The hills are alive with the color green. As it should be for this time of year. It has cooled off with a little rain here and there and leaves are finally appearing. Such a happy sight. The chickens are happy too, especially because bugs are starting to crawl and hop.
Tis the season where Wyoming cannot decide what she wants to do. Yesterday she rained with a little snow mixed in. She blew, she stood still, she grew warm and then she howled for most of the night.
Now the weatherman says she will dump about 10 inches of snow on us tonight through tomorrow. But I’ll believe it when I see it. All winter we’ve been teased by the weatherman that we would get some great moisture from storms and all she does is sprinkle on us… and sometimes not even that. At least my camera and I get to capture the confusion in her skies and bring them right to you.
The title may sound like names of pets but really I’m describing the month of March in Wyoming.
This might be the most unpredictable month for weather in Wyoming.
Wednesday was the first official day of spring and we started out with a sparkly layer of frost on the deck.
The sky dramatically changed midday and stayed deep blue until sunset.
We never got any moisture from all of those storm clouds. So very disappointing.
But the river is always a beautiful view any time of the year. Drought or no drought.
Poco’s baby (top) and Kate’s baby (above) were both born a little over a year ago.
I thought you might like to see them now.
Here is Kate’s baby girl all grown up.
Poco’s baby is on the far right and they both were weaned off mama late last year. They were eventually put out in the meadows with our lead mare, Paddy’s Frost aka Rat. They went off with her to keep calm and be “supervised”.
Rat took right to her babysitting duties and takes great pride in showing the girls the way.
In fact, now that the other ranch horses have joined them in the meadows, Rat continues to lead the way.
Best friends forever.
We had a heckuva snowfall Saturday night. We’re hoping that the wind lays down so we can absorb the moisture. Looks to me like the horses are plotting against working for a living and are going to break into the hay stack.
This was a big hit on my facebook page last night and I thought I shouldn’t leave you out of the loop. After all, Mamma taught me to always share.
It was overcast most of yesterday, you know, one of those sleepy kind of days. I forced myself to go out for a hike and then the sun came out late afternoon. After a while of photographing dry and dormant flowering weeds left over from the summer, I came in to start dinner. I looked out of the window and everything looked pink. The grass, the fence, the trees. Pink. So I ran out of the front door and found myself literally chasing light. Once I was in the back of the house, there it was. Hovering over Squaw Mountain was a gorgeous masterpiece painted only by the heavens above.
February has entered with a bang!
I won’t bore you with the details of the numerous lemons life has served us that we are struggling to make lemonade with, but I will show you the progression of stormy skies that welcomed this second month of 2013. It was a wild party in the sky most of the day with only gray and overcast during the morning . The real show began after noon.
On my way to care for a neighbors farmily, I noticed the gray skies hovering over the Cooney Hills and blue skies with snow over Squaw (not pictured).
Back at home the sky went from gray to blueish purple with high winds and wet snow squalls for a couple of hours.
We went to town to take care of some ranch business and looked back toward the hills. That’s Squaw Mountain back covered with snow from the afternoon squalls. That cloud separation in the middle is pretty wild eh?
Coming back home, the sun was starting to set behind the hills.
The space there between the hilltops and the upper clouds is dead air, calm and cool. Wind is sweeping off the hills and whipping into the lower clouds just above the road.
Once back home, the sun went down behind the mountains. The clouds cleared out overnight and Saturday was cool and clear.
Phew! What a way to start off the month.
During the holidays on a trip into the hills delivering tubs and salt to the cows, Patrick glassed the hills to see if any cows were in the wrong pastures. Through the binoculars, he spotted this herd of Big Horn Sheep. I dream about these majestic creatures. I just love to watch them. It’s rare that we see a herd this large but it is mating season for them so they stay close to one another during this time.
The ewe in charge spotted me right away so I laid on my belly and stayed as still as I could.
Many ewes and lambs went down for a nap but one ram watched me for a while.
They grazed and napped…
…and watched and listened to my shutter. Snap.Click.Snap.Click.
They got sick of me after a while and got up to move to the next location.
They are so incredible to watch and even though I slithered on my belly like a snake through deer poop and cactus, it was well worth it to get a glimpse into their afternoon together as a family.
I wanted to share a few images with you of this past weekend. It is VERY cold, like 10 (or so) below zero cold, and I haven’t been out much. But I did step out at sunset to grab these peaceful scenes.
