Tag Archives: weather

Drying Out

 

 

With temperatures rising into the 70s, the ground is beginning to dry out in places, still boggy in others. The creek is down to 100 csf despite last weekend’s 0.75” rain and we were able to get the rest of our Wagyu X calves across the creek to brand. With Brent and Sid to augment our aging crew, we got the job done yesterday.

Until now, it’s been too wet to see the rest of our cattle in the hills. Robbin and I need to get around to see how big the bull calves have gotten and then decide whether to gather and work them or not. Considering the shock and recovery time as steers with only 60 days left of our grass season, it may be better to wean them early as bull calves. The steers will bring more money/lb., but the bulls this late in the season will weigh more. After four years of drought, we never imagined the problems of too much rain.

 

Gail & Amy

 

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This iPhone photo inexplicably popped-up on my computer this morning, reminding me of how much fun we had in Elko for the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

It’s been 6 days since any rain and the ground is drying out in places. We crossed the creek yesterday in the Kubota, 175 cfs, water in the floorboards. It’s time to go to work.

 

MIRACLES AND MISTAKES

 

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Fuzzy hillsides float
upside down since the drought,
since the dry and dusty waterholes

overflowed with more rain
than we dared pray—as if
the machinery of the gods

locked long before
the celestial mechanics came
to break the cogs loose.

It is a wonder how
these miracles and mistakes
seem upon reflection.

 

SAVED FOR SUNNY DAYS

 

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So much rain the Sabbaths seem
like any other day, banked dreams
and basic routines squeezed

between storms, while the hard
work waits beyond in time:
opaque weeks ahead crossing

an angry creek when the melt
of soggy hills sets hard enough
to ride, to gather for brandings

saved for sunny days. Until then,
we believe what we see—watch
the morning sky and pray.

 

AFTER A STORM

 

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                                        So magic a time it was that I was both brave and afraid.
                                        Some day like this might save the world.

                                             – William Stafford (“Malheur Before Dawn”)

Following another inch of rain, snow-white cumulus
float blue at dusk, take the shape of swans and dragons
trailing to join the thunderheads stacked in the mountains
darkening. The gods have swept these hills an iridescent green,
flushed the draws and creeks of loose debris and on their breath
stirred the air with blinding clarity. As the sun falls behind
clouds and ridge, this part of the world scanned by rising shadows
is fresh and clean as a Canyon Wren’s whistling. With fires blazing
western skies, sailor and shepherd survivors rest easy, yet
tremble to embrace the color of Armegeddon in their dreams.

 

RED SKY DAWN

 

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Tonight in California
I will read this in the rain
when I am full and fed-
up with the news—

and listen instead
to it storm upon the roof,
to the impromptu chorus
of croaking tree frogs,
to the ever-tumbling roar
of water gushing down
a muddy creek

if I’m smart.
It’s all runoff
saturated ground, yet
the uncontrollable sound
pleases the primeval place
I need for reassurance
beyond the posturing politics
of way-too many men.

Besides, when living
off grass, it’s sacrilege
to ever complain about a rain.

 

THE TROUBLE WITH DAMS

 

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                                        A mind like compost.
                                             – Gary Snyder (“On Top”)

All the deep stuff
against the decomposing
granite, the rock beneath

a jillion moons of dirt,
of marginal soil—
our slanted earth

beneath the upright grass,
beneath the wildflowers,
beneath our feet

and hooves, horses,
cattle grazing—all
the deep stuff leaks

gently to the surface,
out from under
saturated ground

as if a cleansing,
as if a new recipe
in rivulets spreading

fundamental elements
into muddy creeks
downstream

to settle and collect
behind the structures
of dead architects.

 

Green

 

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With nearly 20″ of rain here on Dry Creek, and more at the higher elevations of the ranch, we have green grass and even a few early wildflowers. Click to enlarge to see the cattle we have yet to gather and brand at the end of the ridge, slick slopes in every direction.

