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.


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)


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.


August 11

Odd thing happened while I was feeding the bottle babies this morning.  I am now feeding them in the pen with the other goats before I turn them out for the day, but very rarely do any of the other goats show much interest in what’s going on. (Bert & Ernie do though)  Well, this morning their momma came right up to where I was sitting with the babies sucking away on their bottles, and began sniffing around on the bottles and the babies.  Almost like she still knows that they are hers, and she was making sure I was doing right by them.  Probably just my imagination, but it sure was strange.

Brief shower during the afternoon–about a tenth.  Had been working in the garden trying to make some sense out of the tomato bushes–didn’t stake them when I put them out, figuring the grasshoppers were just going to make a meal out of them.  Well they didn’t–seems like that nice 7 inch rain we had last month slowed the hoppers down significantly–and now I’ve got tomato vines crawling all over each other.  Got the major confusion sort of sorted out and staked, still more to do.  Glad that all the work earlier this spring didn’t just dry up and blow away—seemed to be the direction things were headed before those clouds sat on top of us for those few days.  Would be nice if it would happen again sometime soon.Any, feeling a lot better about prepping for the fall planting.

that’s whats happening on the Hunker Down today.


August 10

Probably a week has passed since I last posted—not much going on around the Hunker Down these days.  Hot and humid, and not very conducive for outdoor work so I haven’t been doing much of that.  A little work on the chicken pen, a little work in the garden, actually hooked the shredder up to the tractor and spent some time out on it—but all in all, you might say I’ve come down with the summer lazy flu.

Getting lots of squash –yellow crook neck for the most part, but a few butter nuts also.  And, the zucchini plants that the grasshoppers completely devastated have shown signs of revival, and picked a couple of nice zucchinis also.  Lot of cantaloupes coming on, and even some water melons are starting to show.  Tomatoes —getting a nice amount of green ones, but the only ripe tomatoes I’ve had were from a couple of potted cherry tomato plants by the front porch, and the bottle babies took a liking to those plants.  We had a nice little quarter inch shower the other night, and the clouds are building up to the south right now, although there is nothing in the forecast for the next few days.  Every drop sure helps out though.

Speaking of the bottle babies—now 9 weeks old and spending most of their time with the herd.  Feeding with full liter bottles now since they started draining the 20 oz. bottles we had been using, and I’ve been feeding them in the goat pen so I won’t have any more garden trouble from them.  I’m still their mom though, and whenever they see me, they let me know that with their bleating.   Bert & Ernie have taken it upon themselves to give these little girls some extra attention—I guess they instinctively know that there is a disconnect between these two and the rest of the herd that will take some time undoing.


August 2

First post this month—we’re in the midst of the “dog days” of summer, and because it is so hot, I find myself not doing very much in the way of outdoor work—or any work for that matter.  For everything there is a season, and this is my season to relax.  I have been prepping a couple of beds in the garden since the end of August-first of September is fall garden planting time, and I would like to try a few things.  Just watching the long range weather, and getting serious about getting a storage tank—2500 to 3000 gallons—that I can fill from the pond, and then have water for the garden without worrying about the SUD water restrictions.  Hard to become “self-sufficient” without growing some food, and hard to get that food to grow without any water, eh??

The new pup has moved right on in, just like she has always been here.  Got to get a picture of her toothy grin –have never seen anything quite like it.   Gypsy has also adjusted, and is being very tolerant, although the new pup doesn’t bother her very much, anyway.  When I woke up this morning, they were curled up next to each other beside the bed—a good sign of peaceful co-existence.

The bottle babies are doing well—feeding them just twice a day now, about 20 oz. each at each feeding.  Also keeping them in with the rest of the herd at night, and letting them roam with the herd for part of the day.  Snowball has gotten to where she will eat the dry feed some, and consequently she seems to be taking a little less formula than Cinnamon is.  Also, Snowball seems to be a little more at ease with the other goats.  Of course, Cinnamon, being the “runt of the litter” has always been a little behind Snowball at every new stage, so I expect she will adapt better in the next day or so.

The mosquitoes have eased up a little, still out there, but not nearly as bad as a week ago.  The grasshoppers have also eased up a little.  Could be that the rain had something to do with that.

All in all, it’s been a nice quiet, peaceful day here on the Hunker Down—just the way I like it.  Summertime, and the living is easy—can’t ask for anything more than that.


July 31

Last day in July, and the weather has certainly been “seasonal”.  That is hot, dry, and hot.  Grateful for the 3 day rain event we had earlier in the month, but it would be nice to get some more.  What few pop-up showers that have blessed the area have, as is typical, not popped up on top of the Hunker Down.  Even heard a little thunder to the east while out mowing the yard earlier today, but that’s as close as it got.

Have talked about Bert & Ernie in prior posts, but have not even mentioned Gypsy who is top dog on the Hunker Down.  Gypsy more or less adopted me about 12 years ago.  Friend found her abandoned in a local (L.H.) park, and brought her over.  Dog walked up to me in the shop, sat down next to me and, and gave me that “what’s next” look.  After spending a little time and effort trying to locate her “owner”, I took her over to my vet for a health checkup and shots.  Turned out that she had a case of heart worm—if treated, she’d probable live another 6-7 years, if not, only 2-3.  She was probably about 4-5 years old at the time, and someone had cared enough to have her spayed.  Since she was a good natured, pretty well behaved dog, I bit the bullet, and had her treated for the heart worms, —-an expensive proposition which entails nearly killing the dog with an arsenic drip, and takes several days.   Well, like I mentioned, that was about 12 years ago, her once all black coat now has a lot of gray around the muzzle, and she is pretty arthritic and carrying too much weight, but the old girl still has game.  As is often the case, dogs that pick me turn out to be much better dogs than any I’ve picked out and paid for, Gypsy has been one of the best.

