Category Archives: Cattle

Growing Genesis

FB_IMG_1547934337402Genesis the Calf is a little over two months old now. She is growing and changing every day. It’s amazing to see how she knows what to do and how herd protects and nurtures her along with her mama. FB_IMG_1547934363255Within hours of being born, she was wandering the pasture with the rest of the herd. Even now, she walks or runs a bit and needs to lay down and rest; but she is getting stronger every day. She learned quickly that alfalfa hay was a yummy treat. 0210191601_Burst01She also learned that she was the short one in the crowd and she often winds up with hay dust all over her head and back. 0210191609fIt took a bit for her to figure out what the mineral cubes were all about, but now she likes being able to chew on them. When Charlie starts up the side by side, all of the cows come running to the fence hoping for a treat and Genesis is now the one leading the herd!

She likes lining up at the fence, and just like her mama, she is beginning to let us rub her head. She likes to lick our fingers and when we talk to her!

While she was born with jet black fur, 0216191118oher coat is beginning to have a reddish sheen. Mama Cow was bred when we bought her and we are not certain if the bull was a black or red Brangus. As Genesis continues to lose her winter coat, we will be able to see what her true coloring will be. The red is most visible around her nose and chest right now.

We were hoping that she would have a calf-playmate sooner. It appears that #63 is going to be the next to give birth, but we’re still waiting. Genesis is waiting too. Can you see her in the background? Hopefully, we’ll have another birth announcement to share soon!

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Winter Weekend Camp 2019

Winter Camp took place at the Wheeler Ranch with Maddie and Gianna staying here for a long weekend. The first day had such pleasant weather! DSCF6790Jason and Raya came over to visit and work with the cows. I walked out onto the front porch and this is what I saw.

While we were waiting for our hay bales to arrive, Charlie bought some alfalfa which the cows really like! He and Jason decided to give the herd a treat this morning so Raya and Gianna could help take care of the cows.

While Gianna was very comfortable working with the cows, Raya decided that she needed to stay in the back of the side by side.

Raya was very curious about the herd until Mama Cow came to visit!

Gianna learned what a ‘cow stick’ is and how to use one this weekend. We may have a future veterinarian on our hands!

I think Shadow and Genesis are curious about each other because they are about the same size. Although, Genesis is quickly outgrowing Shadow! They get close to each other…but not TOO close!

Genesis the calf was very curious about the empty mineral bucket that day. She nosed it and nudged it until she turned it on its side and she could roll it around. After all of the exercise, she needed a nap on the hay.

DSCF6871Maddie wasn’t as interested in the cows this trip. Instead, she wanted to explore the creek and she wanted Kimmie to hike and explore with her. The weather on Day 2 of Winter Weekend Camp was not as pleasant as Day 1. In fact, it was completely brutal!

We bundled up and headed to the creek. Gianna went on the adventure with us also – sporting another one of our UH beanies! The bright red makes it easy for me to spot the grandkids when they are out roaming! Shadow was not going to be left behind!

She loves when the grandkids come to visit! I cannot even begin to say how many layers of clothes that I had on! I felt like the blueberry kid in Willy Wonka or the little brother in Christmas Story!

It is pretty easy to make it down the creek since most of the foliage has lost its leaves. Unfortunately, thorns do not fall off of branches in the winter!

There is a rope bridge that the girls discovered last summer. They didn’t need it to cross the creek during the summer, but it certainly helped with water in the creek!

We found the spot where Maddie and Emory buried a Barbie in the creek bed. Well, she thinks we found it. DSCF6853The creek was pretty dry during the summer when they buried their treasure. She thinks this is the spot of the ‘buried treasure.’ Maybe Maddie and Emory can check it out this summer.

 

 

As we crossed the creek, we found another treasure – the herd!

They seemed to be very curious as to why we would be crossing THEIR creek! Gianna and I walked over to ‘talk’ with ‘the ladies.’ We were having a very informative talk about bovines. Of course, Shadow was with us! Then it was time for more creek exploration.

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I’m not sure what this made this burrow in the creek bed, but we quickly walked by.

And then it was time for some competition between the girls. Who would come to the end of the tree line at the creek first?

 

Maddie and I continue to hike down the creek but Gianna went to Grandad who had come to check on us. I think she was recruiting him for her team! She crossed the creek and brought him back to us. DSCF6886Maddie kept forging ahead until she broke the tree line. She was so proud of herself and wanted me to take a victory shot of her!

