Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Times They Are a Changing

First snow on the mountains. Garden ready to be put to bed for winter. Last of the squashes and pumpkins ripening under their blankets. Onions in the cellar. Meat in the freezer. Apples to harvest for storage and a few other odds and ends, and my part of getting ready for winter will be done! 

Last weekend I had the unbelievable opportunity to swim in the Wallowa River on the 2nd of October. It was 85 degrees in the shade and I hiked up the backway along the river from Joseph, thinking I would take a dip in the lake. 

When I reached the dam, the water was so low that instead of the usual raging torrent of summer outflow, there was a deep clear pool below the dam. I figured this was the only time I might experience both low water and hot temperatures, so I carefully climbed off the flume of the irrigation diversion and took the plunge into the icy beautiful blue-grey water. Frigid and refreshing!

That dip was enough to energize me through a hot sticky kitchen afternoon and the canning of the last of the pears. All afternoon long, my skin carried the velvety memory of that mountain water. 

Now mornings are soggy with dew and early romps through the field with the dogs result in dripping wet pant legs from the knee down. 

The new pup, Punch, (short for Opuntia - prickly pear), is well on her way to learning come, down, sit, back, and behind. Mostly she just races after the big dogs as best she can, but she is smart and if I am consistent on her training, and can keep her from having bad experiences, she will be an asset to the ranch. 

Another month and we'll have the cow herd back in the canyon. We hope to go up Pumpkin Creek this fall as we haven't used that range since the big range fires a couple years ago. I can't wait to be on the river, the frenzy of summer growing, fall harvest, and trailing the cattle, all behind us, and just the steady work of winter - fixing fence, packing salt, herding, making improvements to keep us busy. 

I know there will be long dark evenings where we are hunkered down, fires going,  reading and writing and talking, a few songs on the guitar and concertina, hot cups of tea and a last walk outside under cold and starry skies to send us off to bed. 

From Sara at Magpie Ranch, home of Bunchgrass Beef