My Three Dogs


Ginny the new girl

Ginny, the last one remaining of the original pack…

Those of you that have been following my blogs for a while know that I recently have had some losses on the pet scene, much more than I ever dreamed would happen so close together. My large population of pets, both cats and dogs, some through old age and others through acts of nature was depleted down to Ginnie, the stuck up little Mini Dachshund. I was able to increase those numbers with the addition of Mikey who I adopted from the Bastrop Animal Shelter who was also the subject of a previous blog. You can read about him at this link.

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The new little boy, Mikey

I was still on the lookout for at least one more addition to the pack and spent some time touring the different Animal Shelters around the area and finally found what I was looking for in the shape of a Yorkie. He was already spoken for when I was at the Shelter and another family was also checking him out but they decided that he was not the right dog for them. I spent some time with him and then put my name down on the list just in case he didn’t work out with the other adopters.

Less than a week later, I received a call from the Shelter asking if I still wanted him as he had been returned back to the Shelter. I immediately jumped in my truck and made the 40 mile drive back to Georgetown to pick up our new addition. The Shelter people told me that his name was Charlie and/or Gizmo as he answered to both. They fitted me up with a collar and leash and his own special food plus a couple of squeaky toys, one as big as the dog and with him sitting on my lap, we were on our way.

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Gizmo

True to form, Ginnie tried very hard to ignore the new addition preferring instead to go back to bed. Mikey, on the other hand was overjoyed at having another little male dog that he could play with. I forgot to mention that Gizmo, as that is what we settled on, is also 10 years old and is pretty energetic for an older guy and in no time flat had acclimatized himself to the garden although he didn’t quite know what to make of the ponds. Turns out he is house trained and it only took him a couple of days to figure out the doggy door although sometimes especially at night, he will stand and whine to be let out even though he is right next to the aforementioned door. So I let him out and he has no trouble coming back in through the doggy door. Go figure.

So now we are at three with room for at least one more, preferably a female Dachshund. Both Ginnie and Gizmo are a bit careful around Mikey as he is a little on the rambunctious side. He is a little bigger than both of them but is also only a couple of years old and has way too much energy. He tends to do everything at top speed which is not the other two’s style. Apart from that, things seem to be working out just fine. They have each got their allotted spot on the King Size bed at night with Ginnie having the prime spot right next to me under the covers, Mikey curled up against my feet and Gizmo off to one side surrounded by a half dozen squeaky toys and a host of half eaten chew sticks.

Today, I took Gizmo to the the Groomers for his first haircut since moving in with us. Haircuts are not something that I have had to worry about these past few years since Mini and Manley both passed on. After the two of them, it has been short haired Dachshunds and Chihuahua’s that hardly shed at all but both Mikey and Gizmo are going to need to be trimmed periodically to keep them looking sharp and to stay clean (sortof).

Below is a picture of Gizmo after his haircut. You can now even see his eyes.

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Gizmo after his haircut

Dogs, Man’s best friend and companion since time immemorial over all others including wives and members of the opposite sex.  How can you not help but love them.

Written 3/27/2018

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Thoughts on a Cloudy Day



Spring is in full swing in my part of Central Texas. The trees are busting out with new growth and many of the flowers are showing their pretty heads to this brand new season. Things that I had given up for dead following the week long freeze that we had, have surprised me by coming back to life. There are a few casualties as there always are some of which are easily replaced, others not so much.

Over the years, I have gone more and more to Native plants which true to form, come back year after year. One of their problems is the tendency to want to take over different parts of the garden, crowding out the smaller plants. I also allow them to grow pretty much uncontrolled only cutting them back when they start to encroach on the gravel paths that intertwine throughout the yard.

Consequently, the open view that I have immediately following the winter freeze clean up only lasts for a couple of months before Nature has regrown everything and it becomes difficult to see from one side of the yard to the other.

The ponds are a different story. The frost killed almost everything above the water line and because the water is constantly on the move, we did not have any ice build up to affect the tubers and such at the actual water line itself. What few lilies that may be left after receiving up close and personal attention from the big Koi, were all below water level. One is already showing leaves but they all need to be taken out and re-potted and fertilized before returning them back to the ponds. I do this Spring after Spring and regardless of how much growth or how many lily pads, the Koi will invariably tear them to pieces and uproot the tubers. I have tried several different methods including placing larger rocks or pebbles on the top but the Koi so far have outwitted me in their endeavors. I have watched them as they either use their nose to push stuff out of the way or they will park their large bodies on the top of the pot and use their tail to wash out the dirt and stones. They can be very ingenious and industrious in the way they go about this.

Years ago, I tried planting flowers every Spring and for a while, things would look pretty but I am basically a lazy gardener and replanting every year quickly became a lot of work that didn’t interest me enough to continue. Hence the Native Plant route many of which do flower and put on a pretty display.

