Goodbye to a Bird Friend, Hello to Others

Well, there was apparently an actual cock fight last night, and Peeper lost. I was not surprised, but sad. Bruce was just being a rooster. I tried. Sniff. Poultry are sure hard to keep.

Starlings and dewberries across the road.

In good bird news, I’ve heard my first red-winged blackbird of the year. And in better news, the scissor-tail flycatchers are swooping and soaring again. That’s good, because the barn swallows need help with all the flying ants and other swarming creatures.

Mr Robotto, the pool cleaner, was filled with tiny wings yesterday. Yuck.

But all is not bad. Look at the giant mushroom that’s just sitting in front of the house. It looks like an ostrich egg or a softball!

Drew is holding his own. I spent a lot of time with him today. I groomed him a long time and groomed filthy Apache even longer. That horse is still shedding like crazy. Drew is too, but not so badly. And in Drew news you didn’t probably want to hear, he pooped today, which means he’s functioning normally.

No photos of Drew, but right next to him is a newly organized shipping container.

We are about to get to where the tack room will be built out, which sure makes me happy. Then we will be on to our next ranch improvement project, which involves a little building down the road.

Isn’t it cute?

And on one last note, it’s also gnat season. It’s always something here. Enjoy some flowers and an insect.

PS: a hummingbird moth just landed on my phone as I was labeling the flowers. Nature is full of surprises.

Good Things Come

I waited, and good things came. This evening I went out to work with the horses. Apache was in a good mood. So was I. We had a great time together. It’s how I imagined horse ownership could be.

No horse photos, so here is some gaura, which I also have been waiting for.

Warming up was fun. He is cantering so much more calmly. And we went out to practice jumping, like we’ve been doing all week. He would trot the circle, then stop dead to cross the jump, then take off. But finally he jumped! We were both so thrilled! Going the other way he didn’t jump but did trot over the jump. That may have been his first jump. I’ve certainly never seen him do it before.

Spring! Willow buds.

Then we had a great ride in which he barely got nervous and I didn’t react inappropriately once. We are getting the hang of things.

While my hotel sunrise was pretty, I was glad to get away from the city.

Other good things are also coming along. There’s been good progress on the tack room. They wired it for electricity and are insulating the walls. How fancy!

I see future light switches.

I like what they chose for the walls. It looks like shiplap or something. It’s thicker than paneling but not as thick as the stuff we’d originally wanted, which was really expensive. Wood prices, sigh.

I think I’ll leave it unpainted.

They added a side window to the south, so the air conditioner can go in it. That will also bring in a little light.

The mini fridge will go under this new window.

I’m pretty excited that it’s really happening! Good things come to those who wait.

Tack Room, Not Tacky at All

Today our renovation crew had a day off from Anita’s house, so they worked on fixing up a shipping container and a portable shed to be the new Hermits’ Rest hay loft and tack room.


It wasn’t the easiest task in the world, but by gosh, the team got it done! Leveling the portable building we’d brought over from our church building wasn’t too bad. With enough concrete blocks and shims, it ended up looking great. And they made me a step to get into it.

They plan to cover the blocks.

Getting the container level was an ordeal. At first not even the backhoe could lift it. So the team had to take all the dang bags of concrete back out, the ones you faithful readers might remember were a problem a while back. Then the backhoe could raise it up.

Lee supervising.

Everything is way up in the air, at least on one end. That will encourage drainage, since it’s all on a slope. The plan is to add some siding to make it look better. But to me it looks great.

The back side, which is the high side.

Once they got it all level, they started to insulate it, beginning with the ceiling. I guess they had some insulation left over from another project. They also began to put the old ceiling tiles from the church over the insulation, but it’s rather fragile.

Insulated loft.

Tiny mom brag: my kid did a good job cutting all the pieces up! The future will probably include inexpensive paneling on the walls. It will look rustic.

All cleaned up and ready for the next phase.

It’s sure looking better, and I feel much closer to tack and hay storage! The tack room will have air conditioning and a little refrigerator for medicine and drinks, plus lights and lots of shelving. Of course there will be saddle racks, hangers for other tack, and a desk. Plenty of space for feed and supplements, too. For me, there will be a chair.

Scenic back of hay loft. Hopefully we will paint our containers to match the tack room.

None of the activity bothered the horses at all. Drew and Apache got their feet trimmed with no problems. Both just enjoyed the attention.

Vlassic enjoyed hoof trimmings. Apache has such good feet now. So thankful for Trixie!

I’m grateful for all the hard work of our team. I’m grateful to be here, enjoying the beauty of spring, listening to the swallows, and loving my family. Peace.

Barn Swallows are nesting!

The Traveling Tack Room

Let’s have a post that isn’t a pity party or poor me, shall we? Let’s talk about how we got our future tack room to the ranch.

Step 1: take tractor to the old church and former Hermit Haus.

So, before COVID when we thought we were going to fix the old church up and rent it out, we bought a cute little building to store seasonal supplies in. Later, when we thought we’d have an active office for the family business, we used it to store Christmas stuff. I decorated a lot.

Step 2: pick up house

Once the office became closed to visitors and periodically closed to everyone for safety reasons, the stuff just sat there, along with the old yellow ceiling tiles Lee wanted to insulate the building with.

Step 3: put house on trailer. That was impressive.

Fast forward to this year. The plan to make our portable building into a tack room was changed. A second portable building came over to be the tack room, that’s the one they moved earlier in the week.