When it was time to head back to the house, the cows followed us home! DSCF6890Notice Charlie’s layered clothing. It was seriously wet and cold that day! As we started back, we noticed the calf was left behind at the creek. Charlie, Gianna, and Shadow went to check on her. Charlie showed Gianna how to split up and each of them walk Genesis back toward the front of the pasture. The calf made it to the road and trotted away from them. Shadow took over then and drove her back to the rest of the

herd. I wonder what the cows were thinking. They were not bothered at all with all of the commotion. Maybe Mama Cow was telling Genesis that’s what happens when you don’t stay close to me!

Maddie wasn’t wild about feeding the cows mineral cubes so I had her be our photographer. I’m not sure why she doesn’t like having minerals mixed with cow slobber all over her hands! Gianna certainly doesn’t mind cow drool, cow snot, and methane gas. I think I look like a giant raspberry – but the cows don’t seem to mind as long as I share ‘cow candy’ and rub their foreheads!

It was an extremely cold weekend. We’re all getting tire of wearing rain boots and walking on mushy ground. Spring must be around the corner though. The robins have flown north and the daffodils and narcissus in the pastures are in full bloom.

Maddie’s Gallery

I gave Maddie my camera for part of our hike to take photos and she did a really good job! Here are some of her photos.

Genesis of the Herd

As summer turned to Fall and Fall into Winter, we had a long list of jobs we wanted to do here on the Wheeler Ranch. Paint the chicken coop, paint the porches, paint the pipe fence – do you see a pattern here? Projects that began in the summer needed time to let the wood cure. Unfortunately, between rain and football games, no painting happened in the Fall. Winter arrived with more rain and painting was once again delayed. Spring is around the corner now and, while our list of tasks keeps growing, we’re looking forward to warmer and drier temperatures and being able to work outside. There are a few daily tasks to keep us busy including checking on the herd, feeding them, and surveying the pastures. Tuesdays include a trip into town for Charlie to go to the Sale Barn to look at the cows and calves.

Something exciting brightened our dreary winter days in January – our first calf was born. We weren’t certain if our heifers had been bred during their time with the black Brangus bulls. Since this is all new to us, we relied on books, the Internet, and experienced cattle raisers to help us learn all we could about cows and calving. Charlie and I suspected that one of the heifers was getting close to a delivery date but expected it to be a couple of weeks away. The way that she walked across the pasture reminded me of what it felt like to be nine months pregnant! DSCF6530One morning, Charlie went out for his morning check of the pastures and “the ladies” but quickly came back to pick me up. As he headed up the hill, he had noticed one of the heifers standing off by herself and, as he drove closer, he saw a little fuzzy black bundle on the ground beside her. DSCF6496

Although, I’ve been better about not naming our herd, I knew the first calf needed to be named! What better name than Genesis! This calf was officially the beginning of our cow-calf operation! DSCF6865We have watched her grow, play, and interact with the other cows in the herd. She was born a deep shade of black, but seems to have a tinge of red on the tip of her coat. We suspect that several other calves are on the way. It would be nice to have playmates for Genesis. DSCF6813She and Shadow are curious about each other but have yet to get too close to each other. It has been very interesting to watch how the cows and heifers in the herd have reacted to the new mommy and her calf. If they sense danger, they will circle around her. Some of them will groom her. As Genesis has grown, she seems comfortable snuggling up to the other cows. She quickly learned who we are and that we bring the hay and mineral cubes either to the fence or with the side by side. She loves to run around the hay bales and then jump head first into the hay bale!

Just a few more photos of Genesis from Day 1 to a few days ago.

Charlie and I are looking forward to what the upcoming months hold in store for us here on the Wheeler Country Road.

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The Dog Days of Summer

While there are many things that need to be taken care on the ranch, it is simply too hot outside. I guess you could say we are in the maintenance state – mowing the grass around the house and tending the small garden early in the morning. Our list of things to do is growing but Fall will be here soon and it will be more conducive to cleaning fence lines, trimming trees, working in the pastures, renovating the chicken coop, and painting the fence.

We have been keeping busy though with other activities that we can relegate when we want to inside and outside Here are our top 10 dog day summer activities:

