Dampness Reigns, or Rains

I knew those two relatively dry days in a row were flukes. Last night it poured and poured, right after Trixie showed up to do Apache and Ace’s feet. She was running late due to some car trouble, which gave me lots of time to love on Apache and Fiona. That is always good.

Pet me more.

And I got to love on Sara’s heelers, including the charming and smiling baby Bess. She melts your heart.

I’m a very happy puppy.

Sara had asked Trixie if she had a horse that needed miles on it, and that prompted her to bring her small fancy stallion along with her. He’s gray, and named Archie.

Here comes the man horse.

His arrival sent all equines into a tizzy (except Fiona). Much neighing and prancing commenced. Archie, on the other hand, but on a show like he was a Lipizzaner. Yow. He leapt in the air, twisted, bucked, yelled, and otherwise made his presence quite obvious. I’m hoping he settles down.

WTF?

I made it home after Apache got trimmed, barely asking if his feet looked okay, and hearing Trixie say they looked real good. Two minutes after I got home, the skies opened up. I worried about the rest of the gang, and texted Sara my huge thanks for letting me go first.

Good thing I got all these eggs earlier! One per hen.

It rained all night, hard. It’s the most rain in one day that we’ve had during this long rainy spell. Many days it just drizzled and rained for short periods, so we only got one inch one day in May; the rest were small amounts that did add up to puddles.

First time the pond has filled and spilled in many months.

Last night we got over two inches, so June already has a good rain total! Lee’s stats will be fun to see. I’m hoping to get to Austin this afternoon, once some of the creek flooding is down and before the next round starts. It’s also really wet there!

The newly expanded “little pond” filled for the first time, too, sending its runoff down to the bigger pond. That dirt will be used on another project soon.

Have a good June. I’m ready to support all my LGBTQIA+ friends during PRIDE month!

Very Brief Knitting Update

I thought it would be a good idea to briefly share how my current shawl is going. I’m really enjoying the border, because it’s simple as heck. It does amuse me that I still occasionally mess up, which just goes to show you that paying attention to your pattern by actually LOOKING at it occasionally is a good idea.

You can see that I’m a few inches into the border now.

The good thing is I’m not being graded for this, and it’s not my knitting mastery project or anything. I’m never going to be THAT good. But, I have fun! The idea here is to use almost all of the second ball of yarn for the border, leaving just enough to bind off. Kate Atherley, the woman who wrote the pattern handily tells you about how much yarn you’ll need. It’s a well written pattern, for sure.

You can see it’s getting big!

I like how hefty the shawl has become, though it’s too big to stretch out and get a photo of what the whole thing looks like. It’s going to be pretty, assuming I get more time to work on it.

I will today, anyway, since I’m going to Waco with Sara to do something. Wow. Going somewhere with a friend! To do something! I’m still not planning on any crowded indoor events any time soon, but it’s a huge relief to feel safe enough to do outdoor things.

Not much, but enough to delay the morning horse maintenance plans

And yes, it rained again. We smartly put the bags of Sakrete in the garage, so the fence project won’t get ruined. I put my car outside, but it still looks like the Dustmobile after sitting for so long while I was gone. I’m waiting for things to dry up a wee bit more before getting it washed. One of our friends is doing it for some of us now! Job creation!

Respite: Happy Flowers and Bugs

The rain has managed to fill up the tanks (ponds) at last. It really has been dribbling in, but we finally got a day with a whole inch, and that seems to have done the trick.

Black scarab beetle enjoying delicious pollen from a Texas thistle flower.

There was a bit of a respite this morning, and things dried out a little. I took advantage of the only hour I had without meetings today to go out and see what’s going on with the ranch plants and their friends. I’m glad I did it then, because it’s been raining and thundering again for the past two hours, which makes for some unhappy dogs.

Make it stop thundering!

I had set out to find invasive species, only to realize I missed the entire 2021 iNaturalist Texas invasive species survey time, because I was in South Carolina. That’s okay, though, because I enjoyed seeing what’s blooming in late spring. There’s a lot of Indian blanket, and horsemint out there, and you can tell they are native, because there are so many kinds of insects pollinating them. The fields are literally abuzz with activity. Bzzzz.

I got to see a few new-to-me insects, including two types of potter’s wasps (not exactly sure what they are), and these beautiful tachinid flies, Archytas apicifer. They are huge (for flies), have big, black hairs, and feature shiny green abdomens and bright red eyes. I often saw multiples on one black-eyed Susan flower.

