Thursday, December 31, 2009

End of the Year

It's been a good year on the ranch. It really looks better than ever with the new landscaping in front of the house and the new rock work round the house. The landscaped pastures are larger and look great. I hope we get as much rain in 2010 and the new areas cover in grass as well as the new areas did this year. We were blessed in 2009.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

We're Back

We have returned from a wonderful 24 day holiday vacation. This is the longest we have ever been away from the ranch. My aunt and cousin stayed at the ranch and fed the animals and wildlife while we were gone. They did a very good job.

We had a lot of kids born while we were gone, but dogs got most of them. A pair of dogs with a black one as the lead dog. I haven't had time to investigate as yet. Shame. We only have two survivors.

We had some very cold weather while we were gone including a freeze and snow so we have lost the pasture grass. Most of the rye grass I planted before leaving was up and looks great. Some areas did not and I believe that to be from an using an older bag of seed. We will probably sow rye grass each year around the house.

The swimming pool was almost finished, but they didn't really do a good job of maintaining it as they said they would do. After balancing the water it looked very good.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New Swimming Hole

Well this was a big day in the pool construction process, the day we begin filling the swimming pool. It's not not quite finished as the start process up has yet to be done. You can see from the photo that the scuppers and some items still need to be finished, but we are ready for water.

Many have asked for a photo and I have waited until you could get a good idea of what it looked like and where we built it. Yes it's on the side of the house. How about that view? Can't wait to see the waterfall and the pool filled with water!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Game Poachers

The weather has continued to be very nice. Only one windy cool day. We finished clearing cedar at the cutoff trail to the barn. It makes the lower pasture larger and improves the view of a nice stand of Live Oaks. Will still have several stumps to burn-out there over the winter. I did get winter rye grass planted over the new areas covered with top soil. It didn't rain, but perhaps we'll get some soon. We did water the area close to the house and pool. We got a lot of outside work done and the ranch really hasn't looked better. We are very lucky to live in such a beautiful place. Of course there has been a lot of hard work done carving out our little place on the mountain.

The pool company finally has an acceptable surface and color installed on the pool deck. We will probably add a second color ourselves in order to get the look we really wanted. Today with the deck finally finished they did install the pebbletek surface in the pool itself. It looks great even before the acid wash scheduled for tomorrow. It looks like they will begin filling it with water tomorrow afternoon. Wow, it's about time.

This is the second week of deer season and there were a lot of hunters in the area again over the weekend. In fact we had a poacher on Friday night. They shot a deer right on my road, probably from the county road. The blood impact and splatter was very obvious on the white gravel road. By luck I found the bleed out spot about 100+ feet into the brush under a cedar tree up on lower part of Ray's Ridge. There was no animal so I don't know if the poachers got it or the suspected cat or some other varmit. It really makes one wonder and I'm not that keen on confronting a probably drunk poacher with a gun. We did set the alarms at the entry and that does help. I suspect they shot the deer but didn't come into the property when the deer didn't fall on the spot. I did check the goats at night while scouting for poachers and noticed they now stay together in a nice grouping. Haven't lost any more since the little runt.

The deer have been fairly active. I do see the lone bucks roaming around. They come by even in the middle of the day. They are right in the middle of rut right now and really move around. The photo above was taken this morning and the haze is from the sun reflecting on the window of the front door. There were two does out there and they looked very natural around the house.

We have several relatives coming to mind the ranch while we take a little holiday. Another reason to get it in good shape. I know they will enjoy it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Beautiful Weather

The weather has continued to be beautiful. Some of the best of the year.

We have been catching up on chores and projects. The masonry projects around the pool and around the house are completely finished so we used some extra rock for landscaping and I have picked up all the rest and stored them below the mountain. There was rock, stone and native rock. I spread two big loads of top soil over the fill area and area below the road and the bluff. We've never had grass there before as it has been too rocky, but we should be able to grow some there now. I also covered the construction area around the pool and existing grass of the front yard. I did plant winter rye grass next to the pool and will get the large area this week before a forecast rain we are supposed to get on Sunday. DW mowed all the grass around the house and lower pasture that was so high due to the rains. Pepino was able to work one day and he did some edging along the road so the road and lower pastures look very good. The grass is very green and the entry has never looked better.

The pool company made another attempt at repairing the pool deck and the color really didn't change. Now they are stripping the previous work and will just attempt a concrete paint and get a color that is at least close to what we want. It has been a long process for us and the company. The effort and labor is fine, I believe they have bad product. Hopefully we will have it all completed within a week though.

I discovered some of the mystery of the missing goats. Evidently they were killed next to the stock tank and when the big rains came and filled the stock tank the water covered the goats. This week the water has dropped low enough to expose the carcasses. I saw them and the blood so I do believe we have a big predator of some kind. After spotting the carcasses I went down there the next day to clean them up and they were gone. All of them gone and nothing left behind. So it's a predator large enough to carry them off. A neighbor did see a very large bobcat so that could be the predator. Amazing. Now another goat, a small one, has disappeared. That's five in total. I need to get Jerry back as none of this happened when he was here.

Deer season has opened and I heard a lot of shooting opening weekend. Maybe everyone already has the limit. Several bucks have walked up during the day looking for does so they are in rut. Not as many deer coming to the feeders so I think they have been culled or in hiding.

The big goldfish have adjusted to the new wildlife tank. I though they might eat the smaller goldfish, but so far so good on that. I believe there are 8 small goldies in there with them. It's fun to watch them when I feed them they really put on a show.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Beautiful November Weather

We are getting our October weather in November. It has been beautiful so far. High temperatures only in high 70's and cooling off at night. I heard from the TV weatherman that October had the fewest days of sunshine ever for central Texas. I believe it. It's still wet in some places and I'm high on the mountain.

The weather has been great for chores and there are a lot to do. The circle drive on the west side of the house has been reduced in size so I had to add road material there. My little gravel pit is standing in water so I scraped some material just below the bluff towards the county road. I did have to cut one good live oak tree, but it didn't fit in the new plan. I really cleaned that area up since that is now the pool side of the house. It looks good. The stone mason did a good job with the rock that was left over from building the swimming pool waterfall. It's nice clean central Texas white limestone rock. We used that for the beds although that was cut rock. The circle is irregular but looks great and very natural. I been try to level out all the rock and materials left over from the pool excavation. We just pushed it into a gully, but now I need to clean up the bluff in that area. I'll get some top soil when I get it spread and leveled better. I also set some very large 200-400 lb rocks around the pool equipment just to protect it some what from a runaway tractor or gator (really from me if I'm not paying attention while cleaning/working on the tractor). Thank goodness for the JD tractor. I've really been putting it to use this week.

No real work has been done on the new pool for a month. I believe they will be here soon to fix the deck. Then they can finish the pool. Hope so.

