Keeping track on scraps of paper,
poet friends and cattle
in far-flung pastures
I’ve yet to see, yet to gather—
yet I can smell them near,
inhale their cud-breath
from letters pressed
in chapbooks: songs
of purpose and suggestion.
Numbers don’t matter
this close to the corrals
and its dust-cloud sort:
‘in and bye’
for one more season
or gooseneck trip to town.
© Terri Blanke
We hate it, but we do it well
before the steel gets too hot
to touch, man or beast—
down the lead-up from the tub
to the hydraulic squeeze,
Enforce 3 and Cylence
for the respiratory bugs and flies,
foxtail relief from flaming eyes,
or whatever else might help
before their gooseneck ride to town,
looking blankly out at cars
and houses, we wish them well.
Due to our wet May, there’s still quite a bit of color in places. Late May, 2010 was the last time I observed any amount of Centuary, (Charming Centuary or the Long-stemmed), after a fairly wet year here. Also this year, a very small yellow monkey flower that I don’t recall seeing before that I have identified as Larger Mountain Monkeyflower or Erythanthe trinitlensis, substantially smaller than the common seep monkeyflower. I marvel at the seed bank that must exist while waiting for the right weather conditions to germinate, reinforcing nature’s ability to survive despite the other troubles on this planet.
Amid the empty
heads of wild oats, Clarkia
paints hillsides purple—
reseeding new ground, waiting
for late rains in May.
© Terri Blanke
It’s been a long week with early mornings and warm days gathering another bunch of cows and calves in Greasy. We hauled the last of the calves down the hill this morning to the corrals to wean. From the goosenecks, we unload them onto our scales to weigh, then apply fly spray to not only make the process a little more pleasant for the calves, but to reduce the risk of a pink eye.
The calves have done well but the market is weak and weakening with concerns about this year’s corn crop.
Held in high regard,
we let the dead lean until
we lay down to rest.
It was a 104° at 10:00 a.m. after gathering some of our upper country to collect this year’s calves to be weaned, too hot to pursue the remnants we missed. We’ll be leaving in the dark to give it a go tomorrow and hopefully haul some calves off the hill. Forecast 98°.
I’m not sure I noticed
the grand old oak on the ridge
when it was alive with so many
green others before the drought.
Crushed today, it wrapped
its brittle branches around me.
We’ve enjoyed an unusually cool May with over 2 inches of rain on Dry Creek, enough to bring summer weeds and some green annual grasses back to our grazing ground. Between rains, it’s been overcast, keeping temperatures down, but adding to our humidity—extended weather conditions that have bled into the first week of June to begin our snowmelt in earnest.
On June 6th, temperatures rose to 106° for a short time, then yesterday temperatures rose to 102° as the Kaweah River peaked at 6,662 cfs at 2:00 a.m. to retreat to 2,124 cfs by 11:00 p.m.
Still overcast this morning when the this photo was taken of the Kaweah River Watershed, from Alta Peak to Sawtooth, there is still quite a bit of snow on the Great Western Divide. Outflow at Terminus Dam has been held steady at 2,596 cfs as the high water at Lake Kaweah creeps up, gaining about 2,000 acre feet in the past 24 hours.
The capacity of Lake Kaweah is 185,000 acre feet. Water behind the dam as calculated by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is 155,535 acre feet, with room enough for almost another 30,000 acre feet.
Estimating the water content of the snow remaining and the increasing rate of snowmelt becomes a numbers game for the USACE. Lake Kaweah is beautiful lake and my guess is that it will be full by the 4th of July holidays for water skiers, houseboats and other recreationists. Unfortunately, we worry about fire as the high water mark reaches the dry native feed.
PLEASE BE CAREFUL!!
At first light, a hole in the clouds
up canyon, a fresh and fiery moment
approaching the wonder of all things—
especially the egrets, herons, and hawks
out early stalking gophers and squirrels
as the night sky catches fire.
But I’ve given-up collecting signs
of what’s to come—or of the consequences
of all we’ve done.