April 29, 2016

Spring Roundup

The Huebner Ranch is in the process of rounding up the cattle from their winter grazing lands on Matagorda Beach so they can be moved to safer inland pastures before hurricane season arrives.

When we drove out to the beach last week, we saw that there were a good number gathered up already across from the Matagorda Bay Nature Park.

Just a few years ago, the process of moving the cattle involved a real old fashioned cattle drive, right through the little town of Matagorda. But now that the new bridge can accommodate heavy cattle trucks, I'm don't think that is done anymore.

Some of the herd is grazed on the other side of the river and have to swim across in the fall and of course, swim back in the spring, even the new little calves. I've never seen that in person, but here's a good video of the cattle being driven across the river in the fall: Cattle Drive Across the Colorado.

Modern cowboys still need a good horse, sometimes a good boat, and it appears from the photo above, a cell phone comes in handy, too.

April 27, 2016

Wild Berries

As we stood on the levee at the entrance of our RV park observing the flood waters, we noticed something we haven't seen in the seven years we've had our trailer here—

wild dewberries growing along the fence row. I'm sure the vines have been here all this time, we just never paid attention.

Some of the berries are ripe.

And the others will be ripe soon.

We picked a handful of dewberries and ate them on the spot. They were warm from the sun, juicy, tart, and delicious!

This brought back good memories of family berry picking adventures when I was a little girl. My parents always knew where to find an abundance of berries. With five of us picking we could quickly fill our plastic ice cream tubs with gallons of dewberries, which we always called blackberries. Mom would bake a cobbler right away for us to enjoy and freeze the rest. In November when my birthday rolled around, I often requested a blackberry cobbler for dessert. It's still one of my favorites.

When was the last time you ate a wild berry straight from the vine?

April 25, 2016

Colorado River Flooding

We didn't go fishing this weekend for obvious reasons...

Pelican Point RV and Boat Slips, Matagorda, Texas, April 22, 2016
The Colorado River is WAY out of its banks and our RV park is flooded.

We debated about whether to leave our trailer in place. We left it last year when the river flooded and it was fine, but we decided not to take a chance this year and moved it out on Thursday before the park road was under water.

On Friday, when these pictures were taken, the river had just about reached its crest, so even though there is water under a few trailers in the new section of the park, I think they will be okay.

We can't see our section from the entrance and we weren't about to navigate the flooded road to check on it.

However the road was passable, if you have high clearance...and if you dare!

On Saturday we got a text from our next door RV neighbors. Evidently they had driven in to check on their trailer, which they left in place, and they reported that their spot and our spot were dry and had plenty of play left if the river got higher.

That's good to know for next time.

April 22, 2016

Lucky Ladybug

Ladybug on Cilantro Flowers
I didn't keep a close eye on the cilantro and it bolted. Its tiny white flowers are so pretty though, that I think I'll let it go to seed and maybe a new cilantro plant will sprout when this one is finished. The bees are loving the flowers and a ladybug dropped in for a visit, too.

According to folklore, seeing a ladybug that has less than seven spots means there will be a good harvest for the season, but seeing a ladybug with more than seven spots means famine.*

I'm glad this little ladybug is a lucky one.

*Source: Ladybug Facts and Legends

April 20, 2016

We've Had Some Rain

The Houston area has experienced terrible flooding this week. 

We escaped the worst of it here in Needville.

Queenie drinking water from a puddle in the yard.

The rain was heavy, starting on Sunday evening and continuing into Monday.

What we were left with when it stopped were a few puddles in the backyard that will take several days to dry out.

The garden got a good soaking, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but could cause the tomatoes to split.

All the fresh water coming down the river will mess up the fishing in Matagorda for at least a couple of weeks.

But, these are just minor inconveniences, I know. 

Some people have puddles in their homes.

Some people's cars got a soaking from the high water.

And some people will never fish again because they lost their lives.

We have nothing to complain about.

What we have is every reason to thank God for keeping us safe and to ask Him to comfort those who have lost so much. 

April 18, 2016

Fresh Veggies on the Way

It's amazing how much a vegetable garden can change in a couple of months.

This is how our garden looked on February 24.

And this is how it looked yesterday.

We've begun to harvest the first of the zucchini, picking it before it gets too big.

And it looks like a bumper crop of yellow squash is on the way.

John has put a PVC frame covered in bird netting around the tomato plants to protect them from the mockingbirds.

I most certainly do not want anything getting our tomatoes. Homegrown tomatoes are the main reason I wanted a vegetable garden in the first place.

