Sunday, 7 September 2014

Ranch sitters R Us

Pulled up at the ranch to be warmly greeted by Anne, Larry was working hard with the hired hand and a neighbour stacking the last of the hay which they use and sell. 

Coda and Jet
We were introduced to the two, old, dogs, Coda is Top Dog, despite Jet being older, is it because he’s deaf? Out the back through chickens and a stroppy rooster, Jack, and peacocks, we don’t know how many peacocks, it’s too hard, at least 3 males, and at least 3 females, one with 3 young, and one with 4 smaller chicks in a pen. 

Three male peacocks
In fact a yard full of peahens and chickens
On to the cats, Bud (yes, same name as Fred and Sharon’s) and Tizzy, she was a bit shy, but he came and said hello (to Anne’s surprise). There are wild bird feeders of two varieties and a tray that food for the squirrels and jays goes into, (they are kept out of the other feeders). 

...and Bud
Jackie stroking Hermes, Oreo on the right
On to the goats, Oreo and Hermes, the escape artist, they eat anything, a handful of chopped fruit and veg with bread or biscuits, and the odd cardboard box! A few crunchies and some water in the barn for the two feral cats followed by meeting Kristy, Anne and Larry’s daughter who lives next door with her two housecats Sarge and Zeb. Kristy has gone away to Yellowstone with Anne and Larry, so can we pop in and fuss and feed and water them too? 

That's Oreo looking quite cute for a goat
Everyone seems to get on, nobody chases anyone (except Jack
who chases anyone egg collecting!)
The tropical fish don’t take much looking after, but there are three sorts of food to put in, the hen house has to be checked for eggs during the day, and the roosts cleaned out first thing after letting the chickens out. They take themselves off to bed, but we have to makes sure all three doors are firmly closed to keep out the weasels, raccoons and coyote that might be interested in helping themselves! The water bowls and bird baths have to be refilled twice a day (dirty things these birds) and obviously cats, dogs and goats have to be fed twice a day. The wild bird feeders have to be refilled, every day, (can’t believe how much they get through) but as they have to be stored in the garage out of the way of the bear who comes by to help himself to the apples in the orchard, that’s no great hardship!

Pussy cats can be stroked at the same time as dogs
Anne, Larry and Kristy leaving in their big RV with towed Jeep
We waved Anne, Larry and Kristy off yesterday morning, having had an evening and morning session of ‘training’ followed by frantic picking of sweetcorn from the ‘garden’ in the rain. This as there was a lot, so a lady was going to deal with it! 

Some produce from the garden
Came back from the ‘garden’ with tomatoes and a squash for dinner, and a watermelon for our fruit ration! Omelette tonight (well there are lots of fresh eggs! Brian made Anne and Kristy laugh, he was so excited at 4 warm eggs, but then couldn’t open the door to bring them in!) with fresh herbs, corn, beans, kale, pepper, tomato! Shame we bought a cabbage in the supermarket and that I don’t like sprouts as these are also available. We’ll have a cantaloupe melon when we’ve finished the one we brought with us! Oh yes, and plan to try spaghetti squash when mum arrives!

Sunflowers in the garden, we saw a squirrel running off with one, but he dropped it when he saw us coming and leapt away
First afternoons work!
We had a phone call after about 30 mins, could we turn off the irrigation as it was raining? No problem. Reported back to be told that in Laramie it was blue sky and sunshine and it was headed our way! Well we never saw it, but it gave us the perfect excuse to stay indoors and read and have a small doze. I’d woken at 04.30 for some reason, and the animals woke at 06.00. No lie ins here then! B baked a fab cake, so the day certainly wasn’t wasted!

The gun cabinet complete with ammunition

Before they left, we’d asked about keys – wouldn’t know where to find one was Larry’s response, we just leave everything open, as does Kristy, so feeding her cats is no problem. Her jeep is also parked up with the keys in it, so if we want to go anywhere…..! In an attempt to reassure Brian that it was all fine, and locking up wasn’t necessary, Larry had told him where the revolver was – loaded, in the third drawer of the chest of drawers in the bedroom. But he’s never needed it, or the assortment of rifles and shotguns in the gun cabinet, except for hunting!

And the loaded revolver in the drawer by the bed - don't mess with us!
Off on this mornings walk, led by the dogs - we have no idea where we're going!
Woke today (slightly later) to blue skies and sunshine. All chores and breakfast done by 08.00 so off to see the horses! We are on a ranch and the original housesitter listing was for cattle and horses too, but they seem (very sensibly) to have decided that as we have no idea what we are doing, perhaps someone who does should look after the big animals! 
The dogs led us to the correct place
We wanted to see the horses none the less, so the dogs took us off, we didn’t go through the correct fence, but the dogs soon put us right. Two of the three horses were very friendly, but the other was a bit shy. We were slightly concerned that they seemed to be standing by an empty bathtub looking a bit thirsty. The other side of the fence was an electric pump/generator which B decided he could probably work out, but perhaps he’d just bring a couple of buckets of water in and we’d check with John, the neighbour. 

and they seemed to like being talked to and stroked
Time for action dogs, running after a stick
We’d been introduced to John and his wife Linda, Lennard the ‘help’ and Lisa the tenant (who has lived in the third house for 14 years, with her two dogs, two cats and three horses – not in the house obviously). John’s response was that the horses were just lazy, which we’d sort of worked out as the dogs had gone for a paddle in the drainage ditch on our way out of the field, and couldn’t be bothered to walk to the other end of the field!

Dogs being dogs, a bit of water is welcome relief
Panorama of the ranch yard
Off on our walk having sneaked away from snoozing dogs
Having tired the dogs out, we thought we might be better off not taking them to the creek and to look at the little crag – would we be putting up new climbing routes? So we sneaked off in opposite directions. Had a good walk, sadly deciding that no climbing is to be done, as the rock isn’t very sound. Crossed the creek and walked in the tracks of the original settlers wagon trains, realised getting back to the house may be a problem so walked down to the road and up the track. Picking up the post from the end of the drive being our excuse!

The sandstone crag and creek
There's the hot tub
It’s just started raining which is a shame as we were planning on using the hot tub later, perhaps with a candle, the stars and a glass of wine, probably still can as it’s set at 96 degrees! Who knows, we may see the bear! The only job we haven’t done yet is make more sugar water for the hummingbirds, but they haven’t drunk all they’ve got yet.

The old stagecoach tracks
Panorama from the top of a crag. The ranch is in that thicket of trees just right of centre at the top. Not sure how much land they own but we were still on their land here and we think they own all we can see in the near distance

Jackie samples the hardness of the sandstone
A red squirrel enjoying some of the monkeynuts put out for him
We even did a bit of BBQ'ing
The big sunroom complete with pool table!

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