Tuesday, December 29, 2009
One of the nice things about working with iron is making things for friends. The above pin was made for our friend Dawn Russell.
She gifted me with a gorgeous set of deer bone runes, in a buckskin pouch, all handmade for Yule. So, I forged out the above pin. She loves clothes, be they buckskin or Renaissance, so I thought she could use a pennanular for her cloaks.
Yuletide is still lingering around here, and until we wassail the orchard on the 9th of January, it's still feeling sort of "in-between" or like we are holding our breathe.
The tomte's gifts
On Christmas eve Dan set out a gift of risengrot and whiskey for our tomten.
Our tomte lives in the smithy and looks after things all year, so if a nice bowl of extra buttery rice pudding and a shot of hooch make him happy, that isn't much to ask for in return for his keeping things safe and sound.
Bavarian sign, finished and hung
After we hung it I honestly felt it could have been bigger, but budgitary constraints kept it smaller. I am proud of my German shop signs, they are fun to build. I get to sculpt, and that's what I love.
Hand painted by me.
Dan forged the frame, I forged the hops, stein, and the barley.
Not much else to report, the hubbinator needs the computer, so I have to cut this short.
Hope everyone had a good Yule, and I hope this secular new year doesn't suck as hard as the last one, to put it roughly.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Happy Yule everyone!
Here Iam, well my hands anyways, rolling out pepparkakor, traditional Swedish gingersnaps. These are rolled out very thin, so the process takes a looooong time. Perfect project for a cold, dark evening. I love rolling and cutting out these yummy cookies. It's very relaxing, roll, cut, bake. They bake in less than five minutes, so you can't wander off and do the bills, or get engrossed in something.
After the baking sheet laden with goodness goes into the oven I take a sip of tea, maybe take another. Then Bam!Time to remove the little nippers from oven. Remove from tray, and repeat. It's all very meditational. I usually listen to the radio as I bake, this year it was the Food and Farming awards show on BBC4
Remember those smashing IKEA cookie cutters? Well they are truly cool. Foxes, hedgehogs, and the moose and squirrel. Of course you must say that with a bad fake Russian accent, like Natasha from Rocky and Bullwinkle fame...These are such good cookies, perfect with a cup of coffee in the morning.
"The house smells like Christmas!" exclaimed the Hubbinator , as he grabbed a handful of the warm, crispy little cookies and dissapeared back out to the shop.
Yuletide has hit here, and we have put up our tree. It's lovely, but no pics as yet. Today I promise. Speaking of trees,
Ever wonder where all those trees come from?
Christmas Tree Round Up!
Last week we made a run down to Mt. Angel, a nice little farming town nestled in the Willamette Valley. It was a cold crisp day, clear as can be. The full moon was starting to rise over the horizon as we headed back for home, and it was then the Hubbinator noticed the helicopters.
Yes helicopters airlifting huge bundles of freshly harvested trees. Doug firs, Noble pines, Grands.
All destined for homes the world over.
You see here in Oregon, we produce damn near all the Christmas/Yule/Holiday trees in the world. I know, there are other states who grow them, but for sheer scale, production, and quality, it's Oregon in the lead. We are the land of Yuletide greenery, from holly farms, to wreathes, swags, even mistletoe. Growing plants is the main AG industry, this includes wheat, barley, and ornamentals. Okay and cattle. We do have us some cattle ranching!
The Gorgeous Full moon
The moon rising over the horizon was huge. You can see the Christmas trees as a green band near the bottom of the pic. They await their fate. This spot on Wildcat Rd was achingly lovely, it was killing me that we couldn't just go hiking in those oak woodlands..
Here comes a load...
And another..The moon really was huge and hung like a silver dollar in the sky..
Coming in to the barn.
These were then loaded into trucks for shipping off to everyplace you can think of. All over the valley they have been harvesting trees this way. teams of workers go out into the fields, where they cut , stack and bundle the trees. Then the whirley bird drops a line and off they go!
Check out this little vid of the process...not mine..
Final load of the evening..
