Palabras Pinturescas: Summer is a fun time at Gascon Ranch

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By Editha Bartley

Suddenly it is summer. Spring here in the mountains comes and goes quickly. The ranch chores and the farming chores keep all of us busy. Thankfully the days are long and warm so the work gets done without many complications.

Complications are varied, to say the least. Just about the time we think the irrigation ditches are cleaned and ready to fill with water once again, in moves a gopher (or two or more) and that valuable water so needed to get the hay meadows started floods out in a very wrong place. Fred, the ranch dog is very good at catching gophers. He patiently waits by a working hole and nabs the critter when it pops its head up and out of the hole.

We had an invasion of gophers several years ago,  and I ran a gopher trap trail through the hay meadow that year. I caught at least 20 gophers and I had a red tail hawk watching me. He swooped down to grab the dead gopher as soon as I was out of the way. I continue to marvel at the intelligence of birds!

We live in the heart of the mountains here. That is very evident in many ways. A hiker and friend quietly entered one of our high meadows last week. A bear also entered this small meadow at the same time, across from the hiker. The bear stopped, carefully checked out the “invader” and quickly turned around and left. The hiker did exactly the same thing. He did admit he changed his hiking route. I know I would do exactly the same thing!

I rode a Tennessee Walker mare here for many years. She was too high-strung for our dudes to ride and she could be unpredictable. She could sense out, smell a bear long before I could when out on our horse trails, and she obviously was very afraid of them. I rode her into a clearing at the same time a bear entered the clearing just across from us. The bear stopped, stood up (they are tall when upright) and snorted. Bella stopped, stared at the bear, then turned completely around so fast I almost lost my seat on my saddle. We always caution hikers to be aware of their surroundings at all times. One never knows what might be lurking just up that mountain trail.

We rarely saw an elk back in the ‘60s when we moved here. Now there are many elk in this whole area. I watched a cow elk bring her newborn calf into our pasture just below our houses last week. He could only have been hours old and was probably born just below my house, near the creek.

She coaxed him (or her) to follow her, across our pasture and through the fence at the road. I marvel at Mother Nature as I see events such as this.

The recent rains have kept our mountains full of lush green grass so the cattle are already fat and sassy and the horses spend most of their time in the shade of nearby pine trees.

Four-year-old Jack will be here in just two weeks to drive our (and his because he claims it) ranch tractor with his Uncle John. He has talked about it for a year and plans to work with John. He even has pair of gloves, just like John does. Yes! Summer is a fun time here at the ranch!

Editha Bartley lives in Gascon in Mora County. She may be reached at 454-0563.