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Archive for June, 2011

You never know what you will see.

If you pay attention you will find miracles everywhere.  And so it was last Monday night when I came home from a bad day at work.  I had just turned down our driveway when I saw an antelope crossing the road in front of me.  There’s nothing unusual about that but what was unusual was that she was moving slow and guess what was right behind her – twins.  From the looks of it, I would guess they were probably less than a day old. 

Of course when they saw the pickup coming toward them the sweet babies panicked and did exactly what they were supposed to do – they laid down and pretended to be a couple of rocks.  The only problem was they laid down in the driveway where there wasn’t much cover.  They tried to stay put but as soon as I stopped the pickup, grabbed my camera and slowly walked toward them one just couldn’t take it anymore – he bolted.

 But the other one stayed put just like Mama told him to do – even when the crazy lady with the camera stuck to her face snuck up on him.  He’s a pretty cool cucumber if you ask me.  I didn’t get very close.  I used the zoom and some careful cropping once I got back to the computer to get this ‘close up’.

I didn’t stay more than a few seconds, just long enough to snap a couple of photos and then I backed off and left the baby untouched.  Mama didn’t go far either – she watched me very carefully and as soon as I pulled away she came back and gathered up her babies. 

It’s human nature to want to pick them up and cuddle them but don’t do it! 

Wild Mama’s and their babies are best left alone.

 

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature; he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”                        – John Muir-

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I wouldn’t want you to think that I am the only one around here who has had strange things happen to.  To tell the truth ‘strange’ pretty much runs in the family.

Every Thursday my Dad drives to Newcastle and takes me out to lunch.  It’s a great way to keep up on what’s happening in our daily lives but frankly, most times there’s not a lot to tell.  Our lives have settled into a busy but very predictable routine.  However, last Thursday as we sat in the local Italian restaurant Dad had a story to tell. 

A sordid tale of love, sex and murder. 

Sounds good already – doesn’t it?

Dad lives in a very quiet neighbor hood about 6 miles out-of-town.  With mostly retired couples next door the biggest news every week is usually health related but that week it seems there had been more excitement than usual.  While walking to his shop one morning Dad had heard unusual noises coming from the lean-to shed.  Of course he went to investigate and stumbled across a couple engaged in mad, passionate sex in the dimly lit interior of the lean-to!  To say the least, he was shocked.  Of all places for a romantic interlude!  It’s not exactly my idea of a ritzy (or even comfortable) get away spot.  Of course I’m not covered in fur or have a large fluffy tail.

You guessed it!  It was a couple of squirrels obviously very much in love and caught in a very intimate moment.  They were so ‘wrapped up’ in their passion that they failed to notice as Dad hurried to the house and returned with a gun. 

Yes, I know – squirrels are cute and fuzzy and great to watch but they are also one of the most destructive creatures God ever put on the face of the planet.  They will chew through anything – wiring, window screens, woodwork and walls and then they will spend the rest of their days packing pine cones into any nesting space they find.  A few years ago one of Dads neighbors had a pair of squirrels who spent one entire fall and winter packing pinecones into a small opening in his summer cabin.  They packed the pinecones in so tight that the next spring when they dried out and expanded (as they tend to do to spread their seeds) the pressure from the expanding pinecones popped the paneling loose on the walls inside the cabin and spilled thousands of dry, brittle pinecones throughout his house.  He was not pleased!  But you got to admit, as long as it isn’t your house – it’s pretty darn funny.

Anyway – squirrels are fair game in our area and since the neighbors tend to agree it isn’t uncommon to hear gunshots any day of the year.  You just basically stop and listen for a few minutes and if no one is screaming for help you shrug your shoulders and continue with whatever you were doing.  Damn, I love living in the West!

Even though shooting squirrels is a common occurrence there were several problems with this particular ‘safari’. 

First off the love-struck squirrels were inside the lean-to and Dad was reluctant to put a hole in the wall.

Second – as there are no windows in the lean-to it was dark so the scope on the rifle could not be used nor was it really needed at such close range.

And third – the lean-to is ‘home’ to a vast assortment of parts, supplies and equipment – everything from scrap lumber to airplane parts are stored in its shadowy depths.

Despite all these little problems Dad took careful aim (past the scope and down the barrel) and pulled the trigger.

Once the smoke had cleared and the echos of the shot had died out one squirrel laid dead.  Who knows where the other one ended up – hiding amongst the stuff in the shed or perhaps stretched out high in the trees tops, smoking a cigarette?   It doesn’t matter – the second squirrel escaped the fate of its lover and hasn’t come back yet.

Unfortunately, the peace and quiet of the lean-to was interrupted by the hiss of escaping air as the tire of the lawn mower sprung a leak caused by a passing bullet.  Yes, it’s sad but true – Dad’s careful aim didn’t take into account the mower parked close by.  I’m sure there was cussing involved but at this point – what can you do?

