Saturday, October 15, 2011

A new project on the ranch

Shiner, at about 6 weeks of age
We've been plenty busy since landing back home. There are all kinds of chores to attend to when we first get back, plus the additional things we wanted to take care of because of the increased fire danger. Just to make things a little more interesting we decided it was time to adopt a puppy.

Molly has pretty much retired from the strenuous activity of hiking and patrolling the property, so we figured we'd better get a new dog trained up while she's still around to help with the project.

After checking all the local adoption agencies we decided on this little sweetheart. She was about 6 weeks old when this photo was taken, and weighed about 8 pounds. She's just barely 8 weeks old now, and weighs 14 pounds!

Her name at the agency was Amber, but we promptly changed it to Shiner. . . . our favorite Texas beer! And her coloring is perfect as it matches their packaging! There are billboards all over made just for her.

After filling out extensive paperwork and an interview with an "adoption counselor" we picked Shiner up from her foster home Saturday evening. The days since then have been spent keeping a close watch on her. She's just barely 8 weeks old, so not really housebroken yet, though she's good at staying in her little crate all night and for naps.

She's a brave little thing too. We had a horrendous lightening and thunder storm her first night with us, and she didn't show a bit of fear. She played around out in the shop with Steve while the storm was crashing and banging and didn't blink an eye. She's having a great time exploring the property and testing just about everything with her little sharp teeth. She's figured out the dog door too, but I'm waiting for her to discover the squirrels. Maybe with Shiner to keep them busy they'll eat less of my birdseed.

We took Shiner in for her spay surgery Tuesday, which slowed her down a bit that evening but by the next day she was back in high gear. Molly has finally figured out that the little creature is staying, so is starting to communicate with her in slightly more civil terms. She's not used to having a young upstart in her way. By about the fourth day Molly had started showing some mothering behaviors, and is getting a little more tolerant, but also correcting her when she needs it. Gotta teach these young'uns some manners!

You'll notice I haven't mentioned what breed Shiner is. Until we read the adoption posting we'd never heard of it. She's a Blackmouth Cur. They are a popular breed in the southern states, being skilled at both hunting and herding. Some, like the type that sort of originated in Texas, are on the large side as they were bred to herd cattle. They have an interesting history, dating back as far as the Celts who selected breeding pairs based on behavior traits they needed for stock management. (More on their history here)

Shiner's mother was abandoned, probably when her owners discovered she was pregnant, as she was found walking down the side of the road with her ten scrawny puppies in tow. A woman rescued the and took them all to the Austin Pets Alive shelter. One family fostered them until the pups could be weaned to a bottle and then they were distributed to several different foster families. Because of her history we'll never know what breed Shiner's father is, but judging by photos of other BMC pups, she may not be a mix. The puppy photo on the wikipedia page looks just like her, and you can get an idea of what she'll probably look like when she's an adult.

The shelter does a wonderful job of preparing the dogs for their new owners, as do the foster parents. They have inoculations, treatments for parasites, and their spay/neuter surgery all included in the adoption fee, which is less than the $250 they calculate each dog costs them. At that rate, the ten pups and mother that were abandoned cost the shelter $2750. I hope the person who dumped her feels good about his decision.  Fortunately, most of the pups and the mom have been adopted. We met some of the other foster families when we picked her up after her surgery and got caught up. Unfortunately many dogs aren't so lucky, and the pens and kennels at the agency are full of sad looking little animals in need of a home.

Shiner seems to like it here. Enjoying all the space, the variety of things to chew on, and the birds and squirrels to chase. I'll add pictures to the Shiner album as she grows, so you can see the progress. The way she eats she'll be growing fast I'm sure!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Back in The Republic

So there we were, barreling down the interstate, worrying about how dry things are and all the resulting fire hazard. We were barely across the NM/TX border when the clear blue sky suddenly filled with dark thunderheads.  A few miles into Texas, as we passed through the check-point, we saw lightening strikes arc from the clouds to the ground, and a few drops of rain bounce on the windshield. The few drops quickly turned to huge bullet-size dollops that pounded on the roof and bounced on the asphalt. Ah, false hope, the rain soon stopped, though we continued to see lightening, and hear it as static on the radio. Rain is what this state needs most, and we definitely do not need dry lightening. The drought monitor map illustrates the conditions here. Though the drought is not yet a record, it's heading that way.

We were heading for Balmorhea (pronounced Bal-more-A) State Park, where we stayed back in December - a chilly time of year! (see that post for more on the park). It seems funny now to look at the photos from that trip, when we were wearing fleece and gloves, and none of the trees had leaves. It was in the low 90's when we arrived this time, and everything is green, with a few black-eyed Susan's blooming here and there, and ducks happily paddling  among the green reeds in the pond.

It was sunny when we arrived in the park, but there was a storm building to the south and soon the indigo clouds moved in to fill the sky, promising rain but delivering only shade, and a little wind. As the sun began to set a rainbow appeared off in the distance, where someone else was getting a little moisture. 

After dinner we took our usual walk around the campground, stopping to talk with a couple whose rig seemed to have sprung a giant leak.

Water was gushing out of one of their storage compartments, while the owner crawled around on his back under the torrent looking for the cause. Steve jumped in to help with diagnosing the problem. After extensive examination of pipes and joints it was determined that the problem was a hose clamp that had broke loose. Once the clamp was replaced the problem was solved, except for a very wet storage compartment. Only time cures some problems!

sunset at Balmorhae
The repair job was completed well after dark. And just in time, as we hustled back to our campsite a brief but icy shower dampened the area.

The wind that brought it in had completely died down by the time we went to bed and there was hardly a breeze at all. Talk about variety in the weather!

We pulled up stakes early in the morning and arrived back here at the ranch by late afternoon. It had rained here too! Our. little weather station indicated about an inch and a half. Not enough to declare an end to the drought, but enough to dampen the dust.
Now begins the work of unloading and refurbishing the RV, planting the fall garden, and reconnecting with friends and neighbors.

As much as we love being on the road, it's nice to be home too. We'll be taking short trips in the area, and reporting on the antics of wildlife in the hill country, so stay tuned!