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Category Archives: Nature and Wildlife

Solstice rays

Solstice sunrise gleams,
first rays of dawn portending
shorter days ahead.

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2022 in Events, Nature and Wildlife, Poetry

 

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Pollination

I stand with the bees!
Dandelions’ sweet bounty,
Spring’s ready nectar

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2022 in Animals, Dogs, Musings, Nature and Wildlife

 

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Shearing at Badwater

wooly ewes waiting for the shearers

It’s that time of year again. The shearers have shown up and shearing is underway. Each year it takes a lot of moving parts for fleeces to roll off the sheep and into the big bales. Our shearing crew are contractors who come out of California. We are their last client of the season. This is good because they are not under pressure to move on to the next producer, but nerve-wracking because we want to have the ewes shorn in time to trail to the lambing grounds north of Dixon. Lambing starts around May 10th.

We were fortunate with the weather this year. We had a snowstorm right before we were ready to start. The weather cleared and was warmish and nice for most of the week, allowing us to get through the “main line,” as the wool buyers call the running age ewes. The yearlings were next, followed by a brief, but not killer storm–always a worry for freshly shorn sheep.

Our crew packed up their portable shed–the shearing equivalant of a food truck–and moved to Powder Flat. The early lambers and the rams were there, and soon they too had given up their winter coats. Beulan and Maria the llamas were also shorn, much to their spitting disgust, but they are ready for summer.

wooly ewes with wagons

waiting in the corral

shorn ewes, ready to lamb

Frank and Gramps, son and father, on the job

Modesto and Eamon counting sheep

shorn ewes with birds

Edgar with unshorn llamas at Powder Flat

 

shearer at work

Meghan and Maria

Megan with Beulah

Beulah, freshly shorn

the wool packer baling the fleeces

bales of wool

fleeces in line

 

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Bald Eagle over Ladder Ranch

 

Bald Eagle soaring

harbinger of this springtime,

portending seasons.

 

 

 

 

 

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A murder of crows

 

 

A murder of crows
Seeking garbage, guarding trash,
St. Francis keeps watch.

 
 

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Christmas blessings

old cow barn

 

 

Blessed light returns,
the sunset’s glow sliding north
painting Christmas Eve.

Squaw Mountain on Christmas Eve

Sheep Mountain

Sheep Mountain with sheepwagon

candle with hymnal

St. Paul’s on Christmas Eve

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2021 in Events, Nature and Wildlife, Poetry

 

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Elk on the Smylie

Golden December–
elk grazing hillsides laid bare
by drought, ground thirsting.

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2021 in Animals, Nature and Wildlife, Poetry

 

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COP26, an All-Globe Effort

sheep grazing on the Routt National Forest–reducing wildfire, building soil

As international negotiators huddled in the last hours to hammer out an acceptable agreement, agriculture garnered little attention, except as a source of methane emissions. The need to produce 50 percent more food worldwide in the coming decades was hardly mentioned at all. Virtually no notice was given to wildlife and wildlife habitat enhanced by agricultural production. These are glaring omissions.

Fossil fuels, especially coal, were the crux of the negotiations.

Oil, gas and coal provides about 80 percent of all the energy used by human civilization. In China, it’s 88 percent (US Energy Information Administration). In the U.S., about 80 percent. The other big influencer is India, third in emissions and receiving 70 percent of its energy from coal alone.

India and China’s negotiators intervened in the last hours to water down language about reduction of fossil fuel use and subsidies to “phase down” from “phase out.”

Here’s a link to see the makeup of the delegations.

 COP26 delegations

An emphasis was placed on deforestation, but other than an exhortation to plant trees, attention was not given to the role sound forest management has in sequestering carbon and managing water.

To the credit of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) they stated, “At COP26, governments recognized that soil and nutrient management practices and the optimal use of nutrients lie at the core of climate-resilient, sustainable food production systems and can contribute to global food security. It was also recognized that while livestock management systems are vulnerable to climate change, improving sustainable production and animal health can contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions while enhancing sinks on pasture and grazing lands. improving sustainable production and animal health can contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions while enhancing sinks on pasture and grazing lands.”

