June 1

The onions have grown like mad since we weeded and watered. The broccoli are massive. Lots to harvest tomorrow for market. My truck left me stranded on the highway so I hitchhiked back to Hoopa and arrived just before dark. In perfect time to read my mail and get to bed before 6am wakeup. Somehow it’s already time for bed again now. Days go by so quickly, there’s so much to embrace; the waking hours are never long enough. But on the same token, I am exhausted from the day under the hot sun and can’t wait to lie down with Wallace Stegner.

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May 4: day 5

The land is illuminated in an eerie way, dimly with thick gray clouds overhead. I think it would be exciting for Elaina to give birth tonight during a storm. With the half moon above. But it looks like she is holding out for another night. She is behaving differently these days, but it doesn’t mean it’s happening quite yet.

It is very still out here with only robin clucks. I am in the hammock, though daylight is dwindling and a few mosquitoes are buzzing, but it is stuffy in the trailer. It was in the 90s again today.

I hit a big rock with the mower this morning and broke a spindle. Mike fixed it. Then I got the thing stuck on the side of a hill. Mike got it unstuck. Then the belt snapped. So I called it a day with the mower. Mike later fixed it. Then I went to chip some wood but I couldn’t get the chipper started! So I called it a day with that too. Mike later fixed it. I moved on to the weed whacker and did not break that.

May 3: day 4

Today I rode the lawnmower around in circles. Then I overflowed the duckling’s water and turned their marsh into a full on pond. So we had to tear apart the whole thing and clean it at 8pm. Oops. I’m getting better at milking… sorta.

May 2: day 3

My hands smell like goat’s milk. Not like the refreshing beverage from the store, but like warm and sticky bodily fluid. Today I got a little more to come out but my aim is all wrong. It runs down my arm and squirts on my shorts – not even close to the cup! Liane’s been very patient with me. But I caught her giving me this expression over her shoulder that reminds me of the way Sugar would roll her eyes at me.

A cougar was allegedly spotted today at the edge of the property. The goat kids were making progress with being weaned but now separating them from mom means that one of the two groups will go unprotected.

I went hiking today and was dumbfounded by the bird sounds, walking around with a crook in my neck and frown on my face. I’ve possibly never seen so much poison oak in my life – arching over the trail at waist height, like evil snakes trying to entrance you. I did well at avoiding it until I saw a fresh pile of bear poo and then my focus strayed and I think some brushed my ankle, and finger, and arm. Will find out in a few days I guess!

May 1: day 2

MORNING
Nashville warbler and ash-throated flycatcher are vocal at dawn. And turkey. A scrub jay, a crow. The lilac bush glows. The sun moves quick – the shadow on the ridge drops before my eyes.

EVENING
I got bit by a goat today, because I thought it was so cute to let them nibble on my fingers. Turns out they have sharp back teeth. Tried my hand at milking this morning and got about a half an ounce. It takes practice. It’s a relief to be around goats – no need to fear for your life every time you’re in back of one. And let me tell you, that bite was a pin prick in comparison to the bite of that mustang Emma Grace.

April 30: day 1

Goats are way cuter than I imagined. There’s chickens, thank the lord, because eggs and entertainment. There are 4 ducklings that are deathly afraid of humans. And a huge black bunny, bigger than the cat. 2 cats. One is skiddish and one has an eye ulcer.

It’s so insanely beautiful here. It feels the way Trinity did to me in the spring, and it brings back all those feelings of bliss and invincibility. Until I’m laying here at the end of the day half paralyzed from hours of digging and gardening and running and sunshine (because I’ve been so lazy for the past 6 months)…!

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March 29

Beautiful robins poking in the grass made me smile today. I saw two mating yesterday – what a commotion!

I am concerned about my life. The magic of traveling can’t last forever. I’m somewhat done being homeless. I feel that I want to go home… though I am here in Michigan. That is supposed to be home. I would like my own place, though, and nobody to answer to. I’m tired of being a visitor everywhere I go. But I don’t really have much option at this point, do I? I should probably figure out how to make money.

Enough bellyaching… I am choosing to be miserable. Instead of whining I could take measures to move myself away from despair… startingggg NOW!

