Sunday, July 10, 2016

It's been a long, long time...

It has. It's been a long time since I posted on this blog, much to The Aussie's dismay. We've gotten up to a lot since I last posted.

Good news. The pond/lake (when do you call it a lake, not a pond??) water level is still high. It got a bit scary at Christmas time. The weather was really strange in Texas in December 2015. There were tornadoes in North Texas, floods, massive amounts of rain. We got 7 inches of rain in ONE day.

The Aussie persuaded me to go with him to check the berm. The lake was the highest it's ever been, and the overflow pipe was overwhelmed. The berm road was designed with a lower section where the water could flow over and act as a pressure release valve for the lake. The berm is huge to withstand the pressure from the water, but we're worriers. And with that much rain, we were doing a lot of worrying.

We actually had to extend our stay after Christmas because the roads were flooded. The Aussie could have gotten out because his Jeep is lifted and has a snorkel. My dog mom SUV wouldn't have made it. As it is, I took her through a foot of water when we finally were able to get out.

Yes, that's a road underneath all of that water. The creek was up several feet and overflowed.

Risking myself is one thing. Risking the dogs and featherbutt, unacceptable.

So what else have we been up to?

Santa brought me a late Christmas present. A propane cook top. I'm still puzzled why the only thing in the house, a house that is SURROUNDED by fallen trees and trees that need to come down mind you, is the fireplace. It isn't even a dual fuel fireplace. It's a propane only, with a shallow firebox and NO CHIMNEY. So, we got a plumber in and they hooked up our propane tank to the kitchen, then we got the cook top installed. To say it's efficient is an understatement. At some point I'm sure we're going to have to replace the water heaters. I'd like to get them converted to propane as well.

The rain also proved to be a problem with the bedroom. Sparkles was erroneously blamed for wet carpet. She does pee inside upon occasion, but she's more partial to bathmats. It turns out that rain was coming in through the door in the bedroom that leads outside. We've never used it because it doesn't have a good seal. We have it taped from the inside to keep bugs out. Didn't have it taped from the outside. Yeah. Bad seal equals water coming in from the bottom. The carpet and padding was soaked and getting stinky. This is bad for humans, but really bad for birds. We ripped out a lot of carpet. Sigh. It's not quite a money pit, but when houses get to a certain age, things need to get replaced.

Oh well. Carry On And Mow The Lawn should be our new family motto.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Old Farmer's Almanac Was Right

I recently went thumbing through my copy of the Farmer's Almanac to see what it said about rain in my region. You see, it's been raining a lot this spring. I could probably count on my two hands the number of really nice days we've had in the last couple of months. Our country neighbor was telling us that the old timers said this has been the wettest spring in 17 years. I believe it.

Water levels of the pond have concerned us since we bought the property. We have such sandy soil, and supposedly the people who had the pond built were told it wasn't a good location for it. Soil wise, no, but view wise, it was. So they built. While I haven't been thrilled that it's been such a wet spring for my own activities, I am beyond thrilled at what it's done for the pond.

Here is what the pond looked like our first full summer.

Here is what it looked like this weekend. The overflow pipe was actually covered, and there was water draining out the back of the berm.

taken from the cabin side, looking down the narrow end

the tiny white speck is the overflow tube

the ground was mucky and The Aussie got bogged
This makes me unbelievably happy.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Lesson Learned

The other day The Aussie mentioned that it's been a while since I updated this blog. I told him that I really didn't have a whole lot to talk about. Each time we go out to the ranch we do similar things. Yard work, mowing the lawn for hours on end, b*tch about the gophers... It's all much of a muchness.  But guess what?? He gave me something to blog about!  And lo and behold, it fits in perfectly with today's Axis Of Ineptitude prompt, Lesson Learned, so I'm posting my AOI post here today.

It has been almost two years since we first toured the property. We were told that there may be a leak in the lake. As it turns out, whoever built the lake didn't seal it with clay all the way up, so the water level has dropped to the point where we have two ponds. Supposedly there is some clay, but not enough to combat the super sandy soil. We have started the process of getting this taken care of, and an initial survey has been made by the person who fixed a neighbor's pond. Before we can have clay put down, we have to cut back the brush and reeds that have grown up along the banks. There is a lot of it, so it's quite the job.

