Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!

Hello Everyone. We've been out of touch for some time since getting home from our RV trip this fall. We did, however, want to let you know we've been thinking about you. We won't be able to post this until we get back to the Land of Internet Service, but we hope you all had a Very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

To bring you up to date.......

On our way home from New Mexico, we stopped in Johnson City, Texas, where we visited our good friends Jimmy Joe and Danine Jacks. Michal joined Jimmy Joe for a day of photography to document the history of Peyton Colony for the Blanco County Historical Sociery. Peyton Colony was established soon after the Civil War by a group of freed slaves. The community survived as an entity until the early 1960s, but most of the descendents of the original settlers have now moved away.  Jimmy Joe (whom she has known since elementary school) is preparing a video history of the Colony, and asked Michal to assist by taking some still photos while he conducted video interviews of Lawrence Coffee and his two daughters, who are descendents of Peyton Colony founders, and who still live in the area. The interviews were conducted in the old cemetery, where descendents of the original residents are still being laid to rest, and in the schoolhouse which was used until 1963. Here is a photo of Lawrence and his daughters, and of Jimmy Joe shooting video footage.

After settling back into our home outside Austin, Michal and Nickie, our Border Collie, participated in a couple of canine agility trials. They were a little rusty, but Nickie still managed to have qualifying runs in three of her four events in the first trial, and in four of her six events in the second. Here's a photo of Nickie showing off her form.

We celebrated Thanksgiving with some of Michal's family at our farm in Hamilton County. The farm, located on 225 acres east of Hamilton, has been in Michal's family for over 50 years. We have a weekend house there, and keep busy keeping the cedar (actualy Ash Juniper) cleared and taking care of our 10 cows and their offspring. Here is the view from our back porch, which overlooks one of the three stock ponds on the property. When we have time for recreation, we fish in the ponds, and during hunting season pursue deer, ducks and dove.

Christmas brought us all together again at the farm. And, it brought excitement as well. On Monday after Christmas, Michal took the Bagley Pack for a run. The dogs jumped a small buck and a spirited chase ensued. The dogs crossed from our farm into the neighbor's, and their yips and barks faded into the distance.  I was very concerned that they would trail for miles and might not be able to find their way home.  So, I crossed into the neighbor's pasture and tried to follow. I soon heard, not the yips and barks that signalled, "We're chasing something," but growls that said, "We've caught it!!!" 

I hurried toward the sounds of the battle and found all three dogs in the chest-deep (to them) water of Neils' Creek trying to overcome a deer.  I could hardly believe they had caught it, but my eyes didn't lie.  In short order all three of them were acting as a team to pull the deer from the water onto the bank. By the time I reached them, they had the deer ashore.  It was dead, having drowned in the stream, I think.   (I discovered that, in its efforts to get away, the deer had somehow broken a leg, which probably allowed the dogs to catch it.)  The girls were very proud of themselves, and when I arrived were trying to figure out how to eat their prize. Here's a photo of the end of the chase.

We don't waste anything around here, so I called John on the walkie-talkie, and he came to load the deer into our truck. Long story short, the "prize" was soon skinned (with help from Nickie), dressed and in the ice chest. 

We have since enjoyed some of the backstrap.  The Bagley Pack enjoyed some venison scraps and bones as a reward, and will no doubt be dreaming of the hunt for a long time.

But the excitement didn't end there. Michal's son, Brian, his wife Debi and our grandson, 12-year-old Gage, arrived on Tuesday for a visit and so that Gage could hunt. (Gage took his first deer last year.)  He is shown above preparing for some target practice.   After four unsuccessful hunts (two of them starting before sunup), Gage killed a nice doe.

We're not "trophy hunters," but instead take only deer we can eat. Here, Gage and John are shown skinning and dressing the deer. We'll all get together in a week or so to make it into "deerburger" or sausage for the freezer.

Gage spent New Year's at the farm with us so Brian and Debi could enjoy some adult time together, and marked the occasion with a few fireworks. Here, Nickie tries to warn Gage that sparklers are, after all, fire, and barks, "Danger! Danger!"

It has been a wonderful two months since we came home, but we look forward to packing up again soon and spending some more time traveling in the fifth wheel. If we don't see you in and around Austin or Hamilton, we hope to see you on the road. Happy New Year!

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