand quietly tied to the gate, she was in a huff.

Lakota just stood there and ignored her. A real quarter horse! We proceeded head off down the race, to see how Apache would do. Sara rode Lakota, who plodded along like a livery stable horse and was generally uninterested in anything. I led Apache (hope to get riding permission soon). Here’s where it became and adventure, the good kind.

We walked all the way down the race, the place where he was refusing to ride earlier, and the place where he has been all nervous and pushy when we walked for the past month or two. Today, Apache walked beside me, not in front of me and not behind me. He stayed about two feet away from me. He did stop to get a mouthful of grass, but started right back up, every time. He did not crowd into me. He did not try to turn around. He did not rush ahead, or refuse to move forward.

He completely ignored all the “scary” parts of the path where there are big ruts. The scary tree got a nod. When all of the 19 heifers came thundering over to check us out and walk along with us, he and Lakota both looked at them, then kept going. The giant bull didn’t phase them. DAMN!

Sara and Lakota, with Fiona-bomb.

We then went on out to the big pasture where it floods (the bottom). We all walked and looked at stuff. Sara’s dogs came along, and no horse paid the least bit of attention. Even Fiona didn’t dawdle and pitch a fit. She followed right behind us cheerfully. Every time we went through a gate, everyone was fine. Even when Jim drove by on the lawn mower, they just stopped and looked for a minute.

WHO WERE THESE ANIMALS AND WHERE DID MY JUMPY HORSE GO?

I have no clue. Sara and I tried to figure out what was different. Well, we had Lakota instead of Spice…but Apache likes Spice. It was morning, not afternoon. He wasn’t starving. That’s all we could come up with. My attitude is the same (I am pretty calm even when he’s jumpy, to try to keep him calm).

We’re just in a good mood. What can we say?

I’m just going to have to accept that we had a wonderful morning, got lots of exercise, and ALL enjoyed ourselves (even Lakota, I think). I look forward to more of this kind of adventure and these kinds of surprises (but I do hope Sprinkles and his Mama go back to the pasture soon; she didn’t enjoy Sara and me pulling up some grass burs right next to the pen, either).

I hope you have some bright spots in your weekend!

An Evening with a Black Dachshund Mix

Hi, readers of Mama Suna’s blog! I’m Vlassic, and I’ve been hanging around the Hermits’ Rest Ranch for the past two years. I like it here a lot. Wanna know why?

I’m long, but I have longer legs so I can jump high.

I have so many friends! At night I sleep in Jim’s RV. He is so nice to me, and feeds me (I don’t go in the big house because Penney acts weird in there). When I go outside, I spend half my time with my bird buddies, Bertie Lee, Gertie, Fancy Pants, and Clarence. We like how cool it is.

Stay out of our coop, dog! The black chickens don’t like me so much.

The rest of the time I spend with my new friends, the Bull calves. It’s SO much fun there! Calf poop is so delicious, and they have a wonderful water bucket just the size for me to cool off my black coat.

Wait, Rip, it’s my turn! Photo by Meghan Land.

On good days, Mama Suna takes me with her to visit my other friends. Sometimes we ride the little bumpy car. Tonight, though, we walked. It was a beautiful night.

Rays!

I chased two of the 18 series cows, but just a little, to remind them of how we used to play when they were babies. Mostly I was good, though, because I wanted to see my friends.

Here are two friends, Big Red and Apache. The horse is jealous, because the hen gets fed first.

I love this place! There are so many smells of cattle dogs! I have many places where I simply must pee. They need to know Vlassic rules…when they aren’t here.

Take that, other dogs.

There are other fun smells here, too. I especially like donkey poop. Mmm. Thanks, Fiona. Sigh, I was disappointed she didn’t get to come out and play. I love making her put her head down and shake it.

I sure love poop. Why does Mama sweep it up?

The other great thing about where my friends live is that they have an even bigger water tub! I like to swim in it, but not when it’s full.

Big Red and I like to drink from it when it’s full!

After all the friends were fed, we went back. I had to investigate this new hay. It looks funny and smells different. Mama said it’s sorghum, whatever that is. I made sure to pee on it, so it won’t smell so new next time I come.

Funny hay. Needs pee.

