Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve Present Giving

I love mine because it is so's mine so I can do whatever I want with it."

"I'm going to make sure to never make it dirty so it never has to go in the laundry."

"My blanket."

Quotes from the weasels (Winter, Sterling, then Ginger) after opening their "Quillows" (quilt + pillow) from Aunt Angela & family. The kids were stoked and they could tell that each of their fabrics were chosen with care. I think the presents were intended for tomorrow morning, but Grandma figured they would be better for tonight to help the kids get to bed better. Thanks Ashurst-McGees!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Cookie's New Friend

Christmas came a bit early at the farm for Jessica. She has been wanting a horse to ride for some time now, and we finally got around to procrastinating the rest of the stuff around here so we could get her one tonight. It was a cold run from Terrell (E. of Dallas and prolly 50-60 miles south of here) to Leonard, but the new horse, "Believe the Power" (I know - what kinda name is that) seems to have made it OK. We put her up in the stalls by ol' bessie (the cow) for the night and while we were fussing about the horse, ol' Bessie gave us a real treat - her first words! That's right, Bessie moooooo-ed tonight. It was actually pretty funny to hear that big, low moo coming out of that little calf. Jessica's going to see if she can borrow a saddle tomorrow to actually put in some saddle time. The pic is from the seller's barn - not ours.
"Believe the Power" seems to be a pretty solid horse. The weasels tend to do a lot of yelling, jumping, sand-throwing, arm-waving, twitching and other general non-horse-friendly type of stuff and she took it all in stride. Hopefully she will act the same on our farm and will be a good all-around horse for Jessica and the kids.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

It's a cold day in Texas

Check out the ice on the pond!

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Cuz that's the way we roll!

Friday, December 14, 2007


Workjing from home has its advantages and I have been enjoying it. Of course, it is also easy to let the day go by without even stepping out of the house, so I have to watch out for that. The other day, if I hadn't taken a few minutes to cast a couple lines, I wouldn't have gotten out all day. One of the cool things is that I was sitting in the kitchen nook working on the computer when I picked up the binoculars to check out some ducks on the pond. Something on the other side caught my eye and it wasn't long before I was watching a trio of coyotes sniffing around the field over there (in broad daylight.) It was tough to keep from grabbing the scoped 30-06 and making a sniper out of myself, but they weren't on my property, so I kept my cool and just watched them for a bit hoping they would cross over the fenceline onto my side (they never did and eventually melted into the woods.) One of them had kind of a "tripod" thing going on - like he had an injured foot or something. He was kinda bouncing around alot.
You can tell there are coyotes all over out here once it starts to get dark. When they get to howling, it feels like you are surrounded by them. I figure once the weather gets a bit better, I might just have to make a perch on top of one of our sheds and take care of a few of them. Jessica is aiming for chickens these days (paying $3 for 18 eggs really gets her going) and coyotes roaming around in broad daylight could be bad for free range chickens.

By the way, did you know that "the whole nine yards" refers to the 27 feet in length that WWII machine gun ammo came bundled in? I guess giving the Germans the whole nine yards meant to keep the guns rolling till they ran out of ammo.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Our Nation's Security...Diagnosis: Semi-Secure

Many readers are familiar with the story of how I illegally emmigrated
to Mexico a few years back. That was nothing.
Both Monday and again today, I was passed through security at our
nations airports with no more than a wave of a PHOTOCOPIED driver's
license! What does it take to get them to require a 'real' piece of
FYI, I have a photocopy of my DL because the great republic of TX, in
their infinite wisdom, saw fit to confiscate my valid Idaho DL when
they gave me my temporary license to cover the interim while I wait
for an official TX DL. The temp license is no more than a slip of
paper with a red stamp on it.
I have decided that maybe the next time I fly, I will see if I can get
through security with a bogus DL copy with some Photoshopped changes
on it. Why? Because, apparently, I can...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


It was hot and kinda muggy on, I endured freezing rain and threw a few snowballs (just because I could.) Can someone remind me why people live in Chicago?

Tomorrow, I go back home to the farm...I think I won't miss this place much....

Monday, December 10, 2007

Learning Responsibility

As regular readers already know, we have already lost a kitten at the farm. Whether that cat rode into town (& freedom) under the hood of the Suburban or ended up coyote poop is anybody's guess, but one thing is for sure....that loss got the kid's attention.
From that time, they are extremely concerned with the day to day welfare of the animals and it is clear they do not want to lose another of their cats. They won't let the cats get too far away from them and once, when we ended up leaving a cat up by the calf pens, they were freaking out and there was no convincing them that the cats could figure out how to get home (even though it was within sight of the house.)
The other day when we took that family photo with the livestock (see Jessica's blog) Sterling was complaining about having to carry the cat all the way home so I told him to just put it down. He wouldn't do it because he was afraid it would get eaten. We then informed him that Coyotes are mostly nocturnal so he was safe putting the kitten down as long as it was daytime. His response? "But what if the coyote hasn't had breakfast yet?" Priceless.
At any rate, it is kinda cool to see that the kids are starting to learn a bit of responsibility for things.