I have a new hired hand and he is very good. I hope we will be able to get him one day a week. His first project was to trench and run a water line to the new water tank in the back of the house. He did a great job including the plumbing. I moved the big gold fish from the stock tank at the goat pens to the new tank and the fish seem to really like it. It should be warmer as this new 'wildlife' tank (now we have a name for it) is completely in the ground and it will get more sun. By the way, don't clean out a dirty stock tank on the day you put on a newish pair of clean overalls. What a waste. LOL.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

October is Gone

October is one of my favorite months with usually cooler weather and beautiful days. This year it was a very rainy month. We were both gone for a week and we got a lot of rain and even more when we got home. Since I wasn't here to empty my rain gauge, I'm not sure how much rain in total, but the gauge was full at six inches so I'd guess at least 6-8 inches of rain in the last two weeks of the month.

Before we left we took Jerry the Twisted Oak Ranch's #1 billy goat over to the neighbors as they need a billy to breed their herd of goats. Jerry is a very large and a very good billy. I may have also underestimated his value as a guard as we had several goats missing when we got back. I originally assumed they just found a way to get into the neighbors since Jerry was over there, but that wasn't the case. These weren't baby goats either which makes me believe it could be a BIG predator. I sure hope not. It's a mystery as of now. Looks like my primary nannies are well along with kids. I did sell one little nanny for someones Thanksgiving and I still have a few I would like to cull.

Not any work done on the pool due to the rain. We did get the local masonry man to do some work. We installed a nice rock border all around the house, the courtyard, and around two circles of trees. We had loose rock previously and the raccoons were always moving them around looking for bugs. It will be very nice to have them set in concrete and it really makes the house look finished and much nicer.

Not as many deer coming up the past few days as we have missed a few weeks of setting out corn and there is so much grass, water, and acorns around. I'm sure hunters are now setting up their feeders too. We are getting the usual deer, but not the dozens we were seeing together. Of course it's getting in to season soon so the bucks will be out doing their thing soon.

The weather is supposed to be clear for most of November so hopefully we can get back to the ranch chores and projects. In fact the sky was clear tonight and I saw a big meteor traveling from north to south just after sunset. It was very large and a blueish color. It wasn't as big as the one we saw about five years ago, but that one was so big it was given a name. It went from south to north and came down somewhere along the Oklahoma / Texas border. This one was a very distinctive blue color. Meteor showers are nice, but these are more unique. The country night sky on a clear night is very amazing for sure.

Happy Halloween.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Still Wet

It was another wet week. Lot's of clouds until end of week. About four inches of rain total off and on during the week. It dried out enough to work on the road today, but most of the material is still too wet to install. I use material from my own little gravel pit.

They are still working on the new pool deck. They aren't going to be able to fix it so it's now how do we make it look good at this point. The concrete batch should not have been accepted in the beginning as the truck was very late-he probably got lost out here and wouldn't admit it. We would not have had this long delay and so much extra work for the last month.

It is very green and we have a lot of grass. I put goldfish in the new stock tank a few weeks ago and they are doing well. The water looks clear too. I've never had to fill it since I put it in because of all the rain we have had. I did buy the line and float to install so it will fill with water on it's own, but it's been too wet to get it installed. Good time to dig the ditch though.

I looked out the bathroom window early this morning and saw some BIG tom turkeys walk through the woods just east of the house. They were a lot bigger than the turkey hens that used to hang around here a few yeas ago (prior to the mountain lion). These were very dark in color and the hens were more brown. That's the first turkey I've seen here in years although I see them over by Gary Creek more often.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fall is here

October is usually my favorite month on the ranch as we get cooler weather. That has been true this year too, but it has been very wet as well. Lingering weather with light rains almost for two full weeks. A few nice days, but most have been wet. This will be good for the trees, but it's hard to get any work done. Not a lot of rain, but consistently wet. About 1.5 to 2 inches in total but very beneficial for grass and trees as it's so slow to fall.

The weather has also held up work on the new pool. They have a new deck installed, but it isn't the correct color so it is not finished. They won't finish the pool until the deck is finished as not to damage the pool. Oh well, it's too late for swimming this year anyway.

Not as many deer coming up for corn in the last three weeks as there are so many acorns on the ground. I've never seen so many acorns. In some places the ground is completely covered. Also because of the rains there is a lot of fall grass coming out. Also some nice fall wild flowers. Very green. The deer come up to eat all the grass growing around the house as much as for the corn.

On one of the dry days I did trim the trees in front of the house cutting the low hanging limbs. This will allow a good view from the pool area down Gary Creek Vally.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

September is already gone!

This was a fast month.

The pool construction has hit a snag. There was a bad batch of concrete used for the deck. Since the deck was to be the finished surface with color and texture added at the time of the pour, all the work was lost. We'll see what can be done to repair. The pool company is 1st class and I'm very glad we are using them. The pool project has taken up most of the ranch time. The are looks like a construction site for sure.

The county has finished the rest of our County Road project. It looks very good.

Weather is usual, still hot, but cooling off at night. We had hoped to be able to swim this year, but that does not seem possible for this year.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Relief from the Heat!

It's been an interesting week at the ranch. The pool construction is on going and they have finished the weeping wall and coping and are now in the patio deck stage. It is progressing well.

The good news is that we have a low pressure weather system that has settled over the area and we have been getting clouds, showers, & rain for three full days now. It has been a very good steady slow rain so it is soaking well. There are gullies to be repaired, but not bad considering the amount of rain. So far we have had nine inches accumulation. That's great. The tank is full. The pastures are turning green and all is well. We are expecting several more days of perhaps the same.

Cumulative rain total now at 10.4" as on Monday morning.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

September is already here!

I've had a bit of a holiday away from the ranch (if you read my Cruise Blog you know this) and it has been very busy since my return. We began a BIG project here as we are installing a custom swimming pool. The day I left is the day the big equipment arrived for the big dig. I just got off the mountain when they brought it up. Of course they hit rock so it was good they had a big excavator. DW supervised the project while I was away and when I returned two weeks later the project was well underway with the pool basically being formed. It's been very interesting watching the workers install tile, build walls, set forms, build patios, and the like.

Of course all the chores are related somewhat to the pool project. We have cleared cedar along the bluff in order to get a better view from the pool location. We have also gone on a fossil hunts so that they can install the fossils into the pool's weeping wall. One thing I arranged before I left was for the excavator to dig a hole for me in the back of the house. They did. I bought a 3x8x24" metal stock tank that I then set in the hole and back filled to create a 'water hole' for the wildlife. Hopefully this will keep the deer and varmints out of the pool and add to the wildlife viewing from the house. I was very pleased with how it turned out. (photo above ) I think we will place natural rocks around the perimeter of the new 'water hole'.

