Tuesday, December 31, 2013

At Last, A Sunset

Last night, for the first time in weeks, we finally had an actual sunset, and it was spectacular.  Made even more so by the fact that it had been so long since we've had one.  And, for a brief moment, we even had a sunrise this morning, but I wasn't fast enough grabbing the camera to catch it.
When even the native Oregonians are complaining, you know it's bad this year.  As we all say, we can take the grey and cold so long as there is actual precipitation falling from the grey.  And closing out one of the driest years on record isn't a fun way to be in the grey, cold and fog.  All of us, ranchers and farmers alike, are getting very, very nervous.  Another bad pasture/grass year would not be good.  Everything may be damp, but by now it should be muddy and wet.  That might be a pain, but it also means that good grass and pasture is on the way.  Right now, the ground is as hard as it is in midsummer, just after it has dried enough with the end of the rains to be worked, and that's not good.  Not now.
So, if you're having too much rain, and not in need of it, please do send it our way.  We would greatly appreciate it.
In the meantime, click on the first pix and enjoy the show.  I shot these last yesterday evening with the little Canon S110, on Auto and handheld.  Pretty impressive, actually, given the very low light conditions in the lower half of the pictures

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013!

From our zoo to yours, we wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and the Happiest of Holidays, with big wishes for the New Year!
Don't forget to check out the outtakes from the two photo sessions on the DogBlog at www.morganriveraussiepups.blogspot.com!
The empty Santa suit is in honour of it's lost wearer, Ho Dog

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Happy 8th Birthday, Roar!

Hard to believe he's that old, but yeah, on December 19th, Roar celebrated his 8th birthday!  And we got him the only present besides food that really makes him happy - another girlfriend.  Many thanks to Alex for parting with Vicky C's momma and Millie's 'little' sister Nellie, who now joins Roar's harem.
He was pretty happy until he figured out that Nellie was very pregnant and due in April.  Then, he just wandered off in search of food
 Dale prepares to open Roar's present.  He would like to know how to open trailer doors himself, as he usually considers us puny humans too slow in doing so when there are women inside for him
 Nellie checks out her new digs.  This is the first time she's ever been off her birthplace in Crow
Of course, Ruffie leads the charge to check out the new girls, with Millie close behind and Roar just now realizing that he got a really great birthday present

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Goodbye to Zamora

Well, Saturday Zam finally got on a trailer headed to his new home in Oregon House, California with Tom and his crew at the Richards Land and Cattle Company (http://www.richardsgrassfedbeef.com/).  It was a little sad, seeing little Mr. Pudgebutt heading out of the driveway in Mark's trailer, but he's going to a fabulous ranch, thousands of acres and all the women he can handle.  If you are interested in purchasing some fine, grass fed beef, click on the link above and request a brochure.  You won't be disappointed!
Many, many thanks to Tom for his patience in what became quite an odyssey getting Zam to him, and our thanks for trusting us to send him a really nice bull
 Zam (black) and half bro Zenda (future freezer steer) enjoying a final meal at the ranch before his ride arrives
One last little peek as he heads out of the driveway

Friday, December 13, 2013

And, Just Like That....

...it was over.  Last night the mercury climbed to a sweltering 40 degrees at 11pm, and that, coupled with the .12" of rain we'd gotten during the day, was the end of the Big Chill 2013.  I was kind of sorry to see the snow go, but go it must.  The upside was not having to fling myself out of bed, throw on a ton of clothes, grab the Whaleback gloves and the sledgehammer, and go out and break ice first thing.  This morning, I took a leisurely shower, put on a T shirt and my sweat pants, went on the packwalk with Dale and the dogs, came home, hooked the tank hoses back up, turned them on, and watched them fill the tanks.  No dragging the hose out of the greenhouse after breaking the ice and filling each tank - several times a day.
The ground was still so cold that even though we were well above freezing from about 4 pm yesterday on, there was still a lot of ice on the ground.  Dale found that out on the packwalk with a slip and spill halfway thru, and Gem found her sliding stops were still way more sliding than stopping while stalking Cricket.  It was still a dicey walk to the barn, and the ground in front of the barn, which never gets any sun this time of year. will most likely stay frozen for several days.
The cows are enjoying the sunshine, the horse took his minions and disappeared down over the hill in the south pasture for the first time in 10 days, Cricket found out that the ice on the dog tank is still way too thick for her to break in her usual manner, and we turned the water rock back on for the first time since the 7th.  This spring we'll be able to assess what plants survived and which didn't.  I uncovered the 'Meyer Improved' lemon tree this morning; some of it looks kinda sad, and you can definitely tell which lemons got frosted and which didn't.  I had picked 99% of the lemons before the freeze, but there were still some small ones left on the tree.  Now I just wait to see if it buds out again. 
We don't live where this kind of weather is anything like normal, as it is in most of the Midwest and east coast.  Thus, we don't prepare so much for it.  Most of what we do to prepare is temporary things, like the tank deicer for the stock tanks, and the spare hose stashed in the greenhouse, overfeeding the livestock to keep them warm, and two blankets thrown over the lemon tree.  If it were normal for here, we'd do things differently.  And, I wouldn't spend 10 days writing about it on the blog, as it wouldn't be any big deal, it'd be business as normal this time of year.  But it's not business as normal for us, and going thru it once every several years is more than enough taste of it for us!

