Your Junk Buying Expedition is My Dragonfly Observation Expedition

I noticed an ad in the Facebook Marketplace yesterday saying there was a large building full of stuff that was for sale near Milano (20-something miles from here). It sounded like it might be a thing the builder in the family might enjoy, I thought.

A beautiful place.

So, in a work break, we headed out somewhere in the area near Milano, Texas (mil-Ann-o). We hit a couple of bad train tracks, which was fun, then found the place. What a beautiful property.

And there were dragonflies!

While one of us patiently went through a treasure trove of old tools and equipment, I wandered around and took pictures of the plants I found.

There were lots of these Cuban jute plants

This is legit post oak savanna territory and the plants were right on! Gosh, the trees were beautiful.

Post oak.

Meanwhile, the building full of tools was fantastic. It had so much cool stuff, including some antique tools and a lot of wire we can use to make fencing. We both had a great time!

Some cool chains from today.

So. We each got what we wanted out of that expedition! A bunch of tools and equipment and plenty of iNaturalist observations!

The guy at the sale liked me, so he gave me this old lamp.

After all that fun, it wasn’t over! Later in the day, more fence poles went in. You can really see the pens taking shape.

Fence poles at sunset.

I also had a blast this evening helping with Sara’s family, who wanted to give their toddler his first horse riding experience.

I feel pretty.

We did a group grooming on dear Lakota so he’d look good. The poor horse was like, “No one pays me any attention for a month, then, boom, three people are grooming me!”

Sara had fun.

The little fellow really enjoyed his ride, but I think I enjoyed watching his parents and Sara’s sister the most. It must be so great to have grandkids! So many firsts.

This evening I went out to check the new pullets, because I wondered if they’d roost in their cage. Sure enough, I found five pullets in the cage, but Babette was even higher, on top!

We are all up here.

The other chickens were ALL on one branch. I love how chickens sleep together.

Sleepy time.

All in all, it was a fun day. Things are fine. I’m just not letting things outside my control bother me. Maybe my philosophy is actually sinking in.

Have a good weekend!

Fencing! Amazing!

I don’t even know where to start telling you how cool our new fencing is. The craftsmanship is incredible. My gratitude is immense. But look, here’s one completed run.

Harvey is trapped! Not really.

The fence may look like normal horse fencing (not all barbed wire like cattle fencing), but what you can’t see is that all the parts were fabricated by one person and the whole thing was installed by one person, not a team. Plus, many of the tools used to make this a one-man show were hand-made, as well.

The industrial-strength auger

All the heavy braces required deep holes filled with concrete. You can’t dig those with a shovel! Luckily, the nephew happened to own a big, yellow auger that attaches to a tractor. But, what to do with it in between uses? He fashioned a way to hang it from the rafters of the future stall roof, then dug a hole for stability. Cool!

Daisuke at work

But, how the heck will all those t-posts and the metal support poles get dug? Well, I wish you could have seen it in person! First, each post got spray painted to show how deep it needed to go. Then they all got started by hand, which involved climbing up the front-end loader forks and pounding them down with a huge mallet. One mallet made the supreme sacrifice and separated from its handle during the process. Always have a backup!

Doing a wheelie. Some posts didn’t go in as easily as others. I forgot to edit this one, so the world looks sideways.

Then, one by one, Daisuke, our “big helper” tractor did the work of sinking all the posts. It is really fun to watch, especially when a post hits a rock and won’t go any further. Daisuke’s front tires go off the ground. We may have to break out the bigger tractor for some fine tuning.

Just getting started, but a good photo of the fencing on its spindle.

So, how do you string all the fencing by yourself? First you make a spindle kind of thing. It’s like a record player, and goes round and round. You put a pole on it, then put the roll of fencing on that. You can then attach to one end, and just slowly drive Daisuke backwards and unspool the wire. Ta da!

The tensioner, right after it was finished.

Great, so after that, you have a length of fencing, but it’s pretty loose and wobbly. You need to tighten it, which is much easier with a helper. However, if you’re a master welder, you “just” (easier said than done) make yourself a tensioner to attach to the tractor. There are the same number of hooks on it as there are spaces in the fencing. You hook them on the end of the fencing, and gradually tighten it, then fasten. That’s really clever.

Getting ready to stretch. Pretty cool.

Before the afternoon was over, there was an entire length of fencing, which confused the heck out of the cattle.

Fencing row number one.

By the end of the day, two rows of posts were laid out, and the top strand of barbed wire was up on the second row. Once there are three rows (we are making two pens to rotate the horses between, for parasite management), the more detailed work of putting in the fencing around the stalls, adding gates, and setting things up will start. There’s plenty of work left for our one-man crew.

Two rows of posts, and fencing ready to be strung.

And the cattle aren’t being ignored. There’s a shiny new gate that holds their heads in place so they can have their shots and other things done to them. That should work with these fairly docile cattle. We’ll still have to borrow the fancier equipment over at the Wild Type area for palpitation and anything that requires no movement. (I say “we” but I mean “he.”)

A head gate, I think it’s called.

We are glad it didn’t rain yesterday, so all this stuff could get done! Since it’s a US holiday to honor people who died in wars, I’m off work today. That means I can do my own physical labor and help with cleaning the tack room. Sara did the floors yesterday, so I get to do everything above floor level today. I’m not complaining; it needs doing, very much!

All clean and shiny, and no longer limping. Hooray! Patchy may not be as pretty as some of those fancy horses, but he’s beautiful to me.

Plus, I’ll get to hang out with Apache and Fiona. Apache feels good enough to do ground work, and Fiona is finally shedding, so I’m working on her coat. She does love attention!

I hope you are having a fun time, whether it’s a holiday or a “real” Monday for you. Life feels so much more “normal” now, with everyone home and doing stuff (and I even had a traveling friend drop by yesterday!). I’m savoring every moment.

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