We've harvested all of the romaine lettuce, the peppers are putting on fruit, the cucumber vines are blooming, and the herbs are strong and healthy.

Fresh veggies are on the way.

April 15, 2016

A Close Knit Flock

I'm a knitter....a knitter that keeps chickens...a chicken keeper that knits chickens that look like her real chickens.

Yep, I just knitted my chickens...and it was fun.

Poultry Palace Flock—The Knitted Version

Queenie (Golden Laced Wyandotte)

Princess (Rhode Island Red)

Duchess (Barred Plymouth Rock)

The pattern for these adorable hens is from World of Knitted Toys by Kath Dalmeny.

My project notes are on Ravelry.

April 13, 2016

Egg Totals for February and March

It's a well known fact that we spoil our chickens, but they are spoiling us, too...with eggs. They have become eggceptional layers. We're keeping records of egg production for the flock and for each hen individually. I plan to post the monthly totals here.

Queenie was the only hen to lay eggs in February. Her first egg came on February 26. She laid a total of three eggs that month.

Our Golden Laced Wyandotte, Queen of Eggland
For the month of March, which has 31 days, she laid 29 eggs.

Our Rhode Island Red, Princess Lay-a
Princess laid her first egg on March 1. She's been a champ from the start, laying 30 eggs in 31 days.

Our Barred Plymouth Rock, Duchess of Yolk
Duchess didn't lay her first egg until March 11. In the 21 days of March that she was producing eggs, she laid 18.

In summary...

February — 3 eggs
Queenie (3)

March — 77 eggs
Queenie (29), Princess (30), Duchess (18)

Year to Date (through March) — 80 eggs

See, I told you we're being spoiled!

April 11, 2016

Home Away From Home

The weather was perfect this weekend. We arrived at the trailer on Thursday evening and spent all day Friday playing outside. My cold was finally improved enough that I could go out in the boat. We fished our favorite spot on the diversion channel of the Colorado River and by lunchtime we each had two beautiful speckled trout to brag about.

After lunch I worked in Happy Camper Butterfly Garden while John fished from the riverbank. There were a few weeds to pull, but the main thing was to trim back the lantana and the Mexican sage which can quickly outgrow this small space. Sometimes I think I should have named this garden The Beast.

The yarrow is in full bloom and so pretty that it deserves a closer look.

In this shot of the garden you can see that the milkweed is mostly stripped bare. Monarch activity has been very good this year. We found many empty chrysalis shells around the area and even a few small caterpillars munching away on the remaining milkweed leaves.

A female Monarch butterfly showed up while I was watering the plants. She went to work immediately laying her eggs.

And all the while John was reeling in fish from the river—two big redfish and a large trout. Well, that was all I could take. I had to join him.

This photo (taken one morning a couple of weeks ago) shows where I stood when I caught the best trout of the day—only steps away from our trailer.

And when I returned to the garden...

madame butterfly was still on focused on her mission.

What a blessing to call Matagorda our weekend home!

April 8, 2016

Count on It

If you're going to let your chickens roam freely in the backyard then you should count on a few things.

You can count on your chickens wallowing out a hole somewhere for a dust bath.

You can count on that spot being right where you wish it wasn't.

You can count on your chickens getting in your vegetable garden and eating something you were hoping to harvest for yourself (so far it's only been the kale).

You can count on your chickens dropping off little...ahem...presents for you on the back porch that you won't be fond of opening (not pictured for obvious reasons).

You can count on having to rake up the mulch that the chickens scratch out of the flower beds.

You can count on your chickens coming right behind you and scratching out that mulch you just raked up.

Oh, yes you can!

And most importantly, you can count on your chickens giving you so much joy that you none of the above matters...not one little bit.

April 6, 2016

Texas Roadside Garden

Some of the best gardens, in my opinion, are the wild ones—the ones that grow along the Texas roadsides in the spring.

We drove down Old Gulf Road in Matagorda last Saturday to see what was blooming.

There were patches of yellow coreopsis

and stands of peachy-pink Indian paintbrush

— the typical color of Indian paintbrush in Matagorda—

and sweet blue flowers that I think are called blue-eyed grass.

The wildflowers flowed along the roadside like a little stream and I stopped many times to take pictures.

I found a lone yellow coneflower growing among a patch of pink evening primrose

and a pretty lantana that was nearly as tall as the fence post.

One of my favorites, thistle, was just starting to bloom.

There were other flowers too—like winecup, Indian blanket, spiderwort (blue flower above), and more—making it a good year for this Texas roadside garden.