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The dead and early leaves of Buckeyes cling
to great arms of flesh broken under low snows
look much the same in May as those rooted
in the earth, all shades of brown—yet severed.
Live Oaks on their sides like dominos collapsed
in the middle of a green thicket. Blue Oaks
stand like statues to disfigured soldiers after
war—all casualties of time—time will repair.
But a man steps lightly, carries a chain saw,
clears the way to mend his fences, rebuilds
surveyed lines through the downfall,
over rocks and rills you can’t feel on paper.
It is beyond us, always going on and on,
sometimes growing wilder in the process
when man’s dreams weaken with his flesh.
And therein the hope for new beginnings:
fresh spring starts and stems to learn again—
the great nature of things going on without
attention, without notice that still pumps
within us yet. We just don’t know it.
from Garden Journal<May Flowers 2013
We weaned the calves above from Section 17 in the Greasy Creek watershed yesterday. We will haul them down the hill this morning after we preg-check our second-calf heifers, this year’s Wagyu X mothers. We will haul the bred cows up the hill, calves down.
Our thoughts about fenceline weaning have changed somewhat in the past couple of years. With the stress on both cow and calf our primary consideration, we’ve noticed that both cow and calf become more frustrated and fret more with just a fence between them. Completely separated from one another, they seem to get over the process in about four or five days, as opposed to a week. So we’re tweaking our program accordingly. The sooner we can get them down the hill where we can control the dust with sprinklers, the sooner we can reduce potential respiratory and eye problems.
The calves look 50-100 lbs. lighter this year, but we’re also weaning two or three weeks earlier than normal due to the dry spring.
While putting out salt and mineral, I interrupted some Turkey Vultures and a bear cub, before the latter retreated to his own tree.
The phrase in my head,
the last line to the chorus
of an unwritten song—
my upbeat blank sheet
that needs to smile
at the truth, to be both
pleased and vulnerable, a
Bobby Bare song that applies
to loving and dying well—
when it’s all done,
there’s nothin’ more
to leavin’ than goodbye.
Perhaps her eyes go
early in the first verse
to search unfamiliar scenery,
then his retreat
to the wordless sounds
of rivers and streams—
one we can all sing
when there’s nothin’ more
to leavin’ than goodbye.
Endorphin bound, we humans
sometimes pack compressed loads,
test the fabric of mind and flesh
like the old joggers focused
on the haze at road’s end
as footfalls pump within their brains.
Blaze orange and magenta tunics,
fists like pistons she can feel
in the corner of her pasture,
one lags the other, but coming
closer, blowing harder
as she wheels to get away
through two fences, wire screeching
into the roadway. They pursue her
without stopping for two miles—
before she gets to ground she doesn’t
know, then leaps another to get free.
It’s contagious, all that determination
up and down a road that is no secret
to armies of Harleys and bright-hued
bicyclists, daredevils on crotch rockets,
four-wheel drives dragging trailers
of more toys within the stream of weekend
Christians speeding towards their God.
We have become the obstacles, or part
of the scenery they never see. We pray
before we cross the road to changing times.
It’s been a long week thus far, but with cooler temperatures: yesterday’s high of 95° and 58° this morning at 4:00 a.m. as we prepare to ship our Wagyu X calves to Snake River Farms this morning. We shipped another load of cull cows to town yesterday as well as eleven grass fed steers to Yosemite Valley Beef in Merced. In the mix we we are weaning a little bunch of calves that have just now begun bawling a mile and half up the road. At the welcome end of yesterday, I looked up to see this Egret, that has been staying out of little camera range, at the end of the lane. I noticed him earlier while watering the corrals to keep the dust down for today, wondering what the sudden attraction was.
Also while waiting for the truck driver for the grass fed steers to call, one of the Roadrunners was just outside the door, surveying bird nests in the eaves.
The grass fed steers and I wait to load while the driver finds his way.