We were feeding horses when I spotted some smoke in the near distance. Then Anita texted that she couldn’t make it over here to eat, because the road to the ranch was closed at the intersection with the main road. Oh no!
We quickly realized hay bales were on fire, so we sent our tractor over to help out. We also realized it was our friends who lease our land for their cattle whose equipment had sparked the fire. Oh no!
Lots of tanker trucks arrived and people began spraying while our tractor and another one helped move burning bales around to space them out.
There was great teamwork among the firefighters and neighbors. Everyone pitched in. We were a little scared when the tractors were moving bales that looked like fireballs, and especially when our tractor had to pull one that got stuck off a burning bale. But everyone knew what they were doing.
We are very happy the fire is contained, but it sure is smoky downwind from us. And the bales of hay will take quite a while to burn out. Someone is sleeping there and we left our tractor in case they need it.
It’s so dry. And we have flint rocks in the fields. The field was being mown to prevent fires, ironically. I’m just glad no homes or people were damaged, and that lots of hay was saved.
Lee was on the other side of the road and got some good pictures of the teamwork that kept everyone safe.
Sending gratitude for the firefighters and skillful neighbors. And I’m glad everyone is safe. Sending love to friends who got less good news today.
Like today. I was awakened in the night by a familiar odor. Someone had been skunked. That someone was Penney.
And more stink arrived in the form of Goldie. I tried to sleep but Penney kept pushing, which she does when she is scared. I ended up with my legs off the bed, which gave me sore knees when I woke up.
After only a little coffee I was told to remove the skunk from the side yard, where most of it lay. Other parts were scattered around, as if a large animal had gotten to Goldie is a large animal.
As I went to get a shovel, I noted a large hole under the pool equipment base. Oh goodness. The skunk was trying to build a burrow in the yard where the dogs live. Skunks aren’t bright, cute as they are. It was doomed.
Anyway, the skunk is now turtle food in the pond, and I got over my nausea from looking at its innards. The hole is gone, too, since this morning, Lee and the nephew created a new walkway from the back of our under-construction garage apartment, the garage side door, and our main path. It also made the pool equipment area look better.
After the skunk thing, I cleaned my giant closet and the kitchen, which had turned into a housefly buffet. I’ve now kept up with the dirty dishes stacked near the dishwasher for 6 hours and emptied the dishwasher twice. Lee has washed the stinky sheets. Yay.
I was tired of ranching and chores so I helped Sara film Aragorn on this dressage work, now that he is all shod. He did great. While I was there, I found a new (to me) plant, a swan flower. It is beautiful, and nothing like any other flower around here!
I wrote an article for the Master Naturalist blog with more details. I was surprised to see this one is the northernmost sighting of this plant, which is only found in Texas. How about that! This has been the highlight of the day and was a nice break.
When I got home, we got a hay delivery of square bales for the horses this winter. I did my best to help, but I really suck at lifting hay bales. The young man who brought it, though, was damned good at throwing it, and the nephew was good at stacking it. I counted.
Half the hay went to our house and half to Sara’s. Sara was much more helpful than me. But I wish I had a video of the tossing. They were amazing at it. Nice hay kids! Whew.
I was hot and the day wasn’t half over. This ranching can be hard and keeping your cool can be hard. I tried to cool off by the pool, but no. Neighbors dropped by to ask if we’d seen the obscene stuff painted on the bridge over Walker’s Creek next to our property. They had all sorts of theories that some teens who’ve been riding up and down the road in a “gator” (motorized golf cart utility vehicle).
I had no idea there was stuff down the road, but I remembered seeing red stuff when we came back yesterday afternoon. That day teens did indeed go up and down the road endlessly. And I’d seen them earlier messing with cane on the bridge. I thought it was just kids having fun on summer break.
Nope. There was obscenity, anti trans stuff, cruel stuff about people with mental illness, and the coup de gras (whatever) the flourish of Let’s Go Brandon. Hardly necessary.
And you know what, in today’s society, you hesitate to report vandalism in the community, because you worry some asshole will come shoot you. Nice. Rural living can be beautiful. It can be scary. Here’s a flower.
And yes, I called the sheriff. I just hope my beloved county commissioner will paint over the offensive stuff. I’m not wanting anything it peace and quiet.
Hey there, readers! Do you remember that back in September we started building a swimming pool over here at the Hermits’ Rest Ranch? You haven’t been hearing much about it lately, have you?
That’s because, just as Lee feared, the workers disappeared for about a month. Naturally, the only day all this week that I was gone was when people showed up, at last. They came to put the plants in the flower beds. Hooray.
They also put in Lee’s fake palm trees, which I have to say look pretty good right now. We will see how they hold up after a few rains. I was glad to see that the real plants are hardy items like palmettoes and those yuccas with the red blooms. They will at least lend some color.
Lee and the gang were glad to see that they did put landscape fabric down and they put tan rocks in, not glaring white (which pretty much cooks plants in the summer sun here).
The frog pond is now dry, as well. There is a lot of silt and such in the bottom of the pool that they will need to get rid of before the plastering can occur. I have been told that the plastering will commence tomorrow or Monday. We’ll see.
