It’s been interesting weather, now half-way through our rainy season, over 18 inches of rain after a decade of drought. Already whispers from the loudest drought complainers for relief as these hills leak crystal rivulets again.
We lost a month in time in January to the Atmospheric River during branding season, and now with nearly 3 inches in the past 3 days and 3 inches more forecast for the next three, it will be at least a week before we can get to our upper country to brand the last bunch, putting us close to the middle of March. These calves will be big, a handful.
The Paregien Ranch ranges from 2,000 to 2,600 with its own light blanket of snow now, time-released moisture soaking into the clay and granite ground that leaks down the smooth rock waterfalls of Ridenhour Canyon, adding to Dry Creek that peaked at 684 cfs last night, that probably washed out some of our watergaps replaced after January’s peak flow over 3,500 cfs.
Job security, but patience until we can get there—you can’t fight Mother Nature, just try to adapt and face the consequences—fully enjoy her luxuriant and persistent presence after so much needed moisture.
We feed on numbers,
irrigate and harvest plans
with shaved efficiencies,
measure our well-being
by more or less
with what’s on paper
so easily burned
or suddenly erased—
we forget who we are.
We share amounts of rain,
with the neighbors,
too often disappointed
with what we need most:
just enough moisture
to revive this ground—
this flesh and our more
Robbin and I spent most of yesterday checking the cows and calves in Greasy, scattering salt and mineral beneath the Golden Poppies on Sulphur. Colder and under quite a bit of snow this winter, the grass and wildflowers are just getting started. Note all the drought-killed Blue Oaks in the foreground.
To complete our documentation of last week’s efforts to improve the availability of water for cattle, Terri Blanke stands beside the upper concrete box last Wednesday, one of many constructed by Earl McKee, Sr. and Lee Maloy in the 1930s when they packed cement and sand on mules from the Kaweah River, five miles and 2,500 feet in elevation away.
From the bottom, the upper box was plumbed to the lower box with 1½“ steel pipe too rusty and leaky to repair, rendering the lower box useless. In the 1990s, Earl McKee, Jr. and Chuck Fry constructed the pond below with dozers to collect all the leaks plus seasonal runoff. Dirt tank dry by the end of June for past two years, I installed the little galvanized trough last year to provide clean water by utilizing a hole in the side of the upper box.
While David Langton was mucking out the pond at Grapevine last Saturday, I plumbed the second concrete tank to the overflow of the little galvanized trough with 1 ¼“ PVC and galvanized riser. On Monday, while David was covering the PVC, he bumped the rock beside the galvanized trough with his backhoe’s outrigger, which moved the empty trough and snapped my PVC fill pipe. We plugged the flow from the upper box with a plastic bag and I went for hose at the corrals a mile below to syphon water into the galvanized trough rather than lose it, giving me time (2½ hours) to get to town for galvanized pipe replacements.
There wasn’t enough water stored in the little galvanized trough for the fourteen head of cows living at Ragle Springs, yet the little trough filled and overflowed at night. Assuming the lower box doesn’t leak as it fills, we will have enough water stored for the fourteen cows—a good day for all.