All Creatures Great and Small

I’ve often had people ask me if I get tired of the drive to our home in the country.  My answer is always an emphatic, “No!”.  My drive is 25 minutes and Tony’s is about 40 minutes to our prospective workplaces.  And after two years, I still don’t mind the drive.  It is for me a time to pray and prepare for my day on the way in, and to relax and detach for the evening.  The bonus (or perhaps the catalyst) of my relaxing drive is admiring the changing landscape, and the many animals, domestic and wildlife, that I see every day along the way.

The title of this entry, “All Creatures Great and Small”, reminds me of a book series I read when I was younger.  The series is written by James Wight, whose pen name is James Herriot, who used his years as a British veterinarian surgeon to write stories about the animals he treated and their owners. The titles of 4 of these novels are based on this poem by Cecil Frances Alexander:

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

He wrote many other books as well, but I own these 4.  I would encourage any animal lover to read them!  They are not too difficult for children to read either.  I really enjoyed his stories.  You can buy them here on Amazon:  James Herriot Books

Anyway, on that note, I thought I would share some scenery and some animals that I see on a regular basis.  Enjoy!

First, our backyard cows, baby birds hatched in our herb garden, our kitty Simba (who has since disappeared), and Tyler’s cat, Lucy.

And some of the other animals along the way home…

And some scenery….

Well, I’ll leave you with this.  The Lord God made them all!  The earth is the Lord’s and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it. (Psalm 24:1)

Hope you are enjoying your spring, and God’s creatures!!

Work, Weddings, and long Weekends

With a step back from the busyness of our lives, I see that there should be a sense of balance.  Our life in the country has provided some times to experience hard work, along with relaxation on weekends, and also times of celebration.

WORK:  Tony has been spending lots of time and energy getting our driveway smooth and perfect, and now creating some landscaping around the house.  He has also built a couple benches to accommodate visitors around the fire pit.  I have planted a fall garden, worked on some fall crafts, and canned some peach jam.

WEDDINGS:  We participated in two special weddings this fall and Tony officiated both of them!  His brother, Marty, married Cindy out at the ranch.  It was a simple ceremony and celebration, but it was beautiful!  We were also blessed to be a part of Josh & Laura’s wedding at a beautiful venue south of Austin.  These times are the joyous events that we all enjoy!  They are the highlight of our week/month, and the highlight of their lives!

LONG WEEKENDS:  We enjoyed a long weekend trip to Kansas City, where we previously lived for a while.  It was enjoyable in so many ways.  We were able to spend some time with my brother Alex, and his wife Dorene, exploring some interesting areas of the city.  We also experienced (for the first time) a MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fight where my nephew, Grant, was the main event.  He won in less than 4 minutes!  What a champ!  Other highlights of our weekend in KC included sweet times with dear friends, a visit to the pumpkin patch, and attending the newly-formed church of our former youth students, Josh and Morgan.  And of course, some good ol’ KC BBQ!!

Later in October, Tony hosted our church men at the ranch for some Bullets n’ BBQ.  There was some skeet-shooting and lots of brisket and sausage.  We love hosting events like this.

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And speaking of work, besides his regular job at Multi-Tracks, Tyler is working on a short film that he wrote, directed and acted in.  It’s a project he has been working on for a while.  You can check it out here, if you’re interested. Lurk film.  And Christa is working away at Texas A&M – in her senior year!!  Almost done!

So, we have had a good balance of work, weddings and long weekends.  We sure have enjoyed our fall so far and hope you have too!!  I’ll leave you with “sunrise, sunset”….

 

Maintenance Mode

Well, we finished up some projects this spring, and have settled into maintenance mode for now.  It’s just too hot!!

Tony finished up the porch/deck and it looks awesome!  It is on the eastern side of the house, so in the evening it’s shaded and makes for some cooler, breezy evenings enjoying the view.

 

Tony also built our enclosed garden and we have enjoyed some produce!  We grew tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, radishes, peppers, zucchini, and green beans.  Most of it is done by now, but we still have a couple zucchini and watermelon coming along.