Note Mistletoe in oak trees...I wanted to ask the farmer if we could harvest some of it. I chickened out though...We always used a shotgun to harvest it..I know, the Druids used a golden sickle, we always just shot it out, or used a long poled branch cutter if it was lower down, to get a nice big ball of it. for a kissing ball.
Sigh, a gorgeous Oregon sunset, that is Mt. Hood in the distance. It was all so amazing that evening. The area we were in is where I would love to live, but alas, it is not meant to be. Yet.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
The Annual Grating of the Kidney Suet
Sunna's day was the big day for making the Yuletide Pudding. After gathering everything up, apples, booze, dried fruits, almonds, eggs, flour, spices and the shortening: good old fashioned beef kidney suet. Hard as marble, and fluffy as snow when grated. I have to go to the "good" butcher's shop to get it. The above is me grating it by hand, which is the start of the whole process. Around this time Madame Sandra arrived to help with the chopping, and prepping. As well as Sunday dinner, which involved smoked hamhock and yellow pea soup..MMmMMm!
Wish I could have afforded something a bit fancier in the rum dept. But we do have organic barley wine, and English stout. It was at this point the Hubby came in for a toast, and stir of the batter. We all took turns stirring and making wishes, pouring some good thoughts into the batter. Did it occur to any of us to take a picture?
So now it sits, the Pud, all steamed and waiting for the Big day!! Flame on!
Friday, November 20, 2009
Antique pudding charms... I hope I get the sack of money!!!! Some one bought these clever charms, it wasn't me. I would love to make some out of silver..
It's that time of year again..Yes time to make the pudding for Christmas dinner. We just call the whole month of December Yuletide.
We do our thing, feasting and honoring the Old Gods on the Solstice, but on Christmas day I cook a goose, and have the family over for dinner. The family being my Catholic Mother in Law, who I love to bits. She's very open minded, funny, and kind.
Plus she loves my cooking.;)
Yuletide is one of those times in the year when Christianity and Pre-Christian traditions collide head on. The gift giving, the evergreens, the celebrations of life, the cooking heaps of celebratory food.
Yes, I seriously doubt my ancient pre-Christian Saxon ancestors ate puddings like the one Iam about to make for Yule, but my Protestant Victorian ones sure did.
This is a ritual that I take rather seriously every year. I spend time gathering up the ingredients, the right barley wine, Mad River's John Barley Corn for one, and then I gather it in one place and start mixing. According to the great and all knowing internet this Sunday is Stir Up Sunday, the traditional day to get your Christmas puddings in order.
I know what Your'e saying,
"But Heidi, what is a good Thor loving heathen like yourself doing making puddings set to any sort of Christian calendar?"
Well, it's like this, it's tradition. Since half of my mothers side of the family came from Britain and Christmas pudding was part of their celebrations I do it to honor them. Plus it's delicious. AND all those other pudding makers out there in the big world are doing the same thing as I am on that day. All those people thinking good thoughts as they stir the batter, excited children gearing up for the holidays, all that good energy linking us all..Christian or Not. Good old fashioned folk magic is what that is.
It can't hurt to tap into that, and share some of my good will and excitement for the season of re birth too.
This is something we can use around here. As you may or may not know we are barely hanging on financially. Yes we can eat, but that's about it. Being unable to get enough work has forced us to make some choices that are hard, but we have no other options.
Business loans that can't get repaid, mortages behind by three months,..it's dire. I won't go into the misery, or even the details. The crappy economy, our lack of business/marketing skills, my broken back, all contributed.
I know there are people far worse off than we are, no one is shooting at us, or chasing us with machetes, but still,potentially losing my home, business and security is pretty shitty.
"If you are going through hell keep going."
That's what we are attempting to do.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
The above is the Bavarian sign started oh, ages ago, and along with other jobs trying very hard to be done. Today I cut out 100 little pieces of sheet steel for it. They will become the petals of hop cones. You see each little cut out peice had to then be cleaned up with a grinder, then they get hammer textured, a central hole drilled, then welded onto a pre-forged stem, each petal welded individually, then shaped into a hop cone.
Phew!So I stood in one spot, all the dang day, cutting steel with the plasma cutter, then grinding, grinding, grinding..Man am I tired!!!!
I'll get some pics tomorrow I promise, of what in the hell these things look like when done.
