Category Archives: Ranch Journal

EAST BEQUETTE BRANDING 2023

 

As great (for us) as the three-week Atmospheric River was, it put everyone’s branding schedules behind, most roads too wet to get to our cattle.  Normally, we’d be at Elko this time of year, but with travel and time away from business, we needed to stay at home before our calves got too big to handle easily.

 

When I look around our community’s branding pens I realize that now that most of the old timers are gone, that we have taken their places going ‘old-people slow’, and we prefer it.  Fortunately we have some young muscle to work the ground.

 

Robbin and I have scaled our operation down, in part due to our heavy culling to adapt to consecutive years of drought and also by selling half of our cows to my son Bob.  Branding pasture by pasture, our bunches are now small enough to get by with three ropers, one calf stretched at a time.  Our relaxed pace has become even more conducive for old friends to visit while we get the work done.  These photos from our second branding of the season, it’s been great!

 

We head to Tony Rabb’s next week to brand after he assesses the rain forecast for this weekend.

 

CONFESSION ONGOING

March 10, 2011

 

Once the invincible gambler,

I was weaned on cowboy heroics

to wear the scrapes and scars

 

of chance and circumstance

stiffly—my bones now groan

ground under the pressure

 

of time, worn smooth as cobbles

in a creekbed.  Stride shortened,

my feet slide searching for stability,

 

having danced this earth as one

in my collected dreams aboard

four great horses I’ve outlived—

 

I am learning to change my mind,

to find the flavor in a moment

I’ll not savor another time.

 

 

RECHARGING THE BATTERY AS IT RAINS

 

The fine dust upon old tools I have forgotten

as I clean the shop: my brace and bits, some

long-enough to chew through creosoted

 

railroad ties while scraping granite gravel. Mighty

hugs to my shoulder in long, youthful spurts

that warmed the birdshot bearings out-of-round

 

where there was no electricity to hang a gate

miles from the asphalt. It was my third.

I wore them out. I knew no other way.  

 

I recognize the dead scent of time as mine

on the shelves, in wooden boxes no one makes

anymore, protecting stiff-leather headstalls

 

and rusty bits we’ll never use again. I must make

room for the cordless handyman, especially

since this old battery has begun to run down.

 

Dry Creek, January 9, 2023

3,500+ cfs @ 5:00 p.m.

 

Atmospheric creek,

miles of canyons into one,

now headed somewhere.

 

 

 

THE BUENA VISTA

 

 

Rising from the saddle

beneath Sulphur,

a full wolf moon views

 

            first break in the rain

            for over a week

            as if to assess

            a rare miracle:

 

            green slopes leaking

            rivulets spilling

            into draws into creeks

            foamed like Irish coffee.

 

We are drunk with it

wanting more, another

warm sweet storm

 

            to validate

            a lifetime—this

            wild existence:

 

            grass and rain,

            cows to graze

            our blurred exposure.

 

 

RAINBOW

 

 

No word of the whereabouts

of La Niña 3, one more dry year

waiting in the wings to sell cows

 

and feed more hay—instead,

8 days rain out of 9 and more

to come, bare canyon green.

 

We are helpless, flood or drought,

her fickle Nature always serving

what she wants, anywhere, anytime.

 

 

NATURE IN CHARGE

 

 

After a decade, we gave-up prayer,

swallowed our appeals to pagan gods

and goddesses that might be listening—

 

we forgot the feel of tall green feed

wet upon our knees, resigned ourselves

to do without—to adapt to drought.

 

Wettest December in a century,

but for the floods of ’55 and ’66,

I don’t regret what I wished for.

 

 

AR

 

 

Thanks to science,

we’re learning new lingo

to rhyme with reason—

plus head-scratching acronyms

to break meter and thought.

 

Six straight days wet

and a good chance

for a dozen more

floating along

this atmospheric river.

 

________________________________

 

Flowing 962 cfs @ 8:00 a.m. at the brush catchers, Dry Creek peaked at 1,400 cfs @ 3:00 a.m., Badger having received 3.81″ upstream in the last 24 hrs. 1.61″ for us.   

 

 

COVER OF COLOR

 

 

Gray canyon rain,

café au lait rivulets

overfill vernal pools

 

spreading to the creek

just begun to run

at the end of December.

 

She stayed overnight

and all day, lingering

to leave us extra rain,

 

as if we were old lovers

trying to give the past

a second chance—

 

she offers nourishment

to thirsty earth, bare slopes

a cover of color come spring:

 

a team of sunlit Wood Ducks

at the edges of water pooled

grazing with horses. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TULE FOG

 

 

Stacked in the valley

and thick as milk gravy,

it spills over the ridge

 

in slow-rolling waves

eclipsing the daylight

to swallow you up

 

in cold cottony gray.

Easy to get lost in the fog

when you can’t see

 

your horse’s wet ears—

find something dry

to start a fire

 

and wait for it to lift—

or trust he knows

his blind way home.