Monday, December 29, 2008

Post Christmas Thoughts

Hope you all had a nice Christmas! We had a mild sunny day with kittens lounging in the sunshine, spending a lazy day! The daily highs continue to bounce between the 20's and the high 70's - what to wear varies greatly from day to day!!
As in the days of the birth of the Christ child, for the donkey and steeds, it was a normal December day. We enjoyed calling family. Travis is in or near the holy land, though not free to take in the rich history of the area. With the current political climate of the area, it's hard to remember all what happened there. I notice the temperatures in Bagdad are typically within a few degrees of our own temperatures this time of year. I cannot imagine going out and climbing on our donkey, 9 months pregnant and travelling day and night only to find no room at the inn, and no doctor or midwife waiting to assist. Here in Texas, we can see galaxies and stars by the millions on a clear night, and to imagine one star guiding the way to the newborn King!!!!! Just recounting this situation makes me feel so blessed this Christmas season. Blessed with family and new grandsons who are soon coming to visit!!!

Blessed with children that have direction in this life. Blessed with a spouse who can do most everything, and wears a wonderful smile daily.
Blessed to be among the wonderful people of Olney who I have found to be kind, loving and eager to help when needed. We have our challenges and disappointments like everyone else, but we were never promised a life without them. So, in spite of them, I appreciate my family, friends, our little ranch with its scant livestock and struggling grasses, and especially our pets: Tober (inside mouser), Sam (outside mouser and gatherer of many things), and Kitty and her awesomely sweet kittens (mousers, snake deterrents). All make us smile and sometimes laugh!
With 2009 just around the corner, I wish you'all a New Year with abundant blessings, much love and lots of smiles!

Sunday, December 21, 2008


The one thing about winter in Texas is that we have a few cold days and then it warms up for a couple of days then it plummets back down again. Since the last post, it was down in the 20s for a few days, then it was low 60s one day, 73 for a high the next, then it was 17 degrees this morning and barely hit 30 for a high today!! The horses will hang out in the shed overnight, Sam in his dog house and the kittens and mama kitty will bundle up together in one of the boxes on the front porch. They're all enthusiastic for breakfast come morning and they get a little frisky in the corral to warm up a bit, but for a drink???? Mike has to break up the ice in the horse trough:
We have cold temperatures, but no snow! Doesn't look like we'll have a white Christmas! Speaking of which, our tree is up and looked pretty good a few days ago with gifts underneath, but our new bed and mattress arrived, so all the new linens moved from under the tree to the new bed! So, the best we can do right now is enjoy our Christmas cat! Tober LOVES it under the tree - as you can see, she rearranges branches and likes to play with the balls! Here, she was wishing you a "HO, HO, HO, and a MERRY CHRISTMAS" when I snapped the picture below!!

The new comforter set looks rather western and it feels like suede!! It's also nice and toasty on these cold nights!! In fact, I think I hear it calling to me right now!!!

With Christmas just a few days till the big day, know that we wish you who visit our little ranch blog, a VERY MERRY and BLESSED CHRISTMAS!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Changes ... changes

December 14th - and it's a week and a half before Christmas, and here in Texas it was 77 degrees outside at 4:30 pm! It was like an early fall day - a BEAUTIFUL SUNNY WARM day. By 5, it had dropped to 75 (no big deal, right?). Then a breeze came along, and soon it was blowing at quite a good clip, so checked the outside temperature, and it was 59! Within 2 hours of the 77 degrees, it was 38!!!! Now, at midnight, it's 28 - soooo, that computes to almost 50 degrees fall since late afternoon!! It dropped so fast, the kittens are all in the cat carrier waiting for a trip to a warmer climate! And poor Eeyore - his HeeHaw is only a Hee, 'cause the Haw froze in his throat! The coyotes must have run for cover too, as it's pretty quiet out there tonight!