I think the plants look nice, but I do hope they remember to make the electricity work and make the pool actually work after the plastering. I want that hot tub.
In Other News
I enjoyed a book club at a nice restaurant last night with Anita and the women from the old neighborhood. Finding the restaurant was challenging, because it is in a dimly lit (but lovely) shopping area and its sign is not lit up at night. You are just supposed to know where it is, sorta like Bob’s Steak House in Cameron. It was really nice to see everyone and get caught up, at least a little bit, on what’s going on with them.
They gave Anita a lovely poster with lots of photos of them as a going away gift. Wasn’t that sweet? No wonder we’ll miss them once Anita is no longer cat sitting on the next street over!
You will also be happy to know I got a replacement helmet for riding the horses. I actually ordered two, in the vain hope that Anita or someone else concerned with the safety of their noggin will want to go riding with me some day, once I have two horses. I guess, though, if one’s my son, I’ll have to get an XL helmet.
At least Sara and I won’t mix our helmets up anymore.
Yesterday marked another milestone in working with all the new horses around the Hermits’ Rest and Wild Type ranches. Sara and Aragorn paid a visit to us. After the challenge I had riding Apache over there a couple weeks ago, I was really hoping this visit went more smoothly.
The lesson I learned was the ole Scout motto of “be prepared.” I thought I was doing a good job by heading out to open all the gates to our pasture, but I had not thought hard enough about the fact that horses are very observant prey animals. I figured Kathleen’s horses wouldn’t even notice Sara and Aragorn approaching and riding toward our barn…until the sound of thundering hoofs told me otherwise. At least it was pretty watching them run, especially Mabel, with all those legs. On to Plan B.
So, I told Sara to go on the other side of our fence, and I’d let her in our back yard, since dogs aren’t scary to Aragorn. I hoofed it on to the other end of our area, managed to shut the dogs into the house (yet another minor miracle), and opened the gate. Now, poor Aragorn was far from home, surrounded by weird things, like the pond, and getting distracted. After a bit of circling, Sara got off and led him (she had thought to bring a lead rope, so she was prepared!).
We got over to the horse pens with no further incident. Hooray! Then we were able to have a nice visit, discuss our training progress, our career progress, our families, and normal friend stuff. Since I rarely see others during the day, other than to say hello or goodbye, that was a real treat!
When it came time to go, I got to watch Sara ride Aragorn for a while, which was fun, since he’s so pretty and strong. I was more prepared for them to leave, because I shut my horses up in their pens, and shut Sara’s up in the outer pen (they had conveniently all come up to see what was going on, which was mighty nice of them).
I was able to go ahead and open all the gates, and Sara had a very smooth ride back home! I think we can do it again sometime! And one day, when I’m allowed to do more than go in circles and figure 8, I can go again, too (at least we’re doing well with the circles and figure 8, and I am happy to take our time).
At least here at the ranch, there’s not much other news. I needed this weekend to relax as much as possible in preparation for a hard work week, so that’s great. I do think a couple of the new hens have started laying, since I had four eggs this morning, and two were smaller. I hope the colored eggs start soon!
Trixie comes back to work on Drew again today, I’ll get the start date for the pool tomorrow, and I think the other shipping container will show up soon, to complete the pen arrangement. All those things are good distractions from hurricanes, COVID, and other illnesses.
It’s always something, because that’s life! I’ll just do my best to be prepared and keep sending out that lovingkindness to the world.
Apparently, we do have a pool, and it’s right behind the Bobcat Lair house in Austin. I’ve lived here part time for four years and owned the house for six, but I’d never really seen it, just glimpsed it through trees.
I discovered this (just kidding, I did know there was a pool there; I simply had never seen it up close) last night when my friend Carol, from back in the Hermit Haus Redevelopment days, came over to visit. She brought some delicious food, we pulled out the good wine, and we had a lot of laughs catching up. The recent goings-on in Cameron led to much laughter.
Now, when we had most recently walked Pickle, the neighbors informed Anita and me that the pool had indeed re-opened after a year of slumber and intense renovation. I wanted to check it out, since some of the neighbors had done most of the renovating themselves, including the lovely plantings around it, and I wanted to see it up close and in person.
We mentioned it to Carol, and she also wanted to see it. Why, she had even brought her bathing attire along with her in case she could go swimming at the Y near her house at some point in the day. So, I donned my fabulous modest bathing suit and grabbed the towel I bought two years ago and hadn’t used yet to join her for a dip. Even though it was 8:30 pm and Carol only had fancy sandals to wear, we slipped between the houses and went down.
We were very impressed with the resurfaced pool (even though I had never seen the old version), the painted areas, and the cleaned-up limestone. The lighting is also lovely, and explains why it’s never really dark outside my bedroom window.
It turns out the pool doesn’t close until 10, so we enjoyed the water (even Anita, who had hiccups the entire time, dipped her feet in) for quite a while. I sure wish we had made time to use this neighborhood feature before, but I figure I’ll get the most out of it while I can this summer. (Excuses include losing the key for a couple of years, being exhausted every night, and COVID.)
