April 21, 2008

Y’all don’t see this coming up the pike, too often…

Posted in blogging, photography tagged , , , , , , , at 7:59 am by czygyny

 I am blessed to live across the road from one of the few working ranches left in the area. Many a day and night I have enjoyed the lush green pastures, the emerald sea setting the stage for the mountain views to the north, listening to the staccato sounds of the impact sprinklers stretched out on long aluminum pipes, borne on big wheels. I watch as they swath hay, smelling the sweet fragrance of drying grasses that drift over my home, and the machines that deftly cruise by and load the finished bales aboard. I watch the newborn calves jump and run at the simple joy of being alive, I lie awake fearfully at night when the coyotes shriek in triumph and cows bellow, and wonder if a young life has been taken.

A few times every year, the folks that own Lassen Canyon Nursery, the Elwoods, run their cows from one pasture to another, and take it right down my dirt road. Coming on horseback with their red and white border collie helpers, they move the unwilling beasts down the road as they try and stop to take a mouthful of new grass here and there, or perhaps even try to make a break for it and run, but they never get far.

My biggest wether lamb was standing out ahead of everyone else to investigate these behemoths lumbering past his home. The rest were too afraid to step up and check it out.

I love the faces on some of the cattle, they have Angus/Hereford cross cows that end up with the most interesting patterns. They have some of the biggest and best looking cattle and bulls I have ever seen. Their bulls reside up the road from me. They sing their bovine love songs at night, an eerie, bugling sound that has an amazing range of timbre. I’ve heard some neighbors complain about the noise, but I think it is a wonderful sound to hear on a warm night.



   When one of the cows gets an idea to bug out, those amazing stock dogs are right there to take on a thousand pounds of hoof and attitude. It is obvious the cows don’t like the dogs, and just as obvious that the dogs love their work. I can see that they make the cowpoke’s job a lot easier.


So, at the end of my experience with this short cattle drive, they ride off into the sunset, (well, not quite late enough for a sunset-but it was into the west) but actually just a bit more down the road. I imagine they will be taking the half grown calves away to the auction and making ready for the new crop of youngsters to drop, and the cycle completes itself, once again.


I grieve for the day when the last cattle are sold off, and the open expanse of fertile bottomland is covered over with strip malls, asphalt, houses stacked side by side, manicured lawns, street lights, the inevitable litter, noise and loss of another beautiful stretch of nature. The Northern harriers, the western meadowlarks, the savannah sparrows, the red-wing blackbirds and owls, even the coyotes will have lost another home, the skies so obscured by light that the stars, the comets and occasional aurora borealis are obliterated from our view, and the field crickets chatter will be drowned out by car noise.

I miss the patriarch, Kenny Sr., who died a few years ago. He would drive by in his big pickup, always with a smile and a wave. I am glad to see his children still hard at it. Lets hope the Elwood family find ranching to be a profitable venture for many years to come. I will hate to see this scene, shown below, to be marred and ruined forever.