Friday, April 30, 2010

Support your not-so-local vet week

We use 3 different vets here. An Equine Vet for the horses that makes farm calls (about 1/2 hr his drive away), a small-animal Country Vet for 4 out of 5 dogs and 1 barn cat (about 1/2 hr our drive away) and a small-animal City Vet for Marigold (due to her age and health issues, we continue to shuttle her about 1 hr away to one of her original vets). Over a 5 day span this week, we've seen all 3.

You already know about Louise's visit to Country Vet for her cut paw. Country Vet is good - I like the laid-back attitude and certain features like in-house, while-you-wait lab results for bloodwork and heartworm tests, etc. They're also pretty good about squeezing you in (like in Louise's "thorn-in-paw" scenario).

A few days before that I had to call Equine Vet for an emergency farm call to help Pearl - she had shown lameness in a back leg, then went down and couldn't get back up. Equine Vet thinks she had a small stroke or one of her melanomas in pressing on a nerve, hindering the use of that back leg (white [gray] horses are prone to melanomas - fortunately they're not as lethal as in humans; however, they can grow internally and press on spines, nerves, etc.) After getting her up, he administered massive anti-inflammatory drugs in hopes of bringing things back in line. Next night she was down again and a neighbor helped roll her and she got up. Since then, she's been up, is fine mentally, but still drags and has stress in that back leg. So I'm afraid it will be a day by day thing, and if she lies down, she won't be able to get up on her own.

A day after Louise's vet vist, Marigold went to City Vet to recheck her blood pressure and 3 tests for urine/kidney functions. BP was better after 2 weeks of meds, and we're waiting on the Lab labs to see about the proteins in her urine, etc. I consider the City Vet to be a "specialty" vet as they're more expensive than most, but are also sure to run all pertinent tests to rule out any abnormalities not seen w/ the naked eye and are happy to refer you to specialists when necessary.

So, although we're not financing a new wing on 1 vet facility, we're most certainly paying for a lot of bricks and sticks on 3 sites...

Gordon, is that you?

A gecko visits our front window. No, we're not buying insurance today.

I like the reflections of him in the window - sort of a gecko echo...

Breakfast of champions!

Horse poo is part of a balanced canine diet at Run*A*Round Ranch. The dogs all enjoy a little recycled oatmeal from time to time. Vets have told me it's chock-full of vitamins - especially the B varieties - so is not harmful to the dogs.

I've gotten so used to it, I rarely give it a second thought - it's only when the oatmeal is still steaming when it gets to me...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pretty and pink

These are one of my all-time favorite Texas wildflowers. Pink evening primrose are delicate little pink and white wisps of petals, yet are very hearty and crop up in pastures and along roadways all over these parts.

We used to have a barrage of them growing up next to the back of the house but alas, the foundation leveling we had done last year disturbed their bed so they're having to struggle back to get a foothold again - that and my lawnmowing efforts don't help either.

Shake a tail feather...

Isn't he adorable? The scissor tailed flycatchers are wonderful springtime sights and sounds in Texas. They sing, do aerobatic dives and generally perk up the place quite nicely.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sock hand-puppet girl

Poor little Louise. After recently driving an inch-long mesquite spike through her paw, and killing a snake earlier this week, she came back a day or two ago with a new cut. I treated it with peroxide but it continued to swell a bit and she limped a lot. I thought she had a thorn fragment stuck in her paw and I couldn't get it loose, so I took her to the vet for examination. Turns out, she had a fever and the "thorn" was a torn tendon extending from her cut that the vet snipped off (eek!). Then he put a goopy tar-like substance on the cut as a kind of poultice and attempted to bandage her foot w/ cotton, gauze and a blue stretchy bandage. After assuring him that the fight wasn't worth it because she'd surely remove it in the car, he opted instead to just wrap it in elastic bandage. So far she's left the sock puppet in place but I don't have high hopes to keep it dry once she's released into the wild. :)

You know, if it wasn't for the fact that we were trying to help her, I'd be sorta proud of her 60 lb. self fighting, wriggling, pushing and thrashing so hard that she outpowers 2 adult women and 1 adult man. My little survivor...

Don't let the machismo fool you

Baron did not kill this snake. Louise did. Baron just saw fit to proudly carry it back into the front yard.