Yesterday morning we set off towards the berm end of the narrow pond, The Aussie using the big mower, and me following behind with the dogs (on leashes).  We haven't taken the dogs out to that section of the property, so they were having a wonderful time, smelling all the smells, marking territory left, right and center. I'll tell you, my wrists really know I had all three dogs yesterday. They were pulling like a sled team. After we crossed the berm, we made our way through the corner of one of the hay fields, and through the opening in the trees towards the back side of the cabin.  There were a lot of large tree limbs down (I'm beginning to hate sweet gum trees), so we had to move a lot of heavy branches to get the mower through the pass.  Eventually, we did get through, and I wandered with the dogs while The Aussie mowed some of the big brush in back of the cabin. We made our way to the front of the cabin, and couldn't help but notice all of the animal poop on the porch of the cabin. I'm really hoping it was just raccoon poop and not bear poop. (Hey raccoons, our cabin is NOT a latrine, thank you very much).  Since the water level is so low that we have a land bridge back to the house side, I let The Aussie know that I was going to bring the dogs back to the house. He said he was going to mow along the banks of the pond, so I left him to it.  Fast forward an hour or so later, and he shows up in the kitchen for a drink. I asked him how it was going. He said he got the mower stuck at the edge of the bank. We have large vehicles with winches. No problem, right? Well, after several hours of trying that, it took a bit more to get the mower out. Thankfully, one of the neighbors was home and could come over with his tractor to help pull it out. Lesson learned? Be very careful when you mow on really steep sections of the bank.


It's really steep in this section

It took a John Deere tractor and a John Deere "bobcat" to pull the mower out

That's one way to landscape the yard

Monday, May 5, 2014

Unconventional Workout, or How Mother Nature Takes Back Her Own

I have to tell you, pushing around a brush hog (lawn mower on super steroids) for almost two hours really gives you a workout. I don't care if it is "self-propelled." It isn't self-steering or self-turning, and it weighs about 350 pounds. I got quite a lot of brush clearing done yesterday. I didn't make it all the way to the berm at the end of the narrow side of the pond, but close. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Drought, Rain, and Ranch Ponds

When we first visited The Ranch last spring, we were warned that there "may be a leak" in the lake. The water level had dropped more rapidly than the real estate agent/owner thought was normal. There was basically a sandbar across, creating two ponds instead of one lake. The last time it had been completely full was several years ago.  (We have a picture. It's glorious.)

As the drought continued, the water level dropped even lower. It broke my heart to see the narrow side almost completely gone.

We're still in a drought, but we've been getting rain. Quite a bit of it, in fact. I am super happy to report that we no longer have two ponds. We have one. Dare I even call it a lake? I'm so giddy about this, I don't care that I can no longer walk across the land bridge to get to the cabin. I'll have to drive. And before you scold me for not walking, I would if it was safe to. I have to always remember that we have bobcats, coyotes, racoons, deer, snakes, and bears on the property. Occasionally, we get neighbors' dogs roaming around, too. (One of them actually had a bell on his collar. It was kind of funny to hear it jingling as he and a buddy ran through the woods on the other side of the pond. He must roam a lot.)

Now I have to research how to get rid of green algae.

Friday, January 3, 2014

What a long, strange trip it's been

Years and years ago I attended a Grateful Dead concert with a friend I've known since 6th grade. It was quite the experience. I don't know many of their songs, but I sang along where I knew the lyrics. One line that I'll always remember is from Truckin'. This year has been quite the strange trip. I'm happy to say that the pond is filling back up. Fingers crossed we get more rain soon.

 Our first trip to tour the place. Little did we know we'd buy the only place we looked at.

 Springtime. Water down in the pond(s).

 The "Glade."

 Happy to see the water at this level.

 Got stuck in the mud on Christmas day. We were able to winch ourselves out.
 Yes, bears to sh*t in the woods.
 The Aussie, hard at work. Not easy on the grass because it's so soft, but better than a pickup truck dragging huge logs around.
 Beautiful Grandfather tree.
Praying these are deer and not hog tracks. Bottom may be deer, top hog. Hopefully they'll move on.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Please pass the (epsom) salt

The Friends and I were working over on the cabin side of the pond yesterday. I wanted to get the leaves and fallen limbs away from the cabin so that it's easier to walk around, so I spent a couple of hours raking. During a break, one of The Friends and I were wondering if we could get the big riding mower over to cut back some of the long grass. I called over to The Aussie on a two-way and asked if he could bring the mower over. He did something waaaay better. He used the land bridge and brought over the brush hog and started mowing. Man, that thing is awesome! It certainly is a beast.  When he asked if I wanted a go, I was a little hesitant because it is a serious piece of equipment. I am glad that thing is self-propelled. Mowing on a slope is not easy. If you're in to immediate gratification, this is the toy for you. It's quite the workout. Between the tree limb hauling, leaf raking, weed pulling and Beast driving, I am really sore today. Here are the before and after cabin yard pictures.

Cabin: Before
Cabin: After

Cool, huh? It no longer looks like a derelict house.

And just because they're adorable and photogenic, here are more puppy pictures.

My Beautiful Girl
And here's this week's obligatory wildlife picture. I call this one Turtle Conga Line.