Category Archives: Ranch Journal

WATER

                                    Around here all the gods live in trees.

                                                – Jim Harrison (“The Whisper”)

 

It’s been tough on the woodpeckers: dry year,

no acorns in the oaks, yet

they still flap and squabble over bugs in the bark.

 

I can’t see the owls in the dark of dawn

as I wait for the black to disappear, yet

their mournful presence is good company.

 

Robbin likes the flock of little bushtits

flitting tree to tree, or washing-up at six o’clock

when the timer sprays the Mexican Sage.

 

Above it all, they’re smarter than the rest of us

to fly where they want—or most needed.

But around here we irrigate the trees.

TWENTY DAYS (part 2)

2.

Drought and dust,

pandemic and the masks

we need to breathe and feed—

 

day’s end cloaked in smoke

and gin—how tough are we

and every living thing

 

looking to escape

to a Li Po poem

and Chinese tapestry?

TWENTY DAYS

1.

I can taste the pines and cedars when I awake

to fuzzy black to search for stars

beyond, hoping for a clear day.

 

Choking smoke with my coffee,

with feeding cows and first-calf heifers

calving, faded coyotes close.

 

Ash falls like snow, skiffs light and dirty.

In this haze, it’s easy to get lost at home.

I track my steps to where I’m from.

Fire and Smoke, Twins and Coyotes

Three days ago, this second-calf heifer (9061) was fighting two coyotes off her newborn Wagyu X twins.  I got a call from a neighbor who saw the action from the road, but I was 15 minutes away checking our first-calf heifers.  I called Robbin who was getting ready to leave for a dentist appointment.  She jumped into the Kubota and sent them packing.

Usually twin calves for a young cow is a curse, wherein most cases she abandons the weaker one.  If she tries to raise them both, it typically taxes her so much that her poor shape keeps her from cycling to breed back.  By themselves near the house this morning, I took out some alfalfa while the rest of the cows were still on the hill.  Here the calves are playing while she has an early breakfast in our fourteenth straight day of smoke from the KNP Complex fire in Sequoia National Park and Forest.

I think they’ll make it now.

BUCKS IN BRUSH – TWO HAIKU

I will not say where,

but offer a photograph

of three before rut

 

rattling branches

of brittle Manzanita

to harden their horns.

First Wagyu X Calf

Welcome to bare acres. Obviously we’re having to feed lots of hay until the new grass starts. Age and source verification requires that we record the first and last Wagyu X calf born — hours old this a.m. to cow 9049.

First Angus Calf

We record the first Angus calf of the season as part of our Age and Source Verification process.  These two are about 3 days old born to cows 3292 and 3305 on the Paregian Ranch.

Red Sun At Dawn

Behind the smoke, the KNP Complex, last Thursday’s lightning strikes that sparked the Colony and Paradise Fires in Sequoia National Park threaten both the Giant Sequoias and the community of Three Rivers. #tularecountysheriff https://news.yahoo.com/knp-complex-fire-threatening-sequoia-220907319.html?fr=yhssrp_catchall

THE LIST

After the lightning

igniting fires, after the storm,

a new day dawns

 

with hope

and a hint of change

from the blistering summer heat

 

with the equinox knocking

at the door, I think

of all the jobs earmarked

 

for years—our growing list

of work we’ve saved

for rainy days.

 

The prognosticators

are unusually quiet,

don’t dare say

 

when to expect a rain.

I keep adding to a list

that will outlive me.

ALMOST UNSEEN

Out of the blue

the space between us

rings like a bell

 

as I become

a curious diversion

for two young bucks

 

oblivious to the perils

of the outside world

swirling around us all.

 

How I envy such innocence,

rejuvenated for a moment—

yet I lay down to look

 

through dry stems of feed,

my horns lost in branches,

almost unseen.