Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Green, Green Grass of Home

Last time I talked about how dry it was out here and noted that I'd talked about this same thing 2 years ago and that immediately after I wrote "Dust Bowl Days" in 2011, it started raining.  Same thing happened this year, too.  I wrote about the dust bowl conditions and it started raining.  Late June gave us some decent rain, with small rains every week and a couple of big rains.   This past week, it's been raining a lot and today we got over 1" of rain and it's still coming.   Let's look at some pictures:

Here's a storm coming in

Water in a playa- this one doesn't fill up very often

Water in the creek!  Creek's running, too.

A rainbow!

So, the place is green and stuff's growing.  The "stuff" isn't totally grass, though.  There are a lot of weeds and there's a lot of purslane growing.   Purslane is interesting stuff and you can read all about it in the link provided.  We've never seen it before but I'd sure rather have it than snakeweed or locoweed. In fact, I'm thinking about making a salad out of it.  And in areas, there is some excellent grass growing.  It's too late for this year as our cattle owner has already sold his cattle, but this will hopefully give us a good start on next year's cattle and it should definitely help our pastures recover.  In the meantime, I've learned a lot about just tight we can pull our belts, although with some careful budgeting and forecasting, we're actually doing okay.  And, hey, at least it's raining.

In other exciting news- working backward here- we had a visitor!  I'll copy from my Facebook description:

Well, another exciting day on the ranch! About an hour ago, the dogs started barking like crazy and we looked outside to see a bear standing on a post in the front yard, "treed". I called the fearless and brave Australian Shepherd (<- inside joke) back and the bear jumped down and worked thru the pens toward our chickens. Georgia said "There's something else over there!" So we looked and... oh, no... a cub, standing right next to the chicken pen. Thru some yelling, careful nudging, and encouraging with the pickup, we got them both headed out of the pens and into the pasture... until the horses came along. The horses actually charged the cub and knocked it over but finally Mama Bear headed south under a fence and the horses couldn't get to them. I then herded the bears across the road, giving them plenty of room. They wanted to cut back toward the house, but I "encouraged" them down the old railroad bed toward the creek. After about a dozen attempts to cut back to the house, they finally made the creek, got a drink, splashed in the water, and headed south down the creek.

Mama Bear was actually very well-behaved and showed no threatening behavior toward us, although she stand on her hind legs a time or two. Here's hoping they find happy hunting grounds and stay away from the house. We all now know to watch for bears- in addition to rattlesnakes and mountain lions- when we go to check the chickens. Kudos to "Risky", the Aussie for barking.
Mama Bear on the fence
Mama and Baby try to get away- but the horses intervene

More exciting news:   Derek and I shot the NM State Archery Championships which, as you know if you've been following my blog, I've been preparing for since last fall.  I got my equipment worked out, worked on my form, and I did good.  I was hoping for a top 5 and I finished 3rd, which is not too bad for my 1st year of competition since 1990.  I improved my scores all year long and that was good.   Derek, on the other hand, won his division and also set 4 State Records!!!   We had a good time in Farmington at the shoot, even though it was really hot and the days were long.  We lazed about in the motel's outdoor pool and Derek started learning to swim.  Afterward we went up to Durango CO and visited my friend and mandolin builder Robb Brophy.  Good times.

Last shot of the Animal Round: 21 (perfect!)
After the shoot, I continued to work on my form and if you're really bored, you can watch a video of me practicing here.  After watching this video, I made yet another small change in my form which showed immediate results.  I'm hoping to shoot the series again next year!

Okay, last bit of news- in June, I attended Steve Kaufman's Acoustic Music Kamp in Tennessee.  I did 8 years as the Kamp Doctor- the on-grounds repairguy- but this year, I went as a Kamper.  With fewer cattle on the ground, I had the time.  One never has the money, but I sort of had it.  Mostly, though, I wanted to see friends.  There were so many people who were so supportive during David's death and I felt like I needed to see them and thank them personally.  So, I got my plane tickets, signed up, and went.  It was great.  I took mandolin, learned a lot, talked a lot, and had a very, very relaxing time.

Jamming (on guitar) with Andrew Collins
Well, gotta run for this time- it's thundering and lightning outside.  Thank God for the rain.

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