Thursday, December 25, 2008

Santa's Deer?

The wildlife camera works. After testing it yesterday I set it up in the back of the house. I strapped the camera to a cedar tree facing my feeder towards the northwest. I did notice some flashes during the night so I knew it had tried to take photos. I got several photos of deer including: a pair of does together, one small buck, and one good photo of a large buck (at left). That's probably an average size for a 'big' buck. I've seen larger. There were about 20 photos taken total and we were lucky to get a good photograph of a big buck on the first night. When the regulars begin to ignore the flash I'll get better photos. I bet it's not long before I get a photo of deer and raccoons together positioning for the feeder. I'm also curious as to what will be photographed in the day time. There will probably be 100's of photos tomorrow as I saw a squirrel sitting in the feeder for over an hour this morning. I guess it depends on how much motion the camera picks up.

Feeder: Notice my homemade feeder. I cut a stump flat and screwed a large plastic bowl onto it. I drilled a few holes to allow drainage and added the blue reflector. I've had a feeder on that stump for over five years so it's popular with the deer.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Time 2008

It's continued being cold, some days colder than others. We've been cleaning and preparing for a Christmas party so that has kept us busy. The county has put the burn ban back into effect, but I did burn one stump using a fire ring. The deer and birds are very active of late.

I did get the wildlife camera out and I have the battery charged, but I had to order a new CF card for the photos. That arrived today so I'll get the camera set up. Maybe we'll see something, but I haven't seen any 'big cat' tracks since the last post. (Maybe why the deer have been more active?)

Addendum: I did put the camera out just as a test. It was facing away from the house lying on it's side facing east. Nothing seems to have set off the camera during the night but the sun rise does seem to set off the camera. I had several nice sun rise photos. (photo) The Christmas lights probably kept any thing away from the front of the house anyway. There are a lot of squirrels the past few days so any cat is probably gone. I'll move the camera to the back and see what it sees.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Even Colder Weather

We had another cold front come through. There was snow south of us, but we didn't get any. We did get about .50 of rain though. That was really needed. The wind took down two bird feeders again so I may need to wire them to the baffles. The fountain has made a very interesting ice design and this has been the coldest weather so far. It probably stayed below freezing for a lot of the evening.

We noticed more big cat tracks on the front walk on Wednesday morning. It makes me wonder if they come by more often than I think but only leave tracks after a bit of rain. I think I will put out the wildlife camera this weekend. When we had the cat problem previously I strapped the camera to a tree near the wildlife stock tank. I never saw a cat in the photos, but we had lots of photos of deer, squirrels, and raccoons. The photos come out very well, here is one of those photos. It would be great to get a photo of the cat in the front of the house. The flash of the camera may be enough to scare it away from the house as well.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Cool but Nice

We have had ice in the fountain for three consecutive days although it hasn't been too cold. In fact it got up to 65º today. A good day to fill and rehang bird feeders. We have had strong winds for several days when these cold fronts came through. Three feeders were blown down as the new baffles act like sails in the high wind. The birds appreciate the seed.

Interesting to look around the country side and see little buildings in places you've never seen before. Hopefully these blinds will come down when deer season is over. I've seen a lot of hunters this year.

When I returned from town last night (visiting the wonderful Christmas displays at the Bosque Museum and the Bosque Conservatory) I saw a big Jack in the back when the headlights passed him as I parked the truck. It's the first I have seen since Spring and I guess the big cat didn't get them all.

I must have a lot of deer visit the livestock tank I have in the back. I had to fill it again today after having just recently filling it so something is drinking a lot of water. I know I have the usual deer visiting, but must get a lot of others as well. The bucks are in rut so I won't be surprised to see one come by in the middle of the day. We once had a big buck run between DW and myself and we were only about 60 feet apart. His nose was to the ground and he was going a bit crazy. Interesting.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Colder Weather

We had our first freeze of the season last night. There was ice in the fountain, but it may not have been a 'hard freeze' as far as plants are concerned. It is certainly colder.

It's really been a very pretty fall season with the trees turning various colors this year.

Since I missed my usual Wednesday trip to Clifton, I went to Cranfills Gap this week for the second time in two weeks. Last week I saw a huge elk on one of the 'game ranches' as well as some huge white tail bucks. This week I saw a big flock of turkeys. It's always an interesting drive and you do pass the Rock church. Much more activity in town as the town has been selected to participate in a promotion for the city of Las Vegas. I think 100 people are getting a free trip to Vegas and a 'command center' was set up in the old hardware store. I have rarely seen that many cars in town. I had on the uniform of the day. I saw five men at the station/grocery and ALL were wearing overalls. I bet they don't wear them to Las Vegas though.

I attended the 'Sausage Supper' in Womack over the weekend. Womack is on the German side of Bosque County. It's usually held the Saturday following Thanksgiving and I have attended for several years. The homemade pies are the best.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

No further obvious signs of a big cat although there was fresh coyote or fox scat. I need to become a better scat expert. I do recall the State Game Trapper saying if it's very dark, as this was, they are getting fresh kill. The goats are all fine and I'm keeping the dogs close to the house.

We were hoping for rain, but we only got a trace. It stayed north of us as usual. I may put the goats on the 'house' pasture this week. They still have grass, but there's a lot of growth over here that could be cleaned by the goats.

I saw a big buck this morning. Again it was between 9-9:30 and this was the same one I saw last week. There are a lot of deer hunters out over the Thanksgiving weekend. I haven't heard many shots from the deer stands near TOR though.

We drove to Alvarado for Thanksgiving as we have done the past several years. We are thankful for family, friends, and life in the country.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mountain Lion is back....

...Maybe. If you read this blog you know I have suspected something big around for a while. In just the previous few months we have gone from rabbits rabbits everywhere to rarely seeing one . This morning we found these tracks on the front sidewalk. The print is from a mountain lion book and the photos was taken this morning. Looks the same to me. I was up late last night and didn't notice anything and Tessie was up with me. It was so late, 3:00 a.m., that I didn't take her out before going to bed. Good thing, I'd say. The prints were all over the side walk as if it had been looking in the front windows of the house. Also I believe there is more than one cat as there were two sizes with one set smaller. It could be a very big bobcats, but looks like a lion print to me. NOTE: This program distorts the photos somewhat, on comparison on the computer they are identical with the print.

A few years back, it was the huge lion tracks actually 6 feet up on the windows that finally convinced the county trapper to set a mountain lion trap a few years back. We had good confirmed tracks then with the front paws on the window and back paws in the flower bed. I lost six goats before that lion left the area.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Great Week on the Ranch

The weather has continued to be fantastic. Since we had friends coming for the weekend and staying in the cabin, our project this week was to clear cedars from an area behind the cabin between the new trail just opened and the trail next to cabin. This will open a view along the ridge from the house looking east and from the new trail looking west. It also cleared two live oak trees one of which looks very good. It was only a two/three day job and we burned right where two trails crossed so we didn't have to load or haul cedar tops. I was also able to push a lot of the cut cedar with the tractor so it went fairly easy. I really think it looks good. With each little project we complete the overall beauty of the place becomes more clear. It's amazing how much it has changed yet so much more to do. I seem to take photos after the projects but forget to get a 'before' photo. I need to remember to do that because after you get used to the improvements/changes you forget what it used to look like.

As mentioned we had friends in over the weekend and we cooked steaks out over coals in the back. It was cool so we ate inside. Friends brought other goodies and it was one great meal on Saturday night.