On a warmer, fuzzier note, I've noticed some amusing changed behaviors lately. Sam always vies for attention whenever one fusses with the kittens, the horses or Eeyore. He MUST be first!! All of a sudden, he noticed Tober through the living room window, and is totally fascinated with her! His gaze bores into her! He can't avert his stare for fear she should move and he'd lose sight of her! If she comes toward the window, he barks and goes crazy! Yet, he lives with 6 orange cats outside!!!!

Then there's Kibbie, who isn't the least bit interested in the moist cat food! Up until the last week or two, she eats only dry food (kibbles, thus her name, Kibbie). All of a sudden, she's taken up eating Sam's food! She waits with Sam and starts eating while he's going through his commands before being released to eat. And she doesn't move when he starts eating either. I've heard him growl a couple of times, but I think he's given up and claimed her as 'his' kitty!!! Sam's kind of a big pussycat anyway! He frequently shops for mice and rats out in the field just like Kitty! And he plays with them until they won't play anymore!

The equines are creatures of habit also. When we first got Doc and Eeyore, it sometimes took 15 minutes to get them in their respective places to feed them. There's a pecking order!! Doc is the alpha horse. Eeyore is no threat to Doc and can get by Doc even in tight spaces. But the girls are a different story. If you don't get Tutu through the gate before you feed Doc, she won't go and will hang out and eat Eeyore's food. Racey and Doc will kick at each other if Doc lays his ears back, so you don't want to get in the middle of that!!! They've learned their places and often wait by their own trough now,so it only takes a few minutes to feed them. When Doc is done, he displaces Racey, who either displaces Tutu or goes in and takes over Eeyore's remaining grain. Tutu will check out Doc's vacant bucket and then go to Eeyores. Usually they go out to the field for the day, but on this nice sunny morning a couple of weeks ago, they all sunned themselves - all laying together (except Tutu is on this side of the fence) ... and you'll notice that the gate is open to the field on the far side of the horses!! They must have had a tough night and slept in!!! MORNING ADDENDUM: At 6 am, it was 21 degrees and according to the forcast we may not see 30 today. The horses had the sense to come in out of the cold and spent the night in the shed. At 7 they came out trotting, kicking up heels and chasing one another to get warm! Turns out I have a Christmas Horse or a Holy Horse! Tutu has a 'crown of thorns' tangled in her forelock. I went out with treats to attempt removing it. She gladly took the treats, but it was too tangled and I only got half of it. Mike was afraid if she shook her head, it could puncture an eye! Now it's shorter, so I'll get the rest out when it warms up!!! This branch is from our Mesquite trees and we have a lot of them - makes me want to take the lopers out on the next warm day and get rid of the lower branches of the ones that will continue to live on our little ranch!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Family time

(To enlarge picture, you can left click on any picture, click back arrow to return)

Pam and Cheyenne were quick to update their blogs with our mini-reunion, so this may be old news with a twist! It all started when Cheyenne decided to go to her 10 year high school reunion which was right after Thanksgiving. From there it expanded to Thanksgiving with John's Grandma in Pittsburg and a desire to see her Grandma Tigger, Uncle Tim and Aunt Rhonda in Illinois (of course to show off Riley). Since Travis is over in the desert for 4 months, Pam is home in Cleveland area, so she too joined in and got some good time with Cheyenne and John and Riley, and got to visit Brenden's great grandma, great uncle, etc. Well, this was more than I could resist since I hadn't seen my mom for over a year. So I also journeyed to Illinois and got to see Tim (my brother)'s 8 month old (GIGANTIC) puppy, 'Chip' (English style Chocolate Lab) and my nieces (who hadn't seen Cheyenne in years and had never met Pam)!! So, here we are, the basic building blocks of family: Back row: Tim, Mom, Me with Brenden and Rhonda Front row: Pam, Cheyenne with Riley, and John (Chey's hubby)

Tim's daughters, Jean (right) and Staci (center), and Jean's daughter Kelsey (left) came over and really took to the babies!
Great Grandma Tigger got a good look at both great grandsons:

When Travis was a baby, I had a picture of him with his Uncle Tim, and it seemed fitting to have Travis' son with Great Uncle Tim!!