Maybe if I feel brave I'll be in them but lately I'm not feeling too foxy for pics. Mostly I feel tired, stressed out from the hardships of late, and this has translated in me looking like , well a tired, stressed out middle aged woman. Recent pics of me have been sobering, if not sob inducing for their horrible accuracy on the toll age is taking. That and my , umm girth.
Well meaning friends saying things like "No , really, you don't look THAT bad for a woman your age.." or " I think your beauty lies within." - do not help, trust me.
I might be a tomboy, but I do care what I look like.
Iam not ready to look like an 80 year old babushka, not yet anyways, Iam only 44!!! The girth part, well, Iam working on it. I admit to not being one of those beauty treatment mad kind of women, I try to wear sunscreen, I use facial scrub, but Botox? no.
I know, if I had just been more careful, didn't drink, ate only veggies, coated myself in goo each night before bed..
Maybe if I was wealthy lady I would just go get a face lift and have a month stay at some swanky spa to sort it all out.
Oh well, there are plenty of other waaay more important things to be worrying about, but sometimes a girl has to vent.
Thursday, November 05, 2009
A cart load of hops
Greetings to all and any who have wandered back here to see if Iam indeed, alive. Iam, but our old computer isn't. No excuse, not blogging all Sept. was due to laziness on my part. Then a truly nasty trojan horse infected our windows operating system. We pulled the plug, and thanks to the kindeness of friends (James and Karen) we have a new system, and a fancy flat screen!!! Ya see, we have only just upgraded from using tin cans with strings to cordless phones around here, so a flat screen is a big fat, luxury from the future.
Sept. was the annual hop harvest at the Lucky Labrador Brew Pub, and as shown above, here Iam looking a bit like Bellatrix Lestrange I have to say, with a load of our hops ready to be plucked.
Dan admiring our haul
We loaded up our contribution, and then went over to our freind John's house to pick up his fine crop of hops..Then off to the Lab.
Our haul seen from the back..
Happy, happy hops! I have no idea how many Lbs that was, alot is all I can say. The truck smelled of hops for days after, yellow resin was everywhere.
History Nerds Anyone?
Iam always happily amazed by who gets this one, and is amused by it. Here in the USA you have to be either an English Lit. major or a History nerd to get it, and I proudly count myself as one of latter.
There was one history boor who felt it was his job to point out(ad nauseum) that the Saxon's did not have automobiles, and therefore this just didn't make sense, nor was it funny.
Rolling my eyes...
sigh..there's one(or two) in every crowd of re-enactors.
Ben cutting down the bines at the Lab
We arrived to find folk gathering, and Ben one of the brewers at the lab, cutting down their hops out in the back lot.
Here is our pile.
Then it grew!
Iam sitting behind that wall of vines, it was amazing.
The weigh in final was over 200lbs. of hop cones!!WoW!
We picked hops all day, from midday to evening. It was a fun time had by all, all be it scratchy and itchy.
Updates= Most of you know my father has lung cancer, so here is the update. He's doing okay, had a nasty bout of pneumonia last week, but is home and getting better. The new drug he is on costs $6000.00 dollars a month, but as they qualified for a special grant it costs them nothing.
Whew! that's a good thing, as they are not rich, and neither am I. Their insurance only covered part of the drug's cost, so they are lucky to have qualified for the drug makers financial program,
- they waved the remainder of the fees.
This according to my mother who called me in tears at hearing how much it was going to cost to help keep her husband alive, and her relief when she found out they would not have to sell everything and move into a trailer.
He has to take the drug, as the chemotherapy was killing him faster than the cancer, and this drug is the only one his tumor is responding to...
This all leads back to my anger about our lack of affordable healthcare, nay, national healthcare.
Why my fellow countrymen don't want National healthcare is beyond me. If my folks had not gotten that grant they would have gone bankrupt attempting to pay for the drug.
Americans, out of compassion we can send thousands of dollars to help with foreign disasters, like the tsunami in Indonesia , but help your neighbor pay for their basic medical care? "Hell no!!!! That's communism! I got mine, and I ain't sharin!!!"
sigh...What a world.
