Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Your Boo: Really. You can have him, just ask.

I have nothing happy to report in regards to Boo. No cute stories. No sweet anecdotes. Nothing.

Please remember for a moment that this was a baby donkey who could charm the pants off of the most devoted animal-hater. Now he could be used as an example for an animal-hater... if the animal-hater wanted to prove that some animals aren't worth a flip.


During our Saturday afternoon at the land, at least two solid hours were spent marveling at Boo's incessant pestering. And that was only during the two hours when we were looking. Mostly, he pestered his grumpy mom Chula who responded to his constant biting, kicking, pulling, jumping, nipping, and snorting - with the silent treatment.

So far, the silent treatment doesn't work. It just drives him nuts.

Boo became so frustrated that his concentrated efforts to piss off Chula elicited nothing more than a double-hind-leg kick (Dwayne says this is called a "barrel" kick. We don't question Dwayne), that he took it out on the nearest tree.

The poor elm had to endure 15 minutes of being kicked, chewed, head butted and charged. When this also elicited no response, Boo decided to gnaw on my boot, and I decided to let him.

I have learned two important lessons from having what has proven to be the most annoying pet that ever was (And trust me. I've had lots):
1) Never, never adopt only one baby donkey. The donkey is a social animal and needs another buddy to treat badly.

2) Do not attempt to act like a surrogate buddy to a lonely baby donkey. Unlike dogs, they don't sit, stay, or fetch. They rarely roll over. But they do kick.

Action shot!

She's giving him the 'ol one leg kick here. He kicked her back immediately after this photo was taken. And I felt very lucky to be on the other side of the fence.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

1st Anniversaries and Tractor Accidents

It was one year ago today that Jeremy and I first drove out to the land. One year ago that we seriously discussed a potential future in the country. One year ago that we made our level-headed plans. And one year ago that we pulled into a nearby park after walking around the property for a frantic discussion. Maybe this was worth considering, but it's crazy to consider, but really what are the chances that rural land would be so close to soccer fields and downtown Austin? And on, and on, and on..... Sometimes I wonder what we were thinking deciding to jump into such a big decision without first seeing at least 10 properties, without conducting sophisticated research (not sure about what, but it seems there should have been more of it), or without having long drawn out discussions about the future. But then again, that's just not our style I suppose.

In honor of this anniversary, or really just coincidentally, we spent this land-anniversary weekend talking to an architect. Say wha??!!? That's right. Like most of our long-term planning, we've decided to go ahead and condense the building time frame as well. We're nothing if not consistent.

Now, before you go off and start buying housewarming presents, I must be clear that no ground will be broken, no water lines dug, no curtains hung for...quite...some...time (Dramatic sigh. Eye roll). This is the beginning of what will likely be a tedious process considering the enormity of our project. Refer to the earlier comment about perhaps needing more research before buying the property? You see, we have what is called "raw" land. As in: no water (we borrow neighbor's water for animals), no electric, no septic. Nada. Just lots of trees and dust and chiggers. The cherry on top of our situation is that our area boasts the worst type of soil for building. Being primarily composed of clay, it expands and shrinks and moves and shakes depending on the weather, humidity, and whenever it feels like it. Clay soil = complicated (read: expensive) foundation to engineer for any home building. OY. Again, what were we thinking? Clearly, we didn't do our homework and ask the right questions and analyze soil samples before signing ownership papers.

But today, today we marked off the four corners of what will one day be our home. We stood on our imaginary porches. We learned that the western sun casts shadows on the ground through the oak and elm trees as it sets in the 'backyard.' We heard leaves tumbling against the ground in the breeze...a neigbhor's rooster...something scurry around a tree (it was Boo). It feels like home, bad soil or no, with or without all the necessary utilities. Probably, this is an important feeling to remember as we begin the process of planning, re-planning, over-planning, and building.

And I suppose I exaggerated a bit about the accident. To be specific, it was my phone that had an accident with the tractor. It accidentally ended up beneath the tractor wheel (but it still works! This is my official plug for LG phones). Wait a second, did I just say, without laughing, that my phone was run over by a tractor? One year ago today, that would be an impossible statement. Happy anniversary.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Cue the John Denver Music

There are two things that really make me hungry for bbq and that is blinding heat (bbq = the promise of an icy glass of sweet tea) and country roads. Country roads on sunny days also make me want to find the nearest tire swing and some Country Time Lemonade, but that's because I'm a sucker for marketing.

I have found myself driving down many country roads during this recent respite from the real world. Roads that have taken me to tiny Texas towns like Gonzales, where the battle for Texas independence was won, to Bastrop, where an amazing amount of grand old mansions stretch and sprawl along the banks of the Colorado, and to Smithville, the backdrop of Hope Floats and home to many businesses that subsist on broadcasting their proximity to the "Hope Floats house" (turns out I'm a sucker for that, too). These virtually empty days made me itch for daytrips into small local towns where I might pick through rusty bins of old house parts at antique shops. My mother and sister agreed to make a day of this activity with me and all the country driving got us hungry for some side-of-the-road bbq. We stumbled into the first place my sister's iphone found and I realized through their reaction to the place, how much more often I find myself in these grungy, authentic, fantastic places than most people in my life.

Do I mind eating brisket on a plastic chair beneath a stuffed bobcat mysteriously attached to the wall? Heck no! In fact, I love this atmosphere so much that I actually welcome being called honey and sweetie by the women behind the counter; endearments that normally make me cringe. And when it's hot as hell and I'm driving through the country, there's nothing more refreshing than a large sweet tea, smokey beans, stuffed animal trophies, and smiling strangers.

