Thursday, November 10, 2011

More Ranching, November 5-6

It’s been a busy couple of weeks—lots going on with Lee’s dad, which will be another post, and while he was gone I was partying all last weekend (really, three parties in three days—that never happens!). This is why I have not managed to post about our most recent trip in Ursula until now!

We had planned to head back to Wild Type Ranch in early November, but we realized it would be a good idea to wait until Saturday morning to head out, rather than Friday evening after work. It just didn’t sound fun to try to navigate an unfamiliar cow pasture in the dark, and dark is coming earlier and earlier these days [thanks to the disappearance of Daylight Savings Time! Why can’t they just leave time alone? (L:)].

This is one that really interested me. On the ranch, it could use off-road diesel, which would pay for the difference in cost over time. There’s also a 6x6 that has twice the cargo capacity of the 4x4s. Photo courtesy of Central Texas Power Sports

On Saturday we did get out fairly early, for us, but we made a lot of stops. One was a fun stop. We visited the place that sells "mules," those little vehicles you drive around on your farm or ranch and use to do work. It was fun looking at all the options, and looking at what was available helped us narrow down what we think we will need when/if we have the property to drive one on. The diesel ones were cool, but they only come in the large size that costs as much as a small car. I was pleased that you can get windshields on them. My poor hair has enough issues, even with the new cowboy hat. It looks like if Lee trades in his motorcycle, we won’t even have to shell out bucks, too. That is nice.

After other errands, such as putting gas in Ursula, we finally lumbered our way to Milam County. Some of those roads are not fun in an immense vehicle. On the other hand it’s fun scenery. We made it to the ranch by mid afternoon, and got Ursula all situated in a beautiful spot next to the woods, with a view of my favorite tank (a tank is a man-made pond, in Texan).

Ursula looking spectacular next to pretty woods and clouds

The spot we parked in was perfect. The dining area window looked out on the woods, and the front was perfect for watching little birds in the area between the woods and the field. It was also fairly level, which worked out well. Once there is electricity out there, it will be fun to listen to all the nature sounds from there. On the other hand, there was evidence of feral hogs on the other side of the woods—I would be OK not hearing those.

My favorite tank. I hope the willows come back.

Lots and lots of birds come to the water around here. I saw a whole bunch Sunday morning when I just went over and sat quietly for about an hour. There was a cool curlew looking for something in the mud, a flicker, a tiny hawk (forgot what that one is), and all kinds of sparrows in a mixed flock. They were taking baths at the side of the water and looked like they were having so much fun. Of course there were many doves, meadowlarks and such. My idea of a good time, anyway.

Look here’s one now…It isn’t by the tank, but you can see the wire oscillating from the bird’s immediate departure.

Anyway, once we were all settled in we ambled over to the barn and visited with Sara and Ralph. She was sorting beef deliveries out of the many freezers o’ beef, and he’d been messing with the cattle that are still there (lots had left the day before, to lands where grass still exists). He showed us the incredibly cool scaffolding kind of thing he had made from scraps lying around the place.

Scaffolding demo

It’s a platform that the front loader attaches to, creating a very sturdy surface for painting the steel framework of the house that’s exposed over the porches. No moving of ladders necessary! It also angles further up for tree trimming (there are slats on the floor to keep you from falling). What I like about it is that he had painted all the metal to match the house, and stained all the wood parts. It has both utility and craftsmanship. And, I suspect, it is a lot of fun. Between Ralph and Lee’s nephew Chris, I think they could make almost anything.

The cow dog puppies. There mother is off searching for a ball.

We went for a visit to see the progress on the really interesting house they are building. It’s a metal frame building with amazing insulation. It is totally silent inside. I can’t wait to see how it finishes! And it is way bigger than their current cabin, to which we returned to chat, fetch eggs (yay I like that part), and pet the horses (I also like that part). Both Sara’s horses are lovely, and she is doing a great job with them.

I didn’t get any pictures of the house, but here is one of a hawk. “House…” “Hawk…” They both start with “H.”

We then had another delicious dinner cooked by Ralph, and fun conversation. It was so relaxing in so many ways. They are great hosts.

I got up pretty early the next day and made coffee so I could stare at birds. Lee and I also walked a lot, checking out the terrain, climbing in the areas that eventually will be water, and just breathing in quiet.

This view is just one of the reasons why we love this place. There is also a sense of peace I have only found a few other places.

Later in the morning, Sara went riding.

Around that time, a guy came over to practice falconry in the next field. To so this, he put a big red and white kite high in the air, with a big old hunk of meat hanging off it. He then got the falcon out of the car, put it on his gloved hand, took off its hood, and sent it up. After a couple of screeches, it spotted the food and went for it. Lasted about a minute, I guess. Then it ate for quite a while. He brought the bird over for us to meet her. That’s her there.

The bird also has a faithful companion.
The bird’s place in the back of the SUV
I thought I had a picture of the falcon striking, but damned if I can find it! This one is just after, and the falcon is on the way to the ground with its “prey.”

It turns out the falconry guy used to be a horse trainer, too, so he talked to Sara about the gentle way she is teaching her horses to do things. It’s like a partnership, and you have to understand what is going on in the horse’s mind.

Discussing horsey things. Note the horse is participating.

It was fun watching Sara convince the horse to approach Ursula. I am sure the noisy box was not his idea of a good time, but eventually, he went up to her. It was two steps forward, one step back. During all this time, the poor other horse was not pleased. He missed his friend and was not happy to not be the center of attention. He kept running up and down his field, flinging his beautiful tail and neighing as if to say, “Look at me! I am over here! I am very pretty!” [And he was, too! (L:))]

It’s a good thing horses are telepathetic. Otherwise, how would we have known the unridden one was unhappy—except by listening to his frantic whinnying and watching him run around like a border collie fenced next to a busy road.

Before we left, we went on another long walk. Below is a nice photo of some of the land we were wandering around on. It was nice and cloudy, too, so not too hot.

The creek and hay field.

We were pleased that it did not rain, even though the rain is needed, since getting Ursula off that field when it became mud would be a challenge. But we did it! Lee is a great off-road driver of immense vehicles!

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