As for us, well, things are hard, but we trudge on.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
The result of those busy bees this last spring
The summer is winding on, the days are shorter, sad I know, but true. It is still hot, and sunny, the garden is still productive, but I can see that some things are looking tired. The morning does not come so early, and the hops are ready.
Even so, the honey bees are busy gathering nectar from all the flowering squashes, mint and sunflowers. We dig the bees , and I encourage their activities in the garden. After all how would I have gotten my luscious apples without them? I know some apples are self pollinating, but that's not my point.
The Sugar Shack
All seemed right and in balance in the garden, when I noticed an unusually large number of honey bees drinking from the hummingbird feeder. First it was one, then two. Then I went outside to have peek and WOW!! All the openings were choked with golden little bees having a good drink.
Their amber bodies wriggling and pulsating as they jockeyed for the prime spot to get at the nectar. Like WW2 bombers, flying away laden down with sugar water for the Queen..Bees so full of nectar they could barely take off, cruised slowly past my head off to the hive.. The feeder was so jam packed with bees, not even the normally agressive yellow jackets dared to have ago at it.
The hummingbirds had given up, and were nowhere to be seen..
I just stood and watched , mesmerised.
Last year the bees stopped by for a quick sugar water drink, then flew off. The song birds would nip in for a beak full too on the hot days ..But this year is waaaay different with the bees..
I was happy to help feed our local bees, but there was problem.
The problem was that the greedy little bees would climb themselves up into the feeder tubes, and end up drowning in nectar. Seeing their drowned little bodies floating at the top of the feeder, I realised something more sensible had to be done, so I called my bee keeping freind and mead maker Amy aka Wolfwoman..
"Ya need to build them a jar feeder. This time of the year they are trying to gather as much nectar as they can to keep the Queen producing eggs, and to store for winter, so they are really hungry. Iam feeding my hives , and going through a quart of nectar a day."
Who knew? So I got a jar, poked some holes in the lit, set it up on small stones, set that in the middle of a shallow dish, and there ya go! Bee feeder!
Flying in for drink Now I suggest that you set this thing up after it gets to be evening, or you will have as I did, a zillion bees climbing all over you. I mean climbing. Bees buzzing by your ears, face, arms, climbing my hands looking for sugar.. The thing is to just be calm, and slow in your movements, not so much because they will get agressive, but so you do not inadvertently squish one, or squish one between your fingers. Then you'll get stung for sure. It was amazing, the feeling of their wings beating air all around my face, trying to resist that primeval urge to run at the sound of so much buzzing up close. It was cool!!! they did not care a bit about me, except that I was bringing more nectar. Next time though, I refill the thing at night.
The way they all lined up reminded me of some little gold bees made for a Scythian warriors garment.....or the sculpture of Diana of Ephesus, she wears a necklace of bees...
They flew past me, ignoring me as another obstacle..So they seem happy, and no more drowned bees.
Bavarian Inn sign
Barley, hops and beer..
The start of the spirals..Iam working on the stein today.
Well, Iam currently slacking off writing this! But the bees were so cool, I had to share!
Here is the study for how to make hop cones, and barley...
The white thing is the study, I think Iam going to use the layered method, cut out and shape the petals of the hops, and them fit them on a central "pin"....The Barley, I still have no idea yet..
This is a cool project, but I best get back to work.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Sometimes I get to sneak in some drawing that is not work related. This is an illustration in progress of the Rune, Sowelo, the Sun. It was for a book project, but then things changed, so now it's just for my own pleasure. It's not finished, as he is standing in a field of barley, and that is not drawn in yet. They loved the drawing, but decided to go with photographic images, and that's fine. I will finish him, and am toying with the idea of doing the entire Runic Alphabet.
Most folks know Iam an ancient history nerd as well as artist. I have toyed with the idea of going off to school to finally become an official history geek, archaeologist/pre-Christian religion scholar, but something always stops me. Mostly money, fear, and well money.
So I have things in the works to combine my love of Viking age history, blacksmithing and art that won't involve hideous student loans.
So back to work..
