As Apollo heads to the barn
to feed his steeds, to hang
on their pegs to retire,
the black comes back
and darkness begs our dreams
to dance in another light
as mind and flesh run free.
The light within illuminates
what we crave and fear—
storylines for stage plays
directed in our sleep.
Some shake us awake
to write them down—and
some remain on our minds.
Low blacks in sweats, a kid
finds the bench I watch people from
while smoking a cigarette away
from the ocean-view rooms—
sidles-up like an innocuous snake
or a squirrel from under the boardwalk
to share conversation with a man
three times his age. He wants to know
if I think the world is flat—
waves crashing, tide retreating,
blaze compressed in the haze—
he’s got obnoxious down pat.
Clutching a lighter in his tight fist,
I leave him a smoke on the bench
to watch it roll off the edge.
oysters on the half shell,
cab and crab legs
awaken to fog
two and a half hours
and forty degrees
Fat calves in the pipeline
to your plate, cows
vacationing on hollow dry
bronze feed, the scent of cuds
early to the shade
of sycamore and oak trees,
quiet gossiping telepathically—
it’s taken days to unwind,
coast to a more pensive pace.
Somewhere amid the vegetables,
a bloom, a flower begging notice,
suggesting we might see beyond
ourselves, our guilt and fears,
and all the calamities teetering
on this planet, for a moment.
A beacon for the eyes, a course
to follow on choppy seas,
a remnant burst of energy
blazing bravely at the sun’s
112 degrees. Bless the gardeners
planting seed we cannot eat!
Enough to give away like poetry,
the garden keeps us near
humble dirt anticipating
the quick fix of accomplishment
flourishing overnight, a short walk
from the kitchen table—a crop
to share with good neighbors—and
the ground squirrels and cottontails,
the bugs, birds and worms
that arrive before the harvest.
It’s never been about the money
saved instead of labor,
nor about feeding nature—but
more about living with
the gift of earth and flesh.
Thirty days into summer, the heat
owns us now and we yield, change
our ways to work into the shade
of anything between us and the sun.
Out of habit, a neighbor’s cow stands
beneath the skeleton of an old oak,
a ridge-bound casualty of the drought—
a silhouette mid-morning as I head home
branded in my brain like a wrought iron
logo for outdoor living hanging
from an arched concrete entrance—
beyond which I am blinded
by the white light of my delirium.
I close my eyes to see clearly again,
turn away and pray I may be wrong.
Time flies, it seems, as we get older. We vaccinated these heifers yesterday for Brucellosis, though it seems that not long ago we branded them as calves. Averaging 725 lbs., most of these girls will join the cow herd when we introduce them to the Wagyu bulls in December.
As we chase the seasons, the circle seems to get tighter. With most of our cattle work done, we are seasonally at the end, while approaching the beginning, of our cattle year. It feels good to be done as we look forward to fall calving and a chance of rain again. In the meantime, we have plenty of repair and maintenance jobs to address, salt and mineral to keep in front of our cows.
It’s been a warm summer, thus far, well-over a hundred degrees since the Solstice. Despite the shorter days, we expect more of the same through September. With gathering, weaning and shipping our steers to town, we’ve been pushing to this point since April. It seems appropriate to thank our crew, Terri Drewry, Allie Fry and son Bob, here every morning at daylight with smiles on their faces, ready to get the work done.
(iPhone photo: Terri Drewry)
A plodding grace with each footfall
of cloven hooves upon soft centers
of winding trails engineered to grade,
cows claim this ground, claim us as well,
tracking seasons of the sun ever-circling.
Behind fences grazing shade to shade,
they worry not about the days ahead.
How we envy and emulate their easiness—
hang totems to draw the cow gods closer.
I made a couple of videos of us working cattle in the new corrals in Greasy to send to my sister who owns the ground and financed their completion. Our cattle handling has evolved since the use of the Kubotas, finding it much easier to lead cattle than to drive them while gathering this steep and brushy ground. Over the years, the cows have become gentler and more cooperative, and having good facilities insures they remain that way. I thought some followers of the blog might be interested.
The first video shows the improvements to our loading facilities and the second demonstrates how we worm our cows for potential parasites—not the kind of action one might find in wild cow poetry, but the way we like it.