Families of milkweed make stands
in a mountain pasture of long-blond feed
where last year’s pods burst with seed
spun within the floss of silky filaments,
scattered outposts of native settlements
I have avoided except for nods of respect.
Host to bugs and beetles, wild bees
and butterflies, they get-along
together well, without and despite us.
Ran across this striking perennial earlier this week after loading some dry cows to go to town. Apparently common, I have never seen Silverleaf Nightshade, so I went back this morning to photograph it. Related to the tomato, potato and many other garden vegetables, it is poisonous with narcotic properties. And like many nightshades, natives prepared concoctions with the fruit to address headaches, sore throats, etc. Also the root was chewed before sucking rattlesnake venom from a bite. I continue to wonder how the natives knew when to pick the berries and how much of their preparations to ingest. All in the realm of the medicine keepers, I suspect it was not just trial and error.
© Terri Blanke
We processed a nice bunch of steer and heifer calves this morning that averaged 700 lbs. yesterday after hauling them from the Paregien Ranch. The steers will probably weigh in the 750 lbs. range, the heifers lighter. Today’s market wants calves in the 650 lbs. range to turn out on Mid-West grass, and pays less/pound for the heavier cattle, essentially giving away the extra pounds of beef we’ve worked to produce over the years. But nothing stays the same.
Despite market conditions, the good news is that there are many very nice replacement heifers in this bunch. Robbin and I maintain that we’re raising cows and that the steer calves help pay the bills.
@ Allie Fry
We saddled in the dark and drove up to the Paregien Ranch this morning to haul the calves down the hill to be weaned, a 3 mile, 30 minute, 4-wheel drive one-way pull off the asphalt from 700 feet to the 2,600 foot elevation. Terri, Allie and Robbin got the cows and calves to the old corrals at sunup to sort the cows from their calves. Nice, smooth sort. We had to lighten our gooseneck loads to about 7,000 lbs., instead of 10,000 lbs., because of this year’s slippery dry grass on the roads. But safer to make the extra trips than to lose a pickup and gooseneck, not to mention calves, or to get someone hurt.
It feels fantastic to finally have the last of the calves in the weaning pen. We’ve been gathering and weaning on other parts of the ranch since the second week in May. Tomorrow these calves get processed and bad eyes doctored. Next Tuesday the steers head to town. Whoopie-ti-yi-yay!
I would have flown had I known where
the rainbow ended, slogging knee-deep
down a vineyard row before kindergarten—
I believed everything my father said.
Pulling sound and intension from empty
pages, painting pleasure, an additive curse:
over granite scree to the Kern River canyon,
the roar beyond the beaver ponds reflecting
white clouds on blue islands between sugar
pines quivering from the nose of a rainbow trout
spreads across my flesh, opens a lifetime up
to great escapes that conserved my sanity.
Before the heat, Cooper’s Hawks own
the dawning, three flaps and glide
between sycamores and oaks
for squirrel or quail. Two coyote pups
have become the easy road kill
they were hunting before the snakes
and cottontails had to be peeled
from the chip seal. This old road
flows as a river of meals,
an overnight history
of the wild life at night
I missed while I was dreaming.
Keeping track on scraps of paper,
poet friends and cattle
in far-flung pastures
I’ve yet to see, yet to gather—
yet I can smell them near,
inhale their cud-breath
from letters pressed
in chapbooks: songs
of purpose and suggestion.
Numbers don’t matter
this close to the corrals
and its dust-cloud sort:
‘in and bye’
for one more season
or gooseneck trip to town.
© Terri Blanke
We hate it, but we do it well
before the steel gets too hot
to touch, man or beast—
down the lead-up from the tub
to the hydraulic squeeze,
Enforce 3 and Cylence
for the respiratory bugs and flies,
foxtail relief from flaming eyes,
or whatever else might help
before their gooseneck ride to town,
looking blankly out at cars
and houses, we wish them well.
Due to our wet May, there’s still quite a bit of color in places. Late May, 2010 was the last time I observed any amount of Centuary, (Charming Centuary or the Long-stemmed), after a fairly wet year here. Also this year, a very small yellow monkey flower that I don’t recall seeing before that I have identified as Larger Mountain Monkeyflower or Erythanthe trinitlensis, substantially smaller than the common seep monkeyflower. I marvel at the seed bank that must exist while waiting for the right weather conditions to germinate, reinforcing nature’s ability to survive despite the other troubles on this planet.
Amid the empty
heads of wild oats, Clarkia
paints hillsides purple—
reseeding new ground, waiting
for late rains in May.