Sunday, July 8, 2012

Driveway Clearing (again)

Well...we sure had our work cut out for us but after many hours of clearing, running the trimmer, chainsaw and mower, we finally have the road cleared(again). I had plans to get 36 yards of road base brought in but at the last moment it rained and I didn't dare to have a dump truck come in with too much risk of it getting stuck.

Here are some new pictures to show the work I've been doing compared to the last batch of pictures. I did a lot of burning in the barrel because we still don't have water but we have put up a deposit to get a water meter put in.  When the barrel is full, I usually sit back relax and take it easy until it is time to add more wood.

I only had to stir up the coals from the week before and it started right up when I added sticks.  It must have been really hot to stay going for a whole week.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Springtime - Once Again

Well...we have all been extremely busy and as a result, much of the time we go out to the Circle-H, we go just to check on things. As dry as things were this past summer, nothing much changed. The clearing we made for a road was quite obvious and we could see everything that needed to be done.
This January, we got out there and burned up another few brush piles but it seems that we just keep making more. We lost a lot of trees over the summer due to the drought. Then all of a sudden the weather has changed and we've been getting rain. Our pond is full to the brim, which makes me wish that I hadn't procrastinated renting a backhoe to dig it out better while it was dry.
Last week Ann and I went out to "check on things" and found ourselves, once again, in a jungle. Here are some pictures for your entertainment.
"Here we are! Didn't this driveway used to be longer than this?"
"Uh, How high are these weeds?"
"They are taller than me.", Said Ann.
"I guess I'll try to cut a path through here."
"This stuff is sticky."
"Okay, I know what you're thinking...but the gun is loaded with shot case of snakes."
"Hey, have you seen the shed? I think it's around here somewhere."

Sunday, September 11, 2011

It's Burnin' Down In Texas - End of Summer 2011

It has certainly been a record breaking summer. We've had no measurable rain and almost 80 days of triple digit temps. The ground is dry and Central Texas is in flames. Our hearts go out to the over 1500 families who have lost their homes. I honestly can't imagine the upwelling of sorrow that has gone out from those who have lost everything.
Yesterday Eric and I drove out to the ranch to check on things. We have not done must of anything all summer, simply due to the heat. We just have not been able to get much work done. Not to mention the ever increasing rise of fuel prices. It costs $100.00 to fill that tank in my truck. I get 19 miles to the gallon and burn 80 miles to get to the ranch and back. It's not that I can't afford it, but considering the little amount of actual work that gets done. I think we'll have to wait until it is cooler before we can focus on really getting any work done this year.
On the way out to the ranch yesterday, we had to stop twice to put out fires on the roadside. We pulled off, jumped out, grabbed the shovel and rake and got to work putting one out...I ran up the road a ways and put out the beginning of another one. Then looking behind us the way we had just came was an even bigger fire on the roadside. We jumped back in the truck and took off. When we got onsite, there were several other people there, but it didn't look like they knew how to deal with the fire. Eric and I got busy and got it put out. One guy standing by looked at me and said "Thanks". When we were sure that it was out, we hopped back in the truck and continued on to the Circle H.
We worked on clearing some of the dead briar away from the back fence and before we knew it our time was up. We had only planned on being out until noon, and our firefighting efforts had chewed up some of our time and energy.
We did see a young horse over in the neighbors side of the fence. I gave a short whistle and he came over to say Hi. Eric and I gave him a couple of good pats to say hello and I used this as an opportunity to take a couple of pictures.
Below you'll find some pictures of Eric and the neighbor's horse and some shots showing how dry the place is. Also, a couple of shots showing some wind damage to the shed where it has blown off some of the siding. We have some more work cut out for us before Winter hits.
I hope you enjoy the pictures.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Springtime at Circle H

Well, it's springtime. Lots to do. It has been a couple of weeks since I went out to check on the place. I spent a few hours out this week clearing a few more trees and getting a few more stumps up out of the roadway. I'd like to get another load of roadbase put down soon before it gets too hot. I had hoped to do that this week, but I had more higher priorities happening this week so it will have to wait.
I did take a few pictures to document how things are looking this year. I enjoy going out here. I wish I could do it more often.
I hope you enjoy the pictures.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Owls in the shed

Okay, I remembered to bring my camera this time and sure enough, I caught some pictures before he flew off. The window there is 2 feet wide so you have a good point of reference for how big and beautiful this owl actually was. I think it's pretty awesome. Of course, Todd wasn't very happy with the amount of mess they are making in his shed. We'll seal up the holes in the rafters this next weekend and then they'll have to live somewhere else.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Mighty Owls