It’s a solid blanket of white and glitter except for the footsteps of deer trailing down to the river.
The river is totally frozen over so I’m sure they have to break the ice with their hooves to get a chilly sip.
I posted this image on my facebook page this weekend after a few email requests to show what below zero looks like. About 2 inches of snow fell on the ground Friday night and a light skiff last night. The ground is frozen underneath and with these low temps, it isn’t going to go anywhere anytime soon. Brrrr.
We had a crew out to help us move the cattle across the Plains this week.
The guys saddled up as the sun rose and I prepared the truck with water, lunch and simple amenities that the guys may need during the trail.
I drove to the first gate and waited for a couple hours. Then, on the horizon a couple of miles in the distance, appeared a cowboy and a few cows.
They trailed down the hill with one cowboy leading the way and the others bringing up the middle and rear.
The cattle filed in along the fence line and Patrick counted them as they went through the gate.
They stayed together and kept a steady pace as we crossed the vast landscape. Some calves tried to run back but the cowboys encouraged them to stay with the herd and with momma.
The air was cool and calm for almost the entire trail. But toward the end, the wind picked up and it got warm, fast.
Once we got into the final pasture, the guys led them to the windmill for water. They have to be shown where water is because if you just leave them alone, they will drop their heads and start eating. You have to let them know where the water is and leave them there so they get their bearings and know where the essentials are.
By now, the wind was howling, the heat was rising and the dust was blowing. I could barley hold my camera steady.
I put out the lunches on the tailgate and got the guys fed and watered. The horses had some time to graze while we ate but we weren’t quite done yet. There was one cow that just couldn’t make the long trail. She’s an old lady and had trouble keeping up so we left her at that first gate. We made our way back to get the trailer to load her and her calf and chauffeur them to the pasture with the others..
It took a little convincing with a short chase and a rope. They finally got them both loaded and off to the pasture with the others we went. They will enjoy this pasture until it is time to wean the calves in October.
It was a good day without any casualties or injuries. And it was long day that started at 4am and went until at least 4pm. Then back to the ranch to unsaddle the horses and finish up chores until dark.
Phew! So glad it’s Friday.
See more images from this shoot HERE.
We worked cattle on the Plains the other day. Every time we make the drive up there our eyes are peeled and our necks are bent looking for sheep on the hillsides. We haven’t seen any in a while but this particular day, we got an up close sighting of two ewes and their lambs.
Through the windshield we saw a little white butt and I said “what is tha…” , at the same time Patrick was whisperyelling “big horn sheep big horn sheep!”
We waited to see where they were going and then crept up slowly beside them.
Watching them climb the rocky mountainside with such grace and agility is truely magical. It’s like watching synchronized swimming or something.
We stayed for about 3 or 4 minutes for pictures and then we left them alone. They were on a mission and we interrupted them. But how can you not stop and take it all in. They are really beautiful creatures.
Earlier this summer, I took a trip to Colorado for business and was fortunate enough to have to drive through the Colorado National Monument to get to where I needed to be.
From Wikipedia: Colorado National Monument (locally referred to as The Monument) is a part of the National Park Service near the city of Grand Junction, Colorado. Spectacular canyons cut deep into sandstone and even granite–gneiss–schist rock formations, in some areas. This is an area of desert land high on the Colorado Plateau, with pinion and juniper forests on the plateau.
Driving the winding Rim Rock Drive at sunrise was magical.
This was the Serpent Trail. Because I had a limited amount of time, I couldn’t put my backpack on and hike it. But I do look forward to making the trip back to spend more time exploring.
Canyon Monument runs the width of the park with many different rock formations.
When the road leveled out, I knew I had reached Glade Park, my final destination. The elevation of Glade Park is approx. 7,000 feet. I went to visit the folks I drove up to see and had a great morning. However, this trip ended up being not about the destination, but all about the journey.
Have a great weekend my friends!
Not really any choking going on, but plenty of roping.
Patrick had to put a little scare into this calf trying to get away from the herd. Even though momma is at the top of the hill and he’s taking him to her, his one track mind wants him to go back to the last place he sucked.
The last of the cows were trucked to the Laramie Plains this morning. It’s so dry here but there is plenty of grass and water up there so they will have a happy summer of grazing and lounging.