I was walking in the back field one afternoon this week and heard the familiar "slapping/flapping" sound of a snake being vigorously shaken by a dog. Thelma was way out ahead of me, and I saw Baron and BB run towards the sound at the pond's edge. Then I saw little Louise, as expected, the snake killer.

I think it's a water moccasin, otherwise known as a cotton mouth. Since its mouth was not open to show a white interior, I'm going by its length, heft and width and grayish black color w/ stripes to say its a moccasin. I, of course, flung it into the pond so it could be consumed by the fish and turtles. Baron was not happy I again stole his trophy - even if he didn't kill it!

Are you lookin' at me?

Thelma is my number one squirrel huntress. She's been known to camp out for hours, relentlessly staring up at the squirrel/raccoon/{insert varmint-type here}, biding time before it makes a break for it. She's endured rain, wind, snow and blistering heat (and certainly a neck cramp or two) in the pursuit of treed prey and only after much prompting will she give in and come inside.

The bane of my existence

I have spent hours over several days battling this year's crop of mesquite trees. First using pruning shears and limb loppers to chop down their growth in the front hay pasture, then using a sprayer filled with a Remedy mix to "paint" their not-so-delicate leaves in the back pasture.

I often deem weeds as pretty as flowers, however, for these criminals I make an exception. The thorns are menaces to flesh and clothing (Louise came in one recent day with an inch-long needle stuck solidly through her front paw). If you mow them down, you will surely flatten tractor and mower tires (thank goodness for Goop tire sealant!) And then they're smart enough to grow low along the ground so they can lie in wait for unsuspecting tires, boots, soles of shoes or dog paws. The only way to kill them is with chemicals so we buy Remedy at over $100/gallon and hit the pasture with poison.
Mesquites will overtake a pasture in one season and I admit I lacked diligence in keeping them at bay last year. However, this year I'm back with a vengeance to regain control over our acreage. Thankfully the Remedy mix leaves an oily sheen on the leaves/branches so I don't continue treating the same groves of growth over and over in my field madness.

I know the wood makes for some fantastic barbecue grilling, but let them grow somewhere else! Drink up, ye pointy perils of the pasture! Drink in the noxious toxin concoction! Okay - I'm going overboard here. I think the chemicals got to me, mad-hatter-ish. Deep breath...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Aforementioned squirrel activity

and more evidence of 'barking'. This particular morning's squirrel count was 5.

Sorry the photo is a little "soft". Took it through the screened window on a gray day. (Hoping for a shred of photo-professionalism, I have since taken down the screen from my office window...)
(In case you didn't know, if you click once on the photo it'll enlarge it so you can see more detail - even if it is soft detail in this case...) I do like the action of the scamper rat though.


What our dogs won't do to chase a varmint!

On any given day, we feed countless birds, wood ducks, black-bellied whistlers, and undoubtedly several squirrels from our birdfeeder tree. The squirrels make their way back to the woods around the pond going tree to tree if the dogs are on watch duty.

This poor pine got the brunt of our dogs' frustration when a squirrel took temporary refuge in its upper boughs. I hope it doesn't get a disease because of the skinning it received ala canine.

We all know barking dogs, but this is ridiculous!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mirror / rorriM

Pearl and Zim reflect on their own beauty.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Texas dandelions

According to this website these are known as Texas dandelions. I wonder if they're still called that when you cross over into Louisiana or Arkansas?

My dad used to send us kids out into the fields armed with buckets to pluck the heads off of the dandelions. Then he'd press them, let them ferment, drain them, add sugar, fruit, age, etc. until they created a ripe, potent, cloudy, yellowish quaff known as dandelion wine. I can practically still taste it now (and the accompanying shudder running down my spine is a testament to its 'smoothness'.)

Thelma helps assess the damage

While I took a birds-eye view from a portion of the downed trunk, Thelma helped inspect the damages at ground-level.

No longer standing guard

We did lose a huge old oak tree from the woods encircling the back pasture. I didn't see any scorch marks to indicate a lightning strike, but it looked like it had exploded. Only one raw spire still points skyward and one limb reaches sideways. The rest is obliterated into future fuel for the wood stove/fireplace.

Of all the beautiful oaks we have at Run*A*Round, this was probably the best positioned one to lose since it didn't impact any buildings or roadways, etc. I heard chainsaws working all day yesterday so I know our Neighbors in the Woods had more pressing clean up jobs. Still, it hurts my heart to see such a huge old sentry taken down, even it was Nature herself who did it.