I have always thought that Owls were awesome creatures. In my life time I have seen them swoop down and catch mice without really missing a beat of their wings. They are magestic birds that are equal to other predator birds and only surpassed by maybe Hawks, Falcons or Eagles. When I was in High School, our school mascot was the Owl. As a student I just didn't quit understand why a school would call themselves the fighting owls. After all, didn't owls just sit up in the tree tops and Hoot? It wasn't until I was much older before I realized that Owls were truely magnificent predators. Yesterday, Eric and I went out to the Ranch to burn some brush. Before we started we hiked out to Todd's Shed to check on it. Todd didn't have time to finish it or seal it up from the weather and the past few weeks had been pretty rainy and cold. I wanted to make sure that it had held up. When we opened the door and walked in, it was obvious that some birds had been enjoying having a roof overhead. There were dropping all over the place. There were also some Gray balls about the size of golf balls or a little smaller. I wondered out loud, "What in the heck are these?" Eric stopped to take a better look, pulled out his knife and cut one open and found some small bones and a skull. "I know what these are." Eric exclaimed. "These are owl droppings." I was facinated because I had never seen anything like it. The large amount of them got me to wondering where they could be nesting. I looked around and after ruling out most places, I moved over to where a couple of sheets of OSB plyboards were stacked up against the wall. I leaned them out away from the wall, looked down at the floor and saw a fairly large owl sitting there. I leaned the boards back and said to Eric, "I think I found out where the owl is." At that instant a large barn owl came flying out of his hiding place and flew up to the rafter peak, (where I imagine he had been getting in), and in a panicked state, couldn't get out. So, he started circling the room just over our heads and landing at every window. It was an awesome site to see a bird with a 4 foot wingspan circling inside a 14 foot square building but at the same time. I knew that its beak and talons could tear up my flesh with little effort. I was not in any hurry to see how badly it could hurt us. I used my walking staff to reach over and push the door open. After a couple of circles around in the shed, the owl noticed the opening and flew off. I was so overwhelmed at the silence of the great bird. How huge it was. How close we had been to it and how surreal the whole experience was. I wished that I had had my camera with me but in afterthought, I'm not sure I would have had the presence of mind to get it out and record anything let alone get a picture. The whole thing was over in about 30 seconds. This particular owl was absolutely beautiful. I would say that it's body was about the size of an average house cat. I'm guessing at it's wingspan but I would have to estimate that it was somewhere between 4 and 5 feet. Upon further inspection, we fould another smaller owl hiding in the same spot but she was not interested in moving from her hiding place. I suppose that we experienced natural behavior in the fact that the male flew off as a distraction to protect the female. I assume that the male flew off because it had such beautiful coloring and the other one looks more like it was camouflaged in the same pattern as the woods. After this experience, we sat down for a quick lunch and then propped open the door and went and burned brush for the next several hours. Upon returning to the shed, we noticed that the female had left. It was quit an interesting day at the ranch. It all goes to show you that if you put a shed out in the middle of nowhere and don't live in it, wildlife will move in. Honestly, I was expecting mice. However, with owls living there, mice won't be an issue. I did some research online and found a picture of a typical Texas Barn Owl that looks pretty close to the one that flew around inside Todd's shed. The next time I go out to the ranch, I'm going to have my camera at the ready.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Shhhhhhh I'm Hunting Rabbits

Rabbit hunting with Son and Grand-son. Well...more like 2 and a half hours of chasing rabbits around. You know how it is. You walk around as quiet as you can...two feet ahead of you a rabbit suddenly appears and then runs off before you can say "Bugs".
The ranch has quite a large cotton tail population. Not to mention an abundant assortment of other rodents, mice, rats, and other ground dwelling critters. The hawks and Owls are very healthy.
I've never seen any coyotes but I've discovered their scat and seen their prints in the mud on occasion by the pond.
Eric and Zep wanted to go rabbit hunting. Eric had discovered a rather appetizing recipe for rabbit and was anxious to try it out. I needed to recover a ladder that I had left at the shed because I needed to clear out my gutters before winter rain hits and I promised the dear wife that I would hang Christmas lights up this year at the house.
So...we got a bright early start on Saturday afternoon around 2pm. That put us at the ranch around 3pm. By my reckoning that gives us about 2.5 hours of daylight left.
We had lots of fun. At dusk, I decided to grab my ladder and take it to the truck. Now, you need to understand that the distance from the shed to where I parked my truck is about one quarter of a mile. Later on that fact will become more clear.
Once I had stowed my ladder securely in the bed of my truck and tied it down, I decided to go look for Eric and Zep. My now it was getting pretty dark. I found them about 800 feet away, still hunting.
Eric had just taken a shot and asked me to go to the truck and get his LED flashlight so he could track the blood trail. I went to the truck to retrieve the light.
Back in the brush, there was no sign of a blood trail so we began our walk back to the truck. Along the way, Eric heard a rustle in the brush, shined his light on it and saw a single glowing eye. He handed me the light and asked me to keep in on that spot and he took another shot. We saw the rabbit hop about 3 feet and stop.
(Now, I'm going to pause here and mention that Eric was using a .177 pellet gun that he had just bought at Wal-Mart. We had zeroed in the scope previously and he was really chomping at the bit to use it to get a rabbit.)
Okay, back to the story. I kept the light on it while Eric took another shot. Down went the rabbit right at the spot. Upon further inspection, we learned that the first shot had gone through it's ear. The second shot in the head. It was a fully grown rabbit about a year old based on what it's ears and teeth looked like.
We walked back to the truck, there was a small table nearby that would be perfect for quartering the bunny.
Eric started skinning it and then asked me if I had any water. I answered, "I have some water back in the shed. Do you want me to go get it?" He replied in the affirmative. So...I headed back to the shed. Remember how far I said it was? By now it was pitch black outside. The sky was clear and there were so many stars visible that I couldn't identify anything. The milkyway was visible and I was looking heavenward as I walked.
When I was about 800 feet from the truck, I heard a pack of coyotes going wild, the howls and barking was awesome. I can't help it, I love that sound. I thought to myself, "They must be feasting on rabbit or something. They sounds like they are quite happy." As I turned a curve, it got suddenly very quiet. My mind immediately raced and I realized that the coyotes were much closer than I must have thought. Then after a moment, I told myself that the sudden silence at my approach means that I'm the predator here. So, I turned on my flashlight and shined it around the woods and kept walking to the shed to retrieve the water. On my return trip, I saw a huge owl swoop down from overhead to retrieve something on the path and vanish into the trees. To be honest, at that moment, I was having the time of my life.
When I got back to Eric and Zep, He was almost done with the process and needed the water to rinse off the meat and his knife. He packed it in ice and went were on our way back to the city.
All in all, I got a pretty good amount of walking done. It was a very nice night.
I hope you enjoy the pictures that I took.