Monday, November 30, 2015

Fire on the Mountain

I’ve seen the fall colors in the northeast, and they are beautiful.  Texas, however, has some pretty spectacular foliage of its own.  Here are some shots of the Spanish oaks and flame sumac here at the farm.  Lovely, don’t you think?  I think it gives a new meaning to “fire on the mountain.”

We have had rain at the farm since last Wednesday, four inches on top of 1.5 inches in the rain gauge when we arrived, but we have had a wonderful time.  Brian and his family arrived Wednesday afternoon, and were joined on Thursday by Cousin Kathy for a scrumptious Thanksgiving dinner.

My brother and his family were at the farm as well.  He and grandkids Jamey and Laura came by on Friday morning for a short visit.  Jamey had a poncho, but little Laura had to make do with makeshift rain gear.  Thank goodness Costco toilet paper comes in large packages!  I think this photo would make a great commercial..."Kirkland products -- there when you need them!"

The Bagley Pack had fun with their cousins, Molly and Clover.  

While we were out for a walk, Kota and Molly teamed up to catch a squirrel.  Kota rousted it from a hollow log and it ran up a tree.  Unfortunately, squirrels aren't the brightest creatures on the planet.  This one (like some people) launched itself from the safety of its perch and sprinted for an even bigger tree with Kota in hot pursuit.  Even a fast squirrel is no match for determined dogs and the end was pretty certain.  There was a great kerfuffle under the big live oak tree north of the goat shed, and Molly emerged with the quarry.  She carried it around for 45 minutes or so, but let down her guard and Kota snatched the trophy.  Molly stayed close by, hoping to reclaim the prize, but Kota sneaked away and buried most of it.  Fortunately, I was able to retrieve what was left and dispose of it before it disappeared.  I say fortunately, because what went down would most certainly have come up in the middle of the night!

We saw lots of deer tracks, but did not hunt this weekend.  If we had been inclined, though, we could have bagged a couple of turkey toms.  This flock of nine entertained us below the house for a good half hour.  

A good time was had by all, and we look forward to more fun at Christmas.

Friday, November 20, 2015


The past few days have been busy ones for us.  In addition to celebrating my birthday and doing Thanksgiving prep, we have also had a house guest.  

Jack, a four-month-old border collie mix spent three days with us, hanging out with the Bagley Pack and enjoying plenty of running and playing.  He had been relinquished by his former owner, who did not have the time and energy his care demanded.  We enjoyed his company until he was placed with another family.

Like many border collie puppies, Jack was probably adopted because he was cute, alert, and personable.  However, border collies, as well as many of the other herding breeds, demand much more in terms of exercise, stimulation and discipline than other dogs we consider as “house pets.”  They are, by nature, working dogs.  They need direction and a job in order to thrive.  It has been said that if you don’t give a border collie a job, he/she will invent one…and you probably won’t like it.  Jack’s first owner was, unfortunately, unprepared for the demands of such a canine dynamo. 

I was fortunate; my first border collie, Nickie, chose for herself the job of removing leaves from our backyard pool when she was not competing in canine agility or herding.  The first thing every morning when she went out, she patrolled the perimeter of the pool and carefully fished out leaves that had fallen overnight.  She monitored the pool during the day, and repeated her patrol as necessary.  That wasn’t her only job, though; she assumed the responsibilities of pack leader when our Lucky Dog passed away from old age.  And, she was also in charge of rat removal as needed.  Other border collies have chosen less desirable jobs, such as digging up the back yard, tunneling under fences or chewing up the furniture and drapes.  We were so glad Nickie chose something less destructive.  

Rue has chosen ball fetching as one of her jobs, along with backyard squirrel patrol.  

Fortunately, we are also able to take her to herd sheep a couple of times each week with our coach, Sheryl McDonald.  Rue also herds our cattle when we are at the farm.  Colt, a retired herding champion, has chosen to herd Rue and Kota when cattle and sheep are not available.  Keeping busy is high on all their lists.

We don’t know what jobs Jack will take over at his new home.  However, while with us he exhibited a fondness for chewing both real and Nylabones.

He also enjoyed playing with Kota’s frisbee and Rue’s balls.  

We hope his new family will provide proper training, discipline and creative outlets for his energy and enthusiasm.  We wish him well and hope he will return from time to time for play days with the Bagley Pack.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Snake Charmer

Well, we had no sooner arrived and unhitched the fifth wheel than we were back on the treadmill.  One of the first things on our to-do list was to attend a refresher course on “rattlesnake avoidance.”  Offered by Austin dog trainer Harlan Winter, the short training course is designed to make sure that once-curious dogs know that rattlesnakes, copperheads and water moccasins are BAD NEWS!  All our dogs have participated in rattlesnake avoidance training, and when the free refresher courses are offered we are always there.  (As many of you know, we lost Nickie, our wonderful eight-year-old border collie to a rattlesnake bite two years ago, so snake avoidance training is a high priority for us.)

Here are a couple of shots of Harlan Winter and his family, along with the western diamondback rattlesnake that was participating (enthusiastically, I might add) in the refresher course.  He (or she) is safe to handle, because its venom sacs have been permanently removed.  The snake is perfectly camouflaged and so wears a pink ribbon to make it easier for the handlers to see.   However, the ribbon doesn’t impede its loud rattles or its (thankfully) harmless strikes.

You don’t see our dogs in the photos, because the training really works.  Once they got out of the car and saw, smelled or heard the snake, they wouldn’t go anywhere near it.   

Monday, November 2, 2015

A Kaw Lake Conundrum

There is a post script to our visit to Coon Creek Cove COE Park on Kaw Lake.  I took many, many photos, and had not finished going through them all when I put up my previous post.  As I culled and processed my images, I came across a evidence of a drama that I had not fully appreciated when I took the photos.

Most of the great egrets that we saw during our week on Kaw Lake were far away on the other side of the cove.  This one, however, was perched on a log not far from shore.  Out came my camera.

Standing 35 to 41 inches tall, with a wingspan of over 4 feet, great egrets are magnificent birds, regal and fun to photograph.  As this one preened his snowy feathers, he was apparently not aware that he was sharing his log with another lake resident, a good-sized turtle. 

Egret looked around and cast a suspicious eye on Turtle.  What were his intentions?  Did he pose a threat?  Turtle remained still, and after a moment Egret looked away.

When he did, Turtle made his move, inching farther out of the water and closer to Egret. 

He seemed particularly interested in Egret’s long, black leg.  (There didn’t appear to be much meat on it, but maybe Turtle thought it would be tasty.)  

Egret assessed the situation, and decided to find another place to perch.

Not far away was another log…but wait, there is a turtle on this one as well!  What to do?

Egret quickly decided that he would not be surprised again.  He opted to keep Turtle #2 “under his thumb” just in case.

Problem solved!