April 15 – my last day as a cowboy

After leaving the ranch I went and spent the day with Joe Cannon. Joe and I went for a ride. It was the most beautiful day – sun pressing down, so warm and soothing on bare shoulders, the sky a deep cerulean, little wind. We rode through creosote and ocotillo fields, way down into a canyon. We rounded a bend and I found myself prancing across a north-facing slope full of at least 8 different flowers – there were poppies, those bright yellow ones on the weed-like bush, those new lovely delicate looking white ones – maybe lilies, small white ones, small yellow ones, blue dicks, those purple ones, those neat square purple ones, red and pink penstemons, those deep fuchsia cactus flowers, red ocotillo, yellow prickly pear flowers, violet thistle flowers, and probably more. At a glance it looks like a field of gray tobosa, but you blink and see a million and one tiny dots of color. Everything was so lovely. Quail and doves fluttering about. Aaaand then Buddy rammed my leg into a cactus. It swelled immediately and I knew right away it was bad because I could feel pain all the way down my leg. As I was trying to regroup, my hat fell off. And as I got down to get it my saddle started flipping! It hurt down my leg into my foot when I walked to my stupid had, which didn’t seem right. I was on the downhill from Buddy so I tried getting up on the right, but I couldn’t put pressure on my right leg. So I spun Buddy around… in a full circle. So I spun him again half way, and got on. Good thing we didn’t have much further to go because that leg was hurting! But then Joe told me to go ahead a lope with Buddy. Man, it hurt, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to run! It was so fun and I do feel like I don’t bounce so much anymore when trotting. Joe even said so!

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We came back and ate ice cream, got out some Jim Beam, and eventually ate an amazing steak dinner, while I limped around pathetically. There were hardly any needles to remove. But there must be some deep in there or somethin. Every time I move my foot a sharp pain shoots up my leg. Oy. I got about 8 different pieces of advice. And have taken none of them. I don’t think there’s anything much I can do… that’s what I have an immune system for. Right?

Anyway, said goodbye to Joe the next morning. His chin quivered as I drove off. And as soon as I hit the pavement tears fell from my eyes. I cried down the highway half way to Safford as more and more miles separated Sugar and I. It feels like heartbreak. And tears come to my eyes not as I write. I want to look at our pictures together her but I’m doing all I can to not think about her.

April 13, day 65 – last day on the ranch

I awoke this morn atop the hay bales in the barn. A slight pink tinged the eastern sky and the sound of hooves could be heard among the ash-throated flycatcher. My body ached in most places from yesterday’s ride and my eyelids begged for moments more. The unusual smell of damp, fresh earth seemed to be becoming normal, along with the condensation dripping from the rafters… directly onto the few inches of my exposed face of course. When I slowly and stiffly rose to a sitting position, I saw the long ears gathered at my gate staring amusedly at my sleepy face. It hurt getting up and climbing down, but the ride was worth it. We were granted the privilege yesterday of going out for a fun ride. I started Sugar trotting up the driveway and I could hardly believe it when she broke into a cantor. I couldn’t keep from laughing out loud and squealing a bit. I felt so proud. Of Sugar, of myself, of our relationship. I didn’t know she had the motivation in her to move at that pace… but she knew I was finally ready to run. We went up the driveway, across the mesa, through the tunnel, up the road in Lookout Pasture to a high peak overlooking the land I’ve called home for the past 2 months. On the way back we were enveloped on the north, south and east by deep gray rainclouds. Lightening struck over the mine. The wind blew a cool, constant breeze through our shirt buttons on the mesa. But the storm didn’t catch us.

The evening was warm and gay. It was the twins’ 12th birthday so we celebrated into the night. We bounced on the trampoline past dusk until elk spaghetti was steaming from our plates. Prickly pear margaritas littered the table. We churned ice cream by hand, with all the kids (including me and Joe) taking turns. It turned out mysteriously salty, which was interesting for a moment, but quickly became incredibly unappetizing. Nevertheless it was served, along with Sarah’s Guinness cake that failed to rise. Oh, but we sang and indulged anyway. There were marshmallow creatures, broken glass, deep laughter that ached sore gut muscles. And then… hugs for a goodbye that didn’t, and still doesn’t, seem real.

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April 6, day 58

Got back to the ranch yesterday after my weekend in Flag. Before I came inside I spent a while in the corral catching up with everyone, it felt so good. I got sad about how I’ll be leaving Sugar soon and she seemed to understand. I mean, she didn’t cry but…

This morning I found that my feeding routine has been changed. Everything was chaotic! Bring in 2 pails of oats and everyone goes manic. I think it’s time for me to go.