Temperatures reached 102 degrees yesterday. Work slows or stops at 11:00 a.m. Winds blew fierce, reaching 40 m.p.h. in gusts. Yet, the pastures are green, the grass not browning for the moment.
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Two days ago I shredded several narrow paths about the pastures. I do not shred fields or pastures. As I shredded a narrow path around the edges of Pecan Tree Pasture, I flushed a bobwhite quail. Just one quail, but it is significant for quail habitually cluster in coveys. Quail have disappeared in large portions of the area from hunting, shredding pastures, cropping and the spread of fire ants that kill young chicks. I have reseeded the Pecan Tree Pasture with native grass and allowed the field to remain fallow for several years. If I see more quail — the late sighting proving to not be an isolated occurrence — I will conclude I have done well in partial restoration of a native habitat.
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Yesterday I sighted three mature deer and a fawn between the grove and the stock pond. It is odd that their color is so pale brown, almost yellow, against the greenery of Spring. Deer return, quail flush. The fawn pranced.
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As I sat on the back porch yesterday afternoon, a cattleman from Gordon knocked on the door. He wanted to lease the pasture that I had flushed the quail and seen the deer — a monthly lease depending upon the number of cattle he would place. I refused. I told him that I would probably run a few head myself. He stated that he had seen no cattle on the pasture and that’s why he had inquired. I took his card and he said he was looking for pasture within ten miles of Gordon, so that if I heard of any land available for rent, please let him know. I politely said I would.
Other inquires will follow this Spring. They always do from cattlemen or harvesters of grass. And, I always refuse and politely explain that I have the pasture for horses or a few head of cattle. I have not run any cattle for four years. I may put a few on the land this Spring, but not many and they will not disturb either deer or quail. In the field, the Big Bluestem grass will be higher than the withers of horse and rump of cattle.
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I had to kill a copperhead in the barn two days ago. I knelt down to air up a tire and moved a salt block receptacle to position myself and a copperhead lay under the receptacle. I will be cleaning out the barn early next week. I had planned to do so — in fact I had moved six boxes of books to my office in Abilene a week ago –, but the danger of snake bite spurs me sooner to glean the barn. My air conditioner repairman and contractor lost part of a finger last year from a copperhead bite. For some reason, we have more copperheads in this portion of north Erath County, Texas, than most areas.
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The photograph at the beginning of the post was taken over at Pecan Tree Pasture about where the solitary bobwhite was sighted. I was observing the growth of native grasses a month ago and happened across the deer skull with horns. I consider myself keenly observant of objects in my field of sight, but the grass has grown so high, secrets are undisclosed unless one tramps the land. The skull remains in situ. I like the simplicity, the complexity intertwined: deer, native grasses, treeline.
The field wholly remains in situ, lightly touched, deeply felt.
- Restoring Tradition of Quail Hunting (nytimes.com)
- Dickcissel on Bluestem for Mother’s Day (swamericana.wordpress.com)