  1. Buy a Truck: Charlie needed a ranch truck. When we moved to the country, we sold my cute little sporty coupe. She just wasn’t going to do well on these caliche rock roads. We’ve been a one car (truck) family since the middle of April. This wasn’t such a big deal until we started having separate activities in town. Charlie started looking for a used, well-taken care of ranch truck.0810180639.jpgHe and Jason looked through a multitude of social media sites and Charlie finally found one in Karnack, Texas. It’s a nice Ford F-350 already with a diesel tank in the bed of the truck! We had to drive several hours to get there to check it out but what we found made it worth the trip. Low mileage, excellent condition, and formerly used as a truck to check on dozer jobs the owner had going. Jason came and helped Charlie put a filter on the diesel tank and then they went and filled it up – 100 gallons of diesel! Finally, we’re a two-vehicle family again.
  2. Kimmie’s Cow Candy: It is our goal to have cows and heifers that are accustomed to being around us to make it easier when we need to handle them. We began by having hay on the side by side when we would go check out the pasture and we’d drop some hay off for them. Then, we began holding the hay and they would eat it out of our hands. Next step was to train them with candy. No, not real candy but that’s what I like to call it. 0718181851bIt’s actually mineral cubes that I put in a small tin bucket that I have. We go out on the porch and if they are close I holler “Hello girls” and they all perk up their ears and start watching us. Then we walk over to the fence and give them some candy. Again, at first, we dropped it on the ground so they knew what it was. Now, most of “the girls” will eat it out of our hands.
  3. Day Trips: Charlie and I have taken two days trips into East Texas so far to explore our new surroundings and landmarks. The first trip we drove up to Lindale (The Cannery Entertainment Center with the Love and War Music Arena which have ties with Miranda Lambert and East Texas Country Music) and back through Tyler (the Rose Garden, of course) and Rusk. The Heritage Museum in Rusk was closed so we walked down to the Mexican Restaurant on the Town Square and had lunch. On the way home we stopped at the Caddo Mounds and explored the sites there.

    The second trip we drove up to Caddo Lakes Wildlife Refuge at Karnack to see the lake and swamps (no wildlife). It was an interesting place since it had originally been a privately-owned facility that made TNT for the Army. The next stop heading back to Lovelady was the Train Depot and Museum in Marshall. In Carthage we stopped at the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame and then drove through Nacogdoches to head home. We have put lots of miles on the truck for these two trips but it’s been great learning more about this part of Texas.

  4. Fruit Trees & Preserves: After the blueberries were gone, the figs ripened and we picked several batches of them. Some Charlie ate fresh from the tree and the others I tried my hand at making strawberry fig jelly. The first batch was really messy – well, I was really messy. It was fun though so I tried a second batch after I bought a new canning pot with all of the canning utensils that I needed (and more.) After having fun with fig preserves, I decided to try pear preserves.

    Charlie picked some pears for me and I made one batch of pear preserves with pears, sugar and fresh lemons. After I found another recipe, I went out and picked some more pears. This recipe had LOTS of sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice. Basically, these are spiced pears! I’ve even been looking at a local nursery to see about planting some peach, plum, and maybe cherry trees in the Fall. Just an idea…

  5. Gardening: I couldn’t resist putting in a small (very small) garden this year. It was late April so I was limited in what I could plant. The soil here is sandy and something that I’ve never experienced before. We have always had clay soil where we lived – gumbo as it is called. Even though it was late in the season, I put in a few tomatoes and peppers but didn’t keep up with my watering as well as I needed to so they didn’t do vey well and I finally let them go. The okra seeds however have sprouted and are beginning to produce nicely. My goal is to have enough to pickle but so far we’ve only have a few pods to harvest.

Now let’s talk about the melon patch! I’ve never really had luck with watermelons before but with lots of space and sandy soil (which they like), I decided to experiment. I chose three varieties of melons to plant and two varieties of cantaloupes. This has really worked out well since the watermelons have been ready to harvest at different time. The Klondikes (the large oval striped ones) still have a way to go since they were the last to fruit and are larger to grow. The smaller round ones (striped and solid green) have been harvested with more on the vine. The cantaloupes had lots of flowers but are just now really producing fruit. There is one that is so close to harvest time that I can hardly wait. So far, the melons we have harvested have been so sweet. There is such a feeling of accomplishment for me to know that I planted those tiny seeds, took care of them when they sprouted, tended them as they flowered and fruited, and then harvest and eat them.

  1. Camp Kimmie and GranDad: We’ve been able to have all of the grandkids over at different times this summer. We’ve had birthday parties, family dinners, and family coming in to visit.

    We even had two of the younger ones spend the night with us and they (we) did great!

    Benjamin helped Charlie drive the tractor, feed the cows and drive the ‘truck’ (which is what he calls the side by side). Scarlett and GranDad were up a little later than Benjamin and I one morning, so they had to wait on the porch while Benjamin and I were driving around in our PJs! After bath time, they sat on the front porch with us eating pop tarts!

    The big girls were able to spend about a week here also and we had lots of fun.