And then there were butterflies! Yes, I’ve seen common buckeyes before, along with the perky little fiery skippers and the red admirals, but the pearl crescent butterfly was new to me, and wow, it’s pretty. The little white checkered skipper looks like lace from a distance, too. In addition to the ones I photographed, I also saw orange sulphurs and gray hairstreaks. That’s a lot of butterflies!

Katydid

The other thing I saw were bees, ranging from honey bees to tiny ones to bumblebees. They were zipping around, so no photos. And I found a katydid and lots of jumpy grasshoppers. This was a great way to spend some of my volunteer time at work!

I hope this provides some cheer if you’re living in a dreary place right now. I’d love to know what kinds of flowers are blooming where you live. I know the irises are in full swing in the northwestern US, and I believe I’ve spotted some peony photos from elsewhere. I love it when people share their local flowers, native or not!

Delicate horsemint.

A Damp Welcome Home

Hooray for being back at the Hermits’ Rest! by the time we got home, I was all shaky and frazzled, and probably the relatives thought I was babbling. But the dogs sure were glad to see us. It felt fantastic to have my Carlton in my lap again. It was great to get back in my bed, and even great to have Penney lined up right beside me all night!

Harvey is very glad I am back.

The trip through Louisiana was beautiful, mostly following US84, and then following roads that made up the original El Camino Real de Tejas, which goes right to Milam County and is what our Master Naturalist group is named after.

We are in the section just to the left of Bryan on this map.

Highlights included a whole area devoted to catfish farming, including a place that made al the nets and a huge catfish food plant. Talk about specificity! The catfish farms also could have passed for egret farms. There were so many birds!

The lake that used to be the Sabine River and separates Texas from Louisiana.

We also drove through many beautiful national forests, and I carefully observed all the logging activity. Mostly it was lush and beautiful. There were plenty of cute towns, town squares, and such as well. It’s nice to see thriving small towns with no television presence to make them go into tourism overdrive.

What’s this? A dike, holding back the Mighty Mississippi in Louisiana.

The farther we drove, the wetter it got. It’s apparently been drizzling all week at the ranch, which slows down the fence-building operation. Today it’s pouring, but I did manage to go see Apache, Fiona, and the other horses to help put some medicine on poor spice, who has a big wound where a growth was removed. Apache has developed thrush in his feet from all the dampness. Can that poor horse catch a break? But the highlight was seeing the newest member of our farm animal family, Haggard, who is a young Black Angus bull from the sale barn. He’s tame as a kitten, and looks like he’ll be a nice small bull, perfect for first-year heifers to get easy births from.

What a sweet little guy.

Right now, Haggard is in quarantine, but he sure loves it when people show up with food!

Our field is covered with flowers. Can’t wait to get out there in the sunshine.

I said hi to the chickens yesterday, but didn’t see Steel, who is the only chick left and keeps escaping to hide in some tall, thick grass behind the coop. At least that one didn’t wander off and get lost. I’ll try again with chicken babies!

What a sweet little wildflower in Mississippi!

Otherwise, all is well. I may have more fun news later in the day, after I go into town for a bit, but right now I’m just trying to get settled back into a routine and figure out what’s going on. I’m lucky that this week is our work’s week to go do volunteering, because that will let me catch up on the volunteer work I have to do! Ain’t that great!

And, just one more flower from my travels yesterday. There’s always something pretty growing near a gas station, I guess!

It sure is good to be back home, especially since Kathleen cleaned the dickens out of the house. They sure did a great job taking care of things while we were gone. Now maybe we can have some FUN.

Time to Pivot!

It’s been gloomy and uncharacteristically cold over here on the Eastern Seaboard today. I think it’s a record cool day. But, that’s okay. We always have something to do. One of the things I had to do today was pivot on our plans and see if we can stay here at the ole condo longer than planned, to allow for the issues with fuel in this part of the country to settle down a bit.

People are so weird. They are lining up for gas, including putting dangerous amounts of it in their cars! We have the Gas Buddy app, so we’ll be able to find it, but still, driving a little later sounds like a good plan. I’m sort of ready to be gone, but this means maybe I can go to that state park later in the week, after all.

