1. The alarm that will warn you of nuclear disaster in Rochester, NY and the same loud siren that will go off in the event of a tornado seem to be the same freaking horn the ranchers use to call their cattle. Imagine that? So, imagine me walking out in the middle of the ranch and hearing that siren go off- I was getting ready to dive under a boulder as it was on constant repeat- building urgency in my mind- for several very long minutes. I called my dad who knew about such things and he got a big chuckle out of this adventure!
2. Did you know that a rattlesnake will at least warn you before striking but a copperhead will attack- no warning at all? I personally witnessed this as a small copperhead came at the cowboy’s boot and bit it! Also, the copperhead gives off a faint scent-much like an odd combination of skunk and a cucumber. Cowboy can always smell them before he sees them. On two different occasions, I have been almost on top of them and didn’t see or smell them. It’s like I’m living in the Where’s Waldo’s snake book.
3. Do you know the difference between different types of animal droppings and tracks? Well, if you move to the country brush up on this as you will definitely want to know if those are fresh wild boar tracks and/or droppings that you are walking along side while hiking. I laughed the first time I saw a pack of wild boars running towards us. Yes. I laughed and said, “Ooooh, those are pigs! Phew! I thought it was a pack of wild dogs coming to get us!” Cowboy stood in front of me and told me to stand still as the pigs slowly turned away from us. I googled wild boar when I got home and learned that they could have easily taken us down. Oh. My.
4. Tarantulas are not shy. In fact, if you try and put your camera up close and take a picture- they will want to approach you to get in close for the tight shot.
5. Wear your knee high, leather boots- always! Okay, you can take them off when you hit the covers. But I seriously recommend you get a couple good pairs for working and dancing!
6. Keep a good dog or two with you as you wonder around outside as they will help you find your way just in case you get lost. Learn which way is North before your bags are unpacked. Always make sure you can give someone directions to your location in case you get hurt. “I’m out here by the big rock and that old tree” will not help someone locate you in an emergency.
7. Watch storm clouds when they roll in. Watch the trees bend and learn where to run in case of hail and/or tornados.
8. Don’t try and snuggle baby cows. Their mommas do not enjoy you snuggling their babies- know how to run up a horse trailer if one decides to run you down. You may need to learn this on a moment’s notice- like I did. Make sure your cell phone is charged. If it is but you are out of range- well, you’ll have to wait like I did for a cowboy to swing by and rescue you.
9. If you hear a mountain lion up the hill behind you- do not reach into your pocket for your iphone so you can record it in case it comes out of hiding. Also, do not run. Walk calming and swiftly to the house. Call a cowboy and try and give solid directions as to where you heard it growling.
10. Finally, ENJOY your adventure! Take pleasure in waking up to the cows, birds, horses, cats and dogs bringing in the morning! Also, there’s nothing like basking in the beautiful Texas sunsets which will keep you glued to the ground as it moves, changes and grows more vibrant- a spiritual gift to the end of most every day. Enjoy the stars that appear to be so close you could pluck them out of the sky. And most importantly, wear that cowboy hat, play that country music (even if you don’t know who George Strait is- and yes, I forgot his last name again so I just now googled George and ‘country music’-there it was!) There are so many joys to living on the ranch which really help to bring all the rest of the world into perspective. Breathe. You are home now!