We have come the long way,
rode uneven ground together
ever since that first day
bringing cattle off the mountain,
you there, at the corrals:
Craig’s branding at the cabin.
I could only see pieces of you
busy outside, between the boards,
as we parted cows from calves.
Or was it when he died young,
all consoling one another?
Perhaps the Belle Point cows,
my mixed and colored herd,
fat calves grazing spring,
let you let me touch your hand.
We were friends a long time
before our pillow talk of trust
and honesty, before all this
circling home and horse barn,
our ever-changing garden,
black first-calf heifers at the fence
looking in as we look out
at what we’ve done as one
the long way ‘round.
Not far from the Roadrunner’s cactus nest, a Killdeer is also sitting on eggs. The shoulder of our gravel driveway usually offers three or four Killdeer a good place to hide and incubate their eggs. To keep from running over them, we’ve been known to place a rock close to the nest. Once hatched, the Killdeer takes her babies to the creek about 200 yards away. But barely running this year and last, we’ve only this one Killdeer nesting.
I had hoped to get photos of her broken wing act, her ploy to lure the dogs away. But she stood her ground yesterday to protect her nest.
I caught a Roadrunner on the way to the nest early yesterday morning with the point and shoot. By late evening, I saw a gopher snake exiting the cactus. I’ll check again today to see if the snake got the eggs.
(assuming) ‘She’ is back on the nest this a.m., (assuming) the gopher snake left empty-(handed).
March 29, 2015
Not too old to hunt,
it is my eyes that crave
the grace of wild things,
that tell the boy inside
to take another look,
focus while he can.
I have tracked, squeezed
the trigger, gutted, skinned
and hung the flesh
over flames, told the stories
within these mountains
where I became a man
who hunts for pleasure,
for sign each day—
for what he’s never seen.
for Matt St. Martin
Wyethia angustifolia – March 18, 2015
March 24, 2015
The impact of three years of drought on the Blue Oaks shows up well as the trees that have survived begin to leaf out. (Click to enlarge) These Blue Oaks are across the creek from our house, on a north slope at the 1,200-foot elevation. No rain in sight, the grass has turned 30 days earlier than normal as we prepare to head into an early summer.
After a brief visit last spring, our count of Eurasian Collared Doves increased to four yesterday, including what appears (above) to be a juvenile, in just a matter of weeks. In order of appearance, the first pair began breeding and nest building almost immediately, followed by another male, then yesterday’s juvenile.
Pretty birds bigger than a Mourning Dove and slightly smaller than a Rock Pigeon, we’re not sure their presence is a blessing. Time will tell whether the most invasive species in Texas will become as big a nuisance as the Rock Pigeons, who thankfully disappeared last fall as their numbers dwindled through the summer.
The Collared Dove makes what has become an annoying two-syllable cooing sound just before it lands in a tree or on the ground where it feeds, that I can only describe as a distant baby crying, like the 1950s dolls that cried when you tipped them. Wiki notes that the species is ‘not wary’, that has connotations of stupidity for me, but I’d agree they’re fairly tame and unafraid, but observant enough to find our bird feeders immediately. The bird has many unique and interesting characteristics described in the links included here.
All About Birds
Supermoon, June 23, 2013
What gift of light
have I to offer
the coyote’s howl,
of stars reflecting suns
above the ridgeline
of her body sleeping,
breathing beside us
in this canyon apart
from the news
of mortal men
and women staged
to sell consumption
to the enslaved—
before I fail
to be so generous
in the daylight?
Hollow pipe songs at first light
pierce the darkness, own the dawn
with answered calls from oak trees
and granite piles of fractured rock
balanced on the edge of time
frozen around me. Early morning
solos grow into a chorus of chants
on the other side of the door,
a primitive awakening to greet me,
to ignore my circle of chores.
We’ve become part of the landscape
they return to, generations born
near cattle, horses and water troughs.
After these dry years, a colony—
a reunion of Roadrunners nesting.
Posted in Photographs, Poems 2015, Ranch Journal
Tagged birds, Blue Oak, Drought, Dry Creek, photographs, poetry, roadrunner, water, weather, wildlife
Beautiful day for the last branding of the season. At this stage of the game, we don’t know until we wake up in the morning how we’re going to feel about getting a horseback or roping in the branding pen. I’ve long been demoted from the ground crew wrestling calves when I’m not roping, relegated to visiting and watching the action from along the fence — which suits me fine.
Followers of drycrikjournal will recognize Kenny and Virginia McKee in nearly all the photographs of our brandings, and yesterday was our turn to try and repay them for their help all season. To be of help becomes increasingly important as we age, especially in this culture, and it’s been gratifying to see the next generation of cowboys mature as cowmen, horsemen and human beings. We’re truly grateful to be among them and this cattle community. Robbin was able to take a few photos between vaccinating calves that highlighted a day of fun while we got the work done.