Category Archives: Photographs




Much like cattle,
the sounds we make
speak more than words
that often skirt the truth—

that cannot release
the real stress like
the intonations of
a moan or groan.

Between us
another language
animals comprehend,
and when surprised

or truly overjoyed,
a melody of accents—
sweet poetry that will
never grace a page.



reblogged from December 24, 2017





Blueberry moonrise
never in the same place twice—
acorns ripe in oak trees.





Four-point buck, horns
dull just out of velvet
five weeks before season opens—

quick hoof thump
of my old heart
upon the hard ground,

I smell venison marinade
over an open flame,
taste the back-strap melt

upon my tongue,
wild cunning juices
surging in my veins.

I become young again
and shoot
through a camera lens.





Had we fish to stupefy
with turkey mullein seeds
the late rains have left

in turquoise waves
above the knees—
we could be native.

Instead we feed
the squirrels beneath
these fuzzy canopies

where shotgun hunters
will wait for mourning dove
to light and leave.



Croton setigerus: a native of the western United States, and found commonly from southern California north to Washington, particularly in the more arid locations away from the coast.

I don’t ever remember Turkey Mullein, or Dove Weed, so tall and thick and claiming such large tracts of dry summer pasture, or its color quite so blue—worth journaling, I think.





When we were children,
we played among the wrecks
of old cars and horse-drawn

wagons with wooden spokes
that hemmed the orchards
that sustained us—families

scattered round distant towns
we could visit
with ripe imaginations.

Bigger now, cities spreading
like amoeba ingesting farms
and one another, like wildfires burning

closer as convenient conflagrations
that have erased the landmarks
where we hung our memories.

It could be creeping senility
that I embrace, a watercolor wash
across pastoral landscapes

rather than the spinning pace
of progress—perpetual motion
like the galaxies of space.





They have begun to circumambulate new slopes to graze
                    around the house
learning to make their circles between troughs and ponds,
                    forty-five days away
for the first new mothers to lick a calf up to suck
                    for the next nine months.

A week off the irrigated green, they’ve overcome the shock
                    of dry hollow stems
to make a home where we can watch and worry,
                    as is our custom—
we get know them. About a third will make the herd
                    for ten years.

With so much time together, we operate by instinct,
                    you and I,
triggered by well-worn habits, the angle of the sun
                    and the length of shadows
these young girls already know—a second nature
                    we had to learn.


Great Day


Terri in the gate.


As the days get shorter, saddling at six is damn near dark.

Delightfully cool morning (70°) as we gathered our weaned heifers to sort for our replacements. We were hoping for 40-50 head to breed to the Wagyu bulls in December, but Robbin, Allie, and Terri ended up with 61 when all was said and done. Oftentimes, going in with preconceived number doesn’t always work as quality tends to sort itself. More to keep and less to sell is not terrible news.

After we had taken the two bunches to their respective pastures. I couched my congratulations to the girls with our private joke, “It’s not the way I’d have done it.          It was better.”

Have a Happy Birthday Terri! We love you (and Trigger).




© Terri Blanke


Not an easy climb
to rise above the bluster
of the self=righteous.





Out of the black insides of a cow,
the crooked line of dawn’s horizon
reorients my place in the world

as a coyote draws the dogs’ bark—
a constant game without me.
By day, the overflow spills up the road,

herds of top-packed SUVs
following cops on a pot bust,
military-style: well-spaced, single file

like prairie schooners. Old eyes
search the darkness for the familiar
ground that has yet to change.


Wildfire Risks in California



After the recent wildfires in 2017 and 2018, PG&E, the utility company that has been found responsible for 17 of the blazes and facing liability for as much as $30 billion is likely to file Chapter 11. Since 2017, Southern California Edison, SCE, one of the other California electrical utility companies, has been extremely busy replacing poles, transformers and placing spacers between their high voltage transmission lines so as not to spark a fire during high wind conditions. Furthermore, SCE has placed a weather station on Dry Creek to report temperature, humidity and wind conditions. Though it seems unclear what the guidelines are if these conditions prove too risky, SCE has the power (no pun intended) to shut the transmission lines down.

Our practice over the years has been to blade a two-mile firebreak between our dry feed, barns and houses and Dry Creek Road. Most arson fires are ignited from the road and the SCE transmission lines that serve our pumps and houses follow the same road. Also, our barns and houses are inspected annually by Calfire prior to each fire season. About half of the fire incidents over the past 50 years have been subdued or contained by our ranching neighbors, but without electricity we are unable to pump water, hence our effectiveness to fight fire would be substantially reduced.

My neighbor a mile up the road just had the insurance policy on his house canceled because he lives in a ‘high-risk’ fire area based of a draft of the new maps that have painted about half of the State of California in red. Rumors that insurance companies are using the fire maps to cancel homeowners’ insurance taste a little like a conspiracy when other insurance companies assume the risk with increased premiums of 200-300%—all of this, it’s assumed, to partially offset their losses and legal costs of the 2018 fire season in Northern California. More to come, I’m sure.


Add to the wildfire risk recent California legislation, AB 711, a total ban on hunting with lead ammunition that went into effect on July 1, 2019. Recent tests indicate that copper jacketed lead core bullets have the lowest probability of igniting fires (almost nil). Bullet substitutes like solid copper, steel core and steel jacked, lead core and steel jacketed and steel core copper jacketed have a much higher probability of starting fires. The stage is now set for hunting season.