Sunday, May 22, 2011

Lure of the Natives

We’ve been madly processing and shipping yearlings, putting bulls out, and yes, still feeding cows. This cold wet spring has really made the grass, and in turn the ranchers, play catch up. About half of the herd are feeding themselves on pastures close by, but the big move will happen at the end of the week when we head for our summer range, some 2000 feet higher in elevation and 45 miles away from here. 

Jesse and Armando, our hard working employees, have been burning ditch and digging head gates to start flood irrigating. They were really late one evening and we couldn’t get them on either cell phone. I was sure they had succumbed to a propane explosion, but they drove in the yard just before dark. Jesse said they went back to make sure their fire was out and decided to do one more stretch of ditch. “You know how it is,” he said. They got the first stream of water started yesterday while we branded another set of calves. I was glad Jesse made it back in time to put his own brand on his calves. 

I transplanted more sagebrush to the yard last week. This would puzzle some people because the plants grow wild in abundance around here and are still aggressively eliminated on any developed site. I, on the other hand, think them beautiful plants and like the natural look they lend to the ground around our home. I am an even bigger fan after learning of their importance to wildlife, including and especially sage grouse, candidates for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Not that my project will benefit any grouse, however, as the birds don’t live here anymore.   

The blue-green foliage of sagebrush is the omnipresent background of my childhood. We drove cows through it every spring, collecting wood ticks along the way. It is evident in every landscape painting my Mom created. It defines a range cowman’s world. If you haven’t stood amongst a stand of sage after a rain has released its aroma, or smelled a sagebrush fed campfire, you haven’t experienced Idaho. 

My poet grandmother said it like this:         

                                                     The Irish have their shamrock,
                                                     The 'Scot his bonny heather.
                                                     In Idaho, it’s the sagebrush
                                                     That holds us all together.

                                                                                   -Agnes Just Reid 

The view from our back terrace, successful transplants

A new start

1 comment:

  1. A new start - how sweet!
    The last line is so visceral, so true...and maybe because I am familiar with it and partial because I am from Idaho, but to capture that smell and bottle it would be worth so much to me here in new york city. So much. This felt more like an update, but I liked the update. Jesse's honest heart shows through.