Category Archives: Uncategorized

December 14

Was taught a bit of a lesson today here on the Hunker Down.  And, my teacher was none other than Missy the rescue dog.  I was spending some “quality time” on the internet since I had a signal I could depend on for the first time in a couple of days. (we just love AT&T here about)  Missy was out in the front yard chasing squirrels when she suddenly took of for the back garden area, and started raising all sorts of cain.  I figured she had one of the guinea hens treed , and even went out on the porch once to call her on it.  Noticed at that point that she was on the far side of the goat pen.  Got her to come in, but she was still in this agitated sort of mood, barking at me, pulling on my pants leg and pulling the kerchief from my back pocket.  All in all making it hard for me to concentrate on whatever was more important at the time.

SO,  I ran her outside again and settled back in front of the computer when the incessant barking over by the goat pen started up again.  It’s really not like her to make so much noise, so this time, I walked out that way.  Didn’t take long to realize that the goat we call Tricky had managed to catch her hind foot up in the wire of one of the hay mangers, and was literally hanging from it.  Poor girl was in quite a lot of distress, but not having my “ears” in, all I could hear was Missy barking, and no distress cries from the goat.  Wasn’t hard to un-catch her–just picked her up and once her weight was no longer pulling on it she lifted her foot right out, and although she is limping around, she is putting some of her weight on it, so I’m hopeful that it isn’t hurt too bad.

Now isn’t that something.  That little dog was trying her best to alert me to some trouble, and I just wasn’t paying attention.  Next time she sets off on a tare like that, you best believe I won’t waste any time checking out the reason…”What is it girl??  Timmy fell down the well again??”  Smart little dog, and a dumb old man here on the Hunker Down Ranch

JVC

Dec 7

It’s been a long time since I last posted from here on the Hunker Down.  One might think that is because I have been spending my time “hunkered down” but truth be told, I’ve been busy as that old one legged man in the 4th of July sack race was.

Haven’t had any internet access for the past 2 days, –guess it froze up along with everything else around here.  It’s Dec 7th, and we have already had two healthy cold fronts.  This one came with a bit of snow and freezing rain, and since the temperature is going to stay below freezing today, the stuff is going to stick around for a while.  That doesn’t happen very often in this part of the world, and while it may be a treat for the neighbor’s kids, it’s a royal PITA for me.  Took a spill this morning while carrying some liquid water from the house  to the chicken pen—feet went right out from under me—and have been carrying water and breaking up the ice on the goats water tank a couple time a day.  But since I’m not too interested in spending any more time outside than absolutely necessary, it’s a good chance to bring the blog up to date, and watch the birds at the front yard feeders.  Pretty neat to see 8-10 male Cardinals gathered in the cedar (ash juniper) tree –the only green left in the yard.  Rather appropriate for the season I guess.

Some of this I probably have covered before, but without internet, I don’t know exactly when the last post went up.

Missy dog—the lost little pregnant pup had her puppies which were all adopted at the proper time, and she has now been altered so puppies will not be an issue any longer. (at least how things stand now).  She is a good little dog, and I’ve enjoyed having her as a traveling companion (more on that later).  She is a bit rambunctious, though and she does show too much interest in the chickens and guinea hens.  We are working at resolving that particular problem, although the only bird I’ve lost has been to Bert the LGD.  He has gotten ahold of a couple—just holds them down and licks on them.  The one that died, I didn’t get to quick enough, and Bert literally licked it to death—well, it was still alive when I got to it, but it was so traumatized and denuded of feathers, it didn’t survive the night in spite of my attempt to keep it warm and dry.  Missy also has decided that 8 am is long enough for me to stay in bed, and she starts barking and pulling at the covers until I get up.  Would have liked a dog like that when I had kids in school!!!

What has been keeping me busy has been the potential sale of the Liberty Hill property.  Had a good contract with a hefty earnest money deposit, and a closing date only three weeks off.  This was back in October, and since I had been trying to sell the property for about a year and a half without any offers, I was pretty jacked up about it.  Anyway, since we had left the place furnished, and hadn’t done much about cleaning up the shop space we got busy—bought an 8×12 storage building, rented a uhaul truck, gathered up a lot of friends and family, and dove right in.  Got most everything from the house in the uhaul—could have used a bigger truck,– and got it up to the Hunker Down without any trouble, and stuffed the storage building and much of my tractor garage also—could have used a bigger storage building too.

A former apprentice took most of the more exotic carving stock I had on hand, and also asked to buy the forklift,  I guess we spent much of three weekends moving rock tools and equipment , and the buyer dropped off a load of doors and windows for the work he was going to do to the shop.  2 days before closing, the buyer’s wife (of only 6 weeks) filed for divorce, and that deal was off.  Felt so bad for the guy, I couldn’t even keep all of his earnest deposit—we split it – but what a letdown—was already putting that equity to good use in my dreams.

