Free Fall - Home on the Range Blog at - 257065

Home on the Range

Free Fall 
Nov. 15, 2011 9:53 am 
Updated: Nov. 17, 2011 4:16 pm

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.
Nov. 15, 2011 10:02 am
Very Nice..
Nov. 15, 2011 12:43 pm
Your photos are just breathtaking! I'll have to see if you post this on FB too because the right side is cut off here. I had the same drastic change in weather here too. I went to bed at 60F and woke up to snow -- in October!!
Nov. 15, 2011 2:22 pm
i have no idea how to fix that!! Here is my addy to my original blogs..
Nov. 15, 2011 2:24 pm
Beautiful . . .just Beautiful!!!
Nov. 16, 2011 4:50 am
Wowed again, my friend!!! Thanks so much.
Nov. 16, 2011 5:20 am
Awesome photos, Petey! And your account matched them wonderfully.
Nov. 16, 2011 5:47 am
Thank you for the post. Have you ever seen one of Ann Zwinger's books? You matched/surpassed what she does. Look up her book Downcanyon. You'll see what I mean.
Nov. 16, 2011 8:19 am
Petey - If I didn't know better I'd swear Ansel Adams took your photos. Another comforting read. Thank you.
Nov. 17, 2011 7:07 am
Awesome! Thank you for sharing this with us. The Canadian geese spend the winter here - They arrive noisily heralding the arrival of Autumn. They sure see some beautiful country along their route.
Nov. 17, 2011 8:57 am
What a beautiful phtographer you are Petey! I Love your blog. Things change so quickly here, don't they. One day, it's summer and then "BAM" it's winter! Well said.
Nov. 17, 2011 4:16 pm
I am always amazed at how big your sky is. I live in a neighborhood where the sky is only straight many big old trees to see through. I love your blogs and your beautiful pictures. Thank you.
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About Me
Kids are raised, we are ranchhands on a 250,000 acre working cattle ranch 110 miles from the nearest small town, so we raise a lot of our own food, vegetables, fruits, milk,eggs and meat. Love riding and working cattle, but find myself spending a lot more time in the kitchen, and the garden.
My favorite things to cook
Having 2 Jersey cows as well as milk goats, playing with fresh milk is a hobby, making our own butter, yogurt, sour cream, cheeses, soap and all the other great stuff you can do with fresh raw milk.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Homemade from scratch...anything! All traditions are sort of gone by the wayside, as we live so far from family now
My cooking triumphs
Most things from this site, this has been the best thing the internet has had to offer!
My cooking tragedies
A layered Jello dessert...the middle layer never set, so it did the 'ooze-wiggle'...and...well..I liquified a couple of chickens on 2 different occasions, turning them into a black gel. Moral of that story is, don't start cooking then go clean barns!...and there was the time that my kids were helping me make Thanksgiving dinner and SOMEbody (who resembled my youngest son) forgot to put the sugar in the pie!!!
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