How to Lower Your Blood Pressure

On a relatively cool Texas evening in August, a great way to wind down is to wander out to the pastures and visit with the critters.  Sure, you suspect they only love you for your opposable thumbs which allow you to get into the feed cans, but it's still nice to see them run up to you with those big, adoring eyes and waggy tails.

Judah was our first guardian dog, and though he tolerates no monkey business in his pasture, and has kept us predator-free for almost 2 years, he's still a big marshmallow when his momma (me) comes in to see him and hug his neck. 

Down in the south pasture, Ruthie is enjoying a lovely quiet dinner with her pasture mate Vanni safely locked up for a few minutes.  It's bad enough having to defend your dinner from the laying hens, but Vanni can be an even worse pest when it comes to food.  Like all kids, he wants yours, but won't eat his own.

After supper, Ruthie likes to rest and tidy herself up before the night shift starts.  I have to tell you, this dog is hardly recognizable when you compare her to 16 months ago when she first got here.  She's lean and muscled,  alert and healthy.  When she sprints down the fence line to bark at a passing truck, she launches herself like a rocket, with nary a trace of a limp.  And since we trimmed off a bunch of the nasty matts that had begun to form around her ears and back end, she's looking pretty sharp, too.  Ruth is an unbelievable treasure.

The chickens help me relax after a long day, too.  You could spend a whole day studying their culture, society, communication and politics, and never run out of things that make you laugh out loud.  This is one of our friend Mea's hens that came to live here when Mea moved to Iowa.  She's a lovely bird, very dramatic in the fading sunlight -- a quiet girl, who minds her own business.  Our egg production is still down because of the heat, but I'm hoping the next few days will bring us cooler weather, and maybe some rain.  I also hope the chickens will register their relief by dropping a bunch of fresh eggs--our customers are starting to line up at the gate.

This is what all that heat and lack of moisture does to our black clay soil--this crack goes down about a foot that I can see, and undoubtedly more.  You can turn the water hose on it for a long, long time and never fill it up.  If we had horses or donkeys in the pasture, I'd be afraid of some twisted ankles or broken legs in these deep crevasses.  Fortunately, the alpacas spend most of their time close to the shade of the barn and avoid them.

I finished up my quiet time back up north, for Tella's exercise session, and to look all the sheep over to make sure all is well.  Look how huge the lambs have gotten!

This is what usually happens when I try to get a picture of Tella.  She rarely stops moving.  But she's doing better and better around the sheep, and I have some special plans for her next week, as her education progresses.

One more hot day, they say, before our next chance at a bona fide cool front.  I'm ready.  Bring it.


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