Today, we are “springing forward” in time. The transitions back and forth between Standard Time and Daylight Savings Time are always jolting. I think it’s harder than one hour jet lag because the environmental clues of sunshine and shadows don’t change. We are close to the Equinox, when daylight and nighttime hours are approximately equal. This change is subtle but real. It reflects the wheeling of the earth, sun and stars. The measurement of time is a human construct, to give us a path to capturing the vast reality of our journey through the universe. The ancients built pyramids and Stonehenge to chart this course.
We are finally, I hope, making the transition from Winter to False (or Almost) Spring. A few days ago, we woke up to zero degrees, again. For the last two or three days, daytime temperatures have been above freezing–even as high as a balmy 40 degrees! We are moving from snow everywhere to snow most everywhere, interspersed with mud. We have lots of little lambs on the ground at Powder Flat. Most of the ewes are still in the Big Horn Basin, but we are seeing the light at the end of the snow tunnel and hope to bring them home soon. Most of the cows are in Nebraska and Laramie, but we are waiting for the day when conditions improve so they can come home too. The young bulls are hanging out at Powder Flat with the early lambers. Roma poet Virgil: “fugit inreparabile tempus”, which means “it escapes, irretrievable time”.
Faithful blog readers know that due to extreme winter conditions in the Red Desert, our usual wintering ground, we have trucked most of our ewes north to the sugar beet fields in Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin. The Bighorn Basin is several hundred miles to the north of us, almost to the Montana border, but is also several thousand feet lower, and less snowy. We have some ewes who experienced “early conception,” probably due to a rogue buck lamb who escaped docking. At Powder Flat, we are set up for shed lambing (usually in March) and have a great crew. Pat and I went up to visit the ewes and herders, and to collect the pregnant ewes and bring them home to lamb. The Bighorn Basin is also experiencing an unusually snowy winter, though for them it is several inches of snow, not several feet. We have a good crew there too–Pepe, Modesto, Alejandro and Joel. It’s a long ways from home, but has feed available for the ewes.
Today, Siobhan and I were on a routine drive, all within a mile of home. when we got very stuck. We were checking the horses and the cats. We followed the tractor’s tracks. Alas, we have had approximately two feet of new snow in the last couple of days, and it was actually warm. It was, by any measure, a bluebird day. This meant that the frozen trail, packed by the tractor, was mushy. Sure enough, we sunk into what I thought was a soft drift, and, ahem, spun out and became inexorably stuck.
Siobhan recalled that when gathering cattle from this meadow in sunnier days, her phone had service. I pointed out that we were close to home and could walk there in probably 15 minutes. She convinced me to walk a few hundred yards, find cell phone service, and call home for a tractor rescue. Soon Wilber, bless him, came with the tractor to pull us out. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it might be, as we got stuck four, count em’, four more times. Finally, with a lot of plowing and pulling, we were on our way to check on Eamon and Megan’s cats, who were very glad to see us.
Bear in mind that it was 44 degrees, and we were within an easy walk of home. It was not comparable to the time that Siobhan and Pat were stuck overnight on the Red Desert, with only gritty M&Ms to sustain them. Siobhan and I did spend three hours of quality time together, and the cats were really happy when we showed up!
Poor St. Francis,
he never knew such outrage in Italy:
Patron Saint of the Ladder Ranch,
animals, and the natural world.
His statue stands guard in our yard,
watching over birds, even the grouse,
the eagles, the robins, and it seems,
ravens, crows and magpies.
He looks out for cattle, sheep,
horses, dogs, and those wild critters.
He sees deer, elk, antelope.
St. Francis, please care for
the bats, the bees, and butterflies—
maybe not mosquitoes!
No patron saint for them.
So here stands his likeness,
concrete birds upon his fist.
In summer, actual bird poop
paints stigmata hands and feet.
But now, in the depths of winter,
in cold winds and drift
poor Francis stoically endures,
waist-deep in snow-white robes.