Now, I bring up Gypsy, since another “found” dog has joined the menagerie here at the Hunker Down.  Same friend brought this one in too, having found it on the side of the Highway, so covered with beggar’s lice, and other stickers that the poor thing wasn’t even recognizable as a dog.  We spent a few hours de-burring her which she endured with hardly a whimper, and gave her a bath, which she didn’t take to as well as the de-burring.  She is the ugliest little pup I’ve ever seen, but a sweet little girl in spite of that—quiet and pretty well behaved, and unfortunately most likely pregnant.  Otherwise, she is in good health, and we got her all the important shots and heartworm and flea & tick stuff, and she is now another house dog at the Hunker Down Ranch headquarters.  Only issue is that Gypsy—numero uno dog — seems to be a bit jealous, a trait she has never exhibited before.  She’s not being snappy or anything like that, but her demeanor sure indicates that she is not real enthusiastic about this turn of events.

More later,


July 24

Been a couple days since I last wrote—kind of busy.  The visit with my eldest and her two daughters was great.  I haven’t seen them in quite a few years, and those girls have really grown.  They got to bottle feed the babies and we wandered around the ranch a little bit, but because of this newly emergent plague of mosquitoes, the heat, and the humidity, we did not spend a lot of time out side.  Old JVC fired up the grill and fixed hamburgers and hotdogs, we enjoyed some cantaloupe from the garden, and some sweet cherries from the big box store in BW.  Then they were off back to Abilene, and I was back to work.

Yesterday, my job was to pump the water in the catchment basin up to the stock tank.  Now, I have done this a couple of times before without any problem, so figured it would go OK yesterday also.  I had to use some “Aggie engineering” when I put together the coupling between the 2” discharge line (of which I have 100”) to the black “poly pipe” that finishes the run to the tank, and although it would leak slightly, it was not an issue.  Yesterday it was.  Seems that since the outlet end of the discharge line and pipe was under water this go round, it created too much back pressure on the line, and it came apart at the above mentioned coupling.  Since I didn’t notice right off, I also managed to pump a few hundred gals. of precious water out on the ground where it proceeded to run off and/or soak in.  So, I’m off to the Home Depot for other fittings to re-aggie engineer the coupling, but of course, what I really needed they didn’t have, so I picked up a bunch of various 2” and 1-1/2 “ pvc fittings, hoping that I could make it work.  Then I stopped at a plumbing supply place, where they did have the piece I needed.  Suppose I should have just gone there in the first place.  An inch and a half pipe nipple fits snuggly inside the polypipe, but the end coupling of the 2” discharge hose needs to screw onto a 2 inch fitting, so what I needed and finally got was a reducing bushing from 2” male thread to 1-1/2” female thread, and that took care of that.  Made sure that the discharge end would stay above water level, and I was back in business.  I figure by a rough conservative estimate that I was able to move 18,000-20,000 gallons of water to the main tank.

Now my little brain got to working, and I figured that if the main tank was going to keep going dry periodically while this drought hangs on, I don’t really want to stock it with fish again.   Well, I really do and the catfish seemed to thrive, but it is such a waste if (when) it dries up again.  So, little brain thinks that maybe, I should put up an elevated water storage tank near the garden, and keep it full by pumping water from the main tank up to it.  Need to give it some more thought, but it just might be a GOOD IDEA.  Of course, I’d need to get some cash together to do it, but then, that’s only money, and stored water is worth a whole lot more than that.

Made a dump run today and they do have a nice pile of wood chip mulch there–5 bucks a pickup load, or they will deliver in county a 20 yard dump load for $120.00.  Stuff would sure make some nice foot paths around the old Hunker Down, and maybe help keep me from tracking so much mud in after those occasional rains.   More project for down the road.  If I can manage to live long enough to finish up all I’d like to do around here, I’d live forever.


July 21

I seem to have forgotten that every blessing has a down side.  All that nice rain has brought out the mosquitoes.  Been so long since I’ve been aware of any here on the Hunker Down, that i near forgot that they even exist.  Well, when I went out to let the goats out of the pen this morning, I sure remembered quick enough.  Wasn’t even through the gate and I was swarmed.  These guys are the big slow moving black ones that leave a blood splat behind when you swat them.  The green t-shirt I put on this morning is beginning to look a lot like Christmas now with all the red “balls” it is decorated with. Personally, I prefer the little fast moving jet fighter mosquitoes over these heavy bombers.

Tomorrow promises to be an exciting day here on the Hunker Down.  I’m expecting a visit from my oldest daughter and my two grand daughters.  Haven’t seen any of them in maybe 5 years or so since son-in-law works for the state department and they are generally some where other than here in the states.  Looking forward to the visit, and it’s probably time for me to do some house cleaning anyway.  Got the fixin’s for a hamburger/hotdog cook out which should be fun.

All for now,