Friday, February 13, 2009
Late every afternoon, we feed big bales of alfalfa hay to our sheep and cows, which live in the same large meadow pasture together at this time of year, along with the burros and a guardian dog. As we drive to the hay stackyard in the noisy flatbed feedtruck, we watch the moose clear the fence to get out of the way before we get there, and we let Rena the Akbash juvenile out to chase the jackrabbits and cottontails down the drive and through the corrals.
We usually have mule deer or pronghorn antelope hanging out in the brush in the pasture, and because the pasture is adjacent to the riverbottom, plenty of birds, including bald eagles (even though the river is frozen). The magpies that hang out at the stackyard are fat from eating guard dog food every day.
Every few days, when we finish feeding, we stop the truck in the lane at the bottom of the hill, in the tall brush. Jim gets back out of the truck and cleans all the excess hay off the flatbed, providing a treat for the bunnies, which in this spot even includes those tiny pika-like pygmy rabbits. The next day, we usually get to spot what’s been enjoying the treat.
Today we noticed we were being watched. Perhaps instead of simply providing a treat for bunnies, we’re providing bait for prey of this great horned owl.
Regardless, Rena loves watching to see what’s chewing on the spot of hay in the lane , and we let her out so she can make her run, flushing rabbits and bunnies as she goes. She gets back in the cab of the truck with us smelling like sagebrush, panting and smiling, when we turn for home. Always a nice way to end a day.