The first couple of weeks in July predictably brings the first heat wave to northern Wyoming. The sunny, hot weather is ‘just right’ for curing hay quickly. So, for the next week or so I’ll be bumping along on the prairie, cutting native hay. Climb on up and hop in the cab for a real ‘hay ride’. Not to worry, its conditioned!
This area has received about 6″ of rain since the first of June! What a blessing. We don’t normally get to cut hay. Only on exceptionally wet summers do we get to make our own hay. This is a ‘cowboy outfit’ in that the country is rough and arid and made for grazing. Now and then, we get enough rain to make hay. This year has been a dream come true in that regard. Hay prices are high, but, due to the abundant rains at just the right time, we’ll be able to cut the cost by putting up our own hay.
I really enjoy mowing! It is an instant gratification kind of thing. As you bump along in a swather, all you have to do is look right behind you and you see the progress of your project. And, in no time at all, you’ve got another long row of grass cut. It is very satisfying to look across a large field of fresh cut hay and it smells soooo good.
I drive the swather, then my husband rakes the narrow rows together into heftier rows before he runs the baler. Dry-land haying is not as impressive looking as hay fields that are irrigated. The wind rows are rather sparse looking by comparison. But, the quality and nutritional value of native grasses here is second to none. So, we’re very pleased to make our own hay for that reason also.
Below: I passed Lynn as he was baling. Usually we don’t work this close together. He’d cut some grass the day before and had a break down. Normally, I’m a day or so ahead of him.
Here, the baler just dropped a bale.
The grass on this hillside was kinda thin. It is is thicker on the bottoms and you’ll see more alfalfa. The mix of grass varies. In some places the variety includes several native species. In many places, crested wheatgrass is predominant.
When I got out to stretch my legs, I spied a clutch of Mourning Dove eggs — well out of harms way.
Along the dirt roads at the ranch, brilliant orange Mallow has been blooming. True orange is rare among wildflowers.
Meanwhile, back at home, I have a new favorite flower for container plantings: Convovulous aka Mounding Morning Glory. It is easily grown from seed and blooms all summer long. It is a deeper and more brilliant shade of blue than the climbing variety and the flowers are about a third smaller. I’ll be planting them from here on out. LOVE the contrast of blue, white and bright yellow!
I also LoveLoveLove Geraniums and I collect them. Well, sort of. I like to have them year round and I save my favorites from Jack Frost in September. They bloom inside all winter long and give me a ‘green fix’ when the rest of the world is frozen and white. I had been on the hunt for this pink variety and finally found one. My other favorite colors are deep red and vivid magenta. But, truth be known, there is no such thing as a bad Geranium in my book!
My tomatoes are enormous monsters due to all the rain and perfect growing conditions. The High Plains by and large is NOT a very garden friendly place, but this summer is ideal. I hope the tomatoes don’t just go to plant with no fruit. Below is smallish patio variety that I planted in an old wash tub.
Because of the abundance of rain, the country ‘here-abouts’ looks so beautiful. The wide open hill country appears even larger when it is emerald green. It really is a vast expanse. Everywhere you look is postcard pretty.
‘Tiz no wonder they call this region “The GREAT Plains”. When big country looks like this, it IS a sight to behold.
We did some riding last week to move groups of cows to summer pastures. Then we gathered bulls and turned them out with the cows for breeding. Our horses are slick and shiny now … fat too. Here is our little remuda. Apple is the baby [age 3] and some time later this summer or maybe in the early autumn, she’ll be started under saddle by my husband. Spare time is the deciding factor and there is no real hurry, so it’ll happen when he has time. Hopefully I’ll get to ride her before all the fall cattle work is done. For the time being, Ribbon is my main ride. The other three horses are my husband’s Quarter Horse geldings. I have always preferred Morgan horses. They suit me :o)
Dusk is at its best in the summer when all the world is verdant green. Greenery and the golden light of evening is a recipe for poets. And, if it has just rained … and the sun comes out … and a rainbow with it … GLORIOUS.
When I was in my 20s, I lived back east for a few years. Although I enjoyed the different climate and culture, I grew homesick for western skies.
In our youth, we sometimes take for granted things of beauty and goodness ‘back home’. That was rather true of me when I lived out east. Although I always felt a deep fondness for home (my folk’s place) … I had a wanderlust common to youth. When my thoughts turned toward home, holidays and my folk’s lovely house, there were twinges of homesickness. And, oh, how my heart longed for the endless skies back home. The glory of a western sunset isn’t just the spectacular cloud formations and fiery colors. It is being surrounded by silent majesty overhead. In my memories of home, a western skyscape hung over the house I loved best … where Mom canned tomatoes and Dad cussed while he worked under the hood of his pickup. That is what I missed the most … not just the sunsets, but the whole package. Seems so long ago … when my hair was the color of black coffee and hung in a long braid down my back. Little did I know then that one day I’d return for good … live under a western sky and spoon up my own home grown tomatoes from of a jar.
Here’s hoping that the summer sunset over your house tonight gives you reason to pause and enjoy one of life’s greatest pleasures. Shery J