DW did a great job with the goats & wildlife while I was away. Thanks. The deer are still very active and the big bucks are huge. The birds have slowed down, just the usual natives.

It still remains hot and dry.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Summer routine

We seen to have settled into a weather routine. Hot and hotter. It's still getting to 100° most days and continued dry. We really kick up a lot of dust on the trails, it's good that the County Road is now paved as it saves the clouds of dust that happen when cars pass.

The deer are still very active. We have one very nice trophy deer. He is certainly the leader as well as he eats where and when he wants when they come out for the deer corn. The fawns are also fun to watch.

We had some visitors on the ranch road last night. Probably joy riders who thought our gate was a pasture gate (not fancy at all) and when they saw the house turned around. Unfortunately for them they hit a culvert. Probably damaged their vehicle and it did bend my culvert. I had just swept the road with some cedars I had cut so their trail was easy to spot.

There is still grass in the goat pasture, but I did let them over on the 'house' side over the weekend. There are a lot of nice spots with good grass for them. I had to put down Zulu this morning. She was not improving and could not stand. I nursed her in a pen for a week, but really no improvement. Not sure who will be the new leader of the herd, but it looks like the big billy for now.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


We have eleven deer in the big group for sure. Got another count yesterday. In addition to the 11 feeding close to the house there were several does 150 yards away on the bluff waiting their turn. I saw four different fawns for sure. One fawn is very big and will probably be a big buck. (Fawns in photo)

It has been raining around us for a few days but we have not received anything as yet. It is our turn. We had .10 overnight which does help the trees, but isn't enough for the grass.

I was watching a Painted Bunting this morning on the feeder next to the window and sure enough a sparrow came and chased it away. I may have to get that trap out or invest in a good BB gun.

Poor Zulu. She was our first Boer Goat and she isn't doing well. She really has never recovered from the dog attacks that got her last kids. Both nannies who lost their goats were very stressed at the time and in fact I was afraid I would lose one. She recovered with some meds and TLC. I though Zulu would 'shake it off' too but she is older and although it's been several months she just acts like an old granny goat now. I gave her penicillan yesterday, but she is thin and looking frail. I will watch her closely. I can't sell her and she deserves respect as the 'mother doe' of all the goats we have ever had on the ranch.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

July Heat Continues

The heat has continued. Most days over 100° for a high although there were two days of clouds and almost rain. Only .20 over the two days, but at least it was something. I was able to get some outside work done in addition to usual chores.

I checked the water meter yesterday (we read our own meters in the country) and we used 22,000 gallons of water this month. Normal is 4,000 gallons. Really the grass is not as bad as it could be for this heat. We are fortunate for that. We are allowing the grass around the house to go dormant now.

Set two records for number of deer behind the house at one time. It was ten for several days, but its actually eleven. They have come pretty consistently. Two big bucks, two average bucks, two yearlings, a doe with twin fawns, and a doe with one fawn. This seem to be the regulars. We get an occasional stray doe or big buck as well especially during the day now that I'm putting out corn in the mornings.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Continued Heat!

Well another week of 100+ degree heat. It's starting to take a toll. Fortunately the rain last week has kept everything from burning up, but if we don't get some relief soon though we'll lose the grass. It was cloudy this morning for the first time in a while, but that was all. We have a 20% chance of rain in the next few days so we'll hope for something.

I've given up on the sparrow trap. I had it out and there was no action at all until all the feeders where empty. The squirrels and raccoons empty the seed from the trap and I'm afraid the raccoons will damage it. No luck in getting a sparrow. They will eat from the ledge, but won't commit to enter the trap. I'm not sure I will get any. There are enough feeders that the Painted Buntings will find a place even with the sparrows and there are not really that many sparrows. I did catch one female Cardinal and two male Cardinals in the trap so the trap does work. Just too hard to get the 'bad' birds interested. Today I refilled all the bird feeders and I'm putting up the bird trap for a while.

The deer are getting active and the bucks are really getting their antlers now although still in felt. They go through 2 buckets (#10) of corn a day and empty the water trough in only a few days in this heat. I have got into the habit of putting the corn out in the mornings and not in the evenings. They have learned this and we get several deer in the middle of the day. Usually the does with fawns.

The goats are doing fine. Just feeding every few days as they still have grass. I did get a new salt block for them. The billy has been chasing the does for a week or so, so it's time for that routine again. Hopefully the kids won't come until mid to late December.

Monday, July 06, 2009

One day of Rain

We got some more relief from the heat. We had 2.3 inches of rain overnight and it is cloudy today. That's wonderful. This should keep grass in the goat pasture through the rest of July.

I took the photo of these two fawns in the back this afternoon. They are no longer hiding and they are obviously being weaned since they are interested in the grass. Note how fast the grass 'greened' up from the rain.

I saw a sparrow chasing a Painted Bunting off the feeder on the 4th so I have ordered a 'Sparrow Trap'. I got notice that it shipped today so I'll see if I can trap the sparrows. Hopefully it will work on cowbirds too.

We did have a great neighborhood gathering on July 4th. Wonderful friends and food.

Friday, July 03, 2009

July heat!

The heat has returned. It was over 100 degrees yesterday and that's the forecast for the next week as well. The county commissioners put into effect the 'burn ban' on Monday, but that's to be expected this time of year in the heat.

I got up VERY early this morning in order to work on the tractor. Where it's parked it will be in the sun by 7:30 am. so I wanted an early start to replace the battery. I normally don't adjust my outdoor work for the deer, but this morning I did delay as there were nine deer in the back of the house. Two big bucks, two average bucks, a doe with two fawns, and two other does. It was interesting watching them. The fawns are so curious and the big bucks walked right up to the window. They soon started to scatter so I got to work. It's amazing what can get done when you know it will soon be hot. I replaced the tractor battery, aired the tractor tires, pushed some cedar into piles that I hadn't been able to do, spread a bucket load of gravel on the road, scraped and leveled the road going up the mountain, and filled the deer feeders, all before 8:00 a.m. I have some other tractor chores to do now that it's running again. I was lucky that the local feed store had the correct battery for my John Deere tractor yesterday.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


We got some relief from the heat with a late afternoon shower and overnight rain. I'm not sure how much as I had taken up the rain gauge, but it was a nice rain of about two inches cumulative. A nice break from almost two weeks of 100 degree heat. It was overcast all day on the last day of June and that was wonderful for a change. I had just completed my watering around the house when the rain came so the grass has 'greened' up well. Some had already gone dormant though. Still lots of grass in the goat pasture and in the cedar.

The birds were not as active in the heat, but some out some today. I did see a painted bunting on the fountain in the courtyard. It was hard to find water before this rain.

There have been a lot of deer at the feeders. The fawns are getting active as well. They are discovering their legs and like to run.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

It's the Heat!

