It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

We have returned from a lovely visit with our daughter and son-in-law in Texas.

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Brandon graduated with his masters degree in aerospace engineering from Texas A & M University. It has been a long process for both of them to complete their educations.

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It was nice to see them and celebrate and the weather was warm and mostly sunny. I truly enjoy visiting Texas РI think I will have to tell you some of my many reasons in another post. After a long day of travel we arrived here at our little ranch to snow flurries. And now it is really snowing.

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I’m typing as fast as I can because the lights have already flickered twice and I wouldn’t be surprised if we lose power soon.

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I realize there are many parts of the world where Christmas is never white. And Megan very correctly pointed out to me that we didn’t have a white Christmas for most of our lives; it is only since we moved here that we have come to expect snow for Christmas.

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All very true. But seeing the flakes falling outside my window and the trees and mountains covered in fresh snow makes me think . . . It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

The Eagles Have Landed

It’s that time of year again when the Bald Eagles come down from Alaska and Canada to feed on the spawning salmon on the Skagit River.

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I have to tell you folks, I did not take any of the pictures on this post. I’ve tried with my little point-and-shoot camera and I’m so far away all I get are unrecognizable blobs. So my friend Dan DuVarney let me post some of his eagle pictures – the one above and several below are his. He also has a point-and-shoot camera, but somehow he got a LOT closer and better pictures than I ever have. Good job Danny!

This is an action shot of the eagle with the fish in his talons that neither Danny or I took.

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This is one of those pictures that professional photographers take who have cameras that look like this:

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Which brings me to these people. I have discovered that where you have eagles you also have eagle watchers. The best place to view the eagles is from the river, so we have a couple of local companies that offer eagle watching raft trips. I think that would be a really fun trip to take on a warm, dry day.

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The other way to view the eagles is from the bank of the river, not far from where the road is. The road that those of us who live here have to drive down to get to the grocery store, gas station, post office, etc.  The road they are often parked in the middle of (especially around blind corners) or better yet, standing in the middle of with only their 9 foot telephoto lens to protect them from oncoming traffic.

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Now in fairness to eagle watchers everywhere I must disclose that 1. I know these guys above are not eagle watchers from around here because they don’t have on the right gear and 2. I’m sure not ALL eagle watchers block traffic and are hazards on the highway. It’s only some of them, but they are the ones I always seem to run into, though thankfully none literally – yet. My all-time favorite was the guy (you just knew it was going to be a man didn’t you??) who was parked with the front tire of his car approximately 6 inches off the pavement and the rest of his car blocking the entire lane of our little two lane road. To warn other motorists of this obstruction, he had most generously set an orange traffic cone touching the left rear bumper of his vehicle – as if this would somehow make it possible for someone to see him around the blind corner in time to avoid smashing into him. They do amaze me every year.

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Anyway, back to the eagles. They are a huge, majestic bird and it is a really awesome sight to see them soaring above the ranch skies. Just so you know, our dog Grizzly thinks it is his duty to chase them and he does so very diligently every time he sees one gliding overhead. Now, there is absolutely no way the eagle has probably even noticed Grizzly, much less paid any attention to him running and barking far below, but that doesn’t stop Grizz. He chases them every time; he takes that task very seriously.

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This time of year the leaves have all fallen off the deciduous trees and the eagles can usually be found perched on cottonwood trees scanning the river for salmon. Danny took these pictures of a mature bird – you can tell because of the white head – posing on a branch.

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This picture is also of an eagle in the Skagit River Valley, but they had the big time photo equipment.

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I am amazed at how close Danny was able to get to take these shots. The eagles are usually much more elusive.

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Or maybe this guy just likes to have his picture taken and decided to post for him?

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Fall with Calves

I believe I mentioned in my previous post that I was behind on posting pictures? Well, I’m trying to catch up. So, here are the fall pictures I should have posted a few weeks ago when I took them. Fall is probably my favorite time of the year, and in my own humble opinion, an especially beautiful time here at the ranch.

One of the new calves from Montana.

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Lounging in the leaves. You can see our first little cattle shed with the “automatic” watering system (rain gutter) for the trough in the background. Also visible is part of our new working pens and alleys leading to the squeeze chute.

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The calves eating at one of the new covered feeding stations. They have worked out really well – everyone eats without getting crowded out, keeps the hay dry and you have less waste. All good things. The Cascade Mountains and Diobsud Peak tower in the background.

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Another Montana steer enjoying some fall sunshine on a bed of maple leaves.

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And I’m a little less behind on posting pictures!

Feeding Hay

The summer grass is about gone and we have started supplementing with hay.

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We take a load of hay out to the field in the tractor bucket. A delicious mix of orchardgrass and local grass hay.

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The girls have learned the sound of the tractor means dinner is delivered and they come running.

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These pictures are actually a couple of weeks old – yes I’m quite behind on my blogging – and the cows were still in their summer pasture. We have now moved them home to to our winter pasture where they have a covered shed and feeding station. With all the rain we get in the winter here, a shelter helps keep the herd healthy. The covered feeding station helps keep the hay dry too so there is less waste.

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Here is the cow shed as were were just finishing it up. It is one of our many projects this summer and fall and luckily it was completed just in time for the cows to move in for the winter. In the picture below a load of gravel is being put down to help with drainage in the rainy weather. We cover the gravel with wood shavings which gives the animals a dry place to be out of the mud and muck.

The “feeding hay” season has just begun and will probably last until March or April depending on the weather.

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