Tag Archives: weather

BEFORE GRASS

 

 

The scent of dampened dust
settling with the first fine drops
envelops us in wind gusts,

all the loose atoms of death
over eons of friction bonding,
fusing into new shapes of life

as we inhale and taste it, sip
like musty red wine begging
release—lungs and capillaries

surge to rejuvenate the flesh
with the promises of fresh
beginnings, another chance

to chase seasons of grass
with a new crop of calves
who’ve never seen rain,

never smelled the green.
Swept up grinning, we raise
a glass into the endless gray.

 

UNEVENING

 

 

Heavens begin to churn
with the first disturbance
of a new beginning,

fresh celestial friction
of an unknown season,
a fiery harbinger stirring

flesh and feather, coveys
bobbing home to bed
in brush piles, cows

collecting calves for cover
from wind gusts
in the ever-changing light—

these old bones giddy,
head spinning
from ridge to ridge

consuming purple skies
before the storm,
before the welcome war.

 

After Rain

 

 

Delightful evening talking cattle late into the night with Loren Mrnak of Mrnak Herefords West, here for Visalia Livestock Market’s 21st Annual Bull Sale. Picking the point-and-shoot up from the outside table, the photo credit is Loren’s.

We awoke to rain yesterday morning, a refreshing weather change that brought snow to the high country and 0.39″ of rain to Dry Creek.

 

EARLY MORNING GATHER

 

 

The days of busting brush
but polished stories, faded glories
washed by time upon this ground—

one-time mothers, the girls
remember, find their place
at feeders in the corral

where they were weaned,
to catch a ride uphill
to make homes for fall calves.

We have spoiled them, trained
for yet another moment
to work together. Too hot

to touch, the days blaze
soon after the shade of night
retreats in streaks of heat.

 

 

Robbin’s iPhone photo after following the girls into the corral. It’s been a warm week with temperatures over 110 degrees as we’ve weaned, processed and shipped our last load of bull calves to town. Polite and cooperative, these second-calf heifers hauled easily to Greasy while it was still cool. A smooth day—done before ten.

 

Thunderheads

 

 

THUNDERHEAD

 

 

Our temperatures have been peaking about 5:00 p.m. as thunderheads roll up the Great Western Divide. In line with Big Meadows and Cedar Grove on the Kings River, yesterday’s cell built and lasted about 30 minutes while we baked in 111 degrees on Dry Creek. Forecasters promise more of the same through the weekend. After a heat spell like this one, we usually begin to acclimate well-enough to look forward to 100. But at the Solstice, it seems forever for the sun to go down.

 

 

From Valley heat
great white ships rise
and ride the ridges,
buck canyons up
to pound with thunder
and dump with rain—
glorious downpours
I can smell
in the pines
and cedar duff
sixty miles away.

 

SUMMER SOLSTICE 2017

 

 

Wild bull calves we never knew
well-enough to brand
with months of rain,

creek too high to cross,
roads too wet to travel,
all gone to town now—

big enough to breed
their sisters yet to be
marked and aborted.

We thought the drought
was bad. But all the politics
and manipulated markets

yield to the variables
of Mother Nature’s bronc ride,
every jump, kick and surprise

without warning, never boring
when the weather gets her head
between her front legs.

As she warms up
to 113 degrees, we’ll see
what we’re made of.

 

 

We’re now on Mexican time: up at daylight and inside by eleven for lunch and a siesta. I am amazed how well the cattle, and especially the calves in the weaning pens, have managed to deal with the heat. Our ‘sip and dip’ has gotten plenty of use this past week, cools our flesh to the bone. Thank you Canadian Joe Hertz, fiddler for Cowboy Celtic, for your stone mason work!

 

Greasy Cove, Lake Kaweah

 

 

Robbin and I left at daylight this morning to try to locate any cattle we might have missed in the Greasy Creek watershed when we gathered to wean over the past two weeks. Temperatures are rising with a high yesterday of 106 degrees on Dry Creek, mid-teens forecast this coming week that will accelerate our Sierra Nevada snowmelt.

It was refreshing to see Lake Kaweah, which is almost full, on our way off the hill at noon.

 

TWINING BRODIAEA

 

 

Our native feed germinated early at the end of October, and by Thanksgiving the rains came, six days at a time spaced with six days of gray. A fairly warm winter with few days below freezing, the grass grew, and by March, there was little room for wildflower bloom to compete for sunlight.

Exceptions are the yellow cascades of Bush Monkeyflowers and the purple Winecups or Farewell to Spring, both now showing spectacularly around Lake Kaweah. While looking for strays yesterday, this Twining Brodiaea caught my eye.

 

Rising from the earth,
heavy head climbing for light,
no two knots the same.

 

Almost Stuck

 

 

While I was blading a dusty firebreak along Dry Creek Road, Terri and Robbin went up to the Paregien Ranch in the Kubota to corral some dry cows that we’ve earmarked for town, when and if we can get to them with a gooseneck. Roughly 2,000 feet higher in elevation with 25 inches of rain, it’s still wet and boggy in places under our tall feed. They corralled the cows, but had to turn them out into the gathering field because it’s still too wet to load them. Afterwards, while putting out salt and mineral, they found a loblolly in the middle of the road that we have driven over several times this season with no problems.

 

 

Short of boasting this year, we’ve been fortunate not to have gotten stuck somewhere on the ranch considering our many close calls and all the ‘stuck’ stories we’ve heard from our neighbors. Sharing her iPhone photos, Robbin was quick to refine the definition of being stuck as when you have to walk home, or call someone to pull you out of a mud hole. Down on its frame, luckily they found an oak close enough to winch the Kubota onto hard ground.

 

 

With four years of drought fresh in our minds, we’ve not complained about our near-record rainfall, but it has presented a number of new problems, including not getting our upper-country calves branded before we wean in a few weeks—when and if we can haul them off the hill. Hard to believe it was 95 degrees yesterday. Careful what we wish for as we deal with a very different year, we’re looking forward to something a little closer to normal.