Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Photo Journey To The Mailbox - And Questions!

Now that query crits are nearly out of this blog's equation (although we have a revision scheduled for Monday!), you may have noticed it doesn't have a very clear direction. I haven't decided if that's a good thing or bad.

Should I have separate blogs for "me" (my farm, personal woes and celebrations, etc) and for "writing-related" (sales stats, industry observations, the odd query crit, etc)?

Maybe reserve specific days for different types of topics?

Keep everyone guessing whether the next post up will be of interest to you? What is of interest to you?

Please discuss!

Meanwhile, more random photos because I'm busy working on a super-secret marketing/publishing-type project that launches this weekend. I'll tell you all about it next week. After our query crit on Monday and the July sales stat post on Tuesday.


The trip to and from my mailbox is a little over 1/4 of a mile (400+ meters). I look at it as a mini adventure. Sometimes the dogs (and maybe a cat) accompany me. Depending on time of day, we might see rabbits or skunks. Sometimes there are wildflowers in the pastures and sometimes the drying grasses are a reminder of how little rain we've had. It's always an opportunity to keep an eye on some of the water pipes that lead to the house and barn -- breaks in the water line are quite frequent and I'm responsible for repairing them and paying for the water lost, so best to find them sooner than later.

While most people would take you on a pictorial journey from house to box, my hook is this: we're going to start at the box and work our back. I know! It's the same, but different. See how the principles of query writing can help us in real life?

If we look up and down the road from the box itself, here is what we see. While there are vast regions of flat, treeless plains in Texas, they are west of where I live. In fact, many of the ranchers around here have bulldozed down hundreds of red cedars to open up the land for better grazing.

Looking to the left, to the right, and across the street
I have some new neighbors across the road. Two years ago, the Herefords lived there. Then the Anguses moved in.

So we've picked up the mail, waved to the neighbors, and oohed and aahed over their new babies. Time to head back. Here's the entry to the drive. Yes, there's a house up there somewhere.

If we're very lucky we might see great herds of wild horses. Or we might see these guys instead.

If we take a look back toward the mailbox about halfway between the road and the house, this is what we see. (Poor brown grass -- the drought has not been kind.) Yes, we've walked a looooong way already! And sometimes without having received any mail for our trouble.

You'll note there are pastures on either side of the drive. When I put in new fencing last year, I had the brilliant idea to install a gating system that, when I open the gates up, provides a corridor the horses can use to get from one side of the drive to the other. The added benefit is that there are two gates across the drive to deter anyone who doesn't have business on the property from coming onto the property. Sometimes that backfires as it also can deter UPS drivers and others from bringing me things I want right to my door.

Bela left, Bonita center, Ricky right

The house is quite private, hidden from the road by a small copse of trees. As soon as we've finished petting and feeding the horses a few treats (you did remember to bring along some apples and carrots, didn't you?), we go through the gates and see a twist in the drive. Beyond, we can almost make out the detached garage.

Past the twist in the drive and yes, we can see it! We're finally -- almost -- home.

Thanks for joining me! Next time we'll pack a lunch and maybe an overnight bag for the trip.


Kay said...

Keep us guessing!

I love the variety of your posts--helpful tips to ranting to life on the farm to sharing specifics about your e-pub experiences. It's all good stuff. Keep it coming.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Hey Phoenix,
I'd love a critter blog in addition to your epub journey. But I guess I'm selfish. With your background as a vet tech you've got the bones to help the civilians out, especially with feed/water troubles deep in the heart of the Lone Star state, shifting soil and all. What a heartbreak. Drought. Hard on the domestics and the wild ones.

Jo-Ann said...

Hi Phoenix,
I think most of your followers have a dream of your lifestyle... writing and living on a farm. That the bucolic lifestyle involves the harsh realities of the effects of climate change doesn;t dampen our enthusiasm for living vicariously...

The drought looks like a challenge. I share your pain. I'm from the most arid continent of all (ok, second most arid after Antarctica) and we're just recovering from a 10 year drought. Yes, unkind on livestock and even more pitiless on wildlife. Even the least environmentally concerned of the locals were installing water-saving shower heads, timers to keep showers to a 3 minute maximum, bucketing the shower run-off to water their gardens, and making the decision to flush based on the colour of the contents... And despite record breaking rains at the moment, many now respect water as the valuable resource it is.

Out of curiosity, what is your water source? As you mentioned paying for the water, I suspect that means you're connected to the mains water supply. Do you supplement it with a dam, a tank or well?

Caitlin said...

love your photo blogs! and your critter photos too. I'd say re: your blog direction - keep us guessing or have a set day for certain types of posts (sorry, not much of a decisive answer for you! i'm a libra so...). but looking forward to your variety of posts! :)

fairyhedgehog said...

Your posts all arrive in my blog reader and I can star the people I am mostly likely to want to read so I don't miss them. I flick through and if it's a post that doesn't apply to me (which is anything to do with publishing at the moment) I just pass on it.

I soon pick up on the posts that I love! And a publishing schedule doesn't matter because whenever you post, I'll get to know about it.

I love this photo-journal of your walk from the post box. I don't think I could live anywhere quite so deserted; it would unnerve me. But it would be nice not to be overlooked!

Sarah Laurenson said...

Lovely pics! My mom's driveway isn't that long and she can see the mailbox from her house. I think the flag goes up and down automatically when you open it or something, so she gets that signal when something's in her mail box.

As for blogs, I had two for awhile. Still have both but I'm only posting on the one. I had thought I would have a life blog and a writing blog. Trouble is my life bleeds into my writing and vice versa. So now I only have one that I post on infrequently.

You can always give it a try and see if you like having two.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

@Kay, Caitlin and FHH: Thank you! It seems like no one minds a smorgasboard, so I'll just continue without a plan. Somehow, I'm betting that won't be as easy as it sounds :o)

@Mac: I think if I went with two blogs, I wouldn't be posting much on either. Somehow all this other stuff still manages to fill time you'd think would be a lot freer once you retired.

@Sarah: An automatic flag on the mailbox sounds grand! During inclement weather that would be great, though it would have to be something other than a visual clue at the box for me. Still, whether there's mail there or not, I suppose the exercise doesn't hurt...

@Jo-Ann: Bucolicism doesn't come without a lot of work, unfortunately ;o(.

Wow, I didn't know you guys have gone so long drought-wise. Last year wasn't so bad for us, though the 3 summers before were. When I moved here 6 years ago, my larger pond had about 200 catfish who would come over to the bank to be fed. Then the pond went dry and the herons scarfed up all the fish. I'm afraid to restock because the pond's gone dry 4 out of the last 6 years and is going to be dry soon this year too.

As for where I get my water, I'm in a co-op who are served from a central well. There are about 200 of us drawing our water from the same source. There are some spring-fed ponds around my property that don't go dry as we have a fairly high water table. Sadly, two of my ponds were dug mechanically to build the pads for my barns and the third pond (the one that had the catfish) is a collection point for runoff, so no continuous natural source of surface water. There's a seasonal creek that runs the length of the property on one side but it's the dividing line between me and my neighbor --mainly on the neighbor's side.

Luckily we had good rains in late winter and early spring so our reservoirs and wells started the drought season full.

Did the drought there result in a lot of higher food and commodity prices?

AA said...

Bela, Bonita and Ricky look like an 80's hair band.

I read whatever posts catch my attention and I have time for. If you had two blogs I'd subscribe to both. I don't see why it's necessary to have two unless you just want to.