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Maintenance Mode –

Along with ranch life and home ownership comes the maintenance.  So we have had to do some driveway maintenance and gate repair, bug control, and of course, lawn mowing and weed-eating.

But we are also maintaining our times with family & friends.  Tony & I got to go on a cruise with my parents and siblings & spouses.  Again, we enjoyed  July 4th with brisket and friends and fireworks.  We are enjoying our time with our kids, celebrating Christa getting her Aggie ring,  birthdays with friends, and also hanging out with church family. Plus, Tony and I got a lesson in skeet shooting!

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Well, it’s the dog days of summer and we are maintaining our cool until the fall.  Hope you are enjoying your summer!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ads may appear below this point – which I may not necessarily endorse!

 

 

 

How does your garden grow?

One of my favorite hobbies is gardening.  Something about sowing, growing and reaping just resounds in my soul.  God speaks to us through these things, I know.

Well, since we still have our neighbors, the cows – who like to eat everything, and we don’t have a fence around our “yard” yet, we had to build an enclosed garden.  I saw one on Pinterest that we both liked.  Tony got it built in about 2 evenings, and then I stained it.  We were able to get it planted with some of our favorites – tomatoes, peppers, green beans, lettuce, spinach, zucchini.  We even purchased a “guard owl” that is supposed to keep the birds away.

I really enjoy watching it grow daily!  We got our first harvest yesterday – 2 “Coolapeno Peppers”.

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Supposed to be cooler than your average jalapeno.  They still smell like a jalapeno, but are not hot.  Not sure what the point of that is!

Our herb garden is in again, and we have a visitor.

So I’m watching out for that daily, too!  I think its mama is a mockingbird maybe?

We enjoyed our Texas Bluebonnets this spring ( I had spread some seeds last fall), and saw lots of color in our fields, along with the coreopsis, and now joined by firewheels.

 

One more “growing” thing I am watching is a butterfly pupa I found hanging on a plant stand.  I hope I can catch it emerging!!

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Well, there is where we are growing right now!  At least in the natural world!

Hope you are enjoying your springtime!  We have been getting lots of good rain & cool weather.  Looking forward to a fun summer and a harvest to come!!

Kandy

 

Nameless

We have yet to name our new homestead.  Still trying to agree on something that seems appropriate and clever. (There is actually a road in Leander called “Nameless Road”). Someone suggested “Dos Hermanos”, (Spanish for 2 brothers) but I don’t think we should choose a name that implies there is someone of Hispanic descent here.  There’s not…  Hmmm…  I suggested “Red Star Ranch”, (mainly because I saw a really cool red metal star at the store!).  But apparently that sounds too Russian or something.  Any suggestions???

So, updates.

The driveway has been scraped and covered with crushed granite, so we have a nice drive now.  We had lots of rain in October, so now – No more getting stuck in the mud! IMG_4150 IMG_4380

We have a shed where we can store most of our outdoor tools.  We planted a couple of trees and sowed some bluebonnet seeds.

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Tony has most of the front porch/deck completed – just needs railings and skirting.  Then I will have the job of staining.  I’ve also been digging up some of the stray cacti around the house so we will have a safer, neater lawn.

A tabby cat has joined our family.  He appeared one evening in October.  So of course I fed him!  We tried to find his family, but alas, I think he had been abandoned.  He was in pretty good shape, however, and immediately decided he was “home”.  He did disappear for about 3 days and we were afraid something bad had happened to him cause our neighbor told us he had seen coyotes around his place!  But, “the cat came back”!  So Christa and I named him Simba.  Because he got scared and ran away, but came back and took his rightful place!!  (wink, wink)

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We have enjoyed hosting friends and family.  In October, Tony invited our church men out for Bullets and Bar-B-Q, an event that included skeet shooting and brisket, and also a friend who tried out his drone. We hosted Thanksgiving with our friends – the Killian’s (a long-standing tradition).  Of course, Tyler and Christa were home for the holidays.  Christa brought her roomie, Melissa, home for Thanksgiving.

