family, wildlife, Wyoming

It’s Not About the Catch

Burrowing Owl-1DRW

Wyokiddo, Outdoor Guy and I got up a little early this morning to head down to our local reservoir for some fishing.  We got skunked.

On our walk back to the car, we saw some tiny little lizards darting across the path on the dam.  They were about the size of Outdoor Guy’s index finger and lightning fast.  We were also treated to the antics of some fat, lazy prairie dogs and a burrowing owl sighting on our way home.

“Sorry we didn’t catch any fish,” I told Wyokiddo as we put our stuff away in the house.

“Are you kidding?”  She asked me.  “We saw lizzards and owls.  this was the best fishing trip ever!”

I love that even at five, she’s starting to realize our mornings on the water isn’t about how many fish we catch, but about what we experience along the way together as a family.

Teresa

agriculture, photography, Uncategorized

Branding

Smith Branding 2017-48

As spring winds down and summer begins, ranchers in Wyoming begin the time-tested tradition of branding their cattle.  Branding predates our state, and is still the most reliable method of marking cattle for identification.

How a cattleman organizes his branding is as unique as the actual brand itself.  Some families choose the traditional route of roping calves out of a herd with horses and cowboys.  Others choose to use a chute and table, eliminating the need for horses.  Some features are a matter of necessity, others of tradition.  Some ranch branding probably don’t look all that different than they might have 100 years ago, save for a iron heated by propane instead of a wood fire.

But some things don’t change.  No matter where you go, you’ll find neighbors helping neighbors.  Kids work side-by-side with their parents, learning how to brand, rope and even castrate the bull calves.  Socializing with friends and family.  Earthy smells.  Petty squabbles.  Cussing.  Laughter.  And food.  Lots and lots of homemade, delicious food.

Joining the Smith family and their crew is quickly becoming one of my favorite parts of the year.

Teresa

nature, photography, Uncategorized, Wyoming

Northern Lights

Night Photos-1 drw

For years, I’ve watched nature shows about the Northern Lights and longed to see them.  I figured it would involve a trip somewhere, well…north!  But last night, Outdoor Guy saw an anomaly in our night sky as he went to check the chick hatcher one last time before bed.

“Hey, come see this,” he called.  I slid the computer off my lap, shoved my feet in shoes and walked outside to join him.

To the northwest of the property was a weird streak of light rising from the horizon into the night sky.  My first thoughts were moon dog or someone with a bonfire and the smoke and light were playing tricks on our eyes.  But the conditions weren’t right for either of those.

“I gotta get my camera,” I said and dashed into the house.

I spent the next thirty minutes playing with long exposures and light painting.  I went to bed happy with the performance of my new camera and pretty satisfied with the image I managed to build.  I woke up to others’ photos of these same lights, folks who lived hundreds of miles from my house.  The consensus was the same.

Well I’ll be damned.

Last night, standing behind our house in south eastern Wyoming, accompanied by a background soundtrack of owls and frogs, of  I witnessed the Northern Lights.  Hats off to Mother Nature, that was quite a performance.

Teresa

nature, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife, Wyoming

Floating Hubcap

This is how I spent my morning…crawling along an irrigation ditch, camera in hand, trying to stalk a massive snapping turtle.

I spent an hour this morning watching this snapping turtle cruise down our irrigation ditch. It was amazing to see how he’d drift along, then raise his tail to use as a rudder. We see this turtle each spring. I’m guessing he’s pretty old because he is absolutely massive. His entire carapace is probably bigger than a foot and a half across. He lifted his head out of the water once, briefly, before submerging completely and I lost sight of him.

Turtles, frogs and other things that creep and crawl might not be as majestic as a grizzly bear or regal as the wolf, but they are still fascinating creatures. I for one am glad that our state is filled with the good, the bad and the ugly. Makes life more interesting, don’t you think?

Snapping Turtle-1DRWSnapping Turtle-3DRWSnapping Turtle-4DRW

nature, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife

Springtime Messenger

Robin 2 DRWI’m participating in a 52 Week Photo Challenge. The topic this week is spring.  What to shoot, what to shoot?  Flowers, budding trees, frogs, newborn calves…all of these remind me of spring and the rebirth that the season brings.

