July 20

Figured that I’d make today a “chain saw day”  Did manage to finish up with the oak that came down on the south fence line, and spent some time with the loppers hacking away the crown on the other downed tree near the yard fence.  Lucky for me, the goats had 3 days or so to work the downed crown over, so there weren’t many leaves to deal with–makes it a lot easier to get the loppers in where they need to be.  By about noon thirty, I was soaking wet, and ready to cool off, and that just about ended any progress I was making.  Have only gone out again to fill the bird feeders, and I think I’ll grab the camera and get a few after the rain pictures to put up on this blog.  Maybe, I’ll have enough gumption left in me to crank up the saw again later–much later–this afternoon/evening.

OK—did take the old camera on a little walk about, here are the results

water in the tank againafter the rain 003 (800x536) after the rain 005 (800x536)and Bert & Ernie rushing to see what was making all the noise (me, stomping aroundafter the rain 010 (800x536)here is the water in the little catchment pond down by the front gateafter the rain 012 (800x536)which soon will be added to the tank,  Don’t know where they hang out when things are dryafter the rain 014 (536x800) and as per Autumn’s request–Snowball & Cinnamon–aka dasher and dancerafter the rain 018 (800x536) after the rain 017 (800x536) and finally, a couple of the goats hard at workafter the rain 023 (800x536)More later, got to feed my babies.

JVC

July 18

Just added another tenth of an inch or so over last night–almost 8 inches from the event.  Talked with some friends at group today, and they had anywhere from 3-4 inches up to 10-12 inches.  Heard some mention of 14 and 15 inches up on the Lake Brownwood watershed, so maybe this will ease the water restrictions also.  Blue sky now, and everything is green and happy–doesn’t get any better than this (excepting if we can get another good rain event in another week or so.)

The bottle babies are growing and really hitting the bottle now.  Both of them guzzle the first 12 oz. or so  without stopping for a breath, or so it seems.  Snowball will stop at that point, shake her head, and go back for another 3-4 good licks.  Cinnamon doesn’t stop until she is finished. Both are downing 16-18 oz. at a feeding now.  Today is the first day for trying them on a two a day schedule.  Seems to have worked pretty well since they are out browsing in the yard and not hanging out on the porch bitching at me to feed them right now.  Need to drive into Temple tomorrow, so they’ll get feed early and not again till I get back.

Saturday will be the GET BACK to WORK day–have been really lazy during the rain–even if the days have been relatively rain free.  But there is lots to get done, so vacation is over.  Looking out the window, there is a pair of brilliant red birds having a good time in the yard and painted buntings at both seed feeders.  Saw that big white dove again earlier.  Think that it is paired with one of those guys with the black half ring around their neck–what the book calls a Eurasian Collared dove–not supposed to be around here, but obviously the 6 hanging out in the yard didn’t get that word.

JVC

July 17

Only added .3 inches to the total since last night.  Got out in the garden this afternoon–turning a bed that prior to this good soaking had been too hard to stick a fork in,  Humidity so high, I could only handle it for a little while before retreating to the (AC) house.  Had another post oak break off about 6 feet above the ground.  This one was hollowed out also–that makes 4 or 5 in the last few years.  Got the chain saw back from the shop, so I need to finish clearing the one that is down on the south fence line, and then work on this new one.  The goats sure had a nice time climbing around in the now on the ground branches filling up on fresh oak leaves.

I suspect that the rain is not over yet–radar shows the moisture still moving up from the southeast, and I haven’t noticed any change in the wind.  National radar map seems to show a front

July 16

Hooray,  another 3.5 inches since I dumped the gauge last night.  Actually have some standing water even though the rain has stopped for now.  More in the forecast for the rest of today and tomorrow.  More later.

well. not much else happened as far as rain today–couple of showers that didn’t add anything to the gauge.  Happy as can be, though as the tank now has substantial water in it, and if it clears tomorrow, I’ll be setting up the pump on the catchment pond, and moving that water up to the tank also.  Will post up some pictures so you can see what a difference a couple of rainy night can make.  Oh, radar shows another line of storms coming our way from the southeast, and later tonight the wind will move around to the north as the front finally passes.  Could be a rough night before it is all out of here.