  2. Cattle Schools: Learn more about our herd and building it in size. We attended the Cattle Short Course at Texas A&M again. It was a little different for us this year. Last year almost everything was new to us. Our experience with cattle was limited to being around those that were on our property from the fellow leasing the pastures. It’s different now that we have five head of our own. Some of the information from the professors from TAMU was the same as last year but it had a more personal meaning this year. We had questions based on what we doing and what we needed to do that we can ask the presenters. We also had a better feel of which sessions to attend and were probably a bit more judgmental of the skills of the presenters. The focus on the last day of the Short Course is always on hands on demonstrations. 0808180959aLast year, we watched how to handle and move cattle, give shots, brand, and castrate. This year we went to the carcass demonstration. Yes, carcass! We watched videos of four different cattle and graded them on their appearance and potential beef yield. Then they brought the carcasses into the classroom! The next part of the presentation was a cow that had been butchered. 0808181039aThe professor had a skeleton of a cow and would place each cut of meat on the skeleton as he described how it was cut, where it came from AND how to cook it. Very interesting. We have also been attending local workshops put on by the Houston County Extension Office. These sessions have been on forage of the pastures, feeding and caring for the cattle, feral hogs, and pond management.
  3. Nightly Wildlife Checks: Each night we go out and check for wildlife. You can always hear birds singing, but now we hear the cicadas and frogs making noise. We still have evidence of an armadillo or two but we’re not seeing them as much. Occasionally we see cottontails in the early evening or morning. We had a single boar a few weeks ago that was rutting around. Jason brought his rifle with a new night vision scope on it and now we do not have a boar under the pear trees. Instead, we have deer. The deer have been more active lately. Sometimes we see two big bucks and other times we see a group of does and fawns together. One night this week the entire herd was in the pasture close to the house. They tend to come close in the evening and then again in the early morning. WGI_0011Several nights ago when I went out with the spotlight, I found two does bedded down under one of the trees right next to the fence close to the house and some of the others under the pear trees eating the pears that had fallen to the ground. We may have to put some corn out for them so they will stay close enough for us to see them every evening and morning. Last night Charlie spotted two hogs close to the pear trees. It may be hog hunting time tonight!
  4. Train the Animals: Mia Bella is getting up in years and has always been an inside cat. In the city, she might go out to sit on the patio and chase a lizard to two. At first, she would come out to the back porch while we sitting having our morning coffee but then go right back in the house. Then she started going to the front porch to sit with us. Now she runs to the front door after breakfast and dinner so she can go out to the front porch, down the steps, and chase crickets and grasshoppers in the grass. She has also discovered Shadow’s hiding spot in the cool dirt underneath the front porch. 0815181752aTheir new game is for Shadow to sit on the porch at the top of the stairs and Mia Bella to sit two steps down after they have finished playing. I will go to the porch to call for them and they just sit there and look at me…and won’t come in! They are just like spoiled little kids sometimes!
  5. Movie Nights: At the end of a long, hot day we enjoy sitting in our recliners and watching a good movie on TV. The dog is on the couch and the cat is usually in a lap. It feels so relaxing and we realize that this is our new home and right where we want to be.

    Second Anniversary July 2018
    Second Anniversary as Ranchers and Still Loving It!

Happy 2nd Anniversary!

Happy anniversary! Today is our second anniversary as land owners. It has been an exciting two years and we have many plans for the upcoming year. We are continuing to attend local workshops and training sessions on raising cattle and improving forage. We have purchased our own five black Brangus heifers.

Brangus are a cross between black Angus and Brahma cattle. Charlie was able to help brand and vaccinate them with the help of the man who located these heifers and is our “hired Cowboy.”

When “our girls” were delivered to us, another young Charolais heifer was brought over that needed some social interaction with other animals. 0619181959aIt’s very interesting to watch these six and the other heifers and cow. Sometimes they blend in with the bigger herd and sometimes they wander on their own in their own smaller herd.

We are focusing on taming them so we can handle them with we need to. Our heifers like to come up to the fence next to the house in the mornings especially for some hand-feed hay. 0619182005gI’m also working on talking to them. A simple “hello girls” generally gets their attention. A couple of them are getting comfortable coming up to us and will let us rub their noses. The others are curious and we’ll keep working on them.

Our cattle business is a cow-calf operation. That means that we will breed our heifers and sell the calves they produce. From the proceeds of the sale of those calves, we will purchase more heifers to breed and sell those calves, etc. The heifers have been with a bull since January with their previous owner and they are once again with a bull in our pasture. In September, we will begin testing each of the heifers to see if we will hear the patter of little hoofs in the Spring.

We have set up our records for tracking our cattle activity. Charlie cleared out and cleaned up the existing pens in the back pasture that have not been used in about 5 years. He and Jason have discussed how to renovate and expand them for when we need to work the cows.

