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.