The Last Homestead: Sept. 14


Mona and piglets. The piglets are learning to eat grain

And now it’s 7:30 AM, on Wednesday, Sept 14.

36 degrees, but, without the wind, it doesn’t feel as cold as yesterday. Or perhaps my physical systems have given up hoping to be warm. I figured out the bedroom heater last night, but it made all kinds of stench (I had turned it on much too high), so I got up and turned it off and opened the window a bit.  That worked nicely. I didn’t freeze, or even have cold tootsies.

Going to bed at 8 means I turn off the light at 9 or 9:30 and so am ready to get up about 6. Of course, I don’t. I lie about in my warm bed for an hour or two until I need to use the facilities. This morning I actually got out of bed earlier that 8, but I haven’t heard Rose driving by to milk Heidi yet. I suspect I fell back to sleep at just the wrong time. The rooster, of course, is carrying on.


Sunrise from the bunk house

Rose and Darrell are going to Bend today. They won’t be back until at least tomorrow or maybe Friday. This means Brandy and I will have a chance to make up to each other again.

Today I shall continue with my painting. This morning I’m going to evaluate the landscape as well as the roughed-in ponderosa and move along.

Late afternoon:


And now it’s probably 3:30 or 4 PM. I’m sitting on the bunkhouse deck at the round table that overlooks the juniper tree. It is the pleasantest place to compute. Inside, the table isn’t quite the right height for the chair and besides, it’s inside, which is good for getting you out of the cold and for bathing but other than that, why would one be inside?  The weather has warmed up considerably – the sun is a delight, the wind not much of a nuisance, and the thermometer says it’s 66 degrees.


The bunk house porch with the juniper that hosted so many bird

Darrell and Rose are still gone, rounding up supplies – they hit the feed store, big-box grocery business, and other such places. Living so far from town, they lay in a lot of supplies at once. Rose and I agreed that Bend has changed far too much, and they actually prefer to go to Redmond, which retains a bit of the small town feel. But the big stores are in Bend. We also agreed that if we were in charge, things wouldn’t change so drastically.

The cows, who look so calm and bovine, got out again in the middle of the night last night and made a great ruckus, so Rose says. (I heard none of noise). Rose had to go out at 3:30 AM and get them back inside the fences. She says Red cow has figured out exactly where the lapses in hot-wired fences are. The hot fences cannot be continuous, and Red Cow is on to this, knowing where she can get through without getting fried. Red Cow was sold to a young couple down the road, and the Howes have been pasturing her, but Rose said she wrote an email to the new owners saying they had to come get Red Cow: “It wouldn’t do for her to lead all the others in these escapes!” (You have to hear this in a stern Brit accent).


Such innocence

So at 3:30 A.M. Rose put the cows back behind the fences and emailed the Red Cow’s owners. Then, being Rose, she didn’t go back to bed, but made some more cakes, wrapped some soap, and so forth. She couldn’t get to the cheese making, so she went out and let Heidi in with the calf so the little one could cuddle and feed a bit in her preferred Mum way. That’s why I didn’t hear the little four-wheeler this morning – no human milking needed. Bella is in the dog house – the real one – while the people are gone. Brandy is outside, but when I went down to check out the kitchen garden, she couldn’t be bothered to do more than raise her head and look at me with one eye.

Time is strange when there’s nothing but painting, walking, talking to the animals, and sleeping to do. It goes on and on and on – and then when I sit down to write to you, it suddenly speeds up. It’s like an erratic Amtrak. And then there’s Luke, who has gotten off the train.lukefacetotree

Oh yes, the painting. Sigh. I misjudged the composition and had to paint titanium white over about half the painting on both big boards. Titanium is notoriously slow to dry, and I didn’t dare use much of my nice drying medium because it thins the paint and thus the underpainting shows through. It’s been sitting in the sun since about 11 (it didn’t get warm enough to paint until 10) but is still quite tacky. So, the paintings are sitting in the sun, I started another quick-read novel, and then spent most of the rest of the day lying about reading or sitting about, sleeping or moseying about the ranch, thinking nothing at all.animalnewspiglets

