Tag Archives: Greasy Creek

Greasy Water Update – First Calf

Less than two weeks ago, we began efforts to find more water in the Greasy watershed utilizing David Langton’s backhoe, the first time a backhoe has ever been to this part of the ranch. Terri and I made the loop with hay yesterday to monitor our water and feed the girls getting ready to calve.



The second trough at Ragle Springs is now full and overflowing. When time allows, we’ll have to plumb an overflow at the low end away from the dirt fill placed around the trough that will probably entail chipping a saddle in the concrete in order to cement a pipe that will have to be anchored to a post beside the trough to keep the cows from breaking the concrete when they rub on the pipe. Any kind of construction for cattle is a challenge. But for the moment, we have plenty of water storage available for the cows, giving us two good springs in our Sulphur pasture. Ragle Springs



The troughs are full and the new spring box is running steady @ about 1/3 gpm. Railroad



Water continues to accumulate at Grapevine at two locations. Grapevine

The cows were scattered and harder to locate yesterday, grazing farther from water now, secure and satisfied that water will be available tomorrow.


For Source and Age Verification, we document our first calf born for the season, so buyers and consumers will know the age of our oldest calf. (First only if we don’t include the four calves born a month early after a bull jumped the gun at the end of last October.) Surprise






We track circles on the same ground
through brush and granite rock,
over mountains and down canyons

patched with spooky skeletons
of trees, broken limbs at their feet.
Last year’s blond and brittle feed

folds into dust under foot, under wheel
into decent firebreaks swirling around us
as we check springs and clean water troughs

measured with our eye. We carry hay,
fat cows come running six to the bale
once a week, fresh calves knocking

at the door of a new and wobbly world—
waiting to inhale one hundred degree heat.
Too soon to rain, we plod like cows

in dusty circles, all soft trails
lead to water and shade, or to the hum
of solar pumps in abandoned wells.


Flower Friday: Clarkia unguiculata








In the branding pen,
the steady dance of old hands
celebrating spring.



Weekly Photo Challenge: Motion


Replacement Heifers



With an eye towards weaning our calves, last week’s tour of the Greasy watershed to check cattle and feed conditions was a pleasant surprise. Typically we begin weaning in mid-May when the grass turns. With less than 0.75” of rain in the last forty-five days, my expectations were minimal. But our upper country above 1,500 feet has fared substantially better than our lower foothills where only patches of green remain high on the north slopes.

Having reduced our cow numbers by 40% due to the ongoing drought, we have found a temporary equilibrium between grass and cattle without having to feed much hay last winter. But due to feed limitations, we were unable to keep any calves last season for replacement heifers. Assuming a return to more normal weather conditions, we will need to replace our older cows while also trying to add numbers to our cowherd. However many heifer calves we’re able to keep, won’t produce a calf to wean for two more years. Rebuilding a cowherd is a slow process. Certainly the three girls above will be candidates, but how many we’re able to keep remains to be seen.




Pretty Face, Triteleia ixioides - April 11, 2014

Pretty Face, Triteleia ixioides – April 11, 2014


Steep east slope damp,
tall green grass slick,
pale Pretty Faces hold their grins
beneath Buckeyes and Live Oaks—

                    heavy thatch of fallen limbs
                    holds the old fence down,
                    shelters a rat’s nest.

Nature has been winning
since I was here last
with the chain saw,
packing posts afoot
and splicing rusty wire
to keep cattle straight—
pretending to be in charge.

I see my mark: old cuts
with decomposing rings.
                    Not near as near
                    as in my mind—
four years since the low snows,
ten more for this six-inch growth.

Steep east slope damp,
tall green grass slick,
pale Pretty Faces hold their grins
beneath Buckeyes and Live Oaks.




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




Gilia Tricolor - March 3, 2015

Gilia Tricolor – March 3, 2015


Everyone wants a turn
to be in perfect focus,
too many to count.







Hard to concentrate
under the camera lens
interrupting work.






Haven’t wondered about Heaven
since Sunday school’s cold
pearly gates and alabaster walls

seemed drab by comparison,
and the blinding shine of silver
and gold eternities much too bright

even for the pure. Out of dust
and dirt we rise, generations
personified in living colors.

We need not preach poetry
or pray for more than what’s
before us full with awe—

small enough to see through
purple stems of Wild Hyacinth
on green, on gray—I believe.



WPC(3) — “Reward”