I really appreciate the hard work people in this neighborhood are doing to improve the aesthetics of the neighborhood. They are spending their own money, since the HOA is not inclined to do more than mow and trim.
Sigh, actually hanging out with your old friends is fun. Thanks to all the people who worked so hard on the COVID vaccine, too!
I’m in Austin this week, and my cul-de-sac neighbors held one of their happy hours to say belated happy birthday to me. We met in a driveway on a windy evening and had a nice time chatting and catching up.
One of our main conversation topics was how far along we are with our COVID-19 vaccinations. Since we are all “getting up there,” some are fully vaccinated, and others are getting close. Only a couple of us haven’t started, but they are slightly younger people who have been pretty isolated.
By the end of the visit, as we were saying goodbye, we realized that by the next book club we might be able to hug each other. I must sheepishly admit that I got all extra full of anticipatory glee at the thought of being able to hug Angela, who’s a nurse, in two weeks.
Oh my gosh. Hugs will be possible soon. And we might even be able to meet indoors in April or May!
And maybe we can have Sunday dinners with our friends again. It’s like a dream. A simple dream. To reconnect. Just talking to friends this evening felt so luxurious.
What simple luxury are YOU looking forward to in the coming months, if vaccinations go as planned? Please share!
In my bullet journal this morning is an entry saying:
Blog without whining
All right then. Today Lee and I are camping in the bedroom, where it is warm. Penney has discovered the space heater and has freed up Lee’s lap.
Meanwhile, Carlton is under my layers of blankets and knitting. Oddly enough, I haven’t knitted much, due to checking in on people who have things much worse than I do. We certainly can’t go anywhere, as we now have a pretty layer of ice!
I’m grateful to helpers today! Kathleen’s cows got more hay, and I have no idea how they got it there, unless they did it last night. And Ralph is heroically caring for the horses. He deserves a medal. I will eventually creep over to the chickens with warm water and food. I’m hoping they are still there.
Anita and Kathleen are both still without power. I’m grateful for Anita’s gas fireplace and Kathleen’s endless supply of candles.
Meanwhile, one of my coworkers has come down with gall bladder symptoms. For gosh sake! They already have no power and certainly can’t drive to a doctor. Another colleague had water coming through her entryway light fixture, and we ALL know water and electricity don’t mix! And, word just came in that an Austin neighbor has water pouring into their garage. No whining! At least it’s the garage and not inside!
Cameron residents don’t have to worry about water pipes bursting at the moment, since the water is off. Too many water lines burst. I’m just hoping my poor sister muddles through, since we can’t get to her! I appreciate all the news my friend Lynn sends, since she gets all the alerts.
And newsflash! Pamela reports no mail because no mail trucks have arrived in days. Lee says they also have computer trouble. At least the weather has downplayed that potential conspiracy theory generator.
Once again, though, I’m impressed with how people are supporting each other and staying in touch. My friends and family are being so kind and caring about sending me news! Now I gotta go check in on more folks.
Just a little. I’ve felt a lot better the past few days, and I think a lot of it is because life has become just a wee bit more normal, at least it feels that way. Being able to take the trip out of town and see different scenery was really refreshing for my soul, and with just a little care, we hardly interacted with anyone, and those we did interact with were either so far away we had to yell, or we were all masked. I felt like we were starting to get the hang of this pandemic safety thing.
After work yesterday, I headed up to Austin, because part of my new “normality” is going there at least twice a month, seeing Anita, and working in the office. That also gives me Vlassic time, which we both appreciate (except when he insists on going out to do his doggie business at 3 am).
When I arrived, the extended neighbors (including folks who live nearby) were having a happy hour, a thing they used to do regularly by the pool. I appreciated them doing it on a day when I could attend. And, of course we weren’t around the pool, since the HOA has banned us from going there, because they fear lawsuits (with reason, given some neighbors’ proclivities).
We cleared out the center parking area and made plenty of space for everyone to gather. We sat in family units (except I deserted Anita due to sun in my face), neatly arranged six or more feet apart. Everyone had their own drinks of choice and had fun.
The main downfall of this is, of course, that the hard-of-hearing folks didn’t get to participate as much. I saw a couple of people who just sat quietly, and I’m pretty sure it’s because they couldn’t hear, or read lips through masks.
Nonetheless, we heard some funny stories, got caught up on each other’s ups and downs, and didn’t die from heat or mosquitoes. October sure is nice in Texas. And doing at least a LITTLE socializing, while taking sensible precautions, was a lot of fun.
I have to share one little story that made me chuckle. One neighbor loudly declared that he was NOT going to wear a mask, because his doctor told him that it wouldn’t keep him from getting sick, and only helps a little in preventing you from getting others sick. Another neighbor said his doctor encouraged mask wearing, so he was going to keep on doing what he was doing. The first guy just bellowed, “You need to get another doctor!”
Yes, changing doctors is all you need to be safe…or at least have the illusion. I just smiled and declared I’d keep using common sense.
The main thing is that my life feels a little more normal, even though many thing are still different. I think we’re adapting to the way things are, and that’s what counts. At least my nightmares aren’t about COVID anymore (no, it’s still kanban cards and more kanban cards).