It’s exciting to think about what this year will hold for the Wheeler’s Lazy J Ranch. Charlie and I have learned lots of new things and will continue to learn more. Stay turned for the next adventure!

 

Tying up the Loose Ends

With the house built and our furniture and belongings in it, it was time to type up the loose ends on our homestead. The first major project for our new house was to build a porch across the front of the house and a small porch at the backdoor.

 

From the very beginning Charlie has had the desire to have porch along the front of the house along with extra wide steps for the kids to sit on when they come to visit. We have rockers, chairs, and a porch swing up there right now. We are in the waiting process of letting the wood season, or dry out, so we can stain or paint the porch. We’re still debating what to do. The porch at the backdoor is a smaller porch but larger than I planned. I was thinking of a more utilitarian porch but Charlie was determined that it should be bigger. It was a good choice. It’s large enough for several chairs along with my gardening things. Sometimes it is cooler back there in the mornings for our coffee since it faces away from the sun.

The next step was to have a road put in from the county road on our property up the house. The choice was to put in a limestone and caliche stone road. The road man was worried about the huge oak tree that the road was to run under.

 

Rather than having the road crew trim the tree’s lower branches, we decided that it was time to hire a trim a bona fide tree trimmer. Along with the oak tree needing to be trimmed, there was a tall dead tree at the entrance of the property along with a few stumps to grind.

While all of this work was going on, Charlie decided to work on the chicken coup. The property had a well-worn and well-used chicken coup on it.

Since I would really want chickens and fresh eggs, Charlie decided that it was sturdy enough to use but the exterior doors and wall on one side needed to be replaced. The reconstruction of the house has begun as well as the yard is being worked on to get it ready to be fenced. Once it’s finished, we’ll paint it and make it all pretty for the chickens.

It was finally time for the road crew to come in. The crew brought in 10 truckloads of rock to build the rock.

They leveled the path and added and smoothed out the rock. We now truly have The Wheeler’s Country Road.

There was one last thing we needed to do to finish cleaning up the homestead. The trash pile that was here when we bought the property and that we kept adding to was ready to be burned. Outside conditions were right and we were ready to get rid of the pile! After a steak dinner, Charlie and Jason prepared the burn pile and the bonfire began.

Danielle, Raya, and I stayed on the porch watching the flames. Raya decided that she needed to dance to the country music that was playing! It took several days for some of the large pieces of wood on the pile to finish burning and smoldering.

Charlie kept a close and careful watch until he knew everything was finished burning. Since then, Charlie has run his magnetic roller over the ashes to pick up any pieces of metal that were left behind. I spread some grass seed there also to hopefully get it growing and turn the area green soon.

Although it was late in the season, I wanted to put in a small garden. I planted a few tomato, jalapeno and green pepper plants along with seeds for cucumbers and okra. I also planted some watermelon and cantaloupe seeds using different varieties to see how they grow. I’ve never had the room to grow melons before so it will be interesting to see what happens. 0523181729dSo far, the vines with blossoms are growing very well. Only time will time how well they produce. In the meantime, we have eaten blueberries right off the bushes, sampled the pears from the trees, and are watching to see how well the pecan trees are producing fruit. We are in the midst of harvesting figs now that I will be making preserves out of this week.

Exciting news for the next blog posting:

We’re not just leasing out of property now and babysitting a herd. Charlie and I have purchased five of our very own beautiful black angus heifers.

 

 

 

Learning to be “Producers”

The last six months have been like a whirlwind for us. The last post on this blog was of our weekend long celebration of being landowners for one year. 20170809_063633.jpgSince then Charlie and I have participated in several learning experiences to prepare us for a cattle business. We attended the Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course first. This week of courses is said to be the “largest cattle educational event in the country.” There were over 1600 cattle producers there. Notice that we are “cattle producers” rather than just ranchers. The focus of the short course this year was the role that export markets play for cow-calf producers. That’s our plan – producing calves!We attended sessions on beef cattle management (health, nutrition, genetics, reproduction), ranch management, and forage management (that’s anything plant related.)

There were both classroom sessions and demonstrations. We chose to watch chute-side calf working, cattle handling (the safe way), 20170809_073505beef carcass value determination, branding, and castration. (Yes, castration!) I figure that I need to know what is going to happen with our cows every step of the way. We’re already making plans to return to TAMU to attend the 2018 Beef Cattle Short Course.

