Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Owyhee Miracle: He is Risen!

Tuesday March 28 2017

It's not often you witness an honest to goodness miracle. But one happened yesterday, on the very Owyhee Trails you will be riding on the April Fools (Tough Sucker) ride on April 1.

Weeks ago, a very new calf was laying in a sagebrush right beside a trail we ride on. Mama cow was nearby. We all exchanged glances, cow, calf, humans, horses. And the calf laid there, and mama cow grazed, and we rode on.

A few days later, said calf was dead, sprawled out in a ditch across the trail, gone to cow heaven. Mama cow was gone. The little carcass spooked Jose. He knew very well that baby calf had been alive the last time he rode by. He stopped and sniffed the carcass, and I assured him the calf was in cow heaven.

The next time we rode by there was only half a dead calf. Jose eyeballed it suspiciously because it had previously been whole, and it had moved a bit, but yes, it was the same baby-calf-in-cow-heaven.

Then yesterday as we approached that spot, Jose was again on the lookout out for the dead half-calf on his right. We all were looking for it - me and Jose, Steph and Smokey... but it had disappeared…... when suddenly on the left out of the sagebrush rose a whole live calf, spooking all 4 of us into the next county - WHOA!

Not only was the dead half-calf on the right gone, but He is Risen, out of the sagebrush on the left, come back to life all alive and well and in one whole piece, and I could swear that Risen Calf had a halo floating above his head!

There could be no other explanation - it being somewhat close to Easter and all - than an Owyhee miracle!

Because Jose is so smart, and he thinks about things, he could not process this. How on earth can half a dead calf on one side turn back into a whole live calf on the other side??? As we moved on, Jose kept stopping to turn around and look back and ponder things in his heart.

Henceforth this spot is christened as Baby Jesus Calf Corner, to mark this miraculous miracle.

We might put up a sign for the April Fools ride, to show the exact spot of this true Owyhee miracle. Or you might see deep hoof prints gouged in the sand where the horses spooked. Or we might not put up a sign because we don't want to make this a pilgrimage spot. It's really our secret Owyhee miracle.

If there is no sign, and if you happen to feel a kind of miraculous magic in the air or a tingling down in your bones when you ride by Baby Jesus Calf Corner, you will know where you are.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Spring: Owyhee Love is in the Air

Monday March 19 2017

The first day of spring, and the flowers are busting out of the desert hillsides, starting with the yellow bells. The kestrels are mating. The Ravens are building nests. The creeks tumbling down from the Owyhees are overflowing banks and driveways. Even the buffalo gnats have already made an unwelcomed appearance. The horses are starting to shed, sharing their hairy layers with your fleece jackets.

And horses are in love.

Young endurance mare Smokey (who is fixed, by the way), stands in the corner of our pasture, not caring about her herd-mates (who are unimpressed, saying, "Not this again,"), not caring about anything but her beloved Paco on the far side of the neighbor's pasture. She stands alone and moons and whinnies and hollers for The Most Beautiful Horse in the World.

Stately, mature, older, sway-backed Paco, The Most Beautiful Horse in the World, stands alone in his pasture (ignoring his gray-haired old lady companion), and, unable to eat or drink or do anything but be in love, he moons and whinnies and cries and bellers like a fraught schoolboy to his beloved Smokey.

All is right with the world when love is in the air once again in a new Owyhee spring.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Barn Pets

Tuesday March 14 2017

Uh… not!

These pestiferous little buggars are cute and cuddly, I'll grant you that. One website fondly describes pack rats as "sleek, soft-furred animals with big, bright, bulging black eyes." And in another place and time (like maybe a long time ago in another galaxy far, far away), one might think they'd make good pets.

But in this place in time, they are magnificent pests. They multiply like, well, rats, move in everywhere you don't want them, and you just can't get rid of them. The packrat lives in your barns and cars, under your porches and your house, in your house if he can find a way in it. They steal things for their nests and they chew through wiring in your cars. They live in between hay bales and under shower stalls in barns; and wherever they decide to build their nests, they use them for toilets. If they were toilet trainable, they might be acceptable creatures, but they are not and they are not. They just stink.

Not to mention your things tend to disappear. Not for nothing are they called pack rats. A nest in the barn under the shower stalls has, at different times, contained (from what I can get a glimpse of through a crack in the wall) the yellow trail marking ribbons (not the red ones or blue ones, and not the skinny ones, but the double wide yellow ones), a shaving razor. Probably pieces of a broken coffee mug which I know one of them broke. I found a Halloween rubber bat, about 3 inches by 5 inches, on the way to the nest. This year on the way to the nest I found: pliers, a broken/cut electric 3 pronged plug, and a horse thermometer. (!!!!!)

A couple years ago, Connie lost her cell phone one day. I thought I heard it beeping around the silver bullet bus once. A few days later John later opened the battery drawer, found a packrat nest stuffed in there and reached in to clean it out - and scooped out Connie's cell phone. No word yet on any suspicious charges on her phone bill.

One redeeming feature - if you can call it that - of the pack rat, is their "midden", a debris and waste pile. Pack rat urine is viscous, and once the sugars crystalize, the remaining fluid, known as amberat, eventually hardens and cements the material together. This can preserve the materials in the midden for tens of thousands of years. Scientists carbon date middens and analyze them to determine what vegetation was growing at the time they were created, and with this information, climate change over thousands of years can be determined (Take that, say the pack rats, you climate change deniers! We pack rats have known all along!) The unredeeming feature of the midden is it stinks and it's nasty and it can grow to be huge, either in canyon walls, in barns, under shower stalls, you name it.

Other than that, and the bit of cuteness, when they're living under your roofs, they have no other redeeming qualities.

The 2017 pack rat war has begun. Sorry, dear little pack rats, you have all (once again) been entered into the Packrat Forced Relocation Program (I just can't bring myself to kill them - so I relocate them).

Some of you relocated pack rats are being spray painted neon colors as you leave, since I heard from someone they have been documented to travel as much as 5 miles back to where they came from!

So all of you pack rats pack some of your things, and BUH-bye.

(The score so far is, I caught and relocated 3, I caught 2 and they escaped the trap, Regina's dogs caught and killed one, cats caught and killed one. No spray-painted ones have been re-trapped.)