COWGIRL UP!

I got to spend the morning on my friend Barbara’s ranch a couple of weeks ago. Her ranch manager was out of town, so she invited me to come along to check-up on her livestock.

Lookout Cow

She’s an orthopedic surgeon who’s been taking care of my shoulders for years now. You know… those pesky rotator-cuff issues most of us have from years of slinging around ridiculously heavy purses, lifting bag upon bag of groceries, hoisting our kids to our hips, and now hoisting grandkids, if we’ve got them.
I don’t have any “grands”, but I had my arms raised for years cutting and blow-styling hair.

Barbara is also an accomplished horse-woman. And a wonderful singer/songwriter/storyteller. And a lot of fun!

After a 90-minute ride through rolling green land east of Austin, we pulled off the main highway and turned onto a long dirt drive to her property. I was expecting something more rustic, but the land was beautifully fenced and mowed, fields green, and her farmhouse was charming cottage.

We checked on things inside as she showed me around, and after having a drink of water, we made the short walk from the cottage to the barn, with its adjacent henhouse and the fields where the horses and cows were anxiously awaiting us.

Thanks. But, no, thanks! Picky chickens.

Barbara had mentioned that her hens liked scraps, and if I wanted to bring them some, I could. As I recall, my Grandmother threw everything to her chickens, her philosophy being, “eat it or go hungry.” But when I proudly presented my leftover goodies to these gals, they looked at me like I was stupid. Grumbling as they went, they moseyed off.


The cows, on the other hand, were not at all picky. Quite the opposite, they were curious and bold. It was a bit frightening coming face-to-face with a 1,200 lb. creature, if truth be told! But I “cowgirled up” and shooed the cows away like an old hand, as I dumped piles of grain from a sack on the back of the Gator, walking behind it as Barbara drove. What an experience!

Too close for comfort

After the work was done, we drove the fields checking on the hay bales as big as Volkswagens. They never look that big from the road.
We checked fences and then rode the trails through the woods. There was even a cove with a few large pieces of Petrified wood! I wish I’d planned ahead for better photos, but I am glad I grabbed a few fun shots to share.


It was a morning well spent – I came away with a dozen beautiful eggs, courtesy of the girls, and a reminder of how hard our farmers and ranchers work to bring us all food.

Look like Easter eggs!

As my dear friend, Karen, always says, “If you have food to eat… thank a farmer.” Indeed.

XO Donna


Don’t Tread on Me!

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I was greeted yesterday morning, over a delicious cup of coffee NOT made by me (since I’m clever enough to sleep an hour later than my darling) by the news that our neighborhood newsletter was warning more about snakes needing to be removed from people’s homes.

Do you remember the scene from the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indiana Jones is hanging over a pit full of writhing serpents and says, “Snakes. Why’d it have to be snakes?”

That’s exactly how I feel about them, and to hear about this before I’d even finished my coffee.  Arrrggghhh!!  

So what’s a gal to do?  Since we live in a city, (we’re out in the country, but it’s still within a city) a shotgun is out of the question. Not that I’d ever kill one, no matter how afraid I was.  Education (as with most things in life) is the answer!

Having been horrified when I moved here, upon learning that there are poisonous snakes everywhere in Texas, I took advantage of an avid herpetologist friend’s knowledge  to learn everything I could about snakes.  I wanted to be able to recognize the ones I needed to worry about…  instead of worrying about them all.

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As it turns out, any snake will try to bite us to defend itself, even a little green garden snake.  The State of Texas is home to 15 potentially dangerous snake species or subspecies. 

Despite this, each year, there have been more deaths in Texas attributed to lightning strikes than to venomous snakebites. The four poisonous snakes species here: rattlesnakes, copperheads, water moccasins, and coral snakes.

By not hanging around the banks of rivers, streams, and brooks, I can avoid water moccasins. Copperheads? Rattlesnakes? Out here, in the woods… and I’m not a hiker through uncharted trails. Nope, thanks.

Coral snakes are small with little-bitty mouths, usually only biting fingers when we stick our hands somewhere without looking first. I don’t garden without gloves, don’t reach into trees or bushes or woodpiles without looking first. 

 Snakes tend to be accidental house crashers. You might find one curled in a corner on your patio looking for coolness in the heat of the summer. Or in your garage… seeking the same. 

The good news? Rattlesnakes will usually signal if you’ve startled them by rattling or buzzing their tails,  giving you an opportunity to pee in your pants then run in the opposite direction! 

I’ve lived here for 41 years, and have never seen a dangerous snake anywhere besides my herpetologist friend’s house! More good news – they are as afraid of us as we are of them! 

The newsletter shared common-sense tips for living where there are poisonous snakes: turn on a light and have a look around before stepping out on your patio at night, or into your garage. And even look around first before stepping out on your patio during the day. Mindfulness, that’s all.

If you encounter a poisonous snake in your garage, on your patio, or in your garden… run away, and call wildlife management. Or, if you live out here, you can call the group of “snake wranglers” who will come fetch them. 

XO Donna

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