After Rain



Delightful evening talking cattle late into the night with Loren Mrnak of Mrnak Herefords West, here for Visalia Livestock Market’s 21st Annual Bull Sale. Picking the point-and-shoot up from the outside table, the photo credit is Loren’s.

We awoke to rain yesterday morning, a refreshing weather change that brought snow to the high country and 0.39″ of rain to Dry Creek.





In the afternoon, the hills are yellow now,
turquoise oaks, the buckeyes’ tan leather brown
claim equal space high up, but daybreak clear

but for a rosy raft of smoke on a monsoonal trail
alone, last of fires let run to consume the drought
and bug kill: scarecrow cedars, naked pines

pitched for flame. My eyes climb to the near
ridgeline for clarity—for a sign of what’s to come
within the hazy world affairs well beyond us.





Robert’s shadow, I followed my father
from vineyard to orchard behind tractor
and disk, stomped clods in the fresh-tilled

ground, inhaled the damp earth turned,
blackbirds like sea gulls diving behind us.
I dreamed of driving the once-red Cornbinder,

leaky muffler loud with each explosion,
each spark to gas vapor, its lean cowling
layered white with years of Parathion

in the 50s, before making perfect furrows.
That well-kept look of cultivation turning
the nitrogen of weeds and nettles under

with tankage and manure for California gold
when farmers worked the earth and added
more to the soil than chemicals and drip

irrigation. To this day I make the sound
of tractors in my throat, remember
the Case 300 disking steep orchard rows—

and just before it stalled out, front wheels
lifting off the ground—the dependable lurch
to the left to make another round.





have come to dine on quail
while Cooper’s Hawks
work elsewhere. Low

sleek glide behind
a whir of wings
and feathers aflutter.





@ 70, you try
to save steps, weigh
pick ups and deliveries
against carrying capacity
and memory hoping
not to forget
the grand plan
along the way—only
to find repetition
a good mental and physical
exercise in reality,
like it or not.

Shuffling his Florsheim wingtips
towards the hospital doors,
my father quipped, “A man has to
               get used to being
               not first in line.”

Change has not run off
and left us without humor,
without our backwards perspective
and subsequent syntax,
but thinking too far ahead
to save time, to insure
efficiency, we may miss
the moments we have
chosen to live for.





Everywhere we look
nearby news, activity
we can’t escape
unless we fly
above it all.

It takes a herd of eyes,
a flock of senses
to survive the wild
and domestic

of this world.
No time to lollygag
when everyone becomes
someone’s breakfast.
Pay attention.





No manila folders, no alphabetical tabs
among the files of fuzzy memories, no
random access search of the mind, yet

the forgotten lie in wait like dry tinder
for a spark to fire and bring to light
lost episodes excised in the editing.

We write the shameful off like bad
investments, or like tuition spent
to improve our reflection. How soon

we forget—yet the perfect details
that with cold hard steel chip
gray flint red just like the first time.


First Wagyu 2017



For our own Age & Source Verification records, this season’s first Wagyu calf born September 6, 2017 from first-calf heifer 6141, not due until the 15th of the month. Initially a bit of curiosity for the rest of the first-calf heifers, this heifer calf is doing well, though a bit lonely with no one to play with.


New Life





First Angus calves – September 1, 2017


With the worst of summer heat behind us, our new year begins on September 1st, when our cows start calving. Since May 21st, we’ve had 83 days over a hundred degrees on Dry Creek, fiery streaks in memory. The ash and smoke from the Pier Fire in the Tule River drainage above Springville has wrapped us in filtered sunlight this past week, changing the color of nearly everything, but it’s a welcome relief to see the silhouettes of cows and fresh calves in the shade of oak trees, the new beginning we’ve been waiting for.