My heart goes out to all those who suffered damage or worse from these storm systems moving through the U.S. And the season's just beginning...

A little worse for weather

Sorry no posts yesterday but we had a little technical difficulty. Harsh storm came through early Saturday and knocked out power and phone/internet access. Happily, both are back in service today so my morning coffee was made the normal way vs. yesterday's version of holding a saucepan of water over some cardboard burning in the wood stove and adding Starbucks' instant packets.

Anyway, I'm happy to report the only damage to the buildings and yard was this no-longer-Mary-Poppins-worthy deck umbrella and my newly purchased geraniums taking a beat-down from Mother Nature. Otherwise, after 2 armloads of limbs and 4 wheelbarrow loads of oak leaf clusters, the yard is pretty much back to normal.

Sadly, we did incur some damage in the back pasture woods though...

Friday, April 23, 2010

Bones aplenty

Not that our dogs don't have enough (feed)store-bought bones here at Run*A*Round to choose from without having to hunt down fresh ones...

These currently roam around the inside of the house (yes, getting up in the middle of the night requires certain grace, agility and built-in night vision). There's another half-dozen or so that are strewn around in the yard outside.

But its obvious, if given the opportunity, our dogs prefer rancid to roasted when it comes to bones.

Parts is parts...

In speaking with our Neighbor to the North about plans to bale our hay, she mentioned that her old horse had died about a month ago. I didn't have the heart to tell her I already knew that since for the past 3 weeks or so, our dogs have been shuttling him, piece by piece, back across the pasture and into our front yard. The other day when I was walking the hay field, I saw these parts that hadn't made it all the way to our yard so thought I'd better retrieve them before she saw them someday and wondered who/what they were...

These shoulder blades and leg portion have now joined the horse skull and 3 complete legs (minus one hoof) that rest at the bottom of our pond. The hoof is still around here somewhere...

Gives new meaning to "piecemeal" doesn't it?!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Okay, now that I've introduced all of the kids, I feel like I've sufficiently front-loaded our back story. Whew! Time to take a breath and enjoy the view!

This is a shot from our deck. Wouldn't this make a great picture puzzle?! I wish people still fixed puzzles like my dad, sister and I did when I was young. Of course when you're faced with 5 months of Wisconsin winter, snow and cold, what else do you have to do but stay indoors and try to fill in borders edged around a card table with little stamped-out pieces of pressed cardboard?

Obviously, back then, PCs and gaming consoles were not yet available, but even so, after hours and hours of hunched-over work, there's nothing like putting in that last piece and wishing you still had more puzzle to go...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

8. Baron

Baron has been here just over a year. He was adopted from the same shelter as BB, just came home a week after her. He picked me as his owner by gnashing at my hands and arms with his pearly-white teeth.

He's settling in nicely and is starting to like hanging out around the house more vs. gallivanting for hours in the fields and woods. We have to watch his weight as he's topped out at 98 lbs. The good life will do that to you.

Age: 2 yrs.
Breed: Black Labrador
Male (neutered)

Frequently heard nicknames: Bear Bear, Da Boy, Mama's Boy, Buddy, Butterball Boy

7. BB

BB arrived just over a year ago, adopted from a country shelter. I went there looking to adopt a big male Rottweiler type (to replace the huge, dear boy we had lost a few months before). Instead, I found this petite little mix with a sweet face.

The shelter listed her as Rottweiler/Lab but after bringing her home and getting to know her, I think she's Rottweiler/Border Collie. She's small, has longer hair than I'd expect from a lab mix, and she "skulks" a lot when she's on the trail of something - keeping her head and shoulders low like a Border Collie does. Plus she's way too smart for her own good and is full of trouble.

Age: 2 yrs.
Breed: Rottweiler/Border Collie
Female (spayed)

Frequently heard nicknames: Beeber, Beast, Blackbird, Jelly Bean, Wiggle Butt, Lola Falana.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

6. Louisiana Belle

Arrived almost 6 years ago. Lovely brindle coloration. One tough stick of dynamite. Smallest dog we've got at 62 lbs. but also the toughest one.

She used to go to the field next door and harrass the cattle. The mama cows would gather 'round their calves and go head to head with her. Then she'd go harrass the 2,000 lb. bull, pulling on his tail if he dared to ignore her. I had to trim the horses tails up a bit because she would chase after them and grab hold, tearing out chunks of long horse hair, then spit it out and go back for more. I've seen her skate into the barn on all fours - being dragged by Zim as she hung on to his tail. I've seen her fly through the air - all four paws tasting daylight as Zim whirled her around while she was again clamped onto his tail.

