Tag Archives: Earl A. McKee

Wild Lavender




On our tour of Greasy last Saturday, Robbin and I noticed that the Golden Poppies on Sulphur Ridge had been replaced by a sizeable patch something purple. I emailed a photo to Earl McKee, who grew up, ran cattle and owned the Greasy Creek Ranch before selling it to our family. Legs too old and Sulphur too steep for a look closer than a telephoto lens, I asked to see if he knew what the light purple flowers were.

Looks like the wild lavender has taken over the beautiful poppies, as planned. As Carlyle Homer used to say “I like them pretty l’il purple flowers that come out towards the end of the grass season!”

When ever I see that “Ol Laurel Patch” up there on the side of Sulphur Mountain, it brings back many of my younger days buck huntin’ with my Dad all over the face of Sulphur. It was right in those Laurels that my Dad and I and Joe Chinowith were leading our horses (in about 1946). Joe was following behind a young bronc my Dad was leading, and slipped in the wild oats and fell too close, and that bronc kicked Ol’ Joe and broke his leg!

As I recall, Joe was ridin’ “Ol Lep” who was real gentle, and we carefully loaded Joe on him and led him off of that mountain. I remember Joe’s face being white with pain all the way to the Exeter Hospital.

Thanks John for making my day with familiar scenes from the past.

Players & Places:

Joe Chinowith—Indian cowboy who worked for my grandfather.
Carlyle Homer—Dry Creek cattleman
Sulphur Ridge—elevation over 3,000 feet and 3 hours from Exeter in 1946
Earl McKee—best damned storyteller I’ve ever known.

Naturally, I looked ‘wild lavender’ up on Calflora with no luck, but like so many wildflowers, the botanists forgot to check with the old timers before they gave them latin names. I then tried the family Lamiaceae, and by process of elimination it appears that these wildflowers are known as Horse Mint or Nettle Leaf Giant Hyssop, Agastache urticifolia . It’s such a pleasure learning something new everyday.




Sulphur Peak - March 3, 2015

Sulphur Peak – March 3, 2015


For most who don’t know, my family purchased the Greasy Creek Ranch from Earl McKee, mentor, surrogate father and good friend for nearly fifty years, where Robbin and I run our cows and calves. Upon seeing the photo of the two bull calves that escaped a simple gather to the corrals for branding, he was moved to write the following poem:


                               My mind recalls this precious glade
                      Where these two youngsters lived and played,
                          And like years ago their ears would hear,
                         The trumpeting wails of their fathers near.

                                That trail close by, I long have trod,
                        On a favorite horse, these hands have shod,
                       We both know the song that the Robins sing,
                 And the sounds of the cattle, where the cowbells ring.

                       Where the blooming Chaparral smells so fair
                            And the scent of wild flowers fills the air.
                      Who wouldn’t come back to this peaceful place,
                             To see Sulphur Mountain’s Majestic face?

                                I too, wish I could return once more,
                           To what these two calves, were longing for,
                           God planned for this place to be left alone,
                      And like them, I will always say, “That’s Home”.

                                                E. A. M. — 3/13/2015