In the end, we believe our Solutions from the Land team of seven was highly effective. We communicated with folks high (John Kerry) and low (the lone delegate from Tajikistan) about the importance of agriculture and forestry, and its role as a solution to climate change.

If the goal of no more warming than 1.5 degrees centigrade has a hope of being met (we’re currently at 1.1), it will take all sectors. The solutions are not simplistic,

Cattle trailing off the Forest, after a summer of grazing management

 

 

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COP26–Solutions not Agendas

Sunset from the International Space Station (NASA)

It is challenging to summarize the experience and outcomes of attending COP26 as delegates representing Solutions from the Land (SfL). SfL focuses on land-based solutions to global challenges.

Our team carried the message that agriculture, livestock production, and forest health offer solutions to mitigate methane emissions. Farmers Ray Gaesser, Lois Wright Morton, Fred Yoder and AG Kawamura, ranchers Pat and Sharon O’Toole, and SfL President Ernie Shea attended the COP26 over two weeks’ time.

We were told that past COPs agendas had hardly let agriculture, let alone animal agriculture, get their foot in the door. Deforestation was the only lens through which forestry was viewed. Pat said his fellow Board members who attended past COP meetings told him, “You better get somebody from livestock to go because you’re really being demonized.”

It didn’t take very long to realize that demonization of agriculture and forestry is a potential issue that we all need to be paying attention to.

Pat observed that the COP process has been really naive in its view of production agriculture and its ability to create solutions. “Chilling” is the word that Pat used to describe this view. “The conversations at COP26 did not indicate an understanding of the need for success in balancing production and conservation in the context of overall strategy,” O’Toole observed.

It was obvious that that meat production, rice production, and farmers in general were characterized in a negative way. The people who have gone to these COP meetings over the last years from all over the world say it’s only now that agricultural producers are recognized. Only now are agriculturalists having an ability to participate. Our team strongly conveyed the message that we from ag need to have a seat at the table.

Our path was made easier when United States Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack showed strong support for ag when he, along with Fred Yoder presented at the U.S. Pavilion.  Vilsack was very proactive in his support of agricultural production. This helped set the stage for the positive message carried by our team to focus on solutions, not agendas.

Here certainly was a feeling that there’s a lot of agendas about food production. Consumers have a very high level of concern without a very high understanding of production. Pat O’Toole said, “Luckily our family comes from a community of people who have been working on resilience in natural resources for over 30 years. We have example after example. On our landscape, a wetland that was created went from less than 40 species of birds to around 130.

“A trout passage program that made the entire watershed passable for trout from the main river to the heads of every tributary demonstrates agricultural resilience in terms of more efficient irrigation. This shows the vision of how we work together and use both our own initiative and programs from the Department of Interior and the Department of Agriculture to come up with solutions.”

Solutions include working with organizations which share SfL’s values. Intermountain West Joint Venture (IWJV) promotes “Healthy Habitat, Wildlife, and Communities.”

“The IWJV’s conservation delivery program brings people together to address complex challenges with broad-scale benefits for fish and wildlife, ranching and economic livelihood, and maintenance of the western way of life.” (IWJV.org)

Pat is the long-time President of the Family Farm Alliance, which advocates for irrigators. Their mission is to “Protect Water for Western Agriculture.”

“The Alliance is a powerful advocate before the government for family farmers, ranchers, irrigation districts, and allied industries in 17 Western states to ensure the availability of reliable, affordable irrigation water needed to produce the world’s food, fiber, and fuel.” (familyfarmalliance.org).

Partnerships in agriculture and forestry management hold a key to enhancing our landscape and atmosphere.

Earth’s atmosphere from space (NASA)

migratory ducks on wet meadow at Ladder Ranch

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2021 in Cattle, Events, Folks, Nature and Wildlife

 

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Eruption

golden leaves
an eruption
molten lava
burns the eyes

orange searing,
so full, fulsome
can’t imagine more,
senses overflowing

perfect days
as ephemeral as
flowing rock
destined to cool

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2021 in Nature and Wildlife, Poetry

 

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