Our next learning adventure began on a foggy morning. Charlie, Jason, and I attend the Cow Country Congress at the Santa Rosa Ranch in Crockett. Global trade impact on the cattle market was the main topic. Other topics included herbicide and forage management, 20171015_081437strategies for winter feeding and bull selection. There were several demonstrations at this event also. We were able to participate in several bull selection activities. All of the participants went to the bullpens where the bulls were being herded into a chute being prepared for the selection viewing. 20171013_154325.jpgThe young bulls were not very patient with being herded into a narrow chute and being told to wait. There was a lot of pushing, shoving and bucking! One of the bulls was determined to climb out of the chute and had his front legs over the top of the pipe fence which was about 10 feet high. 20171013_154127We felt a bit uneasy since we were standing inside the pen next to the chute! After that excitement, we were ready for testing our bull selection skills. Two bulls were released at a time into the selection pen. Using a reference page, we looked at their genetic background along with physical attributes. All of the young Black Angus 20171013_154313bulls were very handsome but some of them did not appreciate being on display. There was just a single pipe fence between us and them and some were pretty aggressive. Even the speakers from Texas A&M at one point pinned themselves against the wall of the barn trying to stay out of the way! Such pretty and power! We met outside under a large tent which was a little warm with the unusual weather we faced during the Fall. It was fun watching the cook team preparing our lunch (rib eye steaks) and dinner (fajitas) all day at the outdoor kitchen.

There are so many resources out there and so much for Charlie and I to learn. We’ve both completed our BQA certifications (Beef Quality Assurance) both for Texas and at the National level. Charlie is currently enrolled in a pesticide course to prepare him for the state license test. He needs this license to be able to purchase pesticides and chemicals for our property and livestock. I’m working on finding resources to help with growing plants. I’m looking at raised bed gardening right now and what types of plants that I want to grow. We have quite a few pecan trees on the property and I need to learn more about how to take care of them. There is an East Texas Fruit and Vegetable Conference at the end of February but we may be in the midst of preparing to move to the property.

More on our preparations for setting up our new home in the next post…

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Cows, Bugs & Fish…Oh My!

What do you do when your husband calls and says he’s on his way home from work so we can leave for the country? You quickly pack the necessities and plan on buying the rest later! We had debated whether to go up on Thursday after work or wait until early Friday – 20170713_175856.jpgbut Thursday won out since Charlie was able to leave work early. To add to our last-minute changes, the two oldest granddaughters decided to come with us. 20170713_202730Since we left in the afternoon, the scenery and skyline were a bit different. Once we turned off of the highway, Charlie spotted some deer on the side of the road. I missed taking a photo of them but then Gianna spotted another deer on the other side of the road. This one stopped and posed for us. 20170713_203326What a beautiful view appeared before us as we drove down the Wheeler Country Road.

Friday came early for me since it was a regular work day. The girls were up pretty early too and enjoyed the hot chocolate and biscuits and sausage for breakfast. Charlie and the girls spent the morning exploring the property and visiting with the cows while I was working away on my laptop in the camper! Being able to work remotely is great but I have to admit that I was pouting a bit also! Coffee breaks were for going out and checking on the fun and taking photos!

Later in the morning, Jason, Danielle and Raya came to visit and Gianna had to take her little cousin for a ride in the “pink car.” Raya loved it! 20170714_091942Gianna was told to go slow but I think Raya would have liked for a faster ride! We acquired the “pink car” and “four-wheeler” from neighbors whose children had outgrown them. All of the grandkids are having a great time driving them!

The main reason for this trip was for Charlie, Jason and I to attend the New Landowners Program for Houston County presented by Texas A&M. Landowner1Each month, different topics are presented that are informational for landowners. In July, the topics were property taxes, agriculture exemptions, and programs through the state of Texas available to improve your land.  While we were at the workshop, the girls were spending time with their Aunt Danielle and Cousin Raya swimming, shopping, and snacking.

On our way back to Lovelady, Danielle called Jason and told him that she had stopped by the camper to pick up something and the ground was flooded! Apparently, the hose from the water spout had ruptured and the entire front area was soaked! Charlie and Jason headed straight there and turned off the water. After grilling hamburgers at Jason and Danielle’s house, the guys headed back to town for a new hose so we would have water at the camper that night!

After such a busy day, the girls fell asleep quickly and slept late the next morning. After quietly making our coffee, Charlie and I went out to have coffee with the cows. The heifers like to have breakfast in the front pasture. 20170715_081049Charlie and #4 were having a deep discussion about the agenda for the day and 20170715_081105then she decided to move down the fence line for fresh grass. As you can see, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

After a bit, Maddie woke up and decided that she needed to go for a ride on the four-wheeler. After Gianna woke up, the girls asked Grandad to take them to visit with the cows.

