When you get that feeling in the morning that perhaps you should drag your camera along… just in case. Do it! The thought crossed my mind this morning, but protecting it from hay and grain dust seemed too much to bother with. Bad decision. A young fox came by not 15 feet away from Vernon…packing half a rabbit and very unconcerned with either Vernon or Boomer. Boomer was too intent on mice hunting to notice him until the last minute, and when he turned and barked at him, the fox dropped his half rabbit and ran off across the frozen creek. I have thought of hauling it on the super cold mornings, just to snap some frosty faced portraits of various members of our crew. I need to work on not being so lazy! I just have to take my smaller camera and deal with the large bulge it will leave in my work coat.
We saw the fox the day before as well, crossing the field and circling my house…I sure hope he’s not smelling and/or isn’t too curious about puppy smell as Dally and Doux both get left behind at the house. We often have 4 dogs riding the hay trailer every morning. It can get quite congested! Bob, Johnny’s dog, is the senior member, well versed in riding the trailer and supervising the cows… Then there is Boomer, my black Aussie, the poor OCD dog that will rip into a bale of hay with amazing determination…to do what, I’m not sure! Burying his snout deep in the bale, he’ll rip madly into it, flinging hay bits everywhere, sticking hay up his nose and into his eyes. He sneezes, rubs his nose, and returns to attacking the evil bale. He is a strange dog. Lucas has experience on the trailer as well, finding a spot and laying down to enjoy the ride. He is ever vigilant on where I am, as Vernon and I rotate the driving position in the tractor. I often check in the mirror as I drive, and see Lucas peering between the slats on the hay trailer, making sure I’m still there driving! Elsa is the newbie. She doesn’t relax and, like Lucas, often seeks me through the slats. Everytime I jump off to open a gate, Elsa has to come with me. Even though I tell her to stay…she can’t leave me… and is very sneaky and quiet and shadows my steps to “help” me open each and every gate. She also can’t just feint at the cows and keep them back from the trailer…she insists on jumping off and chasing them… a big No-No. She often takes Lucas with her, and I have two dogs in trouble. I’m trying to figure out how to help them understand they MUST stay on the trailer… Tieing them won’t work, leashes may, if I can do my work and grab the leashes too… I may just tie the dogs to me… hmmmmmm. I’ll think on that.
Wish me luck on foxes and shadow dogs….
Today was a heat wave…7 degrees above zero… That’s 45 degrees warmer than yesterday! Another soft inch of snow had fallen, just a powdery decoration on top of everything. So many things just seemed easier than they did yesterday…amazing at the change in thought processes that gave this low (still chilly) temperature a reprieve in relation to
-38! It is late, I’m tired, and ready to read… nothing more relaxing than a good book under warm covers.
When your digital thermometer won’t show a readout, it is a good morning to not ask the temperature! We rolled outside at the normal time, the full moon sliding down behind the rimrock, the sun not quite up enough to reach down here next to the creek… The moon was bright against the amethyst sky, crackling with frozen air crystals along the creekbank. Black cows stood still, heads down, held by a blanket of white snow that had been thrown over their backs overnight. My breath quickly frosted my hair. I felt the burning on my cheeks of super-chilled air, glad for the two hats I wore! We packed grain to the calves, the dogs accompanying us as usual, their faces decorated with hoarfrost as well. Boomer shows it best, against his black coat each rhinestone of snow, ice, and frost is highlighted. Elsa’s poor little face with its overexpressive eyes showed a slight misery as she shivered…a far flung experience from her Oklahoma upbringing. Lucas remains unfazed even as his dark eyelashes turned white. He remains in his element…even laying in the snow in the shade (!)… never shivering, never bothered except for his tender paw which he holds up as I haven’t booted him this morning. Vernon and I continue, staggering across the field – struggling to stay in the ruts of tractor or cattle to help blaze through the snow. We load the haywagon and proceed to feed. Vernon quickly becomes caked in frost as I hope the tractor’s heater will kick in eventually! But my hair remains frozen until “blessed sun!” arises and throws its weak beams through the glass and my cab begins to heat. It isn’t until we have finished feeding and have returned to the warmth of home when I dare to ask…the temperature? Ahhh. -38. Somethings are better to know after the fact!
We haven’t had winter like this in years. It has sifted down all day long, sometimes heavily, sometimes not. In undisturbed places the white blanket is a foot deep, making any travel out of a rut difficult and sweaty! We cheated to move the cows down to the Christopherson place by putting out a hay laden trailer ahead of them and tempting them down the road. Vernon and Boomer ran the 4 wheeler to gather the stragglers and then rushed ahead to turn them off the highway. I managed to drive the pickup and horse trailer and run the heater and defroster…tough work! I, of course, had Lucas and Elsa with me. Elsa gathered and drove some cows out of the snow by my house…she’s speedy and does fairly well once she understands which way we are going! She is still learning… she hasn’t been here a year yet, and all of this action is very new to her. Elsa is also an Oklahoma born dog, so this snow and ice and bitter cold are new experiences! I hope her breeder/owner, De Butcher could see her run through the snow! I hope to put that video on here soon. Lucas, on the other hand, is a steady worker. I put him out as we were going down the road and told him to “Follow ’em!” He did. He does have to visit each delineator post and christen it… guys! He has a quick video as well. Tonight it is clear and -23. The stars just glisten and the snow creaks and I am grateful for warm houses and heat and running water and toasty blankets.
This “Overlook”, while it may pertain to Rimrock English Shepherds, will also include those notes of a more private nature…our life on the ranch, our children, my photography, and yes, stories! Many people have commented on our lifestyle when they reach me through the Rimrock English Shepherd website, so we shall see if this answers questions and/or provides some small amount of entertainment value as well… I hope you enjoy all that this may include.