Friday, November 4, 2011

Free Fall

We left for California with tomatoes beginning to ripen on the vine and squash almost big enough to pick. We came home to frozen water troughs, and vines and flowers blasted from killing frosts. Warm sunny days have turned gray and cloudy and the hands of time have moved forward again. The sheep, goats and cows are busily cleaning up all the fallen pears, apples and apricots out in the pasture orchard. Most of the leaves have turned and fallen. It is a different world we returned to.

I find cloudy days in the city gloomy and oppressive but out here they are wild and beautiful. It’s a rare blessing to be able to go out and ride and take in the beauty of the new season. Soon there will be ice and snow, but for now, there are new colors and patterns all over the ranch. The migratory birds are coming back, passing through on their way south. We are an aviary fly zone in this valley and are visited by many different and unusual types of birds. 
Three of us went to move some cow/calf pairs and ran across migratory Mallards, Canadian Geese and Trumpeter Swans on a pond we rode past. We had to carefully pick our way across the boggy ground, trying to find a way to get to some cows we saw heading towards the desert to escape us. 
The ground changes from bog to alkali and it is spongy underneath our horses' feet. It feels hollow and is hard to travel on, but we keep going as it changes every mile or so. We finally reach our destination and push the cows through the gate into the pasture they will stay in for the night. Tomorrow someone will have to come back and take them the rest of the way, but now its getting too late.

There is a nip in the air but it doesn’t stop my horse from breaking a sweat as we long trot back towards the ranch headquarters after our 5 hours or so of riding. I love the smell. It's earthy and comforting.

The once green grass takes on a tawny hue and looks soft against the blue-green sagebrush.

Where we've been....the grass is golden, the mountains blue-purple and the sky is every shade of blue, grey and white.

Wild geese and swans

The Trumpeter swans take wing as if late for their fairy tale.

Approaching headquarters at dusk, the pastures glow in the last rays of the sun while the ranch houses rest in the shadow of the mountain.

I unsaddle Wimpy and give him a little grain in appreciation of his help, then get the wagon so I can milk EmmaLou and feed the calves. The pups come to keep me company and Cletus' big furry head works its way up under my arm while his tail beats in time to the milking machine. Night settles down around us like a comforter and I turn everyone out for the night and head to the house with my bucket full of warm, steamy milk.

Its a good life.


  1. That was so incredible beautiful! I felt at peace and inspired by reading it! Thanks so much for sharing it with us city dwellers :)

  2. This was wonderful. You are a gifted writer. I always find comfort in reading your posts, like it is the way things are supposed to be.

  3. thanks you guys! That is sweet.

  4. Wonderful! I've never seen a swan in the wild before. I always look forward to your new posts! I feel a contentment when milking and working with my animals. It's not something I can explain very well. You did!

    I can't say I've ever smelled a horse that's sweating, but I really love the way my cow smells! I think she smells a lot like cinnamon. I wonder if all cows smell that way......

  5. What a majestic place in which to live! And your writing is so inspirational. Thank you for sharing the beauty with us.