If you read my cruise blog you know that I was away on a cruise in the middle of the month and I was not prepared for the extreme heat when I returned. It was over 100° everyday this week . With dental work scheduled and the heat there was to be little work to be done on the ranch. With no sprinkler system around the house it took all week to get the grass watered all around. Looks like that will be the project for this next week as well. Also keeping the wildlife tank full of water.

The Mountain Pinks are now in bloom. They look good.

We had a big group from the TSF&HG on the ranch this weekend for a dinner. They seemed to have a good time. I cooked 20 big rib-eye steaks on the grill in spite of the heat. We did eat inside though. Good fun.

Friday, June 12, 2009

June is here.

I'd been in the 'big city' for a week working on the Texas Scottish Festival so the critters have been in charge of the ranch. All the feeders, both deer and bird, are empty and the deer helped themselves to some holly growing around the house. Not too bad though as it's still very green and there is a lot to eat. The deer have been dropping fawns so they are not going far.

PHOTO: My neighbor went out to pick tomatoes this week and this is what he found in the tomato plants.

We've had big thunderstorms all around us for several days, but none have actually passed over us. The lightning and thunders has been very loud at times.

It's starting to warm up, but still cooling off at night so that makes it fine. Working inside in office this week anyway.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Good Week

Very busy in the office again this week. The weather is warming up somewhat, but it's still cooling off at night. It has warmed up enough that most of the spring wildflowers are gone. We did get 1.2 inches of rain this week and looks like we are going to have a lot of Mountain Pinks. They will bloom in mid June. The trees are really looking good we are getting plenty of rain for them this year. DW cut most of the grass this week so everywhere has been cut at least once now. It's very nice and green everywhere. Hopefully it will be that way through June.

We haven't seen Petey all week so I guess he/she has moved on. Still seeing a LOT of Painted Buntings though. I've seen a lot of lizards this week too.

I'll be glad to get back to a routine on the ranch. I have a lot of maintenance work to do on the chain saws and tractor before getting back to work.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Good Weekend

We were able to take a break from the office because of Memorial Day weekend so we were able to get in some ranch work. We finished cleaning the lower part of the 'goat lot' as it was threatening rain and good burning weather. We cleaned and cleared a lot of new and old cedar. There's still almost a full canopy of trees over the area. It looks very clean down there, at least the area next to the county road. Hope the goats appreciate it.

Usually don't mention things of a personal nature, but we did eat at a fantastic 'country' eatin' place on Saturday night. We had a 1.5 hour wait to be seated but the food was fantastic. The Loco Coyote Grill about 40 miles from the ranch located west of Glen Rose.

We also did some work on the cabin. On our fortnightly trip to Gatesville on Friday I purchased a new air conditioner and a small HDTV. With the help of a neighbor we installed and trimmed the new AC unit. It looks great and will really cool the cabin. I was also very impressed with the new TV. The digital signal works very well for out in the country much better than the old analog signal. The cabin is ready for summer visitors.

We had a nice rain this morning and then a heavy rain this afternoon. 2 1/2" of rain total. Also a lot of run off with this rain. We were in the cabin for the heavy rain that sounded good on thet metal roof. I could also see the culvert I installed take the run off around the cabin. It worked great.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


I've very busy in the office so no ranch updates. We did get 2" of rain during the week and we had family come visit for three days so that has also kept us busy. We like to get visitors as it breaks the routine in the country. They wanted to see a Painted Bunting and with the light rain on Saturday that was perfect Painted Bunting weather. Almost every time I looked outside I would see one. Of course I was looking for them. There was a Painted bunting on 6-7 different feeders during the weekend.

Petey is now competing with the squirrels, cardinals, and doves for seed. Interesting to watch them all on the ground under the feeders. In the evening add in rabbits and deer and it gets busy.

Weather has been great. Warming up in the day, but cooling off at night. A few nights was chilly.

Monday, May 11, 2009


We ended up doing more work in the goat pen or the 'feed lot' as the neighbors call it. It really cleans up very well. There is a very large and old stand of Texas Live Oaks that really stand out now that we have cleaned a lot of the old cedar from around them. They may be the tallest on the ranch as a group. Since we used all the goat panels along the county road fence we no longer have any fenced nursing pens. I'll probably just use the entire area as a big nursing pen when that time comes again. Now that its cleaned out it will be harder for a critter to sneak up on the goats without Annie seeing them.

I saw a fox today, first one in a while. Also the swallow who has nested on the back porch is pleased her eggs have hatched. She's flying all around the courtyard, but still watching the nest. Petey is still hanging around too. I'm not sure how big the territory is for a Painted Bunting, but I think I saw two different ones today. I thought I saw two a few days ago as well. I'll watch close for a while.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Goat Panels

The weather was partly cloudy most of the week, but we didn't get more than a trace of rain a few times. The birds have again been very active. Petey is still around. The Painted Buntings are spotted almost every day.

This is my very busy time with the Festival so I don't get to a lot of chores on the ranch. However we did get goat panels installed all across the fence row at the county road and goat pasture this week. This should keep any goats from getting out into the road. So far so good. It took several days to get them installed and cut limbs and cedar trees as needed along the fence row in order to get the panels in a straight line along the fence row. It took more time to then clean up and burn the debris, but it was finished today. The panels look good and we will now just leave them up as the primary fence.

I purchased new tires for the old farm truck. They cost a lot more than I spent on my first car many moons ago, $600, but now that the county road is paved I will invest in better tires. Supposedly they will last 45K miles. We'll see. Odometer reading at installation is 79,600 so these should be the last tires I buy for this truck. Also installed new battery on the lawn tractor this week and got it ready for the season.

Still very green, more wildflowers, and the trees look great. A good spring so far, no real heat as yet and cools off in the evenings.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

May weather

We had a big thunderstorm come through during the early morning hours overnight. Not a lot of rain, .45 inches, but a lot of lightning and some light hail. That always gets your attention. The dogs were up in the bed looking for cover. The power was on and off a few times, but never lost. Still cloudy but looks like the rains are over for a while.

Yesterday DW trimmed a few shrubs in the front of the house. Thank you, one was obstructing my view. I have a sweet spot on the couch with a perfect view through the window of Gary Creek valley and Sugarloaf Mountain. I cleaned out the culverts on our road. The 1400 gate on the county road was really blocked from the previous rains. Same goat in the county road yesterday. I brought down some goat panels and put one up in the spot I suspect she's going through. I'll have to wait until it's dry and I can cut some cedars before I can put up the rest of the panels. I already have panels up over half that stretch so I might as well do the whole fence line that borders the county road from that pasture. It's only about 250 feet.

It is very green. Lots of wildflowers. The morning glories are really coming out now. The Prairie Vebena is everywhere and high. I even saw a few more Bluebonnets.