The ground is so saturated that the septic system for our guest house is working in reverse.

BADLY BIGLY

We believe that the cream
rises to the top,
but when it really rains
so does the shit.

(one of our deck poems)

All eyes will be on the Oroville Dam as seven days of Pineapple Expresses are forecast for the Feather River watershed, 70 miles north of Sacramento.

 

SEQUESTERED

 

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                           And I ain’t seen the sunshine since I don’t know when
                                – Johnny Cash (“Folsom Prison Blues”)

We’ve essentially been sequestered to the house since returning from Elko, gray and rainy days—water leaking, standing, running around us, creek, once again, too high to cross in the Kubotas, nowhere for a pickup to go without tearing up the roads or getting stuck. But yesterday, the sun illuminated hillsides so green that you had to squint for a while before completely opening them. Glorious, indeed.

While inside, I’ve been trading emails with Andy Wilkinson as we work on publication of the keynote speech that he delivered at the 33rd National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the entirety of which was his long poem “Storyline”. Perhaps it’s my hearing that tends to settle on a rhyme before the intended word, but I’ve almost always preferred poetry on the page, its presentation without distraction, words you can chew on before moving on. Listening Thursday morning in the Elko Convention Center auditorium, Andy was small and far away at the podium, the rhythm of his delivery was so musically mesmerizing, I knew I was missing words, yet caught up with his multi-faceted approach to ‘story’, the theme at Elko this year, as it related to time, science and us, but I managed to keep up with the keynote.

Downstairs from the offices of the Western Folklife Center, I ran into Andy at the Pioneer Saloon, the setting for his “Muriel Rukeyser and the Story-Time Continuum”, an essay that appeared in the Gathering’s program booklet that I hadn’t read yet. I asked Andy if would send me the text of “Storyline”—we even discussed having Dry Crik publish it.

The poem and the essay arrived Wednesday and I went to work, like a kid eager for sweet reward, on the layout, exchanging emails with Andy in Lubbock, Texas until yesterday about noon, sunshine everywhere green instead of gray. The banter of our communication was truly a dance as we discussed punctuation and space on the page, the poem and its presentation for four and a half days.

Our labor of love in the hands of cyberspace, I could stay inside no longer—grabbed the camera, got in the Kubota, and carefully traveled the pasture adjacent to the house, trying catch the freshness of the remaining spring-like day without getting stuck. Forecast for another week of rain begins Thursday. This is something!

 

From Benton, CA

 

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Heading into Bishop on our way home from Elko, Monday afternoon, the east side of the Great Western Divide shimmered with luxurious snow while it was storming on the other side, against the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains and foothills. By the time we made it home on Tuesday, the rain was finishing up, 1.22″ in the gauge as the creek was gaining momentum from the four-plus inches upstream, from its low-elevation headwaters less than 20 miles away. The foothills are saturated, every crease and crevice now collecting every drop of rain to send downstream. Roads are closed, creeks and streams flooding, dams failing.

Fast-forward to Thursday night, another warm, pineapple express will arrive here, forecast to bring another 1.5″ of rain, and who knows how much precipitation at the higher elevations that may also reduce our existing snowpack. This is not a part of our historic 4-year drought; the pendulum has swung to the other extreme.

“Story” was the story, the theme at Elko this year, kicked off by Andy Wilkinson’s spellbinding, poetic keynote address last Thursday morning entitled “Storyline”. With offerings more diverse than ever before, audio, video and all forms of visual art blended well with the poetry and music. I’ve maintained for years that the keynote address sets the tone for the Gathering, but never more true than this year. Currently sequestered inside with current weather conditions and the near-term wet forecast, Dry Crik Press is working with Andy Wilkinson to reprint “Storyline” in chapbook form.

Meanwhile back at the ranch it’s a warm 72 degrees as we batten down the hatches in preparation for Thursday.