Sunday, June 2, 2002
I heard an old song which goes something like this When I enter His Cathedral I pause to pray and ask, am I worthy? That is the way I feel every morning when I step out side here at Tex Creek Wildlife Management Area. I thank God that I'm able to enjoy a little of his creation. We are going to try and take some pictures but we don't think they'll do justice to this area.
The flat land is at a 5000 to 7000 ft elevation interspersed with great canyons from floods thousands of years ago. These canyons at the bottom are from a few ft wide to over a mile in different spots. The hillsides are littered with great pieces of rock strewn there by volcanoes. The edges of these canyons are at all angles from 90 to 10 degree angles. In places where there are little canyons (draws) inside the big canyon is where the aspen trees grow. Aspen is like a cross between our poplar and birch trees. At the elevation we're at these draws contain the elk, moose and deer with their young. The large natural meadows interspersed with aspen trees in the small canyons and up on the plateaus (benches, they're called here) is where the ranchers grow winter wheat, barley, alfalfa and closer to the Snake River â€œIdahoâ€ potatoes (for irrigation). On the edges of these canyons is where the different grasses and shrubs are planted for the animals. When you top a hill you can see for miles in any given direction. Way off in the distance, 25 or 30 or even 40 miles, you can see the snowcapped mountains of the Rockies in any given direction.
Last night it rained maybe a ¼ of an inch and so it will temporarily stop the dust, which has been so prevalent here the last few days. The dust here is a thick type, which can raise havoc with just about anything mechanical. It reminds me of breathing comet cleanser or bon-ami, not pleasant at all. Today I went up to the top of Meadowcreek and Indianfork to check on cattle trespass. All of the critters were out in the woods someplace probably eating some dust free grasses. There are a lot of the Mountain Bluebirds in this area and their bright blue is quite a dazzling sight to behold and it clashes with the Canaries, Robins, Meadowlarks, magpies, hawks, bald eagle, golden eagle, robins and hundreds of others that we've seen. As I was coming back, in 4-wheel drive, I was wondering why I'd only seen the bluebirds today when, out on our lawn, about 100 yards from the house, was a Canadian goose. One lone goose, it makes you wonder what happened to its mate? They mate for life and to see one all by itself leads you to wonder.
Wednesday, June 5, 2002
Been busy mowing grass and helping Craig with his farm equipment. He has been seeding acres of land to the wild bunch grasses that are native to this area. Interspersed are a few fields of alfalfa for the deer. Today I was following Craig with the pickup while he was transporting the "rodweeder"
from one area to another. He pulls most of the equipment with an articulated 4x4 tractor with duals all the way around. As he rounded a curve the left wing fell. Of course it fell where the road was the narrowest and where about 8 ft of it was out in space that dropped down about 100 ft. The bank was to steep to work on and my experience with hauling machinery, the tow-trucks and recovery work really came in handy. Only took 2 hours to fix temporarily so we could get it off of the road and another 2 hours to fix it. Another nice thing is we did'nt have to worry about blocking traffic, as we were the traffic.
The weather is beautiful with the temperature in the 70's with a 15-mph breeze and dusty. One thing I found out about Idaho, where weâ're at, is if it's not muddy it's dusty.
The rain last weekend sure helped the grass to grow. Down by the horse corral it grew about 8 in. not bad for 5 days, eh?
Took Sally last evening on one of my patrols. I enjoyed it immensely but she didn't like it, to well. We did see 2 elk and a lot of back country. We had the truck right down in granny gear and 4-wheel drive. Only went 22 miles but it took us almost 3 hours. It was very scenic and rough. We went from WMA land to BLM and Nat Forest and back to WMA land again. All in all it was very enjoyable. Got home about dark.
Today Terry, the head biologist, asked Sally to fix a lunch for 6 guys. She fixed about 4 gallons of goulash, salad, and garlic bread topped off with a Texas Sheet Cake. Very little was left over and it was good. It was so good I suggested that we do this every Wednesday, didn't pass.
Friday, June 7, 2002
Today is another hot, windy, dusty day. They say we're in the midst of a drought and I believe them. It's now to dry to plant anymore. The seed in the ground will germinate next spring if they have enough of the winter snows. Sure hope so as they have over 200 acres planted waiting for rain. It is forecast for Sunday.
Day before yesterday there was a kidnapping in Idaho Falls. Man snatched a 14 yr old girl off of her trampoline. Somehow later in the day she escaped and led the sheriff's Dept. to the culprit's house. After a high-speed chase and one deputy shot (leg), one K-9 killed protecting his handler, the man committed suicide. There wasn't a newspaper to be had in over 50 miles of the surrounding countryside.
Did a patrol today and saw 1 golden eagle, 2 coyotes, 1 sheriff deputy and 2 guys in an old beater type car. No trespassing cattle were spotted. Also I went on a Canadian Thistle spraying detail within the Tex Creek compound. They have quad-runners set up with 25-gallon sprayers on the back and a handgun for spraying. Out here Burdock, Canadian Thistle and Hounds Tongue is a grunge on the environment. None is welcome either by wildlife or man. In this dry soil they out-compete the grasses for moisture. Sally just said rain is forecast for Sunday.
Sunday, June 9, 2002
The weather forecaster was wrong no rain, SNOW, white glorious SNOW! It is gorgeous. At least a ½ in as it clashes with the bright green of the fields. Of course it mixes with the clay and will make driving perilous so we won't drive for a while. We built a fire in the wood stove and it's quite secure in here. The generator is working and the satellite dish is going strong. So we've been to TV church and are now getting ready for the Nascar Winston Cup Race.