The birds are still very active. I did see a Painted Bunting on the ground with an Indigo Bunting yesterday. I soon as I say I've never seen something it seems to happen. Petey loves the pavillion. Tessie chased it and it flew to the top at one time, but usually just hangs around under the open area, sometimes between the cars or on the patio. I've seen several female Goldfinches, I think we may have some that have decided to just stay this year.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Birds, Birds, Birds

It's still overcast and humid, but no rain. We cut the grass for the first time today. The wildflowers and weeds, especially the thistles, were very high. This is the latest we have ever done the first cutting.

The birds are very active. Usually there are no American Goldfinches here this time of year, but there was a beautiful (all yellow) one on the feeder today. I also saw the Painted Bunting a lot, as well as the usual Cardinals, Blue Jays, and others, so there was a lot of color today. The Rock Pigeon is hanging around so we decided to name him Petey. One is fine not sure I'd want too many though. We also have the usual swallow nest on one of the porch outdoor speakers. She is setting on eggs. Lot's of birds, hopefully that means no mosquitoes this year

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Rock Pigeon

It's still overcast and we had a bit of rain, but most of it is north of us today. I went to town, as usual on a Wednesday, and noticed all the tanks are now full. It's also very green and wildflowers are really trying to come along. When the sun comes again, I bet we see a lot of new wildflowers.

I'm adding a Rock Pigeon to the bird list. There has been a very big one hanging around for a few days. They are much larger than I thought or at least this one is much larger. Obviously this is a feral Rock Pigeon. I've only seen the one so far.

Addendum-Well the Rock Pigeon has been roosting on the Gator under the shelter of the gator port. Easy to observe and we notice that it has two bands on it's legs. A blue band on the left leg and a yellow band on the right. Interesting. May not be as feral as I originally thought.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


We had a very nice rain very early on Monday morning. For once we were on the right side of the line for rain as not far away they had little. We received 2.2 inches, then another .6 over the course of the day. This morning just a bit more for almost a full 3 inches total. It's the first time in a long time I've seen run off come down my diverted dry creek. Not much, but enough to show we are getting a good soaking this time. We had another half inch of rain this afternoon. Total now up to 3.55 inches.

The trees are looking very good. The Jasmine is now blooming and smells so good especially after these rains. We are leaving to doors open in order to enjoy it.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Painted Bunting

Saw the first Painted Bunting of the year today. They are by far the prettiest birds found at the ranch. Very good to see them back. I also saw an Indigo Bunting this morning. I don't recall ever seeing a Painted Bunting on the ground, but the Indigo Bunting seems to prefer feeding from the ground. Interesting. I don't mention the Blue Jays as now I see them everyday and there are several pairs now living here.

We are supposed to get rain this next week so all the neighbors are trying get their hay in the barn. We really need the rain. Still water in the tank, but low.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Another Sighting

I had almost given up on the hopes that the Indigo Buntings would stay. There were 8-10 last Saturday so it looked like they were migrating. The good news is that I saw one this morning so hopefully one pair have taken residence. The birds have been very active and it seems we have been discovered as a 'bird friendly' place. I also saw a female Summer Tanager on the bird feeder this week. I'd love to see the male. I won't add them to the list until I see a second sighting to confirm.

I did some fence repairs as we have a goat who likes to roam. In spring when the briers and brambles come out along the fence row she likes to get into the road. I think I found the holes. This particular goat will be on the sale barn list next time around. The former bottle babies have adjusted well. We have all 25 goats so far but the little runt does wander off on her own so I wouldn't be surprised to see her missing one day.

Something interesting happened this evening. I took the dogs out for a short walk and went back from the house towards the north fence row and a small bluff. I had cleared a small place there years ago so I could watch the sun set to the west looking down the fence row. (This was before we had cleared the mountain west of the house which is now a better view) I found my small stump I had cut years ago to sit on and was just sitting and enjoying a diet coke. Looking down the fence row I see two deer running up the mountain heading straight towards me. I was higher and they did not see me. They ran all the way up and the first one stopped just twenty feet below me and turned to look at the trailing deer. When he turned he saw me and we looked eye to eye. She was very surprised. A big snort and she dashed off into the brush. Until the snort the dogs had no clue to what was happening but that got their attention. It was a little exciting. It might be a good place to observe as the trails along the fence rows have tracks of all kinds of critters.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Indigo Bunting

We had a very nice rain early Friday morning and showers throughout the day. About 1.65 inches of rain. It did gully our road especially the fresh material I had place just last week. An hour or two on the tractor today will clean it up.

I did get a new multi-station hummingbird feeder and placed it in the back of the house. We have a very good view of it from the bedroom windows. I've seen two at a time on it, but no more so far.

It is very green following the rains. A lot more wildflower too. We have yet to cut the grass so we have quite a collection of grass, weeds, wildflowers, etc.

Another first for the ranch listings (on the left side of this blog) in the bird section. On Saturday morning there were three male Indigo Buntings feeding on the ground below one of the bird feeders. There were also females, but couldn't tell how many. When I first saw them I thought they were Bluebirds as they have bluebird boxes up in several places along the County Road, but these are a solid blue. I'd never seen any Indigo Buntings here on the ranch before Saturday, but the Painted Bunting I see every year about this time. I spotted them again in the evening about 6:30 in the same place. Hopefully they will become regulars like the Painted Buntings.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wednesday Hummingbirds

The hummingbirds are very active and today I saw a new first for the feeders here on the ranch, four hummingbirds feeding at once. When I first walked by the feeder there were 3 with a 4th buzzing. A few minutes later there were four on the feeder with a 5th buzzing. This is the only multi-station feeder I have up and is located off the screened porch. The feeders I have in the back are single feeders. I may upgrade those as it's interesting watching the little hummingbirds jockey for position.

There were a lot more bluebonnets on the road today when I went to town. They look pretty good, perhaps even average which is more than I expected with the drought. It should be a pretty May.

Yes, today is Wednesday or 'Go to Town' day out on the ranch. The Feed Store, Bank, BBQ (rib day), Post Office, Grocery, and Sonic are the usual stops each Wednesday with others (i.e. Dry Cleaners, Gas Station, etc.) as needed.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

April Showers

I've been very busy in the office this past week so I haven't been able to get much work done on the ranch. With the Easter holiday weekend I've made some time for chores and work. Friday I did some Tractor work and swept the ranch roads. Also cut some cedar. Yesterday was humid and overcast so a good day to burn what brush I did have in the 'gravel pit' brush pile. We did get a nice rain in the early morning hours today. About .62 an inch of rain in the gauge. We can still use more rain.

I saw a few Bluebonnets on the ranch, but very few. The Prairie Verbena looks very good. Most are 6" high on average now and in full bloom. Several other wildflowers starting so May may be good for flowers.