Thursday, August 06, 2009
Neo-Gothic Hinges in situ
Greetings everyone! Well you may recall those Thistle hinges I was working on awhile back..No? Yes? Maybe? Well, they were finished ages ago, and languished about waiting for their new home to be built. Well happy happy joy joy, they languish no more!
Their new door was finished and the hinges were attached this week. Today was the big day they whole thing was installed on site at the historical Lone Fir Pioneer Cemetery, here in sunny, scenic Portland , Oregon.
Mike the Wood Guy built a great, heavy bastard of a wooden door for the hinges to live on. Out of solid mahogany. He, the Friends of Lone Fir and my darling Hubbinator were on hand to hang the door, ooh and ahh and revel in a job well done. I was back at the smithy slaving away on another project, so I could not attend.
The new door was built for the McClay family crypt's utility building, an old, musty brick structure known by me as the "spider palace"...there is a reason , a good reason I call it that...Iam not normally scared of insects , but when we went there to take measurements the abundance of blackwidows, and big , brown, leggy spiders hanging about, or skuttleing about, did make me a bit nervous....Think Ron and Harry deep in the woods, with all those giant spiders chasing them...or a certain Indiana Jones flick, dark tomb, lots of bugs, certain death..you get the picture..
A closer shot of the fabulous door
These will be here for another hundred years I hope, it was an honor to make them for the Friends of Lone Fir, and the McKlay/Kerr family.
Thistle head up close, with potentially deadly arachnid
Look! Look! I swear, only on the doorjam like ten minutes and the little buggers have moved in already! See I was not exaggerating!
Monday, June 15, 2009
Pictographs along Picture Gorge..
Welcome back to part 2 of our Eastern Oregon trip..I know It's only been a month, but honestly, I just can't stand sitting here for the hours it takes to write these posts. I also space out how long it's been between postings, and not that much exciting goes on in my life. Mostly it's work.
On the way back from Eastern Oregon we drove back along the John Day river, the only green for miles, with spectacular landscapes around us.
Part of this route winds through a narrow canyon, and named Picture Gorge. Named so because the Paleo people who lived here painted spirit drawings on it's walls. Some of them have similarities to the rock art found in Europe, which makes sense given the time period they were thought to be made. That and the primal human need for communication with the Gods/Spirits/Ancestors, to intercede, bestow or assist. It could all also just be graffiti, we will never know for sure..
Even though they built a damn highway through it, it is still a special place..
The Gorge Looking back...we stopped for a picnic and look at the river..
Taking a rest...and the hills around us..
Standing below, looking up...
The sheer walls, twisting stones, the seat of eagles.
I stand before the sheer rock walls my neck craned back taking in the beauty. Behind me the river rushes past. Between me and the river is the road. Usually one has to put up with the danger of being run over by vehicles charging past, and their intrusive noise ruining the natural peace of the place.
Not today. No cars or trucks come rushing by today, so I can almost imagine how peaceful this place was, before the road came though it. I can't help but wonder if it was the present century, would they have blasted a road though here knowing what treasures were on it's walls?
More Natural Splendor
The route we took was awesome, but as usual did I take enough pics? No.
It was an awesome road trip, and this week we have another opportunity for blogging content.
This coming weekend is the Summer Solstice, so we are off to our local Fauxhenge as I call it, or the Stonehenge Memorial at Maryhill Washington.
Maryhill Stonehenge Memorial
Off with some good friends to camp out over night, get up early(Wait, didn't we just do that for Beltane?...) and watch Sunna/Sol rise over the mountains. Swim in the mighty Columbia river for a good cleansing off of any bad ju-ju, Then it's off to our friends James and Karen's wedding! Should be an action packed weekend all round.
So happy Solstice everyone! remember when the Sun was at her depths, and winter reigned? Now we rejoice at the warm days, the growing grain and the fruitful boughs! Build a nice bonfire, have a good jump over it, feast, swim in the fresh waters, make wreathes of flowers and oak leaves to wear. Laugh, be merry!Enjoy the longest day of the year!
I know we will.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Wild Flowers of the High Mountains
Last week this time I was loading our truck for a much needed road trip to Eastern Orygon. Dan had a teaching engagement out in Baker City. He was also revisiting old haunts, places and re-connecting with freinds. Lucky me, wifey, got to tag along for the adventure.
