Slime Mold, Mystery Mold, Shimmering Fungi

Well, shoot, no wonder my head is full of mush, there is so much mold, fungus, and who knows what other damp-loving organisms right now after the rain. I was feeling better after taking the Mucinex, but then I went outside and did stuff with the horses and BOOM I’m a dizzy, queasy mess again. I think I need to stay in, but when you have these precious beings wandering around, you want to go out!

Someone let us out! Extra green grass!

As for things that might attack my head, I’ve seen some old and some new. The first thing I saw I have no clue what it is. It looks like strands of fungus growing on the ground. There were a bunch of large masses of them in the grass yesterday.

It could be the web of a spider, but I don’t think that’s it. Any ideas?

The weirdest thing I’ve seen, and one that has probably helped make me sick, is the aptly named dog vomit slime mold. At least I think that’s what it is. It weirdly covers all the plants. Yesterday I thought it was bird poop. Today, ewww. That is one fascinating thing.

Well, that’s an interesting thing.

There’s more “normal” stuff out there that I’ve enjoyed. I posted photos of some mushrooms yesterday that I call poop shrooms. I do not think they are “magic mushrooms,” but just normal Panaeolus antellarum. This is a mushroom that’s actually edible, but since it grows on dung, not a lot of us would really want to eat them. Certainly, there are enough to feed many people right now! Every pile of horse poop has its own little colony.

There are other mushrooms that have popped up, and I’ve always enjoyed them. The inkcaps are so delicate that they wave in the wind. Watch the video; it’s so pretty.

Prettiest poop ever.

I wrote about this because I know it won’t last. The mold and fungi will be gone in a few days once it dries out (though I hope it rains some more).

The horses like damp hay so they dig little holes to get to where it’s still wet.

It was dry enough today to get more work done on the front pond. These silt up quickly, so it’s always good to get in there and clean them out when a dry spell comes up. We now have a mountain of beautiful dirt to spread across the pasture, and maybe make the horses a little hill to run up and down. It’s a great opportunity to make the slopes on the side a little less steep, especially where we need to mow.

I’m not complaining about all these weather changes! You see so many interesting natural phenomena if you just look carefully.

Things I Never Thought I Would Say: Poop Edition

Since moving here, I have found myself uttering phrases that the old Suna never would have come out with. Things like: Hey, I only sweated through two bras today!

My horsies!

With all these animals, of course the topic turns to what comes out of them. More than once I’ve had an in-depth discussion of what makes a healthy cow pie, and why it’s okay for them to have the runs at certain times of the year. So, yes, I’ve said, “Wow, that’s some fine looking cow dung!”

Today’s phrase I never would have thought I’d ever say is:

I really enjoy shoveling horse poop.

The poop shoveling equipment.

But, it’s true! I find myself looking forward to cleaning Apache’s pen while he and Drew eat their delicious food and supplements. It’s fun chasing all those stray horse apples, honestly. And it looks so great when you are done (which lasts approximately zero minutes to one hour, depending on horse digestion).

Hey, you just cleaned this, so I needed to make a new deposit. You’re welcome.

It sure makes it smell better, too. Of course, some poop shoveling is not fun. I put trying to clean the stock trailer in that category. It’s a really nice trailer with flooring that helps the animals stay steady on their feet. However, that flooring makes it very hard to remove poop, and let me tell you something, an animal placed in a trailer will poop, probably before you finish tying them up, or shut the door.

I went out this morning when it was “cooler” to finally tackle the trailer after Apache’s lesson a week ago. Wow, that was a frustrating job, but at least most is out. Obviously we need to pressure wash it, which will happen when we have a pressure washer that’s not stuck on one hose in the back yard.

Yes, this is AFTER I tried to clean it.

And apparently, if you create an enclosure, equines will poop in it. I had left the “gate” to the round pen open so it could get mowed, and sure enough, Fiona ONLY pooped in there when she was out free ranging. That makes it fun for the human in the center working with the horse, or walking around with it.

Thank goodness, now that it’s mowed, the Fiona poop isn’t so obvious.

In good news, I went over to Sara’s and got the cones I forgot I owned (bought with the portable round pen and the other dressage accessories). I can now set up my circle much more accurately for our schooling practice.

They don’t have to be fancy cones to do the job. Here, they are up high so the grass can be cut.

Sounds like I have a fun weekend ahead of me, with poop shoveling as a feature, not a chore.

And feeding me, too. Don’t forget to feed me.

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.

What’s All This Fuss about Butts (Bums)?

Yes, this is not my normal topic, but it’s something I’ve been noticing lately: there are a lot more depictions of, advice about, and media coverage about people’s rear ends these days. Is anyone in the US (don’t know if these are everywhere) tired of looking at that family of bears who are obsessed with having clean hineys?

