In a younger, other life,
I cached my plews along the Siskadee
and boiled my traps in melted snow
waiting for spring to run wild.
Like the boney remnant of a tail,
a dangling DNA that spurns tight spaces
and authority, polite or otherwise
caged to submit to the majority,
my paternal and maternal predecessors
escaped West generations ago—
all odd ducks, genetic nonconformities
shaped by landscapes they learned
to adore. Apart from town, each
shrinking piece of ground has a history
of families adapting to progressive changes
in realities: fickle weather and faddish
politics without ethic or philosophies
that value truth or humanity.
I cache my plews along the Siskadee
and boil my traps in melted snow.
sky becomes a cooler blue
and the hills less steep.
Pogue Canyon – March 25, 2014
Islands of bare, red clay
on shallow green receding—
seeds that never swelled
to root ceramic slopes
or went with clouds
from cloven hooves—
stare back sternly.
She is dry,
nothing left to offer
the lone calf
for the overlooked
knows no better
world than this.
There are no weekends off this time of year as we juggle days around the weather, neighbors’ brandings and our own, trying get the work done. Low snow down to about 1,000 feet with the last cold front that brought 0.62” of welcome rain, we gathered the Wagyu bulls yesterday for their return to Snake River Farms in Idaho, for their TB tests and Health Certificates before they leave California.
Roads into the foothills are impassable, corrals too muddy to brand, neighbors try to reschedule plans to mark their calves, often with cattle gathered on short grass. This time of year, one day runs into the next until we’re all done.
Though hard on our cows who have endured nearly three months of abnormally cold weather, we’ll gladly take the snow, any kind of moisture with less than eight inches of precipitation this season, well-below normal. The snow melts slowly, retreating only 500 feet yesterday, to saturate the ground beneath like a time-released prescription. We are still feeding hay in the Greasy watershed each chance we get, but it will be next week, after three more rescheduled brandings, before we can get another pickup load up the hill.
Though I know we’ve had cold winters before, I don’t remember one with such a devastating impact on our cows. One day at a time, and before we know it, we’ll have wildflowers and then be complaining about the summer heat.
Robbin and Bart