Tag Archives: Dry Creek

So Far, So Good



Last Friday, I underwent knee replacement surgery. I was able to walk with a walker by Saturday. Rehabilitation will undoubtedly be slow and posts to the blog may be less frequent.





Silt and sediment have settled
with the senses, clear water calm
in the canyon, low whispers

of the Solstice among the cobbles,
the easy pulse of our lifeblood
returns the churned edges

of the creek to house-hunting
killdeer pairs, not quite ready
to commit to gravelly real estate,

not quite sure of the shoreline
as we gather for another branding:
little bunch of big calves, slow

dance of old people and horses,
buck and bawl of calves before
the fiery altar of yesteryear.






Winter’s long-entangled dance
carefree of leaves for centuries
beckons partners of the flesh—

a mood rooted in this ground
of fortitude that rules the air
we breathe, the space between

the touch of branches. Slow
gather of cattle among them—
graceful rhythm for a branding.






Each appendage strives for grace
angling its long reach for the light
dressed within summer green

canopies that shade the pools
along the creek. But some trees
drink too much, consume

more weight than limbs can hold
before snapping like rifle shots
that echo in the canyon.

Gray chorus line of winter nymphs
locking hands, dancing naked
at a distance, up close show

the scars of younger appetites
for growth, blueprints for bigness
that challenged gravity—yet

decomposed broken bones
leave open holes for nests
to incubate a clan of Wood Ducks.






Clouds cling low,
I tend the fire:
stir red coals—dry
branch of manzanita
alongside oak,
crack of air
to the woodstove—

play solitaire
and wait for words
that hide behind
naked sycamores
along the creek
too deep to cross,

the flood of news
too much
for pleasant poetry.


Just Back from Elko




Dry Creek – 1,675 cfs @ 4:00 p.m.

Dry Creek – 2,520 cfs @ 5:00 p.m.

Dry Creek – 2,951 cfs @ 6:00 p.m.




Across Dry Creek




I thought it appropriate to offer a ‘before and after’ photo of the same hillside that’s on the cover of my ‘Best of the Dry Years’ (at the top of the column on the right) taken in September 2013. There was no improvement in feed conditions until the spring of 2016.


Paregian Rain Gauge




With her iPhone, Terri caught me measuring and ciphering 9.25” of rain since December 24th on the Paregien Ranch. That’s how long it’s been since we’ve seen our cattle, since the rains began in earnest at the 1st of the year. With 16.70” here on Dry Creek thus far, we have already surpassed our average annual rainfall for the season that generally ends on April 30th.





High cold wet fog after rain
puts a lid on summer’s cauldron
earth wet to rock, each crease
leaks rivulets into the canyon
to join a muddy creek.

Curiosity burns in his belly,
lone winter coyote edging closer
by different approaches
                    mid-day or night—
                    dogs hold him at bay
                    until he leaves the edge
                    of our territory.

Young downstream cowboys try
clay flat, pickup, gooseneck
just inside the gate, diggings
piled behind the drive wheels
as I pass by.
                    Twenty years ago
                    I’d have stopped to help
                    got stuck
                    and they learn nothing.
                    Two hours back from town
                    with a burn permit,
                    they’re hooking up
                    on muddy asphalt.

High cold wet fog after rain
creek too high to cross
I clear my desk, bag years
of paper files for proof
                    of our busyness
                    for the burn pile:
                    dry summer prunings
                    up in smoke
                    lost in fog.


Rain Update




Dry Creek is running over 500 cfs this morning @ 6:00 a.m., after over an inch of rain in the past two days, over 6” for the first half of January—10 consecutive days of measurable precipitation—it’s wet! Any plans to cross the creek to fix fences and sort cattle won’t happen today. Furthermore, the moisture is deep, a good thing, but the only vehicle we have to get to the fence work will be the Kubota and I’d prefer to wait until Dry Creek is running less than 100 cfs.

Oh, I know the stories when Earl McKee and his sorrel horse swam the channel to ride five miles to free cattle locked in his Greasy corrals; or Clarence Holdbrooks swimming his red horse to move cattle stranded on the other side of the creek fifty years ago. They are my heroes still. All we have at risk with our current cattle mix-up is that our replacement heifers are running with the neighbor’s steers, at a time of the month, unfortunately, when the majority will be cycling, yet not exposed to the Wagyu bulls. But no livestock is at risk.

According to the 10-day forecast, we have a 5-day window to dry out before the next series of storms begin on the 18th, then 5 more days projected to leave 2.5” of rain. But no one’s complaining, yet, no one’s hollered ‘uncle’.

Not unlike the drought, Robbin and I have been making contingency plans. It dawned on me last night that making a ranch work within all the variables of the weather requires some hands-on creativity—that the art of cattle ranching starts with thinking well-outside the box. C’est la vie!


Weekly Photo Challenge: ‘Ambience’