JVC

July 15

Rain—we finally got some.  3.3″ overnight, with more (fingers crossed) to come..Haven’t been out for a walk about yet to see if there has been enough run off to put some water back in the tank.  Dry as it has been, though, and the sandy nature of the soil, I suspect most of it has been soaking in which is a good thing—every thing needs a good drink.  I’ll update later.

the update—3.8 inches during the 24 hr period between putting the goats up last night and tonight.  Dumped the gauge but it is filling on up again.  Coming down hard right now.  Tank has some water once again, and the catchment pond by the gate will be worth pumping up to the main tank

Bottle babies have taken possession of the front porch–can’t say as I blame them

Feeling good on the Hunker Down right now

JVC

July 14

Well, according to the weather people, there is a good chance for rain beginning this evening and extending through Wednesday.  Varies from 30% all the way up to 70%.  Current radar shows all the action well to our east—Dallas -Waco area along the I-35  corridor.  Since our weather usually comes from the west, that’s not a good sign for the Hunker Down.  Keeping my fingers crossed, but not holding my breath.

JVC

July 11, 2013

well, tonight we have one of those 20% (wishful thinking) chance of rain forecasts,, and by god, it’s out there somewhere.  I can hear thunder, and while out a few minutes ago, I thought I could even smell rain, but so far, not a drop.  But I will continue to think wishfully.  🙂

had a treat tonight–first cantaloupe from the rapidly fading garden.  From the vine right to the tummy–even still a bit warm from the days heat.  Doesn’t get any better than that, and I’m not even particularly fond of cantaloupe—specially if it’s store bought.  Just sorry that the person I planted the vines for couldn’t be here to enjoy the fruit of my labor with me.  Hope there will still be some on their return in a couple of weeks.

Bottle babies are 5 weeks old today, and while a little bit smaller than their siblings who are with momma, they sure are getting big, hyper active and mischievous just like a little goat should be.  I’ve been taking them into the pen in the evening while I’m feeding and watering the herd.–tonight, Cinnamon, the smallest of them all, was having a head butting contest with her brother who is the biggest of the 4.  Double wide would try to  break it up with a little nudge, but the two little ones would just go right back after it when she would turn away.  Snowball, the other bottle baby, was enjoying a similar contest with what must be her niece–her mother’s daughter’s (from two generations back) first baby born during the past winter.  Seems like a size mismatch doesn’t mean a thing when it comes to goat contests.

Well that’s the way it is today on the Hunker Down–Time to start getting prepped for tomorrow.

JVC

July 10th, 2013

One of the pleasures of living in the woods is the ever present wildlife.  I keep several bird feeders in the front yard, which always gives me a little entertainment while relaxing on the front porch rocker.  Cardinals and tufted titmice are a year round presence, while seasonal visitors include several different finches, painted buntings, Carolina chickadees, redwing blackbirds, spotted towhees, and many smaller birds that these old eyes can’t see well enough to identify, and this old butt is too lazy to go find the binoculars to get a better look.  Also have a resident coopers hawk family, and some hummers from early spring to late fall.

Prior to fencing in the yard, I would sit on the porch and watch road runners and wild turkeys walk (run) through the yard within feet of where I was sitting—once, a good looking red fox trotted right through the yard also, stopping to check out the fire pit, but paid no attention to me being there.  Now, with the fence up, I don’t have those sort of up close and personal visits, but for a couple of weeks back in June, a wild turkey hen would walk from where she sitting a clutch of eggs (I’m assuming) along the drive in front of the house towards the tank where there was still some water at the time.  I’d see her almost daily either coming or going.  And of course, the squirrels are fond of foraging under the seed feeders—sometimes there might be 3 or 4 on the ground at once.  They seem to love teasing Bert & Ernie when the fence is between them, and they spend a lot of time scolding the cats from the safety of the trees.