The ‘body’ was disposed of and the tire removed and hauled to town.  Of course Dad had to tell the tire repair guys all about the mornings hunt and asked them to save the bullet for him.  They got a good laugh out of the story before getting to work.  They didn’t find the bullet – only a small piece of metal so they patched the hole, put the tire back on the rim and aired it up.  But the hissing continued.  It seems there was a second hole in the tire – which explained where the bullet had gone – right out the other side.

So after another patch the tire once again held air.  Dad paid his bill and left.

And so another week quietly passed at Dad’s house.  The second squirrel must have decided to pack her bags and leave or has been in hiding since the incident – either way Dad hasn’t seen her again.  Best of all, summer has finally decided to grace us with her presence.  The birds sing, the flowers bloom and the grass grows.  All is right with the world – at least that’s what we thought.  Finally, another Thursday rolls around and Dad arrived for lunch eager to tell (as radio commentator Paul Harvey would say)  ‘the rest of the story’…

About mid-week Dad had decided it was time to get the mower out and start cutting grass.   He replaced the repaired tire, checked the oil and gas and fired her up.  The engine sounded great.  He was set for a morning of mowing – water jug strapped to the side and wide-brimmed hat on his head but when he put it in gear and started out the door he realized that something was wrong.  One of the front tires was flat.  On closer inspection Dad found a small bullet hole in the sidewall. 

Yes – it was an amazing shot!  A shot worthy of Annie Oakley the famous trick shooter of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show – 1 squirrel and 2 tires in one shot. 

Impressive isn’t it? 

I told Dad the only thing that would have been more impressive was if he had gotten 2 squirrels and 1 tire but at least the ricochet hadn’t come back and shot him in the leg.  That would have been the ultimate irony.

I can’t wait to hear what he has to tell next week!

 

Love you, Dad!

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I am falling behind!!!

 A little further every day…

There are too many things I have to do and not enough time or energy to get even close to finishing half the things on my list.  And I love to make lists.  In fact I love to plan and set goals and I do it so well that some days I’m not sure which way to go first.  There are gardens to plant and a house to clean and a full-time job and groceries to get and a checkbook to balance – I know this because it’s all on the list I have clutched in my sweaty, overworked hands.

I bet you know exactly how I feel.  We all do it.  We try to be Wonder Woman and then we beat ourselves up for not accomplishing what we think we should.  What is wrong with me?  Why do we do this?  Is it something that affects women more than men?  I don’t know but tonight after work, when I should have been planting seeds and pulling weeds and hauling rocks and cleaning the house and scrubbing the toilets and doing the laundry and baking and who knows what else, I was doing something I hadn’t even planned on… 

It wasn’t on the list!!!  But I did it anyway – I’m such a rebel!

I spent the evening on horseback with my Hubby.

 

Even though it wasn’t something I had planned on it was still something we had to get done.  We gathered the 25 pairs (cow and calf) and one bull that will be spending the summer on Forest Service land and turned them out. 

 

What a beautiful evening. 

 

We have a small permit for the Elk Mountain Allotment.  We would love to be able to put more cattle on the mountain but permits are highly sought after and even when one becomes available there are usually several people interested.  I’m not sure how long we have held this permit but it was long before I set foot on the ranch.

 

We will go most of the summer without seeing these girls and their babies.  They are pretty much on their own but we do take the horses or ATV or pickups up once in a while and check on things along with the other ranchers who run cattle with ours.  Everyone helps out too – if we see someones cattle where their not supposed to be or in trouble we do what we can and let the owner know what’s happening.  They do the same for us so it’s kind of like a neighborhood watch for beef.

The cattle are ready to go.  This is their vacation from the ranch and I honestly believe the ones who have been there before look forward to it almost as much as a trip to the Bahamas.

 It’s Summer Camp for Cows – Welcome to Camp Moo.

OK – Maybe not.

In 2000 a good share of Elk Mountain burned.  It was started by a spark from a welder over on the other side of the mountain.  In my lifetime it will never look the way it did before the fire.  But in the mountains – fire is just part of life.  I know it will grow back someday.  Just like the grass that shoots up every spring and the new batch of calves that will grow fat and sassy over the summer.

 

And with the first cold days of fall the cattle will come down off the mountain by themselves.  Somehow they seem to know when it’s time.  One day you go to the barn and find them standing at the gate – ready to come home and feast on the hay we’ve spent all summer stockpiling.  And so the cycle continues. 

Yes, the dishes are still dirty and so is the laundry and the toilets.  The seeds are still waiting in their colorful packages and the weeds are running rampant though the garden.

But you know what?

The world didn’t stop turning because I took a night off.

The earth didn’t tip-off its axis and fall into a black hole either because I saddled a horse and went for a ride with my Hubby. 

The world is still spinning, the grass is still growing and the moon came up like clockwork.

Nope – everything is as it should be…

I just might take tomorrow night off too – how about you? 

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