We headed up the Columbia River Gorge, also called the Rhine of the West. More on that amazing place later. We drove for an eternity, along the mighty Columbia River, past Beacon Rock, Hood River, it's apple orchards filled with blooms, bees buzzing. The Dalles, on and on we drove..Until we turned right and began to climb into ponderosa pine covered forests.
The Elkhorn Mountains( Hunting horns blow loudly, Valkyrie's fly out of the clouds)
Behold the Elkhorns. New mountains, high , and dramatic they teem with Elk, deer, Mountain lions, and Wolves. Golden Eagles soar their craggy heights, and I stood in awe of their
beauty. During the day snow squalls dusted them, at night the full moon glinted off their peaks like silver.We we're headed for Dan's friend's ranch,
"Rancho Costa-plenty". Nestled at the feet of the mountains, they own 40 acres of land, three horses, two dogs, 2 cats and several little brown bats. They build their house together, and are some of the best people on Earth.
The Rancho, horse pasture, Washington Gulch, looking down off the ranch house deck.
Coffee and yoga on the deck every morning dahling, then a brisk jog down the road. Late breakfast, hiking all day..watching the eagles soar. Thanks to Devon and Rachael's hospitality I felt like I was at some sort of spa.
The Hills dotted with junipers..
Devon on his big , huge, trail horse.
This is the man you want on your side. Excellent horseman, carpenter, husband, and friend. Oh and funny...very funny..tells stories that will curl yer hair..tells jokes that make you groan..
We discussed politics and stories of life in the outback..
Me and Rachel and her paint, Flint Stone..
It was so damn great to hang out with another strong minded, type A, talkative, mountain woman who loves the land and is deeply connected to it. Italian and Irish, fair as a flower, feisty as a bobcat. Not just a fabulous horse woman, but an engineer/auto mechanic who worked her ass off to get what she has, Rides the trails with Her handsome Devon. We had such a great time laughing , blabbing, and getting to know one another. She made me feel so welcome, I didn't want to leave.
She was off to dressage class with her horse when we took that shot.
Here's the ritual:
I hide below the rock wall. YOU, the human get a stick. Then you throw the stick. I chase it and
laugh, and then return. No I do not fetch the stick, you have to get a new one.
Copper the red dog waiting for YOU to throw a stick.
Throw it already!
No! Don't go inside! Were having a game!!!
Okay, Iam still here..Throw the stick.
Repeat until you go mad.
Copper the red dog is still a puppy, she has enough energy to light up a small city.
She loves to run, run run. Oh and steal your shoes..try to find your boot on 40 acres..so you have to out them up high, or else Surprise!
Misha, from her website, I like an idiot forgot my camera, again!!!
We also had a great time visiting and meeting our new freinds Misha, Michael, and the lovely Starr, of Cove. The little town is nestled against the foot of the blue mountains, and frankly it is as gorgeous as can be there. The own and operate Shota Fjords, where they raise and train the amazing Fjord ponies, horse of the Vikings. Misha and I met a few years back, online, when i was hunting down a Fjord horse to ride in my wedding ceremony. Yes, you heard right, I rode a horse into my wedding, and looked damn swell doing it thanks. Well Misha connected me to her friend who lived closer to us., and since then I have tried to get over for a visit, but life gets in the way.
We finally got our butts over to Eastern Oregon and so we went to their amazing ranch to finally meet! Misha, Michael and their good freind Starr treated us to a wonderful dinner, with the best homebaked bread I have ever had. There was tons of yummy food, so much it would not all fit on the tabel!! After some plate juggling we all settled in for a feast.
We brought mead to share, and after dinner Dan taught everyone how to make fire using a flint and steel..We laughed, told stories and had such a great time no one wanted it to end.
This is a household of creative, talented and wise folks, both Michael and Misha are artists, writers and music is Michaels special passion. He is also very funny. Starr just rocks!
Misha's book Magpies and Tigers resonated with me, as a woman of the Earth and Sky in ways I can't express here.
Misha, wolverine sister who I am honored to count as freind, buddy and teacher thank you for opening up your Hof and home to us. Hail to your Ancestors, and Hail to the Spirits that keep you well!