Our friends brought 25lbs of carrots and we took some down to Annie and who showed up but the three Amigas. They all look very good. All fat and very healthy looking. They are very happy at their new home and I wonder how they knew we had the carrots? I saw another nice buck this week and again it was between 9:00-9:30 am. This one didn't have the huge rack as the others, but was a very big deer.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wednesday Routine

It's nice to get back to my regular set Wednesday routine. I've been kind of off the routine as I've been traveling and I like to cruise in hurricane season as the fares are very reasonable at that time so I've been off schedule. BTW-I've decided that I'm not leaving the ranch in October or November in the future as the weather is usually great that time of year here, so why go away?

My routine has been set for several years on a Wednesday, so much so that if neighbors see me on the road they will know it's probably Wednesday AND Kenzie (our dog) would be waiting at the back door for me on Wednesdays. I swear she could tell when it was Wednesday as she got to ride to town and get a treat at the Bank and BBQ so she anticipated the day. I always bragged that she knew the days of the week and I'm not sure she knew how it was Wednesday, I assume because she could hear me open the drawer with my keys in it or as mentioned just the routine. Anyway she knows when it's Wednesday.

So here's the typical Wednesday Routine for me as this is what I did today: Before leaving gather any mail, bank deposits, laundry, or anything that needs to go to town. First stop is usually the Bank as it's the first thing I come to when arriving in town. After that it varies depending on the time of day, but probably the Bunkhouse BBQ as Wednesday is the day they have ribs on the buffet. Very good stop, they were extra good today. Next the Feed Store to pick up feed for the goats and some deer corn. I also bought tickets for the 'Sausage Supper' later in the month. Next stop is the Gas Station and today I had all the extra 5 gallon cans to fill with gasoline and diesel fuel for the ranch (gas $1.84 diesel $2.74). Next stop is the Post Office to pick up and mail the mail. Following that it's any special projects that need to be taken care of which usually means a stop at the Hardware Store. Today it was have a flat on the truck fixed at the tire shop ($11.00 for two plugs). Some days there is the 'happy hour' drink from Sonic, but today I got a big drink at the station to enjoy while they repaired the flat. The last thing to do in town is to stop at the Brookshires Grocery for shopping.

It can be a boring routine for some, but I really enjoy it. Living in a rural area is very nice and the trip to small town Clifton is very enjoyable. The bank tellers call you (and your dog) by name as do people at the grocery, bbq, post office, etc. You recognize faces on the sidewalk or see the minister planting flowers in front of the church and it all brings a smile to your face. I am very appreciative.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Beautiful November Weather

Continuing beautiful fall weather through November. Many of the trees are turning colors and look very nice. We had a very light rain, but I didn't have the gauge out, probably .25 inches. The tank is completely dry, but we still have grass.

We did some clearing below the house along the clearing towards the twisted oak tree. Really cut cedars away from an existing stand of live oaks and a very large Spanish Oak (see photo). You can now see the twisted oak through the cedars if you know where to look. It's a very pretty little area, we need to continue clearing there. We had a good fire in the 'gravel pit' from the cedar cuttings, but shared some with the goats. I swept the ranch roads with a good pile of cedar I was hauling with the tractor. Also filled in some wash out on the cutoff trail with material from the gravel pit on the returns to get more cedar debris. Looks good.

I have mentioned fewer rabbits and small animals in recent posts and last night under the full moon I discovered one reason why. I took the 'girls' out as usual before retiring for the evening and it was after midnight. Since the mountain lion scare I always accompany them if it's that late and glad I did. A huge Barn Owl came swooping down and made a pass over one of the dogs. I guess the owl was expecting/hoping for something a bit smaller but did come back and made a second pass. Kenzie hates Turkey Buzzards and always barks at them even if the are far overhead, but she never saw the owl. I was standing only 25 feet away and either that or the size of the dogs kept the owl from latching onto them. This was a big owl and wouldn't have a problem with an average rabbit, but a 18 lb dog would probably be a reach. I've seen the owl before, but not that close. I'm sure it hangs around waiting for critters to check the seed that has fallen from the bird feeders. Easy pickin's for the owl.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Hackberry Tree

I took this photo Tuesday of the hackberry tree and thought I should tell its story. This entire area was covered in cedar when we bought the place, but located in a draw between two ridges so it had potential. This area was in front of the cabin we were working on and after cleaning up in the immediate area of the cabin was the first place we wanted to clear cedar. A friend, F.M. Daniels, from Fort Worth came down and we had two chain saws working for two days cutting cedar. Most were the bushy type, 10-15' tall (some taller) and big around with numerous limbs, that had grown in the past 30-35 years. In the photo you will now see a beautiful stand of live oaks. These were completely covered by the cedars and could not be seen at all at the time. We had two big fires burning the cedar tops as we cut and a for few days following. After the cedar was cut there was an old dead oak tree about 25-30' tall and a scraggily hackberry beside it about 12' tall. You can see the stump of the oak that I now use as a base for feeding deer. Although the hackberry was scrawny having grown among the cedar I wanted to keep it as it was the ONLY hackberry tree on the ranch. The next week I engineered how I was going to cut the big oak down, but despite my best efforts it came down and broke the hackberry tree in half. Oh well, I tried. I decided to pick a good spot on the trunk of the hackberry about 5' from the ground and made a diagonal cut across and hope for the best. Well you can see the excellent results. Without the cedars the tree grew in a perfect balance and now looks fantastic. Although many hackberry trees are considered a nuisance tree this one looks very good, has good fall color, and provides food for the birds. And as mentioned it's the ONLY hackberry tree on the ranch.

Note how good the stand of Texas Live Oak trees look. They have doubled in size since all the cedar were cleared away from them. That's Gary Mountain in the background. BTW-the area cleared is larger than in the photo and the photo taken with the zoom lens also makes it look smaller than normal. I only put corn in that feeder when we have guests in the cabin, but this is now a favorite 'hang out' for deer.

Friday, October 31, 2008


Weather continues to be very nice at the end of October. Highs from 78-83° and lows in 40's. The tank is getting low again from what little rain we have had overall. We are getting rain, but just not enough for run off.

I finished clearing along the new trail and did have two brush fires burning, one on top of the mountain and one below. The trail looks good. I would clear more, but there are areas closer to the house that needs work and has a higher priority.

While clearing I kept playing tag with a deer. I'd be on one end and she would move to the other. Then I would work the other end and she went opposite. I thought it was a goat at first as she wouldn't move too far. I saw a flock of huge turkey just down the county road. They have been taking advantage of the good grasses, grain, and feed. These were all very big birds.

I did drive up to Meridian to renew an auto tag and saw our Congressman at the courthouse. Good to see he is paying some attention to Bosque County during the campaign.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Great Weather

October has always been my favorite month. College Football, the World Series, and best of all cooler weather. The evenings are getting cool and the days are pleasant. We actually had a freeze warning for this morning although I don't think it got that cold. We were away from the ranch in mid-month but we got a good two+ inches of rain and everything looked very good when we got home. The grass looks wonderful and has greened-up in areas that had already gone dormant. Many of the Spanish Oaks have started to turn color this week. Gary Mountain looks very nice looking out the office window. I've seen the fall wildflowers come out as well.