I have not had any problems with raccoons in the Gator or around the house. Eliminating the problem ONE seems to be the correct solution. The birds have been very active. I got another 175 pounds of bird seed (had a coupon) so hopefully that will get me through to summer. I've seen several sets of BlueJays so they are here for sure. One morning there was both a BlueJay and a Cardinal drinking water on the fountain at one time. Nice to see. The hummingbirds are also active. There have been a lot of rabbits at night.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Bad Raccoon

I made a deal with the raccoons long ago when we came here. If they leave me alone then I will leave them alone. I actually enjoy watching them and they were very curious about me when I was in the cabin early on at the ranch. I haven't had too many problems with raccoons, perhaps every few years. I don't mind when they eat the deer corn or even attempt to get the bird feeders, but when they start getting too close to the house or into the Gator that's when they are going too far. For about a week something has been getting into the bed of the Gator and dumping the feed buckets and bird seed buckets. There is usually very little feed, if any, in them as they are empty other than when taking feed down to the goats. There will be bird seed or oats on occasion. I saw a cat there last week but I really suspected raccoons. I didn't really want an 'all out' war or culling of raccoons, I just wanted the guilty ones, so I thought I would set an old fashioned steel trap. The DW asked me to wait until she left town so last night was my first opportunity. After feeding the goats and parking the Gator in its usually spot I set the steel trap in the back of the Gator. I covered it and most of the bed with a sheet of newspaper and placed empty buckets around to hold down the paper. I knew the buckets would also serve as my alarm. I also knew it would take a lucky step to catch the varmint. I had my doubts. I then went inside the house and went about my business.

I was on the computer about 10:15 when I heard the noise of empty buckets moving about. I hadn't even thought about the trap since setting it, but I knew immediately what had happened. Sure enough I've trapped a raccoon. At least I know this one is guilty. There was plenty of corn on the ground so he wasn't hungry he was up to no good. Scratch one raccoon. This was actually the first one I have trapped. I've had to shoot them with either the rifle, pistol, or shotgun and that's different. I've caught coyotes in snares and then dispatched them, but this was somewhat a first. I learned some lessons and will do it a bit different next time. I haven't decided if I'll put the trap out tonight or just assume this one was the only varmint getting into trouble.

The weather has been pleasant. Cool nights and then a high about 72°. Very nice. We did get .4 inches of rain overnight one night this week. Everything is now budding so it's a full spring. Also getting a nice crop of weeds. The Prairie Verbena is looking nice.

The bottle babies have adjusted to one bottle a day. They are eating the dry feed at will now as well. They are not following the herd up the mountain though. It will be time to start cutting back the amount of the daily bottle soon.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Texas Weather

It was cloudy and overcast all morning, but we only had a trace of rain. In the afternoon it got windy and another cold front came through. It cleared all the clouds and became sunny, but the temperature dropped from 75° to 48°. Chilly.

I saw hummingbirds on the feeders this morning so they have found them.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cooler & Rain

We had a trace of rain on Tuesday, but on Wednesday we had a cold front come through and a nice rain. We had about half an inch of rain and the temperature dropped to 48°. It was back in the mid 70° today. The rain will help the wild flowers. Everything now seems to be budding except the honeysuckle.

I saw the first Hummingbird of the season this morning. It was actually drinking at the fountain in the courtyard. I knew it was about time for the hummers and I did put up two feeders on Friday since we were having guests. One at the cabin and my large one next to the screened porch. Didn't see any activity on the feeders though. I added another out back and will add some in the courtyard as well. It has been very windy and I have given up using squirrel baffles on the three bird feeders on the bluff. The wind catches them like a sail and they blow down the feeder or actually break the metal support rods. There is just too much wind. It's the chinook effect being located right at the bluff. (I learned weather and wind effects at the University of Oklahoma in Professor Harry E. Hoy's Physical Geography class) The baffled feeders below the mountain or in the back of the house are fine. We are really going through bird seed, but I do have eleven bird feeders. I did add a new one out front so that I can see it from my office window. I need to get a larger feeder for that location though.

Today is the day we begin feeding the bottle babies only one bottle per day. We will feed them a bottle only at evening feeding time now and hopefully soon they will accompany the rest of the goats to pasture during the day.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

First Day of Spring

The four bottle babies, with Zulu and Annie watching.

The weather has continued to be very nice. We prepared for guests so we did some cleaning and little chores around the house and ranch in order to get ready for them this past week. Our guests came in Thursday evening and we cooked out that evening and the following evening as well. It is nice to have a fire and to cook out on the coals. The teens helped feed the bottle babies and with the extra help I really tried to introduce the babies to the mountain pasture and to feed. They have to learn to be goats sometime. The ten pasture babies and their nannies are all doing well, they are a little larger than the bottle babies and already eating grass and goat feed.

We took a mini tour of the Norse area and enjoyed just 'hanging' at the ranch. It was a fun weekend and our guests seemed to enjoy the ranch.

More Live Oaks are losing their leaves. More Spanish Oaks are budding and growing leaves. Interesting transition and it makes for many different colors of green in the trees. Check the photos in the link below. The shrubs are starting to bud. Just beginning to see growth on the jasmine. The 'Prairie Verbena' is starting to bloom on the ranch and I did see some bluebonnets on the highway between Cranfills Gap and Meridian. The next two weeks will bring a lot of change. I hope we get some more rain to help the growth along.

It's nice to have a photographer as a guest. I can use the photos as future reference. Here is a link to some fantastic photos taken this weekend:

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pasture Goats?

Well the bottle babies have survived the first few nights. They aren't going up to pasture with the other goats yet, just setting around waiting for us to show up with the bottle as far as I can tell. In fact the other goats seem to hanging around more waiting for an handout as well. They will get with the system soon I hope.

Beautiful days. Highs of 80° yesterday and today. Grass is greening up well. There have been a lot of brush fires around as I expected. I have a couple I need to burn. It's really good to see all the neighbors tanks full. One of the big ranches has been doing dirt work for almost two years on Gary Creek and their little lake filled up very well.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Great Day at the Ranch

It started off cloudy and there was rain just south of us, but it held off here. I wanted to get an early start in burning a brush pile I had that was in a wooded area and not in the open. It has to be burned when it is somewhat wet as not to damage surrounding trees. It was also near to an area that I really have been wanted to work as it would create a walking trail from the back of the house to the bluff on our north fence line. It wasn't easy getting the fire started and it burned slow, but that was exactly what I wanted at first anyway until I could clear some more brush and cedar that would be close to the fire. I haven't really worked the chain saw for several months so it was good to get back on it. I cleared a nice little trail and burned the brush as I went in the burn pile. There were old stumps as well so we soon had a 'hot' fire and burned as fast as I could clear. That's much easier than having to haul your debris and cuttings. The sun came out in the afternoon and that was welcome. Actually got a lot done. I had started a pot of beans in the morning so I was able to eat out on the nice cleaned bluff by evening and watch the fire and the sun set. We have a nice view to the west from this spot and now a better trail to reach it.