I know Chey and Pam were anxious to meet their nephews in the flesh! Here's Chey with Brenden!

John got his share of playtime - it's too bad Travis couldn't be there, but maybe sometime after he gets back from the desert!! We have that to look forward to!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!!

To all who visit our blog, I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving, had a good meal, enjoyed football games and are feeling great (not too stuffed). The above still-life is from my late garden! They're the first pumpkins I've ever grown! I didn't get a ton, but I did get 6 pumpkins, a few watermelons and the bounty previously pictured! The last time I tried to make a pumpkin pie from fresh pumpkin was a disaster. It wasn't very good. This time I researched on the web before I started - I cut it up in small pieces, peeled the outer skin off, cooked till tender, mashed it and set it in a seive for a few hours to drain. NOW I have some nice firm pulp. I made a pumpkin roll and yesterday I made a pumpkin pie. I have dried pumpkin seeds that are pretty tasty too.
Every morning the man of the house goes out with his faithful dog, Sam to feed the steeds and open the gate for them to go out to pasture for the day!! This morning however, Mike heard a coyote nearby and grabbed his rifle for a Thanksgiving morning hunt while I assumed the steed feed duty! He did spot the coyote across the street from our pasture stalking 2 deer. I heard a 'BLAM' which got ALL the animals attention and I waited to see the fine pelt - but the varmint got away!! You see I have no love for the coyotes, as they lurk waiting for my kittens to amble away from the safety of the yard! ALAS! The kittens have names at last! Timmie of course is the little runt - the little guy! The other orange one (F) is SIENNA. Then there are the triplets (above) that are VERY hard to tell apart. For the most part they look alike. I'm going to have to mark their ears or something until I can find some way to tell them apart. I THINK the front one is POWDER, the back one is BLONDIE, and the one to the leftish is KIBBEE (she's the one who just eats kibble).

While trying to take the above picture, Powder yawned, but it looks like it's screaming for some kind of a caption! It looks like she has something to say! What do you think??

Saturday, November 1, 2008

More UPs and DOWNs

Who can believe November is here?? And today is All Saints Day AND it's CHEYENNE'S BIRTHDAY (we won't mention how many because it will date me too!!!) : ) (Needless to say, this is an UP!!) My GOOD memories SOOOO outweigh any difficulties along the way. I love the person she's become, and I KNOW she's going to be a WONDERFUL mother to Riley and any other children that God gifts her with. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MY BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTER!

My 'grandkittens' will soon be checking out their new homes. As you see, they have their UPs and DOWNs learning to climb higher in trees now. They have such fluffy coats and such cute faces that they steal my heart with just a look with those sweet innocent blue eyes! This week Mama Kitty has had 3 very enthusiastic kittens that share her moist food.

Finally this morning as I decided to catch this Kodak moment, for the first time, the 4th kitten who is eating dry food in the first shot (above left), decided to see what was so good while the 5th came up (above right) and took her place eating the dry. When all was done, the new addition to the moist breakfast stayed to clean UP crumbs (below left). Guess who's waiting at the fence waiting for his breakfast (as he looks on with great envy). This particular dog currently smells like 'skunk'!

Tiny still depends on Mama Kitty for sustainance, but he IS growing. Mid morning the plumber came to fix the kitchen sink (wouldn't drain) and scared all the kittens who hid in the cat carrier. When gone, I looked out, and noted they were segregated - the girls in the cat carrier, and Tiny and his brother sleeping in the grass. (below) This is like Mutt (biggest) and Jeff (smallest). The kittens are actually pretty gentle with their 'little' brother. They play MUCH harder with each other than they do with Tiny.