Step 4: slide it forward

The men talked about how we weren’t using that building or another one on the next property we’re renovating. Hmm. Tack room and workshop! So yesterday we fetched the little red building.

Step 5: safety check and off we go!

I was really impressed that the men were able to get the building on the trailer with just our tractor. That takes skill. Lots of it. And coordination!

Step 6: head through Cameron, tailgated by someone with little sense.
Tailgater kept following.

After checking that we were less than the height that would require an escort, Lee and I tried to follow the building, but were thwarted by a traffic light. I was glad when we turned off the main road and took the road that leads to our house the rest of the way.

Whew, I was glad when we were home. Of course, then the house had to come off the trailer, and we had left the helpful tractor back at the church. Never fear, the backhoe was here. I think removing the building was worse than loading it.

Now the house and shipping container need to be put next to each other and leveled. They got the leveling supplies today. Then the insulation will go in and the inside tricked out with saddle racks, hangers for tack, shelving, a little fridge, and more. And there will be space for an air conditioning unit to keep things free from mold. That will have to wait until electricity shows up.

Maybe I can have a chair, so I’ll have a she shed. Why not?

Stay tuned tomorrow for another positive post, this time about my first horse show. I’m sure grateful for the guys’ help on this!

Cleaning Can Be Fun

That’s not normally something I’d say, but after seeing the progress Sara and I made on our tack room, I’ve changed my tune. However, I feel sorta like Apache right now—ready for a nap!

Suna tired me out this morning. All that walking!

It had gotten to be quite a mess in there, especially after the salt licks melted onto the floor from the humidity. Sara spent hours yesterday cleaning up the floor and everything on it, which was not easy. And she cleaned the A/C filter. Yuck.

I felt a little bit bad when I cleaned the fridge, because it was full of beet pulp, which got on the clean floor, but even when I was cleaning scary spiderwebs (Sara found brown recluses yesterday) off the windows and such, I kept the floor pretty good.

This may look like a mess, but it’s organized and dusted!

Some of the cleaning was quite challenging, but I enjoyed organizing our stuff, getting rid of old things, and seeing what we have. Now I know where all the medicine is, and will have all the stuff Mandi put together last year to start my collection. Fungal things stay with Sara, hoof things go with me, thanks to our horses’ issues.

Now that the table is clean, we can see what’s what, too.

I found duplicate things and stored them, arranged cow stuff sensibly, and have a little area for bath stuff. So proud of myself.

That dresser looks WAY better compared to the before pictures!

I even cleaned out my tack box. I may have done it one other time, but it was before Sara got her nice new one. Now I have just the things I use every day.

A semi-clean donkey

One of the items got a lot of use today, the black pumice-like brick that looks like a grill cleaner. It got a lot of Fiona’s winter hair off, and she really enjoyed it. She certainly liked it better than fly spray or wound cleaner (she has a little cut on her leg).

Here’s Ace keeping an eye on that dog!

It was nice hanging out and cleaning, plus it was fun watching Sara work with Ace. He’s made a breakthrough and is progressing fast all of a sudden! His new eating plan is already helping his metabolism, and it’s also helping his mind!

All is well. How about that?

Mysteries and Owies

It’s a dark and stormy day, just right for tales of mystery and pain. My first mystery was actually painful.

You could smell ozone in the air as I went to feed horses this evening. Kathleen’s cow wondered why I was sitting on the ground taking pictures of buttercups when I should have been going hone.

Mystery Time

You know people make fun of Texans for wearing cowboy boots, right? Well, there’s a good reason. A good portion of the things here bite, stick, prick, or otherwise harm you, and feet are prime targets. Here are some prickly things I can see just walking around: prickly sow thistle, milk thistle, and bull thistle. Birds love them. Feet don’t.

Some thorny things should be found in trees, like mesquite branches. So how did this happen?

A pretty sturdy mesquite twig that was on the ground…
…was completely buried in my walking shoe.

Yeah, if I’d been wearing my cowboy boots at the tack room, as usual, I would not have felt that thorn in my foot! Thank goodness I didn’t step hard. How did it get there? There are no mesquite tree close by. Mysterious.

My guess is that it was in my square bale of hay. It was sharply cut like a baler did it. Ow! That’s my guess, anyway, because mesquite trees keep trying to grow up in our fields.

A Chilly Mystery

At least the second mystery over by the tack room isn’t prickly. First, for a week or more, we have been finding the fairly heavy doormat in front of the tack room door moved away from the door. We keep moving it back, but it keeps moving away!

That’s way too heavy for Big Red, even though she’s a strong hen.

Yesterday, I saw something jump out of the corner of my eye. Maybe the little barn cat? Maybe a raccoon? But why? I was pondering this when I went inside this afternoon as I was checking on the horses.

That was when I faced yet another mystery. The tack room, which is normally pretty warm, was really cold. That was weird to me. I looked at the air conditioner unit. It said 70!! What? That is unheard of! Ralph has it set at 76, and the rest of us are NOT authorized to change it.

Ralph said he didn’t go in there today, though he’d come by. Sara wasn’t home. Uh. I had never touched that thing until I put it back to 76 today.

Whew. Normal.

Now this is a real mystery. That chicken can’t open the door, nor can the clever equines. Who did it? Why?

Do we have a mat-moving, temperature meddling guest? No one knows!

I’ll keep you posted, but in the meantime, I’ll happily report that the blue-eyed grass burst into bloom today. More spring beauty awaits.

something poetic

(formerly The Lost Kerryman)

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