Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring is here!

tuekeyWe have have had some very nice days, but on the first day of spring the weather again turned cold and cloudy like the weather we had had all winter. It only lasted about 36 hours, but it did freeze the water in the fountain so it was cold. They had snow again in the DFW area and set an all time record for snow. It cleared and was nice today so hopefully the cold weather is now over.

The Texas Live Oaks are losing their leaves and budding. The Spanish Oaks are also budding. There seems to be a lot of buds and I'm looking forward to the new leaves. The native grasses are coming up and turning green and I saw the first wildflowers this week. Looks like a good spring and I bet we have a lot of wildflowers this year too. DW set flowers in the new flower bed next to the pool today and has painted the patio furniture in anticipation of a lot of use of the new patio and pool this year.

The birds have been very active. Lot's of birds at the feeders. We can also see the geese flying north. They are impressive to watch flying overhead. I saw this flock of turkey on the county road this week. A new FB friend drove down our road and was able to get this photo. Although I see quite a few turkey around here I've never been able to get a photo this good. The deer are also somewhat active, but with the new grass coming in not as many deer are coming by to feed on our winter rye grass.

I did cut two very large cedar trees in the back of the house this week. The Live Oaks are looking very good and as they get bigger we have to cull more cedar. Again, once they are gone you really don't miss them. I'm having to burn the stump on the larger one as it was huge. I'm using the fire ring and had it about burned out before that cold snap and rain put it out. Used to be common to have fires that close to the house, but not in several years.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Much Better Weather in March

We have had much better weather. We had a deluge type rain early in the month with several inches of rain in a short period of time. This type of rain really gullies the road and as wet as it has been most of the gravel and caliche was too wet to make immediate repair, but when it starts to dry you can get some material that sets up almost like concrete. You have to catch it just right though. We decided to make a major change in the view from the front of the house by cutting down the large cedar tree in the center of the circle in front of the house. It really opened up a wonderful view. You can now clearly see four different mountains from the front of the house. After cutting down a big tree we always wonder why we didn't do it sooner. The tree is being recycled as we are using the cedar logs to make a screen in front of the pool equipment and I was able to use the cedar top as a drag to sweep and repair the road. I bet we end up cutting down the other cedar tree in front as then we would have the two huge Texas Live Oaks as the only trees in front. It would also really open up the view of Gary Mountain directly across from us.

The new ranch entry is already finished. The fence crew came and began clearing the fence line and setting the posts. The welders showed the next day and we had a nice four rail pipe entry and gate in 2 ½ days. I really like it. The gate is also made from the same pipe so it looks great and custom made. The weather was very nice so of course we spent several days clearing and cleaning around the new entry. The entire entry area looks much better. It's simple and clean just as we wanted. I think we may extend the pipe fence down the fence line two more sections. If we do we'll have an old pile of debris from the 1970's to clean as it would be seen, but we'll save that project for the summer.

During the process of building the new gate I discovered a new talent or skill. The art of dowsing. The main water line for the area water co-op follows the county road just inside my fence row. It goes somewhere under the area we are placing the new posts for the new entry. We requested that the line be marked, but that was never really done until the end of the first day so we had to determine the location of the water pipe so that we wouldn't hit it and knock out the water for everyone in the area. One of the crew started using a diving rod to find the water line. That really fascinated me as I've always been interested in that since I saw it done as a little kid on the farm in Oklahoma. They were confident and continued the work. I was at the gate working late moving the cedar they had cut when the water man came by to flag the line. He also used a diving rod. I had him instruct me on how to do it and did some sample finds myself. That night I really researched the art of dowsing and tested it for a few days. It would have come in handy when we couldn't find the water line when we ran water to the new wildlife tank this fall. I'm pretty confident in my new ability and it's fun.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

March 2010

The 1st day of March was again the same weather as we have had all winter: cloudy, wet & cold. The 2nd day was better with sunshine and warmer, but still below average. Hopefully we will have more typical weather for the rest of the winter. I will say that the wet weather has helped the trees and the rye grass looks great. The deer have enjoyed the rye grass and done a good job of keeping it trimmed. The hired hand has missed the past several weekends, but it was really a good time to go to Mexico as the weather here hasn't really been the best for outdoor work.

We have decided to improve the entry to Twisted Oak Ranch so we have been looking at various styles of gates and entries along our county road and other roads in the area. We don't want a fancy entry, no arches nor rock columns, just something clean and simple. I think we will go with a pipe entry and leave it natural. When we built the house we just pushed through the cedars creating a new entry from the ranch road to the county road. We just set a temporary cedar post entry with cattle panels and nice simple pasture gate. It has been fine and we rarely close it, but do have to wire it to a tree to keep it open. We are not going to install an automatic gate opener although that seems to be the hot thing out in the country. The cost is higher than the entry cost itself and since we only occasionally have animals in this section we will probably leave it open most of the time. In the process of looking at gates, we discovered that we have the smallest gate on Gary Creek Road at only 12 feet wide, but we have the original ranch entry that is wide enough for equipment to enter. The new gate will be 14 feet and the entry will consist of four rail pipes with three sections on each side of the gate. We will have to cut some cedar trees to get the additional room needed, but I think we will have a nice clean entry when it is finished. Hopefully we'll have this project finished by the end of the month.