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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Change in the Air

The first chill of an approaching autumn was in the air yesterday morning as I walked Pepper down to the county road to get the newspaper. Time to start wearing long-sleeved shirts early in the day and in the evening.

Hawthorn berries - and thorns
Nice crop of pears this year
It's been a brutally hot summer with little breeze and about ten minutes of rain. The cattle have been off our grazing pastures for a few weeks now, and the grass is short and brown, except for the long meadow grass on the west and north sides of our driveway. The knapweed, thistles, and mullein are still thriving, of course. The hawthorn bushes are heavy with large purple berries, and the apples are starting to turn color. Perhaps the cooler nights will build some sweetness into them. This will not be a good fruit year. Many of our most productive apple trees are resting, but a few that haven't borne in a few years are producing - pie apples, in the main. Hard to tell about the plum trees, since they always are the last to show. The old pear tree down by the creek is heavy with fruit.

Cable Creek at "low tide"

Cable Creek is as low as I've seen it in the past six years. Poor Pepper can barely get his belly wet after a long, hot run. It's his only natural respite, since Anna Spring and the flats surrounding it are dry; no place for a mud wallow.

The deer are out in force. This morning I saw a young buck with its first growth of antler. It looked like a tall, skinny Pronghorn. The fawns are losing their spots. The new elk are nearly as tall as the cows. The turkeys are hatching chicks that look like baby ducks on the hillsides. There's also a pretty spooky creature we've seen twice. At first glance, it looked something like a dingo or a jackal. It's not, of course. It's a coyote with mange that looks like this picture I captured from the Web.

A lot of folk in this valley despise coyotes, and after one of them took three of our cats before we got Pepper, I understand the sentiment, even though I don't share it. This one, though should be put out of its misery. Since it's crossed our property lines each time we've seen it, I expect that will happen some day. Failing that, a hard winter should do it.

You want me on that hill; you need me on that hill
Next month marks the end of our one-year home warranty. Karen and I have already sent our repair punch list to the builder; first up will be repair of settling cracks in the wallboard. Nothing major, but lots of little things for the builder to fix. 

Not a warranty item, but something we've had to take care of, is an infestation of ants chewing their way through the expanding foam insulation flanking our front door. We've had the exterminator out twice, and we'll see if this takes care of the problem until the 90-day application. He's also sprayed for wasps and yellow-jackets. This has been one hell of a summer for those flying pests. We've gone through about a dozen disposable traps, and now I'm on to reusable ones with replaceable attractant cartridges. They just love the space under our front porch and balcony. Ants, wasps, sick coyotes - we can use a hard freeze this winter.

My stepson, Donovan, has been hard at work to make this a more comfortable winter for himself. Though he spent more than a few years in Wyoming, I don't think he ever lost the warm blood he was born with in Washington, D.C. and refreshed in California. So, he bought himself a used hot tub and has been spending the past few weeks refurbishing it, building a deck around it, and constructing a boardwalk from his front porch to the tub. He built it under the apple trees south of the old house by the creek, and I imaging in late fall he's liable to have a few Isaac Newton moments.

Our mothers are holding on, and I'm slowly healing from my bike accident. Karen's working hard on her third novel and haunting local thrift shops for eBay inventory. Preseason football is on TV. We're enjoying the porch in the evenings with no mosquitoes or yellow-jackets after dusk. It's all good - mostly.

1 comment:

  1. Wow--a lot's been going on. It's nice to see that Pepper's doing so well. That coyote image is heartbreaking. Cattle? Have you mentioned cattle before?