Sunday, March 30, 2008

Ride 'em Cowboy...

Last night we went to the Young County Rodeo in Graham (20 miles away). It was a fun evening. Most of the contestants were from Texas or Oklahoma, but there were a few from further away (MT, WY, NC, IA, NE, CO, ID, LA-Louisiana that is, AL and one from Marseille, France!). Unfortunately, my camera had limitations on indoor shots with lighting - on most settings pics were unfocused, too distant or blurred, but I finally found a setting that gave me marginal pictures, but you can at least catch some of the action! The above picture is the 'wait staff' - they collect loose horses and assist broncos and bulls our of the arena.
Here's a rider about half way through his ride, trying to right himself so he can qualify by staying on the bull for 8 seconds, but as you can see in the next picture,
he didn't make it!! He's in a heap over behind the bull and the clowns are coming to his rescue to distract the bull so the bull's not all over the rider. I missed good pictures of the barrel racing, calf roping and got marginal pictures of the bronc riding. Next rodeo is in May and it's here in Olney. It's also outside, so I should be able to get better quality pictures!! I would like to call your attention to the sponsor signs - particularly the one that says 'That's what I like about Texas: DQ'! In Ohio, I measured a town by the presence of a Walmart. Pam, EVEN Clovis had a Walmart!!! Olney has NO Walmart!! But every town that's anything in Texas, has a Dairy Queen and they're proud of it! It puts them on the map!! YUP - WE DO HAVE A DQ!!!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

New addition!

The cost of doing business or changing careers is mind-boggling! The purchase of the real estate is only the beginning. Before even looking for stock, there's lots to be done with the land! We need grass, both for grazing and for winter feeding so that we won't have to purchase hay AND feed for however many animals we end up with. This involves soil testing ($), fertilizing ($$), weed eradication ($), plowing and sprigging (Bermuda)($$) or planting seeds, and then hoping for rain so it will grow (PRICELESS). None of these steps are free except for the hoping for rain! Fortunately we have encountered some very kind and helpful people to guide us and refer us to those who can help us out. We have found wonderful friends in our new church and in the local area. Pictured here with Mike is David Sandlin. (The road in the background is Walker Road, our road). Sam, our border collie, is one of David's pups, plus that big 'honkin' tractor (new = $125,000) we previously borrowed to plow fields, belongs to David as well. The County Agricultural Agent, Brad Morrison, recommended plowing one of the fields again, so once again David came to the rescue and brought us another disk with the same big 'honkin' tractor. Right now the disk is in the process of being repaired so that Mike can finish the job. He's repaired 4 flat tires (2 on the first disk and 2 on the one that's out there now) and he broke a rod on the disk a couple of days ago.
Like any job, there are always glitches! For example after having someone come out and dig post holes for the garden area and chicken 'coop', we've had 3 storms with wind, rain or snow, making it necessary to redig the holes before the poles can be installed. The soil has clay content which when wet, sticks to the blades of the post hole digger. Every job takes extra time, but the place is taking shape slowly but surely.
As for our new (used) Ford 4000, new it would have cost $30-35,000. We were lucky to get it for $8,500! Hopefully it will meet our needs. It came with a front loader and spikey attachment to pick up big round bales. It's not pretty, but it is a good tractor!
The thought occurs that we might open a B&B with the opportunity of a 'ranch' vacation. Be sure and get your reservations in while there are still openings. : )

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter, y'all!!

Sure is a cool (brrrrr) Easter - 50's and overcast here, sprinkling some; spoke to Mom this afternoon, and it's been snowing in Illinois, some snow in Ohio! I guess it's likely because Easter is early this year! Nothing REAL exciting here! We officially joined a local church today. We're now members of the First Baptist Church (of Olney) which is a very warm and friendly church with much outreach to the local community and a wonderful pastor who gives the most meaningful biblical messages during his sermons. Some wonderful church friends invited us to lunch (more like dinner - I'm stuffed!!). So we've had a nice Easter!

"Kitty" has a new, slightly larger box (getting ready for the family)! She's quite comfortable in there!!! Tober, though inside, doesn't miss much and watches out for Kitty. She still 'challenges' her through the glass! If she could just get to her, she'd show her who's boss! Kitty is VERY friendly, so she must have grown up around people. As a former OB/GYN Nurse Practitioner, I'm down to checking for 'quickening' (fetal movement) on my critters! And yes, we're definitely expecting kittens sometime in the next few weeks.
Easter greetings from Olney, where Kitty's agrowin', Tober's abossin', Sheba's apacin' or asleepin', Sam's adancin' and achewin', Eeyore's ahealin', and Doc's the alpha horse!! I hope your Easter is a blessed one as we celebrate that He lives and blesses us every day.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Lion Walks at Night!!

