Tag Archives: politics

March 5, 2022

 

Misting, light snow on Sulphur Peak (3,400’) this morning, we ‘ve enjoyed 1.02” received thus far from the last two days of this season-saving rain—a little more scheduled for today.

 

But it was the 0.48” we received on the 23rd of February that truly saved our grass after 3 months of nothing but a few heavy dews.  The ground was so dry that it sucked all the moisture up by the next day to the extent the mud grips on the feed truck left no tracks.  The grass, that has been so thin in the Flat where we’ve been feeding our first-calf heifers since last July, finally filled in, and now is beginning to grow. Add this inch and we’ll be good to go for three weeks or so, depending on temperatures.

 

Robbin and I, with the help of Allie, Terri and our neighbors, got our last bunch of calves branded on Wednesday before this rain. Due to last year’s heavy culling because of the drought, our bunches were small this year, but the cows and calves looked great.  Whether or not we can make ends meet on so few numbers remains to be seen in the marketplace, now that the weather seems to want to cooperate—we have hope.

 

The third variable to survival in the cattle business has always been politics.  With the world in turmoil because of the invasion of Ukraine and its subsequent impacts, anything can happen to disrupt the marketplace, inflation and the pandemic yet still in the wings. Unresolved issues regarding the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), passed by the urban majority in 2014, adds to an uncertain future for all agriculture in California, one that will undoubtedly include foreclosures and lots of litigation for years to come.  Meanwhile, imposed fines and the cost of water may be too great to farm in California if the State has its way, once the richest agricultural region in the world.

 

Nothing stays the same.

Only nothing is normal.

 

 

JULY EVENING

Four-thirty and it’s cooled down

from 115—black cows are leaving

sycamore shade for the water trough,

>

plodding several hundred yards of hard clay

and short blond fuzz to drink,

not like last night’s forceful mob,

>

but one-by-one, the order established

over years of living together—uphill 

two hundred more to shady Blue Oaks

>

to gather and decide which way to go.

The heat has slowed their rhythm

only slightly, they are bound to graze

>

what’s left on the slopes behind us:

take the steep trail to the top of the ridge

or the long pull only part-way to the sky.

RETREAT

Even a rattlesnake 
knows when to retreat—
half-a-dozen quick
hide-a-ways 
at his mental fingertips.
 
Who wants to know
the latest detail
of the same old news,
only to recognize ourselves
in Chekhov’s mirror?
 
Soap opera or box,
all the bad actors
stage left and right
look like possums
in the headlights.
 
Weary-washed with waves
of news, a man could drown
and sink to the bottom—
but even a rattlesnake
knows how to swim.

High Hopes

After a lifetime in the cattle business, 52 full-time years by my reckoning, I’ve maintained that there are three variables that determine our economic equilibrium: the market, the weather and politics.  When only one of these variables is unfavorable, we can usually get by for another season. But when all three are unfavorable, we’re in dire straights.

To make matters worse, 2020 has introduced another variable I never considered: an international pandemic that has bludgeoned the global economy, and here at home closed restaurants for all grades of beef.  We are not the only business impacted, further impacting us all.

At the moment, any realistic hopes of corralling Covid-19 to some sort of normalcy are six to nine months away.  But those hopes may encourage better beef markets at the end of spring 2021.  How the political impacts, stimulus packages and reduction of tariffs, etc., will ultimately shake out is anyone’s guess. 

Now two months into our rainy season with less than a half-inch of rain to date and no green grass, we are keenly focused on the weather while feeding lots of hay.  The Wagyu bulls have arrived and we must have our cows in shape to breed.  

Here on Dry Creek on Saturday, we only measured 0.16”, but our hopes hang on the latest forecast of 0.3” today and tonight and another 0.45” Wednesday and Thursday.  Always optimistic, the combination may be enough to get our grass seed germinated.  But like always, much can change in the next four days.  

NEW DAY

Hope rises from dark despair,
the jagged edge of acrimony
hurriedly honed in fear—
 
a pause to lay swords down,
for the blood to crust
and contemplate alternatives.
 
Are we conscripted warriors
for opposing forces,
or free to reclaim our sanity,
 
to nurture and heal
with the real work
the sun awaits?
 
 
            Well, while I’m, here I’ll do the work—
            And what’s the work?
            To ease the pain of living.
            Everything else, drunken dumbshow.
                        - Allen Ginsberg (“Memory Gardens”)

HALLOWEEN

Dark morning chill stirs the flesh
to welcome winter waiting
for flaming tongues 
to lick between
dry Manzanita branches
igniting Blue oak 
in the woodstove’s glow.
 
I recall storms, the floods
and endless downpours,
creek too high to cross
for thirty days and pray
for anything wet enough
to start the grass
for cows and calves—
 
for my sanity, something
akin to normal
in these crazy days
of politics and pandemic—
something to trust 
as right as rain—
something to believe in.

REPARATION

 

 

Shaking hands with my former self
in these chaotic times
may not be progress. The clock

ticks backwards to dust clouds
and loud hurrahs, to whoops of youth
and muscles flexed to hold

the heroic buck and run
of someone else’s dreams—
a reckless swagger into smaller light.

I could have died several times
and learned nothing—my grip
to meet myself eye-to-eye.

 

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.

 

MICROCOSM

 

 

                  It was impossible to make it through the tragedy
                 Without poetry.

                      – Joy Harjo (“Becoming Seventy”)

This other world of cows and calves,
of motherhood exemplified, and bulls,
like men, trailing wire of down fences

is yet to be expected. A bumper crop
of rodents and snakes surround us,
the full moon coyote count of duets

and trios draws closer around us
in the half-light. The metaphors
and similes come easily to favor

humanity ‘midst the tragic chaos
where the latest issue of the truth
has come to be disbelieved.

 

SCIENCE FICTION

 

 

The future descends upon us
with new magic for old maladies,
like the greed and lust for power

science can’t dissuade or make
invisible, can’t deport to asteroids
spinning towards black holes in space.

Not even the best Boy Scouts
can be prepared for tomorrow dangling
like a spider from its thin filament

waiting for the wind to move it
towards fuzzy, unknown realms
where human nature remains the same.

 

 

artist: Chesley Bonestell