Friday, June 19, 2009

Home Sweet Summer Range Home

June thunderstorms keep rolling in soaking the thirsty range with sweet fresh rain. Wildflowers and native grasses are blooming. The sun rises early and sets late in a salmon-magenta horizon framed by canyon breaks and mountain shoulders. Life is definately good.

Last weekend we trailed our small herd of longhorn and corriente cattle from the winter range in the Imnaha River canyon to the summer range on the Zumwalt Prairie. It was a three day affair. One day of brushing out the trail (Mike and his faithful machete vs blackberry and poison oak), and two days of trailing. As usual, all the meals tasted better, the draws seemed steeper, the sun got hotter and the beds felt sweeter.

The dogs, horses, cows and cowboys all worked together to make it a safe smooth trip.

Lots of changes up on the prairie as more ranches are purchased and consolidated into private preserves with a proliferation of explicitly yellow "posted" signs reminding everyone who ventures past that they are not welcome.

When we topped out of the canyon and hit the gravel road by Thomason Meadows, we bumped into a neighbor. How good it was to visit, catch up on family happenings and remember all the times we've helped each other over the years, sharing our labor, knowledge and resources. It's good to be part of community.

Now that the cows are situated, it's off to Flora School Days this weekend for the big doin's at the old two-story schoolhouse. Every year Mike and I join the other folks who show up to play music on the schoolhouse porch. What's better than circling up some fiddles and guitars with a mandolin, banjo, stand-up bass, concertina and some spoons thrown in to spice it up?

Especially since all around the school yard people are busy learning about wood stove cooking, blacksmithing, horse farming, washing on a board and other useful stuff. Inside you can wander around listening to the echos of classrooms past and taking in all the history. And there's pie. You can get delicious homemade pie, with or without a dutch oven dinner. I always eat the pie first. Two pieces, one chocolate merengue and the other rhubarb custard. You better get it on the calendar for next year.