Monday night we had a freeze warning. Check out my tomato plants:

That meant I had to pick as much as I could from the garden. Well, it didn't freeze (36 degrees), but the DOWNer is that I picked LOTS of green, yellow, orange, and red tomatoes that could have grown more and ripened on the vine!!! The UP is that tomorrow I think I'll can some tomato sauce and salsa.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ups and Downs of Ranch Life

(Please excuse any graphic material in this post, but a picture is worth 1000 words)

Since I'm working, I don't get to spend much time composing, plus the computer has been acting up, further interfering with blogging! So, there's much to catch up on! I might have to divide it into a couple blogs to keep related items together. This will be my 'animal' blog and my next one will be a 'work' blog!

Sadly, my 'bestest' babies have been missing for a week. Though I know there's a small possibility that they're off exploring and COULD turn up one day, each day Mia and Mitzi are gone, my hopes are dashed a little more! Living in the country, we have too many predators to hold out a lot of hope for their survival! All I can say is that they were the sweetest and gentlest kittens I've EVER had. It makes me sad to consider their likely demise. For all the times I've heard the coyotes close by, yip, yip, yipping, my kitties have always showed up. As long as there were trees nearby, I knew they could find safety. In the open field though, the odds change in favor of the coyotes. Unfortunately the kitties and Sam search for field mice and rats out there.

Now the next generation is coming along pretty well. I've observed some interesting training methods of late. Little Kitty hunts at night and brings her quarry to the porch for the young ones to feast on. I've seen evidence of a mouse, and then last Saturday, she brought a rat and showed the kittens what to do with it. When they lost interest, she tossed it around as if it were alive (demonstrating her techniques) until she got one or two interested and then they'd feast on it for a bit. Like a good mom, she waited until they were done before she ate her share.

I can also tell she's in the process of weaning them. I see them eating dry food and drinking water. A couple of them like the wet food. Then there's Tiny (the pint size kitten) - he's feisty, but still prefers mother's milk. They were taking advantage of Kitty's eating to sneak under for a drink of milk, and all you can hear is multiple purrs coming from beneath her belly. The kitten IN the food dish nursing is (of course) Tiny - it's kinda like standing on a stool.
He's starting to look cuter these days!
And they have become so playful and they're sooooo cute. Judge for yourself!!
In a couple weeks they'll be ready for their new homes and it will be pretty quiet around here.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Snakes and snails and kitty cat tails...

Sam just gained some status in our family of furries! Last night he was barking at something, not just a bark at the kittens or at distant coyote calls, but a more immediate slithery something. So Mike went out with the flashlight to see what the fuss was all about, and found Sam and the kitties (Mia and Mitzi) around the side of the house contemplating how to rid the yard of a rattlesnake!! Our first since we moved in 1 year ago!! So Mike came in and retrieved his snake gun while Sam and company kept it from slithering away, and Mike gave that viper a taste of the snake gun. He didn't like it too much, and in fact didn't survive the assault. So here's Mike with his prize: Interestingly, upon looking up about rattlesnakes, I learned that when they're young, they can shed their skin up to 3 times that first year, so you can't count the rattles and determine their age exactly. My newly educated guess is that this snake is likely a couple or 3 years old. Did you know they can live 20 - 30 years (in captivity)? Here, if they wander into the yard or nearby, they won't have the chance!

As for kittendom, at 3 weeks and 2 days, their world is growing! The first explorers are 2 sisters, inviting the others to come out and play:
Speaking of which, playing is a new activity when not sleeping which still takes up a lot of their daytime.
(As you can see, "Tiny" has a little growing to do to catch up with his sisters and brother. He's too small to join the fray right now.)
Mama has been moving them around lately. One night she moved them from the pet carrier to the cardboard box, and the next night she took them under the porch. We're expecting a storm tonight, so I put them back in the pet carrier (if she'll leave them there till after the storm). They're starting to exhibit personality!
Don't kid yourself, Mom has eyes in the back of her head - she KNOWS what's going on!!! Hmmmmm, what's this?