On The Road Again

One thing about living on the Double Portion Ranch, there’s always something new and unexpected popping up.  Today was a ranch first.  It was either ‘Take a chicken to Church’ day, or a whole new take on ‘Free Willie’.  You see, we now own a chicken named Willie Nelson.  It’s a hen, but I don’t care.  That’s its name. My most humble apologies to the famous singer.  (Willie, I bet you never had a hen named after you before!)


Today we had a chicken go “On The Road Again”.  It really was ‘again’ since it had already had one ride in the big red Ford when it came home from the store.  This one was just not planned.  Here’s a pic or two of the little stowaway.

In order to avert catastrophe, every time I fire up the red truck of happiness I have to run through a checklist.  A smooshed animal definitely qualifies as a catastrophe around here. Thus, the “Clear regions under, next to, or in front of the truck” checklist was born.  It goes something like this:

  • Sheep – almost always under.  Poke with walking stick.  Hope they stay out. Check.
  • Chickens – Same thing.  Poking has no effect.  They always go back under. Check.
  • Dogs – Smarter animals.  Always move because they know better. Check.
  • Llama – Can’t fit under but will lay next to.  Just threaten to pet. Moves immediately. Check.
  • Emus – Must run directly in front of moving vehicle.  No way to stop. Go slow. Check.

I now have to add “scan possible perch sites” to the chicken check.  I’m sure we’re not the first to experience this, but when it’s your first time, it’s a bit shocking!

This morning we headed off to church as is our custom on Sundays.  It’s a little over 11 miles and the trip takes us through historic downtown Seguin.  Speeds vary but do get up to 55mph in spots.  Nothing appeared out of the ordinary.  As we were getting out of the truck, a young guy walking by says “I see you brought your chicken to church today!”  Mary and I are like, “huh?”  So he points under the truck, and there she was.  We were dumbstruck for a moment.  I think I said something about it being holy, or at least that word was used.  Up in front of the back tire, perched on a rod of some kind, sat the chicken later to be called Willie.  It was not moving.  Mary thought it was dead.  I knew it would not still be sitting there if it were so I was at least a little relieved.  What the heck do we do about it though?  Obviously I had to get it out.  Luckily I drive a ranch truck that comes equipped with stuff to handle situations like this.  Except for a box to put the chicken in.

I started to go for the chicken and decided this event really needed to be recorded for posterity, or hilarity, or something, so Mary grabbed my phone and we took the video below.  After I got the chicken out, Mary had to go into the church and explain what was happening and ask for a box to put it in.  That’s a situation you don’t face every day.  Fortunately, they believed her, eventually.  What’s even funnier is that they were having a BBQ after church in the parking lot and had the pit all fired up and going.  Looks like we brought the chicken!  (I kid, I kid!  It made it back home to the coop just fine. This time, inside the truck.)



I’m getting a bit of the writing itch again.  I’m going to resuscitate the blog so I can scratch that itch.  I want to start slow though and find a happy writing level that is more consistent.  The ranch needs a voice since it has a mission.

A No S#%t Recall and 25 Years of Marriage

A little over 25 years ago I was engaged to be married to a lovely woman named Mary Hoch.  I was in the Air Force at the time and part of a 24-hour mobility team.  Unfortunately, Iraq had also just invaded Kuwait around this time and the U.S. military was very close to becoming involved.  Mary and I were supposed to be married in February, a date we had already moved up.  Both of us knew I could get called up to go to this little war, so we set things up in advance to have an “emergency” wedding should the need arise.  Then, on January 9th, 1991, I was awakened early by a telephone call telling me to grab my bags and prepare to deploy!  I called Mary and told her not to worry.  Naturally, she worried.  I went in and we went through all the bag drag procedures before we were told it was an exercise.  Since nobody knew better, to us it was a no s#%t recall.  We thought we were gone to the Middle East.  Naturally, this lights a fire under one’s booty to get all affairs in order.

Once everything calmed down, Mary and I activated our emergency plan.  Our wedding day was an insane story all its own, complete with car wrecks and discount Christmas card shopping!  For now, let’s just go with the fact that on January 11th, 1991 we were married and became husband and wife.  That happened 25 years ago today!  I thought I’d mark the occasion with this blog post for all to see.

25 years ago I married my love Mary.  I honestly didn’t know what I was getting myself into.  Fortunately, God did.  I knew I wanted a life long commitment but based on what I saw in my life and others, I expected marriage to be hard and rocky with lots of fighting.  So, I prepared as best I could.  I read many Christian marriage/relationship books.  We did premarital counseling.  We prayed to God for our marriage and relationship and family.  As it turned out, we found out we were really well suited for each other!  Yeah, we fight every so often with each other.  But we fight for each other every day.  It makes a big difference!

Not only does this woman put up with me just as I am, she actually loves me too!  How cool is that.  And…

She ranches with me!

