|The prairie grew grass at lightning speed — and burst into flowers.
Evil people claim that Wyoming has only two seasons — winter and July.
It's not true, because with May, SPRING
came to us. It began with our
discovery that our court rabbit is a female — as four miniature bunnies
appeared under our patio. Grass turned green, flowers blossomed, and even wild
roses that I wrote off and entered into my long list of victims of my
unqualified gardening, sprouted new leaves. Honestly — I would rather
liked to moderate Mother Nature's enthusiasm rooted in warmth and sunshine, for
suddenly there were waist high weeds around our house, and my goaties kept
disappearing in the prairie's high grass — I could not keep up with
my weeding and cutting, yanking, and axing.
Locals had said that it always snows on Mothers' Day (second weekend of May),
but I considered it a rural lore, good enough to discourage strangers. On the
week preceding Mothers' Day we made a trip to Vedauwoo, and even at those
eight and half thousand feet elevation, spring was in full swing. Pulsatillas
were in bloom, frogs in a pond were croaking with the intensity surely
exceeding safe noise decibel limits, and snow stopped spreading across trails,
and instead cowered in last shady corners.
|Vedauwoo looks like a stage backdrop.
|Spring arrived to 8,500 ft — pulsatillas blooming.
Yet snow started falling on Mothers' Day, and by Monday it added up to a few
inches.Heavy, wet snow that quickly melted again, but even so my goaties were
tucked in their shed and refused to stick out even one little hoof. On the next
day it was again possible to lie around in the prairie, in what matches the
Czech term April weather
. It stayed with us for several weeks, and was
very pleasant. Sunshine and heat alternated with snow, followed by gloomy foggy
mornings or drizzle. In principle, there's always some kind of wind blowing,
which delivers us from mosquitoes and heavy moisture. Summer thunderstorms, one
with hail up to the size of marbles, came with such vigor our gutters
overflowed — sometimes lightning stroke so frequently that thunder kept
rolling without a pause — it sounded like a wing of jet fighters circling
above. Puddles and mud seemed not to form much — sandy soil kept soaking
all that water up — a "pool" deeper than my rubber boots, which
formed itself in a depression near our little trees, disappeared within mere
|Snow came — traditionally, they say — on Mothers' Day.
|Thunderstorms alternate with sunshine.
Spring has also come to our boy goats and it was necessary to castrate
Young billy goats are fertile from eight weeks, which is a bad thing mostly
because hormones take over and they start bothering adult females, who of
course resist very vehemently, and don't hesitate to head-butt the cheeky
pubescents, or nail them to the fence, which may be dangerous for a small
confused boy goat. A worse thing is, a growing billy goat starts to smell
— well, like a billy goat.
When our veterinarian came and announced she castrates with a
I got a bit taken aback — but with all due respect — compared to
the last year, when boy goats were still bleeding from their wounds after
a week, Mick and Freddy fared much better. Anesthesia was short, and I was
simply and without hassle issued painkiller injections, and the whole affair
In the end, it was Loreena who became our problematic baby goat —
with her being definitely rejected by Licorice, we had no other choice
than buying another bag of goat formula and bottles, and start to feed her
regularly. I'm sorry for my little Lori, for she often seeks out humans to
sleep on their laps — Licorice
chases her away and rests only in her preferred Enya's company, while Lori
stays lonely in some corner. Apparently she then cannot sleep well and on
a human lap she manages to zone out for quite some time. This, of course, does
not sit well with the jealous Enya, who is capable to jump on people's heads
just to get some attention.
|Our baby goats are growing up strong — here they supervise repairs of the door.
|Lori ended up with a formula bottle.
I have re-arranged the coop
for my chickens — in winter we had
separated a portion of the goat shed for them, but then with seven goaties,
we need every square foot of the room — and it stopped being feasible
that the chickens go out through the goat's area. The chickens like it inside
the shed, and often never make it outside. How much I WANT that they keep
pecking on beetles and larvae and grubs in the shed, they also need some
sunshine and grass.
So I came up with an idea of two-story coop (to occupy less of a footprint
in the shed), with exit right outside — and only then they can re-enter
the shed. But just like every ingenious plan, neither this one survived
collision with reality — I had to re-arrange the coop again, and then for
the following week kept lifting chickens up to the second story to their
roosts, until they figured it out and accepted their new home. The funniest
part was that they kept walking through the hole in the partition in the middle
of the shed, amazed that the coop WAS NOT THERE, as it used to be. Even several
times a day — one stops wondering how come that dinosaurs died out.
Their remote great-grand-daughters are neither very intelligent nor adaptive.
|A thunderstorm rushed through, with hail.
|Just one baby bird survived.
Yet I have also learned how some people can become afraid of chickens. My
beautiful, gentle, elegant Jet found a miniature rabbit in their run,
and attempted to kill it. Little rabbit spat at her; I chased the chicken
away and closed her in the coop — but the little bunny did not find his
way back home to his hole, and after a stormy night I found him dead.
Then there was another sad story with robins
— for weeks we
watched a robin female in a nest near our porch. She kept sitting there through
storms and spurts of cold, and eventually three hungry beaks stuck out of the
nest. Two of them did not survive a hailstorm. I spotted one live baby bird
sitting on a branch below the nest, and tried to find out with local bird
enthusiasts, what to do.
They said that nothing could be done, the only thing that could
help would be to keep cats from getting to it. We don't have any cats, the
birdie alternated for a few days between trees, and then disappeared.