After a good visit, it got later and we had to go. We drove away wishing there had been more time to stay, talk, and share more of our thoughts, tales, and silly jokes. That we were lucky to have met kindred souls.
After a great time visiting, and Dan's triumphant teaching was a happy memory..at the Baker City Interpretive Center ...We had, alas, to come back home to rainy Portlandia, but on the way we had some stops.
I am unfortunately not into snapping pics at everything, I missed a lot of shots due to my non-alertness..oh well, here's some I did get.
Outside the carriage repair shop.
Wagon wheels, don't get any westerner than that!
The tackiness that only Western Americana yard sculpture can convey..Each cast in steel..
I have to confess to liking the buffalo alot.
"No." said my husband. "Just no!"
So we headed out, and around john Day we encountered something pretty damn cool.
Here they come!
"Oh you're gonna love this." says my darling husband.."It's a cattle drive!"
The truck winds down to a stop.
Wiry cowboys mounted up on bay horses come riding ahead of the herd. The bawling and bugling of cattle can be heard echoing down the canyon..Cattle dogs , squinty eyes and speckled like granite trot along beside the horsemen..The herd, a red, black, white and cream colored mass it moves with a slow, chaotic intent towards us. Iam so excited I can hardly contain myself.
This is something I have only seen in movies...or read about in books..
"Paula," I say out loud, "Is gonna dig this..."
I grab the camera.
Spilling up the side of the road.
Headed straight for us, 50 some odd head of cattle..The rancher is moving them down the way, to another pasture, or range. But all along the roadside is new, tasty green grass to eat, and so the herd is reluctant to move along. The herd is mixed beef cattle. Angus, Hereford, Charolais..
On the move
Spilling up the roadside...calves squeezing through fences, cows bawling after them, cowboys flanking them..chasing them back down onto the highway..
It's like a giant mooing amoeba...
Ca-boy on the hillside
Here they come!
The mooing and squalling of calves and cows is deafening. In the pitch of the mass the calves will get separated from their mothers, and their mothers are not happy. They holler and holler, looking for their babies..the babies squeal and squeal looking for their moms..All the time the cowboys move everything along..
We roll forward...into the mass of bovines..
Cute little calf.
Momma would not be happy if you tried to get too close.
The swirling herd, the loud bawling , the mooing, the smells, the big bodies inches from my truck, okay leaning on my truck..How do I convey to you what it was like? Being on a ship in stormy sea? While Nelson fires cannons over your head? The Cowboys yelling "Hyup! Ho! Heeyah!" as they use their coiled lariats to nudge the slow along, they canter by on the hillsides containing the mass of moo..
I sit astonished as the big, well muscled Hereford bull saunters past the front bumper of our truck. I fumble for the camera, and manage to snap a pick of his rump..We are rolling along forward, the herd spilling away from us like water on a ships prow.
Mister Bull hustles over to the embankment to get in on the dee-licious grass his ladies have discovered, and sets to browsing.
Out of the past
It all felt like we had stepped back in time. The handsome cowboys, oh and they were handsome. Dressed in their work gear, they sported mustaches and suntans. Tall in the saddle, lean of limb, and confident in the saddle. Sparkling eyes like sunlight on a mountain stream...Wolf Woman I know you would have leaped from the truck and onto their horse!
The romantic image of the cowboy intertwined with the real thing.
Dressed in clothes straight out of the 19Th century, the blonde cowboy came riding up alongside the truck. I could only stare wide eyed as he sat on his horse, watching the straggling cows go by. Then I locked eyes with him. Sigh. Oh Wolf Woman, you would lose your heart to this one..Why if I wasn't a sensible married woman with a wonderful, handsome husband already...
I smiled and nodded to him..the truck jerked forward, and I tried to snap a picture without seeming a tourist..
He leaned forward in the saddle, tipped his hat and winked at I me.
I could not get a good picture, he was moving fast, and we were rolling.
It couldn't have been nerves..
"Oh gawd," says the Hubbinator.." Women and cowboys!"...
The Hubbinator rolled his eyes..and off we went..
I have to admit I did turn and look back.
NEXT: Picture Gorge