Anyway, the buyer’s realtor got busy and had another contract presented, and before I could get back down to LH to sign it, another contract was also presented, so we had a little bidding war, the result being quite favorable for me.  However, the new closing date was not until Dec 10th, and now that has been pushed back also.   I just want it to conclude ASAP.

As for the traveling and Missy’s companionship, I guess between that first weekend and this past Monday I made at least 2 dozen trips between here and there.  Put lots of miles on each of my vehicles (about 250 mile round trip), and ran up some sizable fuel bills—over 900.00 for October, and over 600.00 for November.  Shoot, the F-450 diesel drank over a hundred in one trip alone. Now Missy threw up the first 2 times I took her anywhere, and then hasn’t been car sick since.  I’m thinking that since she was obviously just dropped off by her previous human, she, thinking the same was about to happen all over, stressed out so much about being in a vehicle again it made her physically sick.  Since she now knows a ride is just a ride, she is a good traveler, and she gives me an opportunity to sing to someone other than myself during those long country highway miles.

As to what has been happening on the ranch—not much.  I have been able to spend some time prepping the garden.  Built 5 new raised beds, three of which are ready for early planting, plus a double length raised bed for some blackberry bushes.  Have picked up one load of stable cleanings from Maria in Clyde, and should be getting another soon (once the ice clears).  And we have been digging up as much of the Bermuda grass runners as we possibly can—I once let that stuff get ahead of me and it is hell to deal with then.  One of the first improvements once that equity is in hand will be some water storage, and some rain water harvesting system so I can water without running up the utility bill.  Need to make good use of what little water we seem to get here, and that is something that needs attending to.

Goats are all doing well as far as I can tell.  The new billy (Buddy) appears to have been doing his job—several of the does, including double wide the baby factory, are expanding nicely .  Hoping for a good crop of kids early this spring.  To market to market off we go.

Will post this up soon as AT&T lets me

That’s how it is on the Hunker Down Ranch

JVC

October 10

Been a couple of real busy weeks.  Won’t be making a lot of comment right now, but do want to get a few pictures up.  First, I went and bought a new billy for the girls.  Some how he is now called Buddy:grand daughter Zoe + new pups etc 028 (800x528) He is what is called a “percentage” boar goat, 6-7 months old, pretty gentle right now.  The does were enthralled with him when I first put him up in the smaller side pen.  They had his pen surrounded pushing on the wire and flirting their tails off.  The thought was to keep him separated for a few days, but I guess we forgot to tell him.  He managed to get out and joined the herd on his second day here, and has fit right in.grand daughter Zoe + new pups etc 030 (800x536) - Copy

Also the puppies have been —well being puppies.  They have discovered the freedom of the yard, and don’t really want to be penned up except at nap time, and after dark.  They will be 8 weeks this coming Sunday.  Anyone looking for a nice “wonder” dog??grand daughter Zoe + new pups etc 032 (800x422) - Copy grand daughter Zoe + new pups etc 033 (800x534) - Copy grand daughter Zoe + new pups etc 040 (800x536) - Copy grand daughter Zoe + new pups etc 046 (800x529) - Copy grand daughter Zoe + new pups etc 022 (800x522)The cat is named Nemis, and he has decided it is his job to keep the pups well occupied.

Final news–have a contract on the Liberty Hill property.  Cash sale, and the closing date is on the 18th.  Much of our time has been tied up with trying to move every thing.  Have a U-haul box van reserved for this weekend and hope to get all the furniture and the boxed up stuff in one trip, and a new double loft 8×12 storage building should also be delivered here to the hunker down by the time I arrive with the load.

Weather forecast is for rain which I’ll welcome, even if it means working wet.

JVC

September 22

AAAH—Life on the ranch; just one new adventure after another.  DL and I have been working rather steadily on that old east side fence.  Actually, we were painting on the chicken coop building—DL working on the trim (she is much neater than I am) and I was busy whitewashing the inside of the coop when DL says to me that the goats were sure talking a lot.  I sort of blew it off since I didn’t have my ears in, and was inside, but DL got real curious about it, and went to have a look.  Next thing I know, she’s yelling at me that the goats were across the fence (AGAIN).  So, I put down the whitewash brush, and went to see what all the commotion was about, and sure enough, part of the herd, along with Bert, were on the wrong side of that east fence trying to get back to the right side without a clue as how to do that.  Some of the other goats and Ernie were giving them some encouragement, and I crossed over to give them even more.  DL went for some corn, while I tried to keep them together near the fence—a bit of a job since they wanted to get back to the OP pasture for some strange browsing that is no different from the browsing in my pasture.  Long story short,–after much ado, a lot of coaxing, and loosening the wire ties on a couple of strands to widen the gap, we finally got them all back together where they belong, whether they think so or not.