Yesterday the mail man dropped off a book I had ordered, Texas Gardening the Natural Way by Howard Garrett. I listen to him on the radio when I get a chance and of course have ONLY used natural products on Twisted Oak Ranch. I was actually living the 'natural way' before the 'Dirt Doctor' even thought about it and fed my plants with brewed tea long before 'Garrett Juice' or compost tea became popular. I mention this as yesterday I set out some garlic that some neighbors have given me. The neighbors place is well known locally for their garlic and I dug some up for transfer over the weekend. I plan on using the garlic in my cooking and to make garlic sprays for the garden as recommended by the new book.

The deer have not been as active around my feeders as usual although I did see a nice buck this morning about 9:30 am which I thought was late. Although now that I think of it that's about the time I do see the really big bucks. I guess it's the TOR deer that come at dusk and dawn. One reason I'm not seeing as many deer at the corn feeder is the number of acorns. I've never seen so many acorns on the ground. In some places the ground is solid with them.

Tessie is very much at home now. She loves to run and go for her walks. I guess I would too if I lived in a cage for a long time. I'm glad we rescued her. She did fall out of the gator for the second time recently. She just doesn't have a sense of balance. She won't get into the gator on her own, but you can't keep Kenzie out of it. Kenzie helps a lot as Tessie watches what she does. Kenzie rooted out an Armadillo and unseen by Kenzie it made a break for it, but Tessie chased it down a trail almost to the mountain pasture. She didn't know what to do with it, but she enjoyed running after it. Sense then she has actually tried to pick up scents when Kenzie makes her rounds. She's a house dog, but is gradually learning the ways on the ranch.

I did get back into the land clearing routine last week. The burn ban is off so I burned most of the brush I piled up when I opened the new little cross trail in August. I also did some dirt work so that there's not a big drop off the ledge. (Locals know what I mean by the ledge: These mountains are actually geologically mesas and have a limestone cap from 8-24" thick on top at about the 1000' elevation. So there is usually always a ledge between the limestone and the caliche below. It makes for nice bluffs and the cliffs you see in the area. BTW-below the caliche you hit limestone rock again.) So now the new trail is very nice for both walking and driving the gator. I still have to trim and cut cedar away from around the higher quality trees to make it look even better. And there is always cedar debris from the 1930's to clear. From just what I have already cleared there is a view to the south you can now see from the trail.

I'm still getting used to the new county road. The pea gravel on top hasn't been sweep as they want it packed as well as possible. We just don't get enough traffic to pack it much more than it probably is now though.

Monday, October 06, 2008

October Rain

We finally got some rain last night, about 1.375 inches. That's a nice rain and will probably assure grass until we get a freeze. Good for the goats and wildlife.

I have not noticed near as many small critters such as rabbits, squirrels, & raccoons around lately. I wonder if we have another big cat around? Could be the lack of water on top of the mountain though. I will watch for signs.

Update: We received another .8 of rain this evening. That's a good 2" of rain total.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Turkey Buzzards

All is still well on the Ranch. Very dry, but we still have grass.

I haven't really been doing any extra work on the ranch, just the usual goat feeding, watering, maintaining wildlife feeders, etc., but now that I have my dental work complete I hope to get back in the groove. I do feel better already. I have the chain saws back from the small engine tune up mechanic so it's time to start cutting and trimming again. I need to finish the new short cross trail and we are going to clear cedar from behind the cabin. Perhaps some cleaning along the county road. From there we will see what needs to be done.

This morning when I awoke I noticed a lot of Turkey Buzzards circling just to the west of us near my 1468 gate. We know what that means so I went down to check it out. When there are that many vultures it's usually something big like a deer and there's always a bit worry that it could be worse. Well I did find the source of their interest. There were three feral hogs along the fence row. Not sure who shot them. Could have been poachers or they could have been dumped there. We do get poachers along the road at night. One interesting thing with the new paved road is that you can actually hear cars better than before. Would not have thought that. We rarely have a car on the road as far out as I live on the county road so it will make catching poachers easier.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Fall arrives

All is well on the ranch.

The weather is beginning to cool. Still dry, but lots of grass. Not seeing as many deer, but there are acorns everywhere no so they have plenty to eat. It will be time to do more clearing soon.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

We have a Road!

The county has finished our county road. We now have a 'paved' road all the way from our gate to town. Hopefully this will help on the wear and tear of our automobiles. Of course it may bring more flatlanders (tourists) as well, but the road doesn't really go anywhere and the paving stops not far beyond my last gate so perhaps not. The road is 100% better than what we had before. Good.

Now speaking of wear & tear on autos, a deer ran into the Trailblazer on Thursday night. Yes it ran into a stopped car at the Crossroads. $2100 damage. Not Good.

We had some showers this week with some rain and today some wind and rain from hurricane Ike. Probably 1.5" for the week. Everything is green again. There is plenty of grass for the goats.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A little Rain

We've been gone for a week. We thought we would get some rain from hurricane Gustav, but nada, everything was dried out. We watered everything on Sunday. Then today we get rain, almost .65 inches. Very welcome and needed.

I'm sure the deer and birds are glad we are back as all the feeders are empty. We'll have everything back to normal soon.

What a great surprise to see the road paved when we turned onto CR 4195. They are about half way so it is coming!!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Big Bucks!

It's been a fast week. We did get 1/4+ inch of rain on Thursday evening. There were some other sprinkles, but no rain. Again it has been very isolated showers. Tank is dry, but we do have grass.

Road: Knowing that the price of asphalt had almost doubled I went into last weeks meeting prepared for calling a halt to the project and getting our money back. I mentally already had the money spent on a new sprinkler system around the house. One of the neighbors really made an effort to collect more commitments from the few who had not paid anything and one or two of the BIG ranches. He was able to make the project doable. We've deposited a bit more in the road fund and will again. The good news is that they will be paving the road and it will be done very soon.

This morning around 9:00 a.m. there were four bucks come up to the back looking for corn. I did have some on the ground. Two of these bucks were trophies. Huge with big racks. Not the largest I have seen, but #2 and #3 by far. The four stayed for a while, but were spooked and went up the mountain.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Road Repairs

Following the last post on Tuesday we did get some more rain, although very light. Total is still only about 1.2 inches. I think we did get a lot of nitrogen though as the grass has greened up very well. The rain/mist was so light some days that it may not have been measurable. It is unusual to have a weather system set over Texas for a week especially in August. We can not complain about that at all, but the tank is still bone dry. NO run off at all. We may have some chance of rain later in the week.

With the price of deer corn doubling in the past six months they are lucky we are still putting it out. I have started putting out less and it does seem to bring them out earlier in the evening. I guess it runs out sooner so first come first served. It's always gone by the following morning. I already culled a lot of raccoons.

Road Work: They have finally gotten down to my main gate with the base gravel work on the county road. It has been a two year project at this point. The county road is very hard to drive on with all the loose gravel until it gets packed down which has been very rough on our cars. It is certainly wider than before but it still seems low in some areas. Of course the rains we had last year probably would have gone across at most any height. The county has taken so long to get this work done that the price of road grade asphalt has doubled since the neighbors agreed to pay for the asphalt on this project. Most of the increase has been within the past month. Great timing. We have a neighborhood meeting scheduled for tonight in the neighbors barn so we'll see what develops. Interesting that they just got the road completed yesterday just beyond the gate where this meeting will occur. The road will be better once it is packed even if we don't pave it so having to put up with all the mess may have been worth it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Some Relief

The past five days have been a relief from the 100º heat. It has been cloudy as many have been getting rain. We have had some very light sprinkles and mist, but not yet had a good rain. At least we are getting a very slow accumulation but it's been less than 1 inch total over the five days. Some have had 5 inches in the surrounding area. But it has cooled off and we are in the 80º-90º range for high temperatures. That is nice.

