Sunday, January 15, 2017

Antelope, Rabbits and Rocky Boots

A couple of weeks ago I was driving home with Kory, after meeting someone on the highway to buy something.
On the spur of the moment I turned off the two lane highway and picked up a back road that would eventually lead us back to town.
Most of the year this secondary road is gravel, but we have had a LOT of snow this winter and the road was covered with snow and ice.
But with four wheel drive I decided to take it anyway, hoping that I would see the elk herd that lives on BLM land in that area.  They are so much easier to see in the winter than they are the rest of the year.
As I was slowly making my way home I looked to the left and right of the winding road, scanning the snow covered terrain for the elk.
Movement on my left caught my attention, and when I turned to look I realized that I had unexpectedly come across a small herd of antelope.
There were about 25 of them and by the time I saw them they were already in a full run.
Stopping the Tahoe in the middle of the road I scrambled to find my camera, all the while watching the antelope quickly heading up a small rise.
They stopped at the top of the hill and turned to look at me, and I took a few pictures but by that time they were too far away and I was disappointed in the pictures.............

A couple of days ago LC, Kory and I decided that on a very sunny and freezing cold day, we would head to Blackfoot to run some errands.
I hadn't been to town since before Christmas, and had little ambition to go to town on this day, but with errands that we could no longer put off, we headed down the one mile stretch that led to the highway, intent on getting in and out of town as quickly as possible.
Half way down the icy road we saw them slowly walking together down the side of the road, and immediately I made a grab for my camera.
I don't know for certain that they were the same herd that I had seen weeks before, but this was also a herd of about 25, and I was excited to see them.
LC slowed the vehicle as we approached and I quickly snapped pictures through the windshield, trying to capture some decent images before the inevitable run.
They crossed over the road, picked up the pace as they continued to follow the straight line of the ploughed edge of the road, and then cut to the left, running through the deep snow on BLM land.
Beautiful and exciting to see..................
Running across BLM land..............
My dog has been a bunny-killing-machine recently.
She chases rabbits big and small throughout the year, and only very occasionally she actually manages to catch one.  And kill one.
In truth, she doesn't care whether she catches one or not.  
It is the thrill of the chase that she loves so much.
In the yard and out on BLM land - for most of the year - there are ample safety zones for the rabbits.
Small holes in wood piles or rocks piles.
In holes under sage bushes.
Under large and small pieces of equipment where scary furry creatures such as killer-dogs cannot reach them.
But we have more snow on the ground now than we have had in the four winters we have now spent in Atomic City, and many of those safe hiding places are buried in snow.
She has killed four just in the last three days.
Two just this morning.
And one just yesterday..........

Yesterday morning was freezing cold and for a long time I watched as this rabbit sat hunkered down close to the house.
With head pulled all the way down to his shoulders, and with ears pulled all the way back close to his head, this small and beautiful creature stayed motionless hour after hour.
Instead of letting Kory out back in the morning, LC and I let her out in the front of the house, trying to protect bunny from the bunny-killing machine.
A couple of hours later I looked out the back window and was surprised to see that the rabbit was still in the same place.
Still trying to stay warm.  Still trying to conserve energy.
But I knew that I was going to have to finally move this little thing along.
Eventually my dog would want to run in the back yard.
Opening the back door the rabbit immediately sat upright at attention and turned to stare at me.
Trudging through the snow I headed his way knowing (hoping) that I would be able to scare him away from the house, across the yard and through the back fence to freedom.
I watched as he hopped across the deep snow and headed towards the fence.
Feeling good that I had perhaps saved the life of Peter Cottontail I walked back into the house, drank some more coffee and then walked to the back door again to let Kory outside to run..................
I wasn't paying attention to my dog.
She was safe in the yard.
Busy running and playing and visiting with the neighbor dog across the fence.
Typical Kory things.
And then I turned to look at her.
She was walking proudly in that way she has when she has been on a successful hunt.
Walking proudly with her catch.
Little bunny.
I don't lose any sleep when she kills rabbits.  There's plenty of them in town and plenty of them out on BLM land and one of the great joys of her life is to chase them.
Another of the great joys of her life is to catch them.
And so - feeling very badly for innocent rabbit - and feeling happy for my dog (who was proudly prancing around the yard with her catch) I watched as she searched for a safe place to bury it in the back yard............
Walking with Kory on a snow covered road on the outskirts of town one day last week.
The world is entirely white.
An endless sea of uninterrupted white.
Weather wonderfully changes every day at this time of year - freezing cold and crystal clear sunshine, milder and fog shrouded, and many days of frozen mist that completely envelopes the town and that lays inch-long ice crystals on every surface.
One day a few weeks ago I planned to go to Blackfoot alone.
It was a very foggy morning but I was hoping that the fog was isolated, and that once I got closer to Blackfoot it would have burned off.
By the time I turned off our road and hit the one-mile straight-away that led to the two lane, I couldn't see 20 feet in front of me.
The road was completely white.  The snow on both sides of the road was completely white.  And the heavy fog was completely white.
As I very slowly drove down the middle of the icy road the mist seemed to get thicker and thicker, and I realized that I would not be going to town on this day.
I couldn't tell where the road ended and the ditches began.
I couldn't tell where the middle of the road was.
I knew there was a place to turn around at the end of the road, and I couldn't see it until I was right on top of it.
As I pulled into the unploughed driveway of this abandoned structure, I had planned on simply pulling in, backing out, and turning around.
As I pulled into the driveway I looked to my right and realized that in the white mist, my white Tahoe would be almost invisible to anyone who may turn onto the road as I was pulling out.
I needed to get out of the road.
Post Haste.
I quickly pulled into the large snowy parking area, did a U-turn, pulled back onto the road and drove home.
I had only ventured a mile from the house, but by the time I got home I was relieved to have arrived safely.
A complete white out.....................

Not quite as foggy, but similar conditions as I went for a walk with my dog a day later.
All the buttes were gone.  The mountains were gone.  Just me and my dog walking in the endless whiteness and silence of a frozen world ...................
I LOVE these boots.
Very warm.
Great tread.
Found them in a thrift store last winter for $5..................
I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, "Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again...........Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass

No comments:

Post a Comment