Apparently, I am not alone in my opinions of these guys.

Then there are all the advertisements about products to make your poop less stinky, like “Poo-Pourri“- they are all into the poop puns, too. I’m mighty impressed with the Yule Log. They also have hilarious commercials, where some lady in a fancy blue dress sits in bathroom stalls and talks about when you GO, nudge nudge, wink wink.

Ha ha, I get it.
Dookie

I almost forgot the Squatty Potty, for those of you with poor poop posture. You know, it’s the “#1 way to #2” and it’s email list sign-up asks you to “join the movement.” I do believe it works, according to people I know, but I own a stool if I need to assume the position. I found an article in AdWeek about a war with Squatty Potty and Poo-Pourri, but I’m not subscribing to learn more. Oh hell, I have now found that you can buy toys of…get this…Dookie the Pooping Unicorn, the Squatty Potty mascot. ARGH. This is not something I’d put an order in for, or for which I would put in an order (grammar).

Not that kind of stool, Suna.

You know, when I was younger, people didn’t have many conversations about poop, unless they were dealing with babies or were close elderly friends talking about their going too much or too little. You didn’t hear it mentioned, even in Metamucil or Pepto-Bismol commercials. You had to sorta know what they were for. I can remember wondering why stools needed softening; shouldn’t they be hard? Somehow in the last year or two, that social taboo has been blasted away.

However, poop humor is universal, I guess. Even I find some of the ad copy groan-worthy but funny.

Continue reading “What’s All This Fuss about Butts (Bums)?”

Texas, Where Almost Everything Bites

Today I have a hodgepodge of stuff to share, but first I want to talk about what’s lurking around the ranch these days. That would be things that bite, and things that jump. Yesterday, I went to sit down on one of the front-porch rocking chairs, when I saw something on the seat.

A member of the widow spider family.

I am very glad she was pre-dead, and that I saw her before I sat. Certainly it confirms my habit of checking for creatures before plopping down anywhere around the Hermits’ Rest! I’m not sure what kind of widow spider she was, but I don’t want any of them biting me. These are the main reason I continue to support having pest control come around the house.

The second reason is scorpions, which I haven’t seen any of, but Lee and Kathleen have killed a few. I love them out in the woods, but not in the house. And I love the spiders, but not ones that could really mess with my health.

I’ve apparently become allergic to mosquito bites, and they make huge welts, so I could do without those right now, too. And biting flies! Argh. There are black flies around here, and horse flies (thankfully not around ME), and deer flies. Whatever. One of them bit me on my FACE this morning. That could have to do with how much poop we have at the ranch

Nonetheless, I am heartily enjoying discussing different kinds of flies and grasshoppers and stuff with Eric in our Master Naturalist class. He not only has good eye for finding them, but he has a good camera, and the patience to work hard to identify them.

Eric wrote me an email today about the coolest thing he saw (a “mystical experience,” in his words), which was he was trying to photograph a large grasshopper:

It jumped off the path into the high grass and when it landed it appeared to turn into at least a dozen tiny projectiles which flew off in all directions like a firework. A closer look uncovered a great concentration of grasshopper nymphs in the area.

Eric N., email 6/6/2020

Of course, he didn’t get a picture, but WOW, what an image!

My grasshopper experience this morning was also something you couldn’t photograph. I was walking back from horse riding (it went well), noticing that it’s definitely grasshopper season. Then I noticed the sound. As I walked, I was disturbing dozens and dozens of them (small ones, since they aren’t adult yet), and my walk seemed to have a rhythm section accompanying it. Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap-tap-tap.

I k now a lot of people don’t like grasshoppers (like my sister), and I admit they are annoying in the summers when there are hundreds pelting me as I drive the utility vehicle. At least they don’t bite often or hard. But they are so varied and interesting. I have an AWFUL time photographing them, so I think I’m going to get a good butterfly net soon, so I can get some to hold still.

What Doesn’t Bite?

Roaches. Secretly, I have never been fond of roaches, due to childhood trauma, but I am doing better since I started doing iNaturalist. I recently even found one I thought was interesting to look at. It also lived outdoors, where it should.

Fairly attractive pale-bordered field cockroach

And non-venomous snakes don’t bite humans, often anyway. So, I was sad to see this one in the road this morning. Rat snakes are my buddies as long as they aren’t eating my hens’ eggs.

Poor snakey got hit by a car.

Okay, time to go see what’s outside that will hurt in some other way…

Doggie Doo, Oh Poo

Oh, look. Here’s my dog, Vlassic, sound asleep in his doggy bed. Isn’t that sweet? Look at how he is not wriggling, squirming, or digging his nails into anything. What a great dog.

