Friday, July 20, 2018

A San Angelo Celebration

Our D-Day…July 15, came...and we went!

Our first stop was at San Angelo State Park in San Angelo, Texas, where we touched base with our grandson, Gage Wann.  Gage attends Angelo State University, and is working this summer to make money for his college expenses. 

Gage showed us around Sunny San Angelo.  We saw a few of the numerous murals that grace the city, along with the decorated sheep statues which celebrate San Angelo's historical importance as a wool marketing center.

We also indulged indulged in a little shopping at some of the downtown stores.  The temperature was over 100, so most of our exploring was done up and down the aisles. 

This shop had something for just about anyone.

We also stopped by the City League Park, which houses the International Waterlily Collection.  

The collection, acknowledged as the premiere collection of waterlilies in existence, is the life work of Ken Landon.  Landon is described as the man ”with the mind of a scientist, the heart of a poet and the soul that embodies preserving waterlily heritage for the generations to come.”   Due to the size of the collection, only about 1/2 of 1% of the collection can be displayed each year.  Here are some of the beauties that were in bloom when we visited.

And the lily pads are almost as unique at the blossoms. 

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Collection.  If you want to see more, put September 13 from 9 am until 2 pm on your calendar and come to the 14th Annual Lilyfest in San Angelo.

We spent the rest of the day celebrating a belated birthday with Gage, who turned 20 on July 3.  

I had made Gage's Great-grandmother Evelyn's chocolate cake, and John grilled steaks for our dinner.  We had a feast!  We were also thrilled finally to meet our “granddog,” Zelda, a year-old lab mix with lovely manners and a great smile. 

She had a good time with the Bagley Pack, sharing toys and tussling with Kota for control of a first-class chewing stick.    

Rue took temporary control of the pink pig, but relinquished it to Zelda before they went home. 

At the end of the day, tired but happy dogs posed for a family portrait.

It was a great way to begin our trip, and we look forward to seeing Gage and Zelda when we return this fall.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Farewell, Farm

We have just celebrated the Fourth of July…only a couple of weeks into summer and it’s already hotter than a firecracker here in Texas.  It’s dry, too.  The water in our stock tanks at the farm is dropping quickly.  

It’s so hot that even the dragonflies are resting.  I believe this one is called a widow skimmer.

Spring flowers have been replaced by summer’s bluebell gentians.

Beggar lice, also known as stick-tights and by other names that don’t bear repeating, are flourishing in shady areas.  When they are in bloom, they have lovely, delicate white flowers.  Before maturing they are a beautiful shade of green.  

But when dry and mature, they are a real pest.  Growing only foot or two high, they are at just the right height to attach their seeds to every passing critter…especially our dogs.  During beggar lice season, the dogs wear t-shirts when we go for walks.  The shirts pick up a lot of burrs, but there are many parts of a dog that aren’t covered…at least not by the shirts!  The afternoon brushing is a requirement before they come into the house.

Their shirts don’t keep the dogs from taking a dip to cool off.  They don’t even mind the algae and pond scum.

Our resident Mississippi kite babies have fledged.  While a parent keeps watch from a tree, the fledglings circle overhead trying out their wings.

We have new additions to our small cattle herd as well.  This week brought two news cows and calves to join The General and his ladies.  

They are very thin and likely were sold because of the dry conditions and lack of grass.  They will gain weight quickly, though.  We are fortunate to have plenty of grass and water for them.  "Skinny Minny," #7 and their two calves are welcome additions, and are getting along well with their new friends.

And today we said goodbye to our beloved farm for a few months.  In about 10 days we will load up and hit the road in our RV.  We’ll be bound for cooler climates (we hope).  When asked where we will be traveling, John usually replies 5500 feet.  Wish us safe travels and check in every week or so to share in our adventure.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Goodbye, Good Dog

It’s hard to lose a member of your family.  It doesn’t matter if the loved one has two or four legs, you still grieve.  This week we lost a loyal, honest, loving family member, our granddog, Louie.  My first pictures of him date from November of 2009 when he was a rangy pup, and continue through the years as he graced our lives. 

Louie never asked for much, but he gave plenty.  He gave his human mom, our daughter-in-law, Debi, a jogging partner and another dog to cherish after the loss of her beloved Molly.  He helped our grandchildren, Gage, Myles and Mallory through the rigors of their teenage years.  And he gave our son, Brian, comfort in the knowledge that he would be there to protect the family.  As far as I know, Louie never actually had to engage a threat, but his deep, fierce bark was certainly a deterrent.  

John and I treasured the times Louie spent his “vacation” with us while his family took trips he could not share.  He got along with the Bagley Pack in its various configurations, and especially loved going to the farm with its amazing variety of sights and scents.  

