EAST BEQUETTE BRANDING 2023

 

As great (for us) as the three-week Atmospheric River was, it put everyone’s branding schedules behind, most roads too wet to get to our cattle.  Normally, we’d be at Elko this time of year, but with travel and time away from business, we needed to stay at home before our calves got too big to handle easily.

 

When I look around our community’s branding pens I realize that now that most of the old timers are gone, that we have taken their places going ‘old-people slow’, and we prefer it.  Fortunately we have some young muscle to work the ground.

 

Robbin and I have scaled our operation down, in part due to our heavy culling to adapt to consecutive years of drought and also by selling half of our cows to my son Bob.  Branding pasture by pasture, our bunches are now small enough to get by with three ropers, one calf stretched at a time.  Our relaxed pace has become even more conducive for old friends to visit while we get the work done.  These photos from our second branding of the season, it’s been great!

 

We head to Tony Rabb’s next week to brand after he assesses the rain forecast for this weekend.

 

ROOTED IN DIRT

 

 

Seed to grain

on a whim of the weather

watched constantly

 

from space

and here on planet Earth

swirling with tempests

 

beyond the hands

of politicians—

try as they might.

 

Rooted in dirt

we search the habits

of our wild totems

 

for miracles

and pray to God as well

for luck.

 

 

CONFESSION ONGOING

March 10, 2011

 

Once the invincible gambler,

I was weaned on cowboy heroics

to wear the scrapes and scars

 

of chance and circumstance

stiffly—my bones now groan

ground under the pressure

 

of time, worn smooth as cobbles

in a creekbed.  Stride shortened,

my feet slide searching for stability,

 

having danced this earth as one

in my collected dreams aboard

four great horses I’ve outlived—

 

I am learning to change my mind,

to find the flavor in a moment

I’ll not savor another time.

 

 

RIBBON OF ROAD

 

RIBBON OF ROAD

 

                     Not the least hurt by this ribbon of road carved on their sea-foot.

                                          – Robinson Jeffers (“The Coast-Road”)

 

Fridays bring the caravans of Christians,

SUVs freeway-spaced and paced at sixty

up this snaky road to the pines and cedars

                                                                                    to pray

 

and low-snow weekends, the growl of mud grips

on decomposing asphalt, armies of colored jeeps

and shiny four-wheel drives drone up-canyon

                                                                                    to play

 

do not see these hills leaking with pleasure,

every wrinkle running with crystal streams

of rain, three weeks of storms rushing to

 

a rising, chocolate creek with foam, nor

the naked sycamores, leaves undressed,

white limbs dancing, rosy fingers reaching

 

for steamy clouds afloat upon the green

oak-studded slopes, black dots of cattle

scattered with all the legends gone before me.

 

RECHARGING THE BATTERY AS IT RAINS

 

The fine dust upon old tools I have forgotten

as I clean the shop: my brace and bits, some

long-enough to chew through creosoted

 

railroad ties while scraping granite gravel. Mighty

hugs to my shoulder in long, youthful spurts

that warmed the birdshot bearings out-of-round

 

where there was no electricity to hang a gate

miles from the asphalt. It was my third.

I wore them out. I knew no other way.  

 

I recognize the dead scent of time as mine

on the shelves, in wooden boxes no one makes

anymore, protecting stiff-leather headstalls

 

and rusty bits we’ll never use again. I must make

room for the cordless handyman, especially

since this old battery has begun to run down.

 

OUR ONLY FRIEND

 

                   

                        Beautiful in the world fabric, excesses that balance each other

                        like the paired wings of a flying bird.

                                                – Robinson Jeffers (“Still the Mind Smiles”)

 

                        It was all the clods at once become precious

                                                – William Stafford (“Earthdweller”)

 

Is it fear that judges so, good and evil,

or guilt for easy breath, or lackey to politic’s

endless stream of currency?

 

The creek runs full, carrying deadfall bobbing,

fat limbs lumbering like submarines or whales

to rest upon the banks when flood recedes.

 

The miracle of rain erasing tracks for fresh

beginnings: for another turn of circumstance—

that wild divergence of extremes that want

 

control, like taming wolves to lap dogs

that always fail, even in our minds though

dressed in our latest, eco-friendly outerwear.

 

The devil’s in the details that embrace truth

and trigger memory, that glorious flight

that connects us to time on this earth.

 

 

 

JUST TO BEHOLD

 

 

Two coyotes lope across the road in the rain

in their retreat from the swollen creek, roaring

like prolonged thunder distantly—unafraid

 

for they are fat on rodents curled in flooded

burrows, tailings fresh.  The herons and egrets

will appear with the sun, stand guard like statues

 

in garden nurseries look alive.  Too wet to fly,

the sheltered hawks in the limbs of leafless trees

will spread their wings until their feathers dry.

 

And we too wait.  Some days it’s too wet—

too hot, too cold, or too dry to work—but once

in a while it makes more sense just to behold.

 

 

Dry Creek, January 9, 2023

3,500+ cfs @ 5:00 p.m.

 

Atmospheric creek,

miles of canyons into one,

now headed somewhere.

 

 

 

THE BUENA VISTA

 

 

Rising from the saddle

beneath Sulphur,

a full wolf moon views

 

            first break in the rain

            for over a week

            as if to assess

            a rare miracle:

 

            green slopes leaking

            rivulets spilling

            into draws into creeks

            foamed like Irish coffee.

 

We are drunk with it

wanting more, another

warm sweet storm

 

            to validate

            a lifetime—this

            wild existence:

 

            grass and rain,

            cows to graze

            our blurred exposure.

 

 

RAINBOW

 

 

No word of the whereabouts

of La Niña 3, one more dry year

waiting in the wings to sell cows

 

and feed more hay—instead,

8 days rain out of 9 and more

to come, bare canyon green.

 

We are helpless, flood or drought,

her fickle Nature always serving

what she wants, anywhere, anytime.