Sunday, February 28, 2010

Coming Soon To A Prairie Near You....


It sounds as if spring has arrived, but as you can see, it does not look like it. It has been decades since we experienced an authentic winter in Kansas like this one. For many seasons, each summer seemed to linger unnaturally long past the time of autumn. Little snowfall - no extended deeply cold periods - hardly cold enough to kill of any pests, insect or vegetative. None of that is true this year.

It has been nice to experience a "true" winter.

All of my animals have made it through the cold weather. Me and my truck made it through all those icy and dangerous road miles commuting to work. I only fell down once this year, which is a milestone. During the ice storms of winters past, I routinely fell several times walking down the solid sheet of ice in the driveway. Sometimes, if I would simply lay still I could slide down a few yards past the steepest and iciest places. (These things can happen when there are no close neighbors to witness such laziness.)

This winter was not much of a hardship. Thanks to several consecutive years of ice storms, the infrastructure of the electric lines were sturdy enough to hold up throughout the entire winter. As long as I have running hot water, I can survive just about anything this far from civilization.

Enduring a true winter makes the spring thaw far more appreciated. I anxiously await the arrival of green and gold and the fresh, breezy warming of the waking prairie.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Get The Flock Outta Here

The largest chicken in my little flock is Junior the rooster. He is one half Partridge Cochin and one half Porcelain D'Uccle. He has been attacking the little hens for quite some time. It is a grave understatement to say they do not appreciate it. His courtship skills are non-existent. He is, in fact, a rapist. Well - he is an attempted rapist.

His artless attacks anger the little hens, and rightly so. If one succeeds in fending him off, another will chase him for good measure, aiming vicious pecks at his retreating tail feathers. For a short time, Junior took shelter from the incensed hens beside his father, the Evil Roo'. Just this week Evil started sparring with Junior over who will be the boss. I heard a collective sigh of relief from the ten little hens when their husband at last took steps to maintain his post.

Now that Evil Roo' is fighting for his job, the hens are even more outraged at Junior's adolescent overtures. They want the best man, as it were. They do not want to have anything to do with a scrub, a second stringer. This morning I noticed that every little hen was on the offense against Junior. Each hen flew up and attacked Junior if he so much as got within a foot of any of them.

Junior was so confounded that he did a few steps of the Cochin Tango - the goofy, rapid, side-stomping dance Cochin roosters do to warn everyone that someone really bad is on the block and they had better watch out! Junior was being pushed around and bullied by everyone in the flock this morning. Tenzing Norgay, the most dominant hen, was in no mood for Junior's masculine demands - especially that stupid rooster dance - and tore into him with outstretched neck, wings held menacingly, and a battle cry every angry female creature in the universe understands. Junior knew he better get the flock outta there - or ELSE!

The flock has spoken.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Rocks'N Stuff

Most of the rocks in Kansas are not remarkable at first consideration. First and most obviously is the limestone. There were scarcely any trees when the Europeans first settled this area. In the absence of wood, the immigrant stonemasons found and quarried the limestone, fashioning fence posts, houses, barns, schools and churches. Most of those stone structures remain and many are still comfortably inhabited as beautiful homes.

I always thought I would enjoy living in one of those modernized limestone homes until I heard (on good authority) that scorpions also enjoy inhabiting limestone houses. I have never seen a scorpion in a single one of my Kansas homes and I hope to keep it that way. Kansas scorpions are not deadly, but they are high on my revulsion scale, right up there with maggots and stink bugs.

Flint is another widespread rock. The first humans here fashioned implements of flint - arrowheads, blades, axes, scrapers, adzes, Quivera knives, spear points, awls, and hoes. Flint is directly responsible for all of the remaining untouched prairie, making the ground too difficult and costly to plow. It was flint rock, and not human wisdom, that saved what is left of the natural tall grass prairie. Humans are not even as smart as rocks, sometimes.

