Monday, March 19, 2012

Now I'm a Farmer, and I'm Digging, Digging, Digging, Digging, Digging

Can you identify the source of the title of this entry? It’s a song that features the line, "It’s alarming how charming it is to be a-farming," which always cracked me up as a kid. And this weekend was spent charmingly farming in Yorktown. We really enjoyed the time away and in Ursula.

Beautiful, but spiky. These were all around the farm.
Picking Ursula up went nice and smoothly and there was nothing new broken. Hooray! There is a heck of a lot of wild mustard on the sides of the new toll road. It’s like they planted it there on purpose, but no, they couldn’t have! Once off the toll road, there were many lovely wildflowers, but it soon got too dark to tell!
Lee parks Ursula. Scary.

As you can see, Lee had to park Ursula in the dark, and there were no helpers around, either. But soon Nephew Chris and his wife Beth (and two teens we did not see until the next day) showed up so we had someone to chat with as Lee set everything up. Chris has been working very long hours in his new job, but managed to stay up and get caught up on things until pretty late.


The next morning, we bounced out of bed (for us, anyway) and put water in Ursula’s tanks. I say tanks, because, oops, Lee accidentally filled the black water tank at first. Guess that helped clean it out. Eventually we had water in the right tank, too. Of course, that led to something else. DANG IT Ursula still leaks every time we run water. We have TWICE now asked repair places to fix it, but they say, "We don’t see a leak." Well, why then do we completely soak towels every time we wash a dish, take a shower, or wash our hands in the bathroom sink? It is a poltergeist? (All rhetorical questions)

My first goal of the morning, of course, was to set my eyes on little Oscar the Donkey in person! The herd obliged by being fairly close. He is, indeed America’s Cutest Donkey, as I have dubbed him. Judge for yourself.

Oscar Feels Snoozy

Heading off to greener pastures

Oscar really, really loves the calves. Chris told us that after he experienced the electric fence the first time, he herded the calves away from it! How sweet! He is still pretty shy around people, but will get within a few yards of you, and looks curious and interested, not afraid. I will be happy to take my time with him until I can work with him more and tempt him with horse cookies.

Someone, perhaps Oscar, likes the mud. But isn’t he cuuuuute?

After I bonded with the donkey for a while, and Ernest Sr and Chris were working on getting ready to plant some stuff, Lee, Beth and I went on a walk around the farm. I tracked it by GPS using my RunKeeper software I just started using for my healthy walks. It was pretty funny, because we kept stopping to look at flowers, bees, pipeline equipment, dirt, and giant oil derricks, so the average speed was pretty pitiful. On the other hand, we saw lots of stuff.

A Huisache tree in bloom

These were blooming all over the place. I know they are a weed tree, but they are really pretty and create lovely landscapes (I hope Lee will add some photos he took of them with his good camera). If you wish to learn more, here is a link to the Huisache. Lee notes there a town named Weesatche, which turns out to be the next town down the main road from Yorktown. You know, on the way to Goliad (where ARE all these places??). And that the way I originally tried to spell the tree (Weesatch) also works. It is a type of acacia tree, which I knew by the leaf shape.

Lee and Beth share a joke.

This is a new pipeline that went right through the cornfield. After it was planted. That’s OK, they compensate.

The equipment really compacts the soil. They will put the original dirt back on, then Chris or Ernest Sr. will till the heck out of it to make it usable again next year.

It is cool to have your name on the stick.
The pipeline is coming from this monstrosity, which is across the road in "Betty Ann’s" field. The neighbor.

Once the drilling is over, this will barely be visible. The storage tanks are much bigger and more of an eyesore. I have really learned a lot about the oilfield industry lately, both its good and less good points.

The oil companies are as busy as…well, you get it.

At the end of the walk, we had a nice chat with the people who guard the entrance to the farm (that is because another well is going up behind the farm, and it’s easier to get to it on the road that goes to the first well). They apparently spend their winters guarding work sites (they check every truck that goes in, day or night, which does make you feel more secure). They then go do a bit of spring on the coast of Texas, then they go back up to Minnesota where they help manage an RV resort. What a fun life! Well, other than being on call 24/7 to keep track of the comings and goings.

Lee seems to have a thing for flowers and barb wire. Maybe it’s like leather and lace.

After more chatting back at the family compound, Beth and the teens left, and I did a bunch of knitting until Lee’s dad declared he was hungry, and that it was too windy to do any planting. It was like 4 pm. But, OK, it was a fine time to eat if all you’d had all day was a SlimFast bar. We went to the Texas Outpost, which is the fanciest and newest restaurant in town (as opposed to Aunt Di’s, which is much older). We were pleasantly surprised at how good the food was. I remembered it was St. Patrick’s Day only because the waitress had on a green lei. I guess it’s not a big holiday in German/Polish/Mexican land. I saved half my delicious sirloin for another day, and mostly ate the really good steamed fresh vegetables.