We also moved the bottle babies down to the pasture and introduced them to their cousins, aunties, daddy, and Annie. They will be pasture goats from now on although they will be getting their bottle for a while longer. Sometime in the next week I'll drop them down to just one bottle. Since they are now away from the house I dismantled their pen and Terry cleaned up the gator port and back porch. We'll have to re-stack rock and do some painting to get everything back in order. It's amazing what four baby goats can get into around the house. Hopefully the shrubs will survive. I don't know how long until the four bottle babies are accepted into the herd. It was interesting watching them interact today. I hope Annie protects them, there's always a danger that predators will get the bottle babies since they don't have a nanny to watch them.

It was amazing to watch the grass green-up today. As the sun came out it seemed to do it in a matter of hours. More trees budding and more live oaks losing leaves. The birds weren't that active today, don't know why. I did fill all their feeders yesterday and did get another 100 lbs of seed.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


We are at the end of the forecast of 'several days of rain' and the weatherman was correct. We've had another 1.25 inches so I'll estimate our total for the period to be more than 6 inches of rain. Very good for four days. I'd like to see some sunshine now as it's been a while. The tank has water in it for the first time in months. Almost 3/4 full which was more than I expected. The grass looks like it's about to green up everywhere too.

They took off the county burn ban for eleven days so I expect a lot of brush burning in the area as soon as it drys a bit. I have several piles myself.

The goats have really eaten down most of the shrubs around the house. They are about ready for the pasture. This evening there were six deer out back and it was very interesting watching the deer watch the goats watch the deer. Finally the goats started walking towards the deer and the deer decided to retreat, at least until dark.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Here's a photo sent to me by a reader of the blog. It's a photo of T.P. 'Trapper' Barnhill who was the county trapper for many years in the 1970's in Bosque County. I know they had problems then as a neighbor told me they used to pay a 'bounty' for coyotes when he was a kid in the 1960's.

Looks like he had a good day from the photo.

I had the county trapper out to Twisted Oak Ranch a few times years ago when we had the mountain lion problem. Haven't seen him around for a while although he has signs posted on the property across the road. (If they have traps or snares on a property they have to post warnings at the entry gates to the property)

I've had interesting results from the primary snare I have set in the past. One dog, one goat, one coyote.


The rain started late on Tuesday night. The goats had knocked over the rain gauge so I didn't get it up until Wednesday morning but it showed 4.5 inches this morning. I'd have to estimate our rain at better than 5.5 inches. It came down over time so it soaked very well. There was run off but not a lot. The roads didn't gully very much at all. A good rain. There is more rain in the forecast so hopefully we will get more. Enough run off to fill the stock tank would be nice.

This was the week I was going to introduce the bottle babies to the herd. I'll wait until after the rains now. I know the herd goats would exclude the babies from the shelters. The ten pasture babies are eating feed now. The bottle babies are eating the shrubs around the house (another reason to move them), but so far no interest in feed.

The birds really seemed to like the rain. They were very active in the rain on Wednesday. I've seen another pair of Blue Jays around the house and one by the barn. I guess they are here to stay for sure.

Monday, March 09, 2009


The Spanish Oaks are budding, with the big one by the cabin going from buds to leaves in just days. Very good to see. Most of the Texas Live Oaks are now losing their leaves. This seems to be more of a tree by tree situation with some well along and others not even begun.

The baby goats are browsing on the weeds that are coming out. Good two ways. Still two bottles a day.

Still very dry. They do have rain in the forecast for the middle of this week. Lets hope so.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

March 3rd, 2009

Well it did cool off. It was below freezing two mornings as there was ice in the fountain. Getting warm again though. It was 72° today. I'm seeing a little green in the grasses. Spring will be here soon. Still very dry.

I'm feeding the babies twice a day now, they are getting the same amount of formula. They were getting 8 oz three times a day and now it's 12 oz twice a day. I'm also feeding them two at a time. Four at once is too hard as whoever finishes first knocks about the other goats trying to steal a nipple. Much easier.

I saw at least 25-30 turkey on the road this week. Big turkeys. Amazing. I'll get my wildlife camera back up this week and see what we have around here.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

February Update

The ten pasture babies began to ALL show up at feeding time so no changes were made. I still have no idea as to the sex of them as there is no way to catch them all. There are six white ones and four red ones and they are cute. Three were trying out the goat feed today. That's good. I need to drop back the bottle babies to two feedings soon so they will start to experiment with other food possibilities.

The Goldfinches I mentioned in previous post are all gone. I guess they were active preparing for their trip back north. They were turning yellow. The other birds won't go through the seed as fast now.

It was very warm today. The computer said 93° and it's 90° now at 6:00 pm. It's supposed to cool off though. Hope so. Still a county wide burn ban and still very dry. We need rain. I noticed that all the holly bushes around the house were eaten by deer while we were both recently gone. They will come back though although probably no blooms.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Bottle Babies & Helpers

The four bottle babies are getting bigger. They are also getting harder to handle. Kenzie & Tessie help when they can. At least they can keep them rounded up for me. Right now I have these four on a 9:00 am-2:00pm-10:00pm feeding schedule. They are fun to watch. They are in the hopping and jumping stage now.

The pasture herd seems to be doing fine so far. I couldn't find a baby yesterday and that had me worried, but there were ten today when I went to feed the adults. I don't like the fact that the nannies are leaving the babies on the mountain when they come down to feed so I'm going to start feeding up there tomorrow. Grass is coming in so they are starting to stay up in the mountain pasture for most of the day.

I've really spooked some hidden deer in the last few days trying to find the kids. I'm recharging the stealth cam.

There was a Blue Jay in the fountain this morning so looks like they are here to stay. The gold finches have also been very active. I did get 150 lbs of bird seed today. They go through it fast.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bottle Babies

I have been away from the ranch for twelve days. The DW (dear wife) was going to be here, but due to her mothers failing health was also away. A big thank you to the neighbors who pitched in and helped. It was not an easy task considering the birthing of kids, bottle babies, sick nanny, and everything else happening.

Final count seems to be ten kids with nannies and four bottle babies. Feeding the bottle babies will keep me on a regular schedule for a while. I've set up a small pen by the house for the four little darlings and make it easier to feed them.

Here is a photo just following this mornings feeding. They all seem to be good kids. These are 3 females and 1 little billy. I'm not sure of the sex of the ten in the pasture as yet. I have to get to town to get feed, but wanted to post this as per request.