I did not find
it dead anywhere, and so I hope I saw it later flying around (immature robin,
still with dots on its yellow belly). I tell myself it came to say good-bye.
With snow melted, time came to think about projects on the house and around it,
which could not be done in winter. So we ordered electricity
the goat shed
— thee hundred feet long, albeit heavy duty,
extension cord across the prairie has been sub-optimal — but apparently
we were not alone in remembering something like that "only" by the
time spring was here,
for the electrician gave us his first available slot in mid-August. I
fared a bit better with fencing — proper goat fence around the whole
pasture got installed "already" by end of June.
|We have plenty of great pasture, just can't let the goats out yet.
|Finally we got ourselves a sturdy goat-proof fence.
Rick laid tiles
in our entrance — that was rather quick —
after, however, we got them out of clutches of Home Depot. The first round
contained samples — which they don't carry in store for such tiles, and
must be special-ordered. So I figured I'd order samples of tiles I was
contemplating, and a full box of those I had THOUGHT we would choose in the
end. Samples came in the form of pieces four by four inches, which, in the case
of wood pattern, demonstrates absolutely nothing. Of five boxes ordered, one
came smashed to little pieces — so we ordered more, which came shattered
again, and in third round we got a box that had only half of the tiles
smashed, and Rick could finish the floor (we were short just one tile), and we
let the rest be.
I regard these entrance tiles as essential — I don't know who's idea it
was to put real hardwood floor all the way up to the entry door, in a ranch
house. It's true that it continues throughout the main common room, and so it
looks "nice", but practical it truly ain't — especially in
a location with long season of frequent snow cover, in a house, that actually
is used as a ranch — i.e., somebody keeps going out to farm animals and
onto the property, bringing back things on one's boots — and mud it is
only in the better case. Taking boots off on the porch in a blizzard is ...
Our perhaps worst experience arrived in the shape of tree planters
We had ordered twenty semi-grown spruces to serve as a windbreaker for the
basement entrance and north from our bedroom windows. First it was not possible
to dig holes for the trees due to snow, frost, or mud. Then a guy showed up,
responsible for making sure that digging, where we wanted the trees planted,
would not upset any utility networks on the property. After I had, like an
idiot, planted little flags around our prairie, so that the trees would be at
least ten feet apart, not all in one line, but a bit alternating, and kept
running back home to see out of our windows for optimal shading effect —
and dragged the network guy bodily to the flags, he checked his papers and
The planters were about 35 minutes into digging when they ripped through our
internet fiber cable. It led to unpleasantness between us and the tree
planters, and this crew is now banned from entering our property (we understand
that such stupid mistake can happen, but I did not expect that in the end we'd
get to pay for all the extra repairs, and we'd get threatened by people who
caused the problem — for it was the tree planters who ordered the
networks inspection, and the mistake should have stayed between those two).
|New trees — and the cut fiber.
Spring snowmelt also represented end of my cross-country ski season — but
SOME new terrain opened up for hiking. We went to check out
, because I kept noticing a red hill in the distance from
the freeway, and we were curious what's there. So there is — besides
a beautiful landscape, reminding us of Utah by a combination of red rocks,
green bushes and blue skies — a place called Bent Rock. With a kitchy
bubbling brook in a small canyon.
When it started to be too hot even for Red Mountain, we dared to venture
further up our big mountains — our, Wyomese, part of the Rocky Mountains,
named Snowy Range
, which is entirely "common", thus does not
feature a status of a National Park, hence no-one bothers you there —
and no (truly large) crowds of tourist come visiting. We can get to ten
thousand feet elevation in an hour and half. And since we now live at six
thousand feet, we don't get sick higher up, heads don't ache, and we can enjoy
a stunning landscape. Alas, it was still early spring in the mountains, and
when we resolved to a small hike near the road, it consisted in part of
crawling over half-melted snow banks. We could not reach our intended spot
by car, as only the county road was cleared of snow, but not local spurs.
|Mirror Lake — in mid-June, snow dominates at ten thousand feet.
|Medicine Bow National Forest.
During one of our May journeys with Lisa to her vaulting
, in a snow
shower, it occured to me how absurd it was that in two weeks, the kids' summer
break would start — but apparently even the school schedule here is
adapted to seasons — when snow melts, kids are needed on the farms and
in the fields. Since my childhood I've had the impression that summer break is
a leisure time, and I kind-of cling to my illusion.
This year's switch to summer mode was especially brutal. Lisa's vaulting
practices got re-scheduled to eight in the morning. It makes sense (it's not
as hot then as it is in the afternoon), but with us having to spend an
hour getting there, and before that still having to milk the goats and release
all the critters, feed them and bring them water, it means I get up at six.
As soon I accepted that twice a week I'd get up at six, Lisa set herself up an
at a veterinarian clinic — four mornings a week;
I set myself up my alarm clock to six a.m. six times a week now. Forced by
circumstances (and her mother), Lisa started to work on her driver license,
but it would take several more months before she'd be eligible to drive solo,
(so far she couldn't drive with adult supervision — which means I could
not make Tom ride with his sister). My summer thus consisted of nervous tics,
with obligations to be somewhere two times a day, going somewhere, driving, or
supervising an underage driver, and meanwhile taking care of the household,
goats, chickens, property, workers coming to our or rental house, and on top
of that haggle over returning broken tiles, for example.
I think when this "summer break" ends, I'll be ready for a