As hard as it is, I have to come clean. It has been three weeks now since I’ve written a single word. As an author, that is not acceptable. I have a ton of reasons, but ultimately they are nothing more than excuses for why I haven’t been doing what I should have been doing.
I have been editing Chet Zero, (the prequel to the series), as well as applying some advance reader edits that have come in on Chet III. I have also put in some significant hours working with my illustrator on the covers for both of the pending releases. That accounts for perhaps a third of my available hours.
“So what have I been doing with the rest of my time?” you ask.
I was afraid you would …
The fact is, springtime in Idaho, on an acreage that’s too small to farm but too large to plant in lawn, can be a real time sink. In the past few weeks my wife and I had to lay out the irrigation pipe and prep the system. After getting it fired up, we found the pump was noisy and we had to pull the motor and take it in to have the bearings replaced and a snake removed. (True story, the little beggar crawled in there where it was nice and warm and then couldn’t figure out how to get himself back out through the screen I put on to keep him out in the first place.)
This morning the cattleman who rents my pasture brought down a dozen head of mixed stock. That required putting up a “conditioning corral” for the first 24 hours, then extending it out for another 24 hours, before turning the cattle into the pasture with the hope they won’t go through the electric fence that encloses the pasture. I hate chasing them through the fields and the neighbors yards almost as much as my wife does. (I do my best to teach them to respect the electric fence and my bride allows me to use them as biological lawn mowers, rather than having to spend hours on my tractor each week, pulling my rotary mower back and forth across the pasture.)
I’ve also been dealing with a septic system blockage, taking down some trees the porcupines have girdled, and cleaning up after the beaver that have been feasting on our younger trees. For those of you who wonder if I really know anything about running a chainsaw, splitting wood, or working cattle, you are welcome to come by and help out for a spell. (I’m all about giving people the opportunity to make up their own minds about such questions.)
Anyway, even though I’m a writer, enough with the words. Here are a few pictures of the latest herd of cattle to come to our bovine bread and breakfast.
The temporary corral has an electric fence wire strung a few feet inside the fence panels. As the cattle graze on the grass they inevitably bump up against the fence. The panels keep them from escaping if they decide to tear down the electric fence as they are fleeing its bite. (By the way, that’s a real, freshly planted Idaho potato field in the background.)
While many of the cattle avoided eating the dandelions, the brown cross in the center of the picture went out of her way to slurp them up. Apparently she likes ‘bitter herbs.’
Although I didn’t have a way to capture video, I did take a sequence of pictures as one of the cattle got introduced to the electric fence.
The old adage that ‘the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence’ is certainly true, at least for the Angus in the background. See how it’s sizing up the grass?
Now comes the reach, complete with it’s tongue stretching out just as it’s neck comes in contact with the fence. See how the wire is raised slightly?
And the vanishing act. After being shocked, the Angus jumps back into the protection of the herd so quickly that the red heifer in front has barely changed her position. Not so with the red steer in the background. He is startled by the hasty retreat of the Angus and is clearly showing his surprise. Think I’m overstating the case? Check out the closeup below.
Hunched back, ears up, wide eyes, the red steer is frightened by the extreme reaction of the Angus and is ready to bolt as soon as he decides where the threat is coming from. As Charles teaches David, watch a cow and they will almost always communicate their intentions before they act.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this totally non-writing focused post, and if you haven’t, thank you for indulging me as I’ve gotten my long overdue cattle fix.
I hope you’ll take a few minutes in the coming days to indulge in something you enjoy.
Until next time …