Lee had a hard time deciding which butterfly picture to use. He finally went for action over pretty.

To top off the excitement of the day, Chris worked on fixing the broken riding lawn mower. Lee was advocating a new one, since the thing is like 30 years old, but no, all that was left to fix was a fuse that had arced. Chris and I went off in search of a fuse and ice cream for Lee’s dad (wow, he IS feeling better--eating like crazy!). Oh, and I needed carpet cleaner since someone had tracked cow poo all across Ursula’s carpet. The fuse was eventually located at a convenience store, and sure enough, the mower ended up running like a charm. It is so much fun to watch someone who’s good with machinery and fixing things. Makes me miss my dad a lot.

Lee is amazed at the menu options

At night, we watched some weird TV show and listened to complaints about digital TV and how it is no good for rural people.

The derricks are pretty at night, even if they are very noisy.
And we had a cool view of two planets at bed time.


You’d think this would be enough excitement for one visit...but no! There’s still Sunday! Sunday was full of excitement because the plan was to get up early and do the planting of the "grazer"—which I am told is a type of sorghum that will be there temporarily before they plant that field in hay (used to be for corn--they are moving toward more cattle and less corn). I entertained Lee’s dad while we waited for Chris. Ernest Sr. was chomping at the bit, but Chris gets lots of work calls he needs to deal with. The men got the planting thing on the old tractor, which was to be followed by the new tractor tilling in the seed.

Seeds ready to plant.

During all this I took photos of the cattle and Oscar. Believe me, this is a tiny selection.

Oscar is greeting his best friend, the bull calf that was already born when the new cows came. He is, unfortunately, about to go away, because he wants to be a bull. Luckily, Oscar also likes the other calves.

Left calf is from #14 and is the son of that weird Brahma bull from last year. He and #16’s similar calf are both really pretty and will get to go be Daddy calves. The middle is one of the new cows’ calves, and the right is a female Charlois cross from one of the new calves--the only cow calf they’ve had in at least three years. The other little white one is very pretty, too.

I just couldn’t resist this one of Oscar licking his little friend. They were rubbing their heads on each other. Really shows you how animals do have friendships.
At that point I decided it was real exercise time and took off on a long walk. The flowers were prettier than I have ever seen them there (Lee’s dad has not yet killed them all like he usually does). Here’s some of what I saw.

This is the other tree that is in bloom. It smells great. It is some type of mesquite. Another weed, but one that does serve some purposes as well. The blooms make great honey and the wood makes nice barbecue. However, I do not want any in my pastures. That is what blinded Pardner the Horse.
I mainly took this picture to record the yellow flower, which is I guess a primrose, but not one I "know."
When I got back from the walk, I found the planting operation at a halt. Something had broken on the tiller or cultivator or whatever the attachment is (argh, I am a bad farm person). Chris switched the bad one up to the front and put a good one on the back. Soon they were up and running again. Lee and I helped by fetching things and banging on dirt clods. Those durned City Folks.

Yep, it’s broken, all right. Lee’s dad just wants to get back in the tractor.

Hooray, he is back in his favorite spot!
Once that was all over, it was time to eat again. Aunt Di’s was too full (we didn’t beat the Baptists to their after-church gathering spot, apparently), so once again we had to haul all the way out to Cuero (really not that far) and eat at Don Bravo’s, land of questionable cleanliness but delicious food.

This captures the essence of Don Bravo’s. Nice weeds, huh. Not sure what that hanging thing is.
Everybody got huge plates of food. Well, I didn’t. I figured huevos rancheros would not be too big, and it wasn’t. Yummy eggs totally smothered in some brown sauce, with salad-like substance and beans. I just ate a bit of the beans and didn’t use tortillas. Another successful diet mean while eating out!

After lunch, we spent a while working on Ursula, and now she is spic and span. This made me look up the term spic and span, which is from the 1500s in England and has nothing to do with Hispanics! Who knew? Anyhow, we reluctantly left the family member sand America’s Cutest Donkey around 4, and made it to the RV storage place before dark. Other than leaving wet towels in the shower (leftover from dealing with the leak), I think we successfully completed the trip without forgetting a lot of stuff.

What’s next? Why, I think Ursula’s next big outing will be to an actual campground in two weeks, with our church camping buddies! A state park she has never been to before! Lee may go out to Cameron again next weekend, but probably sans RV this time, so he can take the trailer and Hilda the Utility Vehicle up there.

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