Maddie decided that she had enough and headed back. Look at her expression! She was actually brushing gnats away – she doesn’t like bugs at all! She said that she liked the property better in the winter because she could wear her jacket and there weren’t any bugs!

20170715_173647Since Saturday was our first anniversary as landowners, we decided to grill steaks to celebrate. Natalie and Audie we able to come visit to join the celebration.

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It was fun with all of us sitting outside watching the kids use their imagination while playing: from sitting on the fence, to sitting on the grapevines, to hanging little birdhouses that Gianna found while grocery shopping in town. The girls found a broken cinder block and used it as a stand to climb onto the grape vine

and then Maddie made a tightrope out of them20170715_182950and an old board. Audie was stuck with us on the deck but it won’t be long until she is running around with the rest of the big kids!

 

Wasn’t the sunset pretty that night? There was a cool front pushing in that created some beautiful colors in the sky.

With extra time the next morning after getting dressed for church, 20170716_085630the girls convinced us that they could drive the pink car together, play nicely, and stay clean. Don’t they look like “two little ladies on their way to Pasadena?” 20170716_095726On the way to church services in Crockett, the girls were playing the piano book. Maddie was teaching Gianna how to read the notes and play. It was so sweet watching her encourage her sister.

After church we had to make a difficult decision – what to have for Sunday lunch? We needed something the girls would like as well as the adults (Charlie, Jason and me). So we decided on Whataburger, of course! After a quick lunch, we headed back to the camper and Jason went to pick up the fishing poles and tackle boxes from his house so he and Charlie could take the girls to the pond to fish. We were in a bit of a rush since that front was quickly coming in.

Jason showed the girls how to put nightcrawlers (aka earthworms) on a hook and then how to cast a line.

After just a few minutes, Gianna’s bobber went under the water and Charlie was helping her guide the fish in. She was so excited to catch (and touch) a small catfish. After casting again, she caught another small catfish. (No, not the same one!)

Maddie didn’t have the same luck. No bites for her! In fact, she was upset that her earthworm was hurt putting it on the hook. Jason was a good uncle and showed her how to use a lure instead of live bait. However, still no luck catching a fish.

Unfortunately, the fishing trip was ended earlier than planned, when the skies started rumbling and with lightning quickly following behind. 20170716_135730We barely made it back to the camper before it started raining. The girls seemed to enjoy running and playing in the rain. So, what do you do on a rainy Sunday afternoon in a camper? You watch Princess Diaries 2, snack, and nap!

After the rain finally stopped, Jason had to head to town for some shopping for the week and we headed back to the city. Gianna helped her Grandad getting everything outside ready and Maddie helped me get the inside of the camper ready. We loaded up and Maddie read and watched videos all the way home. Gianna, on the other hand, was asleep before we even made it to Hwy 19!

OK friends, families and blog followers – It’s time for some feedback. Here is a photo of where our house is going to be. House1The trash pile will become a bonfire in the fall showing a clear view of the house site. What kind of house should we put there? Log cabin? Manufactured home? Tiny home?  What would your dream house be if you were building on your country road?

 

 

Don’t Fence Me…Out!

When we first purchased the property, there were two fenced sections which I like to call the “Back 50” and the “Lower 25.” Having a small herd of cattle on the “Lower 25” (which is where the trailer is) was entertaining until the cows became too familiar with us, the trailer and deck, and our vehicles. Let’s not even discuss the presents that they left behind for us close to the truck, trailer and deck!

It was time to build a fence that would keep the cows off of where our homestead will be. Jason and Charlie also wanted to move the gate in from the road so there would be room to pull up and open the gate  off of the road. Plans were made where to place the fences and it was determined that Jason would build the main fence and gates and the rest would be t-posts and barb wire. Jason original set the posts before his surgery in February.

For the next step in the process, he and another welder worked for several days adding the top row to the posts and starting the smaller rods below. Unfortunately, they were hindered by heavy winds and rain several days but they made up for lost time by working twice as hard!

As the work on the fence continued, Charlie decided to go and help out (aka supervise). While Jason finished the metal fence, Charlie set all 55 of the t-posts himself that will lead from the driveway to our house. He and Jason then ran the barb wire through the posts.  This area will be our “yard” where the chickens and other small animals will be. (We’re still discussing what this menagerie will consist of.)

Although Charlie sent me lots of photos during the week, I wanted to see the new fence for myself. The work was very impressive! With these fences up now, it is easier to visualize where our house will be placed. 26554The plans are to place it to the left of the fence in this photo and facing the creek.  Things are beginning to move more quickly as we prepare for Charlie’s retirement and our move to Lovelady.

