Thursday, July 31, 2008

Great Texas Skies!

We're on a string of days over 100 and haven't had any rain for a while. Things are pretty dry around here and the horses are really sucking up the water when they come in from grazing. Two days this week we had about a 10% chance of rain, and the storm cells just barely passed us by - twice! So every morning I'm out watering my garden to keep it going for one more day. It's a real challenge with that hot sun beating down. One benefit though - as we were being passed by for rain, the sky at sunset was really gorgeous. Check it out!!!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What a BIG Pussycat!!!

There seems to be a little role confusion going on around here!! We have a cat that can kick butt, and a dog that's a 'mouser'!!
Sam will even share his dinner with his "litter mates":
Maybe next year when we get some cattle, he can retrain to be a cow-dog which will come natural to him since he is a 'herding' dog!!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ranching Progress with Challenges

It seems with every project, you take two or three steps forward and one step back! There's always something to slow progress - sometimes it's self-induced (like equipment failure) and other times it's just nature!! We've watched our fields go from tall 'spent' weeds (wild sunflowers and grass burrs) (just imagine 60 acres like this!!!). Mike levelled the weeds in the corral and along the road with a 'bush hog' (right) and used a 'disk' in the fields to allow a fresh start for choice grasses in the fields! After disking the fields TWICE, he broke up the clods/clumps with a 'cultipacker' to give a manicured field for planting.

The upper pasture (Mike calls it the WEST pasture) was planted on April Fools Day with Coastal Bermuda which should provide good hay in years to come for the livestock we'll have by then. It's planted with a 'sprigger' which plows a trough, drops in the sprig and then covers it. It rained the next day -- PRICELESS!!

The lower field (EAST field) is planted in some native grasses that include Switchgrass which can be useful as an alternative fuel. This field will likely be more for grazing at least in the beginning. Native grasses are planted from seed with a piece of equipment called a 'seed drill' (below). You can see the many 'tubes' where the seed is fed and dropped in numerous troughs made by small plow blades and covered.

The results??? Green fields!!! Again, God blessed us with timely rain!!

So, what about the challenges???? With newly planted grass, one must mow every 28 days for the first few months to cut down the weeds, and it takes time for the grass to choke out the weeds, so --- the lion's share of what's out there to mow is WEEDS!!! And in the process, he's been stuck in the soft soil in the field a few times (required a tow once), had a broken disc, SIX flat tires on the tractor, and a battery that's died THREE times. Retirement is so much fun!!!!

Friday, July 18, 2008

A Short Update

Last Thursday the Honda was towed to Gilmore Collision for evaluation and diagnosis -- when I called Friday, they had determined there was over $18000 damage to my poor Pilot. On Monday they called to say that the diagnosis was TOTALLED! So Honda Pilot has passed on! Thursday we went to Wichita Falls to test drive and check out a potential replacement. Currently I'm leaning toward a Honda CR-V, but we also looked at Chevy, Dodge, Hyundai, Jeep, and Pontiac. After checking Consumer Report and, it looks like the best other choice is a Toyota RAV-4. It just happens that the Honda dealer is getting one in the color I'd like (Borrego Beige) in the very model we want before the end of the month and would loan us a CR-V to drive while waiting for it's arrival. They didn't seem too excited about taking the loaner to Arizona for the upcoming grandson arrival, so Chey... wait till I get my wheels!!!!
As for my person, my arm is still swollen, but not as tight as it was, the blisters have broken, and the bruising has travelled to my elbow and down my hands and fingers. In a week it will look different, and hopefully the swelling will start to regress!! Currently the swelling makes my arm look deformed!!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A funny thing happened on the way to the .......

I was going to add an addendum to the last post, since the 'manager' wouldn't download more pictures and in the meantime, a more pressing item has reared it's ugly head.

Actually it's NO funny thing that happened on the way home from Wichita Falls. I never did absolutely LOVE roller coaster rides, nor slippery roads, nor chigger bites, nor rattlesnakes, nor anything painful!!! I suspect Travis can most relate to the wild ride I took Wednesday night, as he rolled our Blazer over 5 times and came to rest within a foot or so of a tree or poll that could well have been his swan song, yet he walked away relatively unscathed - with only a couple of abrasions. It totalled our Blazer. The verdict is still out on the Honda Pilot (2006)! I was on cruise control at 70 mph (speed limit), when I nodded off for just a moment too long. The change in surface jarred me into reality and it was like driving on snow! Impossible to get any kind of traction and a lot of fishtailing! I avoided a road stake only to totally lose it, go airborne for a moment and then slide through a fence, wiping out a few mesquite trees and some prickly pear cactus. We (Honda and I) came to rest wedged behind and beside several mesquites which limited my exiting the vehicle. I tried to call home, but it was one of those dead spots along the road, so I tried to find a way out of the vehicle. I opened the sunroof just about the time a good samaritan came along, noticed the fence out and saw my white vehicle in the mesquite patch. The driver's side windows were obscured by the deployed air bags but he could see through the windshield. He managed to get the passenger door open enough that I could get out and drove me to our local little hospital in Olney (only about 5 miles away) while I called Mike. I was REALLY lucky. The only injury I sustained was a scrape and hematoma (bleeding into the tissue under the skin) on my left forearm. Luckily nothing was broken. So they cleaned up the scrape and put ice on to reduce the swelling and stop the bleeding. All was well until I started blistering up - it seems I'm allergic to the cleanser that they used!! So my arm looks a little nasty right now, but I'm on the mend!!!

There was a fence post with barbed wire across in front of the then-standing mesquite trees:

The swath through the trees and brush:

Poor Honda ... bumps and bruises everywhere!!

Passenger side-view mirror and damage above driver's side windows
My swollen arm and hand with lots of blisters from the allergic reaction to the cleansing solution.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Y'all come back now .....

Until last week, our 'kids' have only seen the ranch via the blog. We've been looking so forward to their visit and the week went by so fast, and now it's but a memory. But we do have some pics to look at to remind us of the fun we had. I think everyone enjoyed meeting the ranch animals and playing cowboy!

Somehow though, I don't think Travis' greyhounds (Merlin & Morgan) enjoyed it quite as much as they learned that horses and donkeys chase cuyotes, and they looked like black cuyotes to them!!!

We had lessons on holding babies! We got to compare sizes and notes on experiences so far!!

There was shooting, and fishing and sewing and barbecuing and getting together with friends...