Wednesday, April 26, 2017

"Great Unknown"?

John Muller's fine piece on me in  NM magazine is out, graced by the photos of Hans Wachs, and soon to be online.  It is called "The Great Unknown"--  meaning me!-- and uses this photo as a lead, which will have to do until I have a link:

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Woman at Work

Patricia typing on the library floor after she lost her chair. Determined woman. She has been called away by duty to a friend. Hurry back,  Pat- the essay worked.

No Respect

These fine photos of a cow giving birth are by John L Moore of (near) Miles City, rancher and novelist. If they were of antelope, they would probably be on the cover of a magazine, but domestic animals get no respect. Johnson and Janiga, the authors of the magisterial Superdove, on feral pigeons, say they were actively discouraged from writing about them.

William "Gatz" Hjortsberg, 1941- 2017

Chris Waddington, my old editor at the Minneapolis Star Tribune and now a happier man in his belovcd New Orleans (even though Katrina flooded his house) emailed to tell me that our mutual friend Gatz Hjortsberg died at his home in Livingston after a "short illness" i.e. pancreatic cancer (it's a bad one; it's the one that took down Bob Jones after he survived prostate cancer.)

As I said to Chris, our friendship was cordial, but not particularly close. Still, we were part of the same Montana scene and went to the same parties, where Michael Katakis would groan "Oh God, Gatz and Bodio are both here -- nobody else will be able to get  in a word." Probably true, and I think they're all the better for it.  He was always known as "Gatz", never Bill or William, apparently because of a youthful infatuation with the work of Scott Fitzgerald, especially The Great Gatsby. Besides, he wore all those cool hats.

He was utterly intrepid.He was one of Pat's boys" at Sports Illustrated, and his first assignment was to ride a BULL.He did it, too.

Gatz was undervalued as a writer of books, perhaps because he was a writer of genre books in a  literary field. He followed his friend Tom McGuane to Livingston from grad school, because McGuane was the only writer he knew who fished. Among the schools he attended was Stanford, where like McGuane, he was a Stegner  Fellow, that is' someone who Wallace Stegner abused. This was good company to be in; among the other people Stegner called bums, hippies, beatniks, and worthless were Robert Stone, Ken Kesey, and the lesser known but fascinating David Shetzline, who wrote one of the only two good novels I know of about  forest fires. Among Gatz's books were the dark fantasy Alp and the darker sci- fi Gray Matters in the early years, and the Mexican thriller Manana recently. But his best knows was Falling Angel , which was made into a movie starring Mickey Rourke. He also wrote Nevermore where he wrote the following wonderful inscription in my copy:
He also wrote a puzzling biography of "Poor Old Richard" Brautigan, which took him about 14 years and was rejected by its first publisher. In the end it ran to 862 pages, any 100 of which were brilliant. I can't help but think that Richard's own words might apply: " In this world, where there is only a little time to spend, I think I've spent enougth time on this butterfly." *

No matter. Gatz Hjortsberg was a gentleman and a writer, and he will be missed.

*The quote about the butterfly is a close paraphrase. I'm not going to look it up at this hour!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Humor from Annie D

"He was such a good dog, very strange breed, and didn't train well, but a good boy nonetheless"

Best Dog Photos...

Taken by Dellas Henke of Michigan over a decade  (?) ago, and sent a few days past. The last one of Lashyn especially almost made me cry for her beauty, innocence, and youth...

"Great Moments in Pigeon Keeping" Jack said in a recent email.The Grand Canyon guides knew long before the scientists about the huge stable non- migratory Peregrine population in the Grand Canyon, the Colorado and its tributaries...

 Photos by the late great Wesley Smith of the homers he used to take down the River in the days of film cameras, to allow his clients to be met with photos,. He used to say that each roll took three pigeons: "One for the tiercel, one for the falcon, and one for the film..."

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Golden Eagle Migrations

Researchers recently discovered the importance of Montana's Big Belt Mountains (near Bozeman) as a raptor migration flyway, and their first major monitoring effort for this flyway began in the fall of 2015, and was repeated in fall 2016. This route recorded the greatest number of migrating golden eagles of any site in North America, with 2,620 golden eagles recorded, with a peak of 24 goldens per hour!

