Monthly Archives: July 2016





The sun is bearing down upon your shade,
wearing brown the skin of crops you’ve made,
ain’t the way they say a man gets paid
farming from Washington D.C.

The sky is white on the other side of dust,
the tractor’s paint has given into rust,
you pray much less than you have cussed
farming from Washington D.C.

You believe in rain before your God
to fill the furrows cut deep into your sod—
old flesh follows seasons—on you plod
farming from Washington D.C.

The song you hear rattles in your head,
in the movies played when you fall to bed:
who will feed the town when you are dead
farming from Washington D.C.?


G & T


No fanfare here, no trumpet’s blare
before day breaks the ridgeline,

no attaboys, no outside noise
to diffuse the summertime,

no accolades but breeze and shade
within short circles lined

with water here and dry feed there,
and a trail of dust behind.

                    Like cattle
                    we plod
                    the heat,

                    by the rhythm
                    of our feet

                    towards evening’s
                    G & T.


Summer Routines




With temperatures breaking into the teens, most all of us have routines that begin early. The Canadian Geese above have been spending the night on the irrigation pond, more nervous than most honkers that visit us from northern golf courses. They take flight with an urgent, splashing and flapping commotion at their first sight of us, raining feathers across the pond.

We have moved the second bunch of our first-calf heifers to the pasture across the creek across from the house, due to calve in 45 days. It will be their home until next May when we wean and ship their Wagyu calves. They are just getting acquainted with their new pasture of dry feed and developing their grazing routines that also begin early, but in the sycamore shade by 9:00 a.m. until they graze out at dusk.

Our new replacement heifers, now weaned for 60-75 days, are utilizing part of the irrigated pasture, with a pasture in between them and our bulls that we trust will act as a buffer zone, as they await the Wagyu bulls coming in December. These heifers graze out into dry feed in the evening, spend the night and graze back to the irrigated green by 7:00 a.m. before leaving for shade around 8:30 in the morning.

Our routine includes feeding these replacement heifers, currently once a week at a rate of 18 lbs. of good alfalfa to supplement our ample dry grass. We spoil them, actually, with 21% protein licks available plus dry mineral and salt. We will gradually increase the amount of hay we feed hoping to get the girls in shape and cycling before the Wagyu bulls arrive.

Our morning routine is centered around irrigating and pumping stockwater for the replacement heifers who have chosen to drink well water this year rather than drink from the irrigation pond filled from Lake Kaweah, more water than our solar pump can provide alone. It takes about 45 minutes for the 2 hp submersible pump driven by a gas generator to replace the 2,500-3,000 gallons each day. In that 45 minutes we check the bulls and fences and go through the replacement heifers to be sure the neighbor’s Corriente bulls haven’t caught wind of the girls and upset our breeding program.

Robbin is out early in the garden, checking her irrigation lines that are timed to run at night, augmenting where need be, then tending and picking fruit and vegetables before nine—currently the Elberta peach tree, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, and squash. With a great tomato crop this year for a change, she’s made both green and red salsa as well as dill and bread and butter pickles from her striped Armenian cucumbers. Our garden is producing more than we need, giving us the opportunity to share and swap vegetables with our friends and neighbors.

By noon we’re normally done with outside activities, 102 at eleven this morning.




October 29, 2015

October 29, 2015


There is much to envy
cows content with fate,
grass at their feet, shade,

water, friends close—
no one preaches more
nor promises relief.

They’ve left irrigated
green for dry ground,
tall, brittle stems

fold beneath bellies
growing with calves
for the first time.

Under sycamores,
112° churns,
burns on a breeze

out of the south,
too hot to find
the open gates

to their new home
as mothers nursing
new life, new love,

devotion on the fight.
There is a place they go
if need be: head low,

blood in their eye,
red swirls in brown
pulsing towards crimson.

They will learn
to bellow and bawl,
shake and salivate

and come to the call
of others, like family,
within 45 days, well

before the vote
and victory dances
beyond this world.


Redbud Thoughts


March 15, 2016

March 15, 2016








Everyone out early in the heat
before the earth is too hot to touch,
a Grackle shakes the last drops

of a morning bath to preen
and quickly drip-dry upon a rock.
Time essential, we squeeze the work

beneath the angle of a risen sun
that by ten bakes all living things.
Everyone out early when we meet.






Sometimes they come to take a look,
glide in low with all their tools
from a bare oak branch to see just who

spoiled the plan to dine on squirrel
straying too far from its earthen burrow—
and perhaps too, to take a moment

to deliver their displeasure, face-to face,
eye-to-eye, to make sure you know
that you screwed up.


APRIL 4, 1969




It may be possible
upon reflection
after a wet spring,

mottled sun beneath
the canopy of sycamores
standing, frozen still

upon black water.
The sloshing sound
of my wet feet

not ready to walk
to Canada,
leave the creek

and family behind,
become outlaw
in their mind.

It may be possible
to fill those channels
again, rain until

the road flows by.
And when the earth
is full, excess standing,

I may look down
upon heaven’s clouds
with no direction.



After the odyssey in Charles Frazier’s “Cold Mountain” and Leonard Durso’s poem “a thousand years ago on some coastline in the fall.”


Pelicans at Sunset




With processing the replacement heifers behind us, irrigation water off and the ranch in the capable hands of Terri Drewry Blanke and Allie Fry, Robbin and I slipped off to the 70° weather of Cambria for a couple of days. Mid-week on Moonstone Beach was relatively quiet, sparsely occupied for the most part by old people and their dogs with only a couple of gangs of unobtrusive city urchins learning a little about the beach and the unpredictable habits of waves.

It seems the only chance I get to read much beyond a long poem is when we get away from home. Though I’d seen the movie “Cold Mountain” years back, I began the written version while were there, enthralled with Charles Frazier’s prosaic style, chuck-a-block full of similes and metaphor à la the vernacular of the Civil War period. I ought to finish the book this weekend and catch the movie one more time on HBO.

We also managed to over-satisfy our ambitious quest for of seafood that ought to last us for quite a while. We’re glad to be back home, rested and ready to get back into our ranch routines.






An unrelenting beast serene, the sea
laps land into sand–and man’s short trail
of broken glass into translucent jewels–

yet neither heart nor compassion
ride upon her constant undulations
cresting white before they crash

within the foamy broth of time, stirring all
into another fresh instant. It should be
she, when we pray for storms, or for

relief from lustful passion. I do not care
to know her well, embraced inland
at a distance, my words come carefully.