Sunday, July 29, 2012

They Are Back -- and apparently Recovering!

One of the delights of living North of Nowhere is the Wyoming Wildlife and getting to watch it.

For quite a number of years, we had a small group of sage grouse raise their young somewhere around us and they were frequently over by the buildings.  Several mornings, I made a s-l-o-w drive to the gate because the young grouse were in the road.  And young grouse do not move fast and tended to slowly mosey down the road ahead of my car rather than leaving the roadway.  Why they do that I don't know but it must surely make them a sad target on Wyoming's highways.

Grouse have become endangered in Wyoming due to 2 factors:  West Nile virus, to which they are highly susceptible, and oil and gas drilling, which disrupts their breeding/rearing.  In our area, I think West Nile hit the populations very very hard.  To the east of us, there was a lot of coal bed methane drilling and that probably affected the population also.  We have had NO grouse sightings for several years until last year when a large male and two females came through briefly.

But look whose BACK! This was taken out the back door Friday morning.

West Nile virus had 'died' down in our area so I am sure that has helped the population.  The coal-bed industry has died due to low gas prices and all those wells are now idle and shut-in with no new drilling.  That must have helped also.  This was the group of eight that showed up Friday morning.  Later, when we drove out the gate to go to a doctor's appointment, we saw four young grouse and there may have been more lurking in the brush we could not see.  That's 12!!!!

Sadly, now horizontal drilling is starting to take place RIGHT here where we live and also east of us.  Horizontal drilling take a much larger 'bite' out of the land requiring 20 acres for a drilling pad rather than one about the size of a half football field like the coal-bed.  If coal bed bothered these birds, what will all these large rigs do to them?    And what will it do to our sub-irrigated pastures that we rely on the water and the wildlife relies on also?

Frankly, I'm worried -- for us and for them.

The green line is our water hose and the tires are the horse trailer.  That's how unafraid they are!

We have had some rains over the past two weeks and in places the hills have gotten just a 'tad' greener; which lowers our fire danger!!  Hope we get more.

Over the years, we have seen antelope, deer, elk, badgers, red fox, otters, ducks, canadian geese, sand hill cranes, pelican(?) (couldn't get close), egret? (wasn't sure); sage grouse, turkeys, rattlesnakes (could do without them!); weasel, prairie dogs (not too fond of these either!) all on our little slice of Wyoming.  Sometimes in the summer we like to just sit out on the porch and watch our wildlife TV.  It's GREAT!

So I guess I will enjoy while I have it.  And hope for the best.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Who's Got the Rain?

Not us I can tell you.  We have hit 'survival' mode in the drought.  Today hubby and #1 Son and Daughter-in-Law spent over 8 hours in the saddle and doing fence repairs -- Emergency Fence Repairs on the leased pasture.  Pasture we had been counting on to take us into October.  The Big Rancher next door apparently isn't watching his cattle -- they were out of water and grass.  Thirsty and hungry.  There went the fence and in a matter of a day -- there went our grass.

Discouraging - you bet.  Hubby thinks now we will be out of grass in August.  But we can't bring them home.  Because we have these:
Green Cockleburrs -- the cows will eat them and they are poison.  Over the years we've lost at least 2 cows to them.  They aren't dried up until September.  They grow in our sub-irrigation ditches and pop up in August when the water disappears.  We've thought of trying to kill them but then you spreading MORE poison on your grasses so we've managed it by keeping the cows over on the leased pasture until the end of September.

So what will we do???  Probably pay for pasture that has no grass AND cake them.  With Cake that will cost well over $400 a ton (as opposed to the $240 it used to cost).  Corn prices are going sky high and that will affect all grain products because corn is like Santa Claus -- It's EVERYWHERE!!!  Rather it's in EVERYTHING.  It will affect the human food prices too.  Ca-Ching!  Those cash registers will hit everyone in the pocketbook!

On a happier, Hubby was so glad #1 Son and DIL were there to help.  They said they had a grand time but they sure looked pretty exhausted from the heat/work/riding when they came in at 5 pm.  DIL said she was so glad she had on this:
It's a Troxel riding helmet.  She came off Ember when Ember dived right out from under her turning a cow.  The cows were pretty bad I guess as they had been ATV'd herded and they can be real pigs and disrespectful of a rider on a horse. They are always trying to outrun the horse like they can a ATV. (all terrain vehicle -- you know four-runners).  BUT a horse can stop 'em.  DIL said she lit hard and the helmet THWACKED when she hit.  A head injury for sure without that helmet.  A Good Reason to Wear One -- ALWAYS.
Here is Ember, the Hero Horse of the Day, on what our pastures SHOULD look like this time of year.  Instead they are brown and sparse.  We did get some good news today though.  Ember had pulled a tendon last year; and when we tried to use her lightly re-pulled it.  So we turned her out.  This was the first time she had been written since then and today was a HARD ride.  She had nary a limp and worked all day.  That was a silver lining for sure!

But cuts need to be made.  So today I posted Ember's daughter for sale.  She is two years old, registered Morgan, and will wind up at 16 hands like her mother and her sire.  She's a nice filly, one of the better ones I think that we've raised.  Here is her photo from today.  She wouldn't perk her ears up for me.  I think she thought it was toooooo darn hot to be PERKY!

The babies had been at #1 Son's place while he & DIL took them through their Manners #101 courses.  They didn't think it was too hot when they were turned out for Hi-Jinks though!
AFS Hi-Note and AFS Ryder Hi Brida; our 2010 filles enjoying a run and just being a horse!

My Day today had consisted of being the Chief Cook and Bottle Washer.  I prepared lunch, no body showed up.  Uh-Ohh; that means things are not going well.  1:00 nobody here, put away lunch type stuff and prepared a nice side dish of cukes and onions and a fruit salad.  2:00 no one.  Put a large kettle of corn ready to boil on the stove.  4:00 -- still no one, hamburger is thawed, prepared lots of patties in the pan ready to fry when they get in.  5:00 here they are -- we had potato salad, hamburgers, cukes, fruit salad and fresh sweet corn.  They all said it was a great meal but I just think by that time, not eating since breakfast, they were just ravenous and anything would have tasted good.

Our hay guy told us he thinks he is going to be way short on our hay order for winter.  No surprise there.  We had been expecting that.  Sooooo maybe we can supplement the cows with some cake and reduce their hay comsupmtion (ca-ching! on the cash register) or we might have to just sell them and buy back when the drought ends, risking losing the lease pasture.

Choices - hard choices.  I just hope we don't make a Porch Horse (poor choice) in all this.  Fortunately this isn't our living.  It's just a hobby-farm but I REALLY do think we should be able to declare these cows and horses as dependents!!!!! on our income taxes.  I mean fair is fair.....................we have to pay taxes when we sell them.

News commentators are starting to compare this drought with the Dust Bowl.  But I KNOW it's not that bad here yet.  2004 - 2006 was a LOT rougher here in the most recent drought.  I think it was 2006 our grass never even came up here at Horse Patch and one of the elderly ladies in Outlaw City told me the Dust Bowl years were worse than that!  Man I thought how in the world could that be possible??? Bare dirt is bare dirt but she assured me it was worse.   On a good note, bare dirt don't burn!  So far no fires at Horse Patch this year and that is a darn scarey thought.

So Who's Got the Rain????   Apparently nobody in the Lower 48.

Just sign me MeridethinWyoming ,where a LOT of Discouraging Words On the Plains were Said Today!