Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Very Best $38 I Ever Spent. Ever!

I have been mowing my pasture.
Four acres of pasture.
On a riding mower.
It has a 46-inch deck, which technically means it should mow a path of grass that is 46 inches wide.
It tries, it really does.
It's just that this particular mower is 10 years old and has been mistreated---by mowing the pasture.

It seems mower decks don't appreciate going over holes and rocks while trying to cut grass. They'd rather cut large areas (46 inches wide!) of perfectly flat, non-rocky areas.
Think baseball fields and soccer fields.

All that is to give you the impression that mowing the pasture is slow going.
Snails pace, slow.
It doesn't help that the grass is knee high in places, either.

Why didn't I cut it before it got that tall?
Because we haven't had rain.
No rain, knee high grass and rocky areas make up the perfect ingredients for a wildfire.
Hit a rock just right, cause a spark and away we go. The pasture grass would come alive with fire and so would the neighbor's houses.
That tends to make the neighbors angry.
Don't know why.
Well, I do.

So, you're wondering what the danged title is referring to about now.
Well, while in Wisconsin, my pasture got rain. Two inches of rain!
That means I can mow with a little less worry about starting a fire.

And so mow I did.
Five hours yesterday and I'm only 1/3 done.
I said it was slow.

If I didn't have the "The Very $38 I Ever Spent. Ever" thing, I would not be able to be back on the mower today. I would be sick.
Despite the rain, the dust, mold, spores, and pollen are still out there.
Four acres of them.
Before I had this amazing contraption, I would blow dirt/mud out of my nose for a week and still end up feeling sick.

I might look completely ridiculous in my long-sleeves, long-pants, baseball cap and respirator, but my nose and chest are thrilled with the look. Thereby, I am thrilled as well.
It takes some getting used to, but is an amazing little contraption.
If it could only help with the aches and pains that riding a mower for hours and hours causes, it would be worth it's weight in gold.

Off to climb back on the mower.
Update: Finished mowing in 2 days instead of 3. Drought responsible--grasses/weeds not so dense. Ten hours on the mower instead of 15.

Multipurpose Respirator

Monday, October 24, 2011

Wishing I Was In Wisconsin

Not because of the weather there today (62* and Sunny), but because of these cuties.

I am drawn to Baby Gap at the mall because of them.

I am drawn to the toy section as most any retail store--including the grocery store, because of them.

I am drawn to baby Halloween costumes because of them.

I know they are being perfectly provided for by their parents and have enough toys and clothes for four babies, but I can't help myself.
I can't be with them or their parents when I want to.
I think my being drawn to buying them things is just me wanting to shower them with gifts because I can't shower them with hugs and kisses.

photo credit: Pearl
Bella: Hey Grayson, look. These are fun. Want some?

Grayson: Uh, not so fun in my opinion. Mom, how about giving me a hand here?

Bella: Ah, I'm sorry. I thought you'd like it. Gimme a hug.
Grayson: I don't know. I'm not sure a hug's gonna do it. Got anything else that might make me feel better?

Bella: Well, I have this Minnie Mouse. You can hold her for a minute.
Grayson: Hold her? I'm gonna eat her. That nose looks extra tasty.
Bella: Hey! Not what I had in mind. How about you try one of these leaves. They're tasty, too.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Dreaming of More Four-Leggeds

My poor hubby. This week, I want goats.
Boer goats.
I know just where I can get some, too.

My friend, Jen, raises Boer goat and trains horses for a living.
Thursday, another friend and I went to Jen's ranch to borrow a pair of hoof snips.

Luckily, there were still two cutie pie babies to see.
A couple times a year, her place is swarming with babies.
All but two went off to the sale barn over the summer. They stayed behind because they were surprise babies that were born much later than the others.

I would love to have a couple goats as pets. Maybe this momma and her little buck?
Or not.
Goats are quite athletic and crafty when it comes to getting out of fences and pens. Boer goats also get pretty large.

