They’re multiplying! This morning there were two more of those little foreigners – a red one with a “keyhole” white mark on his face and a jet black one. That has been one busy little bull – as far as I know only one of the Corrientes came and stayed in my pasture. My two Angus guys rarely get this much work done this fast! I’m not sure what manner of cattle these babies will grow into but I credit them with courage. It was many degrees below freezing last night but both got themselves up and fed without mishap.
Big news! We’ve started calving—kind of accidentally. According to the time the bulls were turned out last year, the calves shouldn’t start coming for at least two weeks. But that was without considering the neighbor’s Corriente bulls. These fellows are similar to, if not of the same bloodline, as the Mexican fighting bulls. They arrived in the pasture across the fence a couple of weeks before our Anguses were due to join the cows. Well, it was spring. Love was in the air—and before long a couple of the Corrientes were “in the air” and over the fence. They were black, shiny and handsome. Obviously, two or three of the cows were led astray by their dashing masculinity. So, this morning, there appeared the cutest little mouse-colored calf with a nice white design on his face. He was born out in the woods somewhere and he was doing just fine, obviously having located the spot where mama kept the groceries, and now frolicking in the sunshine. And, a little farther along, there appeared a first-calf heifer with a little red guy nuzzling her for milk. He, too, must have had a Corriente connection—or else he was a very early Angus. Anyway, he, was also just fine. What a great way to start a blue-skied snow-melting day in March!
Well, hello there
Little stranger in a land of snow.
Have we met before?
Perhaps in August
When you shimmered in shades of emerald?
Or was it in September
When you were bathed in gold?
Your face is familiar
But your hue has changed;
Meek little brown thing
That you are,
But still perfect in form,
With your serrated edges
Still so cleanly cut.
Do not despair,
Small, lonely leaf;
Spring is coming,
And in May’s first flawless green-gold offering,
I’ll know you are re-born.
WILDLIFE: THE REVOLTING AND THE SUBLIME
It was cold this morning and since I had a few extra chores down at the barnyard I took the quad to speed things up. I fed the barn cats who accepted breakfast eagerly. Then, it was a bucket of rolled oats for the three late-weaned calves and a couple of lame “hospital cows.” The cattle were more reluctant than the cats. They are used to being fed by Ron who is away for a couple of days and they gave me a “Who do you think you are?” look. Eventually, however, the lure of oats won out and they trooped up to the trough. Off I went on the quad, not the warmest means of transportation, but I sat on a wool blanket and pulled the end of it up over my legs so I was okay. The dogs said they were coming along so I had to drive about 6 kms an hour so old Pepper didn’t have to run hard. There was thicker ice than yesterday but it was still not hard to chop. However, there was a surprise waiting under it. Ice worms! Or at least that’s what I call them, in recollection of Robert Service’s famous poem, The Ice Worm Cocktail. I know nothing about them, other than that they are ugly little suckers, up to about an inch long, tan-colored, and alive there in the water. I’ve seen them in springs in the winter before and I guess they do no harm-but I’ll pass on a refreshing drink of spring water, thank you. After checking the bales set out in various locations for the cows to “bale-graze” I headed home. There, along the woods trail, there was movement on a nearby tree. The pileated woodpecker! One of my favorite birds. What a fellow he is! The biggest of our woodpeckers he is larger than a robin, dressed neatly in black and white, with a longish, rather scrawny neck, topped by a blazing red crest. He reminds me a little of artists’ representations of the flying dinosaurs. But when he gets to work prospecting for ants, you know a true woodsman is at work as his beak strokes echo all through the woods. Just seeing him was worth the trip.
It is a colder but bright and inviting morning that I walk out in today. I need to go up to the cows’ winter feed grounds about three-quarters of a mile away and chop ice out of the spring where they drink. I could take the truck or the quad but, like a good old Norwegian lumberjack, I set off on foot, my axe over my shoulder. The two dogs eagerly join me. At the water hole, only a thin coat of ice has formed. While I open the smaller nose-sized hole Apache excitedly circles me, wondering what I might unearth, I suppose. In her enthusiasm, she steps on the thin ice of the larger hole and one leg falls through. The hole is neither large nor deep so she is in no danger, but she does look surprised. Setting out for home, Pepper is beside me, but where is Apache? Pepper glances back with an amazed expression. Here comes Apache half-carrying half-dragging an entire elk leg from the carcass that some poor excuse for a hunter abandoned a couple of months ago. As we head toward home Apache alternates between trotting along, her prize in her jaws, and lying down to gnaw on it. Suddenly she gives a little yelp of pain. What now? I glance over just in time to see that she has dropped the large bony leg on her own foot. This is the noble breed of dog favored by the police for difficult tasks requiring both intelligence and agility? Never mind, Apache. I’m afraid you’ve been around your owner too much and my traits are rubbing off on you. We continue on. The next time Apache stops for a gnawing session, Pepper has had enough. She marches over, bares her teeth, and growls. Apache, the large German shepherd attack dog, slinks away. In minutes Pepper is out of sight, carrying her leg home to hide it in a safe place. Apache doesn’t much care. She’ll sneak over and steal it back a little later.
Apache ready for a walk on the wilder side.