Thursday, June 12, 2014

June, Oh June

June is pure magic. I find lots to worry about, it’s just my nature - from world scale concerns like climate change and invasive species, to my own backyard landscaping which is progressing at a snail’s pace and what to fix for dinner. But every day there’s an underlying thrill, a great satisfaction, from simply living in Idaho on a ranch in June.

We moved a group of yearlings to the pasture in front of the house. We like to watch their grazing behavior over our morning coffee.

The replacement heifers are on a piece of rented property on the other side of town. Mark and I have regular dates changing paddocks. Yesterday following a move we bought a sandwich at the co-op and sat on the grass in the park for a picnic. That’s a rare occurrence.

I get regular updates from Seth who is interning at the Noble Foundation in Ardmore, Oklahoma. It’s tall grass prairie country, so he filled me in on the particular challenges producers face with too much, and not very nutritious grasses. One of the research projects he is working on is mob grazing. He was helping set up electric fence yesterday and dealing with cattle that weren’t trained to it. He said it felt like home!

I went with my friend Jack to visit the grazing/grouse research project being conducted nearby. We observed the technicians, Haley, from Portland, Oregon, and Jennifer, from San Diego, California, laying out a monitoring transect to measure vegetation traits of grouse nesting sites. This particular hen’s clutch had been predated. Her radio collar had sent a mortality signal, and we found feathers at the site so surmised she was wounded when the eggs were eaten. I enjoyed learning about the specifics of the project, but even more I enjoyed the conversations with Jack, a grouse biologist, and the stops along the drive to walk through and discuss what we see happening with vegetation on the landscape.

Yes, we’re behind, no we’ll probably never be “caught up.” When I get discouraged I think of a great line from Emily Dickinson, “to live is so startling, it leaves little time for anything else.” And I feel better just living. 

changing paddocks

changing paddocks, again

company for coffee

this hen picked poor habitat for a nest

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