Monday, June 25, 2012

Workin' for the dogs...

Literally!  We spent our weekend out at an area dog rescue that I do some volunteer work for, TIRR.  They have been friends of ours ever since we adopted our first Ridgeback from them, Charlie.  We were initially, one of their first ever out-of-state adoptions, and Charlie was a special dog, so we were doubly lucky!  We kept in touch with TIRR periodically, and eventually moved here to Texas, where we were able to continue our friendship more directly.

Well, with the horrible drought and heatwave of 2011, TIRR lost a lot of trees on their property, and being a small operation, have limited resources to clear deadwood.  Dave loves to run a chainsaw, and the kids love visiting the dogs there, as do I.  So we worked out a weekend where we could come out and stay the weekend there at the Ranch, and cut down trees for them.

The weather cooperated, sort least it wasn't storming or anything, though rain would've been welcome.  It also wasn't gale force winds...but it was HOT!  And the breeze was a little too calm to do much good out in the woods.  But such is life in Texas in the summer...

We knew there were snakes and scorpions out there, and Roy advised the spiders tended to be Black Widows, and big ones too...oh joy.  We never did see any snakes, which is good.  And the kids only found one scorpion (Whew!) which was dispatched to Scorpion Heaven by Dave after showing the kids what it was like, and where the dangerous bit was located.  Spiders, well, there were lots of those, and one of them I even took pics of, just to show folks. 

There will be pictures of spiders at the end. If this upsets you, or anything, please don't scroll down to the end to see them.  Seriously.

So here are some pics.  Since I was taking them, I successfully avoided having my own picture taken!

Dave cutting the first tree.
Most of the trees were small scrub oak and wild plum.  The wild plum were a PITA to work with, as their branches get horribly tangled up.  It makes them hard to get out of the surrounding trees, and to pile up into the brushpile by hand.  Some of the wood we cut small enough for them to burn in the fireplace, but most was piled for eventual chipping.

Their friend Larry was on hand Saturday to help out.  Here he is, with Dave, discussing how to drop another tree, and then the next pic is Dave starting to top the tree out.

 The dog runs are large, and there are a lot of trees.  Roy prefers to leave big stumps, so he has something to work with when pulling them with the tractor.  That's why you see the 2' stubs all over the place.

After knocking off for the evening, and getting cleaned up, we went into town to a steak house and all had a great dinner.  It was nice to do a sitdown meal, that we didn't have to cook!  Plus, their Red Velvet Cake was SOOOOO good!

Sunday saw us back in the pens cutting trees in the morning.  Larry wasn't available, so it was just Roy, Dave and myself.  I let the guys run the saws, as I don't have a lot of experience running a chainsaw.  So I was the prime hauler of cut wood all weekend.  This went great until late Sunday morning.

Dave had cut a small diameter oak into manageable pieces.  He and I were picking up an armload each.  I grabbed one bit, and as I was reaching for more, I noticed a really messy looking web and eggsac among a couple leaves stuck on the branch.  I said to myself, "Self, messy webs mean bad spiders!  Put down the branch!"  So I did... I rolled the chunk over, and saw this...


Hmm...big (body was as big as a standard marble), shiny black with some funny white markings just behind the head...I knew what she was, by the look of her right away!  Boy am I glad I dropped that branch before she decided to take a bite of me!  (Note I was wearing long pants, a long sleeve shirt, and something akin to pilots Nomex gloves.)  Here is the definitive ID markings for those of you still not sure.

 Yes, that IS a black widow spider in the wild.  Roy says they are very common out on the Ranch.  I believe him.  And like the scorpion, this one went to spider heaven, since I had to move the wood, and didn't want to get bitten.

All in all, we had a great time, and got a lot of work done for our friends at TIRR rescue.  All our dogs came from or through TIRR, and they are all much-loved members of our family.  Our newest, Shiloh, was temporarily at TIRR when we met her and decided to adopt her, although the final adoption occured via a different Ridgeback Rescue group.  Here are our furry friends in one of their favorite locations, the dog couch!

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