Saturday, May 16, 2015

Late Evening Walk

Right now, it does not feel like we live in the desert.
A fire is burning in the wood stove in the living room.
 I was certain that we were done with it for the winter and it was safe to remove the cast iron pots from the top of the stove and replace them with large potted plants.
Not so much.
It was so warm and sunny in February and March, but April and May have been mostly overcast and cool.
We have had off and on rain for the past week, and I woke up this morning to heavy rain.
The yard loves it.
The trees in town love it.
Even though we haven't been able to go camping yet, we love it as well.
Because I have this feeling that once summer really hits it won't rain again until September.
I hope that I'm wrong about that, but in the meantime, LC and Kory are napping in the bedroom, the pouring rain has changed to drizzling rain, and I am tasked with keeping the fire going.............

These pictures were all taken very late in the day a few weeks ago.
We had been busy with one project or another around the house and on a warm early-evening decided to continue exploring an enormous cedar tree section of BLM land that is located directly across from Cedar Butte.
I haven't hiked on Cedar Butte in many months now and need to do that soon.
But I will have to talk LC into coming with me.
There are wolves in the desert now, as well as at least one mountain lion.
A few months ago we had heard about wolf sightings out by Big Butte.
Around the same time we heard about a mountain lion sighting on INL land.
The deer that lived part-time in town last summer, and full time in town the winter before last, and that now have disappeared.
The fact that we have not heard coyotes over the past couple of months.
A resident telling us the other day that he found large cat prints just recently. sounds like wolves and cats have found their way into the desert, and so wandering on the buttes alone (or even with my loyal Kory) does not sound like a thing I want to do right now.
 I'll drag LC up there with me soon.
But in the meantime, late in the day a few weeks ago, we wandered for a short while in and among the gnarly cedar trees that sit high on a ridge and that overlook both the desert floor and the mountains in the distance.................
On the way out we came across the sheep and the sheep wagon, and stopped briefly so that I could snap some quick pictures.
These sheep herders do not watch their herd closely enough.
We have found sheep wandering through town and have had to retrieve the shepherds.
They have all been out on BLM land for a couple of months now and they continually move as they graze through the area .  One day they are close to Cedar Butte.  The next day they are out on INL land.  The next day they are wandering across the trail right on the outskirts of town.
Why the shepherds don't take the sheep WAY out onto BLM land, I don't know.  Likely because water needs to be transported out of them.
Regardless, I love to see them.
They are beautiful creatures, as are the dogs, as is the paint horse that stands tied day after day close to the wagon.
They please me and even though they will probably leave the area soon enough, I have enjoyed having them close by....................
As we had done on other visits, we pulled the truck off the gravel road, climbed up and over the steep embankment, and brought the vehicle to a stop in the middle of sage brush-filled land.
When I opened the passenger side door, Kory scooted between my knees and the dash, bolted out the door and immediately began to run towards the trees.
Smiling at her, and then glancing towards LC, we smiled at each other and also began to head for the trees.
It was a beautiful early-evening.
Warm.  Sunny but the sun was already beginning to descend and the shadows were already beginning to lengthen.
Glancing towards the Twin Buttes (that were 20 miles away) I knew that our tiny little community was hidden in between them.
I stopped walking for a moment, looking at the buttes.
They were the only distinguishing feature in that direction and there was something reassuring about the simple and uncomplicated sight of them.
Flat expansive land, blue sky, two known and predictable rises.
The scene wasn't beautiful in the typical way that I think of beautiful.
But there WAS a quiet and straightforward beauty to the scene none-the-less.
It was a calming scene......................
With it being so late in the day, the sky looked different in every direction.
Parts of the world were already in shadow.
Parts were embedded in watery fading light.
Yet other parts of the world were still bathed in bright light and sun.
The day was completely silent, except for the sound of Kory running through sage brush.
There are mice and small black moles (they call them "voles" here) all over BLM land, and our dog nowadays spends her time excitedly chasing rabbits, and excitedly scrambling into sage brush in search of little critters.
She has killed a few, but happily does not eat them....................

Not long after we moved to Atomic City we heard horror stories from local residents about "The Year Of The Voles".
The town one summer was completely overrun with them, and residents spent the entire summer fighting to keep them out of their yards and out of their homes.
Stories of poison.  Stories of death-by-shovel.  And I involuntarily cringed when I heard these stories, not being a fan of obnoxious small critters that don't know their place. was a warm and short winter this past winter and we are now (along with every other resident) currently engaged in a battle to keep mice out of the house and voles out of the yard.
Mouse traps busily snapping.  Karin cringing at the thought of them even as she writes about them.  LC constantly setting traps and disposing of deceased mice.
At least four or five a week.
 The voles (little black guys without tails and only slightly larger than mice) are having a great time tunneling underneath the bushes in our back yard and the burgeoning irises in the front yard.
Only we realized for the first time this year that our bushes are lilacs and that tiny rose bushes have also miraculously begun to make their appearance in the yard for the first time since we moved here.
With concerns that these little tunnel-diggers may actually damage the roots of our newly rejuvenated yard, LC has worked hard to try and drown the little buggers in their own tunnels.
One neighbor suggested putting Juicy Fruit gum into the tunnels, and told us with great authority that it "stops them up and kills them".  
Only our neighbor has a close relationship with prescription medications and alcohol so we take neighborly-advice with a grain of salt.
Another neighbor suggested leaking propane down into the tunnels and then setting the holes on fire.
The proud owner of a whole different set of psychological issues, we take THAT neighbors advice with an even smaller grain of salt.
And so (until we figure out the best way to deal with them on our own), LC will continue to chase them around the yard armed with a water hose, taking great delight in endlessly flooding small tunnels and eventually drowning the little suckers.
At least the lilac bushes are being watered well during the process of vole-assassination...................
Tracks hidden all over the Cedar Tree Section that were too big to be deer, and therefore had to be elk................
Have meant to look up voles for a while but have never gotten around to it until just now.
I had never heard of voles before.
I had assumed that it might be a nickname for these little beasts. 
It turns out that voles are an actual thing.  Who knew?
Go Vols!!!!
No Karin.  Not vols.
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