About 6 PM I went on patrol.After all the snow has melted and I can travel without tire chains. I went up to upper Meadowcreek and Indianfork. Nobody's been around here all day. The only tracks I saw were moose, elk and coyote. Not even a bear track. Slipping & sliding up and down the hills but I didn't see but only one lonely ground squirrel.
Monday, June 10, 2002
Weather today is a cold blustery 40-degree type of day.
Today is one of my days off. I went up to the shop at about 8:30 AM with the intention of inviting the guys for chili for lunch. And didn't get back until a little after 12 noon. I helped Trent transport some farm equipment from one end of Ritter Bench to the other. He and I were the only ones around so we went down to pig out on the chili. As luck would have it the other 3 showed up about 10 minutes later, such is life.
After lunch I trimmed a little grass (gets to be old) and showed how to do the replacement of an axle shaft for the 24 ft. disc. It took about 3 hours but at last it's outside out of the way now. It is amazing how God in His infinite wisdom can prepare us for the future. The years with the tow-trucks and auto, truck repair have sure come in handy up here working with these college kids. Some have no practical experience at all on anything but partying.
6:30 PM time for a patrol and I asked Steve if he wanted to go. I got a very affirmative answer. We headed for Kepps Crossing from where we explored roads looking for Cloward's Crossing. All of these places are marked on the maps but most of the roads have NO markings. With superb navigation (asked a farmer out in a field) we found Cloward's. Terry (boss) wanted me to check out the 2 tracks around there so we did. The last one I started up in first gear and soon stopped and put it in granny and 4-wheel drive. All I can say the last 100 feet were very steep. I told myself that I wasn't going back that way. If we had to go back that way either Steve could drive it down or we could call the boss and he'd drive it down. I'd watch. Again the Lord was with us as I stayed on a barely visible trail. It was a wonderful trail. It took us right back out on the main road near Kepps Crossing. From there we headed east by north east (I think) to check on some cattle up near Skyline & Bull's Fork Roads. Lots of cattle and about 40 were out. I made a note of it and will contact Terry tomorrow morning. It was getting dark and I told Steve we're going to see some country now. I headed north through the Croft, Stucki and Ferguson's ranches. Steve said he didn't realize there were so many gates as he had to get out to open and close them. We went down NFS Road 157 then through the ½ mile long big muddy. I told Steve we should be okay as long as we're going down hill. Well by keeping it in 4-wheel drive and a little prayer we did fine. I managed to keep the mud off the windshield but the door windows we were unable to see through. We continued on down past all of the beaver ponds all long ago abandoned (lack of water) and now temporarily brimming with water, down towards the big pond where there should be moose. There wasn't any though so we continued on and lo & behold in a field of alfalfa were two elk. Looked like a yearling and a very pregnant cow elk. So it wasn't a total loss, especially for Steve who is doing an internship for experience for his college degree that he is working for in Wildlife Management. Someday he hopes to work for the State of Idaho. As we drive along he tells me of his last 3 summers of how he worked with the forest fighting crews and has helped fight fires in several different states. He has nothing but admiration for the smoke jumpers as he told me story after story of how they came and saved the day for him and the others.
Tuesday, June 11, 2002
Another crisp cool morning and Sally was determined to have a wood fire so she lit one. At noon when I came back she had her face hanging out a door and had every window open. Seems like it got quite warm in the kitchen while she was baking. All I could do is laugh at her. I told her it was warming up outside. Last night she was cold and she stuck a log in the stove and I was in a sweat all night. Tonight 9 PM she wants to light a fire and we had a vociferous talk about the temperature. These buildings that we are in are very well built. They have 2x6 wall studs on the exterior walls with good insulation and thermo pane style windows. Which make it very tight and quite easy to heat with the little wood stove or the built in propane furnace. So I've won this one, I think. I told her get an extra blanket if she was cold.
The cows that were loose last night are still loose tonight; it looks like they've called in reinforcements and now they're spread out over a ½ mile. Terry told me to get the brands off of the cattle. Some of the cows have 3 & 4 different brands. Some of the calves aren't branded and the one that are I can't find in the Idaho State Brand Brand Book. Tomorrow expert Terry will have to show me who the cattle belong to.
Thursday, June 13, 2002
Temp at 1 PM is high 80's and a 10 to 15-mph breeze. WARM!
Where has the week gone? The boys have been keeping me busy repairing anything and everything. They even brought me a new Handi-Jack. It's almost like a house jack. The one I had in the truck didn't work when we went to use it on the Rodweeder.
The whole crew is in today and they're all doing repairs except for Matt and he is spraying the yard for weeds, it is a never-ending job.
Saw my first Bull Snake today about 4 ft long, out in the road. He was still very sluggish just as if he'd come out of hibernation. I was on my way out to check on some smoke on the horizon when I saw it. I let the snake go, as they tell me they kill rattlers. The smoke turned out to be a farmer burning some grass about 10 miles to the south of us and I was happy for that.
Wednesday, June 19, 2002
Where does all the time go? Each day is filled with the workings of the WMA. I never knew that it took so much time to raise this grass. They are spraying 2-4-D in some places and roundup in others. The little quad-runners make several trips each day with their 25 gallons of spray each time. The tractor comes in a couple of times to refill its 250-gallon tank.
The next project will be placing the bugs for the biological warfare with these weeds. I never hear any griping from the kids as they go about their work, maybe that is because they're at least 1 mile away.
Thursday, June 20, 2002
I just found out my grandson Lance Corporal Phillip Higgins is flying into Grand Rapids tomorrow. We wish we could be there. Our hearts and prayers were with him when he was in Afghanistan and surrounding areas and I'm sure he knows our prayers are still with him.
Darrell & Sally