Cooling It Down

I’m visualizing calm and coolness. Neither is easy, since poor Kathleen is still racking up the challenges and trying to avoid the hospital, and it still hasn’t rained again.

Like this persistent variegated fritillary, we just have to keep going until we find our equivalent of a frogfruit blossom.

It didn’t go over 100° today so far, so that’s encouraging. And the cumulus clouds seem bigger today that they have been. So I’m patiently hoping it all turns around. Like I keep telling folks, I’m fine as long as I have peace and hermit time.

Vlassic and I both appreciate the cool tack room now, especially since I finally got the vent set to blow on me in my chair.

Yep. My she shed is working out great. I even have a stool that lets me write at the desk AND serves as a footstool. Classy. Unfortunately, the comfort and A/C droning make it clear that this could be a nap shed.

Ooh. I can even crochet or knit in here!

Things will get more settled soon, and I’ll be able to share some cool renovation stuff.

We are much cooler and calmer when we eat separately.

In the meantime let me share a cool tip one of my local horse friends shared: you can fertilize by dropping horse apples (poop) into the gaping cracks in the earth right now, then when it rains, the crack will close and the poop will help the grass grow back. Maybe wishful thinking.

I’ll poop for you! It’s my best skill.

Why I’m Thankful for the Pool

Maybe you’ve been reading this blog long enough to remember how I decided I wanted a swimming pool last year. I called it the Pool of Dreams.

Pool of Dreams today—notice the guard garden spider (a good one that eats black widows)

I think some people thought I wouldn’t use the pool. After all, I’ve never been much of a swimmer. I don’t blame anyone who thought this. But while I don’t swim much, I do love water and being outside, especially here.

Things you see from the pool include Vlassic.

I’ve really loved spending time in the pool, and am there nearly every day. The salty water is very soothing (Lee says it’s great for his eyes). I float in my floating device and practice deep breathing. The breeze cools me then the sun soothes me. Then I start observing.

Today I watched starlings flocking.

I see so many birds, especially right now when the herons and egrets are chowing down on the little catfish in the now-shallow ponds. Swallows fly over me and the English sparrow family hang out in their messy nest.

When they took off, it was a big whoosh!

I truly enjoy the time to myself. And the pool lets me be outdoors even in this historic heat. I’d be stuck inside other than when I sweat myself silly taking care of the horses, if it weren’t for the pool.

I’m very grateful to my spouse and family members who helped get this dang pool built.


Wait, I forgot my creature of the day! Here’s a beelzebub bee eater with its prey. What a scary fly!

Howdy from Recovery Land

I’m feeling better about some things and I know Vlassic is!

Suna loves me

We had a good night last night. He slept straight through the night next to me on the couch in the future in-law suite. It’s a comfy couch that makes a bed.

Happy little doggie

I did okay. There is apparently something living in a box that makes occasional noise, so I kept hearing it. I wish Vlassic were more of a vermin eliminator. He’s great at eating grasshoppers!

I’m glad I did this, though. He can run again today and isn’t shivery. He’s recovering.

It’s all about ME

But I made it through work just fine and even got out to ride Apache. It isn’t as hot as it was, so we both did fine.

I guess I have to get to work since I’m wearing all this tack.

We did well. He even came when I called! We practiced all our homework and even did leg yield. But best of all, we made it down the paddock and back with no meltdowns. I did it!! So did he, of course.

We’re a team. In neon.

I think not only I am feeling better, but so are my dog and horse. We all feel safe with each other. I’ll sleep with Vlassic a few more days, so he will know this is his new home. It’s where his food is, and there’s a doggy door! And one day soon he’ll have his human buddy back!

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.

Stress Relief

Between concerns about family member health and work intensity, I’ve got no blogging brilliance. The heat doesn’t help.

Things are just upside down.

It’s getting really dry around here and we’re surrounded by katydids and prairie boopies (grasshoppers). They are everywhere. But, there’s a life and death fight going on that has me fascinated. The garden spiders and one dog are trying to help. Who wins? Check it out.

Yeah. Way too little water and too many grasshoppers this year. I’m glad today’s project for the guys was more power washing. The ceilings of the porches and the exterior of the house sure look good.

Clean house.

It’s gonna be a long summer. I’m extra glad for that pool. I can even get exercise in it. By the way, since it’s a salt-water pool, it feels good to open your eyes underwater! Lee says it’s like eye drops.

I assume these cows won’t open their eyes under here!

More Spontaneous Saturday Stuff

I just kept rolling along today, enjoying whatever came up. I was knitting away, when Sara invited me to hang out with her while she rode Aragorn. I walked over there, and discovered a bit too late that Vlassic came along. I was worried he’d have a problem with Sara’s newest cattle dog.

I really missed this water bucket.

At first the puppy was not pleased, and her hackles were raised big time. Aragorn ignored it all. What a good boy.

Dogs don’t bother me. And how do you like my new muscles?

We needn’t have worried. Moments later I looked over to see play bows all around.