This must be more of "March coming in like a lion"!!! All kinds of growling (thunder) last night, and this morning the horses had to eat, standing in ankle deep water (mud). Even the sidewalk has over an inch of standing water! It's like a footwash for Sheba before she comes back inside. Little Kitty has to search for a place to dig to "get busy" (that's Cana's command to go out and do his 'business'). So Mike walked out to check the rain gauge and we had 4" of rain and we're not done yet! I can attest to that amount because Eeyore's grain tub had 4" of water in it!! Eeyore chooses to stay in the barn and pens and NOT come across the corral for his grain this morning! He didn't want to wade through the mud!!

As I sat down to write this blog, I heard a 'poof' (muffled noise coming from the direction of the porch) and went to verify what I imagined in my mind's eye ... Sam knocked over an 80# box waiting for UPS and ripped the label off. BUT when I went out to set it back up, look what I found that had snestled behind the box. Pam, I'm afraid I'm going to catch up in the yucky critter department!!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

It Was There... Now It's Gone

You think you can depend on tails.
You don't expect tails to go wrong.
The last time I looked it was right there.
Now when I look there, it's gone.
It was always just behind me, always tagging along.
A little something at the back...
I thought it was there, and it's gone.
I assumed it was attached to me, that it actually hung true.
I'd hoped it was stuck very firmly on. Maybe we needed some glue.
It used to trail right behind me, always tailing along.
My little extra at the back...I thought it was there, now it's gone.

Poor Eeyore! He was so sweet and gentle - followed us around like a puppy. Then a few days ago, he started herding me, shoving me around, blocking my path and nipping at my legs!! I didn't know what got into him unless it's the pheromones taking over!! He doesn't do it to Mike!! Anyway, Eeyore had surgery today. He didn't lose his tail, but close! He lost his 'jackhood'! (He was a 'jack', but now he's a 'gelding'). They were there last time he looked, but now they're gone. The local veterinarian stopped by today and removed them! (Yup, Doc Rux makes house calls!!) Animals are amazing how they cope with bothersome things, injuries, and the removal of body parts! He was immobilized for the deed, but it still looked pretty brutal to me. He's up and walking around and even munching on a little grass. He was bleeding at first and we were a little concerned, but he seems to be OK tonight as we checked him before Mike went to bed. We'll keep him quiet for a couple of days and in a few weeks he won't even remember what happened to him (I hope)! Hopefully they don't remember like elephants!!!


I've received a few e-mails from 'you' expressing frustration with trying to add a comment in response. I had the same problem at first - until Cheyenne walked me through, that is. So, in the interest of wanting your comments, here's how it's done. When you click on 'comment', it brings you to a place to type your message. Then, below that is a group of random letters with an empty box beneath. In the blank, type the letters you see above. Then lastly, click on the choice that says "name/URL" and put your name as you want it to appear (in the 'name' space) (ignore the URL prompt). Then click on "publish comment" and ta-da, it should appear. Half of the fun is the feedback from folks all over. Also, any picture that you want to be enlarged so you can see better, just single left click and it will fill your screen so you can see more detail. So much for housekeeping stuff!!! Now I look forward to your comments!!!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Spring is coming.....

I know Spring officially arrives next week, but I see evidence that it's peeking around the corner here on the ranch. In spite of several days of mid-twenty degree mornings and highs in the 30s, the planters on the side porch seem to have survived winter and the vinca vine has it's first bloom this morning! And as I look across where our garden is trying to take shape, I see we have a flowering fruit tree in bloom. And speaking of the garden, like any project, there are always glitches!! No sooner did we have someone come out and drill 2' holes for the posts when 2 days later we had a nasty thunder storm which washed half of the dirt back into the holes (and it's clay-like mud) and just as the holes were beginning to dry out, that little blizzard soaked the muddy holes anew. Now Mike has to redig out each hole before he can set the posts - and there are a lot of posts yet to set!!!! If it will stay dry, maybe we can have the garden ready in another week or two!
The tree way in the background of the flowering fruit tree is more evidence that spring is coming!! If the buds aren't evident, single left click on the picture and it should enlarge it for you to see better. The blue mass is a bird nest made out of the string that wraps the bales of hay. I guess I'm not the only one who picks up the string from old bales!!
I planted the pansies in the planter outside the front door late last fall, and they've been colorful all winter. The red shrubs just off the front porch (nandinas) have been colorful all winter. And the live oak trees apparently keep their leaves year-round! I'll have to get more of these!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Pink or Blue?????

