Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lady Week, also

In honor of the holiday, I took the day off work. When I learned the office would be shut down the Wednesday before Thanksgiving I decided I’d do them one better and take off on Tuesday. I try to keep things festive around here by really immersing myself in the holiday spirit which generally includes less time in the office.

I also justified this day of hooky by joining Jer at the land in order to help begin the next phase of our land plan. Yes we do have a plan; however, the number of phases in our Great Land Plan are as yet undetermined and would probably be pretty depressing if counted. For now, let’s just call this phase 3 because that sounds promising and not at all overwhelming.

Phase 3 requires us to create a pasture for the animals that is large enough for them to comfortably roam when building commences. Understandably, confinement to a singular pasture will probably piss them off since these 15 acres have been their territory for almost a year (A YEAR!?!? Holy cow). In order to ease their shock we hope to choose a spot of land that is at once easily fenced and provides enough room or ample grazing, cool shade, and the opportunity to remain incognito when needed. See, as it turns out, our animals like to disappear as often as possible, remain hidden, and basically left alone. Of course this doesn’t apply when it’s obvious that we’ll feed them treats other than hay, but generally, they don’t come running to greet us (Except for the donkeys, but they don’t count since they’re greedy jerks).

We’ve known since the beginning that the cows aren’t excited to see us yet for some reason I keep hoping that, at the sound of my car horn, they’ll one day burst from the forest and trot to the gate, tails wagging. This is the welcome I’ve grown to expect from my dogs, and I see no reason to lower my expectations for the cows. But then, they’re cows; not too bright and not too impressed with people. Hmph. Today we wandered the property enjoying the sunny weather, admiring the green grass growing everywhere, the cool breeze, the frogs jumping around the pond – but mostly we searched for the cows. It wasn’t until we crept into the dense forest we've avoided during snake season when Jer shouted, “I see legs!” that the cows hiding spot was discovered. Our presence was met with shock and some annoyance.

It was clear they’d spent some time staking out the joint and claiming it as their own, judging by the abundant, aging cow patties piled throughout the small clearing.

I felt a little bad actually – like the parent who finds her kid’s camouflaged fort in the backyard and then asks, in an effort to bond with the kid, if she can play there too. The fort stops being cool. Weak analogy, but you get my point. I’ve watched the animals trail out of the woods for months but never ventured to find the place they were leaving. Now the secret spot’s been busted and I imagine tomorrow they’ll seek out a new hiding place where their over-attentive owner can’t reach them.

We ended our lazy day with a trip into a nearby town that I’m determined to adopt once we move to the land. Our location puts us smack dab between Austin and Bastrop, and I tend toward the quirky quaintness of that town. A venture into either place takes us down a winding two lane highway that slices through hay fields now punctuated with freshly cut bales (Hay grows again in central Texas!!). It’s a lovely sight in both directions but proves more pastoral when headed to Bastrop where horse and cattle ranches sprawl through oak groves. We caught the last watery rays of sunlight this evening and the pastures were cast in a rosy hue so that every last corn husk seemed pink-tipped, the brown cows appeared fiery red, and the wheat fields swayed salmon instead of tan. Beautiful.

Some quick research led us to The Roadhouse, a ramshackle restaurant at the edge of the lost pine forest where Texas Monthly awarded it as building one of the 50 best burgers in Texas. Jeremy agreed that their jalapeno cream cheese burger deserved the high accolades and cleaned his plate. We drove through the small town square with its proud old limestone and brick structures built sometime in the 19th century and watched the lights twinkle on the Colorado river as we crossed it on the town’s small iron bridge. It’s not our town – yet. But it was fun to imagine this as just another Tuesday night in the country.
Few things complete a beautiful day at the land better than a hot mug of weak Swiss Miss and an hour around the campfire – both of which I’ve already enjoyed. It’s appropriate so near Thanksgiving – this glorious weather, a day away from the office and traffic, a few minutes alone in the forest finding the first cherry red oak leaf of the season fallen to the ground. Here’s to the holiday, gratitude, and to second cups of Swiss Miss.

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