Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Digging taters

On a recent visit we solicited our unsuspecting (but always supportive) guests Jarom and Rachel for a morning of labor out in the potato patches. We started up on the flat where there is a narrow strip next to the alfalfa where the irrigation just barely waters the soil. No special treatment for these spuds, we just tossed them in the ground and walked away. Miracles that they are, they still produced a bounty of potatoes even under such neglectful circumstances.

Jarom unearths the first tubers from their hard packed clay refuge.

The crew scrabbling about looking for taters.

Hauling in some of the bounty to the truck.

Once we had harvested all the potatoes up on the flat we returned to the house for easier digging for slightly less neglected plants. Save the best for last right? After only a handful of plants, Jarom and Rachel have a half full tub of big Russets and after a whole morning of lower back strain and dirty jeans we have enough potatoes to keep us in the starch for a long, long while.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sunrise salutations

The other day Rachel and I rolled out of bed, bundled up and headed out extra early for a sunrise walk around the canyon rim. We spotted a few deer here and there but not much wildlife overall and since the sky was mostly clear, there weren't many clouds to create a really fantastic color splash. But it was still a memorable experience. We could see tons of stars and other than cattle calling their own morning greetings to each other, it was pure silence. The mornings are just so calm and peaceful, it is impossible to start your own day without feeling calm and collected as well.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Happy birthday whales!

The happiest trash you ever did see

Another example of how outside reality creeps into our isolated world out here on the ranch. A big round of Happy Birthday Whales for this smiling beacon we spotted fluttering in the wind, spreading cheer to the wild things that inhabit one of the many isolated canyons on the ranch. More jeer than cheer from me though as I deflate the syrupy happiness with a quick jab of my pocketknife and stuff the mylar mess into my pocket.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cool things I see when my camera is at home - Part 3

A slight twist on the leaving your camera at home theme, today I wanted to talk about cool things I miss even when I have my camera with me.

We went out to check on the cows and bring some more mineral salt for them. On the way home, the 4-wheeler ran out of gas but luckily there was still some fuel in the reserve tank so we got to take the scenic view home and experience our own little safari.

We saw a couple mule deer. They must know that hunting season opens soon; they bounded down the hill at top speed.

We saw this curious coyote. Only because he was so curious about us did I stand a chance at a photo:


We flushed a few small groups of chukars (an introduced and now naturalized gamebird). They were way too fast for a photo.

We also flushed a single Hungarian partridge. It was gone before I even thought to take a photo.

And since it was the day before deer season opens, we saw a large herd of deer way across Forman canyon.


But when I get the camera home and look at the photos on the computer, these weren't deer.

IMG_4444 zoom

Why it is a herd of Barbary sheep and judging by how many heads are turned this way, I've no doubt that they saw us too. This is how close most people get when they encounter the auodads; spotted from across the canyon. But this brings my lifetime Barbary sheep sightings to two in as many days. Pretty good.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cool things I see when my camera is at home - Part 2

How frustrating to always see cool stuff and not have a camera on your person.

The other day while Nathan and I were up feeding pigs, I glanced to the west and saw a head bobbing along the horizon. In a few moments he came into view - silouetted in full profile against the morning sky. It was a ram.

Neither Nathan nor myself have ever seen these elusive Barbary sheep, also known as aoudad, (though they are really caprids, a type of goat-antelope) that live along the canyon edges - Jake and Steve saw them on a hike, Lloyd and Allison see them on evening scooter rides, Jerry has tracked them through the snow - but they have always been on that list of things I have never seen.

The ram was beautiful; he had smooth arched horns and a tawny colored coat that was shaggy at the throat and belly. He we very calm and walked right over the ridge towards us. He knew that we were watching him and he would turn his head to look at us. He even let us follow him until we came over a ridge and spooked him; then he bolted up the hill.

Barbary sheep are not native to Oregon. They can be found at an exotic game ranch nearby. Even though they are introduced species and we do see the impact of the Barbary's near the canyon edges, I couldn't help but be amazed at the beauty and confidence of this ram. What a wonderful experience to get to see him up close and personal instead of up on a cliff wall far in the distance.

Some day I will have my camera with me and have a nice photo of my own, but until then at least you will know what he looked like:


Monday, October 4, 2010

Cool things I see when my camera is at home

It is almost a guarantee that if I leave my camera at home or if the batteries are dead, I will see something cool that I want to remember or share.

Nathan came in the other day with the coolest looking caterpillar (I'm a bug nerd, deal with it). It was huge (maybe about the size of my pinkie) and slate grey in color. It had two orange "false eyes" and when you gave it a gentle poke it would pull it's head inside the body which would stretch out the orange eyes. Then as it held on to the branch or finger with the lower legs the head would waggle around. What a cool bug!

I go get my camera - just a few quick changes to the white balance and shutter speed and CLICK. The lens retracted back into the body and a red light let's me know that the batteries are dead. I put the batteries on the charger and the cool caterpillar in an old terrarium so I can take pictures tomorrow.

I go to check on my photographic muse the next day and he is hanging upside down and his head has fallen off.

He decided this was just the perfect spot to pupate and spun a little hammock and went to reorganizing his internal parts. Not only do I have no photos of my totally awesome caterpillar friend, now I have to wait until spring until we can hang out again. Bah! I hate it when nature does not abide by my arbitrary schedule.


Sunday, October 3, 2010