As we passed the cabin, Copper the dog came outside, so I ran like the wind.

I’m outa here.

I ran and ran. Meanwhile, Mama saw a new cow patty on the road, that had appeared since we came by before.

That cow patty has a head.

As she got closer, she realized it was a turtle crossing the driveway. She told it hello, but for some reason, she did NOT call me over to introduce me! Geez! I’m nice to all the other animals!

Pleased to meet you. You can leave now.

After rolling a bit in some silage (it’s an acquired smell, but I’ve acquired it!), I ran back to Rip, Poop Nugget, and Buster, to see if they’d pooped any more.

We were just digesting over here.

Then, to end the evening right, Lee and the other dogs showed up! We played! Then it rained a little. Not enough, but it made Lee and Suna smile. We need rain, because my pond is gone!

Time to go inside.

I Competently Ranched

Actually, my neighbor, Sara, competently ranched and I assisted, but it felt darn good to achieve a series of competent duties.

As you may recall from yesterday, Apache reached over the fence and chomped into the tenants’ round bales, nearly ingesting some of the netting. We wanted to nip that habit in the bud.

It doesn’t take a detective to see the evidence of this crime!

So, we planned to put an electric strand along that stretch of fence. Hmm, there was already wire. It’s as if some large spotted horse had done it before.

So, this evening, I went to get the solar unit that was over by our shipping container. Smart me. I first checked for wasps. There was a Yellowjacket nest. When Lee came to help me, I got spray and removed that menace. Sara was relieved I’d thought of it.

Then, after dinner, I headed over to the horses, and we set up the whole system. It was teamwork! I identified which wire was which. She figured out how to open the screwdriver part of the Leatherman tool to pry it open to change the battery.

Competence! Note Big Red at back left, supervising.

We got it all hooked up, and in another stroke of ranch competency, Sara inspected the connection to see if Apache had re-damaged the wire since last night. He had! But I was there to turn off the power so she could fix it.

Sara is inspecting the fence. Apache has already figured out the power is on.

Ralph came by to see if we needed help, long after we triumphantly fed our animals. He was duly impressed! We did it.

Now, hooking up an electric fence may not seem like a big deal. But for someone who had never even been on a ranch property (other than caring for turkeys at the farm for sad children that Declan went to one summer), doing something without asking for help is a big thing. It makes me feel like I sort of know what I’m doing here! No more ranch imposter syndrome for me!

I’m just innocently eating this delicious, expensive hay. After this, it’s back to the old stuff, thanks to that darned wire.

Also, once again, we had fun. I’m just racking up the fun quotient for each day. Take that, stress.

Horse Bites and Sitting Donkeys at Sunset

I’m still laughing inside after a fun evening romp with our trusty steeds, even though there was some drama in the middle. And, um, my hand hurts.

We met at 7:30 to do our evening horse chores together, which we always enjoy. Everything went fine, and we paused afterwards to watch Spice and Lakota walking together like old friends, and to look at how beautiful the sunset made sone eastern storm clouds look.

Romantic cattle chute

Suddenly, we heard coughing, rather loud coughing. Exchanging a look, we hurried toward the sound. There was Apache, continuing to cough. He was a great example of how coughs spread droplets, as we could see spray going way out.

See the moon up there?

Where was that spray landing? Why, on the hay bales on the other side of the fence, the ones encased in green netting. Uh oh. We zipped into the paddock, where Sara opened his mouth. My job was to see if there was any green stuff. Like the non-horse person I am, I stuck my hand in, to feel.

That wasn’t smart. I discovered just how powerful horse jaws are and how sharp their teeth are. Its just a little chomp, but I have a feeling it will look worse tomorrow.

I’ve put ice on it.

Sara gave Apache a treat, and he ate it just fine, so he dodged that bullet. I leaned on him to get the owie out of my hand and thank him for being okay. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement.

Whee

Fiona was done with all the drama, and decided to roll in her favorite dust patch. I was so glad I could get some pictures.

I have crazy ears.
Time to get up!

When she was done, she sat and rested for a while. We couldn’t stop laughing at her pose. She looked at us like we were crazy. Apache kept coming between us to make sure we were okay.

