Monthly Archives: January 2015

SIERRA TIDY TIPS (Layia pentachaeta ssp. pentachaeta)

Sierra Tidy Tips, Greasy Creek, 4.6.11


Leaking into a dry winter,
spring’s wild nectar drips
with sweet abundance.













A boy’s bed upon the ground,
I stared at stars and wondered
if I was worth keeping alive

as I slept, if I could trust
the darkness to hold me
safe until morning—

looking up through
all the bright holes
of a rusty bucket sky,

connecting dreams
with a greater light
beyond the night—

I drew lines in the sky,
played dot-to-dot
instead of counting sheep.





Of all the spontaneous art, none
more trustworthy, more enthralling
than the wild mirrors—of heart

and grace without guilt pulsing
to get free, rising with the ascension
of ducks from cattails, clear droplets

raining from webbed feet etched
to hang on white cloud walls
to draws us in—and then, like

windows out to where we might
want to be—like poetry, learning
to fly with words a little at a time.





of this dirt
we burrow deeper into our shells
waiting for a rain.



Wagyu X Branding 2015



Maggie Loverin checks her pork loins adorned with grapefruit and oranges after we branded our Wagyu X calves yesterday, while the sun tried to break through the bad-air haze and remnants of Valley fog.

Noticeably quicker and more unpredictable to rope than our Angus calves, the Wagyu are a challenge to head and heel, real work for everyone. But we had a great day and ate well!

Well into our branding season now, we’re beginning to wear down a little, especially with the extra weight of wondering and worrying when it’s going to rain, repercussions of the drought still raw. One topic of conversation in the branding pen included the different kinds of bloat, fairly rare to most of us, but taking casualties in Antelope Valley, half-mile west of here.

All that methane gas that can’t escape inflates the cow and kills her usually leaving an orphan calf—a slurry of foamy gas in the cow’s rumen that can’t be released with an external needle or tube down her throat was news to us, that has come from our lush and washy feed in certain places on the flat ground, mostly filaree. We’ve had several of our cows blow up and subside on their own with a regular supplement of dry hay. There are also commercial free-choice products to prevent bloat that take time to incorporate into the cow’s system, but without assurance that everyone gets some.

How long this situation will last is unknown, but we know a rain would change things. With no likelihood for the rest of the month from any weather-predicting source, we get the work done in love with what we do.





But traces in quiet fog:
ridgeline of the barn roof,
cold parts of the corral

float in and out of gray
closing in upon our fire—
forms of horses look

for hazy movement
in this fuzzy moment
shut away from hills

and towns beyond, the world
and its miseries. All
we have accomplished near

at hand, close to fading
into nothingness
and I am relieved

of the weight of urgency—
perfectly helpless
to change a thing.




I imagine that the young men
I went to school with have retired
by now, given up their desks
for free-wheeling possibilities

to coast downhill grades, collecting
their rewards and all the promises made
to themselves, over and over again.
I truly wish them all the best.

And I suspect the girls have become
wise grandmothers with practical advice,
keeping secrets in ceramic cookie jars
with noisy lids like I remember.

Leaving with Stafford, I retire
from a world too large to digest,
and go to that far place for the familiar
sign, those recognizable tracks

where wild makes sense of circumstance.
We are collecting short stories
like mushrooms in wicker baskets
before they fade and melt into the ground,

discussing how we’ll sauté them over fire
in butter and garlic to melt in our mouths
instead. Already we can feel their wild
flavor rage in our veins, like venison,

as we shed the old flesh, find keen eyes.
All the ghosts will rise beneath the stars
to gather at our fire, faces flickering
in the darkness to share the light.




© 2013 Earl McKee Photo

© 2013 Earl McKee Photo


Old men in the branding pen
hope for grace

to find the feel of singing loop
slide between their fingers—

of hoof dance timed and shaped
to catch two feet, slack to dally horn

come tight, as if it were nothing
out of the ordinary.






Not a shadow without light,
brief morning flowers
from the blackest night.



WPC(2) — “Shadowed”






Lifting our eyes to Sulphur Peak,
long days hurry
into poetry.



WPC(1) — “Shadowed”