As an added bonus, there isn’t dried up cow dung all over his collar, either. Mmm, that was fun to clean off. I can see why it becomes a building material. It dries to a rock hardness. A stinky rock hardness.

What Did He Doo?

Well, back at the ranch bedroom, there used to be an odd square of foam rubber that once dwelt inside a pillow. Lee was using it to make his inordinately complex nest that he sleeps on in his automatic recliner/man cocoon.

Monday evening, I came into the room, exhausted from my day of hospital hijinks, to discover many, many pieces of foam rubber strewn quite gaily around the place. A dog or dogs had gotten into the bedroom and run amock. You see, we leave the door open when Vlassic’s home, so he can hide in the bed from Penney (even though they get along now, he still won’t go downstairs and sit in our laps).

I don’t feel so good, Mom.

We cleaned the mess up. Lee will learn to put covers on pillows. The end?

Nope. Yesterday, when I drove back to Austin, I noticed Vlassic was turning around a lot in his seat, rather than sleeping. When I sat to relax from all my errands and phone calls, he wiggled a lot, then asked to go out. He usually doesn’t do that.

He ran to his usual “spot,” and then (you guessed it), began expelling not only poop, but good-sized pieces of foam rubber. That was different. At least I could see that it easily passed through him and didn’t cause a blockage. Whew.

Then we went to sleep. No, then we went to BED. The entire night, Vlassic tossed, turned, poked his feet into various parts of me, licked things, made little noises, etc. Finally, just before 6 am he went to the door and asked to go out. Off I went in my pajamas. Good thing no one (not even the deer and armadillos) was around to enjoy the spectacle of more foam-filled dog products.

When we got back, he squirmed until ten minutes before my alarm went off. GRR.

Just let me sleep it off, please.

As you might imagine, I did not have a good sleep report when I woke up.

But, that’s what we do for our loved ones we care for, right? We sacrifice because we love them, and when they make a mistake, we help them get through it. It was a good lesson for me to remember when I awoke to realize it’s been exactly a year since my son ghosted me. I love my children unconditionally, too.

Here’s Why You Dispose of Plastics Properly

Today’s bonus post is about how recycling and properly disposing of waste really, really matters. This is not more of my New Age jargon. It’s real, man.

Here’s a picture from this date in 2015 of Sara and me out riding. She is on Apache, who is now my horse, and I am on her previous horse, Aladdin. This was the first time I rode a horse other than the ancient plodding sweetheart, Pardner.

Yesterday, as often happens on weekends, Sara and I were out riding our horses. It was a really beautiful day, and the horses (Spice and Apache) were informing us that they’d rather do things other than what we were asking, so we needed to keep them out there to remind them we are the leaders and they are the followers.

So we wandered all over the property where it wasn’t too wet to wander. There were still a lot of good-sized puddles that are turning into small ponds, so I practiced convincing Apache it would be fun to walk through them, while Sara convinced Spice she really DID want to trot in giant circles.

Speaking of not being bored, Apache is learning the new skill of riding with a bit and bridle! We usually just use his halter and reins. Next, I have to learn to use the new tools.

That got boring, so we went into a pasture we’d not ridden in much before, over where our precious cattle are. There are some cool low spots I want to investigate on foot over there.

What was cute, though, was “checking on” the cattle. Basically that meant we walked up to each of them and calmly said “hey, cow/calf.” The littlest calf, who’s chocolate brown and very dainty (her mom was the youngest mother of the group) hid behind the larger bull calf at first, but then she peeked out and came right up to us.

All the mother cows have known these horses for years, so they were fine.

And what about plastic?

I’m getting there. We took two different routes to return the horses to their pasture, do to gate rearrangement needs (a common ranch thing, moving gates around). I was walking toward Sara as she was bringing Spice to where I was, and I noticed she was carrying something funny looking.

What in the world is she carrying?

I asked her if she’d found a plastic bag on the ground (we have recently found mylar balloons, which I think I’ve mentioned).

She said yes, but look at the decorations. Oh, ick, the bag was covered in nuggets of horse poop. One of our equine friends had eaten it and excreted it (and we all looked at Apache).

This image, seared into your brain, should convince you to not randomly throw away plastic bags.

Friends, that could have messed up his innards big time. Obstructions kill horses. They aren’t great for cattle either.

Fiona says she’s grossed out, too.

So please, please don’t let loose of mylar balloons and don’t let your plastic grocery bags fly off. Not only do most of them end up way up in trees, which looks awful, but if they end up on the ground, very valuable livestock could ingest them. That would be sad.

PS: Sara reminded me that they lost a calf (valued at thousands of dollars) once because it ate a mylar balloon. Expensive balloons!

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