I’m very proud of this belly!

Then the wind came up, and we all ran around like kids. Me, Sara, Apache, Fiona. Just living for the moment. I’m still having fun!

Come back, we want more fun!

It’s been a good day. Sending love to all. Back to icing my hand.

Equine Spa Day?

Trixie the farrier came last evening to check on Apache and Spice’s feet. She’s coming more often while the issues get better.

Lucky Fiona didn’t get trimmed and just got to eat as the sun set.

When she was working on Apache, she said she’d never seen laminitis growing out like he is, but it seems to be working. Then she tried to scrape his hoof and it was so hard she couldn’t.

So far, I’m enjoying my trim.

So, she suggested he go stand in water while she worked on Spice, to soften him up. It hadn’t rained yet this month, so all their hooves are hard!

We over-filled the water bucket, which made Big Red happy. A big muddy area ensued. It was a horse spa!

High quality mud.

Sadly, Apache wasn’t as happy with the spa treatment as we’d hoped, so I tied him up to where he couldn’t escape it. Much stomping ensued.

I’m gonna cling to this little dry area.

Sara pointed out this morning that perhaps he wasn’t happy, because he knew the mud was mostly a mixture of his, Fiona’s, and random cows’ poop.

Fine. I’ll stand here.

Trixie coped with the stinky mud fine, once we let him out. he hadn’t softened up much though. If it doesn’t rain a bunch before her next visit, we will soak all the horses for a few days. Somehow. Maybe it will rain.

My conclusion is that Apache would be more interested in massage, grooming, and food for his next spa day.

Hey, Hay!

I think the long saga of me needing hay for Apache is over for a while, at least. It’s nice to have kind Master Naturalist friends to come to my rescue.

I thought I was getting square bales from Pamela, who lives nearby, but it turned out her baling guy would make no fewer than 200 bales (understandably). I just don’t have the funds for that.

Pre-moved hay and great sign.

So then my other Master Naturalist friend, Cindy, said she had some old hay for my preferred price (her new hay was too expensive, and besides, the older the better for Apache). That’s probably the best for us, anyway.

That is one neat tack room.

So, after work, Chris and I took a trailer down to Cindy’s place, which is even more beautiful than I imagined. It’s a Suna Dream Property. While I enjoyed her Tennessee Walking Horses, Chris loaded the hay with the help of another Master Naturalist, Sam, and another nice helper.

They’d already taken the hay out of the hayloft, so it went quickly.

We got to look around and chat, too, which was so nice. I miss my friends! It was worth sweating away in masks! It’s a fine bonus to getting the hay. Also, I was so busy looking around and chatting that I didn’t get many pictures.

I also didn’t get any pictures of unloading the hay. At least here’s a picture or two of the loaded hay.

I went to get Lee’s brother a burger, and the onion rings took so long that I totally missed unloading the hay! But the food was good, so yay. And I did get photos of the beautiful stacks Chris made.

Speaking of beautiful, I tried to get a gorgeous picture of Fiona and yet another fine sunset, but every time I stepped back to take a picture, she followed me. This is my best try!

Here I come, Mommy.

By the way, my friends’ beautiful horse property is for sale. Want to bring your horses and come live near me?

This DID Go as Planned (Yay Apache)

One thing went really well, yesterday, and that was all my interactions with the equine family members.

When I went out to let Apache and Fiona out to graze, Fiona followed me out the gate and acted like she wanted to hang out. So, I had some bonding time with her. I got her all brushed and pretty, then we went for a nice walk together.

I decided to come on into the tack area, to see what Big Red’s food tasted like.

Fiona’s really improved on her walking on a lead lately, and it was a pure joy to go out and about with her. I decided to try to take some nice pictures of her, but she wasn’t very cooperative.

We had a nice visit from Spice and Lakota, who were in the next pasture. They seemed genuinely glad to see Fiona, though Lakota will NOT get close to the electric fence. I think he’s had a bad experience or two.

In the evening, I came back to meet with Sara and put Fiona and Apache back in what I am now calling the Pen of Deprivation (no grass, no fun). Apache had been out four whole hours. We tried taking him on a walk down the dreaded race, and he showed no signs of lameness.