You’re okay.

Those two dogs didn’t stop running and playing the whole time I was there. I think they were thrilled to find each other.

Meanwhile, I enjoyed seeing Aragorn’s significant progress in this lessons. The most fun was watching him try to back up a hill like Drew did earlier. He was a bit tired from his lesson yesterday, but he did it!

Back he goes.

I headed home and suddenly got a text asking me to get home so we could go. Huh? Turns out the nephew and I were going to Steak Stein and Wine festival after all. Yep, I went home, put on a necklace and lipstick and acted spontaneous.

People seemed to have fun.

We were a bit confused, but ended up seeing lots of people we hadn’t seen in a long time, had good chats, and enjoyed our fine booth for our company.

Lovely staff/friends at our booth.

It turns out we were sponsors and had a cool sign in the bandstand. Ooh la la.

I see our logo!

I sampled some liquor but not too much, then we had the steak part of the deal. It was good. The twice-baked potatoes were GREAT.

Mmm

I’m glad our little town is coming back to life now that our COVID numbers are way down. It’s not the way it was, but it’s better.

So, let’s see what happens spontaneously tomorrow!

Things You Learn from a Big Hole in the Ground

I guess the whole swimming pool thing will happen after all. I’ll spare you the drama of the past couple of days, and instead share progress and learnings as the excavation phase took place.

The work so far.

It’s pretty cool that this morning there was just a painted outline on the ground and now you can see where our little pool is going to be! And yes, it’s not Olympic sized. I just want to bop around.

This morning it looked like this.

It was lots of fun watching them building the very complex setup that will recirculate the water. Geez, there are a lot of pipes in there.

They had to bend some of the pipes, and had a big propane flame that softened the plastic.

Sorta looked dangerous, but I guess it wasn’t.

I was really interested in the hole they dug. You could see that the top layer was a lot of sand and fill that Lee and the builders put around the house. Next came very dark soil from when it was a pasture here. Some was very clayey.

Hot tub area, where you can see the top two layers.

The guy running the mini-excavator was really good. He was expert at digging circles and curves. As the actual pool part got deeper, I had another surprise. There’s a layer of very light soil about 4 feet down. I wonder what that is? Was the area a lake for a while?

Se the light dirt? And look at that machine in the air.

No, I didn’t crawl down there and get some. But I’ll get some from the dirt pile later.

The mystery stuff.

I can’t wait to find out what’s up with the soil! But, watching how quickly and efficiently the guys worked on the project. They also used these flexible boards to form the edges of the pool and hot tub. And they had an interesting measuring poke that beeped, I guess to get the dimensions perfect. Hmm.

Looking from the deep end.

I must say we all enjoyed watching the process. Vlassic just kept jumping from lap to lap all morning. It’s great that they started on a Saturday so we could all watch for a while.

Wonder what I’ll see tomorrow?

Lughnasadh Blessing

Yesterday was not only our third anniversary of Vlassic arriving at our ranch, but it was Lughnasadh or Lammas, the early harvest festival in the Celtic tradition I enjoy observing (among many traditions).

This is our fun wheel of the year calendar we hang on the wall. You rotate it to put the current season on top. From sacredsource.com

One thing people do for this celebration is thank Mother Nature for her bounty. Today we’re thanking her for a surprise rain event that’s filled up the little pond and made some good puddles.

Lee’s new and improved drainage system also works!

We had already had an inch of welcome rain by the time I went out this morning, and we’ve had more heavy showers since. Wow, we might have the creek flowing well into this month! It had started to dry up from the previous rain, but this is a nice reprieve!

View out my window.

It’s a good thing Lee got lots of dirt moved around and made the bigger drainage pipes yesterday. His new pond might have gotten messed up.

Making a better path.

When he got overheated, he could sit and listen to his fountain, which makes it worthwhile!

Making things smooth. The rain will help!

I’m glad the horses are getting a free bath, and sure hope it dries out by afternoon! The rain has killed my ability to upload or download, so my work, both paid and voluntary, is hosed. The joys of rural life!

Note to grasshopper: that’s a fake plant. Hope it starts growing soon.

Enjoy whatever you’re celebrating this time of year. I’m going to rejoice in the fact that it’s only 77 F outside!

Happy 3 years to V. He is my biggest blessing of the season. Also, his nose seems to be healing.

Reluctantly, the Dogs Have Their Vet Visit

Every year there are more dogs to look at here at the Hermits’ Rest. It makes the fee for the vet to come to us rather than us going to her quite the bargain. Yesterday, while I was in Austin away from the heat, Dr. Amy came out to see all seven dogs (Alfred, Goldie, Harvey, Carlton, Penney, Gracie Lou, and Vlassic). I always feel like I’m forgetting one, but it’s probably because Fiona is the size of Alfred.

They didn’t get rid of all my grass burs.