She's my number one snake killer, killing 2 copperheads at our front door within a week and getting bit each time for her trouble. She's my number one look-out, keeping a close eye on everything going on around us. She's an excellent country dog and worth all the trouble she causes.

Age: 6 1/2 yrs.
Breed: Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Cur (they were bred to hunt wild boar so that gives you an indication of her potential)
Female (spayed)

Frequently heard nicknames: Louisa, Weezie, Sweeza, Swee, Sweeza-Bee, Perfect Little Hound Dog, Binty, Mouse

5. Thelma Jean

Arrived almost 6 years ago. An odd dog. She doesn't really wag her tail much towards people - if she wants some attention, she just comes up and stands next to you and looks at you. Presently 80 lbs. Topped out at 85 so is looking a bit more svelte these days. Pretty coloration w/ perfect eye-liner.

Has sustained multiple wounds over the years - first blood was drawn by Louise when Thelma had her by the neck and was trying to kill her over a bone. Louise ripped open Thelma's front leg to the point of getting stitches and spending the night at the vet's. This was when they were still pups. Louise also put a hole in Thelma's ear, again defending herself against Thelma's wrath. Other wounds include a hole in her elbow, multiple coyote bites, snake bites and getting "football head" from biting at bumble bees. Thank goodness she's a good healer or we'd go broke.

She's really a sweetheart, though. Really...

Age: 6 1/2 yrs
Breed: Catahoula mixed w/ Pointer (she's got a pretty bay or bugle)
Female (spayed)

Frequently heard nicknames: Selmie Sue, Telma Doodle, Easter Egg, Marshmallow Peep, Scrappin' Beauty Queen, Selmo, Pink-Belly Girl

Monday, April 19, 2010

5 & 6. Thelma and Louise

These 2 deserve to be introduced together (as well as separately) as they are certainly a tag team. They are sisters that we rescued off the back road - someone had dumped them along a stretch of dirt road where only cattle, mesquite trees and wild boar are usually seen. My husband first saw them while driving the back road to the highway, and he mentioned them to me. Thus began our feeding efforts - twice, sometimes three times a day. They were skin and bone and scared of us, but they were still pups (about 8 mos. old). Once they filled their bellies, they would run off into the scrub brush and pick up old pie plates or milk bottles someone had trashed and you'd hear them run back and forth and play with their "toys". After 2 1/2 weeks of our feedings, I was able to get close enough to grab first one, then the other, and stuff them into my car and bring them home. I think they stayed in the dog pen for a day before Louise dug out. Then we let them be country dogs. They've managed to wreak havoc here ever since.

They became our resident critter-killers. Hunting birds, raccoons, possums, turtles, skunks, coyotes, armadillos - pretty much anything that dares to come into the area. They ran off or killed all of the Muscovy ducks we had, don't differentiate much between critters and dogs or cats, but they have also killed their fair share of snakes for us (water mocassins and copperheads) and got bit in the process. They've mellowed a bit as they've gotten older and 3 years ago discovered the wonderful world of indoor living. They're still country dogs as much as they want to be, but they sure enjoy a good couch snooze too.
Louise is the brindle; Thelma is the white w/ black patches. My sis-in-law calls them "Thing One and Thing Two". Are these country thugs or what?!

4. Tuxedo

This is Tuxedo, our barn cat. He's the only native Run*A*Rounder as he was born here. Unfortunately, his mother and 2 brothers did not get to live long enough lives here but we loved them too.

Tuxedo has been the only cat here for several years now and he doesn't accept any other cats that have shown up. His 16 lb. self drives them out of his barn. I think he thinks he's a horse since he hangs out with his much-bigger buddies when they come in from the pasture. Funny, he prefers to harrass Zim too (batting at his nose when Zim's trying to eat his feed, sitting on top of Zim's hay square and daring him to try to eat it).

He's a great mouser, birder, frogger and snaker. He prefers to terrorize and eat (at least partially eat) his prey in Pearl's feed bowl. There's others available, but 99% of the time, he chooses her dinner plate for his sacrifices. I always have to check her bowl before I pour in feed in case he's left parts for me to find, which is often the case.