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She takes care of our sheep (and other animals)!

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She loves small dogs!

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That turn into big dogs!

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She sticks with me rain…


Or shine…

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Or Winter…


Loves all my jokes!


And gave me a pretty cool family!


It really doesn’t get any better than this folks.  I can truly say I have everything in life I’ve ever wanted.  It’s all gravy now and has been for a while.  God is good!  Life is good!  It’s not easy or perfect by a long shot, but it’s good!



Pigs With Wings

Otherwise known as Ducks!  We had 3 adult ducks here for quite some time and we get one to two eggs from them a day.  I supply these eggs to a lady that has very few options for protein due to allergies.  When the ducks molt, or go on strike, or don’t feel like it, or for whatever reason stop laying, this can be a problem.  So, after seeing an ad locally for some, we bought 10 chicks.  Two of them did not survive for reasons unknown.  They’re about 16 days old today and have more than doubled in size.  They’ll clean out the feeder you see in the pictures in a day and have just started fully draining the water container (although, how much they simply play and splash may have something to do with its consumption rate).  We think they’re a mix of Mallard and some similar type of duck I can’t recall the name of.  Might get green eggs out of some which would be neat.

Here’s some pictures and video of the little critters.  I’ll have to upgrade the cage one more time and then they can go out with the big ducks.  Just a short post today to share cute duck pics.  More to come!




Tid bits

Rain or Shine?

Uh, shine for sure.  Supposedly we’re in that El Nino weather pattern too where it rains all the time.  Yeah, not so much.  We had LOTS of rain this spring and then it just flat out shut off.



It was actually 106 about a minute before I took that picture.




Yes, that is indeed a chance of 4 – 100ths of an inch of rain on Wed.  Probably means it’s just going to be really humid!



Does this happen?

Door with frog.

Look closely…

Frog on hook.



Why yes that is a frog on our towel hook!


It’s better angle…

No, we have no idea how it got there, why it went there, or what it’s hopes and dreams were.  We did, however, escort it off the premises…


Just Chillin…

Pretty self-explanatory.

Stat chillin



Our central AC pretty much quit cooling this spring so when we could finally scrape up enough cash we got a 12000 BTU window unit and put it in the living room.  Stat is enjoying that in this picture.  Given how well the window unit works, I’m not sure we’ll bother to fix the central.  Might get that wood stove we wanted for winter in a couple of months instead!

Kind of in the summer doldrums for now.  But!  Winter is coming!  At least that’s the theory I’m hoping for.

Who Knew Emus Liked Car Rides?

Not me!  But I got to find out yesterday afternoon.  Now, “like” might be a bit of a stretch.  Tolerate is probably a better term.  Lucky for us, it was Cow Lick that got to ride in the Malibu, now forever more known as “The Ranch Car”.  So you might be wondering, just exactly why this particular emu was riding in our car today.  That…, is a very good question!  And yes, there’s a story…

Cow Lick getting his first ride in the Malibu.

Cow Lick getting his first ride in the Malibu.

You might have heard that Texas has had a wee bit of rain this spring.  Nothing serious, death, destruction, bridges washed out, that kind of thing.  Practically just drizzle.  When we moved here to the ranch, the outgoing owner said the bottom corner where our historic well is used to get some serious water flow until they built some houses next to us.  I can only conclude that it never seriously rained here after they built those so he never saw any further spontaneous river formation at that end of the property.  After a 6 inch drenching a few days ago, it appears that the rivers do still flow!  Funny thing about flood waters.  They tend to go and pick up all kinds of stuff that was just laying around and move it with a great deal of force.  Stuff like trees for instance!

Our property used to be lined with 100% vertical fencing.  On the South East corner, we now have several yards of horizontal fencing.  Not only is it laying down, it is also covered with a nice carpet of flood debris.  It’s almost like a magic gate opened up down there.  One that beckons animals of all types and says, “Come through me!”  We are sooo, sooo blessed that apparently only one emu heard that beckoning.  And it was our nicest, most cooperative emu to boot.  He needed to roam.  Feel the wind in his feathers.  All that kind of stuff.

Flood damaged fence by old well.

Flood damaged fence by the old well.

So I’m at work when I get an email showing the downed fence and shortly after a call explaining a note left on our gate said the emu was next to the neighbors house.  Turns out it wasn’t the next door neighbor, but the next next door neighbor, maybe 1/4 or more miles away.  After coming home early from work I changed and gathered up my emu wrangling tools and went looking for Cow Lick.  He was doing what he likes to do, which is pace back and forth along the fence.  It just wasn’t my fence.  I guess he got a new view out of it at least.  I tried to get him to move by bribing him with some corn.  While he happily munched on it while it was within reach, he wasn’t interested in actually moving to get more.  This wasn’t looking good.