I did have a large Spanish Oak fall in the recent weather phenom evening. I just had not been down that trail to notice it. The Spanish Oaks just aren't as sturdy as the Live Oaks. The neighbors said they lost some Ash trees. Both the Ash & Spanish Oak grow taller and thinner around here because of all the Cedar surrounding them. I only have a few Ash on my place that I have seen. I did find another when we cleared some cedar a month ago. There are probably a lot of things out there I just can't see due to the dense cedar.

The animals and wildlife are enjoying the cooler weather. Let's hope it holds for awhile.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Trophy Deer

There is with out a doubt a trophy deer here this year. I think he is a regular he is just getting a huge rack this year. Probably a 3-4 year old. I got a good look at him last night. He is also very athletic and bounds and jumps beautifully. I really enjoy watching him. There is one that travels with him that does not look near as good. I think the lack of water in the area is drawing a lot of deer earlier in the day to my wildlife tank. The previous night I counted seven deer at one time in the back. I also noticed that the fawns are big enough to jump the fences so they are scattered about now as well.

A little cloudy yesterday and there was rain in the area, but as usual we had none at Twisted Oak Ranch. Hopefully we will get our share soon. We didn't get near 100º and we won't today either. At least that is some relief.

Friday, August 08, 2008

New Trail

We had two days of somewhat cooler weather midweek due to Tropical Storm Eduardo which hit the Texas coast. We had two days of clouds, but really only one evening of cooler weather and only .6 of rain. Other than that brief relief back up to 100º and very dry.

I did open a new cross trail today. I consider it open as today I drove the tractor and gator through so it certainly can be walked now. Since we began walking the dogs in the mornings we've needed a trail across Ray's Ridge back towards the house so that we didn't have to just double back on the same trail when walking to the bluff and the view from the far ridge. This will give us more options on our morning walks and some different views as well. It's a short trail, but will allow us to get to various locations much easier. I still have some brush to clean up, but I'll wait until cooler weather and the burn ban to be lifted to completely finish.

Photo 1 is the entry to the trail. Located at the cross fence between mountain pasture and main property. Facing west. Photo 2 is a view of the house from the trail and where the trail starts to drop down off the ridge into the draw behind the cabin.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Weather phenomenon

On Sunday night everything was normal until early evening around 9:30 p.m.. I was watching the Texas Rangers on TV and doing some genealogy work on the lap top when all of a sudden the electricity went out. Then the wind began to blow and there was a big boom noise. The air pressure dropped so fast that the noise (I think) was air escaping from the house. We went from a dead calm to a 25-30 mph wind instantly. Lucky the power began to come back on or it would have been even more scary. Having grown up in Oklahoma I didn't thing this was a tornado. It was clear skies overhead but I could see a big thunderhead (from the lighting inside of it) to the southeast. All the big live oak trees around the house were really shaking and leaning over. I really though the one on the side of the house was going to come down. Standing in the wind was like standing in a hurricane. It was I believe a very powerful squall line that hit the sides of the mountains and created a small chinook effect. It was quite amazing. The winds slowed somewhat to say 15-20 for the next half hour, then gradually died down. No rain, just dirt falling from the sky. I watched the weather at 10:00 and they just explained it come from no where and went away just as fast.

I inspected the trees the next morning and no real damage. Two bird feeders were blown down. The baffles acted like sails in the wind and they unscrewed themselves from the rod. No real damage. It did blow some trash (bread wrappers that the raccoons had stolen from the back of the gator) that I couldn't get to in the brush up to the top of the mountain. That was helpful.

Tessie had her first experience with deer. I put the dogs in the back about 7:00 and as I was putting on my shoes to go out with them when I noticed Tessie in a stare off with a young fawn. Kenzie just returned back into the house as I don't let her chase deer and she knew that would have been my next command (she is such a good dog). Tessie and the fawn were both curious about each other and it was very interesting watching them stare each other down. One would move it's head then the other. It was kind of a Disney moment. I called Tessie in and she came right away. The fawn actually followed her about ten feet towards the house. When the fawn saw me it ran away, I assume it didn't see me before as I was bent down lacing my shoes and it was focused on Tessie. I can tell from the tracks that the fawn are following their mothers up to the feeder at night. I don't think the fawns are eating any corn though.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Very Hot

The heat is on. The tank is dry (see photo). Twenty-three days over 100 degrees. Nine days over 105 degrees. Just saw the weather and forecast is for 107 tomorrow and 105 on Monday.

There were a bunch of deer out back this morning. I see the bucks are getting their antlers. There were two bucks just showing off for two does. Interesting to watch.

Staying indoors during the middle of the day and going out only to water and feed the animals. Maybe a few hours in early morning to do any chores. Did fill all the bird feeders. It doesn't take as long with the squirrel baffles installed.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Summer Time

Late the other night I took the garbage out to the county road to be picked up the following morning and I noticed it was a nice clear night. I turned off the lights and sure enough, there were the stars and the 'milky way'. Can't always see it so clear, but it was a nice evening with no moon or clouds. We do not have any 'light pollution' in this area from neighbors lights either. We are very lucky there, but we don't have many neighbors. Don't know why people move to the country and then put in a big electric pole with a night light and a big gate with lights. The light pollution is getting bad on the other side of the mountain. I also don't think power poles should be in the Historic District, but I understand that problem. When we built on the mountain we paid extra to have all lines placed underground so that at least we don't contribute to the situation. I guess we should appreciate the stars at night and pretty views while we can.

Took care of one armadillo that same night. There are a lot of holes dug up in the front of the house. The grass looks bad, but too dry to mow and even it out so we'll live withe the small holes and pulled up grass for a while.

Saw a big snake crossing our road today when I came back from town. It was at least half the width of the road so I'd say between 7-8 feet in length. A big one. Saw the baby skunk again a few days ago, but not since. I have been keeping water in the wildlife tank behind the house. It's so dry that I have to fill it every few days. It gets a lot of use at night. I need to put up the camera again.

Tessie is adjusting very well. She will lead on the walks now. She did fall out of the gator yesterday when I pulled away from the barn. Stopping, picking up feed, putting it in the gator, then pulling away has become so routine that I forgot to hold her. She sets in the passenger seat and Kenzie surfs from the back. This is her first week to go with us to feed so she'll catch on soon.

Watering the shrubs and plants. It's clouded up a few times, but no rain. Just very hot. 100º every day. Looks like a long hot August.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Heat Wave

It has been well over 100º for several days and forecast for several more. 106º yesterday and already 105º today. Very hot. We had two cloudy days as a result of Hurricane Dolly, but only a trace of rain. Just made it hot and humid. We can not keep up with the grass so our goal will be to keep the shrubs and plants watered. A few boxwoods look bad, but everything else is OK so far. Deer have eaten some of the Mexican Heather on the patio and armadillos have dug holes in the front lawn. Very hard to keep ahead of the critters.

We had a new visitor last night, a baby skunk. I've never seen a baby before. They are very cute and they try to look big by keeping the tail raised and open. Very interesting and fortunately the dogs didn't see it in the courtyard. Only saw the one so there may be more.

I think after the big weekend last week we had hospitality withdrawal so we had the neighbors over for mojitos. I used the mint that had grown back from the original location saving the newly planted mint. It was fun. Mojitos are a great drink for the hot days.

