Thursday, February 8, 2018

2018...Can you believe it?

After celebrating a quiet New Year’s at the farm, our January flew by.  It started on New Year’s Day with the thermometer at the farm reading a frigid 14 degrees and a light dusting of snow.  

And just as the full moon began to rise, 

we received the sad news that Mary Jo Dodson, mother of my sister-in-law, Jefflyn Jones, had lost her battle with diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.  Mary Jo was a loving mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother.  She was also my own mother’s dear friend and a cherished member of our extended family.  We will miss her.

Rue and I have continued working on our sheep herding skills with Michele McGuire at Paws 4 Ewe Farm.  In spite of the frosty temperatures, the ewes and their new lambs enjoyed basking in the sun.

Resident equines Marley and Buddy enjoyed the day as well.

And then it was the end of January.  Just before dawn on January 31 at moonset, we witnessed the appearance of the first Super Blue Blood Moon since 1866.  It’s a blue moon because it is the second full moon of the month, and a blood moon because when it enters the earth’s shadow in a lunar eclipse, it appears to turn a reddish color.

John and I were up early, and with plenty of coffee set out for a spot a couple of miles from the farm house that has a good view of the western horizon.  We had clear skies, and a good view of the eclipse as the earth’s shadow obscured the moon.

The only thing we missed was the ability to photograph the reddish color.  To the naked eye, as the shadow swept across the moon, there was a faint reddish cast to the dark area.  It was very faint, though, and I wasn’t able to capture it on film.  We waited for a bit after the moon went totally dark, but never saw it emerge from the shadows because it passed behind a cloud bank.  As we finished our coffee, we had to be content with a beautiful sunrise.

And that evening, with the rising of the blue moon in the east.

I hardly had time to catch my breath when it was time to travel to San Antonio for the Western Heritage Parade.  On Saturday, February 3, a group representing the Texas Hill Country Stock Dog Association again participated in the San Antonio Stock Show and Western Heritage Parade. Our goal was to honor the memory of our friend, the late JoAnne Noble, who started the tradition of using our herding dogs to take a group of sheep through downtown San Antonio as part of this event. It was a special day; the parade committee honored JoAnne's memory with a riderless horse in the parade.  We could recognize which horse it was because we recognized those boots.

Ken Theus, who has stepped up to organize our participation, brought some 65 head of sheep (and 3 agreeable goats) for us to use.  They were a magnet for kids and dogs while we waited for the parade to start.  

One of the clowns even stopped by.

And then it was time for the parade to begin.

First came the longhorns…I was told 300 of them.

And then the “riding longhorns,” massive things, but gentle as ponies...just be sure to stay away from those horns.

Then it was our turn.  Ken had the able assistance of his border collie, Mac, and several other handlers and their dogs. The rest of us, with our border collies on leash, gave moral support and held the rear flank. 

The sheep proceeded down the 1.5 mile parade route with the border collies cooperating to keep them in an orderly bunch, moving forward or stopping as needed. The crowd loved their performance, and I'll bet we were the most photographed group in the parade.  

Once the sheep were loaded into their trailer, we watched the rest of the parade.

Followed by armies of "scoopers" who kept the street (mostly) clean.  

It was great fun.  Thanks Ken, for your hard work. JoAnne would be proud.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

And then, Christmas was really upon us!  This year, for a change, we have had Christmas-like weather instead of the shorts-and-t-shirts temperatures that are all too common here in Central Texas.  Mid-December was a bit wet, but not too disagreeable to keep us indoors.  

While our son, Brian Wann, and his wife, Debi, traveled to Tucson to visit his grandmother, we had a house guest, our grand-dog, Louie.  He had a great time with the Bagley Pack, and was happy to pose for a portrait when we took a walk at our favorite dog park, Turkey Creek Nature Trail.

Brian, Debi and our grandson, Gage Wann, joined us for an early Christmas dinner on the 22nd.  

Louie showed off his Christmas collar.

Our Christmas celebration continued with dinner on Saturday with John’s nephew and wife, Chris and Jamie Hightower, then we began packing for our trip to the farm.  Family has been scattered this year.  John and I celebrated Thanksgiving in Austin, then joined our cousins, Kathy and Eric Vanderbeck for dinner on Christmas day.  

On Christmas morning, John and I opened our presents, and the dogs were beside themselves because they knew Santa has left new toys in their stockings.  It was a festive occasion, and thankfully a couple of the new toys survived the "unwrapping."

Later, we had a lovely walk around the farm on Christmas Day…and saw a bit of welcome sunshine.  

We have not seen much wildlife, but enjoyed watching ducks take flight from our ponds, along with this majestic great blue heron.

The cows got fresh bales of hay and had a lovely Christmas of their own.

On Tuesday, December 26, I looked out the kitchen window and saw turkeys...lots of turkeys...drifting across the parking lot.  I raced for my camera, and by the time I reached the bathroom window they were parading through the yard by the BBQ pit.  

John counted 21 birds while I sneaked from window to window to get photos without spooking the flock of hens.  Fortunately, the dogs were still inside and never knew there was potential prey only a few yards away.  

After a few minutes foraging in the yard, they drifted out of the yard and across the pasture toward the corn feeder a couple of hundred yards away.  What a treat!

Later Tuesday morning, Taylor Quedensley, a botanist from Fort Worth, drove down with my brother, Allan Jones, to look for lichens on the hillsides and along the creek.  Cousin Eric Vanderbeck joined them to collect samples of the lichens, some so small they could only be identified with a magnifying lens.

John was nursing a cold, so he, Colt and Kota stayed home while Rue and I took a walk and  supervised the lichen collection.

Even though it is winter, the vegetation still has beautiful colors.  Colors in the image above, are soft and subtle.  Others, like the berries on this "possum haw" are brilliant.

Then, on Thursday Terry and Pattie Meyers, good friends from Georgetown, drove up to spend a couple of days between Christmas and New Year’s.  We had a wonderful, decadent, time with special appetizers and a scrumptious prime rib that Pattie cooked.  Their dogs, Chunk and Nut had fun as well, with long walks, fetching sticks, and hunting mice in the grass with the Bagley dogs.

It was a relaxing time.

As the New Year approaches, we are holed up at the farm with temperatures dropping into the lower 20s, a fire in the fireplace and a thin sheet of ice covering our flagstone walk.  We'll stay in this year, and hope that all our family and friends are safe and warm as well.  We hope you had a very merry Christmas, 

and that 2018 will be filled with joy and God's blessings for each of you.