Ups, Ups, Downs

Things have been good here lately. I spend a lot of time watching cute animals.

That’s a relaxed dog.

I even rescued a trapped English sparrow today who couldn’t figure out how to get out of the henhouse. I caught her and took her out. She was so exhausted that she just sat on my hand. Poor dear. No photos, since I had five hen eggs in my other hand!

So, here’s another friend, the gate spider. Apparently a Western spotted orb weaver.

There’s just so much joy in our animals. The dogs love evenings when we’re in the pool, because they can run and play with an audience. I take them out in the mornings for a little play, too, which makes for a nice work break.

Things continue to be good with the horses, too. We had good lessons today. Drew showed Tarrin how hard we’ve been working and then learned new backups. And poor Apache struggled a lot with moving his butt when asked. My left leg is tired! But, those two bring me such joy. I’m so lucky to be able to learn and grow with them.

But there are so many animals to enjoy here. My son found this really cool snake in his cabin. He just caught it and took it outside and caulked up the hole it came in. That’s my boy.

And today, I went to water the plants and was startled when I reached to turn on the spigot. Along the house was a complete snakeskin, I’m pretty sure it was one of our rat snakes. I love it when you get the whole skin.

I guess that’s enough animal fun for a Saturday evening. Hoping all is well with you. We’re having more family illness stuff. That’s the down part of the post title.

Self Care Lets You Care for Others

It’s thoughtful not to bare your inner torment then just drop the subject. People worry (at least two of them!). So, hey, not only did I get in some quality talk therapy and encouragement from people I rely on, I bravely ventured to a new health-care facility to get my medications back (or see what other alternatives there are).

Hey, look, my tack room has a horse sign now. Thanks to Lee for hanging it!

Cameron is not overly full of health-care options, but a new one opened last month, and I tried it rather than stressing myself out by going to my old neighborhood in Austin to see the doctor. More self care, right there! The facility is nicely renovated and conveniently located on the same road we live on (only in the city, not the country). I had a rather negative first impression thanks to the relentlessly cheerful Christian radio station (complete with phone number I could call to get the staff to pray for me!) that clients have to listen to. But, at least it was positive in focus and not a certain television network I would have walked out on.

A cricket frog also cheered me up.

Good news! The PA I met with was just great. We talked a half hour, at least, and he both listened and shared information with me. I went ahead and got the same thing I was using before, but he gave me some ideas to look into, including a kind of progesterone treatment I hadn’t thought of. If it would help my hair grow more, maybe I’d like it. But, I’m going to read up on it a LOT before trying anything hormonal. I am really susceptible to hormonal flux.

Great blue heron says, hey, the pond got a wee bit bigger

Anyway, I’m hoping I’ll feel more like my easy-to-live-with self soon. That will let me be helpful to others, including animals. And oh my. Poor Vlassic needs help. Last night it rained, and of course rain is good, right? Especially when you are in an intensifying drought.

Better than no rain at all

The rain came with thunder and lightning, and poor Vlassic was over in the RV alone. He didn’t cope well. When I came to get him this morning, he couldn’t walk right, was screaming in pain and was unable to bark. He must have panicked. Well, that is NOT going to happen again.

I need love.

It looks like his companion in the RV won’t be home for a while, and Vlassic won’t come in our house because Penney traumatized him soon after we got her. So. Lee and I have all his stuff set up in the new apartment, even though it isn’t quite finished yet. There’s a couch in there, and I’m going to sleep in there with him until his buddy comes back. Then it will be plenty busy and he will be happy again.

I’m tired from being scared.

I can’t let my animals get all messed up. I’d been thinking Vlassic would only have to stay alone for a few days, but that isn’t the case. He needs to be with people at night as well as during the day (we’ve been spending a lot of time with him during the day). So, wish me luck, knowing how many nightmares I’ve already been having! But, Lee will have the other dogs and I’ll have Vlassic, and we will all have the care we need.

Sunrise after rain.

This will work until next week, when we had planned to go out of town. I’ll have to see if I can get some help after that if Vlassic’s companion isn’t back yet! Or stay home. I can also do that, because my little buddy’s more important than a vacation!

I guess this is good news. We apparently have an aviary in the porch. The former ceiling fan fixture near where the swallows live has just morphed into a gigantic sparrow nest. Mrs. Sparrow seems so happy about it. At least we lived here quite a while before those English immigrants found us!

Now, I have to say, it is hard to not be grumpy about some things. Some dog ate my crochet hook. It was a nice wooden one. Now I know I have many, but they are all packed up still. Damn. Back to knitting until Friday. Um, let’s look at more photos of more cheerful things…ish.

My former crochet hook. I thought they’d eaten a walking stick bug. No.

Views of Home

Yesterday I took a few pictures as I approached the ranch on my walk.

