Tag Archives: Dry Creek

LAST LOAD TO IDAHO

Photo by Terri Blanke

 

Say good-bye to your mothers

for the long ride

all you children—

the truck is clean

shavings on the floor.

Driver said it snowed

before he left,

needed chains on Donner

rolling empty here in May.

 

We shake our heads

about the weather,

damn little rain,

the creek’s gone dry.

With a week of winds

the oaks have come alive,

tree limbs dancing

like separate tongues

trying to lick the sky.

 

 

We shipped our last load of Wagyu X calves to Snake River Farms on Tuesday as we continue to gather and wean our Angus calves.  Both cows and calves have done well despite the extremely dry spring, in part because of our heavy culling that cut our cow herd by a third after only six inches of rain the year before. With drought across the Western US, cow numbers are down everywhere resulting in a stronger market than we’ve seen in years. With unpredictable weather, higher costs for grain and inflation, we may be raising beef we can’t afford to eat.

THREE WEEK REPRIEVE

 

Everyone is happy, I exclaim—

 

half-inch rain after forty-five days without—

grass, trees, birds and animals revived,

the February air full of the future

 

as black cows and calves ascend

the green slopes across the canyon

reaching for the richer ridgetop feed

 

by evening. We raise a glass

to the generosity of all the native

gods and goddesses, to the crow pair

 

robbing nests and the bobcat trailing quail,

the ground re-energized—the vitality of life

spilling right before our eyes.

 

Image

Crack of Dawn

HELPLESS

 

 

On the other side,
all the current dangers rage
unseen that words cannot

assuage. Isolated here,
hands busy with simple
tasks, we cannot breathe.

On the other side,
an unknown future waits
to reshape us to survive.

Fifty years ago,
I was afraid
I would become proficient—

integrate guilt and hate
into my young soul
to become the best

at squeezing death
before a soldier’s
impromptu grave.

On the other side,
we pray for clarity—
for humble purpose.

 

Snake on the Sabbath

 

 

If it isn’t enough to worry about Covid-19, smoke in the canyon from over 500 fires in California, last week’s 110+° heat, or pre-election politics, we seem to have been visited by more rattlesnakes than normal, undoubtedly following the ground squirrels focused on the orchard and garden, even though I’ve trimmed the squirrel population around the house by 500 or so this year. Don’t despair squirrel lovers, 300 yards from the house, the ground continues to be alive with them, yet another hatch ready to move in.

Tessa, our 10 month-old Border Collie was tethered on the front deck to keep her out of trouble when she spotted this one near the orchard, herded by a single small bird to the back of the house, probably a house finch at the snake’s head. Hair up on her back, Tessa raised a serious ruckus. After spotting it, Robbin called me from the garden, retrieved the bird shot, and I dispatched the snake.

Typically in the summer, the older dogs retreat under the deck where we’ve killed two rattlesnakes this year, and another at the dog pens, all big. We wonder, of course, at how many we don’t see.

With the help of Ken McKee, we’ve been fine tuning our bird shot loads now that the factory loads, that used to be #9 shot, have become more of a home defense load with #4 shot. With such a poor pattern, the first snake under the deck required 5 shots of factory loads. We’ve been experimenting with #12 shot, but the .38 plastic shot shells are brittle and require a significant crimp to keep them in the case after recoil in revolvers. The significant crimp keeps the pattern small at six feet, the plastic shot shell acting more like a slug. After having one snake get away, and another that required four shots, I moved back to ten feet this morning. With still enough poop to penetrate the snake, I paralyzed him on the first shot.

Supervised by Jack, our 15 year-old Border Collie, I am removing this four-footer to the end of the driveway, my designated feed ground for the buzzards, to emulate roadkill.

 

RED DAWN

 

 

Eleven thousand
lightning strikes, three hundred fires:
smoke in the canyon.

 

NATIVE

 

 

You can almost smell them curled
asleep or stretched across smooth rocks,
shining shades of earth, charming

and deadly. They don’t want trouble,
come home each year to make a living,
to together stand above the grasses

wrapped in urgent procreation
as the dry seeds roll in painted gourds—
the dance begins, as they collapse

and rise again. To stay connected,
I’m told that the penis is shaped
like a T —barbs both sides— and

that she can draw upon the sperm
as needed for years. Generations
of brothers and sisters know

their way home. Grandmothers
carry the future and grandfathers watch
and listen, crawl into your mind

to know your secrets, to hear
your confessions to all the ridgeline
men long-gone before you.

 

OUT OF DARKNESS

 

 

Alone in the dark
that shrouds anemic green
and short-stemmed fiddleneck
thinking February seed,

               the joyful gurgle
               of a shrinking creek
               gulps over cobbles

               to sit beside me
               on a cold and moist
               down-canyon breeze.

               Painted black,
               all sounds normal
               as if a sign.

Alone in the dark
I color hillsides leaking
beneath gray skies.

 

ELECTING WATER

 

 

The creek still runs dry,
spends itself as it shrinks upstream
on oaks and sycamores

                  despite the goosenecks,
                  despite the cowboys
                  hauling calves to town—

                  despite the busloads,
                  despite the caravans
                  of weekend Christians

looking for God in the pines.
The County had to move the road
after the Flood of ’55

and rebuilt bridges in ‘69
where the canyon narrows
and the creek runs dry.

Still talk of a dam
every election year
as if it could make water.

 

Snow on Dry Creek

 

 

Light dusting this afternoon down to 2,500′ on Dry Creek. Exceeding the forecast, just shy of an inch of rain overnight and this morning. It’s wet out there.