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.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Off the Road and on to Bethlehem

Our last night on the road was spent in the Liberty Hill COE Park a few miles outside of Corsicana, Texas.  It is a lovely park, and a good place to spend a night leaving or returning home.  There is even a small cafe at the marina which we'll be sure to try on our next visit.

We then parked the RV in Hamilton for a couple of days while we checked on our cows at the farm and I celebrated a quiet birthday with John and Cousins Kathy and Eric.  We surveyed the damage in the hay pen done by Dude and the neighbor’s bull.  They broke down the electric fence while fighting, gaining access to the hay for themselves, as well as for the cows and calves.  The neighbor retrieved his bull, which had lost an eye in the process, before we got home.  Fortunately, Dude was none the worse for wear.  The damage on our part was limited to the bales on the ends, so not much hay was lost.

The dogs were glad to be off-leash and to stretch their legs and take a swim.  

Then we made the short trip home and parked the RV until we leave again in January.

Since John and I had marked our birthdays early and in style with dinner at The Peabody in Memphis,  we didn’t do much celebrating on the actual birth dates.  Likewise, Thanksgiving was pretty low key.  We cooked for the community Thanksgiving feast put on by Hill Country Community Ministries, then went to Hoover’s a down-home dinner.  

In a few days, we were off again to the farm.  Kota wasted no time in finding a deer leg which she carried with her and gnawed on as long as we were there.

The stock ponds are surprisingly low, considering the fact that we had very good rains early in the year.  

There was enough water for ducks, though, and each time we walked the pasture we flushed flocks from the tanks.

We were fortunate to have clear skies on December 4 for the rising of the super moon.

Then, back in Volente on the morning of December 8 we received a wonderful gift.  An unusual cold snap, combined with some badly-needed precipitation and calm winds brought a freak late-autumn snowfall.  The heavy, wet stuff piled up on the roses in our back yard,  

and melted almost as quickly as it fell on the grass.

There were several inches on the branches and along the roads on the way to Michele McGuire’s Paws 4 Ewe Farm where Rue and I went for our herding lesson. 

My friend, Connie and her briard, Marty, were just finishing their lesson when we arrived.

A couple of days later, a busload of us from First Lakeview Church drove west to Burnet for A Walk Through Bethlehem.    For twenty-five years, the congregation at First Baptist Church has been presenting this pageant during the Christmas season.  Volunteers in period costume populate the village so visitors can experience how Bethlehem might have looked on the night Jesus was born. 

The photos don't do the setting justice.  There is an entire village laid out over an area smaller than the size of a city block, with Roman soldiers, shepherds, innkeepers, shopkeepers, tax collectors, artisans, and of course, the manger with the Holy Family .

It was a wonderful way to begin the Christmas season and a very special evening.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Sunset Capital of Texas?

After a wet and wonderful week on the Mississippi, on Wednesday we hitched up and headed home to Texas.  Some 282 miles later, we pulled into Rocky Point COE Park a few miles south of Texarkana.  It’s a beautiful park with tall trees and room for the dogs to stretch their legs. 

The sites are large and well-spaced. They have asphalt parking pads and gravel yards with cement picnic tables.  But our favorite feature is our view!

Every day has been special, happy hour in particular.  In fact, this park might be a candidate for the title of “Sunset Capital of Texas.” 

Early mornings have been beautiful, as well.

In addition to beautiful sunrises and sunsets, we have seen a lot of birds from our campsite.  There are a few American white pelicans here, great egrets, seagulls, and many, many cormorants.

We watch long strings of them skimming over the water, then lighting to fish where they spy dinner.

Another much-appreciated amenity of this park is a walking trail.  It’s quite overgrown in some areas and definitely needs some work.  

However, using our boy-scout skills we picked out the yellow  markers on the trees and managed to follow the trail all the way from our park to Piney Point COE Park.  Piney Point is only a mile or so away as the crow flies, but my Fitbit logged over four miles there and back.

The vegetation along the trail was lush, and we enjoyed the trip.

We will head for Hamilton tomorrow, happy that we have had a low-key, relaxing week here in far Northeast Texas at the end of this year’s trip.