seeking shelter from the storm—
Will spring ever come?
Faithful blog followers may have noticed that posts on “Ranch News” have been fewer and more basic lately. This was largely due to technical difficulties. My faithful laptop went on to that great recycling center in the sky, and I had to learn, sort of, to post on my husband’s wonderful, but unfamiliar, Mac. When I added the new version of Photoshop Elements, I discovered that the newer and fancier upgrade was likewise unfamiliar. Hence the changes you have observed.
But all this is in the past! After much study, I purchased a new laptop. I finally gave up and called the Adobe help desk, where the nice gentleman explained to me how to revert to the familiar “Classic Editor” posting format, which makes it easy to do more editing.
My new tools allow me to resume my former style of posting lots of medium size photos, with, I hope, enlightening and witty text.
The Sage Grouse Strut
It’s the Sage Grouse strut,
It’s the Sage Grouse stroll,
It’s the Sage Grouse hustle,
We boys are on a roll.
To impress our feathered friends,
we puff and shoot the breeze,
hootin’, “Hey there, ladies—
you’re some fancy chickadees!”
I can thrust my chest out—
like two shiny pearly shields,
I can waggle spotted tail feathers
in these sagebrush springtime fields.
I can flap my grousy wings
with a fancy dancey fly–
that bird with ruffled plumage
can’t even flutter to the sky.
“Hey girls, look here at Big Bird–
Do you like what you see?
I’m the coolest guy out here—
Hey darlin’ chickies, pick me!”
“Just smell that spicy sagebrush,
(you can quit your hiding place)
the hen party should be over,
It’s me you must embrace!
“You may be small and brown,
but you’re winsome as can be–
shake your bootie over here
and make some eggs with me.
“Just ignore that moulty bird
with his wimpy rooster tail.
Take a brushy stroll with me
along this sagey trail.
“I’m a’stompin’ and a’struttin’
upon this crowded lek.
Forget your frumpy henfriends—
I’m at your call and beck.
“I’m the coolest cockerel–
see that rooster over there
can hardly puff his chest out,
He’s only suckin’ air.
“That chicken who is struttin’
and a’prancin’ through the sage
couldn’t hardly get a date
if he was dancin’ on a stage,
“and that struttin’ fool you see
is nothin’ but a poult.
if you study him real close
he’s about to start to moult.
“Don’t even take a look–
that cocky dude is not the best.
He’ll love ya and he’ll leave ya
with chicks tucked in the nest.
“Just ignore those other birds,
with their inferior display,
I’m the ace who offers
the best sort of DNA.
“I’m the best grouse on the lek,
I’m a struttin’ fool, you see–
so take the Sage Grouse stroll
through the scented brush with me!
“It’s the Sage Grouse strut
It’s the Sage Grouse dance,
Step right up, you sexy hen,
it’s time for Grouse romance!”
Today, we set out by air to look for missing heifers. The runway at the Dixon Airport hadn’t been plowed, but the pilot, Justin, did an amazing job of taking off and landing in quite a bit of snow in what looked to me like the Volkswagon Beetle of small airplanes. Unfortunately, in spite of several hours and lots of miles of searching, we did not find said heifers. We did see a lot of amazing country, elk, deer, antelope, wild horses, sheep (ours) and cattle belonging to our neighbors. If you see heifers with a JO brand, a red eartag and a white eartag, please let us know.
The bitter cold and deep snowfall during the past week has seen critters, wild and domestic, on the move. We decided to trail our yearling ewes and old ewes from the Chivington Place to Powder Flat , where they are closer to the haystack. Likewise, the deer, elk and antelope are all on the move. Here’s some of the migrations we saw today.
When I was moving a sheep camp the other day, I saw Mule deer, antelope and elk, all within a few hundred yards of each other. I dove for the camera, but of course the antelope ran off and the elk moved out of camera range. The deer posed.
The migration of these three species is about a month early this year. It is dry on the desert, where they winter, along with our cows and sheep. We were trailing our yearling ewes to spring pasture, also about a month early, when we saw the other grazers on the move. We have over 100 per cent snow pack in the mountains this year, so are hoping for abundant pasture in the coming months.
At this time two years ago, we were buried in snow and wondering how we would make it to green grass without buying a lot more expensive feed. As it turned out, green grass was even further out than we imagined. We quit feeding in early June, but would have kept it up if we hadn’t run out of hay. It flooded most of the summer–rivers and meadows alike, as we scrambled to grow hay and save structures.
Last year, the winter was mild all the way through, but in March, we were thinking we could count on the spring rains. Again we were reminded of the the old saw, “only fools and newcomers predict the weather”–and we didn’t think we fit in either category. The last rain came on May 2nd (I remembered because we had just started to shear) and didn’t see dark clouds again until early July.
That turned out to be part of a wide-spread drought–one that affected other parts of the country much more severely than it did us. The resulting spike in corn prices is haunting us still.
So far, the winter has been an “easy winter”–the kind we used to pray for. We haven’t had to buy much extra feed, which is lucky because, largely due to the drought, hay and grain are at record prices. Last year’s dry spring has made us cautious though. The federal and state land management agencies have been sending out letters warning of possible cut-backs in grazing for sheep and cattle.
Tonight the time springs forward. One of the neighbors asked me, “Are you hoping for spring?”
My reply–“Actually, I’m hoping for a little more winter.”