Too hot even for summer hours so the goal will be to water were I can and keep training Tessie.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Big 'Clan' Weekend

We had "the Clan" visiting this weekend. On Friday we took a tour of the Norse Historic District visiting: Norway Mills, Bee Hill Farm, Ringness House, Norse Church and cemetery, Quested Farm, the Rock Church, and Gary Creek Ranch with a stop here for lemonade and a meeting. On Saturday we visited the Bosque Museum and the Conservatory. Saturday evening, after it cooled, we had the group over for refreshments and steaks. We grilled some good Bosque County ribeyes on a fire pit and it was very good. The weekend was a lot of work, but I think everyone really enjoyed it.

Here's a link to photos of the tour (click on photo): Image hosted by
by buoso

Some good friends stayed in the cabin and they brought their two Scottish Terriers. It was very interesting having the four Scottish dogs. Tessie really did well. She was familiar with Scotties as we adopted her from a Scotty rescue. The big excitement was when we got an armadillo trapped in the court yard on Friday night.

Lots of great stories & gossip and times like these I could use a more personal blog, but I better keep this in the JOURNAL format!

I'll be resting up this week after all the prep work we've done. I did get four more squirrel baffles so I've installed them. All the feeders now have them and I did get another new Droll Yankee bird feeder which I have placed next to the bedroom window. I've already seen painted buntings on it twice.

It continues to be very hot. Hurricane Dolly is supposed to hit far south Texas tomorrow so I hope we get some relief. We used 24,000 gallons of water this past month. I had banked several thousand gallons, but have used them up the past two months. We are current with the water meter now. (FYI-In the country we read our own water meters--some cooler months I over pay my actual usage in order to help reduce the large pmts. in the summer months)

Sunday, July 13, 2008


If I'm typing I hope it's about Caribbean music on my cruise blog. Unfortunately it's about the weather. It has been a high of 96º-98º-100º for a high all week. We are on summer hours and doing a lot of work though. We have a group visiting the Ranch next weekend so we've been cleaning, cutting, hauling, mowing, burning, trimming, planting, hauling, painting, & repairing for a few weeks now. I did get my new propane torch working this week. It will help control growth in some areas that can be burned. A little afraid to use it with it as dry as it is right now, but as I get used to it, it should be a good tool.

I did water the grass around the house this week. Will probably do so again this week, but that will be it for the year. The goats are still getting grass that is growing in the shade. It's not all dry yet, but it will be if we don't get a break in the weather soon. There's still a lot of grass on the house side growing in the cedar. I can let the goats over here later if needed.

I did get 100 lbs of sunflower seeds to mix with the bird seed. The birds are already enjoying it.

Tessie is adjusting well. She helps us get up early (summer hours) and really enjoys the outdoors. We think she has not had a lot of freedom in the past and the rescue group did well in getting her. She sure seems to likes it here.

The mint we planted is coming up behind the pavilion. I did water it several times and it will probably do well there. Sure hope so. We use it in iced tea and mojitos.

Monday, July 07, 2008

July is here

July is starting off with typical summer weather. Nice mornings, but hot days. We have been getting out very early working and cleaning mainly around the house. We have cut and cleared cedar back to the very large old original cedar trees. I call these red cedar. We have seven very large old cedar trees about 3-5 feet in circumference and 40+ feet tall. These were too large to cut in the 1930's when the mountain was cut for cedar posts by the CCC. Of course when we clear we also have to clean up the debris left in the 1930's as well. We again have a huge burn pile down at the 'gravel pit'. We have also burned some stumps and laid out a new fire pit on the western bluff. We are trying salt on the patio to keep grass from growing between the stones. We've spread fifty pounds and will see if that works. Nothing else has so far.

Tessie seems to be adjusting very well. We take a walk every morning and she now looks forward to them. She has taken the lead a few times and she almost chased a rabbit this morning. We don't always see deer, but this morning one ran/bounded along beside us and got well ahead and then jumped the fence in front of us. They look very graceful and jump so high. I'm still amazed at how well the squirrel baffles have worked. I've moved some bird feeders and will invest in some better quality seed now that we are not losing so much.

We cleaned all the mint from along the house and hopefully have replanted some behind the pavilion. It really took over the area it was originally planted and the new area should be much better for it. I do hope it will take in the new area we prepared for it. I took the excess mint and buried it in a draw on the mountain pasture. That area has good soil and gets run off when it rains. I'll be curious to see if it comes up on its own in that area.

The Mountain Pinks are starting to fade in the heat. Looks like we may have to water the grass some as well. We'll allow it to go dormant by the end of the month if we don't get rain.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Wonderful Summer Day

We had a great surprise on Sunday afternoon. A wonderful summer shower. We had a full two inches of rain averaging the two gauges. 1.9" at the house and 2.1" on the mountain. Good run off and all the water drainage features installed last year worked very well. I had actually just dumped a load of gravel Sunday morning to divert water away from main gate. I still try to do some tractor work on Sunday mornings to keep it charged up and in working order.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Welcome Tessie

We had some rain early Thursday morning. The gauge said .6 inches, but it seemed like more. It must have fallen quickly as there was run off. In fact I was surprised to see about a foot of water in the tank. About half of that is now gone though as it's continued to be hot.

The four new squirrel baffles were delivered yesterday. Very impressed as I only just ordered them on Tuesday afternoon from Tractor Supply. I installed them this morning and filled all the feeders.

There was another important delivery yesterday. We adopted a West Highland White Terrier from Scottie Kingdom Rescue and she was brought to us yesterday. Terry saw this dog at the Texas Scottish Festival and thought she needed a new home. Her name is Tessie and she's anywhere from 5-7 years old. She gets along well with Kenzie so far and will start to learn the ropes of life on the ranch very soon I'm sure. She's already learned to be lazy and stay inside during chores, just like Kenzie. I'm sure she will be more comfortable outdoors later. They aren't really ranch dogs anyway although Kenzie tries to help herd goats on occasion.

Cleaned flower beds today and took vines, grass, weeds, etc. down to the goats to enjoy. The three amigas (the three former then different neighbor donkeys) were came down to visit and brayed until they got our attention. They sure look good. They have plenty to eat now and seem to be very healthy.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mountain Pinks

The Mountain Pinks are really out in full bloom this year. This is as prominent as I have seen them for many years. These flowers are unique to this area and really can't be transplanted. We did try years ago when we were weekenders even using the limestone caliche soil. You have to be here to enjoy them.

I did install squirrel baffles on two of the bird feeders yesterday. They seem to work very well as they are still full this morning. I have four more baffles ordered. In fact within 30 minutes of installing the baffle and filling the bird feeder I had a Painted Bunting. He returned this morning as well. There are so many squirrels this year that something had to be done and this seems to do the trick. All the birds have been active and the Painted Bunting was on the feeder just outside the BR window most of the day.

Still hot and dry. The early mornings are very beautiful though. We are on summer hours, out early and back in the house early.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Some Relief

We had been missing the rain that most folks north and east have been getting intermittently for a week. We were so close on Thursday morning being on the edge of a storm and in fact they lost power in Clifton and Meridian for six+ hours. We got the wind, but no rain. Finally last night the radar showed one heading towards Bosque county and indeed it passed through about 2:00 a.m. We received 1.5 inches of much needed rain. The rain was soaked into the ground and there was little run off so the tank is still dry but we will take what we can get.

