Doggie Escape Fixes…


viewThe weather has warmed up enough to where it is comfortable to work outside and I have been taking full advantage of it. You could say that it is a race against time as Mother Nature has already started her regrowth project for this year and new foliage is springing up wherever I look. This means I have to be extra careful where I plonk down my big feet if I happen to be working in the garden area.

To date, I have cleared up all of the “frozen” plant growth and the garden looks quite barren in some respects. On the plus side, I can see from one end to the other and can even spot the dogs when they are doing their doggy thing way down in the “Murmuring Creek” area. In Richie’s case, that is sniffing around to see what latest animal smell remains or in case the black Manx cat from next door has been visiting again. Sometimes he is barking wildly and racing around from one end of the garden to the other at an overhead and far distant buzzard who in its swoops and spirals, sends Richie into all kinds of doggie fits. Pete, on the other hand, ignores the buzzards and usually barks in the general direction of the latest squirrel. Ginnie just barks just because the other two are making a noise.

looking-down-the-gardenI have also been working on a fence project that I have been putting off for a couple of years which comprises of trying to make the below fence area more secure just in case Richie decides that he doesn’t like living here anymore and tries to dig out from under the fence. Years ago, to combat this problem, I installed an electric doggie fence all around the perimeter of the yard. It seemed to have worked at least when the electricity was flowing through it as Richie makes a point of staying away from it. The problem is that Richie being a Dachshund, stands just six or seven inches off the ground meaning that the fence is also down that low and any vegetation that grows up around it, quickly grounds out the electric current making the fence useless. I try to keep the plant growth mowed with my weed wacker but it is still a worry. He must have touched it at least once when it was working as he still steers pretty clear of it.

So, my latest attempt to make the yard doggie escape proof is made up of several different factors. On the inside of the road side fence, years ago, I installed railroad ties to keep the garden dirt away from rotting out the bottom of the fence  and kept them a foot away from the fence to allow water to flow when Murmuring Creek overflows which is does when we have a real gully washer. Since I built a berm on the outside, that particular problem no longer exists so what I have just done is to remove the electric fence and moved the rail ties up against the foot of the fence and then filled in the space on the garden side with regular dirt. That has eliminated all possibility of Richie digging out on the road side.

garden-viewWhat I have  done on the bottom side is to replace around fifty or so of the fence pickets that were showing signs of disintegrating and if needed, the two by fours to which they are attached. I plan on putting a layer of riprap rocks stacked against the bottom of the fence for its full length to act as a barrier to prevent Richie from digging. I can’t use rail ties here in case it does flood and they float out of position and trying to anchor them to the rocky ground is almost impossible.  I also reattached the electric fence and made sure that it is working properly. The fence on the neighbor’s side still has the electric fence on it and I will  keep it to safeguard that side from my escape artist. Hopefully, when I am through, I will have eliminated the constant worry when Richie is too quiet or I have not seen him for a while.

The outside of the road side fence is more than thirty years old and it shows in many of the pickets.  I kept this side of the fence  more for show as it has pickets on the inside as well as the outside in essence making it a double fence. It was looking so ratty that I spent some time re-attaching the loose boards and where the fence is opposite the 24 inch rain water drain, I straightened it up and then braced it to help it when we do get the very occasional gully washer. The finished product looks much better even with the very old pickets.  Sort of has an “antique” look.

Now, all I have to do is to place the riprap rocks to finish off this project and hopefully eliminate the worries of my little breakout artist.

Goodbye 2016-Hello 2017


happy-new-year-banner-2

I spent the last day of 2016 staring at my computer screen hoping that words would magically appear. I really wanted to get outside to work on cutting down all of the frozen vegetation destroyed by the recent frosts but somehow was having difficulty working up enough enthusiasm to actually make the move. It might have had something to do with the fact that the weather is very cloudy and overcast and that it keeps trying to rain but the reality is, I am just being lazy.

