Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Original Friendship

There's some big news a-brewing here at The Ranch. I will be telling you about this new stuff in the coming days. I guess this serves as a teaser. A vision of things to come. Here's what I think of it: it's kind of like when they broadcast an advertisement for a new movie or a new book and you wonder what could it be? 

So, dear friends, I leave you with the cliff hanger. I won't keep you there for long. I promise.

In the meantime I found this marvelous poem on another website. I share it with you. It fits in perfectly with my view of nature as deity, of perfect spirituality.

The Original Friendship

The great wonder of the horizon
is not so much its daily live performance
or its mathematical genius 
as it is its long-term
witness of genuine friendship.

Earth and Sky, having dreamed one day
of working together as friends with
common goals and shared responsibilities,
followed their dream, made it happen,
and these eons later, look—

it still holds:
the circle,
the one world,
and, most wondrously,
the original friendship.


Plough Monday

Posted on January 5, 2016

Monday, January 18, 2016

They Don't Make 'Em Like That Anymore

I bought these Keen shoes about 15 years ago. Maybe even 20. I got them after my daughter was born and she's 23. These shoes have been my mainstay when I had anything to do outdoors that involved anything nasty or wet and I had plenty of that at the horse pasture and all up and down the California coast or in the mountains of Colorado. Pouring rain, muddy conditions, steep or rocky terrain, these shoes stuck with me through it all. I could traverse up and down slippery hills without worrying. The tread was ample to keep me right side up.

Now that we've been at the ranch I continued to use the shoes and they served me well just the same as before. In the last year I noticed that the waterproofing no longer functioned but I didn't care. They still fit well and they were my go-to shoes. Then last month I noticed that my second toe on my left foot was sore every time I wore them. At first I didn't believe it. I continued to wear them in spite of the fact I had bought a new pair of Keen's. Somehow the old pair had become a part of my foot and they felt the best. But my toe was still sore so I stopped wearing them for a while and the soreness went away. Darn!

So here's my opus to a pair of shoes. How many shoes have you loved in your life? Not many if you're like me. I can't bear to put them in the trash. Maybe I'll have them bronzed.

They don't look bad do they? That makes my decision all that much more painful.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

My Carmex has Alfalfa In It

A little known hazard of ranch life is the infiltration of hay and straw into every aspect of existence. I didn't fully appreciate this until recently. Every morning it's my job to go out and feed the livestock. As a reminder, I tell you we have 5 hens, 5 guineas (used to be 10 but some varmint got the others), 3 cats, 2 dogs, 6 horses and, until they both croaked, 2 pet cows (a fallow bull and cow). This is not to mention 60 pair of cows and calves. I always take some lip glop with me because if I don't I eventually get chapped lips and I hate that.

On that particular morning when I came to fully appreciate the situation it was raining. It was very cold and just above freezing. It wasn't to the point of snowing but it was awfully close. As I finished with throwing hay for the last of the horses I reached into my zip pocket on the inside of my well worn Dri Duck (a Carhartt knock off, just as good and a fraction of the cost), opened the lid of my small pocket size Carmex jar to get a glop to smear. It was then that I noticed little flecks of something green. It looked like oregano from my kitchen. It was then that it dawned on me. I have alfalfa in my Carmex.

I wasn't grossed out. Alfalfa is nutritious and clean. At least ours is. We keep it in a barn and out of the sun, wind and rain so it stays pristine. I wouldn't go so far as to purposely eat it but  I'm also not going to let a little herb deter me from using lip glop. There's no real reason to toss it. It still serves the purpose it was meant for. Yet, it started me to thinking how much hay permeates my existence.

When I come in from feeding and my pants have been rolled at the cuff I always have to make a stop at the back door in our erstwhile "mud" room which isn't worth the boards it was made of being much, much too small to be of reasonable use. I have to make a stop because if I don't shake out the cuffs I invariably leave a trail of alfalfa flakes all through the house. God forbid I should forget and leave the pants cuffed and then go upside down to put on my socks and shoes. I get a shower of alfalfa flakes all over me like 5th Avenue confetti. 

It's also important to scoop out the alfalfa debris from my pockets of my barn coat before I launder it. The contents could feed a couple of guinea pigs and make them quite happy. Forgetting to clean them invariably leads to finding wet oatmeal-like mush post-launder.

None of this bothers me. I feel blessed that we are able to provide good feed for our livestock. Because of this they are in good condition, healthy and happy. It pleases me to be able to care of our animal brethren in this way. They are at our mercy in this fenced and cross-fenced world. Left to their own devices to work for their supper like the wild creatures out in the open they would find that Nature is not so kind and reliable.

So I'll take alfalfa in my Carmex. I wouldn't have it any other way. But if you can come up with a good system to keep it out without going to a lot of trouble I'd like to hear about it!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Troglodytes? Turbidites? Tafoni?

I get all kerfuffled and can't figure out what to call it.

If you don't already know this: Earth (which I have recently decided to re-name The Music Planet) is the most amazing thing of all. Can't we just be in awe and treat her right? We need to. Out of simple respect and awe, I tell you.

On the coast of the Pacific ocean north of Santa Cruz, California there's a small unassuming beach known as Bean Hollow. It is here that I'm pretty sure the aliens landed thousands of years ago and became embedded in the rock and have never been able to escape back to their home.

At least this is what I think when I go there. So interesting. So incredible. Go there. To rekindle your awe of this amazing planet. It's not the Grand Canyon. It's not Mount Everest. It's just Bean Hollow and your jaw will drop open. 

You have to be a little bit part mountain goat to crawl up a short cliff and your balance has to be pretty decent to clamber over rocks. Then you crest the hill and below you just at the edge before the waves are these amazing rocks. What the...?

My daughter learned about this in her Geology class at Cabrillo. Here's the science behind this phenomenon: They're called tafoni and they are small cave-like features found in granular rock such as sandstone, granite, and sandy-limestone. The rounded entrances and smooth concave walls are often connected, adjacent, and/or networked. They often occur in groups that can riddle a hillside, cliff, or other rock formation. They are most abundant in inter-tidal areas and semi-arid and arid deserts.

The current favored explanations of what controlled the formation include salt weathering, differential cementation, structural variation in permeability, wetting-drying, and freezing-thawing cycles, variability in lithology, case hardening and core softening, and/or micro-climate changes and variation. Tafoni have also been called fretting, stone-lace, stone lattice, honeycomb weathering, and alveolar weathering.

Anyway you look at it or whatever you call it, it's Our Amazing Planet Earth.