 Don't let the looks fool ya - that is a solid sheet of ice
 This was kind of cool - a perfect ice mould of the tank filler from the maternity pasture water tank
 The shallow stuff is still solidly frozen.  The deeper 'seasonal ponds' are mostly water.  By early afternoon, all of it was gone except some of the water in the 'ponds'

 By noon, this was all the snow that was left, out in the south pasture

 Just before turning it back on
Holy cow, 54 degrees?!?!?!?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

On Frozen Pond

It rarely happens, but this stretch of below freezing weather gave me an opportunity to show off our two local waterways in all their frozen splendor.  The first three shots are of Big Muddy Creek, about 3 minutes east of the ranch, shown where Dawson Road crosses it about a mile from Hwy 99W.  The next shots were taken just east of Hwy 99W, where Dawson Road turns into Hubbard Road, and the big Long Tom river flows under the bridge just east of Hwy 99W, about 5 minutes from the ranch.
I really wanted to capture the little snowballs on the ice, as well as the frost painted trees before everything started to melt.  Both the Big Muddy and the Long Tom are completely frozen.  Not that you could ice skate or play ice hockey on them, but enough to show the beauty of water not in motion.
These are almost all full sized (not cropped) shots, best viewed on a big screen.  Don't forget to click the first one to start the slide show, and enjoy!
 Big Muddy creek, completely frozen over

 Frozen trees on the banks of the Long Tom river, also completely frozen over

 Long Tom River, rarely seen completely frozen from shore to shore

 I don't know what this was, a spider web maybe?  It went to the wooden post on the guardrail, and I had no intention of touch it

The Big Chill 2013 Edition, Day 9

How much longer, you ask?  I have no idea, but it's currently 30 degrees, snowing and raining ice balls.  That must be some sort of sign.  Not sure for better or for worse.  I just know I keep expecting to wake up to the forecast mid-20's for a low, and it ain't happening yet.  I suppose eventually it'll happen.
In the meantime, the ice beating goes on

 The mounds of ice around the 100 gallon maternity pasture tank are a bit daunting.  Don't suppose they will be melting any time soon
Thought I'd get one last picture of the snowiest spot on the ranch before the rains and warmer weather arrive, especially as it was a beautiful sunrise

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Big Chill 2013 Edition, Day 8

Honestly never thought we'd make it to Day 8, but here we are.  Unlike yesterday, however briefly it was, we didn't quite make it up to freezing today.  But, with the abundant sunshine, the snow is starting to retreat.  This is the longest since we've been here (2006) that the snow has lasted from one single day of snowfall.  Schools were mostly still closed, but people were getting about somewhat better for the most part.  We had a busy day, what with the brand inspector, OSU and DirecTV out for various things, and everyone made it up here just fine.  Jorge, I hope you remembered to unlock your hubs after you got on the pavement when you left the barn!  If not, I'm sure just like last time, you probably figured it out really quickly.  Those big ol' Ford SuperDuty's don't turn very well in 4WD on dry pavement.
I don't know if there will be a Day 9, but since our low this morning was supposed to be in the high 20's, which we did finally hit around 1 pm, no telling

 The rainchain has shed most of its icicles
 As has the water rock - might actually be able to turn it back on this weekend
 The north side of the house is still all snowy....
...but large patches of lawn are peeking back thru the melting snow

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Finally, At Least For A Moment

We were rooting for this to happen, and finally, at least for about 15 minutes, it did - the outside temperature FINALLY rose to just above the freezing mark for the first time in a week.
Didn't make a lot of difference outside that we could see, but we will claim that small victory!


One really cool thing about snow, other than the snow itself, is how it acts like a piece of carbon paper (I know this reference won't mean a thing to anyone younger than about 50, so go look it up on Wikipedia).
Click the first pix to start the slideshow and have fun guessing the animal(s) that made the tracks!

 This was fun.  Those are obviously person prints coming up the walk, but I'm absolutely sure the person was NOT accompanied by any sort of critter when the person made the prints
 And then these interesting ones crossing the walk

And these!  Obviously some sort of large, three or four footed monster, with feet going in all directions.  Very proud of itself too, stamps its name with every step