Friday, December 30, 2011

Good Bye 2011

I've been away from the ranch for three weeks, but DW and Pepino had everything in ship shape.

We did get normal rain fall for the final two months of the year, but nothing extra to fill the dry stock tanks. according to the National Weather Service 2011 was the driest year in Texas history (2nd worse was 1917) and the second hottest year. I believe it, it was the same at the ranch. What rain we received came at the right time for wild flowers. I look for a good crop in the spring, we had very few this year. The weather has had some cool nights but generally it has been a nice fall and winter.

We have a LOT of dead cedar trees due to the drought. I will cut them as time allows. Looks like I'll have some new parking areas close to the house once they are cut.

2011 overall was a very good year at the ranch - looking forward to a better 2012.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Beautiful October

October has always been my favorite month on the ranch. Usually good weather and lots of activities. This year it has been so. We have had a bit of rain, one of 1.5 inches and one of 3+ inches. That has really helped the trees. It seems we are in a false spring. All the pasture grass has suddenly taken off and we have grass for the goats. It's great to see the green again. We are still in drought conditions, but the rain is a great help. I was able to burn the huge brush pile I had accumulated over 9 months. It was a misty day and the fire burned perfectly once I got it started. Wild flowers are also starting to bloom.

We had a big event at the ranch, DD's wedding reception, that I had been preparing for as well as I could in the drought. I had been moving gravel to the ranch road going up the mountain and we had some light rain that was perfect to settle the dust. All the cars helped pack the road and now it's actually in very good condition. We cleaned the property, stacked cedar, painted, and updated as best we could. BTW--the event went very well and it was the largest number of people ever here at one time, almost a hundred.

I don't get to add to the critter list very often, but when I was working in the flowers in wedding preparation I noticed a very very small hummingbird. So small I thought it to be a dragonfly. I saw it again while watering the next day and for several days following. It's actually a hermaris thysbe, or a Hummingbird Moth. I'd never seen one before this year.

Goats are happy with new grass. The deer are active and also love the new grass.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Some Rain

We finally got some rain early in the week. First night was a very nice slow rain of about 1.5 inches. It soaked very well. Due to the drought we had lost the topsoil and had about 1/4" - 1/2" of dust on the top of the ground. The rain soaked it and filled low places very well. Just what we needed. The next rain came as a squall line and dropped an inch very fast. This rain was welcome, but did gully the road and ran off for the most part. It did put about 9" in the stock tank. All the neighbors tanks look very low if not dry. We will need a lot more rain soon.

We may be too late for a lot of trees. A lot of cedars above the 1000' elevation have changed from green to orange. I suspect they are lost as cedars are very hardy but once they turn they are soon dead. All the cedar below the mountain all look very good. I think there was just no water in the soil higher up the mountain.

I did see some late hummingbirds so I filled the feeders for the last time this season.

The deer enjoyed the rain too. I have seen that 'monster' buck several times.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Drought Continues - Fire Danger

The Drought Continues and it is the worst in Texas since the 1950's. Now the threat is fire. There have been major fires 100 miles north and 100 miles south of us. We have received smoke depending on the wind direction. Tropical Depression Lee hit Louisiana and we hoped for some rain, but it didn't happen. We did get a wind shift to the north and it did break our record string of 100° days. I believe we had 90 days of super hot 100° weather. We had two days of high 80's, but it's back to the 90's now.

I have watered around some key Texas Live Oak trees around the house. Most of the Spanish Oaks have already gone dormant. I hope they are not too damaged. Even the cedar trees look parched. It is bad.

We had a friend visit who loves to take photographs so I will have some new ranch photos to post. See his sunset above. (click it to enlarge it)

The Hummingbirds and Painted Buntings are now gone, but the Cardinals are very active.

A few days ago I saw one of the biggest bucks I have seen in many years. Last night there were 6-7 deer around the water hole: another big buck, a fawn, and several does. They know I have a water source for them so they are are taking advantage in this drought.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Heat and Drought

Well we are in the middle of a severe heat wave and drought. DFW airport is saying 40 consecutive days of 100° heat. Here we are about 60 days other than one day that it only got to 98°. It's not just getting to 100° it's exceeding it with several days at 110°. There was NO rain in Bosque county in the month of July. Zero--Nada. The forecast is for more of the same. In three more days it will be an all time record for heat.

Of course the grass had dried up and I'm very worried about the trees. I have watered some, but you can not keep up with the needs. We have allowed the grass around the house to go dormant.

We have some major holes in the fence and the goats have been getting on the west side of the place, but as long as they stay out of the road and away from the house I'm going to let them get to the grass growing in the woods. I will be starting some repairs soon though.

The puppies are doing well, they can both jump onto the beach area of the swimming pool. They love to run about and chase squirrels, deer, and once the goats. Then hop in the pool to cool off.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


We saw a spectacular meteor last night. It was just before midnight and we had a spectacular view. It was south of us and traveled from west to east below the full moon. It was a full fire ball as it passed here and a long trail of fire. Not a white streak, but red flames. We were lucky to be setting out on the patio and facing south. Very unique experience.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Summer came well before June 21st in Bosque County. It has already been over 100° ten days. Very hot and dry. We did get one thunderstorm that gave us ⅞ inches of rain one night. That has been enough to keep the grass green for the goats--so far. I've had to water around the house as we have several outdoor functions this summer and I don't want the grass to go dormant this early in the year.