I love rocks in general and certain ones in particular. An acquaintance from New Zealand sent me three small rocks from that far away land. She sent me a small piece of greenstone the Maori hold sacred. They call it Pounamu, but I do not know what that means. It is beautiful, green and somewhat iridescent. She also sent a small white stone from a beach where dolphin are known to frequent offshore. The ocean has worn it as smooth as glass and there is the faintest vein of cobalt blue in it. It is beautiful.

A friend much closer to home sent me a Kansas stone that travels. It is a yellow rock of very hard stone, about the size of the palm of my hand. There is a perfect, natural hole through it. You can see there was once a fossil in the hole. I hung that stone from the roof of my front porch, in a place of honor, but it disappeared. I looked everywhere on and under and around the porch, thinking quite sensibly that it had simply fallen, but I never found it. I was deeply disappointed to have lost such a cool rock, especially one that was a gift.

A couple of years passed and I was raking Autumn leaves from under the porch when that rock turned up laying atop the leaves. Of course you think I missed it the first twenty times I raked and dug and scratched beneath the porch looking for that rock. I was delighted to have found it, but since I was busy, I laid it carefully on the porch. I intended to pick it up when I went in the house later but it disappeared again before evening. After looking all around on the porch, under it, and beside the porch with no luck, I believed it was gone for good. One day I came home from work and it had mysteriously turned up again on the porch, almost exactly where I had laid it after finding it on the leaves. Go ahead and scoff. The only other explanation is that Duke carried it off in his mouth and then brought it back. That is as crazy as a rock that appears and disappears. Now the rock is inside my house where I can keep an eye on it. So far, so good.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

My Best Horoscope Ever

Capricorn Dec 22 - Jan 19

All things considered, it's a good thing you aren't in the prostitution business for the money.

From The Onion

Friday - Twelve Hours On Vera Road

On the way to the barn 5:30 am

Her majesty Ginger at the royal breakfast, ignoring the servant.

Poor Annie hates the cold

The Good Dog Duke waiting for me on the path back to the house.

Main Pasture Gate. That is $100 worth of level, Son!

Heading North.

Where's Waldo the Coyote?

Where (and what) is Waldo in this photo? (Not from Friday, but just couldn't help throwing it in!)

White snow and black cows.

The Big Cats - most welcome sight of all this winter!

5:30 pm Going Home.

Deer caught in the act of attempting to kill me.

Friday, February 5, 2010

This Is What I Love

This is what my spirit loves the most, these ancient hills - the sumptuous green abundance.

This is the earth's immense dreaming - handsome shapes left by dying Permian seas. In the early greening of spring, at a certain light, visible gradients, regular and level across the valleys, are visible high water marks - a subsidence spanning incomprehensible time.

No such thing as human eyes to witness the emergence of these hilltops, yet our blood matches the seawater.

Once, in this very spot, the slow roll of waves sculpted slopes now green and gold. The ebb and flow of winds high up in the atmosphere recall those tides and that mighty, long slumbering before ever a human being walked here.

I was here, again and again and again I was here. The old sea recalled in the salt of my blood, limestone molecules in my bones, breathing air molecules escaped the vanishing sea.

What are human beings but the very earth herself forming up, rising up from dirt and sea and stardust to see and hear and love the dreaming made real. Again and again and again I will be here.

Tiny Permian Sea fossils found in Spirit Creek.

Another fossil reference:

Thursday, February 4, 2010


I have never had a lot of friends but I have always had a few close friends. Quality over quantity. Once a person is my friend, they are my friend forever. It takes a lot of abuse for someone to get checked off my list for good. That dogged loyalty is honestly not the best way to go through life, though.

I admire people who have a ton of friends, who know people everywhere they go. It is good damage control to have a big circle of friends because if you lose one to bad judgment, circumstance, or death, there is still a good supply.

