Sunday, May 31, 2015

Baby Pronghorns

 The other day as we were driving I noticed these two little pronghorn (Antilocapra americana). They were so cute. Pronghorn mate in the fall, and every spring we see little ones around (if we're lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time).

Within a few days of being born, pronghorn can outrun humans. They eventually get up to 53 mph, the second fastest land mammal in the world, after the cheetah. Fortunately for them, no cheetahs live around here. Pronghorns do have to slow down when they get to a fence, as they don't jump over them but rather crawl under them. It's a strange sight, but they seem to do it pretty well.

When the young pronghorn caught up to their mom, it was easier to see their size. Even though we had stopped alongside the road and were watching them, they didn't seem very alarmed.

Eventually they ran off. I bet the next time we see them the young will look appreciably larger.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Field Day 2015

 The day before school gets out is Field Day, a day of outdoor fun for the elementary schools. Enough preschoolers were there they got to have a race too. Looks like they were talking as they raced!

One of the classic favorites is the three-legged race.

And then the wheelbarrow race.

These two couldn't get enough of it.

Sometimes coordination required a mother's help!

Look who's back at it!

Balancing an egg on a spoon was also a fun race.

The preschoolers quickly figured out some strategies to keep the egg better balanced, like holding the spoon up higher.

Or using two hands!

The obstacle course was lots of fun.

And the long jump provides some great action photos.

We had a delicious lunch and then the kids went on to relays in the afternoon. It's such a fun tradition and the weather was perfect for it this year. Next year Desert Girl and Isaac will be participating officially. Wow!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

April Happenings

 As I went through my April photos, I realized I had a lot of odds and ends that I hadn't blogged about but wanted to include for when I print out my blog book for the year. April was a fairly busy month, with a train ride, t-ball, lots of bike riding (including Desert Girl without training wheels), cave rescue class, junior cave scientists, and lots of bird sightings. We also had wonderful clouds, although most of them didn't produce much in the way of precipitation.

Fortunately we had clear skies for the lunar eclipse. Generally I only take Milky Way photos during the new moon, but with the eclipse, it was dark enough I could get the galaxy (plus some light pollution from Las Vegas) plus the eclipsed moon all in one shot).

The moon turned so red during the eclipse. It was really beautiful, and I was glad I had gotten up to witness it. (If you didn't, there's another lunar eclipse in September!)

The photograph-the-full-moon challenge is going well, although I feel like in some ways I've reached the limitations of my equipment. But I will try to keep getting full moon photos in interesting locations. The next full moon is coming soon!

The kids were so excited Easter morning. We had a little Easter egg hunt in the house.

Then we got all dressed up to go to church. The kids sure clean up well!

And since we don't get enough of these, we did a family photo.

Later Desert Girl got a haircut because she was having trouble taking care of her longer hair and I was no longer willing to battle. She got a super cute haircut from Chandra. She has been taking really good care of it. And then last night she cut her own bangs quite noticeably. Sigh. Actually I laughed, which didn't make Desert Girl happy. I'll post a photo soon.

I have about four hours of EMT training every month to keep up my continuing education hours. This was one of the trainings, about pediatric emergencies taught by a pediatric nurse. It was really good training.

In the same location not much later we had a fun baby shower. It's so great to be welcoming a new baby into our community!

One of our frequent destinations is the post office parking lot, where we ride bikes, run around, and play on wagons. This photo must have been taken during spirit week, on pajama day.

The kids and I take various adventure walks. They love climbing trees, jumping over the creek, and building forts. And Desert Boy is very much into guns. I try not to roll my eyes too much.

The great horned owls are frequently in the yard. We welcome them. They are much preferable mousers than the mama skunk with her four young I saw last night.

Although we had such a dry winter, we did get a little extra snow in April, worrying us because all the fruit trees had blossomed so early. The snow looked pretty on the willows.
It's hard to believe May is almost over now. Maybe I'll catch up with it a little sooner than April!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Recent Birds

 I can't help but notice the birds wherever I go.  I figure the time I put into learning birds will serve me my whole life--even if I become sedentary when I'm old, I will still be able to look out the window and see what birds come by and imagine where they've come from. Above are some sandhill cranes in a meadow on the ranch. The reddish coloring comes from food they've eaten in iron-rich mud. Makes me wonder where they've been eating!

The kestrels are back in the yard this year. Last year they raised several young in one of our trees. Here's hoping they will again.

 While on our patio one morning, Desert Girl and I saw several new birds. First came this bird, which at first glance I thought was a vireo. After consulting the birding book, now I think it's a ruby-crowned kinglet. They spend their summers high up the mountain in the forests, so I was quite surprised to see it. But it is migration season, which is the season of surprises!

I heard this bird's chatter before I saw it: a Bullock's oriole. We have at least one nesting pair in the yard. They make a lot of noise and have really cool nests that hang from the branches and incorporate bailing twine, something we have a lot of around here. I love their flashes of bright color.

This is another common denizen of the yard--the yellow-rumped warbler. I think they probably have a nest in one of our trees, but I haven't found it yet.

If I want to see some water birds, I drive a few miles to a reservoir. On this particular day, a large flock of American white pelicans was hanging out.

With them was a group of gulls (California gulls?).

The contrast of the mountains and the desert and the water made for a nice photo.

Some mallards flew by.

A double-crested cormorant, another migratory bird, hung out on some rocks next to the water.

At the south end of the reservoir I found a mixed flock of ducks, including buffleheads, northern shovelers, and ring-necked ducks.

A group of coots appeared to be waiting as the ducks arrived.

On a nearby wetland, some American avocets took flight.

We're up to 33 backyard birds, with the addition last night of a hummingbird (species not known, but likely broad-tailed). We are definitely going to surpass last year's total of 34! Desert Boy doesn't seem super interested, but Desert Girl is quite interested. They learn so fast, I wish I had their capacity!

Hope you see some cool birds today.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Branding in the Rain

 It's May, which means it's the month of branding. Actually on our ranch we don't brand, but the calves are ear marked, banded (a form of castration), fly-tagged, and vaccinated. And it's a lot easier to say brand than all those other things!

May has turned out to be the month of rain here, which is so welcome after our dry winter. But it makes for some messy branding. I took the kids for a quick look on our way to Grandma's house, but they didn't want to get out in the rain, and I wanted to get a few photos, so  I left them in the van. The cowboys were just getting started.

The first calf roped was by one of our neighbors.

The calf was secured.

Then the crew came in and administered everything in less than a minute. The calf was released and it went back to its friends.

I am amazed at how talented some of these young cowboys are. They already are more skilled with a horse and rope than I ever will be.

The orange tag is the fly tag, which is so useful later in the summer.

A couple more cowboys roped calves.

Three stations were set up, so when three cowboys were holding tension on the calves, that meant the operation was going just right.

Watching the roping was fascinating. The timing is critical to get that rope around the calves' back legs. If you think about it, those back legs are only off the ground for a fraction of a second as the calf walks, so the rope has to be there just as the legs come up and then tighten at just the right moment otherwise the rope falls off and the calf walks away. There are easier ways to do the branding, but this is the way the cowboys prefer, as it gives them a chance to practice their skills.

Below is the overall view of the horses and cowboys keeping the calf at the station and the calves getting treated.

Everyone seemed to be handling the rain really well.
We had to go, so I couldn't stay longer. Later some of the ladies took a turn roping, and you can see that and more on Life on the Ranch blog.
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