Pretty much most of the heavy work is already done. The cutting back and raking the leaves and such. I still need to get in the ponds to clean them out but I want to have the lilies re-potted and ready to go before I take the pond route. The only real project that needs to be done this year is to straighten up one of the fences where it has developed a lean. It is not a major project requiring the digging out around the posts, straightening to an upright position and then concreting the posts back to their new upright positions. I usually put permanent 2×6 braces to hold everything in place. The fencing is 6 feet high wood slats and the original parts are more than 34 years old. Needless to say, many of the slats have been replaced and this time around, I need to work on 4 different posts. Other than that, I can’t think of anything major that I need to work on meaning that I should have a lot more time to go hiking.

I can’t wait…

Written 3/23/2018

Changes


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Life has changed so dramatically
plain for everyone to see
the way it was a few weeks ago
is different now and we all know
that things can never be the same
in this ever changing game
time is passing by so fast
will the next day be the last
or maybe just a week or two
or even a month I have no clue
all I know that when the time comes
I will be ready as its race is run
and time spent by Winter is finally gone
and we welcome the Spring as it sings its song
with everything new and green and fresh
and the warm sun upon my flesh
I feel like a person having just made it through
another winter in Texas now its time to renew.

Written 2/12/2018

Spring is Here…



The sun is shining clear and bright
and things are beginning to turn green
the temperature is warming up
looks like it’s starting to be Spring
early flowers are starting to show
Daffodils and Crocuses to name a few
but the one that is really brightening to all
and their flowers are a beautiful view
it seems they are everywhere on show
driving along Texas Highways and Roads
the Bluebonnets are putting on a display
to delight of all who pass that way
the Dogwood trees are in full bloom
along with Cherry and Red-bud too
making for visual delight
at this the most beautiful time to view.


Hiking McKinney Roughs 3-16-2018


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This Pano is made up of 12 vertical pictures

My friend B.J. called to see if I wanted to take a hike. I had been thinking about it and her call quickly made up my mind for me.  I had a Doctors appointment in the morning so we arranged to meet around 12:30 pm or so. She suggested McKinney Falls which has a nice blacktop pathway that circles the park. Easy walking seemed like a good idea. I arrived at McKinney Falls only to find a long line of cars that extended down the main highway. Quick to react, I texted B.J. to tell her to head for McKinney Roughs and that I would be about 25 minutes behind her. Neither of us like crowded trailways and lots of people around. Kinda defeats the purpose.

B.J. was already there when I arrived at McKinney Roughs sitting and enjoying the sun. As usual, it took me a while  to get all of my gear together and this time, I opted for just one camera with the Tamron 16-300 lens which is my goto lens for general photography work. I like it because not only can I get a good distance shot, I can also take close ups, almost macro’s.

We opted to take the trails that are within the center of the park and started off by walking down Ridge until we came to Bluff Trail Loop. As the name suggests, it is a fairly big loop with easy walking trails although a bit steep in a some places. Sometimes, it seemed like a lot of uphills. The completed Loop brought us back onto Ridge from which, we walked Woodland back to the Parking Lot. The entire loop was around 4.4 miles of very pleasant walking and lots of interesting conversation. At the very start of the walk, we passed a Live Oak that had a vine attached to it that had quite literally, grown into the bark that covers the tree as the picture shows.

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Along the way, we met several people who, like us, were enjoying the great outdoors. One lady stopped to talk to us and she had a couple of friendly Texas Cattle Dogs to keep her company. Both were on leashes and they were big enough to help going up the hilly parts of the trail.

When we arrived back in the Office and Garden area, we spent some time looking at the ponds and the new flower plantings that they have just done. One of the Park employees came over and chatted to us about the flowers. He was very interesting and knowledgeable and could even quote the Latin names of the plants. He directed us to one Mountain Laurel bush that had a lot of flowers and mentioned that they had spotted something like 20 different species of butterfly in the past few days but there were not any that I could take a picture as we stood there.

We walked back to our vehicles and chatted a while longer before we parted company, B.J. to go grocery shopping in Bastrop which is where she lives and me for the long drive home. Altogether, a very delightful hike.

Below is a video of the different trails that we covered.

McKinney Roughs 3-16-2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Written 03/18/2018

 

McKinney Roughs 3-6-2018


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The Colorado River.This pano is made up of 4 different vertical pictures.

I decided that I had sat around long enough and that it was time to hit the trails again. This time, I chose to go back to McKinney Roughs as I haven’ t been there for a while. I arrived at the Main Parking Lot around 1:00 pm and being a Monday, the lot was pretty empty as I knew it would be. The lady in the Office in answer to my question, “That no, the big loop is not yet finished as they are building a new bridge”. She did say that they are working on it and that it shouldn’t be too long. I paid my $3.00 and thanked her for the information and went back to my truck.