The armadillo problem wasn't completely resolved, but may be now. Last night before the storm Kenzie alerted me to something in the courtyard and sure enough it was another armadillo. This one was smaller and younger and I'm sure he was mortally wounded as he took off like a balloon losing air and disappeared into the woods. That's actually a typical reaction for a amadillo that has been shot and does cause some confusion as it's happening. Interesting to see though.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


The Armadillo problem is hopefully resolved as of 3:45 a.m. this morning. We will need to plant around the fountain again as most of the begonias are now gone. My favorite plant in that location is a fern as they get enough spray from the fountain to survive the heat and they seem natural around a water feature. The problem with planting ferns are that rabbits love them and we have a lot of rabbits this year.

I did burn the large cedar pile in the TOR gravel pit area today. It is the first calm day we have had in weeks and I'm sure a county burn ban will be in effect soon as it has continued hot and dry. It was burned in just a couple of hours.

I started some tractor work on Sunday bringing some gravel over from some neighbors where they have an active gravel pit which is supplying gravel for the on-going county road construction project. I finished off my repair area this morning with lighter material to pack in the gravel. Looks good. Maintenance on our own ranch road is important to keep up. The word is that the county will begin paving the county road this summer, but I doubt they get to it by then. They are still building up low areas of the road and have more culverts to install. The neighbors and other land owners still have the road paving fund in the bank just waiting on the county. Someday it will be paved.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Armadillo & Road Runners

We were visited again last night.  All the begonias were dug up and not sure they will survive being replanted again.  There were also lots of holes dug in the turf grass.  We'll try to put up a temporary fence across the courtyard.

This afternoon we saw the largest Roadrunner we have ever seen.  Must have been a huge male almost the size of a small turkey.  Earlier this week I did seen what must have been young ones with the momma hen.  There were 3-4 together, who scattered after they saw me.  When I first saw them I thought they were turkey.  

Today has been the hottest so far this year.  The tank will be dry within a few more days.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Blue Bells

There is an entire pasture full of Texas Blue Bells in full bloom just 1/4 mile down the road. The photo is of one that was coming up in the fence row next to the pasture and the county road. I think they are actually planted as a soil improvement as I have seen them filling other fields and pastures. Looks very impressive to see so many in one place.

We were visited by something last night. They dug up seven of the ten large begonias planted around the fountain in the courtyard. Probably an Armadillo. Also some holes dug in the front. The ground and soil is wetter around the fountain and he was probably looking for grubs. The plants themselves can be replanted as they were dug up by the roots and are intact. That was a lot of work by the 'dillo. We'll replant today.

There were four baby cotton tails in the back early this morning. There have been lots of jack rabbits and cottontails as we did complete the watering just yesterday as they like that new grass.

In addition to the rabbits we we have lots of squirrels. There were four trying to get to one feeder at one time yesterday and it's not uncommon to see a half a dozen at a time.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hot and Dry

Returning to the Ranch after away for a few days does help you notice changes.  It has been hot and dry for several weeks and the pasture grass won't last much longer at this rate.  The grass growing in the cedars will be all right for a while though.  The Mountain Pink are showing a few signs of coming out.  As mentioned in earlier posts I anticipate a lot this year.  They are usually out by July 4th so it will be soon.  There were no feeders on the ground when we returned so culling raccoons has helped there.  I'll see how it goes before continuing that program. 

We have begun to water the bermuda grass around the house this week.  We will let the outer native grass go dormant, but the landscaped grass is still relatively new so we will water once a week through summer.   I highly recommend Buffalo grass as it looks better than other natives at this point. The cherry tomato plant looks great.  I ate the first one this week off the vine.

Looks like it is time to start summer hours.  Chores in the early mornings before the heat sets in at midday.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Warming Up.

Saw the first fawn of the season yesterday. Big doe followed by new fawn and yearling. The yearling has come up to the house in the day time looking for corn. Very good looking deer. Bounds and jumps into the air when running. I wondered why I was seeing that same deer a lot and now understand that they were staying close to the new fawn. Started culling raccoons (4) this week. There are too too many. We had a nice rain two days ago and it was needed. It looks like we are heading into a summer pattern now though. Clear and warm for several weeks is the forecast.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Picking Goats from Trees

Yesterday morning around 10:00ish we decided to take a drive around the ranch, which we don't usually do, especially when busy in the office which I have been for many weeks. We drove up to the mountain pasture and instead of turning left and continuing up the mountain I turned right and drove towards the bluff and valley view. When I got to the bluff I looked down and saw something I had never seen before. It was a young goat hanging upside down in a tree. It was a good five feet up and hanging there. It was one of those spread cedars which are shaped like a big bush, but 8'-10' tall. The cedar had been eaten as high as the goat could reach so it only had green at the tops. This goat must have tried to climb the branches (3"-4" dia.) to reach the cedar tops and fallen. She was well hung up and helpless. She was tired and didn't resist when I tried to lift her body high enough to make slack between her leg and the branches. She was trapped well, it took all my body weight to lower a big branch holding her leg against another limb. We got her out. She is limping and the leg is stiff. Not sure if it is dislocated yet, I did think I saw some movement in the joint this morning. She'll aways have a limp, but looks like she will recover. She has a name now as well.

Limping seems to be the thing. In addition to the three-legged doe mentioned several times, this week I saw a limping yearling. My neighbor had mentioned a few week back that he saved a fawn trapped in the fence. He didn't know if it survived, but looks like it has. She was with her mother and another yearling and I saw them in the back of the house. That's now two limping deer and one limping goat, if we are keeping count.

I am ready to do battle with the raccoons. They are getting much too brazen. Too many feeders on the ground and always around the house. They broke into some feed sacks and got the fish food out of the toolbox in the gator. It's the young ones who have gone out on their own.

The 'Texas Plume' or 'Red Texas Star' Standing Cypress (ipomopsis rubra) is blooming this year. They only bloom every other year and if the conditions are not right it can be four years before you see them again. I have a neighbor who has a very nice stand of them and you see them along the county road. I have a few on my construction road (photo right) which I assume came in when I took those loads of dirt last year when they scraped and widened the county road. Also brought the Johnson Grass you see in background of photo.

We are converting my nice collection of native grasses into 'yard'. This area is located below the house and I reluctantly agreed to this project. We have cut the native grass, removed cedar stumps, leveled mounds, and trimmed the live oaks. It will now have more of a landscaped look. It will look good when it fills in with grass. The Live Oak stand that we freed from the cedars in 2001 look fantastic. We didn't even know that stand was there until we cut down all the cedar. Now they are dominating that area and look great.

All is well down on the Ranch.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

May Flowers

We had a good steady rain overnight with an accumulation of 3.5 - 4 inches. The ranch road held up very well. I spread four tractor bucket loads of gravel on the upper circle a few day ago and it helped a lot. The tank has filled up and we've had run off all day. It is nice and green everywhere.

Drove up to Meridian to the tax office and Highway 6 again looks fantastic. Last year it was bluebonnets, but this year it is a huge variety of wildflowers. Very beautiful. Hwy 6 between Meridian and Clifton is one of the prettiest drives in Texas especially in spring.

We do not have any big cats, it is obvious from the number of critters. We have Jack rabbitts, Cotton tails, and Squirrels everywhere. I've never seen so many. The birds are very active and I've seen a painted bunting almost every day. Add in the deer and it's like a Disney movie in the back of the house in the early mornings.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Good Morning Painted Bunting!

