Saturday, August 31, 2013

Tail End of Summer

Here we go toward Autumn. Waking up and thinking, "Has the weather changed?" Then realizing the day just hasn't risen yet. Coming home after my job in town and it's dark already. Already.

Peeling transparent apples for drying

But the days still lull with their golden light and their heat. The white moths flitting lustily among the cabbages and broccoli plants, laying eggs of green destruction. The first Vs of geese. The last of the transparents falling from the tree in the yard when I tell myself again, to get the ladder and pick them, soon.

We harvested steers this week. A bitter-sweet time. Such good animals. Such good food. I spend many thankful moments throughout the week. Now for the good steers, loading gracefully into the trailer. Now for the butcher and his swift respectful kill.
Dawson helps Grandpa on the fence
Now for the husband. For his husbandry, his witnessing of the end of life.

Now for the consumers, taking a share of the harvest, giving back to the ranch what feels like more than money, becoming in their own way, a part of our story.

Now for the land. For having a chance to know a particular place, for a chance to share it. With our children, our grandchildren, our community, our visitors.

Prairie and Wes at the fence 

They made it! Lake Legore

We were fortunate to have Jon and Prairie home to help. From trimming and freezing oxtails and beef cheeks, to fencing, sorting cattle, making meals, and lugging Wes around, it was all a big help and way more fun with them here.

Prairie and Jon decided to stay an extra day, to go hiking by themselves. So they went to Legore Lake. Highest lake in Oregon. Straight up and straight down. Not exactly relaxing, but still great.

Wes, Mike and Dawson at Wallowa Lake

Even Mike agreed to take the afternoon off on Friday. Probably one of our last days of swimming at Wallowa Lake.

The shadows of the passing clouds made it almost too cold to swim. But when the sun came out again, we plunged in, the luscious chill briefly taking our breath away, and afterward, floating, our bodies cradled in the still-warm waters of summer.

Wes enjoys his picnic lunch

From Sara at Magpie Ranch, home of Bunchgrass Beef

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

River Swimming and Blackberry Picking

Mike and I went to the canyon to pick blackberries last weekend.  It was about 95 degrees in the shade when we arrived. I picked the first batch of berries, while Mike started to pull some puncture vine that he saw on the river bar. Then I made dinner while Mike mowed the yard (fire protection). We had yummy Bunchgrass Beef burgers with turnip and beet greens for dinner and sat out on the porch in the balmy evening, watching the smoky sunset and being lulled by the river rushing by. 
"I'll help pick berries if you help pull puncture vine..."
Early the next morning, while it was still cool and before the yellow-jackets got busy in the berry bushes, we picked four more gallons of blackberries. 
Early morning berry picking
After that it was more weed pulling. The low-growing puncture vine sends out long runners covered in yellow flowers that mature into hard sharp-thorned seeds, 'goat heads'that can poke right through the bottom of your shoe, your dog's foot, etc.  We're hoping to get some weevils that act as biocontrols on this aggressive plant by eating the seeds, stems and leaves. In the mean time it's pull and bag, pull and bag....

That's a lot of puncture vine we pulled....
Maturing 'goat head' seeds
 I think Mike would have kept digging weeds all day, but I mutinied, insisting that we allow sufficient time to wallow, dive, float, and splash in the river. River swimming at the Magpie Ranch is some of the best there is. Deep eddies you can jump into off rock cliffs. Rowdy rapids that spit you out into long channels where you float lazily downstream. The water is the perfect temperature and when you lay in the shallows, the current feels like a natural jacuzzi bubbling and rushing over you. Oh how I love that lovely lively water.
Sara doesn't want to get out of the river

From Sara at Magpie Ranch, home of Bunchgrass Beef.