Bulls in the Bathroom

It’s that time of year again, here in the valleys of the eastern High Sierras; calving season. For me, it’s a love/hate affair.

Calves are born smelling like sweet molasses, at least to me, and I love it. I can’t imagine what they smell like to their mammas, but whatever odor they emit, mom jumps right in and starts lickin’ that baby dry! Usually.

It’s when she decides the smell isn’t to her liking, or perhaps she has no sense of smell, (or, sometimes, she just has no sense!), that I will have “house guests!” Forty or fifty pounds, more or less, of slime on the hoof….in my laundry room, on the porch, or in a couple of cases, the “guest” bathroom. Maybe that’s why I don’t have very many two- legged visitors. And that “good housekeeping fairy?” Useless. Keeps her distance. Her job description obviously doesn’t include washing calf pee and poop from walls, floors and cupboards, nor scraping mud and….”gunk”… out of the bathtub after a particularly cold calf has been soaked overnight in warm water!

There is a little bull in my laundry room as I write. His momma is a “first calf” heifer; she’s a bit like a ditsy teenage girl. Her priorities are a little “skewed.” The other “girls” that she hangs with saw something on the far side of the field last night, and well, she just had to go with them to investigate, and, “OMG(!), you mean I was supposed to wash that thing off…with my tongue?!?! No! No way! Uh-Uh! Not happenin’ tonight, sister! I got to find me some HAY!”

So, Junior has become my first guest of the season, which wouldn’t be so bad, except that everytime he bellows, my dogs become raving lunatics, and my cats “poof” up like furry blow fish, finding ingenious places to hide out…under sofa cushions, behind the refrigerator, in the small space between the DVD player and the tv ………..my yarn basket.

Junior is now finding out he has legs. The banging, thumping and crashes coming from the laundry room are likely the bucket of detergent, trash can, laundry hamper and the cat litter box being rearranged. The towels we used to dry him off last night will be part of the trash that goes out today. I’m afraid to put them in my washing machine for fear it would have a seizure. I hate it.

Thumps and bumps means he has managed to get up on those wobbly little calf legs, at least for a few seconds, until the linoleum proves too slick, and down he goes, right in the kitty litter, with its contents,  that are now covering the floor. It would seem that he has discovered the door into the kitchen, inching his way forward through the cat food dishes and their water bowl. Maybe that super-clump  litter won’t clump TOO badly on his damp hide. It’s gonna have to be chipped off like “quick harden” cement.

I have a feeling that getting his nit-wit mother to EVER accept him will be next to impossible. Calves are supposed to smell like molasses, not cat pee, poop and last night’s salmon dinner. They certainly aren’t supposed to be “crunchy.”

If you happen to see that housekeeping fairy, lasso the bitch. I need her. Meanwhile, I have to go shut the laundry room door. Destructo, Jr. is staggering through the kitchen like a wet, kibble and litter encrusted zombie. My guess is he no longer smells like molasses.  My cats may show up later today. Meanwhile, I have to check under all the sofa and chair cushions before sitting.  Just gotta love it.

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“Thar’s Ghosts in Them Thar Hills!”

I know this. I have sensed their gentle presence on a myriad of occasions, walking quietly at my heels.

They don’t always come, and they never stay for any great length of time….a few seconds, sometimes minutes, and, if I’m VERY lucky, they will pace along for 1/2 mile or so. They are always welcome.

They’re like wisps of  mountain mist, tattering amongst the sage and chaparral…..rare, and not quite seen, but gently felt if one reaches out a hand. Sometimes, their presence is so strong that I am compelled to look behind me, down the trail, to see which one of them is following in my footsteps. Often, a name will pop into my head, and I will speak it aloud, to let them know I am aware of their visit.

In life, they were beloved. In death, I love them still. I think this is why they honor me with their occasional visits, to let me know that our bond of love and affection remains strong. I smile when they’re “ghosting” me, but then I cry because I can no longer reach out and pat their heads, or caress those velvet soft ears. In life, they were happy, content dogs, and I know that, whatever realm they occupy now, they’re still happy and safe.

Lucy. Ashley. Wiley. Chickie. Moses. Shortcake. Pip. Otis.  Neufi. Tanner. Penelope. Cooper. Ruby Ann. Their names are forever imprinted on my mind, and eternally inscribed on the pages of my heart and soul.

Did Michael Vick’s dogs have names, I wonder, the ones he terrorized to their deaths? I cry for them, too, as I cry for my own, but for a different reason. I cry for the pain and horror they suffered at the hands of “humans.” I can only hope and pray that, if their ghosts are wandering somewhere, it is in a much gentler and more compassionate place than Vick ever afforded them. I am certain, however, that they won’t be returning to haunt his footsteps…..at least, not with love.