Some local turkeys who survived Thanksgiving –

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Tyler’s girlfriend, Aly, joined us on Christmas morning.  Christa invited her Life Group from her church in College Station for a weekend in January – 8 college students!  Mom & Dad came up for a visit from the valley for a week.  And this weekend we are hosting a Super Bowl party for the young adults from church.  We really love having people over! And the cows make themselves at home as well.

Well, we are making a list of all the projects we would like to do next.  I guess we’ll have to arm wrestle to see who gets top priority!  This year is shaping up to be a wonderfully, busy, amazing year and I’ll keep you updated here!

Thanks for checking in!

 

Ranch House Photo Gallery

Like a calf at a new gate….

New projects at the ranch –

  1. We have a new driveway, sort of.  So the county finally installed a culvert so we could get across the ditch and now we have a driveway that comes up in front of the house.  It curves up to our house and then up to Marty & Cindy’s.  It will have a little circle drive in front of our house.  The previous driveway (an easement) was at the end of the property with a gate that we had to unchain to open and close every time we came and went.  Like this….misc 085

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New Gate – Closer to the house, and solar-powered with a remote!  Yippee!!

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2)  My honey built a herb garden thingy.

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Pretty cool!  Right outside the kitchen door.  After we planted all the herbs and some flowers, we realized that the cows would probably eat everything, so we covered it with a plastic netting – at least until we can build a fence to keep our curious bovines away!!

3)  I re-sanded and stained our Adirondack chairs.  Plus I stained the herb garden tower and the deck thus far.  Tony added the next part of the deck which goes along the back side of the house.  The next section will either be the large square part of the back deck or the front porch.

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4)  Christa & I made a huge Jenga game for us to play outside.

086That’s Kaley playing!

5)  Tony also installed a upper cabinet in the laundry room!  Love it!

It is really fun to get these projects done!  We are so enjoying it out here!  I’ll leave you with some pictures of my drive home.  Eat your heart out!!  😉

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Summertime….and the livin’ is easy…..

You just sang that in your head, didn’t you?

Yes, summertime.  It hasn’t been quite as hot as it historically has been here in Texas.  In fact, we haven’t even hit 100 degrees yet.  But even with all the rain we got this spring, the ground is dry and cracked again.  Good thing we aren’t trying a garden this year.

Well, we have begun to entertain on our little homestead.  Tony has fired up the smoker a few times.  Yum, Yum!!  Everybody who has come seems to enjoy the wide open spaces and the peaceful breezes.  It is so easy to fly a kite!  We got a fire pit, which we are enjoying immensely!  I came home last night from a late-evening Excel class and Tony had a nice fire going.  He and Christa and I sat outside and talked and just enjoyed the warm evening breeze and crackling embers.

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And Tyler showed me an app called SkyView that shows you the constellations.  It is pretty cool, especially out here where you can see so many of the stars!!  I would love to get a telescope!

So Tony has built the first section of our back deck.  He did a great job!  The next section will lead over to a larger deck that you can access from the french doors (yet to be installed) in the dining room.  The front porch/deck is yet to come also.

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Yes, my man is becoming quite the carpenter!

In other news, we celebrated the 4th with friends, fireworks, more food, and s’mores!  We celebrated Tyler’s birthday by watching Ant-Man, and celebrated mine at Plucker’s!  Also had a wreck already with my new truck – got rear-ended by a woman who was looking at her cell phone (yes, she admitted it!)  Her car is totaled and mine has bumper damage.  Nobody hurt badly. So glad it wasn’t worse.

Well, summer will be winding up soon.  We’re trying to have a weekend at the lake soon.  Going to College Station to move Christa into her new apartment.  Time is moving along.  I’m trying to learn to enjoy every day.  There’s a lot we would like to do out here, but I know in time, it will happen.  Enjoy the journey!

