October 29, 1983 (mine since Sept. 4 1992) - July 31, 2011
Joe the Horse
I haven't been riding in ages. I bought this goofy (but gorgeous) paint horse (Magic is his name) a couple years ago and rode him for most of a year but then had some health problems and got out of shape and just couldn't deal with him. Getting old sucks. I really needed to either get somebody to work him over for a week or two to burn off some of his excess energy OR get another safer ride until I could get in shape to start on Magic again. Well I happened to luck onto a sweet old guy named Joe. He used to work on a guest ranch so he is calm enough for anybody to ride, but he isn't herd bound or too barn soured and goes out alone just fine. They ran cattle on the place too so he knows what they are, if not much about working them. No matter we do most stuff on foot anyway or have a crew.
He's no show horse, (and needs a little more feed put to him) and he is freaking tall, but I have to use a rock to get on the rock to get on anyway so...
I am happily - and literally - back in the saddle again. The dogs are sure loving it - MAJORLY beats running behind the pick up in the dust
This evening since we got another good rain this afternoon, I decided to relive a little activity from my childhood and this post is inspired by two current threads. Thomcat's "pix of things you love" and Tobin's "pleasant memories".
When my sisters and I were little, we spent most summers here on the ranch with our grandparents while my parents worked out of state. We learned early to look forward to the summer rains, not only because it meant we got a break from being so worried about water all the time, but soon the canyon would run. This was an event as notable as the rain itself and always got written down in the rain gauge book that documented all moisture since January of 1951.
The part us kids got excited about was water to PLAY in! The first day after the first flow we would be out the door at the crack of dawn and on our way up stream. Going from pool to pool, looking for a good deep one we might actually be able to "swim" in (float full length without touching bottom or edges). Later we would catch tadpoles and watch the little toads transform in homemade terrarium/aquariums, but the first day was just about the water. We had silly names for the side canyons and various landmarks. Bathtub Canyon, Lizard Rock Canyon, Triangle Rock, etc. Two actual man-made landmarks are The Dam and The Cement Bridge (this is in contrast to The Two Wooden Bridges).
Anyway, I decided to walk up to the Cement Bridge this evening. I went barefoot, as I often do. It was so beautiful - the running water, the GREEN, the smells of moisture, wet soil, seep willows and the sound of doves and running water. The heavy breathing of a fat old woman trudging through the sand and rocks.
This is looking downstream from behind the barn:
Here is a shot looking upstream. Note the almost "pruned" tree. Conveniently browsed by cows and mule deer to head-height for human walkers.
This is The Dam:
Long ago there was a pipe that ran to the house (about a half mile) from a spring box built behind it. My Mother remembered it being used when she was a child, but it was long out of commission in my time. Oddly, having played and ridden up and down and hiked and waded past it for most of my life, I never knew about the spring box until about 15 years ago, a cousin that was trading work for pasture got overly energetic one day and walked up there with a shovel and dug the opening out. It has a concrete box on the upstream side that should have a heavy steel lid on it and under it and along the whole length of the dam (again on the upstream side is a timbered "box" that functioned as a spring for the water held in the sand to flow clear and then on into the pipe to a storage tank at the house, just low enough in elevation to flow by gravity to a tank at head height by the kitchen door.
As kids this was an important spot because sometimes the wash flowed fast and cleared out all the sand on the downstream side and made one of the biggest deepest pools in the whole canyon. Other times it would fill completely with sand and would just be a mild waterfall and we would need to continue our search. It is a medium small pool today.
And this is the Cement Bridge:
It was built in the thirties by the WPA as the road was the main thoroughfare then. (before Highway 86 and then Interstate 10). Like The Dam, sometimes there is a good pool on the downstream side, sometimes not. Not much of a pool today. Another plus with the bridge was SHADE because it would usually be mid morning by the time we wandered up here. For the fat old lady it has the first decent seating. since The Dam
view back the way I came, looking downstream
5 minutes ago there was a
FUCKING RATTLESNAKE UNDER MY FUCKING DESK!!!
I have an intellectual side that says predators belong in the system and in order to be part of it I may need to be willing to sacrifice some of the domestic animals I care for. I also have a spot in my brain that is interested in the natural history and biology of the world, so knowing a large predator still survives in the increasingly crowded-by-humans neighborhood is very pleasing to me. I also acknowledge that the animals I raise are meant to be eaten (preferably by humans that pay me money to do so, but bottom line is death).
On the other hand being a human I have certain control issues. I do view my animals at least somewhat as property and I have feelings of alarm when that property is taken without permission or compensation. I have primitive feelings of competition as a predator too. I also can see that a killing was not swift, that there was a fairly long struggle. I have neighbors who will hold me somewhat accountable for allowing a large predator to go "unattended" and especially now that there is ultimate proof of livestock killing.
Backing up, this morning a neighbor that has a road going through part of our ranch called. He had seen some strange drag marks on the road and found a dead calf. Lion. We went up to look. There was clearly a fight and a long struggle. The calf was a 9 month old red heifer (girl) and the cat had drug her around for quite awhile over about a 1/8 mile stretch of road, up a bank through some brush (in a big circle) and a little ways up a small draw. It must have been pretty tired because it didn't eat much, just a cantaloupe sized chunk out of the neck where it had been holding/dragging her.
We also found a javelina that had been killed earlier in the week, and probably the long used den. Someone who knows more about this than me thinks it is a female with cubs (kittens?). I am scared. I know that this is something that will have to be done, but I don't want to do it. I have been able to avoid this fact of life for a long time because we have a fucking interstate that runs through the place. The traffic seems to keep most of the large predators at bay so I could intellectually blather on about "oh, I could deal with the loss of a calf or two just to have these animals around" and not ACTUALLY have to deal with it in reality. Well reality has smacked me in the face and it has witnesses. Now what?