The team also recorded another important behavior: Golden eagles continued to migrate at night under a full moon.

And if the golden eagle information wasn't enough, the researchers also documented all 17 raptor species known to migrate through the region - all on one day!

The Big Belts are a 75-mile long mountain range in west-central Montana, just north of the Bridger Mountains, which are well-known for raptor migrations. The raptor migration counts were conducted by Ronan Dugan and Jeff Grayum of the Golden Eagle Migration Survey and the report on the Fall 2016 counts can be found here.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Introducing Patricia Cooper

As some of you know, I virtually cannot type anymore. But I have many books to write yet (Yojimbo: "I can't die yet-- I have too many people left to kill!") and Libby can't  easily take dictation, partly  because she can't hear my hoarse Parkinson's voice, and partially because by evening she is exhausted and drained by an ever more irrational  Post Office.

About two weeks ago my veterinarian of 35 years, Terry Gonzales, who even when she was out of work (even when she was recovering from cancer!) always made house visits so that my dogs might die at peace in their own beds, called me and insisted that her sister had to be typing for me. I still do not know how this miracle came about -- she hadn't seen me for months, even heard I needed a typist, and Pat certainly isn't a "typist,"- she is a literate scholar with degrees in literature and history, and I expect rather comfortably off. I think she was bored!

After ten minutes with me she had quoted Kipling, Wilde, and Dorothy Parker. I left Terri to talk
 dogs with Libby,  and took Pat into the library and quizzed her. I sent her home with a stack of books, mine and others, and said that if she felt up for working for me after reading those we could talk. We've been talking ever since.

We have now officially begun my second book of books, which you will hear much more about. Soon to come in the blog is a detailed outline,  for this is a "new thing under the sun", to be partially crowdfunded by my friend and agent Daniel's wife's publishing company. It should make me considerably more money and less heartburn than Hounds did. It will also be far more unusual than the first one, a huge compendium of books I love and why. The short title is "With Trees", and I bet a lot of you will know exactly what that means.

I accused Pat of being a "woman of mystery" after I had known her a few days. She protested that she was not mysterious at all, and then told me that though she had grown up in the South, she was born in Japan and Japanese was her first language, and though not Catholic, she had gone to Catholic schools until her parents feared she was becoming a "Papist". She showed total familiarity with cowboy lore.  She then added the following:

"I've had my fun, but nothing, dear folks, like the adventures you have lived. I am a widow; my husband of 20 years died in late 2013. He was a star: brilliant, multitalented, highly skilled and uniquely funny  (and a beautiful ballroom dancer). Different occupations (legal secretary, autopsy assistant [!!-- SB], administrator, parapsych researcher, political organizer) have filled my years..."

Woman of mystery, I say. At any rate, if this works out, and I think it will, she will have more responsibility in the fiction and memoir areas in the  NEXT two books, and a full research partnership and cover credit if we ever do the Passenger pigeon book. Here she is; working:

And in a hilarious poster with her late husband


Lane Kleppen, who grew up on Montana's bleak and beautiful Hi- line, (his older stay- at- home brother  Trent sends us wonderful photos from there, another friend who was born at Fort Peck has written the definitive book on it, Corb Lund the definitive song (scroll down), and still another friend, John Carlson of Prairie Ice, who was also born there, was my best man when Lib and I were married), but now lives in Seattle, visited this weekend in a vintage VW bug he had just bought in Albuquerque, which had fewer than 10,000 original miles on it! He also shot he shortest video of the 2000 foot climb out of the valley  to Magdalena I have ever seen. We had fun. I don't think I ever met anyone from there I didn't like...

Penguin John in his colony ....

Sunday, March 12, 2017

"Great Planet"

 John McLoughlin, the sage and hermit of Talpa and the least known paleoartist who helped discover the birdlike nature of Dinos, sent me the following:

"Wild radioactive boars contaminated by the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear plant six years ago are now roaming northern Japan by the hundreds, rampaging through crops and occasionally attacking humans. If you are planning a trip to Japan soon, do not eat wild boar."
[The New York Times/Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura]

Perhaps only John (self-portrait above) would preface this with "I mean, is this a great planet or what?