Louie was always happy, obedient and anxious to please.  Here are some of my other favorite photos of him.

I have shared before a piece entitled, “Loyalty,” printed below.  It deserves to be shared again.  If I needed to put a face on it, Louie would certainly fit the description.


God summoned a beast from the fields and He said, “Behold people created in My image. Therefore, adore them.  You shall protect them in the wilderness, shepherd their flocks, watch over their children, accompany them wherever they may go — even into civilization.  You shall be a companion, an ally, a slave.

“To do these,” God said, “I endow you with instincts uncommon to other beasts: faithfulness, devotion and understanding surpassing that of people.  Lest it impair your courage, you shall never foresee your death.  Lest it impair your loyalty, you shall be blind to the faults of people.  Lest it impair your understanding, you are denied the power of words.  Let no fault of language cleave an accord beyond that of people with any other beast — or even people with other people.  Speak to your people only with your mind and through your honest eyes.

“Walk by their sides; sleep in their doorways; forage for them; ward off their enemies; carry their burdens; share their afflictions; love them and comfort them.  And in return for this, people will fulfill your needs and wants — which shall be only food, shelter and affection.

“So be silent, and be a friend to people.  Guide them along the way to this land that I have promised them.  This shall be your destiny and your immortality.”  So spoke the Lord.

And the dog heard and was content.

Author Unknown


Herding Dogs—Progressive Training 
by Virgil S. Holland

Farewell, Good Dog.  I am comforted to think that on your passing you were greeted by Lucky Dog, Feathers, Nickie and perhaps Jack and Rudy, and that all of you will be waiting to greet us as well when we say our goodbyes and travel on.


Monday, June 11, 2018

The Merry Months of May and June

We got a pleasant surprise in early May.  After a year's vacancy, the owl house is again occupied.  We saw Owlivia, and eastern screech owl, sitting in the door dozing.  Presumably her owlets have hatched and it's a little crowded inside, not to mention hot. 

We have watched their shadows flying to and fro from the owl house just at dusk for several evenings.  After the house wasn't used last year, we moved it to a different location farther from the BBQ pit and outdoor fireplace.  I guess that is what the owls wanted.  This Owlivia is a different bird from the female that has been our backyard resident for several years.  Owlivia #1 was gray, and this one is what they call the brown morph.  She is beautiful and we hope she and Oliver will be regular residents.

Screech owls weren't the only ones to have new babies this spring.  Rue's and my herding instructor, Michele McGuire of Paws4Ewe stock dog training welcomed a new litter of pups. Here they are at two weeks with their mom, Bugsy.

And here are a couple of them at six weeks.  It's a treat to get a "puppy fix" when Rue and I visit each week.

Michele's mare, Marley, was also having a good time the last time we visited.

We recently had a very special visit with good friends Jimmy Joe and Danine Jacks.  JJ, you may recall, has been my friend since we were in grade school.  He and Nine were our companions and tour guides in 2012 and 2013 when we visited them in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. 

We only had a couple of days together this trip, as they were in the States for a grand-daughter's wedding.  We did have time for a good visit and to share some excellent Texas steaks, though.  

We look forward to spending more time with Jimmy Joe and Nine soon.  If they don't come back "home" soon for another visit, we may pack up and go to see them!

It has been a lovely spring at the farm, with good rains early in the year.  Spiderwebs covered with dew often adorn last year's dry vegetation when we go for our morning walks.

For once, winter wasn't followed immediately by summer.  It was really spring for several glorious months...and that was much appreciated.  We have had rain, and ants have been protecting their burrows by building little walls around keep out the water I assume. 

Rue and Colt discovered the remains of a mouse nest in this birdhouse.  They tried very hard to get inside, but when they could not they settled for keeping watch in hopes the resident would return.

Kota discovered some fresh cow poop to roll in, then when we got back to Austin she polished off her new perfume with the essence of something very dead.  John had to wash her down with dish soap before he even dared to take her to the dog spa for a thorough scrubbing.  It was her first visit, and she was very proud of the ribbons and bows she came home with.  

The wildflowers at the farm have been lovely as well.  Some are recognizable, like these wine cups and prickly pear cactus blooms.  

Others, while just as beautiful, may be called weeds.  We love them all.

Summer did come, though.  Late May and early June have been unseasonably, HOT.  But the heat didn't keep a number of dedicated handlers and their dogs from showing up on June 2 at Destiny Farm near Bertram for a chance to compete.  Most of the dogs competing were border collies, like Jamie Swanson's Kimber,

and Mary Carter's Will.

But other herding breeds were represented as well.  Michele McGuire ran Trips, a Berger picard.

And Connie Nelin competed with Marty, the briard.

In spite of the heat, there was a lot of cool stuff going on.