THE RUB

Forgive the fruit flies

their penchant for wine,

their bitter taste

 

and I

for defying nature

with a lid.

 

There is no end to it,

the assault

to comfort and convenience.

Bulls to Water

Our country is dry and short.  We’ve pulled the bulls off the irrigated pasture to make room for our bred heifers due to begin calving by the middle of September.  We will have to feed the bulls in this pasture where Allie and Terri were driving a few to water last week.  Even though we’ve sold 25% of our cows, we continue to step up the amount of hay we’re feeding with no idea of when it will end or whether it will pay for itself in the long run.  But if we have to sell more cows, we just don’t want them to be thin.    

HOT AND DRY

Cooper’s Hawk

under a rainbird’s shower,

yellow eyes

 

mermaid and frog

before taking a drink

at the ‘sip and dip’.

 

Too hot to hurry

in the heat

we all grow tame.

JULY EVENING

Four-thirty and it’s cooled down

from 115—black cows are leaving

sycamore shade for the water trough,

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plodding several hundred yards of hard clay

and short blond fuzz to drink,

not like last night’s forceful mob,

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but one-by-one, the order established

over years of living together—uphill 

two hundred more to shady Blue Oaks

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to gather and decide which way to go.

The heat has slowed their rhythm

only slightly, they are bound to graze

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what’s left on the slopes behind us:

take the steep trail to the top of the ridge

or the long pull only part-way to the sky.

Happy 4th of July Weekend

Pulling the first of 12 joints of 20’ pipe plus the pump this morning after losing water last evening. We weaned our last bunch of calves Thursday when we hauled them out of Greasy, and were celebrating our good fortune until the pump quit.  Fortunately, Willits Equipment had time and personnel to replace the pump and control box by 1:00 this afternoon. This well also serves our house.

Just one of the joys of rural living, but we wouldn’t trade it for the alternative.

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Crack of Dawn

110 DEGREES @ NOON

Midday siesta, I dream of water running

down the Tule, ouzels dipping, or 

beer cooling in an eddy on the Kern—

of you and I, our faces streaked with rain

as if we were crying—love in our eyes.

All the mud-stuck trucks, leap-frogging,

winches whining as the clouds cracked,

bursting with more of the same.

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What else can we look forward to

this afternoon, inches from the Solstice,

what else can we do but dream? The air

is thin and burns the lungs. Leaves curl

in the garden while cows commiserate 

in the shade of sycamores and oaks,

all their stories stored within rings, 

chatter from the good old days.

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And what of native wisdom banked

in their massive trunks, or smooth gossip rocks 

in the living Live Oak shade?  All the secrets

we have lost to progress, all the important

unimportant things that have not saved time,

but accelerated it and our poor hearts

just trying to keep up. 110 degrees at noon,

what else can we do but dream?

Heat

Light show late last night, mostly cloud to cloud I’m told because I was sleeping, except for one thunderbolt that touched down on the Paregien Ranch.  Eerie dawn with dark clouds and a big wind to fan the flames, cowtrails corralled half the fire in short feed.  CalFire crews, helicopter and DC 9 kept the loss to 15 acres. Crazy weather: 116° at 4:00 p.m.

Weaning Pen, Day 3

With daylight comes the fretful calls of calves, two miles down canyon from our early morning coffee. By day four they will have stopped bawling for their mothers, another two miles and 2,000 feet in elevation up the canyon. Averaging 650 lbs., these nine month-old calves are not babies, yet miss the only security they’ve ever known.  It is not easy.  We’ve tried fenceline weaning, only to conclude that it prolonged the bawling and the anxiety on both sides of the fence.

We’ve been blessed with cooler weather this week as we gathered the Paregien Ranch to haul the calves off the hill, six gooseneck loads down a steep, 4-wheel drive track to Dry Creek—two hours round trip. Limited to loose part-loads, we have to panel half of the calves forward over the pickup’s back axel to maintain traction, each trip leaving the dirt road a little looser.  The following day, we culled the cows deeply, limited to five or six cows per trip as we prepare for continued drought conditions.

All things considered, we’re pleased with the condition of the calves and cows.  With one more pasture yet to wean, we will wait until the coming hot spell passes with a forecast high of 113°.  We’ve experienced a more volatile pattern (than what once was normal), between highs and lows this June https://drycrikjournal.com/weather/journal-2020-21/ and hope for another cooling trend a week from now.

Meanwhile, we fill the barns with hay today.

Grazing

Robbin and I are proud of our girls across the road, carrying their third calf, heading up the hill at 7:30 p.m. and not hanging at the bottom waiting for hay.  They made it to the top of the ridge to spend the night before grazing down to water shortly after dawn.