Cheyenne and John had their appointment for the BIG ultrasound yesterday so we now know that in early August we'll have a GRANDSON!!! To see the ultrasound pictures, click on Cheyenne and John's Blog We are so excited for them. In about 4 weeks, Travis will be back from his deployment and he and Pam will have their BIG ultrasound so we can possibly know what gender our other grandbaby will be! Then I can know what color little things to knit and sew! The days of green and yellow will be over! When Travis and Cheyenne were born, this information came WHEN THEY WERE BORN!! Things do change, don't they!!!!
I've been observing lately, and I strongly suspect that our feline family will be multiplying! What do you think? At first I just thought we were feeding her well, but she's becoming a well rounded kitty for an active outside kitty!!!!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Bits and Pieces....

Puppies love to chew! In fact, with such a young palate, it's great to sample as many tastes and textures as possible. Sam must be a puppy because he's been trying to get as much experience as possible at his new home! Let's see - he keeps steeling the horse brushes. One has a wood handle and the other plastic and both are chewed on the ends. Then there's Doc's feeding bucket that sits over the bar of the fence. He might have an accomplice though, because one of our guest horses, Tutu, bites and lifts her trough out of its base often, and I've seen her lift Doc's feeder off the fence. At any rate, it's been in the back yard 3 times and is pretty chewed. He sleeps on a brand new U-Haul blanket, but it has several chewed holes in it now and it's been dragged out into the yard a number of times. He also robs from the mesquite wood pile nightly and I find firewood scattered around the yard. He chewed the handle off his leash. His toys are in various states of destruction. A couple of days ago I gave him some Alpo (wet) as a treat in one of Sheba's travel dishes and here is the results! The food was gone, but so was the dish! I thought of having a contest ... into how many pieces did Sam chew Sheba's dish????

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Is this March coming in like a lion???

This is today!!! Luckily I've already been out and fed the livestock!! Because of the wind, it took me 2 trips out to gather the horses. I know I get little sympathy from you folks in Illinois and Ohio, but brrrrrrrrrrr - the wind makes the cold penetrate right through me!! This wind blows here 5 out of 7 days but not always as strong as it is today and was also during the wild grass fires last week and again with the thunderstorm a few days ago! It's no wonder we have roof tiles off the roof all the time. At least you can feel sorry for the horses. Eeyore on the other hand is in the barn keeping warm. I wonder if this says something about the brilliance of horses!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Cast of Ranch Characters

If one has a ranch, one must have some animals. Everything takes time. We came down with our old dog (Sheba) and my inherited cat - Tober was a little stray in Kent, Ohio before Cheyenne gave her a home. When Cheyenne got married, Tober needed a new home and has fit in with us just fine, as she's a master mouser! Our little family is slowly growing. Mid January a little kitty (we now call her "Little Kitty") appeared in the living room window late one night and has been around ever since. I think she's here to stay! She retreats from the cold and storms and sleeps in a box on the front porch and her job is to keep the outside rodents in check and keep the snakes away from the house. She is a great climber of trees, poles, and fences, and I attribute this to her ability to survive despite the coyotes around.
Our next addition was "Doc" (Poco Docs Copy), a quarterhorse gelding that's about 14 years old. He's very gentle and friendly, but he's also very tall and I'm going to need a stool to get on him. In fact, it takes 2 of us to get a bridle on him - one to put the bit in his mouth and the other to hold the bridle in place when he raises his head. I'm sure we'll eventually learn to do this solo! Cinching the saddle is also a challenge until we get the technique down! Doc probably knows that we're total novices. As you can see, he's for pleasure riding and checking fence lines. Everyone has a job around here.

Then, the day after Doc arrived, we were given 2 beautiful border collies. We renamed them "Sam" and "Jake". Unfortunately less than 48 hours later, Jake started having very violent seizures and ended up in the doggie hospital for a couple of days. He came home on tranquilizer and a couple of days later he wandered off! Six days later he came back but he and Sam would fight on and off during the night, so we had to give him back. So now we only have Sam. We are working on obedience training and when we have cows for Mike to watch, Sam will be trained to herd them. He has great potential with his pleasing temperament. He's affectionate and playful and gets along well with Sheba and Little Kitty.