Home Sweet Home!!

So it’s been a month since I wrote a post, so yeah, it’s been a busy time!  We got into our new home with the water and septic hooked up literally on the final day we had to be out of the apartment.  So we didn’t have to pay one extra day of rent!  Christa is home from College Station, and is house sitting/dog sitting for some friends for 6 – 7 weeks, taking a summer class, and working.  Tyler got his college degree, and we got to do some celebrating with him.  Tony was asked to be on the board of the Bible college where he is teaching, and my new position at work is keeping me busy!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch….

So we got all our stuff moved in, pictures on the walls, curtains hung (mostly), and most of our possessions have found a place.  I recently realized that we have moved from a 2850 sq. ft. home to a 1850 sq. ft. home & that doesn’t count what was in the garage – we don’t have a shed or garage yet.  So we have definitely down-sized!  I’m sure there are things I can still get rid of, and I’m sure there will be things we need to purchase.  For example, of course we had to replace the smoker/grill – so Tony got that for Father’s Day.  We haven’t enjoyed its benefits as of yet, but I think Tony has the cattle in the pasture pretty nervous!!

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Currently, we are working on figuring out what kind of filter we need on our water system, and getting decks & porches built.  We had quite a time during all the rain driving down our dirt path driveway, which had turned into mud.  So I had to put on my mud boots to get from the house to the truck (yes, we got a truck!), drive to the gate, get out to open the gate, drive through and close the gate.  Then put on my nice shoes for work!  Am I a real farm girl again now?  Also, can I just say – you don’t realize how much you really need sidewalks and gutters until you don’t have any and it pours rain!

I’ve got to say – I love living out here in the country!  Driving back and forth to work, I just can’t stop staring at the scenery.  Every night we gaze out the kitchen window at the sunset.  Sometimes we’re serenaded by the lowing of the cattle (sounds, poetic, huh?).  One morning I had to drive around 2 different cows nursing their baby calves.  And do you know how many stars are in the sky???

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Well, stay posted and you can see our progress.  Or just come visit!  and bring a hammer….

Weathering the Storm

Wow!  The past few days have been crazy with thunderstorms, tornadoes and flooding in our area.  Saturday evening it was storming (again) and we heard of tornadic activity north of Liberty Hill and west of 183 – which is exactly where our new home is located.  So we were a little concerned about what may have been occurring out there.  I put it in the Lord’s hand and slept well.  Sunday afternoon, Tony and I took a drive out to the house to take a look.  All is well!  Thank God!!

Though our concerns were for naught, there were many hundreds of people in the Austin-San Marcos area who were not so lucky.  Massive flooding, like has never been seen before in this area, caused millions of dollars in damage, and several lost lives.  In fact, there are still 8 people (that they know of) who are missing.  And the storm picked up again today, with several tornadoes in the area.  We were out at the house again when Tony’s brother, Marty, called and informed us of a tornado within 15-20 miles, so we headed back to the apartment.  The rain was coming down in sheets – you could hardly see.  However, my man, the hunter-gatherer, insisted that we stop for food!  Anyway, we got home without incident.

My face book page is full of pictures and updates from our local friends; some were taking refuge in their safe closets, some were posting incredible pictures of flooding, some were digging trenches to keep water out of their homes.  But all my friends are safe.  I saw a post that said, “we are safe, God is good!”.

Yes, God IS good!  But what about those who lost a loved one, or who lost their homes?  Or the businesses that have been ruined?  The cost of clean-up?  Is God still good to them?  Yes, He is.  He never promised us that we would not have trials in this life.  In fact, Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33  He has promised to be with us through the storms.  Sometimes he will cause miracles to happen, but usually He just teaches us to trust in Him and give Him control.  God is good – ALL the time.

We have another week of rainstorms in the forecast.  So we continue to trust God, and pray for His protection and provision for so many in need.  Please join me in praying for the people in central Texas who have been affected, and help wherever you can.

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