Monday, June 20, 2016

A Toast to Grass

Summer is in full swing, which means most evenings we eat outside. Tonight we’ll watch and wait for the June full moon, the strawberry moon, which just happens to fall on the summer solstice, a rare occurrence. Mark and I talked about the northernmost sunrise this morning and how the sun will now head back south along the rim of the mountains until its about-face in mid December.   

The garden is up and hitting its stride. The peas will be blooming soon. I've stymied the cabbage moths by putting mesh around the cabbage plants and thinned the kale, a new/old favorite I planted for the first time this spring.

We’ve been enjoying bird traffic around the house, bobbing goldfinches, regal cedar waxwings in pairs, and the occasional flash of an oriole. We don’t cotton to bird feeders, but provide currants, serviceberries and chokecherry bushes for au naturel dining.  

Anna is spending the summer with us, weighing fall employment options and taking some much needed downtime to reflect on her college career and dive into ranch work. She’s been Mark’s right-hand cowboy all spring. We lost her horse, Mater, last fall so she’s been riding 21-year-old Birdie, who’s as light and lively and high-strung as ever. Birdie and I don’t exactly mesh, but easygoing Anna is getting along well with her.

The cattle walked their way to the high country and are happily settled in a sea of grass. Oh, how Mark and I love grass. So much so that at a restaurant for dinner yesterday, on the terrace on a perfect evening, we raised our glasses; "to grass!” I said.

It was written eloquently about grass in the late 1800’s: “Grass is the forgiveness of nature, her constant benediction.” I’ve memorized the words from the 1948 Yearbook of Agriculture, a large green tome entitled, Grass, which Mark’s grandpa gave me 25 years ago. An essay by Kansas senator, John James Ingalls, extols the “enduring blessings” of grass which captures my love for this, a most inconspicuous but essential family of plants. Grass moderates soil temperatures, diminishes floods and droughts, feeds life in the soil, sinks carbon, and through the gut of an herbivore, provides nutrients to the food chain long past its short green season. 

It is this last function, the joining of cow and grass, that is the principle job of a rancher and that which we take most joy in. 

Anna on Birdie

Kate working the flank

it was a long walk