Animal news: the piglets are only 2 1/2 weeks old and due to be castrated soon. Mona the Mum has decided it’s possible I could be a source of food, but she’s quite disgusted when I turn out not to be. Pigs are very like humans. They like their feed and the people who deal it out to them. Chickens, on the other hand, are dumb (although they seem to know when feeding time comes). The horses are totally indifferent and scarcely bother to turn their heads when I walk up the lane. Nothing much has to be done for them during this time of the year, so far as I can see. They just munch away, moving into the shade when it gets warm.horsesalllandscape

OK, I’m going to hoist myself over to the main house and send this along. Then I will get my behind in gear and walk some and then, if there’s any light left, maybe I’ll clean up a painting or two. Or maybe I’ll just go back to my novel. D & R will be back tomorrow, so I want to save something to look industrious with. I think there’s a great view that I might be able to photograph from back of Darrell’s workshop.


Later on Wed, Sep 14 — 4:35 PM

Hi hi, love. This is my backyard/big house note. Brandy didn’t say a word the evening when I retrieved the folding table and plastic chair to write on. After I write, I’m going for a walk, and then perhaps do a bit of editing of bad paintings.

I certainly haven’t been hungry. I had a frittata (leftover potatoes, onions, pepper and an egg) for breakfast and microwave popcorn for lunch. Perhaps I’ll have the rest of the pork chop for dinner along with a potato and some cabbage. I’m not making great inroads on the cabbage. It may be that Mona will inherit the second one. The fruit is holding up nicely, and I’m getting additions from Rose’s grapevine. I also ate the corn on the cob Rose gave me. I don’t know if Mona eats cobs or not. She’s not fond of lemons, so who knows.

I think I saw two ravens, up by the road today at the end of the lane. That cheered me up (along with the wickedness of popcorn for lunch and a high enough temperature that I could divest myself of my vest). Very important items in the day of the lonesome ranch guest.


 Not ravens, but hawks, caught as they soared on the air currents on a warm afternoon.

And so, off I go, to take a nice long walk to deal with the popcorn, which is sulking in my stomach. Does popcorn sulk?

hugs and kisses from me and an eye raise from Brandy.

PS — Oh my! A Fed Ex person just came with a package. I was a bit confused because no stranger had come down the lane since I have been at the ranch.  And Brandy didn’t look like she was going to allow any unknown person to approach the house. She stood, on the alert at the front of the porch with hackles a bit raised. She gave one warning bark and a low grumbling growl. I was clueless – didn’t even think to get the package from the driver in the truck — all I could think of was Brandy protecting the homestead and attacking the driver. The driver did not get out; smart person. At first I told Brandy to “Go Home” (this is the command that Rose told me to use at the bunk house if the dogs got in the way). Brandy just looked at me in disgust. She was already home. Then, inspired, with a louder, more severe (more Roselike voice) I told her to “Lay Down!” The voice I used is what I think of as “my mother’s voice.” It just came out automatically, without me thinking of anything but how to control the dog and protect the carrier. But much to my surprise (and satisfaction), when I told Brandy to lie down, she did. Whew! But I was pleased. It showed that Brandy had come to trust me, and that I could, even in a stupid moment, come up with some kind of appropriate way of discussing the situation with her. And I just now realized that I’ve confused “lay/lie”, but Brandy ignored my ignorance.

Signing off after the evening’s excitement –me


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7 Responses to The Last Homestead: Sept. 14

  1. Jerry Underwood says:

    I mean Luke.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kit Szanto says:

    Loved the sunrise image – and keep on checking it – a favourite, and the piglets too. But much admiration for Red cow – didn’t know cows could be that smart. But maybe Howe cows can be since they are treated so well. And love photos of horses, thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • june says:

      I loved the story of Red Cow, although I was not the one who had to get up at 3 AM to get the herd back behind the fences:-) In the “Epilogue” you’ll see classic Luke. We’ve decided to take up the stance — nose against the wall.


  3. Jerry Underwood says:

    So glad to see Hank leaning his head against a tree. That’s what I would do.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. snicklefritzin43 says:

    Another marvelous homestead day, with questions percolating about how the two board for the ponderosa painting will change.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. jeaniedee says:

    Your homestead was my childhood dream. I wanted to live in just such country, with horses and dogs. Lucky you!

    Liked by 2 people

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