Monthly Archives: April 2012


Perhaps a hundred since the first two
stopped for shade and water, forgot
home and stayed to raise families

in every barn and shed for five miles
in as many years, trying the high eaves
of human domesticity. Their nesting coos

in the rafters turn to a singing flap of wings
when swashbuckling raven lights, like
Zorro, upon the horse pens. Gentle feathers

rain from the roof. A black cape walks
the top plate collecting eggs, taking naked
squab to a disheveled nest of kindling.


We pray in strange ways and
genuflect before the gods at hand—
thin skinned, mending fence,
drops of blood from rusty barbs
on blond stems, sweat spots
in the dust when it will not rain.

And when it does, we spray
and hoe weeds at the gates
for rattlesnakes, make fire breaks
to hold the leap of flames at bay
and thank God every summer
evening for another day of feed.

Between weathermen, we hear
news of another world churning
with drama and disaster, and turn
instead to native totems that grace
the land, then nod to our gods—
believing in more than we understand.

Sunset After Rain

With nearly an inch of rain, skies cleared before sunset.

Wagyu: Before and After

Wagyu X, April 25, 2012

Born around the 1st of October, I photographed this pair while pumping water for the 1st-calf heifers we moved yesterday, waiting for the tank to fill. Below is the only red calf in the bunch and his mother, plus a link to our post seven months ago.

DCJ October 1, 2011

Wagyu X, September 30, 2011

More typical Wagyu X calves below.

Wagyu X calves, April 25, 2012

Wagyu X steer, April 25, 2012

Under gray skies…

(click to enlarge)

…and welcome threat of rain, our first calf heifers with their Wagyu X calves got a little bogged down in our neighbor’s grass as we drove them to a pasture near our shipping corrals and scales. The calves will be processed for their 2nd round of vaccinations next week, then weaned and shipped about the third week in May. A beautiful day so far, waiting on some rain this evening to freshen everything up before the grass turns. Turned out to be a pretty fair feed year after all! Hope the latest ‘Mad Cow’ flack doesn’t impact the price too much—always something.


                         Until he extends his circle of compassion to include
                         all living things, man will not himself find peace.

                                                       – Albert Schweitzer

We shoulder ourselves up amid the purple, red,
blue and golden wildflowers amid cascades of grass
seed arched, hanging heavily, picking our way

around moments, trying to leave no track—
speckled Killdeer eggs in gravel driveways,
we choose who to include within our circles

when they amuse us, when we grow up. And so
it goes ‘til we get old, if we’re lucky, making-up
for youth. But there are certain irritations that enflame

outrage and engulf us, the wars beyond our barb wire
we cannot win with battles, that will not let go.
Like the Yokuts leaving game on the doorsteps

of early settlers, what have we to offer our demons?
For better or worse, the end is the same—but perhaps
more a matter of how we choose to get there.


Not hard to find on the side of the road
when it rains, seeds scattered for a quarter-mile,
they wave from different places every spring

from the shoulders of armor-coated oil
on top of the cold-rolled from the old days that
follows the creek up, survivors of summer traffic,

hoards headed for the hills, kids out of school,
crotch rockets and motor homes, hidden U-haul
crews farming contraband, and the natives

with goosenecks, all stirring seed—plus
the natural forces like the runoff rivulets
and those dropped by birds that germinate.

Not hard to find going slowly, but dangerous
on weekends looking for reassurance, for
the first white lupine blooming in spring.


Slow day for poetry on the page,
late rains and weeds need spraying
to keep the summer fire danger down
and snakes crossing cleared ground
around the house and barn, along
the driveway to barbed wire grazing—

a step at a time, wand in rhythm waving
a fan of chemicals over green, a sparkling
mist in morning light upon what I can’t
hoe by hand. A clump of bright-yellow
monkeyflowers yawning will have to go,
last year’s seed germinating after my first

application, after the first rain in sixty days
to start our season, leaving stunted clumps
of White Stem Filaree, miniature needles
and tiny purple bloom surviving, but not
thriving with the beginnings of Mare’s
Tails, rosettes spread into a thick carpet—

summer weeds, thick four-foot forests
without cows. Habit now, every spring,
prepare for summer and clear the garden—
we lean forward in the harness, sway
in slow motion before more than we can
care for—grin as our scale beam teeters.


Burning edges of a dark-gray raft at dawn,
the cool and damp inhaled, a padre’s bed
of filaree stretches into the speckled granite

crowned by ringlets of monkey flowers
spilling bright-yellow hair, vines of wild
cucumber cling and dress a leafless live oak

limb, fallen uphill. Their automatic answer,
unseen turkeys gobble at my cough, maybe
nesting. Milky sky, the sun takes its time

to break over the ridge, each day forging
northerly towards the mid-summer saddle
beneath Sulphur Peak and the beginning,

the spring at the head of Live Oak Canyon
and the Avery—notorious country to gather
multi-colored crossbred steers, thirty years ago.

It looks serene and who would know or care
to hear about those days, so many cowboys
gone to hell, or other places in between,

that we don’t seem to need now. But I miss
their humor before the planet turned so
serious, their toughness before I got so soft.

                                                  for Loren, Steve & Rod


Ides of April

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Some wildflowers fared better than others through our five-day, 3.21″ rain. But just too beautiful not to forge the muddy creek in the Kubota (with my camera) to open a couple of gates and let our first-calf heifers into the … Continue reading