Despite their size, they still love to snuggle and be scratched. They'd have climbed right up in our laps if we'd have gone in the pen.
Most of Jen's does are very friendly.
Maybe I should have these two girls instead?
They should be delivering cutie babies before Thanksgiving.
Then I'd have cutie babies all my own, plus friendly mommas.
What more could a girl want.........besides donkeys and a barn and a fence?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Neighborhood Supermodel

I've been following Mr. Big for several years now.
We're on a first name basis, I just call him Big.
He lifted his restraining order last year, and I can now get within 5 feet of him.

This time of year, his career is in high gear and he is a bit stand-offish.
He's getting ready for his annual show.
"Rut, 2011 Whom Will She Choose?"
This year, some of his fiercest competitors in the modeling industry have been signed for the show as well.

He's obviously been working out over the summer, despite our wretched heat wave.

Unfortunately, his competitors often are catty when it comes to this show every year.
They taunt in him---but only from afar.
They know he outshines them every year on the catwalk.
This year looks to be no different.
His attention to his diet and work out program will pay off yet again.

Thanks for stopping by, Mr. Big.
See you tomorrow, right?
Hey, let's meet for a latte'! I'm buyin'.
We're best buds. He's just got another photo shoot.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Colors of Wisconsin

A couple posts ago, I showed you "who" we saw in Wisconsin.
Today, I will show you "what" we saw in Wisconsin.

We saw color! Lots and lots of color!

I know folks must be tiring of how many days we had over 100* this summer ( 90, if anyone is just tuning in). Also, you must be tired of how many days over 90* (127 at last count). Lastly, you are mighty tired of hearing about our drought and how it hasn't significantly rained since October, 2010 (note: freak rainstorm dropped 2 inches at our house while we were in WI.)

All those facts add up to one thing about Austin, TX.
It's brown and tan and beige and greenish in certain places here.
Dirt has replaced grass.
Formerly green trees have begun to turn a strange shade of gray-green.
Flowerbeds were for naught.
Color in any intensity has disappeared.

In Wisconsin, they had a boat load of snow last winter and have had regular rain over the spring/summer months.
What does that add up to?
All the colors of the rainbow.
For James, Pearl and me, it was a cool, refreshing break from the last year in Texas.
"Wow!" could be heard coming from one of us, every time we went outdoors.

Reds, oranges, yellows and greens.

Soft creams and whites.
Bella's favorite!

Yellow and green!

Pink and green and red and blue and brown.
Helpful Pat the pig.

Cocoa, and black and white and gray.
Mother and children, three.

Yellows and whites and blacks and browns.
Hungry sheep teaching Bella the 'flat hand feeding method'.

Dark chocolate and creams.
Note to Lee: WANT one, really WANT two. Donkeys, not chocolate.

Honestly, every color in the rainbow. This tom was iridescent and handsome in his courting attire.

Orange and green, everywhere.

White and green.
Milwaukee Museum of Art on Lake Michigan

White and blue and green. Trees in their colors as well.

Orange, yellow, green, blue, brown and black.
Lake Michigan was so clear and beautiful. It was good to be a duck.

What color don't you see? Maybe purple?

We don't have this in Austin this year.

Nor this.

Thank you Sarah, Ryan, Bella and Grayson, for letting us visit and for sharing your bit of Wisconsin with us.
Love you truly, madly, wildly!

