My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Morning Nothing Happened

Friday, July 10, 2015

Today cattle were supposed to be driven onto the refuge, into the pastures where we need them to graze back invasive grasses.  I got up, got dressed, grabbed some coffee and was off to get all the openings in our fences roped shut so the cows would stay on the road. Then I hurried a little out of town because I planned to get some dramatic pictures of the cows. I waded through hip high wet grass to various locations, to make sure I had the perfect spot.  Then I waited, and waited, and waited. I talked to a local who had come out to see the cattle drive, walked up the road and finally saw them a LONG way off.  But they looked like they weren't moving.

Finally I heard they wouldn't be here until around 10:00 - we did the final preparations at 6:00 A.M. I was hungry and decided I had time to walk back to my trailer and make breakfast.  I soon set off again with more coffee, and walked way up the road  only to find they were still in the same place, over a mile away.  I sat down on a rock in front of a post to wait for their arrival.

About a half hour later, Volunteer Jim came by. He said the owners had decided to hold the cattle up until tomorrow because they had calves way behind the main herd. And the herd had gotten into a belly high grass pasture and were not inclined to move.

So I came back and picked up my van and starting finishing my Thursday work.  We had a long afternoon of rain, and when I tried to get back to surveying bluebird boxes, the edge of the road fell out under me and I was left stuck in the mud.  I walked back home - I was only a little over a mile away - and then Jim saw my van and came to get me up and WE got it out.  I helped pull out the winch and held the winch to the chain to keep tension on it while Jim took up the slack.  He did the dirty work of crawling around in the mud to get the chain hooked to the car.  What a guy!

Since I can't sit still and since, whenever I have my camera around my neck, I see lots of pictures, I ended up taking over one hundred, while doing nothing, starting with our sunrise.

Here are a few of my favorites from this morning.

We had a red sky and then lots of clouds and threatened showers - none hit us

A pair of house wrens were singing from on their house and nearby

This was to be the place where I planned to catch the first cows coming over the hill
 - maybe tomorrow

I was across the street from this old school house, now a private residence
so finally got around to taking its picture

While watching the cows too far away to photograph, I got my best picture so far of a
northern red-shafted flicker male who stayed just across the road from me - this is almost uncropped

And also of a juvenile northern flicker

The mix of clouds and sun made beautiful landscapes - and the same landscape changed every few minutes. 

Canada thistle, a noxious weed here in Montana

Think this is a senecio

Prickly rose - they grow all over around here

And their hips are enormous - I'll have to see how they taste. 

But I don't want to leave you without cattle pictures.  I passed the cattle we expected, currently being kept in a pasture without fences by their minders.

Here are a few of our soon-to-be-visiting cattle with one of their tenders.
They use both ATV's and horses to herd them. 

After the no-show for the cattle drive, I finished my bluebird surveys which helping with fencing and an afternoon of rain had postponed. So today I had some boxes on each end of my route to do. I finished the last box to the west and decided to NOT try to turn around in the road, like I usually do, but to be cautious and go up to the next driveway.  I found these cattle grazing - they were new to me - and I loved the look of them against the beautiful background. But as soon as I stopped, they all rushed up to the fence and looked at me as if to say, "Can we go back home now?".  They are yearlings and want to go back to their mothers.

Cows coming to the cow whisperer

I can't imagine a better place to hang out and wait for four hours.  One absolutely cannot get bored here. 

I'll be heading out to Yellowstone National Park for three days of hiking, driving, camping and hanging out in my hammock. But I have a blog ready for Wednesday on the cattle drive.