I can even walk over the poles. Yay me. And I am so skinny. I want grass.
I just had to share this picture of Spice being really happy to see me. She’s a good girl.

In fact, he started acting like his old self and not behaving well. I was thrilled to see him acting “normal” and got to work correcting his pushing and rushing. Then, when we got to the part of the race he hurt himself on before, he said it was time to stop. I think he stepped awkwardly on a rut.

I asked him if his foot hurt, and he pawed the ground. I took that as a yes. So, to end on a good note, I had him walk up to me, and we happily turned around and went toward home. He walked just fine on the way back.

Sara and I agree that between his obvious better spirits and the really crappy shape our grass is in, he can probably be turned out half the day or so. That will make both him and Fiona much happier. This fills me with joy! I may even get to ride again!

Horse Social Distancing Party

I have a big post in the works, but various work things precluded typing much. So, here’s a little Apache and Fiona update.

The best news is that I’m going to get some square bales of hay for our horses, thanks to my friend Pamela, who lives on the next ridge closer to town from us. Her hay baling person agreed to do some square so I can get them for our guys. It may be a bit fresh for Apache, but since it’s summer, the grass is pretty dry.

And Apache’s feet are doing a lot better. He’s walking pretty well, and ate in the paddock 1.5 hours or more yesterday. He’s still okay!

So, we did a longer walk yesterday, even going over the telephone poles just fine. Then we walked down the race, along with Fiona and Vlassic. Even Big Red came.

Here I come! Cluck!

All was well, and it became a party when Spice and Lakota joined us. They’re temporarily in the pasture where the cattle usually are, so they could walk along with us. What a crew! Three horses, a donkey, a dog, and a hen.

Something is interfering with my grass consumption.

All of a sudden, Vlassic decided to chase Fiona. That’s why Apache looked so concerned in the first photo. I got the phone out and caught Fiona as she flew by. I didn’t get a picture of her turning back on Vlassic, because I was too busy getting on top of him to firmly explain that Fiona is not for chasing.

I’m faster than a speeding dachshund.

He sort of moved toward her, but after I shouted again and went toward him, he tucked his tail and meekly led the procession back to the paddock. He jumped in the water bucket and graciously exited so Apache could drink.

Let’s follow Fiona! Says Spice. Maybe after I finish chewing, says Apache.

My guess is he won’t be chasing Fiona again. I certainly cured him of chicken chasing after one firm discussion. I’m sure he was playing, but prey animals don’t find that fun!

Bumming with Bovines

I am just going to share what makes life worth living these days, and that’s my charming ranch companions. It’s really fun to go for walks with the cows (and horses). You’re reminded that humans are just part of this world, and that every other living being is also out there having adventures.

I didn’t have a bovine traffic jam this afternoon, but probably because I walked.

Reminder of going to work yesterday.

Instead I enjoyed the greetings of my favorite heifers, who are now getting ready for babies of their own. As always, the great and bold 18-1 came right up to say hi. She’s just a golden cow.

Even the clouds love her.

After greeting her and the others, I checked on Apache and Fiona. Apache seems to be gradually improving, even when I let him out to graze a good while every evening. On the other hand, now Fiona seems a little stiff. My plan is a thorough foot check tomorrow.

Apache and I have fun on our walks. I sing him songs, and that gets him walking faster. Perhaps he’s trying to escape the singing. In any event, I’m happy he’s getting exercise and I get to pet and love on him.

Look! You can see his ribs!

On the way back, I was wiping the sweat off my eyes, and saw a brown blur over by the cabin. Hey, that’s a heifer on this side of the fence. She must have jumped the cattle guard.

I went up and saw it was good ole 18-2! She has a cute blonde tail. I said, “You know you aren’t supposed to be here!” I swear she gave me the same look Penney gives when she’s guilty. And she ambled over to the cattle guard and jumped over!

I did it. I’m proud.

Tyler V says she’s done it before. It doesn’t hurt anything for her to be over there, unless she breaks into the silage or something. She couldn’t get away, because there’s a gate farther down right now.

18-2 stands majestically in her field.

My guess is that when she’s full size and all pregnant, there will be no more jumping. I do enjoy this group of young ladies I’ve enjoyed since birth.