But since I had to choose just one, it was this guy.  Nothing is sweeter music to my tired winter ears than the song of the American Robin. I shot photos that were more artistic and colorful, but as a harbringer of springtime in Wyoming, the robin can’t be beat.

Teresa

nature, Uncategorized, Wyoming

Girls Who Fish

First Fishing Trip.jpg

It’s spring break and Wyokiddo and I are out playing while Outdoor Guy tends to the birds.  Today, she requested we go fishing, so mid-morning we loaded up her Mickey Mouse fishing pole and some worms and we headed out.

The fishing was slow, so Wyokiddo had time to ponder the esoteric.

“Mama, why are there only boys out here?”

I set down my rod and contemplated how to answer her question.  Occasionally we’d see a woman fishing in a boat with her husband.  But by and large, anytime we were out in the field, it was men, or boys with their dads.  Very few little girls, and never just a mom and her daughter.

“Well, some girls haven’t ever had anyone take them fishing,” I tried to explain.  “They might live in a city where there isn’t any place to fish, or no one has ever shown them how.   And some girls don’t want to fish.  They think it’s boring or dirty or gross, or that it’s something only boys should do.  They don’t know how much fun it can be!”

Wyokiddo was quiet after that, dividing her attention between her bobber in the water and the ladybug crawling up her arm.

Several minutes later, she looked up at me and squinted against the late morning sun.

“Mama, let’s always be the kind of girls who fish.”

From her lips to God’s ears.  No matter where life takes this beautiful little soul, may she always be one of the girls who fish.

Teresa

nature, Uncategorized, wildlife, Wyoming

The Commute

Most mornings and evenings, we are treated to a show in the sky as giant flocks of geese fly over our house.  Canada geese, snow geese and the occasional Ross goose or Greater white-fronted goose.

Sometimes it’s just a few dozen.  Other nights, such as last night, the geese number in the thousands.  Tonight, thousands of them landed in the neighbors field.  I can hear them chattering back and forth, even now, at ten o’clock.  It’s not exactly sonorous, but it’s beautiful music nonetheless.

agriculture, photography, Uncategorized, Wyoming

Ah, Sugar Sugar

sugar-factoryThis is the Western Sugar Factory here in Torrington, Wyoming.

I might not always like the way it smells, but it was an important part of the development of Torrington and this valley.

Built in 1926, this factory has been processing locally grown sugar beets, serving the agriculture industry and contributing to the local economy for almost 100 years. Today, the plant is leased by the Western Sugar Cooperative. Together, Western Sugars 5 facilities produce more than 10 million hundred weights of sugar, including white sugar, brown sugar and powdered sugar. The plant is set to close its main production line at the end of this year.

So the next time you make a cake or spoon sugar into your coffee, cheers! It’s entirely possibly you’re enjoying some sweetness grown in the Rocky Mountain region and made right here in Torrington!

Teresa

family, Kids, photography, Uncategorized

First Loves

rocky-fish-final-drwMeet Rocky. He’s Wyokiddo’s fish, bought to replace the gold fish she won at a 4-H carnival that died approximately 15 hours after we brought it home. Rocky is much more hearty, and photogenic. Thankfully.

Someday, we’ll tell Wyokiddo stories about her first pet. Stories like how for the first three weeks after his arrival, she’d wake up in the morning, run to his bowl and breathlessly exclaim “Oh thank goodness! Mama, Mama, Rocky didn’t die last night!”

Her enthusiasm for Rocky has waned a little bit with the arrival of Ziggy the puppy.  But I will still catch Wyokiddo standing at Rocky’s bowl, her finger tracing a path for Rocky to follow.  She chatters at him, telling the fish stories of her day, her friends and her life.

It warms my heart.  Somewhere in the heavens, there’s a chestnut mare with spots and an attitude that has all my childhood secrets woven through her thin, black mane.

Now Rocky will have Wyokiddo’s secrets, and she’ll always have a photo of this beautiful little guy.

Teresa