Age: 7 yrs.
Breed: Shorthair
Male (neutered Tom)

Frequently heard nicknames: Tux, Zedie, Big Kitty, Zedeco-Pedeco

Sunday, April 18, 2010

3. Zim

Zim is a chestnut roan (basically, a bright red horse with white hairs sprinkled into his coat). He's been with us 9 years.

He's a favorite of the dogs since he's spunky and they can get a rise out of him if they bark and chase after him (Pearl, for the most part, ignores them.)

The only health issues he has is the tendency to eat too much! The boy would eat himself to death (which can actually happen with horses). I let him get too fat one spring when the grasses came up extremely rich, and he foundered (the blood pools between the hoof wall and the bone and causes hoof spreading and lameness). We were lucky. The farrier was able to trim him several times to ease his discomfort and encourage new growth. And we got the weight under control and he recovered.

Age: 18 yrs.
Breed: Arabian (yes, his registered name is also being withheld to shield his true identity)
Male (gelding)

Frequently heard nicknames: Zimper-Fi, Zimmy-Poo, Fat-Boy Slim, Zimperific, Copper Penny, Pretty Boy.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

2. Marigold

Marigold is my brightest, sweetest, most loving child! She's been with us over 12 years. My husband surprised me with her as a puppy. I was sitting outside, he drove up in his truck, she stood up, put her front paws on the window, looked at me, and took my heart. Every day since, I have adored her. I named her Marigold since "she's bright, she's beautiful, but she's a stinker!"

She has health issues. Arthritis, age warts, liver and spleen enlargement, now some suspected kidney problems. And her little face just keeps getting whiter and whiter. But I love her sense of humor, her sense of entitlement when it comes to food, attention, treats, whatever. And she's very devoted to us and prefers to be near us rather than anywhere else.

She sheds like a dandelion and is often underfoot when you're trying to cook, clean, mow lawn, etc. but I wouldn't want it any other way.

Age: 12 1/2 yrs.
Breed: Yellow Labrador
Female (spayed)

Frequently heard nicknames: Marigoldilocks, Miss Marigold, Little Girl, Butterscotch Girl, Angel Pie, Lamb, Bug, Princess, Baby Bird, Little Love, Trouble-Makin' Girl.

1. Pearl

This is my beauty, Pearl. (I'll withhold her registered name to protect her true identity!) Of our current children, she's been with us the longest - 16 yrs.

She has arthritis and has difficulty getting up sometimes. If she lies down on her bad side, she needs to be rolled (using ropes tied around her legs and brute strength) to flip her over to the other side so she can use her stronger rear leg to hoist herself up.

But despite her increasing age and joint problems, she's still such a gorgeous creature to me!

Age: 28 yrs.
Breed: Arabian
Female (mare)

Frequently heard nicknames: Miss Pearl, Pink-nosed Pearl, Pearlie-Goose, Pearl-Button.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A little family treedition

My father was the youngest of 12 children. My mother was the youngest of 8. I'm the youngest of 8. I always joked that that tradition stopped here! Well, I currently have 8 kids, albeit, 4-legged varieties vs. 2-legged. So I guess the apple didn't fall too far from the family tree. Ha!

Our kids don't require day care. Don't require college funds. But as any pet parent can tell you, they can be expensive to keep what with food/feed, treats, shots, spaying/neutering, medications, supplements, vet visits, hoof trims, etc. etc. And the "letting go" part comes sooner than you'd like. But the joy they bring on a minute-by-minute basis is well worth all of it.

You've sort of met Baron and Zim so far. I'll introduce you to all of them individually if you keep reading future posts.

Ages: Oldest - 28 yrs; Youngest - 2 yrs.
Breeds: 2 horses, 5 dogs, 1 cat
3 males; 5 females

Frequently heard nicknames for groupings: Angels, Monsters, Babies, Cheeky Monkeys, Poodles, Rapscallions, Spoiled Rotten Kids

Texas wildflowers

Here's a shot of the Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes I mentioned the other day. Now these are not the Indian Paintbrushes I knew as a kid in Wisconsin. Those were small feathery edged flowers with deep colors of yellow, red and rust. But when you google the name, you get all kinds of varieties of wildflowers, and one of them is this type so I'll go with it.

