Scenes from Texas

Our recent trip to Texas gave us some time to explore part of this vast state.

South Texas is a long way from here; and as you would expect the landscape is very different from what we are used to.

The whole area has been in a severe draught and it is very, very dry.  Seeing the parched grass it is easy to understand how the wildfires have been able to burn so much land.

The area where we were has not had fires, but it is still very dry.

Cactus grows wild there like the ferns do here.  I think this type is called prickly pear.

And you can see why – those spines look very sharp.

The landscape isn’t the only thing that looks different.  The cattle – and there are a lot of cattle in Texas – are the type that can handle the heat and dry conditions.  These are Brahmas; they look so strange to me with the big hump on their neck.

Of course, Texas is famous for Longhorns.

Those horns look pretty wicked to me.  The picture below shows how huge Longhorns can be.  I confess I didn’t take this picture – I don’t want to get anywhere close to horns that big.  And it must have been taken in early spring because I didn’t see any grass that green anywhere in the state.

I found this old shed – did I mention I like old buildings? – surrounded by cactus and oak trees.  The cactus forms a natural fence.

I don’t know if this old windmill still works, but it was beautiful against the twilight sky.

A tree damaged by a recent storm.

And a nice sunset to end the day.

Graduation

We have just returned from Texas A & M and our daughter’s college graduation.  Here is a really blurry picture of the arena which was completely full even at 9 AM.

Six thousand, seven hundred and fifteen Aggies graduated in five ceremonies over three days.  According to Brandon who did the math, there were about one thousand three hundred and eighty at this ceremony.  Here is our Aggie Graduate – she is the one in the middle with the funny hat.

Actually the funny decorated hat.  In the vast sea of graduates it is hard to pick out your individual child, so many of them decorate the top of their hats to help their families identify them.  And besides it is fun and looks cool.

Hers is a princess castle and the words ” . . .happily ever after”  in hot pink and blue glitter.  The same technique  – and colors – I used to decorate her sweatshirts when she was in pre-school.  In some ways it doesn’t seem like all that long ago.

Brandon’s family got up very early and drove a very long way to attend her graduation.

So now our baby and her fiance are both A & M graduates.

Oh wait, that’s not her fiance Brandon.  This is his younger brother who will be a freshman at A & M in the fall.  He thought the glitter hat was so much fun he tried it on too.

Here are the happy Aggie graduates – Brandon graduated in December.

Another milestone in their lives complete.

Clouds

I realize clouds are not living beings – only a collection of water vapor around a dust particle or some such  meteorological definition.  (And why are people who deal with weather called meteorologists?  What does weather have to do with meteors?)  But to me clouds seem to have personality and moods of their own.

Sometimes big puffy white clouds floating lazily across the sky.   Sometimes dark and ominous with only a ray of sunshine breaking through.

When my children were little we used to play a game of seeing things in the clouds.  They were very creative; we “saw” sharks and jet planes and teacups and swords and elephants.

Towards evening the clouds seem to pull back their cloaks to reveal their true colors with a beautiful sunset.

Is There a Difference?

The fresh eggs we get from our chickens are delicious.  The girls love being outside in the fresh air scratching in the dirt, eating insects and grass.  When I weed my flowers and vegetables – not as often as I should – I toss all the weeds to the chickens. 

Weeds are a chicken delicacy I have learned.  They scratch around in the dirt clumps and eat all the insects, then they eat the weeds themselves.

Our little flock has been quite prolific.  Our high egg day was 15 eggs from 16 chickens.

We have truly become spoiled having fresh, natural eggs to eat.  Most of our flock is molting now and so egg production is down quite a bit.  I bought some eggs at the store for the first time in over two years.  I really didn’t think too much about it; eggs are eggs right?  Then I cracked them open in the bowl.

Oh my goodness!  Can you tell which eggs are from our chickens and which ones I bought at the store?

If you picked the bright yellow-orange yolked ones on the left as ours you are correct.  There are lots of studies and information available about why chickens who are allowed to roam around in fresh air and have access to grass and bugs and things chickens are supposed to eat are healthier animals.  Their eggs are healthier for you too.

I am certainly no authority on animal health or nutrition, but doesn’t it just makes sense that animals need fresh air, room to move, clean water and sunshine?  Food that is natural to them?  No antibiotics and hormones?

So, to make sure we keep having those wonderful fresh eggs, we just got a new batch of chicks.  Aren’t they cute?  And they will keep those eggs coming.

Blooms

After our long, cold, rainy spring, we have some lovely blooms around the ranch right now.  The daffodils are open and provide beautiful color around the trees in the orchard. 

The pink Angelique tulips are blooming now too.  The chicken wire around them is to keep the chickens who free range in the orchard from pecking and scratching the flowers to bits.  Chickens are not respectors of flowers – if it is green they will peck it.

Rick’s favorite Johnny Jump Ups are blooming as well.  I planted some two years ago in one section of the garden and now they have spread all over.

Grizzly is laying in the blooming wild strawberries.  We have those all over, and in a few more weeks there will be tiny little red strawberries ripe.

I planted grape hyacinths next to the daffodils and tulips for color and contrast around the Grand Stump.  They are cute little bulbs and their violet-blue color is beautiful.

Nosy Miss Bess is investigating the daffodils around the stump.  I like the bright colors of the flowers in contrast to the stately old cedar stump.

Another color of Johnny Jump Ups AKA violas is also blooming.  What is the difference – they look the same to me?

By far the most prolific blooms we have though are in the yard.  It is covered in these yellow flowers.

I’m no expert at flowers but I believe these are dandelions.  Some people may regard dandelions as a weed.  I figure if a flower blooms out of it, it  must be a wildflower; and I think wildflowers are beautiful.  I am all for any kind of flower I don’t have to plant, weed, fertilize, water and take care of .