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.
video

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.