Category Archives: Ranch Journal

Monkeyflower and Centuary

 

 

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.

 

MOUNTAIN GARLAND

 

 

Amid the empty
heads of wild oats, Clarkia
paints hillsides purple—

long-stemmed families
reseeding new ground, waiting
for late rains in May.

 

Weaning Greasy

 

© Terri Blanke

 

It’s been a long week with early mornings and warm days gathering another bunch of cows and calves in Greasy. We hauled the last of the calves down the hill this morning to the corrals to wean. From the goosenecks, we unload them onto our scales to weigh, then apply fly spray to not only make the process a little more pleasant for the calves, but to reduce the risk of a pink eye.

The calves have done well but the market is weak and weakening with concerns about this year’s corn crop.

 

Weaning

 

 

It was a 104° at 10:00 a.m. after gathering some of our upper country to collect this year’s calves to be weaned, too hot to pursue the remnants we missed. We’ll be leaving in the dark to give it a go tomorrow and hopefully haul some calves off the hill. Forecast 98°.

 

Snowmelt

 

 

We’ve enjoyed an unusually cool May with over 2 inches of rain on Dry Creek, enough to bring summer weeds and some green annual grasses back to our grazing ground. Between rains, it’s been overcast, keeping temperatures down, but adding to our humidity—extended weather conditions that have bled into the first week of June to begin our snowmelt in earnest.

On June 6th, temperatures rose to 106° for a short time, then yesterday temperatures rose to 102° as the Kaweah River peaked at 6,662 cfs at 2:00 a.m. to retreat to 2,124 cfs by 11:00 p.m.

Still overcast this morning when the this photo was taken of the Kaweah River Watershed, from Alta Peak to Sawtooth, there is still quite a bit of snow on the Great Western Divide. Outflow at Terminus Dam has been held steady at 2,596 cfs as the high water at Lake Kaweah creeps up, gaining about 2,000 acre feet in the past 24 hours.

The capacity of Lake Kaweah is 185,000 acre feet. Water behind the dam as calculated by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is 155,535 acre feet, with room enough for almost another 30,000 acre feet.

Estimating the water content of the snow remaining and the increasing rate of snowmelt becomes a numbers game for the USACE. Lake Kaweah is beautiful lake and my guess is that it will be full by the 4th of July holidays for water skiers, houseboats and other recreationists. Unfortunately, we worry about fire as the high water mark reaches the dry native feed.

PLEASE BE CAREFUL!!

 

SUMMER VACATION

 

 

Canyon quiet,
calves weaned and gone,
girls pre-checked bred

for the shorter days
of fall—wait in the breezy
shade of blue oaks,

graze early and late
for ninety-five days
over a hundred degrees.

 

JUNE DANCING

 

 

Leaves heavy with rain,
they bend and bow
to one another in gusts:

short blond feed quivers
as if this old dirt
is taking a breath.

I remember my mother
trying to show me lightening
in a Sierra thunderstorm

and all I could see
was the sun: a faded moon
hiding behind it all.

 

Clover or Two-flowered Pea

 

 

The cattle are really enjoying this new greenery that has come as a result of the late May rains. Unable to identify from the Calflora website, but looks a lot like the Two-flowered Pea that is limited to Humboldt County, rare and endangered, so I suspect it’s not. Three leaves like clover and a clover-like flower that I don’t remember seeing before.

 

“Losing Ground”

 

I am pleased and proud to have some of my poetry as a part of this moving and powerful documentary from the American Angus Association.

 

                                                           “Losing Ground”

 

Farmers and ranchers across the country are dealing with increasing urbanization of rural America. With that urbanization brings challenges and opportunities. Hear from five Angus farm and ranch families, including: Lovin family, Lexington, Georgia; Marsh family, Huntley, Illinois, Stabler family, Brookeville, Maryland; and the Cropp family, Damascus, Maryland, about how urban sprawl has impacted them and American Farmland Trust CEO John Piotti about the issue as a whole. The American Angus Association® is proud to present the first film to expose the impact of urban sprawl on American Agriculture – “Losing Ground”—an I Am Angus production.
        -Rachel Robinson

 

May Rains

 

 

Noteworthy are the nine days of measurable rainfall in May, over 2 inches
here on Dry Creek. Typically, we don’t get any rain in May, but when we do it’s usually limited to the first week. Our series of storms this year have been the predecessors of the nasty weather that has plagued the mid-West and the rest of the nation.

Our rainfall total for the season is just under 21 inches to date. Our average for the past fourteen years here is 16.22″. Interestingly, we’ve received over 20 inches in five of the last fourteen years including this 2018-19 season.

What’s it all mean? Places on the hillsides and in the flats are turning green.  Quite a trick for annual grasses, one I’ve never seen before.