I think Autumn will be the time to visit Wisconsin in the future.
So very, very beautiful!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

And Then There Were Five

My sweet Sunny died today.
In looking back over her 'baby pictures', it turns out today is also her birthday.
She was born October 15th, 2004
Seven, presumably happy years.
She was my favorite hen.
She always came to sit in my lap and take a nap if I stayed put long enough.
She'd burrow her head in under my arm, like a chick would do.
She actually seemed to like being petted and would leave the flock to come hang out with me when I was outdoors.
She never had much to say, no gossip to share like a couple of the other hens.
She was quiet and gentle and a fine egg layer.
I won't venture to guess how many eggs she laid in her lifetime, but I do know she laid the occasional egg as late as this summer.
One last thing to note about Sunny--after our rooster died, Sunny grew spurs. There hasn't been much research regarding hens growing spurs, but the theory is that it's a hormonal change that occurs as they age.
She survived the hottest summer on record, only to die on a mild autumn day in her coop.
I'm quite certain there'll never be another like her in my lifetime.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Finally Meeting Them

Last weekend I took Pearl and James to Wisconsin
Because they had a 4 day weekend and because they'd never met my niece, Sarah's, family.

How could that be?
Sarah and Ryan got married in Hawaii (their home at the time). Lee and I went, and left the kids at home.
When Sarah got pregnant with her first baby, she and Ryan moved back to the mainland to be closer to family.

Ryan is from Wisconsin. They chose there for a variety of reasons.
Ryan started his own business and Sarah got right to work as a pediatric nurse.

Bella was born. Then Grayson was born.

As often happens with young families and not so young families (theirs and ours)---we're busy.
We are also separated by 1205.52 miles.
So here it is, almost four years later, and two of my kids are just now meeting Sarah's family.

These are pictures of "who" we saw.
The next post will be of "what" we saw as well.
As usual, many of the photos are by Pearl.

Pearl, James, Grayson and Sarah

Ryan, Bella and Luna in their backyard.

Yummy baby!

Who loves his momma?

"I coming bunnies!!"
Bella's favorite animals at the Green Meadows Petting Farm are the bunnies.

Pony ride!

James being silly. He might have been a bit too big for this swing.

Bella waited so patiently for her turn with the bunny.

Sarah and Grayson

Bella with momma goat and her triplets.
We got there fairly late in the day, so many of the animals were just plain tired.
Momma goat and babies never moved.

Bella discovers that sheep cannot keep a secret. If one gets food, they all find out.
She also has to figure out how to feed them with a flat hand. Otherwise, they'll nibble her fingers.

James and the John Deere

Pumpkin time! The weeds were itchy to Bella's feet, so she hitched a ride with Pearl.

Straw bales and drainage pipes make for a great playground.

Bella at the top of the slide with daddy. It was quite a ways down, but she braved it anyway.

James and Pearl taking a break on the hay bale playground

Me and Bella with her "baby pumpkin".
Baby Pumpkin went everywhere with us for the next two days.

After the petting farm, we made a stop at place called Elegant Farmer.
It's a fancy grocery store/bakery that is attached to an apple orchard.
I didn't take any pictures because it was a mad house.
The sunny skies and 80* temps had folks from miles around coming out to enjoy the weather before the snow flies.
They are famous for their apple pies that are baked in paper bags.
We got a couple of those, some cheese curds, a chicken pot pie for dinner, caramel popcorn, beef jerky, and cinnamon sugar tortilla chips.
We got some apples, just to even out the good-t0-bad food ratio. :)

Impossibly cute baby!

Waterfront on Lake Michigan in Milwaukee.

The kids and I stayed in a hotel. We all decided to take advantage of their indoor pool. Bella loves swimming!

Grayson, Ryan, Bella and Sarah.
Who is that kid leaning into my picture? :)

Sidewalk chalk

It is officially Fall in Wisconsin. That means leaves on the ground.
I raked a few up and the kids played in them while we snapped pictures.

She's so good with the babies!

These two pumpkins are lucky indeed.
They have great parents. Parents who should pat themselves on the back for the great job they're doing.
I know they are sleep deprived and probably constantly question if they are doing the right thing in any given situation. They are.
They work seamlessly together in every part of their parenting and household chores. They both cover all the bases. If one needs a break, the other is happy to make it happen.
I'm so proud of both of them.
I'm so glad two of my kiddos got finally meet them and love them as much as I do.