November 23, 2007
Morning after Thanksgiving along the foothills, the sun has broken through a high overcast, remnant of last week’s Tule Fog in the Valley when the air was much less dry, illuminating the first orange and yellow leaves still attached to the string of sycamores along the creek. Approaching three miles upstream, Dry Creek has begun to run as the trees have quit taking water. When you forget how badly we need a good soaker, it’s truly beautiful today.
We’re feeding alfalfa daily in small amounts in selected places, and surprisingly the grass started with last month’s spotty thundershowers is still trying to grow on the north slopes. The cattle are getting out, though our first-calf heifers across the canyon seem to be listening closer to the sound of our diesel pickups starting mornings as they unload from the draws with an unrelenting chorus until hay arrives. Some are thin, but the calves are still growing well.
Thus far, I remember many worse years. And like most every year, we face a pivotal point in our grass season where our year’s investment and labor may well be determined early. Setting the stage, of course, for miracle weather patterns or ‘never seen before’ events that constitute our drab numerical averages. Each year the hay bales get heavier, memory blurs – but there’s still a little excitement left in these old bones, waiting and anticipating what’s yet to come.