Woke up at first light to thunder as a thunderstorm came in from the west. This was an isolated storm and this time we are going to get some rain and did get a nice light rain for all morning and most of the afternoon.  A total of 1.8 inches.  A very good test for the rock work I did yesterday on the road. Since it's a light steady rain the road is holding very well and actually will hopefully help position water flow off for future rains. So far so good.

Late last year I moved a bird feeder to the tree just outside our bedroom window. 
It's less than two feet from the window and has become popular with the birds and the occasional squirrel. I was watching the rain when I noticed a bird on the feeder. Yes a Painted Bunting, the first I've seen of the season. I had noticed during the numerous rains last year that the Painted Buntings seemed to enjoy the showers. This one certainly was enjoying it as the rain was coming down directly on him. He stopped at all three perches on the feeder and gave me the best view of a Painted Bunting I have ever seen. I'm glad I filled all the feeders yesterday. I have moved a camera to the bedroom just in case it should happen again. The Cardinals and Hummingbirds have been very active as well. The Poorwills have also been calling at dusk the past few weeks.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Journal Update

We had some more rain this past week. Not like last year, but enough to keep everything green and growing. Our tank is probably normal for this time of year. I saw some folks cutting hay yesterday which is a bit earlier than usual. Maybe they will get another cut by the end of the month. Cedar choppers have been working on the adjacent property for about a week. It needs clearing, but it looks like they may be over cutting. I hope they clear/burn the cedar tops or we will have a fire hazard next door when they dry out by fall. I did get a big cedar top from them to use to drag my road which I worked on this week after the rain.

We’re still clearing on the west bluff a little at a time. I was sitting out in the Gator enjoying a mojito while watching the fire on a stump I was burning and three baby Jack Rabbits came hopping by. Their ears were translucent in the sitting sun and it was interesting watching them explore the area. It is a great view to the west from the bluff, especially just before sundown. It’s close to the house so it will become our ‘backyard camp’ for sure.

I set up eight goat panels along along the 'goat lot' and the county road fence. I put up one as a temporary when we had the goats escaping a few weeks back. I might as well use them as a back up since I have panels which aren't being used. I have about 1/3 of the length covered and probably have enough panels for more than half. Enough to cover most of the bad areas of fence.

I did work on the ranch road especially the circle in front of the house. I have water moving off well on one side, but it’s washing out on the other. I moved and set a large cedar log and moved several large granite bolders to make a barrier. I also spread a couple tractor loads of larger gravel so hopefully we’ll get the water to run off the road and not down the road.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Hello.......Mr. Lizard

About the time we moved into the new house, we had a lizard move into the flower bed located below the screened porch. We saw him quite often in the beginning as the bedding plants were new and he didn’t have a lot of cover.  We occasionally saw him over the years, but knew he was still there as Kenzie was always chasing something in that bed. We call him Larry.

He/she was an average sized lizard compared to the lizards we would see while clearing the cedar. There have alway been a lot of them. In fact Kenzie would circle a stump for hours if there was a lizard in it. She did almost catch one, but it ‘popped’ his tail off and got away. We actually saw that very lizard a few weeks later and he was growing back the tail.

I assume Larry really likes his home since he has been there so long. He can get the bugs which may be attracted to lights of the house. This week I was looking out the screened porch at a stump we were burning on the bluff and noticed something on the screen. It was Larry the Lizard. He was huge. I called Terry over to see him and she said it looked like a small alligator and you know he kind of did look like a mini-gator. He was a very dark green. Most of his lizard friends we see are the reddish brown of a cedar tree trunk. As you can see from the photo there is now a lot of green cover in Larry’s little bed. He lives in the far right corner. The Jasmine is in bloom and it smells teriffic. Larry and the rest of us are really enjoying it.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Storm last night!

Most of the spring storms have passed north of us this year and last night seemed as though it would be the same. Although the northern part of the county got most of the storm we did get the tail end of a trailing squall line. There was high winds and lightning for over an hour and we thought again we had been passed when we caught that trailing cell. We needed the rain but we had 2" in about ten minutes which is not good. A little small hail as well. All the run off was gone within hours as it came so fast. Our ranch road was really gullied. We lost several trees, one that we had groomed to be the only tree on the new western bluff we are clearing.

This week we have again been working on that western bluff taking out several cedars and burning a few stumps. We have really come up with a good system for burning the stumps. We can have one burned below ground in less than two days using the burn ring and old dry cedar stumps for heat. We plan on taking out more cedar trees. We now almost have a full 180° view both up and down Gary Creek valley.

The Goldfinches are gone and the Cardinals are becoming active. They perch at the tops of the tall trees and sing in the evening. Wildflowers are mixed. A few more Bluebonnets, but not as many as last year. Mixed wildflowers are coming out. Lot's of grass for the goats and they are all doing well. No escapes this week so looks like we got the 'hole' fixed last week.

Photo 1: The downed Spanish Oak. Photo2: View of the western bluff from back of house. Note-Gary Mt. in far background.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Journal Update--Where's the fence tool?

Nice Spring weather, with a little (.80) rain. The trees are still in transition. The late ones are getting their new growth now and the early ones have the new growth. I'd say we are 2/3rds the way through. There are a few old Live Oaks still with last years leaves that hopefully will start the new growth soon. All the Spanish Oaks seem to have come in very well. Bermuda grass is coming in where the dirt was spread last year and looks good. It will take a couple of years to completely cover.

Goats were still getting into the road, but looks like I finally found the main 'hole' on Friday. It was one of the few places that we don't have field fence, a 40' section between the main fence and a gate/cattle guard. The 40' section was 10 strands of barbed wire, but over the years began to sag and the goats could step through the slack. Not easy to spot at all as the fence looks fine. I set new cedar stays between the posts and wired all ten strands. So far no goats out in the three days since. Before finding the exit spot I had rewired many suspect places along the fence. There is about 250' of fence that need to be replaced along the county road. I had 1400' worked on two years ago and there is about 1200' of new fence. That's just the mountain pasture.

I did see the three-legged deer again. Same spot. Fewer deer at the feeders now that the grass is growing. It's been amazing watching the hummingbirds. There are everywhere. They were even playing in the fountain. Still a lot of finches. I guess they know it's still cold up north as they are usually gone by now. Cardinals are starting to get active.

Not as many wildflowers around here, but saw a lot on the way to town. Really great weather of late and very nice outdoors.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Journal Update-Spring is here!

Spring is here. The trees are still in transition, most live oaks have dropped their leaves and new ones are coming out, the oaks have all budded and leaves well on their way on them as well. The grass has turned green and have been cut for the first time. The wild verbena is coming out everywhere and I hope it's as pretty as last year. Not as many bluebonnets or other wild flowers as yet though. We did get 1.2 inches of rain this week, that will help with everything.

I'm a little late hanging the hummingbird feeders, but did so today. I had just hung the last one and stepped back when a hummer flew past my ear to check out the feeder. Wasn't 10 seconds before it was found. They found the others within minutes.

I was repairing some fence up on the mountain pasture and saw the three-legged deer up near the fence row (on the house side) this morning. First time I've seen it that it wasn't at a feeder. It may stay up in that corner all the time. It's really a big deer too. It moved away, but wasn't in a real hurry.

We have friends last weekend and used the new camp fire area on Bobbys Bluff to cook steaks. It was very nice. We've been cleaning cedar from that area, moved the fire pit, and I've ordered some grates so that we can cook out there more often. It's close to the house and you have a good view of upper Gary Creek valley.

