04/23/06 to 04/30/06
Last week, 4-17 & 4-18, Monday and Tuesday, it was 108 degrees here.  We
weren't very happy about it, but we moved here to get away from the cold, so we
dealt with it.  To escape the heat, this Monday, 4-24, we went to Colorado Bend
State Park to play in Spice Wood Springs Trail.  Monday morning we loaded up
the motorcycle and headed out.  We hadn't been on a fun trip in a long time, and
it's been even longer since we've been out on the motorcycle.  We picnicked
under a gorgeous tree, and wished we had trees at our place.  We tried to take
our picture on one, but the camera didn't have a long enough timer on it for me to
get up there.  (Anyone know how to reset those timers for about an hour?)
Notice the gloomy sky?  Yup, it was 108 a week ago, we plan a
hot-day-water-activity and it turns out to only be about 78!!  Due to the extreme
heat and drought over the last several months, the water at the trail was down, so
it was murkier than usual.  And we saw a snake.  What is with us?  Do they follow
us everywhere?  We could tell it wasn't a rattler, but it still looked poisonous, so
we cut our hike short, and headed back home.
Tuesday Richard set up my washer and dryer.  OUTSIDE!  He put them on a pallet
with a tarp over them.  I was happy to get clothes washed, but don't like looking like
trash, so we went over our plans for a guest cabin/laundry room.  Tuesday evening I
was out on a jog and damn near stepped on a snake that looked like a twig.  It was
only about 10" long, and grey, and there were a bunch of other branches laying on
the road.  My foot was about to come down on him when he finally moved.  I'm not
sure which one of us was more scared.  He raced off under a yucca, leaving me
with the heebeejeebees.  
Wednesday we used a trip to the lumber store as an excuse to drive to
Fredericksburg.  We really did go to Sutherlands to price lumber for our project,
and we even bought the water heater and shower!  (This means we better have
company!!  When are you coming down to visit?)  But then we headed to my
grandparents house to bug them for a while and check on Grandpa, who is doing
very well.  It was the best I've seen him since the stroke.  
Thursday morning, 4-27, we saw that Myrtle had been active down by the tank with
water in it.  Big slides in and out with little claw marks on either side.  We headed
down to the dry tank to see if she had ended up there.  We didn't find her, but
remember how she scrunched down in the mud last time she visited?  There were
three Myrtle holes that were deeper than the rest of the tank, and these three were
the only places with water left in them.  Some dumb frog had laid eggs or
something, because apparently, after our last rain, while there was only 8 to 10
inches of water in that dry tank, a bunch of tadpoles hatched out, and now they
were a bird buffet.  Well I couldn't have that, so we got a bucket and got all muddy
moving three Myrtle holes full of tadpoles to the less dry tank.  They all swam away
happy, but we never did find Myrtle.
Thursday night and Friday it was supposed to rain.  We had a 100 percent chance
of rain on Friday.  We went to Brownwood to check lumber prices at the Home
Depot.  We had received a few drops of rain when we returned, but nothing like
what they were predicting.  From the top of our hill Friday night, we watched the
lightning all around us, and finally, about midnight, we got maybe 1/4" of rain.  I took
this picture Saturday morning.  This is our barn, sun shining down on it, rain clouds
all around.  Typical.  
Right after I took this picture, I walked up on ANOTHER rattlesnake.  It was a cool
morning, so I couldn't figure out what it was doing coiled up right in my path, but I
guess maybe its home got flooded?  I walked all the way to the barn, got the
shovel, carefully walked back, scanning everywhere around my feet in case it had
moved into ambush position, and succeeded in bringing up the count to 6.  
Richard skinned it and fed it to the chickens.  They fought over it and picked it
clean.  At least they like eating rattlesnake.
Sunday, 4-30, Richard was finishing up a few things on the coop (hinges for the
laying boxes, etc.)  I went out there and noticed a mocking bird acting crazy above
a patch of cactus.  They have started to bloom (see flower page) and so we
thought maybe it was hovering to try to catch bees that were coming out of the
flower blossoms.  I went back inside and Richard came to get me and the camera.  
Turns out the mocking bird was defending it's nest, and was actually after a snake!
As I was watching the snake, another head popped out.  This poor bird was trying
to chase off two BIG snakes (4 to 5 foot long!)  
We knew these weren't poisonous--at least they didn't look it, but the cactus pile
they had decided to live in was between the chicken coop and the mocking bird
bush, only about 10 feet from each one.  We didn't want the snake in the coop, and
we didn't want the poor mocking bird to get worn out trying to defend her nest, so we
wanted them gone.  We talked about relocating them to the barn, but didn't have a
good way to do that, so after much deliberation, we eventually just dug up the
snakes and got rid of them.  Besides our chicks, here is what we were defending.
So lets take a count, in one week, from Monday, 4-24 to Sunday, 4-30, we have
seen 5 snakes.  I got on line and looked them up.  The snake at Colorado Bend
State Park was a Diamond Backed Water Snake (non-poisonous,) the one I
almost stepped on was a Rough Earth Snake (non-poisonous,) then there was the
rattler I killed on Saturday, and our two-bird menacing snakes I think I have correctly
identified as Yellow Bellied Racers (non poisonous.)  I'm tired of seeing snakes!!
Richard talked to his daughter Jessie yesterday, trying to campaign to get her to
be the first guest in our bunk house (if it ever gets built.)  She pointed out that we
don't paint a really good picture of the place.  She's right, everything here has
thorns or prickers, stings or bites.  But we love it anyway.