I love the pink/coral coloration. When they take over a field, it's breathtaking. Ours come in in patches. I'm assuming the hay growth gets in their way a bit. :)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A family portrait

Sorry, if you were expecting OUR family portrait, I'm disappointing you. On the way home from the grocery store the other day, I noticed some cattle up near the fence and I caught a glimpse of a pretty young calf. So I quickly parked in a drive, jumped out and snapped it's pic. And I got a nice grouping of momma, daddy and baby too!

These belong to a neighbor about 2 miles away. In the country, if you're within 15 miles, I'd say you were a neighbor. :)

"Turtle Snap!"

In honor of my brother-in-law's birthday today, I'll post a photo of turtles, altho these are red-ears and not the snapping variety. When I was much younger he would pinch the skin on the backs of my knees as I walked past and yell "Turtle Snap!" Dang, they hurt!

These guys were trying to catch a few rays out on the pond. I know - if I was a true Texan, it'd be a "tank" but the Wisconsinite in me still comes through so pond it is... Anyway, this shot is an example of my camera's limits - the zoom gets a bit fuzzy at this distance, but you can't really sneak up on turtles so this is about the best I can do.

P.S. Happy B-Day, J.P.! And many more!!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

It's a nonagon, naturally

I mentioned we live in a "roundish" house. Well, it's actually 9-sided which is known as a nonagon (think pentagon w/ 4 addtl sides or an octagon w/ 1 extra thrown in for good measure). As I've read, the term "enneagon" is more appropriate, but I'll stick with something I can spell and pronounce.

Living in a gazebo presents a few challenges when it comes to arranging furniture. Several rooms are shaped like pie slices - larger at the outside and tapering in towards the interior. Makes it difficult when you don't have any 45 degree angles and you have a couple of corner cabinets... But the "great room" feel of the main interior, with the high cedar ceilings and the 9-sided skylight in the center, is really wonderful. Just don't expect much of an attic.

Whistle while you work!

I love these little guys! They are black-bellied whistling ducks. As you may have guessed from their name, they "whistle" instead of quack. They sit in trees and prefer not to swim too long in the pond. They first made their appearance at Run*A*Round about 7 years ago. (They were so odd, I had to search in the "rare" section of my bird reference book to find out what they were. I even reported them to the Texas Ornithological Society since back then they had not yet registered sightings in our county.)

That first year, 14 of them showed up one day in April. Ever since then, we've gotten returns of about 10 to 12 per year. We had a pair nest on our pond one year, but after losing all of their ducklings to snapping turtles (and maybe a few to our dogs!) we've not seen babies here since. But they happily fly in every day, several times a day, and squawk and squeal and raise holy heck to try to scare away other pairs while they enjoy munching under the bird feeder tree. Then in fall, they gather into a small flock and fly off once again for lands south of the border.

P.S. This photo was taken through my office window - even through the screen. But since we recently got new windows installed, the screens are clear and crud-free. :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Wild onions couldn't keep me away.

Mowing the yard the first couple times of the season always involves a (re)learning curve. You have to remember the contours of the yard, figure out where the new low spots and horse-hoofprint-pits are, and take pains to stay out of the pond, avoid low tree limbs, etc. You have to map out your mowing strategy and get your "saddle seat" back.

Then there's these guys. Run through a good patch of these, then get downwind, and whew! The tears may flow!

Gatorade, optional

Yum! Nothing goes better after a day of munching green, followed by a scoop of feed pellets, than a good salt/mineral lick. Fulfills an RDA requirement, I'm sure.

In hot summer months, when the temps are extreme (close to 100 or more) and just standing there makes the horses swelter, I've been known to add crystalized electrolytes to their feed. I'm sure if I mixed it in water, it would taste JUST like Gatorade.

Monday, April 12, 2010

I blog, therefore I am...

I finally entered the age of web technology (or at least adding content to it) with this blog. I've been following my friend's blog for years Her photos are much artsier and 100x more professional than mine will ever be. And her wit is sharper than most (as is her sarcasm) - consider yourself warned!

Anyway, unlike my friend, my Kodak Easy-Share camera is set on "auto" and the only lenses I use are built in. But my kids are cute, the place is pretty, the wildlife is pretty amazing, and I find I have more time on my hands these days than I've had before, so I jumped in to entertain you as best as I can.

You won't find me tweeting or friending any time soon, but I'll be happy to share some country life with you here.

Shy little buttercup

Ahh. Nothing better than springtime in Texas. For maybe 2 months out of the year (somewhere between end of February and end of April) we enjoy nature's awakening. Birds chirp, branches bud, grass greens up once again. And the wildflowers appear in droves.

