From Pipi’s Pasture: Between summer and fall
One day this past week I went up to the cow pasture to check on things and to put out some more mineral. The feed is plentiful but dry (please, everyone, follow safety precautions to avoid starting fires in our county), and the cows have lots of water. Everything looked good so on the way home I stopped at my brother Duane’s house.
While I was there I watched a pine squirrel that lives in the yard. He’s been there awhile, and he’s one busy squirrel. As I watched, he scampered across the dirt road next to the house, hurried up the pole fence onto the long pole across the top of the corral gate, ran down the fence to the ground again (one wonders why he took this path), and then ran off to some location — perhaps in search of food to hide away for winter.
The squirrel spends lots of time storing food away for the winter ahead. We have watched him carry pine cones, seeds, and even small apples up into the evergreen trees that grow in the yard. Sometimes, when we’re working cows, we have lunch outside by the yard, and the squirrel carries away pieces of bread and other scraps that we leave for him. I can just imagine a cold winter day when the squirrel takes a dried apple from his food stash. It must be a treat.
Anyway, the busy little squirrel reminded me that even though it’s still summer, there are signs of the approaching fall all around us. Consider the following:
• The trees are taking up water in preparation for cold weather.
• The tall summer grass is dry and brown or white.
• My brand new pumpkin wreath — a gift from sister Darlene — is ready to hang in the front
• The almost-ripe chokecherries in our yard are being devoured by robins.
• After a brief stopover in May, the hummingbirds are back from the high country — or wherever they go in June and July — and are draining the nectar feeder.
• The crickets sing in the mornings and evenings.
• Ranchers are finishing the second cutting hay.
• The stackyards are “buttoned up.”
• The cattle are looking forward to being turned into hay meadows.
• The newspaper ads feature school specials.
• Kids and teachers are getting ready for back-to-school.
• The Jack-Be-Little pumpkins are coming on.
• The barn cats are raising the last batch of kittens of the season, some of which have taken up residence in the haystack.
• People are cutting and stacking firewood.
• Everyone’s enjoying Palisade peaches, Olathe corn, and Rocky Ford cantaloupe and watermelon.
• There’s lots of produce to be found at Thursday’s Farmers Market.
• The first snow of the season has already fallen in the mountains.
• Recently-cut wheat fields are a gorgeous fall orange-brown color.
• The apples are getting ripe.
• Suddenly, it’s still pretty dark at 5 a.m.
• The sagebrush and rabbit brush has that delicious fall aroma.
• Football is back in the schedule.
• The houseflies sneak inside every time that the door opens.
• There are displays of jars and canning supplies at grocery stores.
Thoughts of canning displays has reminded me of canning season when I was a kids on the ranch. More about that in next week’s column.
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