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Still no word from the goat.

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“Long Live Cowboys!”

I actually do like this commercial for Wrangler jeans; what’s NOT to like? There’s George Strait’s foot stompin’, musical homage to the American cowboy, the energy of hundreds of amped up,  good-looking young cowboys and cowgirls. They’re bright eyed and smiling, all their teeth intact, straight and white. There isn’t a scar nor bruise to be seen. Their shirts and jeans, (presumably all Wranglers), are clean and pressed, their hats new, with “snappy,” well shaped brims. Pretty much commercial fantasy.

I look out my kitchen window at the cowboys with whom I live and work; my husband and his brother, a cousin, and five other local friends. The day is gloomy, with wind-driven rain, and sometimes snow. They’re bringing in about 50 head of cattle, pairs, actually, to separate the cows and calves. The calves will be shipped off “to market,” (always a sad time for me, but that’s another blog subject.) Watching these “real” cowboys, and two cowgirls, anyone with even limited vision would be struck by the difference in “reality’ and tv “fantasy.’

My husband and his brother wear baseball caps and tennis shoes; one of the others, (I won’t reveal who!), looks a bit like he mugged a bag lady to pull together his ensemble, and instead of a rope, he carries a beat up broom with which to “herd” cattle! You’ll never see THAT in a George Strait commercial, or anybody else’s New York styled advertisement, for that matter! Four others are dressed in fairly standard ranch gear: jeans, boots, gloves, sweatshirts, jackets and stocking caps.

Of the entire group, there is one who is dressed in an “authentic,” working cowboy uniform. He sports a hat that looks as if it’s seen a hundred years of sun, bad weather,
difficult cows and mean broncs. The brim is not “snappy,” and it may have been brown,
or grey, at one time. His “wild rag,” (scarf), is torn and faded from jaunty red to a dull brick shade, and his chaps, (SHaps, please!), bear the scars of a multitude of tangles with sage, chaparral, thorns and barbed wire. His boots, probably as soft and comfortable as an old pair of slippers, slouch around his ankles and spurs. A well worn jacket, (translation: “beat-to-hell!”), keeps the wind, rain and snow at bay. His shaggy little cowpony sports a saddle slicked and shined by, literally, hundreds of hours and miles of field, desert and mountain riding. And his jeans….

I don’t know what brand of jeans he wears, but if someone wanted to make a commercial showing the true worth of their  denim, they should borrow Jesus’ jeans.

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“Waving” Geese

“How windy was it?” SO windy that my friend and I watched in amazement as a flock of about 24 Canadian geese performed an ariel version of a stadium “wave!”

On their trip south, these geese use our pastures as a rest stop. There are times we may have as many as 200 geese, honking, eating, squabbling, and disturbing the little flock of ducks that reside here, as well. (And to answer the question before it is even asked, there is NO hunting allowed! Why do you think they return here, year after year?!) Yesterday, the wind was gusting so violently, that the 24, while circling to land, looked as if an invisible hand had them suspended in mid-air, with absolutely NO forward progress. The wind must have thrown in a few “curly cue” currents, because all at once, starting with the lead goose, they all undulated in a wave pattern for about 5 seconds. It was a beautiful, hilarious, open air ballet! I wonder if the geese were as amused as we were?!

Final approach and landing in the little pond were ultimately accomplished with nothing more than several ruffled feathers! God, I love this place!

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"Raining fire in the sky..."

These are my first footsteps in what is truly “virgin ground” for me! I have neverbefore posted anything on the great and mysterious “WWW,” other than minor FaceBook comments.

“Sierrasoulfood” is basically no more than the philosophical ramblings of my mind, as I wander physically through my home mountains of the beautiful Sierra Nevadas.

I had originally planned to begin with a poetic, esoteric description of my home stompin’ grounds, but was derailed by a goat hunt. It does not have a happy ending….yet. My friend and I are still holding out hope that Odie may wander backdown the mountain we tried to follow him up.

Odie was a “gift” for my friend’s mule. That wasn’t in Odie’s plans, and he decided to make a break for it, sailing over a gate like a Grand National steeplechaser.  An overly excited Australian Shepherd, and a highly agitated mule (she was actually trying to stomp Odie!), gave wings to Odie’s little hooves, and he streaked up the side of a mountain like a….well, a goat!

My friend called, frantic, for my help, and I rushed to the rescue, such as it was.  We found the dog, Rain, immediately. Shortly thereafter, we saw Odie making his wandering way up the side of a very rocky, very steep hill.  So, we gave “chase.”  Two middle-aged women, following a small, white goat up the side of a hill, bleating.  I have no idea what we were saying in “goat-ese,” but it obviously was NOT ” Come home! Please!” What were we thinking; we were trying to chase a GOAT up the mountain!

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