Once we got them all settled, I took off for BW with the “BIG TRUCK” and trailer where I picked up ten 50 in x 16 ft. cattle panels at Tractor Supply, and the next day DL and I were “working fence” again.  Tied up 4 or 5 of the panels, and then began clearing the fence line northward from where we had stopped the previous time we were “working fence”.  This is a real old fence, and well over grown since it has been a long time since anyone has thought about doing some maintenance on it.  I suspect we got another 60-70 feet or so cleared—me on my hands and knees nipping and sawing the cat briar and assorted saplings off at ground level while DL pulled it back out of the way—before we just had to call it a day.

Next two days brought us some much needed and welcomed rain—not quite 2 inches total.  Other close by areas had a lot more than that, but I’m not complaining one bit—every drop is a blessing.  And, to be perfectly honest, I sure did welcome the down time to recover from that day on the fence line.

Meanwhile, Missy the new found dog’s puppies are growing and becoming a little more demanding of our time.  I should say DL’s time, since she is being real particular as to how they are to be weaned, but DL is off on another journey this weekend, so it is my time now that the demands are being put on.  Anyway, the little buggers are not much trouble, and kind of cute, and I don’t mind playing bitch for a few days.  Unfortunately, I’ll be back on the fence line again tomorrow because—

I was sitting at the computer enjoying a little bit of time with a good internet connection ( something that seems to get a little worse with each “up-grade”) when I started hearing some gun fire from the property on the east side.  Decided to walk over that direction to check it out—it is dove season, but the shots were coming from a rifle, not a shotgun, so I was a little curious.  Especially since the goats and LGDs were nowhere to be seen.  Walked the area where we had been working the other day, and figured someone was sighting in their rifle.  Since I was over that way,  checked out some more of the line for gaps—discovered two more places where downed limbs need to be cleared off the fence, but no particularly weak spots to my thinking, but then it seems those goats can find a weak spot in a solid brick wall.  Had just about reached the first area I had repaired several weeks ago after the first crossing incident, when damned if I didn’t see every blinking one of my goats on the wrong side of the fence again.  I gave the old “yo goats” yell, and actually was surprised when they all headed for the fence and home base.  Ernie got to me first, and I suspect he had been keeping watch on the right side while all his charges were on the other side, and as they were coming across, I was able to spot the latest crossing spot—a pretty good sized hole in the old field fence up near the north east corner of the property.  So that’s tomorrow’s job, just waiting for me.

Now, I don’t mind staying busy, but there are some other chores I’d rather stay busy at.  And all this fence work is seriously cutting in to my front porch rocker time.

JVC

September 7

Been a while since my last news post, and there have been a few things happen since then.  Had a nice little rain early on the 2nd–about .8 inch, but nothing since then.  Have gotten to watch the clouds build up each afternoon–as I am right now looking south –but the rain has not been here on the Hunker Down.  I was in BW Thursday for my veterans group, and enjoyed driving out of town during a real “gully washer”  It was flooding the streets it was coming down so hard: tried to drag it home with me, but no luck.  Well at least some folk around here are getting wet.

Have harvested the last of the cantaloupe–um-um have they been a treat.  Couple of the tomato vines are coming on strong right now along with some jalapenos.  That’s about it for the spring garden.  The sets I put out to start the fall were well enjoyed by the hoppers–got to get those chickens and guinea hens ASAP, or there won’t be a fall garden this year.  Praying for a wet cold winter to put a dent in the hopper population for next year.  Fingers crossed.

Took some of the herd to auction yesterday.  That is a new experience for me, and it does move really quick.  I suppose after a few, it gets a little easier to understand.  My friend Patrick and I had a lot of fun separating out the “goers”–only drew blood on me twice–once a real gusher that necessitated a break while I doctored it up.  We didn’t stay at the auction long, so I’ll wait for a check in the mail to see if I made out or not.

Missy’s little pups are starting to move about a bit more, and peeking over the lip of the box they are in.  Suppose that it won’t be but a few days more before they start making their escape, and that will signal the start of me having to deal with them more.–OH BOY.  For DL–who has conveniently been away, some pictures.mostlypups 005 (800x536)

 

tmostlypups 007 (536x800) mostlypups 009 (536x800)

 

 

August 27

At last, Hell Week is over.    When I last posted, I mentioned some of the east fence line that was completely down—overgrown with cat’s claw vines and attacked in several places by falling tree limbs.  Worked at clearing the fence line for 4 days.  Fortunately, my friend the pet gifter came out and was a great help with that chore.  It enabled us to work both sides at once, which was really the only practical way of doing it.  We put in 16 new t-posts, and eventually found ourselves all the way down to where we had stopped patching the east side after the great escape back in March.  We got the field netting tied back up, but I still need to splice all the broken barbed wire, or if it proves to be too brittle, replace it completely.  I suspect that all together we now have about 1/3 of that east line cleared—good progress towards an entirely new fence in the not too distant future.

