A Horse Story

Once upon a time in the East Bay, a post-depression, pre-war family lived on five acres east of Livermore.

The son and grandmother lived with the gainfully employed mother and father. On the side the family tended almonds, bee hives and chickens.

A benefit for their teenage son was the ability to own a horse which he rode to Coral Hollow with his buddy whose family owned a ranch at the end of Tesla Road.

When the war came, the son enlisted and grandma passed away. The mother and father decided that they could no longer handle the chores that produced the income that made the small ranch worthwhile.

One issue became a problem. What should they do with the horse? They decided to purchase a 20-acre parcel close to town for $450. There the horse lived out his years, but after he died, the 20–acre parcel was retained.

When the mother and father reached retirement age, they spent summers camping in Plumas County where they set up camp from May to September.

As the years went by, they became cramped in a 19 ft trailer. To solve the problem, they sold the 20-acre parcel. In 1963 they received enough money from the sale proceeds to allow them to afford a lake-front summer home at Lake Almanor.

This was something they never dreamed they would be able to do.

Thank you Mr. horse.

Aleutian Geese Arrive

Spent most of yesterday at Mayberry Farms on Sherman Island. I’m refurbishing my Airstream trailer and the repair job is progressing. During the afternoon heat, I stepped out of the trailer often to cool down.

Overhead geese were calling. It was the sound of Aleutian geese.

Being early in fall, I was taken by surprise. But, after reviewing some material on the internet I now realize they were actually right on time. It is normal for them to arrive in the San Joaquin Valley during early October. Yesterday their migration flight took thousands of them over the top of Sherman Island.

They just kept coming. String after string of geese. It was a sight to see.

Although a few geese flew lower than most, it appeared that they all overflew Sherman Island, but they will be back.

When the Delta corn crop is harvested, they will return to feast on the spillage left by farmers. That will be some time during the months of November and December.

A Doe and Two Bucks

doe and two bucks DSC_0001[1]

These two bucks were bedded next to a doe on a few hundred yards off Ranch Road.

On a return trip from the ranch with a couple friends, we spotted a doe under an oak tree in the shade.

Curious, I pulled over and put the glasses on her. She had two bucks with her. The largest buck was laying in the deepest shade. Surprised?

There was something unusual about the big spike-fork. He was in velvet. A stag?

Probably. When I got home I blew the photo up.

cactus buck ranch road

Not only is this buck an old buck with heavy velvet horns. It looks like he is also a cactus buck – a term for a buck with a bunch of small protrusions at the base of the horn. See the mass around the base of his horns? It will grow larger.

He was too far away for certainty. I’ll be watching for him. Maybe I’ll get a closer look.

Here’s a link to some impressive cactus bucks.

http://www.wideopenspaces.com/7-photos-infamous-cactus-buck-syndrome/

Mayberry Wading Birds

Mayberry Farms is not what it once was. There was a day when we had a duck club with about 150-200 acres of shallow-flooded seasonal marsh. At times we had mud flats covered with dowitchers, stilts and avocets.

When the shallow ponds were converted to deep perenial ponds, the shore birds disappeared from our hunting territory. But occasionally they return to wade the shallow water in the fields adjacent to Mayberry.

Here are a few that were present on Sunday.

There were a few other birds around as well.