The big deal was that Alfred got his big problem dealt with, his dew claws. Both of the ones on his back legs have been problematic since he showed up. They grow in a circular shape, and eventually start growing into his leg, leading to pain and infections. Every time we cut them, he has to be sedated, and too much sedation isn’t good for dogs like him. So, we came to the decision that he’d need to have them removed, even though we’d wanted to avoid it.

So, when he finally got zonked out, they put sterile cloths under him where he fell (the floor in the entry to the house), and did it there. Lee has instructions for caring for the wounds and keeping him out of pain. He already walks better. Let’s hope this makes a big difference in Alfred’s quality of life.

Surprise! I’m overweight.

The other dogs got ALL their many shots (including rattlesnake vaccine), got de-wormed, and checked for heartworms (all negative). Lee says they all are getting a bit skittish. Maybe the horses warned them about vaccines?

We knew there’s have to be another sedation, because Vlassic was awful last time they went to trim his toenails, but his sharp toenails are a problem for poor Jim (and the rest of us, to be honest). When they went to get him, he showed up with a big…thing…on his nose!

What the heck?

Both Lee and the nephew had been playing with him earlier in the day, and he was fine then. Whatever it was happened during the afternoon yesterday. Dr. Amy said it looked like an encounter with something sharp, like a cactus or barbed wire (things we have in abundance).

Yuck.

It’s just horrible looking, though he doesn’t act upset. We have stuff to put on it twice a day, so it doesn’t get infected or worse. If he isn’t better in two weeks, she will try to remove it. It’s very weird that it came up so fast! Keep him in your thoughts. At least his toenails look way better!

But, he’s still happy

In other ranch news, chickens laid eggs in one of their new laying box choices, so I took the two that didn’t work out away. Now let’s see if the young hens ramp up and start producing.

And Drew was so happy to see me when I got home that it made up for the fact that I had a tire blow up about a quarter mile from the ranch entrance. I knew those potholes would be my downfall! But, I was driving slowly, so I didn’t lose control, and it’s entirely possible to get it fixed, eventually. I’m not going to stress about that!

I Could Have Worked Harder Yesterday, But…

Now, I’m not referring to my paid employment, which did get it’s time in, but to my after-work job, helping with the pens and other jobs. It was an uncharacteristically pleasant day, so I can’t blame the heat. No, it’s my little buddy Vlassic who kept me sidelined for at least 45 minutes.

I deserve attention.

I went outside around 5 to water the chickens and check on progress, and I sat down to watch the hole-digging process in the stall area. Vlassic jumped in my lap.

We are fascinated.

He obviously needed some Mama love, because he only got down once for a minute until 6 pm, when I had to get out of the hard chair and help out. He snuggled, he licked, he cuddled, and he sighed from happiness. I love when the weather lets me hang out with my doggie dude.

Before digging holes. You can see one of the water troughs set up and markers for posts to divide the stalls.

Now that the dirt is all moved, the stalls can be completed. There will be four of them (thus limiting the number of horses that Kathleen and I can acquire). Each trough will be shared by two stalls. It will be cool.

Goldie likes to be involved.

The holes in the pens were easy to drill, but there were also three holes farther out, to support a water trough area for the cows.

The new posts are past the big gate. The water line has to go way out there.

The last hole was a doozy! The auger just wouldn’t go down. It just bounced and bounced about a foot down. It took at least half an hour to get that hole dug, and the soil had to be loosened, and the auger had to go sideways for a bit. But, once it got past the hard stuff, it happened. It turns out there are a few areas of really compacted soil right there. That’s interesting, because just a few feet away, there was no problem.

Looks like a normal hole, but it is not.

The good news is that all the poles are in their holes, to make a rhyme. And I DID get some work in. I filled in some of the holes, including a large and very wet hole where the water line got cut and had to be repaired. Let me tell you what, damp clay soil is heavy. My back reminded me of that!

It may look like an area with dirt and some random fencing stuff, but that used to be a big hole.

Of course, that was all a drop in the bucket, compared to all the work that has to be done on this project, but it’s nice to get some sweat equity into my project. By the way, Lee also filled in two holes. Nice, dry holes, I want to point out.

Look at those fine poles.

It looks like, at least for now, we have all the posts needed for the horse area. Now, to just fill everything in, finish burying the water line (ugh, a great deal of hand trenching is involved), set the troughs up with their floats and stuff, and add gates.

While the “getting the horse over here” part of the effort is coming close to an end, the project will go on and on, so I’ll keep chronicling it. Why? Mainly for me, I guess. It’s fun to look back on things once they are done. I sure enjoy the photos of building our house!

The container gets to be turned into a tack room and hay storage, while the second container, once it get here, gets to be other storage. Or something. Plans are fluid. Then, the great cattle fencing stage of the operation will begin. Our ranch will look very different, and there will be lots more space for rotating cattle and adding to the herd (which, to be clear, is NOT my area, but it’s fun to watch). Speaking of cattle, the new young heifers behind us want to not only be friends with Goldie, but also the chickens!

These birds are fascinating.
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