These past few months have been a lot of work for me and Patrick and I’ve been cowgirlin’ more than photographerin’ (I know that’s not a word but it feels like one today). We have a crew out from back east so I’ve been able to sit back a little more and document the action rather than be right in there with it. We’ve been herding cattle and chasing calves and we had a successful branding.
AND finally…drumroll please…..
…the last heifer to calve gave birth a week ago. Yes, our last calf of the bunch has finally arrived. Patrick says “she’s holding on to that calf like it’s money”. She was as big as a bus that last week and we are so grateful the calf came out okay. We’re done with calving for the year so maybe we’ll catch up on some sleep this summer. Ha! A girl can dream of zzz’s can’t she?
Took a peek into this canyon on a beautiful evening ride with friends. The charred trees are from a fire 10 years ago and I can’t help but worry about history repeating itself. The grass is so dry that it crunches under my boots with every step.
I guess it’s time to suit up and chant and spin. Anyone want to join me?
Patrick is working with Crazy Alice these days. She’s a two year old filly here on the ranch.
He loaded a pack saddle with two hundred pounds of salt and led her out to the cattle. Cows need iodine in their diet just like we do.
We walked her through the cattle, tagged calves, and made small commotions to get her used to the real world.
Putting weight on her and walking her through the cows is a way to get her warmed up to an eventual ride. Stay tuned for that. I’ll be standing on the outside of the pen to tell Patrick what happened when he gets bucked off!
The last few days have been utterly amazing, very busy and extremely heartwarming. Three of my most favorite friends came out for a visit and we had a blast. While they were here we worked on a video shoot for a client of theirs, a photo shoot for a client of mine, Uprooted Magnolia was featured on the WordPress list of “8 Gorgeous Nature Blogs for Earth Day”, and I received a call from an ad agency here in Wyoming for several photo shoots for this upcoming summer. Wow, it’s been a whirlwind! I now call this trio my good luck charms. I did put them to work on the ranch however. We moved some cows and brought Poco and Kate and their colts to new pasture. They watched a calf being born from a distance, viewed several turkey struts, and we even stumbled on a snake or two. Yikes!
I’ve got to get back to work on processing the images from my shoot this past weekend but I wanted to check in with you and say THANK YOU. Thank you to my now 510! followers, new and old. You all have been a great support and inspiration. I love hearing from you and am flattered beyond words that WordPress would feature my images for the community to see. I am truly grateful.
I’ll see you soon.
We’ve been under a blanket of snow for the past couple of days. I’ve tagged along in the tractor (that is now working) with Patrick to the top of the hill to get bales of hay for the cows. Up top is one of the best views of the entire place. It was pretty cloudy on this particular day and I love how there is a little blue sky peeking through at the top left.
We’re slowly leading cattle out of the hills into lower pasture closer to home. They’ll be having their calves soon and we don’t need daily trips into the snowy hills looking for cows and their babies.
It was cold and windy but at least the sun came out occasionally which created nice lighting.
Usually my view while herding is full of backsides.
So I moved around front to get their beautiful faces.
They went through the gate and that gave me a minute to get a shot of the gorgeous view from up high.
The beautiful Cooney Hills were lit through the overcast sky.
Once we got into the next pasture, Patrick set out mineral tubs and salt for them. They LOVE this stuff.
I stayed back. I know not to get in the way of a pregnant woman and her sweet tooth!
It is a gorgeous day on the ranch. I cannot believe it is December in Wyoming and the temps are in the upper 30′s. I’m even thinking about opening the windows!
This is the pasture where we will calve this year. Soon it will be covered in momma cows and brand new babies. The girls now are up in the hills you see in the background. They really love it up there and the best way to get them out is to let it get really cold and snowy, take a ride up in the tractor with a full bale of hay, and beep the horn. They will come running from all directions when they see and hear us. They won’t miss the opportunity of a free and easy meal. I’ll be sure to report on that when it happens.
Almost doesn’t seem right to have the falling snow option on the blog with an image like this. Looks like late summer….
Spent some time with several bull elk,
in a sunflower field,
under the Nebraska setting sun.
We had about 24 hours of free time this weekend so Patrick and I ran away to Nebraska to listen to the bugling elk after they wallowed in the mud pits and shined up their antlers in the brush.
I have more photos to show you of these creatures but I thought I’d give you a tease before sharing the others. We’ll call this Elk Week.
Hope you had a nice and relaxing weekend!