The foundation crumbles—
the red, white and blue
states of dysfunction
for another victory,
chip away at truth and honor
just to play in the District
of Columbia. Poll-driven
word games, big dollars
for coffers drive the train—
O’ Casey Jones
watch your speed!
We’ve been looking forward to working cattle in our renovated corrals in Greasy, a project started by Earl McKee before our family purchased his ranch nearly twenty years ago. The work was completed last spring after we branded our calves in the old corrals. Today, we sorted cows from calves to be hauled down the mountain to begin the weaning process below.
In the photo, Robbin and the girls are sorting two gooseneck loads for Bob and me to haul, a two-hour round trip. While we were gone, they finished their sort and wormed the cows in our new facilities, pleased with all their options.
The weaned steers from the Paregien Ranch averaged over 800 lbs. and brought good money at the Vialia Livestock Market yesterday as we took a break from fixing fence with outside temperatures of 108 degrees. (Terri Blanke iPhone photo.)
Some say joy,
for a moment—
of dust and heat,
what passing pollinator
could resist an invitation
for the momentary splendor
we leave in the dark
to haul confused
fat calves off the hill
in the heat building to
the action melted,
long stems limp and wilted
when we return.
No small accomplishment, we hauled the calves from the Paregien Ranch to our weaning corrals yesterday, nine gooseneck loads over an old four-wheel drive, bladed track—a slow-going, two-hour, 2000-foot descent off the mountain as the dirt gets looser with each successive trip. Nerve wracking, to say the least, we started early, and weighed the last load at 2:00 p.m. in 102 degrees before yesterday’s high of 107.
Robbin and I are pleased with the calves, the same calves we branded in early January. Some nice steers that will average about 775 lbs. and help offset some of our annual expenses, but we’re really looking forward to our sort of heifers, most of which will make our first cut for replacement heifers.
It all seems so rudimentary as we begin weaning our English calves, our harvest of last season’s higher elevation grass. Our special thanks to Bob, Allie and Terri Drewry who provided this iPhone photo.
Same old ground this time of year,
gathering grass-fat calves and steers,
pasture by pasture, to the corrals
to weigh and exchange for cash—
to do it all over again—a collage
of seasoned stories where details blend
within the bronze and brittle stems
between canyons fenced like funnels
down to flatter ground. Cattle gentler,
better bred to routine and for the hook
on these same old hills they graze,
when and if it rains in time for grass.
Habit after half-a-hundred years,
no two the same, we circle back
in the same old tracks, just
to see what we’ll never see again.
While making preparations to wean the calves on the Paregien Ranch, Bob and I spotted a dragonfly at the Windmill Spring neither of us had ever seen before. After a cursory quest to identify it on Google, the closest I got was the Male Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa), not a native of this continent, but specifically Europe and England. Photo through the telephoto of my Canon point-and-shoot.
A couple of calves we’ll be gathering Sunday.
Perhaps it is the constant news,
each day a different page,
that I close the book
to watch the Killdeer herd
their brood of errant children—
one always lost. Hatched
on the run, they learn all
the words they will need,
corralled beneath spread wings,
in a few short minutes
until one or two escape
in different directions
to go exploring the forests
of dry and brittle grasses.
It takes two to keep four together:
she to hold the bunch
while he makes circles
leading the last stray home.
With exception of Tuesday’s 105 degrees, it’s been an extremely mild May when we gathered and shipped our Wagyu X calves with my son Bob’s help. As we begin to wean our English calves, having another set of eyes on the ranch and help with the heavy lifting, Robbin and I and the girls are glad to have him on board.