See the first part of the story here: http://www.democraticunderground.com/discu...
First I have to apologize for the crappy pix. Sorry. I took my “better” camera, but of course the batteries were dead. I ended up sitting there long enough to have gone and bought some more, but I was too scared to leave. I didn't want to miss them coming through. At least I had the cell phone, cruddy as it is.
The normal sequence of events at the weekly sale is odd livestock first at 11 am. They just recently quit selling horses, partly because of the slaughter ban, partly because they say they have been harassed by animal rights activists. I am a little surprised by that as they run a pretty open, clean sale. Anybody can walk around the pens (within reason, some animals are plain dangerous) and (can I get away with saying this?) there are a lot of women working there.
Anyway, after the odd goat or so, comes the baby calves and pairs (calves and cows together) then after lunch what are known as stockers. These are the money animals, 9 months old to a year or so - steers and heifers. Cull bulls and old cows go last. They had “scheduled” the two big guys to go after the regular stockers. Lots of people had been by or heard about them since we took them in early on Sunday. (Normally Wednesday is my choice to take things, because they charge yardage and feed, but I have no facilities to hold those guys – part of the reason they were so old and the real reason they had to go!)
Here are some normal yearling steers:
It was pretty funny when the steer entered because about 10 of us stood up and started taking pictures. Here is a head shot – not wide enough to get his horns all the way. Note where his back comes to on the sign compared to the first picture.
Here he is watching his audience:
The sale barn owner normally works in the ring, letting the animals in and calls up to the auctioneer the starting price, and any other info he wants announced, but I noticed he left an came out on the outside just when the big dark steer entered.
That is him walking towards the camera, being watched. Note the guy in the blue shirt staying behind the protective panel. I wonder if he got a little extra hazard pay?
Yet another blurry shot, but it shows his size. Want to guess what he weighed?
Here he is on the scale:
The white one weighed just 50 lbs less.He was a little more agitated and even the guy in the blue shirt decided to step out of there.
At least three people bid on them, I know one guy – he had been (unsuccessfully)involved in trying to catch them about 4 years ago. The Auction owner is the one who bought them, I heard later that he had an order from somebody else to get them but I haven't found out who yet. At any rate it would seem to be somebody who wants them for novelty and not food, at least yet.
Thus ends the tail of two gigantic steers on the old homeplace. Well, unless they get away from whoever ends up with them. They have a pretty strong homing instinct and not many fences can hold them.
This is a friend of mine who finally managed to trailer these two hmmm what to call them to honor their magnificence yet also acknowledge the danger and problems they were? well, steers is what they are so that is what I will call them.
The white is 9 years old and has only been penned twice before. The first time when he was a calf and branded, the second a few years ago in one of many attempts to get rid of him. Unfortunatley someone who did not follow directions fed too close to a fence and some idiot horses pushed on it trying to steal hay and he got out.
The black bald face. Oh how I am conflicted to see him go. He was branded in August of 1996. That was the year my mother died. He was a rare miscall by a cowboy's cowboy. (when branding with a crew and multiple brands, the guys roping the calves call out the correct brand based on the calf's mother to the crew working on the ground) I liked having him around for several reasons. I mean just look at him! Plus he was good for ribbing the caller from that branding.
That steer, I call him the Monster, is a bit of a legend around here. All the neighbors know him because a boundary fence was like stepping over a string on the ground (at least he is a steer and not a bull) He was actually pretty tame. You could almost hand feed him - he would come within 10 feet and eat hay off the ground. As long as you were out in the pasture. He would stand in the corral if you went to have a look at him, but if you made a move to close a gate he was gone. He could clear a 6 foot fence from a stand still. It was worth it just to watch him do it. Almost.
He is 14 years old and starting to slow down. He can't clear the heights so well anymore and herein is the big problem. He was still trying. He tore up a water lot maybe 10 times this last year. so this morning I got a call from the guy in the picture. (He has been helping gather some other wild stuff for me.) He says "I got a couple steers for ya, want to meet up on the hill with the hauling papers?" I said I would be right up, and then grumbled to myself "only 2 steers? at this rate we are never going to get them cleaned out, I want those rank old cows out of the west pasture, I only have two more sets of papers gripe piss moan".
So I come driving up and I see those two boys and did a whoop LOL and started clicking my cell camera. That is the blurry "thumbs up" one. Had to come back to the house and get the "better" camera (still a POS) - this is history. My helper was pretty high on catching them. I talked to him on the phone a little while ago and he said when they unloaded them at the sale, that was when he actually realised how freaking big they were. "Them two steers was looking OVER the 6 foot rails!" ha. Well he has the bragging rights to catching them now.
I am sad but it needs to be done. I am going to go to the sale on Thursday and get some more pix. If they don't get him bid up just for the fun of it I may buy him back. Anybody know of a taxidermist that will do his head?
Sounded like a big long crack of thunder - and there is a slight chance of rain today - but then there was this crashing sound. Crap.
The ten most recent threads posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums.
Happy Fathers' Day to all the Dads.
By No Elephants
Deleted. Triple post.
By No Elephants
Deleted. Triple post.
By No Elephants
NSA vs Snowden -- Follow the Money
Jeb Bush : 'Immigrants create more businesses than do US citizens' and "are more fertile..."
By Leopolds Ghost
Enthusiast, did you get a pm from me this morning?
By No Elephants
New Left Forum-Whistleblowers (also Bradley Manning)
By No Elephants
The highly dishonest Jon Keller
By No Elephants
The ten most recommended threads posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums in the last 24 hours.
Use the tools below to keep track of updates to this Journal.