After working so hard, Charlie and Jason enjoyed some much deserved free time on Friday and Saturday. Natalie and Audie came over to spend the night with us and let the babies have cousin time.

Charlie and Jason had a very productive week followed by some great family time.

The cows are not happy with the new fence and their loss of freedom. They are spending lots of time close to the fence line! They definitely didn’t want to be fenced in!

The place is really shaping up to look like what a ranch should look like! The next big question: What color will we paint the fence? Suggestions?

Cinco de Moo-yo

We celebrated Cinco de Mayo weekend in the country and it was muy bien. No big fiesta- just mainly siestas and relaxing. SamThe Sam Houston statue on I-45 symbolizes to us that we are leaving Houston aka The Big City and headed into The Country since our turn off the freeway to Lovelady is right past Sam. Charlie says that he always feels a sense of relief as we pass the statue so I’ve started a silly tradition of waving and saying “Hello Sam” when we drive by. I begin feeling that way when we turn off of the highway and travel down the two lane road that leads to our county road. Road_new

We made it to Lovelady and realized that the cows had been down in the lower pasture…by the gate and the trailer. They left us many gifts on the ground along with knocking down the solar lights that I put beside the steps leading up to the deck. I’m not sure why they like those solar lights so much!

After we were all settled in, we decided to walk down the road to the upper pasture and the pond. We checked on some of the plants along the way. 20170421_173057The blueberries are now blue – but not dark enough not soft enough to pick. The pears are growing but still tiny. The dewberries are in varying stages – some red and some ready to eat. The fig bushes are20170507_130149 tall and full of fruit. The cows seem to enjoy standing under the bridge that the two bushes create. They don’t seem interested in eating the leaves or figs – which I am grateful for since they have already cleaned the leaves off of both of the Confederate Rose bushes. Some of them even like to nibble the little rose bush!

After a pizza dinner with Jason, Danielle, and Raya we came back to the trailer to sit on the deck to listen to the sounds of the country and look for wildlife in the night. After a good night’s sleep,cofee and cows we were awakened by the alarm clock of the country – not a rooster but a herd of cows mooing at our bedroom window! We both jumped out of bed knowing that they were right by the trailer which meant they were right by the truck! They didn’t seem to mind our presence at all when we walked outside. In fact, they seemed to think that 4wheelerwe should be feeding them! They were quite vocal and quite loud! One of the cows that I’ve nicknamed “Bette Davis” was intrigued by her reflection in the shiny bumper of the truck. Charlie had to shoo her away from the bumper. She moved down to the driver’s door and once again found herself in the reflection of the truck. Another one decided that she liked nosing the door and door handle until, once again, she was encouraged to move on. They laughed at Charlie when he took the truck to the car wash. They asked what he got into – and he told them it was cow slobber!

Even though these heifers belong to someone else that is running them on our property, the girls (Melissa, Danielle, and Natalie) and I have decided to name them. Maybe not all of them, but some. Jason said one of the cows looked like the Blue Bell cow – so we named her Blue Bell. The one I call Bette Davis  has a black patch around one of her eyes which looks like dark eyeliner, she seems to like to look at her reflection, noisy and extremely bossy to the other cows! (Blame it on watching “Feud” recently.) This small herd definitely has some distinct personalities in it.

Charlie and Jason picked up two deer feeders and a hog trap after our breakfast with the cows. We may need the hog trap now since we found several instances of where they had been on the property. They can really do a lot damage! We enjoyed a dinner of beans and sausage finished off with a lemon meringue pie that Danielle brought. Then it was time for another evening sitting outside under the almost full moon and listening to the sounds of the countryside. It was so quite that you could hear our neighbor yelling at her dogs to quiet down – and she’s about half a mile down the road and across two tree lines and a creek!

Pond_newSunday morning started with coffee with the cows again before we headed to church in Crockett. After lunch, Charlie and Jason finally had time to sit back and relax and fish in the pond. We weren’t sure if there were fish or what kind they might be but they found out! They caught three large-mouth bass but let the turtle that kept cutting Jason’s line get away! Charlie put together a bench for me to sit on at the pond. Next trip I’ll take a turn at fishing from the bench!

After a very stressful week or two at home, this was a relaxing trip – that was the main goal! After the weekend was over though, Jason and a friend and fellow welder, started working again on the fence on the property that will lead from the road to the house (when it’s finally there.) It will be a pipe fence rather than a barb wire fence. Jason said that it would look nicer as an entrance to the property and I agreed. Once he and Cameron finish the pipe fence, it will need to be painted. We’re still debating what color to paint it.

Maybe we’ll plan a paint party and invite everyone to come in Tom Sawyer fashion to the Wheeler Country Road!

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