We're putting out the begonias and hibiscus this weekend. I'm also going to plant one tomato plant in an elevated tub. The mint planted two years ago is doing great and has taken over the area were I had previously planted tomatoes.

Some of the goats have broken through the fence onto the county road several times in the past two weeks. The goats love the prickly vines that start coming out along the fence row roadway. I really need to replace that fence.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Monday, March 17, 2008

Journal Update

We've been away for a week, Thanks to the neighbors for feeding. All seems well. All goats present. Took a while to fill the bird feeders and deer feeders. Looks like the wild animals missed us: feeders on the ground, overturned rocks, etc.

The grass is greening up well. Spanish oak trees are budding. The Live oaks are beginning to lose their leaves. It will be a transition for a few weeks as far as trees go. Looks like we got some rain, there was over .5 still in the rain gauge.

Saturday, March 08, 2008


Another cold snap. We had about 1/2 inch of snow early Thursday morning. They had a lot more snow north of us this week. Still really typical though. Very cold in mornings and warming up during the day. Certainly too soon to put out any plantings. It's been below freezing almost every morning. The fountain has frozen many times this winter.

Deer active around the house. The grass is coming up and they seem to like the bermuda so they are there every morning.

Another .5 of rain, but still very dry overall and still a burn ban.

Notice the new growth on the live oak trees from last year.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Journal Update

We have had some very cold mornings and beautiful afternoons this week. Also .5 of rain when a weather front came through. Overall it is still very dry.

We did see the three-legged deer this week. She was in the back browsing on new grass coming up in the yard. Yesterday morning there were five bucks together in the back. Interesting to see them together as a group. Birds are very active, seeing 6+ on the feeders at a time.

Nothing too exciting happening on the mountain. Did help get some neighbors horses from the road back to their pasture. I also had one of the small goats in road as well. I think I found the hole she got out of and repaired it.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Journal Update

Same winter type weather. Some days nicer than others. We did get .50" of rain. We are really dry and the tank is completely dry. I should scrape the bottom while I can. Still a burn ban and it has also been windy most days. No grass yet, but you see some green beneath the thatch.

The goats are doing well, the little ones are getting big. The male is starting to get larger than the girls. There are lots of birds on the feeders and a lot more squirrels as well. Looks like the wildlife are coming back. I did hear strange noises toward the mountain pasture so walked up there very late. I didn't see anything odd although I did spot several blue eyes reflected in my spotlight. It turned out to be deer. The stars were absolutely beautiful in the cool crisp air.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Journal Update

The weather is getting a little better. It's cold overnight, but warms up during the day. We received .6 inches of rain early yesterday morning which was needed. Its supposed to get cold again in next few days so I filled the stock tanks and filled all the bird feeders. I have seen deer, but I've never seen the 3-legged one again. I also saw the first fox of the year since last post.

Goats are doing well. Momo got into the county road somehow. When it warms I need to work on that fence again.

The county has been working on the county road again. Someday it will get paved, but it is a mess and has been for well over a year since they began working on it.

Thursday, February 07, 2008


Recall this time last year when we had too many foxes. I haven't seen any fox this year. Yesterday I did see a Roadrunner in front of the house where the previous Roadrunner used to hang out for several years before the fox problem. This one isn't as big so I assume it's a young hen looking for home territory. It's welcome. It took a while to get used to the old Roadrunner pecking on the front window of the house. It would really give us a start as it's a very loud noise. It's like someone beating on the glass with a coin. We did get used to it and it would run away as soon as it got our attention. Always the same window too. It may have just been saying hello. Very interesting and I did miss him last year, glad to see one is back, but she doesn't have to knock to say hello.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Journal Update

I didn't mention the goats in last update. I wanted to get a photo first as the kids are getting so big. They seem to stay in individual family groups now where as before all eight kids would stay and play together during the day. They still do somewhat, but when they move or browse they now stay in three family groups. At least all the kids have a mother or big goat with them. Momo is the one in the foreground of the photo. Note her horns. Good form and tail. She looks like she will be a good goat. That's goat feed that you see on the ground.

Very windy today. Some weather fronts have come through, but all the rain has stayed north of us. We could use some rain.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Journal Update

It's been the same cool winter weather until yesterday when we had a beautiful day with a high of 73°. A great day to get caught up on some chores. I did some trimming of cedars which have grown into the roads and trails. Then cut a big cedar and used it as a rake to sweep the gravel roads. The tractor is starting and running very well for not being used much over the winter.

I've noticed some very early signs of spring. Clover is coming up in several places along with something that looks like chickweed. No buds on trees yet. The goats stay up on the mountain longer so something may be coming up.

I saw the first Cardinal of the year on the water fountain today. May be time to set out an early Hummingbird feeder.

I saw something very unusual early this week. A three legged deer. I'll spare the details, but it had no use of a rear leg. Walked fairly well although oddly and didn't seem stressed. It never saw me, but disappeared when I went to look a second time so I guess it can move fast when needed. I have no idea how it is surviving, but as I mentioned I haven't seen signs of any predators lately. I'm not keen on culling deer as I let hunters do that, but this needs to be done. Because of the obvious handicap I thought I would start seeing it around the deer feeders, but I really haven't seen it since. I can't imagine it being able to jump a fence, but maybe it does.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Journal Update

It was a cool cloudy week (30-50°'s) with about 1/2" of rain one day. Overall though it has been very dry so the damp weather was good. I've noticed more deer drinking from the tank by the house and it's because the stock tank has now gone dry. I think they were drinking from the fountain while we were away as well. It did warm up to 70° and got in some work but mainly filling bird & deer feeders, water tanks, fountain, and some road work.

I have noticed more critters this week so they are coming back. Deer hunters probably scared any big cats away.

The kids are getting big and are active. Hopefully there will be grass for them soon. They are really eating the food now and increasing the number of bags of feed needed.

Nothing real exciting happening on the mountain this week.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Journal Update

It seems every time we go out of town it gets real cold and it seemed to be true this past week as well. Neighbors report a low of 18° one night. Thanks for feeding the animals, sorry it was so cold. The kids look so big after not seeing them for a week. Amazing. Looks like some rain this week and it is needed.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Journal Update

We had nice weather over the weekend with temperatures in high 70's. Finally some weather to work outside so the project was clean out the barn. Took awhile, but that was accomplished along with some tree trimming nearby.

The baby goats are young goats now. All of them have their horns started. Jerry, the only male, dropped his goods although we are not going to band him. May need him to trade off duties next time we need a billy goat. They are now eating the goat food and trying to browse as well. Won't be much grass until spring though. Lost one of the big gold fish. There was ice last week on the tank and I'm guessing a raccoon or something was able to trap it. This fish had grown from the size of my thumb to almost the size of my hand.

Hopefully the good weather will continue and we will have an early spring.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

New Year Update

The weather has continued with very cold mornings and warmer in the afternoons. A few very cold mornings in the mid 20º range. Too cold or limited time/daylight for a lot of outside work.

The kids are doing fine. They are just now taking serious interest in the goat feed. They rush the gate with the adults at feeding time. Over a month old and they are filling out well. Some look real good as far as form and confirmation goes, but I don't 'show' goats. They will be keepers though for sure.

Still plenty of ladybugs (at least indoors) and finches around. I put out the snacks, cookies, trail mix, nuts, etc. left over from the holidays and that has attracted a few raccoons and squirrels. So they are not all gone. I am curious as to what culled them, but we have also cleared more on top of the mountain so they do have less cover near the house. We are still also getting a lot of deer at the feeder.