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Pigeon pics

 Down to two pairs of "keeper'" carriers and 4 of pouters.

For Ava: your pick of the flight loft. Daniel?

Friday, February 24, 2017

Friends who help

Kim Nesvig, our only animal hand and the one who fills in for all emergencies.I  will try to print her card later...

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Dog pics

The Terrorist:

Old Taik


Adventures and Associates

I am going to the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale this weekend. I've been falling down a lot, which is no fun, and I really can't type --

Luckily, sometimes someone comes along at the right time. My long-time veterinarian, Terri Gonzales, has a sister who can quote Kipling, Oscar Wilde, and Dorothy Parker, and is willing to work for reasonable money. From now on, she is at least partly the Voice of Bodio. Wish her luck.

Doug and Andrea Peacock suggested that I could sell my archives/library to one of the universities of Texas for a good sum, and have lifetime  use of them. Next, Andrea suggested that she and her brother might want to start their own archives, and still pay well. In this case, I'm hoping that Pat is going to become an archivist. Have no fear, Associate: we can do it!!

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Central Asian Arrivals

  A week ago Jim and I made a late-night run to the Salt Lake airport to pick up the newest members of our ranch operation: two Central Asian Ovcharka pups, arriving from Tajikistan. We’ve had a few CAOs in the past and found them to be effective guardians, and were glad for the opportunity to obtain pups from the region where the breed originated. We made quick introductions of the pups to our adult guardian dogs, which readily accepted the pups since they were presented by us.

But these pups are a little different than any of the livestock guardian dogs we’ve had in the past. We’ve used multiple breeds, and had dogs that were white, tan, red, and brown, but never black and white. The only black and white dogs our sheep have ever experienced are herding dogs.

The job of a herding dog is to move the sheep around, so the sheep move away from herding dogs. But the job of a guardian dog is to stay with the sheep and keep them protected.

When our sheep flock met the CAO pups, they immediately moved away from them as they would in response to a herding dog. It wasn’t just the color, but the size of the pups – the same size as herding dogs.

The pups are siblings, a tri-colored male named Omar and a female named Taji. Even at only a few months old, it is apparent that they both have strong but different guardian traits.

Taji is a communicator, able to “read” how others are responding. She looked at the sheep from a distance, then put her nose to the ground as if investigating something interesting, and moseyed her way closer to the sheep. Her careful approach ensured the sheep didn’t flee, and when the sheep started to back away, Taji sat down on the ground looking away from them. It was a clever ploy, and it worked. Several of the sheep gradually made their way closer to investigate as she maintained her submissive posture.

Omar, on the other hand, has the soul of a warrior, and when he detects any change in his world, he boldly charges forward to investigate. His posture is always head-up, tail-up. That’s how he tried to introduce himself to the sheep, which of course didn’t work. He used the same attitude with the burros, and after investigation, the burros decided to let him live, although one burro was tempted to take him out. (These introductions were all supervised by humans and other guardians, so it wasn’t as though a strange dog had simply appeared among the flock.)
But settling the sheep to these two arrivals has been more challenging than it has been with any other guardian dog pups we’ve raised, and it’s my view that it’s primarily because of the color difference. The sheep will eventually learn that the pups are guardians, and subsequent generations of sheep will also learn that guardians come in this color pattern as well. But the sheep are currently naïve, so we’re altering our management to give the sheep additional time to adjust.

While the pups are given supervised time out with the flock every day (despite a winter of record snowfall), most of their time is spent in the yard or large outdoor kennel. We feed hay along the fences so that the pups and sheep spend plenty of time face-to-face time, with the fences separating them. That way, the sheep can watch the pups, and do nose-to-nose exploration from their safe locations.
The pups don’t bark at the sheep, but cry for them and lick them through the fence. The pups have the desire to be with the sheep (as guardians should) so it’s just a matter of allowing the sheep to adjust to the new constants in their lives. We've got two other pups from another litter coming in a few months, so the socializing will begin anew.