I’ve been working a bit today (you know, things come up), so I won’t feel too bad trying to work while driving again. At the moment, I could only get two extra days, but the guy at the desk said he bets people will be canceling their arrivals and we can maybe get another couple of days in. It won’t cost any more money up front, just cut down on future vacations. I’m glad I have a lot to knit and a lot of reading material!

Lee and I made it through the drizzle to get to eat at a seafood place on the pier near the condo for a late lunch, so at least we got outside.

Oh, look, a Ferris wheel.

I later wandered around the building to get some exercise and had a long talk with the bartender (who had no business at all). She’s going to graduate with an MA in education, and is all set to teach English at the local high school. It felt so good to be able to tell her how proud I am of her for choosing that career path and how much of an impact she will have on young people. It’s the kind of thing I wish I could tell my son. I love it that she said she never wants to be wealthy, just have meaningful work. Ahhh. A young woman after my own heart.

Oh look, a Ferris wheel.

The only other fascinating observation I have today is that this place is crazed for small and large amusement parks. I can see three Ferris wheels from this building! I’ll go into that more later, but did want to share all the amusements I can see without going outside.

This is the small but shiny amusement park they’ve been working on behind the condo. Looks like they are trying to get it open for Memorial Day. By the way, we better be LONG gone before then; apparently it’s wild then.

I hope your life is good, and that if you need to pivot, you’re able to do so with grace and good humor.

Boring Weather Update

Hmph. So many local people I know are posting photos of their kids seeing their first snow and such. What do we have at the Hermits’ Rest Ranch? Rain. Sleet at best.

Yep. We managed to get right between the snowy parts. There was some “wintry mix” earlier, because I see white stuff outside and there is some ice on the metal roof. and the precipitation is falling at an odd angle.

Squint your eyes and you can see white.

All is not lost, though. the temperature is going down. We may well get some pretty stuff to enjoy. And I don’t have to drive today!

Glad to have a closet organization project to work on in between knitting and reading my next fascinating book.

My cute organization boxes! Better than a line of shoeboxes!

I’ll be back with something more interesting than this slice of my Sunday morning later today. So far, all I have is watching murders of crows fly back and forth and looking at sleet. I have confidence we will get our rare mid-Texas snow!

How to make it snow

Blog that you’re pouting about a lack of snow. This is less than 5 minutes after I first posted.

That’s snow.

2020 Strikes Again! Flood!

Yesterday the wetness was just a preview. Starting last night it really, really rained. That storm system is quite intense! We’ve had over four inches so far, and others have had more. So, yeah, the ponds are now full.

Water flowing into front pond.

I was able to get out to drive to the office this morning, but soon after, Mandi called to tell me the road by the creek was flooded.

Here’s her photo showing a truck having trouble crossing.

Luckily, the surge didn’t last long and I was able to get back around 1pm. Lee had removed some debris from the road, so cars were safer.

You can see how much higher the water was. All that brown is balloon vine, which floats.

The chickens were very happy to have their new roof. The uncovered part of their run became a puddle, but the covered part was fine. They didn’t come out of the coop until I gave them some scratch.

Meanwhile, I had to feed the horses. I decided to walk, since I have that great new coat, hat, and gloves. I checked out the water, of course.

The trees you see are the creek. I’m always amazed how quickly this happens.

I dawdled a while watching the water flow, which I probably shouldn’t have done, since it started raining again. But it was cool.

Here, watch how fast the creek is flowing!

My coat protected me, and I was able to feed the horses and Big Red, who all seemed just fine. I enjoyed the exercise and once again surprised myself at enjoying bad weather.

Water flowing from the front pond to our happy stream.

So, it will be a chilly new year. I have pot toast happening, and some Prosecco for tonight. Happy New Year.

When It Rains, It’s Wet

Ya know, because of the pandemic and all, Lee and I don’t go anywhere very often. But, today we really had to go to Austin, since my car has a tire with a big ole bubble in it that needed to be fixed, and we hadn’t given my son and his partner anything for Christmas yet (we knew what they needed/wanted).

I wish.

Naturally, today is the day it finally rained some real rain, rather than in dribs and drabs and hundredths of inches. It’s the big storm that’s going to mess up New Year’s for the “important” parts of the US, i.e., the east coast. We always need rain, so yay for the weather.

Except we had to drive, and Lee doesn’t like driving in the rain, even in his new vehicle with the spooky features like adaptive cruise control. Nonetheless, I’m the one in the family who does what they say they will do when they say they will do it, so off we went.