I keep a corn feeder up for the deer, but they don’t make their presence known during the day.  Neither do the wild pigs which I have a couple of running around the place.  The kids gave me one of those infrared game cameras that I set up by the feeder.  Here is a sample of what the night holds here on the Hunker Down.

1-12-12 008 1st night at feeder 003 at the feeder 016 at the feeder 038

There are at least 3 coyote families in the area.  You can hear them talking to each other, mostly right at dusk.  I suppose they are letting each other know where they are hunting that night so that they don’t run into each other.  Several times, their calls have been real close – right up to the property perimeter fence, and before getting the LGD’s, I would find scat, and big old canine paw prints while out on my daily walk abouts.   Still find the occasional scat up in the woods on the far north side of the property where the existing perimeter fencing is old and not nearly as good as the fencing I put up on the unfenced west and south sides.  But, Bert & Ernie do their job, and I have yet to lose a goat. (knock on wood!!!)

Anyway, it is July, so it is hot and dry.  Seems like there is always a forecast of rain in the extended forecast, but by the time those dates roll around, any chance is gone.  I guess they do that just to get our hopes up.  What we really need now is for a tropical system in the gulf to track just right so it dumps it’s load on us, but any moisture would be more than welcomed.  Still have a bit of work to do on the chicken pen, so best get at it.

JVC

Ernie and Bert

new goats etc 074

Ernie, and his brother Bert are what is known as LGDs–large guard dogs.These two are Anatolian/Akbash mix with a little Pyrenees thrown in.  They are still pups having celebrated their first birthday on June 7th.  I suspect that they are 125lbs. + and will probably top out over 150.  They are the most amazing dogs I’ve ever been around–raised with goats, they think they are goats, and they are very protective of their herd mates so to speak.  I think they are aware of everything that happens on the ranch, keep the perimeter patrolled, and I doubt that anything or anyone could get between them and the goats unless I’m with the “interloper”  Don’t think that I would want to keep goats on pasture without them, now that I’ve been able to watch them operate.

June 28, 2013

Well it certainly is summer time here on the Hunker Down.  Triple digits on a daily basis for the past week or so.  HOT,HOT,HOT.  Get a little work done each day, but this old goat doesn’t handle the heat as well as he did 20-30 years ago working rock.  Speaking of work, I’m in the process of putting the finishing touches on what is meant to be a combo garden tool shed and chicken coop, and fencing in a bit of a chicken pen.  Today, I mounted a solar powered, light activated door so the hens won’t have to wait on my lazy butt getting up in the morning before they can get out to work.  This is a “pullet shut” door manufactured by a little outfit down in Lockhart Texas, and it seems to be a well thought out piece of work.

Maybe, I’ll have everything ready for some birds by next week—chickens and a couple of guiney hens if I can stand all the noise.  Supposedly, they are grasshopper eating machines, and though it is a little too late to save this springs garden, they might be a big help come this fall.  That is if we ever get some rain around here.  Last year we had 27 inches of rain between the first of the year and the end of August—I thought that the drought we had been in had finally broken.  The tank was full, wild flowers everywhere, and everything nice and green. nnikon at the ranch 009 Then the rain stopped, and since then I doubt we have had 5 inches total.  Last week, the last of the water in the tank disappeared,hunkerdown 014 (800x536) and we are supposedly in stage 4 watering restrictions. (I get the wet stuff from a SUD—metered water). Notice the tree and rock surrounded by water in the first picture, high and dry in the second.  So, I’m trying to keep a few things alive—young fruit trees and some tomatoes, peppers and squash, but it is all fading fast.  Odd thing though, we seem to be in the hole of a doughnut—there have been some pretty good rains all around us—3 or 4 inch rain when we get a tenth or so— but the squall lines separate just as they hit the Brown/ Colman county line just northwest of the Hunker Down, and slip on by to the northeast, or move due south and then east.   Could have something to do with living in a dry precinct, I suppose.

Oh well, sometimes you’re the windshield and sometimes you’re the bug, and these days we are definitely the bug.  Damn grasshopper hit me in the chest while walking across the yard the other day and knocked the wind right out of me.  Afraid to see if it left a bruise—that’s all for now

JVC