Monthly Archives: January 2014


Easy to be an activist—
to always have an enemy
in your crosshairs, one eye

closed and the other
inside a tube, magnified
without having to look

at anything else, without
having to question what
could have been seen.

You can cry ‘Wolf’
anytime you want, anytime
something close-enough

pops-up, watch everyone run
for a gun to shoot
your neighbor’s dog.

O’ myopic luxury
to not even see
that you just don’t know.

Gathering Rain


We have been blessed in the past 24 hours with a little rain, a shade less than a half-inch, enough to start our grass. Thunder and lightening roused Robbin and I at 2:30 this morning to make coffee and celebrate. The photo of the flatbed feed truck works for us—perfect irony for a gray day.

Feeding in the Drought of 2013

Reading yesterday’s Facebook links has fired the ire of my wife (as the better half of this mom and pop cattle operation who is thankful she is not on Facebook) to be publicly singled-out and slandered, along with all the ranchers in Dry Creek canyon, of not feeding and purposely starving our cattle— misguided accusations by some uninformed animal rights activists. Part of the purpose of this blog is to chronicle our activities on Dry Creek and to offer our perspectives to hopefully bridge that ever-widening gap between rural and urban worlds. The following photos have been previously published.

August 9, 2013

August 9, 2013

August 17, 2013

August 17, 2013

August 25, 2013

August 25, 2013

September 9, 2013

September 9, 2013

October 14, 2013

October 14, 2013

November 16, 2013

November 16, 2013

January 3, 2014

January 3, 2014

Janaury 15, 2014

Janaury 15, 2014

January 17, 2014

January 17, 2014

For those who need numbers, we’ve fed over 400 tons of alfalfa since August, equating to 1,600 lbs/cow in the past 150 days. In addition to hay costs, our everyday labor, fuel and the wear and tear on the pickup to deliver the hay amounts to more than $300/cow, thus far.

Link: Fresno Bee


                                        I knew a man once,
                                        lived a long and prosperous life,
                                        tending his own business.

                                                – Joe Chinowith

Vegans, no more than vandals cutting fences.
Thin black cows onto a mountain road at night
to graze a narrow shoulder headlights miss

on the curves. Children, juvenile delinquents
out to save cows to kill someone coming home
late from work, blinded by their ignorant

self-righteousness. Everyday, five months now,
feeding cows without their help in this drought,
they’ve just arrived like Mighty Mouse.


We’ve heard the rumors: thin cows, fences cut up the canyon. Inquiring phone calls we’ve been unable to address because we’ve been busy feeding our own cows since the middle of August and haven’t been up the road to know, but we do see pickup loads of hay, everyday, headed in that direction, gooseneck loads of cows coming down. It’s a drought.

Yesterday, I went up the road with a reporter from the Fresno Bee at his request. With over a hundred complaints to the District Attorney’s office and inquiries at every level of the State, this is now news—most all of which has been generated from Facebook.

What cows we saw we’re cleaning up alfalfa hay, about 40 head in a five-mile stretch, half of which had calves. They were thin like most cows in Tulare County, but obviously not neglected, most with too much belly to have not been fed on a regular basis.

Without looking too hard, we found at least half-a-dozen places where fences had been cut and recently repaired, and as many unlocked wire gates that were reportedly thrown open last week, putting human lives in jeopardy. It’s tough enough to take care of cows in a historic drought, but having to deal with vandalism and bad press has made this an irresponsible and emotional issue.

The Dry Creek canyon is on the alert, taking license plate numbers of all suspicious vehicles.


Last Chance for Animals – facebook

In Defense of Animals – facebook

Fresno Bee


Locating the middle of a drought,
like chasing rainbows, is
impossible and important only

to guess how tough we must yet be—
how much barn grows empty,
how much heart, the cattle.

Another wet forecast dashed – – – –
storm door closing north, we are
amazed how easily a chance

rekindles hope, enflames skies—
its dry tinder igniting on a breeze.
We are like the good cows

ever-trusting in the hay truck,
in the pastoral gods and goddesses
returning to nurture the earth

next week? next month? next year?
We plan brandings around each chance,
yet to dream of giving-up.


The old man knows, looking up
across his dusty pen, ears alert,
head half-below his withers,

like a grandfather over spectacles,
watching me stir the gloaming,
light the barbecue for dinner,

say hello. No hurry now,
he holds this pose: a long paragraph
off his chest or the same sentence

I can only imagine, repeated—
but still can’t answer. He’s talking
over the fence and across

the brown Bermuda grass lawn—
the same look the Bay horse had
in his twenties that unnerved me

each time I haltered a dream
with younger horses. But this time
we both know we’re old.

                                                            for Red


A rough-haired cow relieved to graze apart
from fat calves at the bottom of the mountain
yearns to feel the chemise and manzanita claw

and comb her hide—stays away, sometimes
overnight for days. Weaned a little everyday
we breathe, those details that sustained us

fade into myth to fit each moment of discovery,
with each lumbering step uphill, until
we become less to finally wean ourselves.

Voilà! A playful calf again, humped to buck
at her side, only to run recklessly
across pastures before learning how to stop.

Another Good Sign

6:30 a.m., 46°

6:30 a.m., 46°

Here’s another one I think I like better:

6:30 a.m.

6:30 a.m.


WPC: Juxtaposition

WPC: Juxtaposition

Christmas 2013 – Wagyu tenderloins

Doing Fine


It tried to rain. We grinned with glee last evening as it played upon the metal roof and dotted the deck—like kids, we grabbed our drinks to stand out in it: an immeasurable amount. Ever optimistic, Robbin suggested I free the dead bees trapped in the rain gauge. Though not enough moisture to settle the dust or change the smell of things, it was trying—it hadn’t forgotten how.

Waiting to hear the latest weather report, we’re exposed, like everyone else, to the news, mostly bad news and extremely bad weather other places like the devastating blizzard in South Dakota that killed over 20,000 head of cattle last October. Or the 2011 Texas Drought that cut the state’s numbers by 600,000 head. By comparison, we’re doing fine despite the dusty poems and photographs within this blog.


As a result of our reduced numbers, warmer weather and more alfalfa hay, the cattle seem to be doing fine as well. We know that our calves will be lighter this spring, and not as many cows will breed back to calve next September. We also know that selling cows to buy more hay is not a sustainable business model, but for the moment, most of our cows are OK.

We’ll miss our friends and extended family at the 30th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko that begins next week. NCPG We so wanted to listen to Temple Grandin deliver the keynote speech on Thursday, January 30th. More than any other individual, Temple Grandin has beneficially influenced the handling of cattle in the United States and around the world. Her methods are humane, proven and profitable. The keynote should be uploaded to the website and YouTube by Thursday afternoon.


Or if we’re busy feeding at the time, other performances are always available at the NCPG’s Broadcast. Also available at the Gathering, thanks to the valiant efforts of documentary filmmaker Paul Moon, is my audio CD in absentia, ‘Streams of Thought’. Dry Crik Press


So all in all, we’re doing fine.