Before we traded ranches,
your mother witched a well
that artesianed into a trough
to water cattle, that overflowed
to fill a pond twenty-four seven
without turning a wheel.

Before we traded ranches
you had tenants
that wanted more
to irrigate cannabis
with a pump and gas generator—

pulled granite sand and pebbles
to dam the crack
where water ran underground
from Sierra peaks
to the wellhead freely.

Married now to a generator,
storage tank and pump,
I pack gas and oil,
carry electrical testers,
tools and spare capacitors,
for a second well we drilled
too deep for solar
to water cattle in a trough
that never overflows.






The Emperor vines were a hundred years old
when I was a teen learning to irrigate
granddad’s thirsty vineyard, whole pump
down five furrows—hope and wait.

You had to fill the deep sand up
before it carried water down the vine row.
In the old days, Coffelts spread the pump out,
then went fishing in the pines for two weeks.

Much has changed the way we think
about water—wells deeper, trees on drip.
The earth sinks with the weight of farming
until nothing’s left to keep it up.





Much like cattle,
the sounds we make
speak more than words
that often skirt the truth—

that cannot release
the real stress like
the intonations of
a moan or groan.

Between us
another language
animals comprehend,
and when surprised

or truly overjoyed,
a melody of accents—
sweet poetry that will
never grace a page.



reblogged from December 24, 2017





Blueberry moonrise
never in the same place twice—
acorns ripe in oak trees.





Four-point buck, horns
dull just out of velvet
five weeks before season opens—

quick hoof thump
of my old heart
upon the hard ground,

I smell venison marinade
over an open flame,
taste the back-strap melt

upon my tongue,
wild cunning juices
surging in my veins.

I become young again
and shoot
through a camera lens.





Had we fish to stupefy
with turkey mullein seeds
the late rains have left

in turquoise waves
above the knees—
we could be native.

Instead we feed
the squirrels beneath
these fuzzy canopies

where shotgun hunters
will wait for mourning dove
to light and leave.



Croton setigerus: a native of the western United States, and found commonly from southern California north to Washington, particularly in the more arid locations away from the coast.

I don’t ever remember Turkey Mullein, or Dove Weed, so tall and thick and claiming such large tracts of dry summer pasture, or its color quite so blue—worth journaling, I think.





When we were children,
we played among the wrecks
of old cars and horse-drawn

wagons with wooden spokes
that hemmed the orchards
that sustained us—families

scattered round distant towns
we could visit
with ripe imaginations.

Bigger now, cities spreading
like amoeba ingesting farms
and one another, like wildfires burning

closer as convenient conflagrations
that have erased the landmarks
where we hung our memories.

It could be creeping senility
that I embrace, a watercolor wash
across pastoral landscapes

rather than the spinning pace
of progress—perpetual motion
like the galaxies of space.





They have begun to circumambulate new slopes to graze
                    around the house
learning to make their circles between troughs and ponds,
                    forty-five days away
for the first new mothers to lick a calf up to suck
                    for the next nine months.

A week off the irrigated green, they’ve overcome the shock
                    of dry hollow stems
to make a home where we can watch and worry,
                    as is our custom—
we get know them. About a third will make the herd
                    for ten years.

With so much time together, we operate by instinct,
                    you and I,
triggered by well-worn habits, the angle of the sun
                    and the length of shadows
these young girls already know—a second nature
                    we had to learn.


Great Day


Terri in the gate.


As the days get shorter, saddling at six is damn near dark.

Delightfully cool morning (70°) as we gathered our weaned heifers to sort for our replacements. We were hoping for 40-50 head to breed to the Wagyu bulls in December, but Robbin, Allie, and Terri ended up with 61 when all was said and done. Oftentimes, going in with preconceived number doesn’t always work as quality tends to sort itself. More to keep and less to sell is not terrible news.

After we had taken the two bunches to their respective pastures. I couched my congratulations to the girls with our private joke, “It’s not the way I’d have done it.          It was better.”

Have a Happy Birthday Terri! We love you (and Trigger).




© Terri Blanke


Not an easy climb
to rise above the bluster
of the self=righteous.