The lowdown: We lost 4 kids to predators and 2 naturally. We lost one Nanny after birthing resulting in two bottle babies. One bottle baby was a triplet, and one abandoned. Four bottle babies total. Ten kids healthy and with Nannies. Wenny, the nanny who lost her kids, is recovering and is doing well. Total goat herd as of today should be 25: 10 does, 1 billy, 14 kids.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Groundhog Day

The sun is shining and it's a very clear bright day. We'll see what that means although I think we'll have an early spring.

Very sad news I'm afraid. I think all four babies may be gone. I could not find them yesterday at feeding time, but sometimes the mothers hide them. I searched this morning with no results. Also Winnie is acting very odd. She did not go up the mountain with the other goats, but stayed in a pen which is very odd for her. Not sure if it's something about birthing, she was possibly injured, or she knows she lost the babies. I gave her a drench of vitamins. I'm not sure what would have got the babies. Mountain lion perhaps but could be a neighbors dogs. I did see a dog in the goat area during the last birth season, but I scared it away without any loss. The fact there are no remains could mean a big cat. They carry off what they capture. It could also be a pack of coyotes. Very unusual that four baby goats would disappear in one night though.

There are more babies coming and I will be on the look out.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Two more

These are the two kids that were born just before feeding time yesterday so they are less than 24 hours old in this photo. I haven't checked the sex yet. They looked so content, I thought I'd leave them alone. They look very good. Doe is Winnie and she is a good mother.

My guess is Little Red will be next with new kids later today or very soon.

Beautiful day today almost 70° at noon.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Kidding Time

Kidding has begun. I went to feed today and there was a missing goat. Went to look and she (Winnie) had just given birth to her second kid. Everything looked fine so I left her alone with the kids. As I was walking to her though I noticed a baby kid and walking away I noticed a second. I suspect these are Zulu's and were born two days ago. They were clean and content. I thought Zulu looked like she had dropped, but she was so bagged up that I didn't get a good look. I'll check them in the morning to confirm. Zulu is the most experienced goat I have and all the goats I have and almost all of the goats I have ever had are through her from years past. She is an excellent goat. That's her photo at the top of the blog and the reason it's there. She has paid for my share of the road assessment. I've been doubling the feed since we have little good grass now. I'll cut some cedar and get some hay supplement now that they are birthing. Hopefully they will all kid in the next few days. I'll get some more photos this weekend. An early spring would be wonderful. Update: photo: Zulu's kids, ~48 hrs, two females

Kenzie caught a mouse running out of the pavilion today. The mouse was in the bird seed and got trapped and made an unsuccessful dash for it. That made for a lot of excitement for the two dogs.

We had had an ice storm this past week. I haven't really looked for damaged tree limbs yet. My battery on the truck was weak and the cold finally did it in. Unfortunately I had just taken the wheel off the tractor the day before so I could not use the tractor to start the truck. Actually the Gator had enough juice for the job. Very lucky. The trip to town this week included tire repair and battery replacement to the usual errands. Today I got the wheel back on the tractor.

Life in the country--gotta love it.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

January Update

Link to the most recent photos from the Stealth Cam:

Deer, crows, dove in flight, rabbit, raccoons, a little bit of everything in a few nights. I've seen more than four deer at one time in back of the house, but that's probably the most I have captured in one camera shot.

I saw a pair of Blue Jays yesterday so hopefully they will nest nearby. I was glad to see them. I have added them to the "Birds Observed on Ranch"

Something ate the 10/15 onion starts I put out behind the Pavilion. Probably rabbits or jacks. The garlic I planted there is untouched. At least the onions I planted next to the house are OK. Those may be mint flavored onions when they come up.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

January Update

We have been away for a week on a little holiday and all seems well on the ranch. Thanks to the neighbors that feed the animals and watch the place we can get away every once in a while. I'm sure the deer and birds are glad we are back as I have filled all the feeders for them. I did see a Blue Jay this week. They are very common in the city, but I have never been able to confirm seeing one on the ranch before this week. When I first came here I thought that it was very odd that Blue Jays would not be found in the country. I'm not sure why. Another common bird you see more in the city than in the country is our state bird, the mockingbird. I see a few mockingbirds but not many. I also saw a robin this week. Maybe the bug eaters are hanging together.

About six of the goats look like they will be kidding within the next month. I knew they were with kid for quite a while but not having seen them for a week makes it more noticeable, especially the ones I was unsure about.

I moved the stealth cam from the feeder to the water tank since I knew I would not be here to fill the feeders. Nothing really exciting seen. I did move it back to the feeder upon return and had a lot of activity. I'll upload the photos of the past few nights. Look for a link on an update.

Weather was cool before leaving, but the past few day have been very nice. It always changes though. Yesterday it was 86°, but this morning it was below freezing, a drop of 56° in twelve hours.

Fair Access Policy: It's not easy out in the country to get good internet access. We are beyond cable, DSL, and other common ISP's. Most who have internet in the country have to use satellite. I use When you see someone with a email address your almost assured that they live in the boonies. One of the problems with using satellite is that you are sharing the air waves with all kinds of people, businesses, military, devices, etc. so they have a policy called the Fair Access Policy which limits your internet use by volume. I have learned to upload or download large files in the middle of the night so that I will not go over the allotted limit. That is why I'll have to wait to upload the wildlife photos. Just another thing we deal with living in the country.

Monday, January 05, 2009


We've had some very nice weather. Several record highs were set in many areas. We had two days that it was 82°-84° here at the ranch. Beautiful days. Today the cooler weather has returned, but at least we are getting some moisture. It's very close to freezing but so it has been a mix of rain and ice. It is needed very much. After those very warm days I though we may have to water the shrubs around the house or they would completely dry out. I tried to get a photo of the ice in the Spanish Oak just below the ridge. (photo on right-double click on it to enlarge) It looks pretty in the view and gives us a different look. It is amazing how the same view will change with the weather, leaf growth, how the sun hits the mountains and trees.

Still using the stealth cam. All the photos are of deer, raccoons, squirrels, and crows. I'm going to only start save the unique ones. Here's a link to photos of about a 24-hour period. This was New years day and night.

The county wide burn ban is still on, but maybe we'll get enough rain that they will take it off for a while. We've had about .66 today although it is really very dry overall. The tank is dry and the live oaks have dropped some leaves early.

Unusual Observation: As it was New Years I of course made a big pot of Black Eyed Peas. I had soaked a lot of peas and only used about half. I took the remaining peas down to the goats at feeding time as I thought they would love them. NO didn't care for them and goats eat about everything, and Annie wouldn't eat them either . Since I had them in the bucket they got mixed with the deer corn. The deer didn't seem to care for them as the feeder wasn't empty as usual. I finally scooped them out and scattered them on the ground. Something eventually ate them. What is it with the peas that the animals didn't like? Especially the goats. I didn't find any specific information about black eyed peas as feed so I wonder if anyone knows why?