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This is a pano of 3 different pictures

For those of you that read my blogs know that it takes me a while to get ready for a hike what with changing boots putting on the camera harness and backpack. It has been some time and the Cotton carrying systems that I use for my cameras  needed some attention before I could put it on. I finally got it straightened away and hooked up two cameras and my Bino’s. What I didn’t remember until I got out onto the trails was that I had removed part of the system that connects to the cameras the last time I filmed the Pond Meeting and had not paid enough attention in replacing them. Consequently, I had to make some adjustments out on the trail in order for the cameras to remove smoothly from the holders. It was not a big job and only required an allan wrench to do it but the wrench was in my backpack which I had to take the off in order to retrieve the wrench before making the adjustments. None of it earth shattering but aggravating all the same.

I finally got it all squared away and continued along the Riverside Trail marveling at the beauty of the day as I walked. The sun was shining, the sky was blue and it was not too hot. What more could this old man ask for. An LCRA truck pulled up alongside of me and the driver, “Just to let you know” informed me that there was a big machine up ahead that was cutting down the underbrush and to be careful.

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Showing the clearing work that the Loader has been doing.

I thanked him for the information and continued on my way. I came upon the Loader but it was parked so I did not have to worry about getting run over or mulched up by the gadget on the front.

All around me were signs of spring. Many of the Oak trees already had new leaves showing. There was a Blackthorn Bush that was just covered in flowers and I even saw a couple of butterfly’s although they wouldn’t settle for a picture. The trail leading through the trees just after the riverfront had green grass . Some of the trail was a bit rough in places where it had rained and then horses and people had walked on the wet trails leaving footprints  that had not yet smoothed out. As I headed down towards the river I marveled at the beauty all around me. My attention was drawn to a rock that had different colored moss growing on it and when I got close enough, there was also a small  yellow flower growing alongside of it.

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This particular trail leads right alongside of the River for about a half mile. I passed one older gentleman that was just packing up his fishing gear ready to leave. Other than him, there was no activity on the river, no egrets or herons nor many other birds that I could see. I could hear them but they were well hidden. I followed Riverside Trail until it meets up with Coyote Road which I knew would bring me back to the Parking Lot. On my way up Coyote, a guy on a bike passed me. That is the first bike that I have ever seen on these trails which are generally not open to bikes. Then an  energetic young man who was running the trail passed me going in the opposite direction.  Near the end of the walk, I met yet another runner. It was a great day for any sort of physical activity. I arrived back at my truck thankful to be still be able to walk on these hikes. Altogether, I covered 5.5 miles and I could tell that I hadn’t been out on the trails for some time. My old body was protesting loudly but I knew that a stop at Starbucks on the way home would fix everything…

Hiking McKinney Roughs 3-6-2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

 

This is such a beautiful time of the year to get out and walk and commune with Mother Nature.

Written 3/7/2018

Austin Pond Society Meeting March 2018


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The third Monday of the month rolled around as it does on a regular basis which is also the day, actually evening, that the Austin Pond Society hold their monthly meeting. There were about forty two people that showed up and they were treated to a Chinese meal from one of our Sponsors, Bamboo Bistro. The food was absolutely delicious and there was none left at the end of the night. Thank You Bamboo Bistro. BTW, as a sponsor, they offer a 10% discount on all of their food by showing your APS Membership card.

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With the meal out of the way, the Speaker for the evening was Dr Geigel who spoke to us a couple of years ago. Dr Geigel is a travelling fish doctor although he treats any and all animals and birds no matter what type they are. For the evenings lecture, he focused on fish and fish ailments. At the end of his presentation he took many questions from the floor all related to fish illnesses.

Dr Geigel Video March Meeting 2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Following the Speaker, Jeannie, our President took over. There was very little official business, just a lot of general discussion. The evening ended with the drawing for the door prizes which always leads to much mirth and laughter as different and various people win the prizes. My apologies for the quality of this video. My original video camera that I had setup, the battery went dead so I grabbed a second camera and shot this without the use of a tripod. Again, my apologies.

APS Meeting March 2018 – Business from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The next meeting will be on April 16, Income Tax Deadline Day. Hope you have filed yours in time. This meeting is our Annual Plant Swap when members bring in their surplus fish, garden and pond plants to swap or giveaway to anyone that either wants them or is willing to take them. However, at the end of the evening, any unswapped plants are the responsibility of the original owner who must take them home. If you are looking for plants (or fish) bargains, this meeting is for you. This is not restricted to just pond plants. Any form of garden plant can also be swapped, The one exception are any invasive species which also applies to pond plants. This is not to be confused with the Annual Swap and Sell Meeting held later in the year which is more about material items such as used pond and garden equipment. Hope to see you there.

This is the view through the windows of the Garden outside.

Written 3/22/2018