This year we have an abundant crop of buttercups growing behind our barn - thanks, I'm sure, to the multitudinous rains (and snow!) we had all winter long. The bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes are coming in nicely too in the front pasture. But so are those pesky mesquite trees. More on those some other day...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Making waffles...

'Tis shedding season here at Run*A*Round. Horses, dogs, and cat are all ready to leave the winter woolies behind. I've even begun reaching for shorts and t-shirts instead of the sweats I'm accustomed to living in.

The horses always appreciate a little help with stripping away their excess fluff. The grooming tool makes little Eggo-like horsehair waffles which waft around the barn floor until they're eventually blown away or maybe end up in some fur-lined, luxury birds' nest somewhere.

Shades of "The Godfather"

These photos SO capture the essence of life here in the country with our 4-legged kids.

This is Baron with his latest big "haul". The dogs like to go into the nearby fields and bring back critters, dead animals, pelts, etc. Usually they are small critters they've killed themselves (raccoons, possums, turtles, snakes, etc.) or they're parts of larger critters (mostly legs and hooves and bones from cows that have died or been slaughtered, jawbones from coyotes, etc.) But this was new. It's a horse skull. I guess the neighbor next door lost one of their old cow ponies and either left it out for the coyotes to scavenge on or didn't bury it very well.

As usual, it ended up in the Run*A*Round critter/carcass disposal system - the pond. I'm sure it'll "rear its ugly head" again whenever the pond gets low.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

No, this is not a horse ranch in Virginia...

I googled for similar names on the web. RunAround Ranch shows up as a 35 acre equestrian farm in Chesterfield, VA. I'm sure it's both beautiful and impressive.

Our Run*A*Round Ranch was named as such for 2 reasons: 1) We received quite the runaround when we tried to purchase it some years ago - running into a lot of red tape and delays with sellers, unsuccessful buyers, bids, etc. and 2) we have a distinctive roundish house that resembles an oversized gazebo.

I'm sure that RunAround is a professionally run, well-maintained horse ranch. Run*A*Round more closely describes what our 5 dogs love to do here. Professionally run, no. Totally fun, YES!

The most blessed person on Earth...

It's days like yesterday that make me feel like the most blessed person on the Earth.

Started out with a cool 40-something, then quickly warmed to a gorgeous, almost-perfect 75. Sunny, breezy. Simply gorgeous.

I was able to do stuff around the house - hung 6 out of 10 new mini-blinds upstairs - and managed to do it without major incident or injury.

Spent time outside weed eating around the house until the battery wore down on the weed eater (and my arms were tired too).

Tried to take a nap with 4 out of the 5 dogs - they slept but I didn't really. But I watched them and listened to them snore and snuffle.

Louise, one of the Catahoulas, made me laugh out loud. I was sitting on the deck this afternoon, enjoying a gin and tonic and hanging out with the dogs. The horses figured it was time to come up to the barn to be fed although I was stalling a bit yet. Louise runs towards the fence line, then realizes she needs to "surprise" Zim, my gelding, so switches to a sudden "casual" walk, moving off sideways like she wasn't really heading for Zim at all. Then sprints under the fence and barks ferociously at his heels like he never saw her coming.

Brushed my 28 yr old mare, Pearl. She's still so incredibly beautiful, she takes my breath away (I was watching her from the upstairs windows when I should have been attaching mini-blind brackets).

Got to "take a little off the top" for Tuxedo, the barn cat, too. He loves the shedding blade and weaves in and out of Pearl's legs and meows until I brush him too.

The clovers growing through the yard are so beautiful I have to stop and look at groups of them to admire them and make sure a 4-leafer isn't waiting for me to find it. The greens in the lawn, trees and shrubs are so stunning in the sunlight.

The wood duck pairs and the black-bellied whistler pairs fly in and out throughout the day to grab a bite under the bird feeder tree - if Thelma and BB are not standing guard, waiting for the squirrel they've trapped in the tree to foolishly make a run for it.

Marigold, at 12 1/2 yrs old, still makes me smile when she grabs a hoof and chews on it for a while. And Baron, as disgusting as it is, made me laugh when he hauled over an entire horse leg from the carcass somewhere in the pasture next door (of course I threw it in the pond).

These moments fill my heart and soul. I hope I made you smile, and I hope God blessed you too!
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