05/01/06 to 05/07/06
This week we've worked on stuff we have been working on forever, and finally
finished a few projects.  Monday we worked on hanging a chicken watering
system.  We tweaked it throughout the week, moved it from one side to the
other, and finally finished it on Saturday.  We also built a feeder that will hold
about 2 sacks of feed.  (We sloped the drinking pipe so the big chickens could
drink on one end, and the little chickens on the other, but they aren't smart
enough to figure that out.  The little ones stretch their necks to reach the top
ones, and here you see the big ones crouching to drink out of the shortest one.)
While we were working on the feeder and drinker, and I also put water seal on the
roost/laying box house thing, we let the girls run wild.  The little lizards have been
so curious about them, but once the chicks got out of their pen, the lizards had to
take shelter, the girls try to hunt them down.  Our little prairie dog thing also wants
to be friends with the girls.  They make eyes at each other through the chicken wire.
Tuesday we worked on the garden fence, finished it, and put in the tomatoes,
green peppers and strawberries that had been patiently waiting in their little
plastic containers for weeks.  Our cucumbers, corn and watermelon have come
up.  Our lettuce, carrots and sugar snap peas have not.  I took a picture, but it is so
unimpressive, that I better wait until we have some bigger plants...

More snake stories this week too.  Tuesday we drove down to check the mail, and
found a flat rattler in the road in front of our mailbox.  Apparently, one of our
neighbors had already killed it for us.  We checked the mail, turned around, drove
back in and there was a three and a half footer sunning himself in the road.  We
shot him, bringing our rattler count to 7, (8 if you count the one in the road.)  Then,
Wednesday, I had driven back and forth to the barn a few times, and my car wasn't
liking the short, slow trips, so I was driving really fast--hey, no speed limits on our
road--and I turned the corner and smushed another snake.  I think it was another
yellow-bellied racer.   

More exciting news this week was the weather.  We got rain, several days now.  
Everyone around us got more rain, but we did get quite a bit.  We have such
awesome views of the sky (hence the name Ranch Cielo) and here are just a
couple of the views we had this week.
{Yup, that's our ONE live oak tree.}
Through all this bad weather, any time they say hail is possible, I've been putting
my car under a shelter down by the barn.  It sucks because in order to fit down
there, I have to back in and climb out the back door since there is a post where the
drivers door ends up.  We had not gotten any hail, but everyone in Texas talks
about hail.  Everyone is worried about hail.  

We had started some Pineapple wine last week.  Friday it was ready to put into
the glass jars, so Richard went out and picked a bunch of cactus flower and we
have started some Cactus Flower wine.  They are blooming everywhere.
Friday night we went to dinner with the guy who did our septic tank and his fiancée.  
We went back to their house afterwards.  They live 30 miles north of us.  Close
neighbors by Texas standards, but also far enough away from us to get rain.  While
we were there, they got hit with quarter size hail.  The TV was showing the storm
moving Southeast, the direction we needed to go, so I suggested we head out.  Off
we went and we had gone about 10 miles when it started raining so hard I had to
slow from 70 MPH to a dead stop.  I could not see one foot in front of us.  Hail was
pounding down on my poor car.  As I crept along, trying to get out of the storm, we
turned on the radio to hear that a tornado had just gone through the town that was 2
miles behind us.  The further south we got, the lighter the rain was, until we were
about 20 miles north of our place, when it was completely dry.  I can't explain how
bizarre it was that when we got home and got the flashlight out to look at my car, not
only were there no hail dents, but the ever present Texas dust was still on my car.  If
the rain had washed it off, it was all back, with just a few rain spots.  CRAZY!!  
About midnight, the storm reached us, but no hail or tornadoes, just a bit of rain.

Since it had rained, our neighbors called us Saturday morning to tell us they were
going to light up a pile of trash they had in a pit near our property line.  They said we
could bring our brush over, so we drove down to the barn, loaded up a bunch of old
wood, and started adding to the fire.  When we got the truck all unloaded, I noticed a
big gross spider, almost dead, laying in the bottom of the truck.  Upon further
inspection, I saw the red hourglass!  Now, not only do I have to worry about
rattlesnakes, ticks, and chiggers (which I have ALL OVER by the way,) but now I have
to worry about black widows too!
Now it's time for a confession.  Every Saturday we've been taking pictures of our
chickens.  I wanted to take them every Saturday, and wait until they were full grown
to show the results, but several things have made me decide that we are done
taking individual pictures of the girls.  First of all, the file is getting to big for me to
open with high-speed internet.  I'm not sure all you readers out there with dial-up
with be able to open my chicken page, but if you've got time to wait for it to load,
give it a try.  You won't regret it.  The second factor is that, since the girls have
gotten bigger, we have put up the roosts.  We had been taking these pictures in the
roost house, no problem, but when we tried to take them today (we forgot
yesterday) I banged my head and think I will have a black eye from chasing
chickens where there was no room for us.  Finally, we have planned to take off on a
road trip next Saturday, so we won't be able to take their pictures for a week or two,
so we're done.

If you have time to wait for it to load:
Click here to see the Chicken Year Book, age 3 days to 6 weeks one day.
Aren't they cute?

Now that you've seen our domestic birds, we have spotted more wild birds and wild
flowers.  Click on the symbols below to see those pages.
Oh yeah, I check on the mocking bird eggs every day, still no hatchlings.  I check
every nest I find, and NONE have eggs in them.  However, Richard saw a pair of
pyrrhuloxias mating, and I saw a pair of road runners mating so we should see
those nest filling up with eggs soon.