Jeremy and I also traveled newly discovered country roads this weekend in order to pick up our first load of a year's worth of hay at our new rancher friends' house. Yes. We have rancher friends now. These are the folks who famously saved Matilda and who are deeply embedded in Dwayne's super-network-of-rural-uber-friendly-neighbor-people. Their offer of reasonably priced hay lured us out for a Saturday trip. We planned to load up several bales, unload at the land quickly, and repeat this process three times before sundown. Our rancher friends had other plans for us. We were met at the gate by six dogs, four giant horses (Of which one was offered as a gift. NO. no. I was seriously gifted a horse), three men, one woman, two teenagers, and a young boy (who introduced me to his cat, Wizard's, three kittens). All of these individuals approached the fence packed onto a large tractor and golf cart. We said hello, we made small talk, we handed over the hay money, we attempted to leave, and we did - a short four hours later. Lesson #291 in rural communities: One must not arrive at a neighbors house without the plan to "set" for a while, have a beer, try some food, and talk about the weather. Any deviation from this deeply rooted tradition is rude and unforgivable.

A few beers later, and to Jeremy's dismay, I politely accepted the horse-gift. I have no idea when the horse can come and live on our land, or how I will ever convince Jeremy that we do in fact need a large thoroughbred to join our tiny cow family. What I do know is that my little vacation went too quickly and is already a memory of buttermilk pie, sleepy-town antique shops, and meandering conversations with neighbors amidst cicada song, underneath oak trees and the setting sun, sweat trickling down the back, cold drink in hand. And in case you were wondering, I was successful in finding antique house stuff cool enough to purchase approximately 1-10 years too soon.

Doesn't every country home need an old, gigantic porcelain sink salvaged from an isolated farm house? Yes? I thought so too.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Stupid Chickens - Part II

Note to self: when we move out to the land, make sure and have the chicken coop/area well away from the house.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy having the little monsters running around the back yard, but every few mornings they really piss me off. This morning was one of those mornings. It started with Francis kicking off her egg song (see earlier post for a nice obnoxious video) at about 6:30am (today is a Sunday, btw). Jenna hops up to throw some chips or whatever is handy out the back door to distract them and make them shut up, grumbling all the while. She crawls into bed as they settle down. However this silence does not last. 10 minutes later several of them begin their gutteral, "complaining" which can be very loud and annoying. Half of me is pissed because it's waking me up, the other half is pissed because I know I can't just stick a pillow over my head because I know my neighbors are hearing this just as well as I am. I can't wait to move to the land! We've come to learn that on mornings that they are especially loud, we can count on a bountiful harvest of eggs, so I guess there's a silver lining. So, by 7:00am (on a Sunday), I'm wide awake after tossing more food stuffs into the yard and chasing around the 2 REALLY loud ones.

Ok, I didn't mean for this to be another rant about my occasionally obnoxious chickens. That intro was supposed to be a smooth transition to why they repeatedly show how stupid they are, but since the damage is done, I'll just get right to point. We've noticed in the last several months that we usually only find eggs in one of the 4 available egg boxes. It's not always the same box. That is, sometimes all 6 eggs will be in the left-most box. Sometimes they'll all be in the 2nd from the right, etc. That's silly, but no big deal. Well, today I went looking for eggs early in the day and found 2 chickens on top of each other in one of the boxes.

I didn't realize they laid eggs in the same box AT THE SAME TIME. It was at the time that I made this discovery that I realized why a 3rd chicken was running around the yard agitated. It must have been because she really had to do her business but there was no room for her in that box because 2 were already crammed in there. I tried to explain to her that there were 3 other empty, perfectly funtional boxes next to the occupied one, but she wasn't interested. Stupid chickens.

On a different note, we made cheese today. Yes, we used store bought milk which everyone says is a no-no, but it seems to have turned out OK. Next step, get Matilda preggers so we can juice her. Baby steps...baby steps.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Blame it on Mexico

I haven't been very inspired to write much lately. Maybe it's the sand, the surf...

The free margaritas?

Perhaps the lack of internet access led to a mental block. Regardless, we've been away from here, away from the land, away from Texas. Due to the previously mentioned distractions, I actually didn't worry much about the well-being of our livestock, especially since Dwayne agreed to swing by once or twice while we were away. His cheerful fourth of July greeting via text message indicated to us that no news was good news and probably, the animals were fine.

Still, I couldn't help but miss Boo a little on our ride to the airport yesterday. As our van swerved and bounced through the desert at approximately 180 mph, I glimpsed two donkeys snoozing under a papaya tree (or something tropical). Without thinking I pointed and shouted "Donkeys!" The passenger behind me muttered a correction under her breath "Burros!" (aye aye aye). Donkey, Ass, Burro, Shmurro - they're all the same to me.

(Horses. Not burros. I double checked)

We stopped by the land for a brief visit today but the tremendous heat kept us from lingering. Now that I have verified all animals are present and accounted for, I'm dreaming of just one more afternoon on a beach. One more pristine morning of mimosas and nachos (Yes. Nachos for breakfast. Not sure why I came home). And a mojito hecho en Mexico.

But we're back, and life must return to normal. Instead of handmade guac and pico, we'll eat Taco Cabana. Instead of freshly squeezed lime juice and tequila, we'll settle for Lone Star. Instead of horses on the beach, we're very happy with our emotional donkeys. Not quite as exotic, but home, nevertheless.