We took the weekend to do a little flea marketing—nice one near Stevensville that is only opened the 2nd and 4th weekends each month, and really draws the vendors, plus a lot of little shops in Comanche,  Brownwood, and Santa Anna.  We really made the rounds, and it helped DL get over all that work during the previous few days.  (I hope)  Yesterday, DL hit the road again, and with the help of another friend, I finally got the rear wheels off of my F-450.  The truck is 13 years old now, but only has 60k miles on it, and I don’t remember ever pulling the inner wheels in all that time, and the outer where not much fun either.  Success was had by dragging the oxyacetylene rig out, and using a hydraulic jack between the frame and inside edge of the rims while heating the wheels up pretty good.  Gonna put 4 new tires on the ground since I need to be doing some hauling from LH to the Hunker Down, and the little Nissan PU just won’t cut it.

Woke up this morning (Tuesday) to a steady mist/drizzle, and since I had bought some fall vegetable sets yesterday while in town, I decided it would be a good day to work in the garden.  Managed to get 4 planting beds cultivated and composted, and then the drizzle turned into a nice light rain.  After getting as wet as I cared to get, I came on into the house and dried off with a hot shower.  Now the clouds are lifting, so once I finish this, I’ll slip into the wet and muddy jeans and see what I can get into the ground.  —– WOW–lucky timing.  I just finished putting in the last broccoli set when another nice shower passed by

Speaking of gifted pets,  little Missy had 5 pups last weekend.

Missy when she first showed up here:photo(1)

covered in beggars lice. photo (800x453)Missy today:missy&babies+ 029 (800x505)and her pups missy&babies+ 026 (800x522)and just for fun–the young goat I call “tricky”missy&babies+ 001 (800x536) out on a limb

missy&babies+ 003 (800x527)

JVC

August 19

So what’s new here on the Hunker Down—well Friday afternoon I got a call from my neighbor; did I know that my goats were on her side of the fence.  Didn’t know before she called, but I did then.  So I stopped what I was doing, and went over and got my goats back where they were supposed to be.  Then’ since that articular fence line (west side) was new and as good a goat fence one can build (no—it won’t hold water),  I walked it from end to end looking for where the little Houdini’s had escaped.  First time in a good while since they had, and we did some pretty good patch work then.  Well, nothing on the west side, and nothing that looked like it had been crossed on the north, but, I did find a dead fall on the east side fence, and it was obvious that there had been some traffic over the fence there.

Saturday morning, I got out there, working on clearing the line on both sides of the dead fall, and was busily prepping things for some patch work when the goats started browsing towards where I was working.  Needless to say, they wanted to make an exit—even though nothing on the other side was any different from mine.  So, I’m trying to drift them in another direction when about 8 of my goats came running up the ATV road on the other side of the fence and proceeded to run up and across on the dead fall.  Indicated to me that there was another crossing somewhere on that east side—oh boy, just what I needed. 

Anyway, I got the herd drifted back towards the center of the property, and then called them into the pen where I knew they would stay put,  got the chainsaw after the dead fall and finished clearing what needed fixing,  We have a heavy growth of “Cats Claw” vine, and it is a devil to cut out.

Sunday morning, I take a half dozen 1” pipe posts up there and while I was proceeding to drive them in I hear a god awful bellowing, and look across the ATV road at a pretty good sized Black Angus bull who apparently didn’t appreciate all the noise I was making.  He was snorting and stomping and scraping—all the things an angry bull does in preparation for a charge, but I just talked to him –told him I was sorry but needed to get those posts into the ground, and he decided that he would just as soon stay on his side of the line.  He wandered out of sight, but kept at the bellowing for quite a while.  I spent pretty much the entire day patching about 40 foot of real weak fence line.  Actually the entire east side fence is rather weak and at least 50 years old.  New fence is on my list of things to do when time and money are available at the same time.

Fell into bed exhausted after finishing up all the regular evening chores, and the new little pup my friend gifted me a couple of weeks back decided that last night would be as good a time as any to prove she really was pregnant, and started having pups.  She was in the little “pet bed” my friend had bought for her, and I decided that was OK by me.  I was reminded this morning that it would get pretty “yucky” pretty quick, but I had other things on my mind—Like about 100 feet of that east side fence that was no longer fence at all.  Over the years the cat’s claw had so overwhelmed it that the posts and wire was flat on the ground.  Appears to me that I’ll be rather busy for the next few days not doing the jobs I need to finish like planting the fall garden and getting some chickens in the coop.  Oh well, keeping the goats to home is probably an important priority.

Looking forward to a little break tomorrow—need to drive to Temple for a VA appointment.  Only about 130 miles each way.

JVC