Sunday, December 9, 2007


Who knew there was so much duck-variety in TX? I guess when they say they fly south for the winter, this must be one of the destinations. I figure there were at least 4 species of ducks on the lake today. Now, I don't really know a whole lot about ducks, so it was kinda fun to watch them for a bit with the binoculars as they went about their business. Right away, I noted that there are two types: the bobbers and the divers. The Mallards (green head) are bobbers - they stick their heads in the water and let their rumps remain above water. The divers actually disappear as they swim around underwater searching out whatever it is they eat. From what I can tell, there appear to be two types of bobbers that were visiting today and two types of divers. One other thing I noticed is that you can easily distinguish the two types apart even when they are not diving because the divers ride so much lower in the water (see the pics - can you tell the difference?) By the way, for those of you who are astute enough to have been asking yourselves why you have only been able to identify 3 species of ducks in the photos, it is because I never was able to get a photo of the last type. Heck, after consorting the duck ID charts I see online, I am now wondering if it is some new or rare species? It had this crazy black and white beak that was very distinguishing...I dunno.

These ducks sure are wary of humans. As soon as anyone goes into the yard, they start swimming away and if you make any sudden motions or noise, they fly off. You can tell the photos I took from inside the kitchen from the ones I took after going outside because in the ones shot from outside, all the ducks are swimming away to the other side of the lake.

By the way, I was called as the assistant ward clerk today. As brother Huber noted, it must "run in the family."

Friday, December 7, 2007

What....You Wanna Cookie?

This "blog" is becoming more of a journal of everyday haps....I don't know if that is a good thing or not. You the readers have to let me know. If you want to hear about what is going on in our lives and the farm, then fine. Or, I could delve into the intricacies of my feeble understanding of politics or even try to recollect interesting anecdotes from the days of my troubled's all up to you!

But for the meantime, here's what's new on the farm:

Yesterday, Sterling, Ginger and I finally got over to pick up our new horse. For those that don't know, horses are fairly expensive to maintain, but simultaneously seem to attract owners who are not "in tune" with that fact and thereby frequently end up in neglectful situations. Neglected horses are often "rescued" by folks who collect them, bring them back to health and then "adopt" or "rehome" them to good homes. Cookie (a 22? year old appaloosa mare) has had a long life of who knows what, was eventually rescued and has now come to live with us. She had a broken leg at one point that did not heal properly, so she is suitable only for short rides under small people (like less than 50 lbs or so small.) That fact makes her undesirable to some, but we happen to have several very small riders around here, so we think she will be a great addition to the farm. Those oats that Grandma gave me as a Sinterklaus present are a big hit with cookie.

And now for Mark's stats project, here is the latest:

Total cats = 2
Total sheep = 4
Total cattle =1
Total horses = 1
Total goats = 0
Total foul = 0 (well actually, every morning there is a huge flock of ducks and cormorants on the lake, but they don't really count till I shoot one of them I figure.)
Beehives = 3
Wasp stings = 2
Trucks = 1

Thursday, December 6, 2007


December 5th is the Dutch quasi-equivalent of Christmas, so we had the grandparents over for the festivities and a toned-down gift giving/party. It was good times since we just had a $5.00 limit on gifts and each person drew one other person's name from a hat. We had a big cook-it-in-front-of-you dinner and then special treats that the swarte-Pete's (black Pete) threw in the front door for the kids.
After all that, we convinced Grandma to come out to the back pasture to see the calf and Sterling really impressed the grandparents with his driving skills on the way out and Winter did the same on the way back. They have been practicing each night. It really is funny to see them concentrating so hard on something. They TOTALLY over-correct just about all the time, but they are getting better each day. Now if they could just reach the pedals we could send them out to get jobs....

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Eating Oneself Out Of House & Home

The kids and I started the day with a trip up into Bonham to get some hay bales. We wanted them in order to make strawbale shelters for the sheep (to get them out of the cold, wind and rain,) so we didn't need super-high quality, but these were about the only ones I could find out near us (just about everyone bales into those big round bales these days) and so we got them (even though they were "horse quality".) The bad part about getting such good hay to build shelters out of (aside from wasting it as it weathers) is that there is a good chance that the sheep may eat themselves out of house and home.
After we got the hay home, we continued with hauling in furniture out of the shop and into the house (wahooooooo!) and after dad arrived, we spent forever trying to get my trailer lights working again so we could pick up that free horse & goat that we have been trying to get for the last week. Dad also got some time in on the tractor and pulled a big rake around behind the tractor while broadcast seeding clover into the upper pasture.
It ended up being too late to get the horse/goat by the time we got done with the trailer lights, but we ended up taking the trailer down to Tyson Rigg's house anyway where (with the assistance of his friends) we (somehow) successfully rolled three 1,000+ pound round bales up into the trailer by hand. By the end of the day, it felt like we had actually put in a hard days work - I think I must be getting old.

Per request - Sterling in cowboy hat (in our kitchen nook which is partially painted and waiting for a wood floor and real furniture):