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!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(click to enlarge)
Privilege and luck
to know and work with fine men
while getting older.
A part of them sticks
to the sides of gaping holes
they have left us with
to load semi-trucks
with ripened grass on the hoof—
cowmen to count on.
Returning home yesterday after a moving celebration of the life of Earl McKee, Robbin went through some her photos trying to determine the age of our old dog, only to run across her photo of Tom Grimmius and Art Tarbell on Dry Creek, two more from the old school that are no longer with us to help get the job done. Reminding me of H.C. “Bud” Jackson’s “The Good ‘Uns” about Cleo Denny and other local and progressive cattlemen, published in 1980.
Carolyn Duferrena Photo
Robbin and I had a delightful visit with Carolyn Dufurrena here on the ranch last August where she interviewed me for this article in Range Magazine,
“Bard of the Southern Sierra”.
My thanks to C. J. Hadley for her continuing support of the people, the lands and the wildlife of the West—
“The Cowboy Spirit on America’s Outback”.
If social media is any indication, the importance of pets in the lives of humans seems to have increased substantially. Ironically in practice, many are dropped off on Dry Creek Road to fend for themselves. Blog followers may remember the five puppies recued last fall.
The owners of one of Buster’s adopted siblings discovered that the puppies were German Shepherd and Great Pyrenees mix, a behavioral cross
unlike any other we’ve encountered, Great Pyrenees Mix, an interesting addition to our household.
Buster and and a February drop off relaxing—sad human behavior.
The original board pens were old when they were moved here in 1959 to accommodate the construction of Terminus Dam. Since the 90s, we’ve slowly replaced the boards with pipe. Two weeks ago, we finished upgrading these corrals with time enough to electrify the covered working area for the hydraulic chute and scales. We needed facilities to efficiently process and ship our Wagyu X calves. No two corral set-ups operate the same, even if copied exactly, as the landscape where they are located seems to be a factor in cattle behavior.
As required by our contract with Snake River Farms, yesterday we finished administering a second-round of vaccinations two weeks before we wean and ship two loads of calves to Idaho. It’s been like learning a new dance in these pens as we process the calves and deworm their mothers, experimenting as we go with what seems to be easiest on the cattle. After today’s fourth bunch, we’ve got our basic footwork down. A small, but nice set of pens for about sixty pairs, about as many as we want to do in a morning.