If you remember some time back, we had The Great Llama Escape from the ranch.  That took me three posts to properly describe.  It was not fun! Repeating that in any similar way was to be dreaded and feared.  While I was standing there contemplating solutions to this problem, our neighbor that we had never met came out and, after introductions, we chewed the fat some and discussed the situation.  Turns out she wasn’t interested in acquiring an emu so that option was out.  About this time the wife called and said she was home from the vet and asked if I needed help.  Do you get the impression we have a few animal issues?  I said “Of course.”  So she drove on over.  Somewhere in between this time I actually managed to put a rope around Cow Licks neck and “encouraged” him to go the few steps to the nearby gate and come to the other side of the fence.  While doing so I spotted two rat snakes sitting in the tall grass near the fence.  One was absolutely huge.  I tried to get them to get out of Dodge by tapping them with my walking stick.  They didn’t want to move.  Fortunately, that was the extent of their involvement.

Cow Lick was a bit of a drama queen, but at least he’s the forgiving sort.  Once we got the brief relocation by foot over with, he just waited next to me.  I kept trying to figure out if I could get him in the back of the truck or even in the back seat.  None of those scenarios played out well in my head for a number of reasons.  The most obvious of which was it would require the emu to climb or me to lift him.  That wasn’t a prospect I was interested in trying given his powerful legs and raptor-like talons.  However, going downhill might not be as much problem.  Hmmm.  A plan was forming.

Wifey had daughter #1 along.  This made things even easier.  We’d use the push-pull method and put the emu in the back seat of the car!  What could possibly go wrong?  I know it would make for a much better story, but really, not much did go wrong.  It took a little convincing for daughter Raye to come around to the idea, but we all knew it was better than trying to drag the emu back to our property.  Cow Lick didn’t really want to get in the car, but once he was unceremoniously pushed, in he went.  He did struggle a bit but soon found a way to get comfortable.  I think the following pictures tell the story pretty well.

Good idea

Really Dad? This is a good idea?

What just happened

Hey! What just happened there?

Quit pouting

Oh, quit pouting. We’re almost home.

Home alive

See? Smile! We made it home alive and everything!

As we thought, at the end of the ride, Cow Lick wasn’t all too keen on getting out of the car any more so than he was getting in.  With a little encouragement though, out he went.  Raye bravely rode with him all the way.  I think they bonded a bit 🙂

So another adventure at The Double Portion Ranch comes to a safe, if not entirely sane, end.  And now we know we can transport livestock in a Chevy Malibu to boot!  I would like to see the looks on the road we’d get doing that…


Goodness, it’s dusty in here.  Obviously this needs to be used more.  Hack, sneeze, cough, cough!!!

Last summer I felt like God was telling me that things were going to change “pretty darn quick”.  I’m in the middle of that change right now.  There’s been a ton to write about, but I haven’t felt like writing for a while.  My depression has made a rather dramatic reappearance over the course of the last year.  It may have been the result of my not tolerating a generic form of a medication, but it has not been helped by some truly depressing circumstances to boot.  It’s kind of hard to fix it and know what’s what when you are not in a good place to do so.  But hey, all that’s rather depressing isn’t it?  I need to acknowledge that, but I don’t want to dwell on it.  I’m just not spurred to write much when I’m down.  Guess I must be feeling a little better eh?

It’s the beginning of summer here at the Double Portion.  My sheep are not yet sheared, but I hope to get them done soon and learn how to do it myself to boot.  Lack of money has hampered this, but we’re hoping to get a little extra in soon and be able to get a few things done beyond just surviving.  We got some rye grass planted last fall and it came up very nicely everywhere.  Due to the cost, we were not able to get any Bermuda planted this spring.  That may hurt us this summer and cause us to go back to hay for a while but thus far, the sheep have been completely on forage since fall.  That… is rather cool!  There is a lot of clover everywhere and we’ve gotten so much rain that things are crazy green here still.  More is forecast over the next week and things are just starting to dry and crack so it’s good timing.

When we are able to shear the sheep, I want to sell the wool.  I’ve been reading that some GCN sheep actually produce award winning wool.  This would be a good thing!  I don’t know if mine have good wool.  If they don’t, I’m going to buy some that do and mix them in to work on that trait.  Looking back it looks like I really haven’t said much about the sheep in a while.  They have been busy, in their sheep like ways.

This spring we had 7 baby lambs from the new sheep.  Our pets each had one as well so a total of 9 were born.  All are doing well.  The GCN’s had 3 sets of boy/girl twins and a sole girl named Seven for the last delivery.  All are cute as buttons naturally.  The way the birth order went, we can diversify genetically with what we have very nicely too.  Luckily, I have been taking a lot of pictures and video.  Do allow me to share some with you!

Mount Llama

Mount Llama

I seriously don’t know how Frenchie put up with this.  Sure was cute though!

Spring newborns

Spring newborns