Tag Archives: photography

At the Equinox



Our Merry Christmas weekend—to utilize our time around the Christmas and New Year’s holidays for branding calves and/or feeding, we have moved our family get-together to the springtime. The weather is warmer, travel is less hectic, most of our cattle work is done while Dry Creek is usually colorful instead of gray. Though unconventional, it makes perfect sense to us.





The solace of ridges
I cannot reach
but with my eyes,

I have shared
with generations here
put to rest before me—

while the lower ground
churns with the business
of getting bigger,

milking the earth
for all she’s worth,
building fortunes and cities.

We are not prepared
to go hungry, thirst
without water to irrigate

a meal. We must learn
to look beyond ourselves
to see our children’s

future, work together
to shape a world
that’s not a living hell.




Back to basics with the loss of power that lasted until late this morning due to an isolated thunderstorm yesterday afternoon bringing nearly 3 inches in an hour or so. Robbin and I got the dominos and candles out.



Cattle people trying
to manage grass
in the West

dare not cuss the rain
or otherwise risk
pissing-off the gods

that might be related
to the ones who care
for the ill and dying.


all the basic elements
we need
to continue living.





Evening conversation dwells
on a thin cow, vaccine
protocol and the dog’s limp

without a hint of politics
beyond the barbed wire—
beyond this ground and grass.

We don’t want to know
what makes the news—
what makes the outside world

tick with greed and power.
Evening conversation dwells
on more important things.





It could be heaven
if the girls across the canyon
cared, if they worried

about the time of day
or year when green
turns straw-blond dry.

They are spared
the human condition—
graze until they die.





                                                                                What will you do? She asks. I will
                               continue north, carry the past in my arms, flying into winter.

                                                  – Jack Gilbert (“BRING IN THE GODS”)

Might we say

we leave the past on the page,
chapbooks bundled in our arms
heading north into the storm—

                    time-faded faces,
                    moments tagged
                    into poems.

We know their names
and cherish visions
with vibrant clarity

like a bell chiming
on a wind gusting
across the canyon

of time behind us.
Three score and ten
more, I am reluctant

                    to let go
                    of this life
                    in exchange

for something more
like fulfillment





The tourists came
from Germany,
parked outside the pen

along the road,
brought cameras
and watched us

head and heel,
stretch and throw,
cut and vaccinate,

burn a brand
in a swirl of smoke.
We held our breath,

exchanged languages,
said goodbye
in pleasant tones

we understood
as universal
between bunches.


Craig Ainley Branding


Terri Drewry photo


There’s a lot to be said about not knowing when you were born. But I just checked Toby’s papers to find that this Montana Doc son was born in 1994—me 1948.

I tried every way possible to wriggle out of helping Craig Ainley brand his 4-5 weight Wagyu X calves at Mankins Flat, an hour’s 4-wheel drive from the asphalt to patched board corrals. I reasoned that the calves might be too big, too much work for old men in muddy pens. But we owed him for his help branding our own calves, and with all our other neighbors busy helping one another brand on the few days between rains, and he short-handed, I had no choice, no lame excuse for horse or me.

Craig wanted our whole crew, Robbin, Terri, Allie, Bob and me. Terri Drewry and I roped with Garth and Audrey Maze, Corrine Ainely Manes and Donnie Castle, finishing up an hour before the forecast 2” storm while wind gusts lifted snow off the Great Western Divide, the Kaweah Peaks and Sawtooth, seemingly a stone’s throw across the North Fork—a fun and beautiful, overcast day!

Shoulders sore, the old men recuperated while it rained.





When Zinfandel heavens part between rains,
we lift a glass of Cabernet at dusk
towards their fleeting magnificence

before the storm, beyond our reach
or responsibility, helpless but to bask
in the fading light of certain truth.





                                        nothing left but a river flowing on the borders of heaven.
                                              – Li Po (“On Yellow-Crane Tower, Farewell to                                                            Meng Hao-jan Who’s Leaving for Yang-chou”)

Branding big calves an hour from the asphalt,
snow-laden Sierras dressed in diaphanous clouds
a stone’s throw across the North Fork canyon

from these corrals too short for modern cows,
we talk about the pressure-treated posts you set
six foot down back when I can’t remember.

Away from the world for years, you are both here
and beyond the Great Western Divide,
a fuzzy white river flowing south to somewhere.

                                                                  for Gary Davis