It is hard to be a good friend and I am not good at friendship. Some people are so confident that when disaster strikes, they know just the right thing to say and do. They step up and do the exact right thing. I never know what the hell to do. I never know what to say in times of tragedy or emergency. I blurt out some dumb thing that does not serve anyone well, and then cringe every time I recall what came out of my big mouth. I admire those people whose friendship unrolls effortlessly in concrete and real ways - people who can organize, arrange, manage. Their friendship serves those they love in authentic ways.

I give myself credit for knowing which people are worthy to count as friends, at least. I have chosen wisely over the years. Only one friend ever actually turned out to be a bad apple. By the time she ran off with my significant other, she had already stabbed me in the back so many times she was off my list anyway. (I should be so good at choosing significant others as I am at choosing friends!)

I have often looked at the people who apparently love me as their friend and wonder what it is I possibly offer these good folks. When I compare myself to them, to the things I love so dearly in them, I find myself lacking.

A few of my friends are difficult as hell. They are my high maintenance friends. They are opinionated and outspoken. Well.... so am I. It is when our strong opinions do not match that the high maintenance clause applies. No one wants to argue politics or religion with their friends so I reserve my opinions - which requires a lot of energy - which is a bit exhausting - hence, the high maintenance classification. I do not hold my friend's political view points against them but I am always surprised to find among my friends those who are decidedly conservative. How can we be such good friends and vote opposite party lines?

Some of my friends are easy, like butter. (I always suspect I am one of THEIR high maintenance friends.) They are a balm to my spirit. God bless those gentle spirits in whose quiet and loving presence I rest my world weary heart.

Over my lifetime some of my friends have been people I greatly admire, true warriors. A few friends are deeply flawed human beings, but I cherish something courageous and brave in them. It ain't easy being a rotten human being. Though I can no longer be close to them, I love them and always will.

Because I am a damaged unit, I sometimes wonder things like if I died today, how many people would even bother coming to my funeral. Maybe a dozen people might show up - more if my children's friends show up on behalf of my son and daughter. Maybe one or two from my job. Good thing I would not be around to witness that embarrassment. I guess that kind of thinking is just part of a midlife reassessment that has been ongoing for several years now. It is not actually a crisis - more like mild anxiety, really.

I heard from two of my good friends today, a married couple - rare indeed in people from my era. It was good to hear from them. I do not see them often - we just touch base now and again. They are people I love and admire and enjoy and I always wish the best for them. They are the real deal, genuine, and trustworthy in matters of spirit. We understand each other and know what is funny. If there is such a thing as reincarnation, they are people I have known for a long time. When I met them, years apart, I knew them instantly. Of course, crazy people are sometimes instant friends because their insanity simply resonates at the same frequency.

No matter. I felt great after hearing from my good friends today.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Monster Creature Captured on Film

Loch Ness is the home of Nessie, the elusive water creature that scientists around the world continue to search for irrefutable proof of its existence. The Northwestern United States is home to the infamous Big Foot that modern science can not prove exists, but not from lack of trying. Roswell, New Mexico is the site of the unfortunate crashed extraterrestrials whose existence is vehemently denied by the United States Air Force to this day. In Kansas, we have the fabled mountain lions secretly released at sites all over the state by that bastion of espionage, the Kansas Fish and Game Department.

Few people know it but Kansas also harbors another monster. Recently, in the early morning hours I spotted the most feared Kansas creature: a white tail deer. I captured this creature's existence on film. This vile animal is hated, hunted, poached and constantly attacked with speeding vehicles. Just a few months ago, the Kansas City police snipers and their crack swat team shooters killed hundreds of these dangerous creatures. The claim was the deer had been terrorizing the good citizens, tourists, and homeless people in a park of that grand city.

Deer that adapt to city life are apparently vampires, which is why the city fathers approved them as living sniper targets. With over 700 vampire deer slated for death, it was invaluable practice for those mighty gunslingers whose real job is to shoot and kill human beings. It was a win-win situation.

I can tell by the glowing eyes of this fearsome beast that it is a vampire deer. It must have escaped the Kansas City slaughter.

Right click on the photo and select "open link in new window" in order to see this monster in detail.