The Mountain Pinks bloomed right on schedule, but I don't think they will last long. Too dry even for them.

I have not seen any fawns as yet, but the does are taking advantage of the water tank. The deer appreciate the cool water.

The big news around here is that we got another puppy. A West Highland White Terrier of course. They really do better as a pair. Maisie is now 6 months and Ivie is 8 weeks. Maisie goes on walks with me and does very well, she hasn't run off into the woods yet. She is fascinated by the goats and donkey.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Nice Spring

The weather has continued to be nice in Bosque county. There have been serious storms north of us, but we have been on the edge of most. We did get .20 of rain twice in the last week.

I saw two Painted Buntings at the same time on the same feeder this week. That's rare, they don't like to share. They will chase others away much like hummingbirds do. One is still enjoying the fountain too. The turkey has come by a few times in the mornings.

Maisie is getting bigger and now enjoys her daily walk around the ranch. She actually does very well and she's not on a leash.

I've been very busy in the office so not many chores getting done, but I did get two very large post oak trees that had come down in the storm moved away from the fence row up in the mountain pasture over the weekend.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Great Weather

We have had great weather, nice and cool for this time of year. We also had 1.4 inches of rain this week. The grass has greened up very well now, too late for some nice trees that have been stressed though. We may lose a nice stand of Live Oaks in the lower park area. I've trimmed the old limbs and limbs damaged by the recent storm, then added tree fertilizer stakes. The leaves are turning brown so I'm afraid we may lose them. It happened very fast and I wonder if the storm damage can be a part of the cause. I need to check with a tree person.

The Painted Bunting is really using the fountain. Very interesting to watch. I've mentioned before how they like the rain, but I haven't seen them in fountain as much as this year. We had a single Tom Turkey roam around behind the house one morning this week. They haven't found the corn yet, if they ever do I'm guessing we'll see more turkey around the house.

My neighbor sent an interesting photo taken in his back yard of a nice sized Bobcat. I've seen larger and smaller, but this a good sized Bobcat.

Maisie is now 5 months old. She loves to go out side and run. We watch her closely, she doesn't know we have big cats around. I've taken her on a walk the past two days and she has done quite well. I'm staying on the established trails and she follows the trail like a veteran. The goats even followed us down the fence row today, but Maise did very well and followed the trail on her side.

The swimming pool looks great, but it's been too cool to swim. The weather has been very nice.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Spring Time

It has warmed back up and the weather is very nice. It's warming up during the day, but it still cools in the evening. It will be swimming pool time again very soon. No more rain so it's getting dry again. I didn't have a chance to burn any brush piles. I need some burning weather soon. I did cut a few more damaged trees, but need a place to burn them.

The cactus is blooming, it's very pretty yellow blooms, but they only last a few weeks. The wildflowers didn't do well this year as it was too dry. We have already cut the Prairie Verbina.

Maisie did get a good chase of two big does this week. I don't think the deer like the new puppy. I saw some individual turkey on Ray's ridge. I think there are quite a few in there.

The Painted Bunting are around, I even saw one on the fountain.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Finally Rain

We've just been on the edge of so many storms this year, but never got any rain until yesterday. We got about 2 inches through the night and half the day. What was also unusual was that it was cold. Temperatures dropped into the 40's overnight and only got into 50's as a high yesterday.

Maisie chased another rabbit and also chased several deer this week. She really loves the outdoors.

The Painted Bunting is coming to the bird feeder and the Hummingbirds are active.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Painted Punting

This morning I saw the first Painted Bunting of the year! A very bright and colorful one indeed. I try to update this Journal/Blog when I see my first of the season. Of course they may be here a day or two before I see one, but at least I get a good idea of when to start looking. The puppy barking didn't seem to bother the bird at all. The puppy is starting to discover birds and squirrels.

There have been very big thunderstorms in the area but most are missing us to the north. Still no rain, but it has been cloudy and cooler.

Monday, April 18, 2011

April 2011

Windy, windy, windy! It has been windy for a month. We are used to high winds for a few days at a time, but it has been very windy for a good while. The temperatures have been getting much warmer and we actually hit the swimming pool on a few days. Once the water gets close to 80° it is time to get in the water on a warm day. We had a big storm blow through last Sunday/Monday. Talk about wind. We had several trees blow over and lots of big cedar branches break from old established cedar trees. DW had just finished painting all the wooden chairs a new spring green color and they were all blown off the patio into the road or pool. Tables, umbrellas, and big planters blown away. We were without power for nine hours, but we were lucky as some neighbors were without power for 26 hours. We did lose all water too for about a day. The only good thing from the storm was that we got 2" of rain. I've been very busy in the office and didn't get to clear and clean storm debris until this weekend. I first graded the road and had plenty of big cedar to use as a rake to work the road. The goats had a lot of extra to eat in their pasture as there were a lot of trees down there too. The live oaks were not finished with their new growth especially at the tops of the big trees, but this was all blown out so will see how they will look in a few weeks. I hope they are not bare on the tops.