Right past the bridge.

It’s a mid-winter view only a property owner could love. There’s last year’s evil Georgia cane, some fencerow trees planted by birds, ugly power lines, and my house way in the distance. But, seeing that bottom land makes my heart swell, because it’s home.

It’s a field, all right.

I see dead trees and pretty live ones. I know the trees provide habitat and cover for wildlife, like the cottontail I saw yesterday and all those sparrows (yesterday I saw gorgeous Harris’s sparrows, chipping sparrows, yellow-throated sparrows, vesper sparrows and more). I love this winter landscape.

When you get to know a place, you see it’s beauty and unique features all year round.

Rooster Digression

Late yesterday afternoon, Lee and I took a walk around the house area, looking at the winter life. When we came back up, we saw the chickens, but heard some loud cackling from inside the garage. Lee said it sounded like someone had laid an egg. But, all the hens were nearby. It had to be Bruce.

How did I get up here? How do I get down?

We walked in and found that, yes, Bruce was making the noise. He was sitting on top of the garage fridge looking confused.

I’m king of the hill!

He does like high spots, like Gertie the guinea did. He just seemed to be having trouble figuring out how to get back down. He did, eventually! He was all cozy in the coop when I went out to shut their door.

I hope your home brings you some joy during this bleak midwinter. Some of my US friends are getting pretty snowfalls!

Sparrows of Hermits’ Rest

Today I am taking a mental health break and just having fun outside. I spent a really long time this morning watching the edge of the woods to figure out how many kinds of sparrows are flitting around in the brush. We get so many in winter, and it’s easy to see them with the cedar elm leaves all shed out.

Where there are sparrows

The first ones I saw were Harris’s sparrows. These are really easy to ID because they have black faces. We get them every winter.

Also they have very pink bills.

They aren’t common in much of the US, but you sure see them in the brush here. Sorry for these stock photos, but I couldn’t get photos.

The blue is the non breeding range.

Most of the sparrows were white-crowned sparrows. You hear them more than you see them. You hear their lovely calls all around you, then hear rustling. That’s the sparrows rummaging through the leaf litter looking for food.

Blurry but easy to ID.

When you finally see them, their heads shine at you, at least the males. They are vibrantly black and white. A spectacular little bird and lots of fun to watch, especially as they flit around in groups going from tree to tree.

I want a bug.

Others stay in one spot for quite some time. I guess there are lots of tidbits to eat there. I will spare you more blurry photos, but it was fun trying to get them.

Once I got out the binoculars and started looking that way, I found the third brush-dwelling sparrow at Hermits’ Rest Ranch in winter, the white-throated sparrow. They look a lot like the white-crowned, but have a bit of yellow above their eye near their beaks.

The bill also helps you tell them apart.

The Field Sparrows

We also have a variety of sparrows in the fields, completely different types. Most are vesper sparrows. These are the biggest ones, and their white tail feathers make them easy to ID. I never get close enough for a good photo, though.

There’s two of them. Take my word.

The vesper sparrows are here all year, even though the maps say they aren’t. There’s another smaller sparrow here now, which I’m not sure if they are savanna sparrows or song sparrows. Well, I’m better at this than I used to be!

We also have lots of meadowlarks right now. They fly really differently from the sparrows, though. And the killdeer are here in the fields, too. It’s quite busy!

Oh, I wanted to share one more visitor, a pair of greater yellowlegs, who have been sharing the pond behind the house with the huge great heron.

Three water birds.

I didn’t know yellowlegs swam, but for sure they weren’t ducks! Then they stood up and I knew what they were. There’s always something new to learn about nature.

Planning to Be Interesting

While I have little exciting to report today, I sure planned to be interesting later! I think that counts as good news.

I did a lot of work for my volunteer jobs. The best part was planning for next year’s Master Naturalist activities with our Vice President, Donna. She hates computers and I love them, so we are complementary.

The back of Donna as she talked about bluebirds

We even made a survey to ask the members what they want to learn about next year. The one person who has filled it out so far is me, but then it hasn’t gone out in email yet.

Carlton wants his fellow pound puppies to get to run around like he does.

Lee and I then went to Tractor Supply in scenic Hearne, where I not only got horse and chicken supplies, but also scoped out supplies for the dog run our family and business are going to build for the Cameron dog pound.

We even got an invitation to do a dog adoption day at the Tractor Supply store! Thus, I did work for ALL my volunteer jobs! Interesting!

The evening has started well, too. As I walked back from horse feeding at dusk, I heard the sandhill cranes above me. I guess they were heading to the big lake by the old Alcoa plant.

Imagine cranes here. They are too high to photograph.

Then I walked through the field as flocks of Savannah sparrows took off at my approach. Their wings were beautiful to hear.

Ahh, autumn.

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