Rain and drenched Christmas decorations.

Yep, it rained a lot. But, there were fun clouds to look at (especially if you were in the passenger seat, I grant that). We managed to find the Costco store in south Austin, and got somewhat wet going in there. Still, the trip was a success, because though the store looked crowded, people were distancing themselves like old pros, AND we found a darned large television for a good bit less than $300. In my mind those cost three or four times that much, so that was a deal (and the picture quality was great!). Plus, the rain let up while we loaded the car.

We easily found the apartment complex of the young folks (Lee had never been there, since he doesn’t go to Austin unless he HAS to), and handed over the television in the parking lot, avoiding any meetings in confined quarters. They appeared to be pretty thrilled.

They look sneaky to me.

Then, they gave me a VERY thoughtful gift that they’d looked hard for on Ebay. Sniff. That was so sweet. And, off Lee and I went again. No dilly dallying.

It will do.

The new car told us in no uncertain terms that we needed to get gas, so we planned to stop halfway home. The horses and chickens needed food, and I needed a calendar to mark horse feedings on (because SmartPack, the supplement supplier, didn’t send us a calendar for the first time in many years!).

Well, our luck with the rain ended there. A real downpour began, and there was no way to avoid a real soaking. My boots, pants, sweater, and most of all my hair…all soaked through. I looked like a young man of some sort who just swam across a lake, and no amount of SnapChat filtering would fix it. I did laugh a lot at myself, which confused Lee, poor guy.

To be honest, I’m blathering a bit, because I am sad. I’m happy I got to write about Carlton. And I’m so glad I got to see the kids today, because this week has just been chock full of bad news that really isn’t blog material. And no, it’s not all people from our business, though our staff and clients have gotten some raw deals from the hands of fate, that’s for sure.

The worst. Today I found out a young man I’d always liked passed away in a house fire, and that was just the last straw. My heart just aches for his parents and sister, who have always been incredibly kind to me.

Please tell people you care about that you’re there for them. I’m gonna even tell the son who won’t speak to me. Because I do still care.

Rainy Saturday of Love

Hooray! It’s actually REALLY raining today. This is what we need to refill the ponds and help all the plants over the winter. That said, I don’t look forward to going out in it!

Someday we will pave that giant puddle.

Meanwhile, I’ve enjoyed a morning with Lee. I even gave him his anniversary card (note that the anniversary was November 29). I’d left it in Austin. But, there’s rarely a bad time to remind your partner in life that you love them!

Lee wants to keep the wooden part. Good card.

It’s nice to spend a morning enjoy your loved ones. Harvey’s giant belly has been rubbed a lot! Carlton is under the bed, because it thundered.

I’m watching it rain.

I’m especially grateful to be home and warm, since the rest of the household had to go out and do some hard work. I love their dedication. The personal assistance service is not an easy thing to run!

A Question

I was thinking about how much I love our former Christmas tree that’s now a tribute to nature, peace, and our pets. The poor thing no longer lights and has gotten droopy. I think I need to find another tree with mostly bare limbs to put my ornaments on.

It used to be really gorgeous, if non-traditional.

If any of you see a tree that’s at least 6 feet tall and mostly bare (on sale!) that I could order, send me a link in the comments or on other social media! I’m on a quest!

Welcome Rain

Rain may not be an exciting topic to many of you, but to ranchers in Texas, it’s pretty fascinating. The area where the Hermits’ Rest Ranch is located is midway between the very damp eastern part of Texas and the very dry western part. That means we get a medium amount of rain, averaging about 35 inches per year (according to Lee and my friend Lynn).

The street is wet.

This year, we just hit the average amount, thanks to some rain finally falling this week. It hadn’t rained significantly in a few months, so we are officially back in a drought. All the rain was really early in the year last year.

Damp squirrel

I know I’m in Texas when people run into my office, breathlessly informing me it’s raining! And then I have to go out and look outside, to verify (I also go in the little bathroom, where I can hear rain on the roof). Sort of sad what passes for excitement around here.

Listen to the rain. And see how sad the Pope house neighborhood looks.

Though it only rained a half inch over the previous couple of days, it was steady, slow rain, for the most part. That means it soaked in. When it rains hard, it all flows down to the arroyo, off to the stream, into the creek, and ends up in the Little River. That doesn’t help us much.

So, if you see me doing a rain dance, don’t be shocked. Rain is joy around here!