Maisie is growing having gained two pounds. She's a bit of a monster right now, but that is typical for this breed. She is now 3 months old and loves to sneak outside. We have to watch her as it could be dangerous out there.

The Prairie Verbena is up and looks good, Not many bluebonnets so far. I was a little late getting the Hummingbird feeders out, but two flew in the house to remind me to get them up.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

March 2011

We've been away for several weeks. Pepino did a great job feeding and watching the place. The freeze damage was very noticeable when we returned. We may lose all the Jasmine. We have trimmed it back and we will hope for the best. The plumber made it out and repaired the busted copper pies at the cabin. There were some other problems inside the cabin as well. All fixed now.

The weather of late has been good. We have been able to clean all the flower beds and start spring chores. We did set a new water line to the Pavilion. That will be great for a small garden and washing autos under the cover of the pavilion. (Remember it's called a pavilion when it cost too much to be called a car port). We also cleaned out the wildlife water tank - amazingly the fish survived the cold weather. They are happy now.

Pepino thinks we have a mountain lion, very few squirrels, rabbits, etc. of late. Since we haven't had a lot of activity here for a few weeks they probably have hunted around the house. Since I always feed the birds the feeders attract squirrels that are easy prey for the big cats. We have seen them catch them in the trees.

Spring is almost here. The grass is now turning green. The Spanish Oaks have begun to bud. The Live Oaks that dropped leaves early are also beginning to bud - that's great as many were stressed first by drought and then cold weather. The old established Live Oaks seem to be on schedule to drop leaf a little later.

We have also came home with a new puppy, Maisie Lee. She is about 8 weeks old. Another West Highland White Terrier of course. She has kept us busy the past week and I think she will make a great house dog--she seems very smart. We will not let her out of our sight since we suspect big cats. Also watching for owls at night who would scoop her up in a minute.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Better Weather

The cold continued and in fact another front came through with perhaps the coldest single day yet. Thank goodness it didn't last long. It began warming and by Saturday it was nice. It was 65° yesterday and made 74° today. Very nice weather. It will soon dry out the mud and melt the ice still remaining in the shade and tanks. I turned on the water on the line going to the livestock tank. After busting the remaining ice it filled very well. No leaks.

I filled the battery on the Gator and got it running again. It was too cold to drive it anyway. Using the farm truck to drive down to feed the goats most days. I did trim more cedar trees on the road so the truck could get through without hitting too many cedars yesterday. Fed the tops to the goats. I never had to use the truck so much in previous winters.

This has been an interesting week for wildlife. We have the usual deer if not more, but a few days ago an opossum was hanging out next to my feed barrel. Yesterday an armadillo was hanging by the barn. Today was turkey day. A flock of at least 12 walked across the back yard from east to west this morning, then this afternoon, after feeding, I was cutting across the trail on Ray's Ridge and almost drove the Gator into a flock of about 20+ turkey in cedars. I turned around and left the trail to them. I wouldn't mind if they hang around the ranch, maybe we'll have one next Thanksgiving.

The weather is supposed to good all week. Hope so.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Ice Storm of 2011

We had an ice storm on Monday night and it coated everything with a nice glaze of white ice. It's not thick but layered over everything and not melting as it's very cold. In fact we had 102 hours below freezing. Early Friday morning we had a nice little snow. Amazing. It dropped to 14-15° degrees two nights. We have been holed up in the house for the week.

I have had to both feed and haul water to the goats as the water trough is frozen solid. The birds have really appreciated the seed I have put out for them. The Cardinals come close as the feeders are by the house and they have few options with the ground covered. A lot of deer have come up too.

When I went to feed several goats were out. I was frustrated with the water situation and really didn't need another problem. I scared one so much she ran strait to her hole so I knew where to patch. It's amazing how small a space they can get through. Finally I rounded up the rest and repaired the fence.

Today was the big thaw and as I feared we have a water line break at the cabin. No water at the house as it ran down hill to the break. I was worried that it was worse than it was but I was able to isolate the water line to the cabin and restore water to the house. Thank goodness, that's nasty muddy work and I needed a shower. Today was actually nice and I wanted to get to town to stock up on feed and groceries, but too busy with all the repairs. Life on the ranch!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Cold January

It's been a colder than normal January. A lot more nights dropping to freezing than normal with a few very cold nights. Really too cold to get any chores or projects done around the ranch this month.

Lost the remaining goat kids. One every few days. That sounds like a mountain lion to me. So far none of the big does have gone missing. Very disappointing though. Feeding every day as no good grass.

It's also been very dry. We did get about an inch mid-month and some of the rye grass I put out has come out. I doubt we have much rye grass this year.

I did put a plastic can out by the goat fence filled with feed. That way on very cold days I can just make one stop to feed and drive the truck down. I've had to do that a lot this month. I don't care for the cold weather.