Maybe that is my cue to make a New Year’s Resolution of “Stop Feeling Lazy” but the problem with that is I have never been able to make and keep any resolutions longer than a couple of weeks. That is not to say that I am weak willed. Not by a long way. Several years ago, I decided that I really needed to do something about my weight and over the next 3 year period, managed to go from 185 pounds down to 151 pounds and keep it there. I watch what and how much I eat in order to control the weight plus added the long hikes to my fitness routine.  I think that probably my greatest achievement is that 8 years ago, I quit drinking. Being very British, I was brought up on a diet of beer in all of its various forms and like many of my British colleagues, prided myself on how many pints of the aforementioned brew I could consume in any given evening. Turns out that the Judge decided that it was a habit that I could do without and after spending a couple of days in the slammer, I totally agreed with him. I did not take a lot of convincing and am pleased to say that I haven’t had any alcohol since that time. More recently, a little over a month ago, I decided that I needed to give up my only other remaining vice and that was drinking Starbuck’s Lattes. I was routinely drinking one and sometimes two a day and it was costing me $150 a month which I deemed to be another unnecessary expense, so I have quit cold turkey. Now I am waiting to see if Starbucks even notices that my card is not getting used. This was also adding additional mileage to my car as I would go out every afternoon to get a Latte and listen to Audiobooks on the car’s Bluetooth system and usually driving 20-30 miles while doing this. Relaxing but expensive…

So, it is not that I don’t have the willpower to make and keep New Year’s Resolutions but more that I need to really believe in whatever the resolution is. With the three I mentioned previously, I had pressing factors to help make them succeed, weight loss, money and jail time (plus a heavy fine), which goes a long way towards any success. I read somewhere that any emotional shock as long as it is big enough, helps to break bad habits and that was definitely true in my case.

Most people set incredibly difficult Resolutions that are almost impossible to keep under the best of circumstances. Other set so many that they can’t possibly keep up with them all and so eventually, they all go by the wayside however good the original intentions.

Me, as I said before, I will make the Resolution if and when it is needed. You could say, I have Resolved not to resolve.

Now, the sun is shining and my ambition level to go outside and cut back damaged greenery has risen by 100% far overshadowing the desire to sit and write about non existent New Year Resolutions.

Happy New Year everyone. May 2017 treat you kindly.

A Rainy Day in Texas


Blue Bird on Feeder

Blue Bird on Feeder

As I sit here in front of the glass
that looks out onto my back yard
teeming with birds of every kind
all visiting the feeders that I keep supplied
with food for them and the squirrels too
although for them uninvited guests
do help themselves whenever they want
only driven by the dogs who bark and chase
them back aloft where they sit and wait
and scold the dogs and chatter away
as though to say, “Go away, Go away”.

Squirrel

Squirrel

This battle goes on a daily basis
and sometimes the dogs manage to chase
the squirrels out of the yard by following them
and barking hard, loud enough that the squirrels decide
to leave where it is quieter but not for good
as the feeders supply them with plenty of food.

Sometimes the rats at night do raid
the feeders for they have found
easy pickings to help their insatiable need
for food of every kind and size.

Racoons or also troublesome too
and with them they are big enough
that damage to the feeders they cause
in their effort to get to the seed inside.

I have seen the feeders bent in two
or dragged up on the roof askew
in their attempts to get to the seed inside
and any method they know will try.

Today it is raining and is cold and wet
not the day to adventure out to work
in the yard as Lord only knows
there is plenty to do now the frost
has touched everything with its icy blast

Frost Damage

Frost Damage

Several days will be needed to clear the yard
of all of dead growth frozen hard
but that is OK as out with the old
Nature will spring into life and will grow
new where the old no longer resides.

Together this is an amazing thing
as the cycle of life continues on
each year singing the same old tune
out with the old and in with the new.

Thank goodness that nature knows what to do
as we would be in trouble if she forgot
and decided that this year she had enough
and was no longer going to supply us with new.

I guess I will sit inside and look
out on the yard and watch things unfold
as the birds squabble over what feeder to pick
although the one right next door
would do the trick but no, that’s not the right one
so it seems as the birds fight over on which one to perch.

Winter Snow Scene

Winter Snow Scene

The one thing I am real grateful for
that here in my part of Texas
really bad weather is not usually on call
at least of snow and freezing rain
and winter to us is remarkably short
and will start to warm up in about a month
and things will be growing all over again.

We need the rain Lord only knows
as we have not had any amount
of rain in a couple of years
and drought conditions persist throughout.

Wildfires will a worry be
as things continue to be dry
no burning of refuse is allowed
which means on the compost heap will I
have to stack all of the stuff
from my garden that I cut
and the compost heap already high
will then reach up to the sky.

But worry not for with the spring
the garden I will need to mulch
and with the heap that I already have
should have enough to cover all.