Category Archives: Photographs




The crows know what time
the maids come to clean—
leave their cart of sheets and towels,

TP and soap, coffee and especially
creamers unattended.
They wait on the roof.

Black fledglings watch the plastic peal,
peck when they can to help,
nothing’s spilt.

It’s part of the price
to stay on the coast
where no one seems to notice.





Daytime buzzards circle gunshots
and the dogs bark at three in the morning
when the pups arrive to consume
my pruning of a bumper crop
of ground squirrels, squads that raid
garden and orchard to harvest fruit
before it’s ripe, leaving nothing to glean.

In sixty days, the heifers will be calving
for the first time, confused and alone
licking a wobbly, wet calf clean
of the scent that draws the coyotes
who watch and know the habits
of all of us in a world
without crimes or rules.


Early Morning Light


It was an easy gather this morning. Bob’s presence on this part of the ranch while irrigating and feeding with his Kubota has made these gentle heifer calves even more trusting and curious. I arrived by Kubota headlights with a couple of bales of hay ahead of the cowboys, Robbin, Terri, Allie and Bob, and had the bunch mostly gathered when the horses arrived to escort them to the corrals.


© Terri Blanke


© Terri Blanke


© Terri Blanke

Currently, female cattle can not leave California unless they have been vaccinated for Brucellosis, also known as Bang’s Disease. As a matter of course, we vaccinate our heifer calves to enhance the health of our cattle and the herds of our community and State. Hence, vaccinated cattle are more salable and presumably more valuable.

The presence of brucellosis in free-ranging bison and elk in the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA), Yellowstone National Parkland, Grand Teton National Park and the area around those parks, threatens the brucellosis status of the surrounding States and the health of their cattle and domestic bison herds, which are free of the disease. (Brucellosis link above)

The calves must be vaccinated by an accredited veterinarian who also places a tattoo inside the calf’s right ear and an individual metal ID tag in the same ear. Because we want to limit the stress of cattle-handling on the calves, we use this procedure to revaccinate,  a booster to help protect against respiratory and clostridial problems. And while in the squeeze chute they also get a dewormer and a shot of minerals.


© Terri Blanke


© Terri Blanke

Robbin and I are placing a patch over an eye to keep the sunlight out to reduce the pain and to help it heal with a little Neosporin.


© Terri Blanke

And in this instance, the calf got a shot of antibiotics to speed the eye’s recovery.


© Terri Blanke

Dr. Ken Fiser applying the individual metal ID tag.


© Terri Blanke


© Terri Blanke

Lots of hands and lots of syringes and applicators with less than a minute in the Silencer hydraulic chute.


All went smoothly, the processed heifer calves on hay and no worse for wear. What a crew–what a day!





I’ve heard stories I don’t remember
embellished into local myths
no longer true, no longer claimed

as I age, as memory fades
as it should from the far context
of most outdoor youths.

Oh, how we howled like a pack
of coyotes in these canyons—
louder yet in towns avoided now.

But a man learns not to dwell
on guilt, what can’t be helped
to please the righteous—

evolutions of imperfection
honed into an existence
we’ll soon live without.




© Terri Blanke


Bred to Angus bulls, we’ve hauled the rest of our third-calf cows up the hill, this time into Greasy. These girls have had three Wagyu X calves down low along the creek and close to the barns and house. Part of our contract with Snake River Farms requires Electronic Identification (EID) Tags and a second round of respiratory and clostridial vaccinations two weeks prior to shipping when we wean the calves from the cows. Because of these requirements, and because the heifers are young, we keep them close to the corrals for the extra processing.
It’s always special to turn them out into our upper country where we hope they’ll be productive as they live out the rest of their lives.

Lots of early mornings and saddlings in the dark for our fine crew as we near the end of a busy two months of gathering, weaning and preg-checking. We’ll be able to relax a little after we process and vaccinate this year’s replacement heifers for brucellosis on Tuesday. All good!





Hot early—
pack water,
perspire more,

find a breeze
to face
with a distant grin

and measure
the daylight left
until you’re done.





                  When I got a little older, I changed.
                                    Maria Lisa Eastman (“War Bridle”)

Summer winds breathe fire
with a bouquet of hollow wild oats
bent on chance and luck—
but we cannot look away
or ever dream relaxed.

One would think with age
and long experience, a man
would become emboldened
with skid-steer-bladed
firebreaks and phoschex

that always help, but time
has proven reason often
beyond the comprehension
of some of us who wait
for the smell of smoke.





The creek still runs dry,
spends itself as it shrinks upstream
on oaks and sycamores

                  despite the goosenecks,
                  despite the cowboys
                  hauling calves to town—

                  despite the busloads,
                  despite the caravans
                  of weekend Christians

looking for God in the pines.
The County had to move the road
after the Flood of ’55

and rebuilt bridges in ‘69
where the canyon narrows
and the creek runs dry.

Still talk of a dam
every election year
as if it could make water.





Neither cowman nor a threat
to his counterfeit Brahma cows,
he shuffled afoot at eighty-five
with a flake of grassy alfalfa
tucked under his arm, led them
out of the brush into his splintered
board pens mumbling under
his breath—dried spittle of snooce
upon his gray unshaven chin.

Like loading deer to help him
haul his calves to town, kept
his cash in the freezer of the fridge
before they robbed and tied
to a chair for two days and nights—
before his girlfriend missed him
with his POA in her hand—
before she sold him downriver
to move to Monterey sand.


* * * *

POA: Power of Attorney


Velvet in the Wild Oats



Good to see a couple of bucks in velvet this morning, especially close enough to photograph with a cell phone while we were hauling some young cows up the hill to replace the old ones we took to town last week.