Then we attracted another stray - only this one was very destructive. He was a digging machine!! This is Artemus the Armadillo - I guess we could call him Artie! The first time we saw him, we discovered he had a one track mind - dig and eat! If you touched his back, he just dug faster! We bagged him up and took him to the pecan orchard! Three days later he was back digging up the yard. So we returned him to the orchard! The next day he was back in the yard! So Mike transported him down the road about a half mile. It took a few days and he was back again! So he took him about a mile or so down the road (opposite direction) and so far we haven't seen him for about 2 weeks!!

Our newest member of the family is Eeyore. He's 21 months old and his ears are about 10" long! He has kind of wirey wavy fur on his body, but soft on his forehead. He's very friendly and gentle. He follows us around everywhere and he loves "cookies" (compressed grain?). Mike's going to make him a cart to pull. Right now his main job is to keep the coyotes away. They're known for this, so lots of people around here have donkeys in their pastures.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Weather Permitting .......

Though we haven't been here long, I've learned that every day is different regardless of the day before. One day can be freezing cold with snow and within 48 hours, it can be 80 degrees and vice versa! We've had 2 ice storms since we've been here and awakened to a fantasyland. Incidentally, in case you're not familiar, those 'growths' in the iced tree are mistletoe. (They are parasites and are attached to the limbs.) In both storms, the snow (ice) was gone by mid-afternoon. Wind is a frequent visitor! It makes a 40 degree day feel like 20! I can hardly wait to see what a windy 90+ degree day feels like this summer.

This past Monday was VERY scarry!! It was one of those high wind days (around 40 mph winds) and somehow a fire started in the next county (Archer County). We saw billowing smoke around noon and noted a road blocked off on the other side of town. We also passed a large grader heading out of town. Later we saw more billowing smoke about 20 miles away. As the afternoon rolled on, we carried on our usual activities until about 9 p.m. when two men from the church we've been attending knocked on our door checking on our safety. Dumbfounded were we, when they invited us to take a gander from the front porch. At least 7 fire departments were fighting the fires! Luckily (for us) Mike had plowed the fields below the house, and our neighbor's fields across the road were recently planted with winter wheat (green and fresh - not dry!). At some point we realized we weren't in the direct line of the fire. You can see the smoke rising and blowing to the right (southeast). Luckily the wind didn't change direction, so we were lucky. Tuesday morning we drove around the area and the fire damage was about 1 - 1 1/2 miles away. Even then, it was closer than I was comfortable with!! We've had a couple of nasty thunder storms of late. In fact last night lightening struck so close, it fried the transformer for the modem. We've been back on-line for about an hour! I'm sure as time passes that we'll experience tornado watches, flooding and drought conditions. It's true that if you don't like the weather in Texas, just wait a couple of hours and it will change.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Progress is always full of challenges (and hard work)

We've come a ways since moving day. Of course the house was move-in ready since we had folks leasing the property since we bought it (along with the bank) 2-3 years ago, but the property and yard needed work and still does, but it's an ongoing labor of love!! Retirement is when you kick back after a lifetime of work and keeping regular hours, collecting paychecks, meeting deadlines, attending meetings, paying into social security - you get the picture! So let me show you about retirement!!! Of course the main difference is the keeping hours part - we get to pick projects with consideration of the weather and our motivation. We have softer deadlines, but we do want to get a garden in this year which will require fencing off an area and preparing the soil; we need to plant grass in the pastures so our future herds will thrive and build a chicken coup, repair outbuildings and storm cellar, replant parts of the lawn - that's just for starters. This is what it looked like when we moved in:
If you look real close, you can see the corner of the 'barn' (it's white)! And you can see some of the corral fence! So Mike ordered a rototiller and a bush hog over the internet. The first project was to clear the corral so we could use it for the horses. So here's Mike lazing back in his retirement, getting ready to 'watch the cows' - you see, he's always telling me that his job is to watch the cows while I feed them and make sure they have water, take care of the garden, keep the house clean and a few other chores. (LOL)

Diligence pays off though, and after cutting down the wild sunflowers and little mesquite trees and treating several red ant hills - and burning and hauling away debris, we have a barn and corral!! He has also mowed down thousands of cockelburrs and other Texas weeds and prepared an area for our future garden. Next project: the pastures. A friend loaned him a little tractor for a couple of days so he could 'disk' the fields and mow down all the wild sunflowers that obscured our view and choked out the grass. Once again, here's Mike, lazing back while clearing fields so he can sit back and watch those cows in the future. This "small" piece of farm equipment probably costs more than our whole ranch!!! We're lucky to have a friend who loaned us the use of one. We're currently waiting for the results of some soil samples we sent to Texas A&M so we know what to do next. More progress will be coming soon!