Black Forest Bison

Yesterday Connie and I drove to Colorado Springs and took SR 83, one of the “blue highways” rather than the Interstate. Just as we were coming up to a plateau covered with ponderosa pine, known as the Black Forest, we saw this herd of bison on a ranch. The market for bison meat seems to be booming. We have a good selection of it at our local grocery store.

Connie commented that it seemed a rather flimsy fence for bison. Our friends Mike and Kathy Gear raise bison in Wyoming and we’ve been hearing stories for years about how they tear through fences when it suits them. It’s not as clear as I’d like in this picture but there is a double hot-wire inside the barbed-wire fence that’s doing the job here.

This herd must have a lot of interaction with its owners. They seemed quite undisturbed having me just over the fence. I’ve seen cattle way spookier.
This little fellow found me quite interesting and turned to track me as I walked along the fence. His mom could have cared less.
The lead bull for this herd is a huge and gorgeous animal and I was hoping for a good “buffalo nickel” portrait. Of course when I got in camera range he turned and walked straight away from me. Guess that means I’ll just have to come back and try again.

Surprise Plums

More new yard discoveries. I thought one of our trees was just an ornamental until I looked up and noticed these plums this week. They’re small, but sweet and tasty.

Shrimping on Horseback?

I’d never heard of it either.

But Belgium is famous for more than ale. Evidently the country boasts a remnant horseback shrimping culture.

“Men in bright yellow overalls and sou’-westers ride their plodding workhorses across the sands into the North Sea at low tide to trawl for shrimps in just the way that their forefathers have done for more than 500 years.

“There are now fewer than a dozen left of the hundreds who once plied the same trade all around the North Sea — in France, the Netherlands and Britain.”

How can you tell these are serious fishermen? One of them admits:

“There is such a love story between the horse and the fisherman. Once he
has a horse that works, he is married to the horse. Sometimes we say we like our
horses more than our wife.”

Reid’s post below on the dog and horse exhibition makes me wonder if any form of this unique working animal bond will survive? If tourism is a draw (and it seems to be), maybe they can print advertisements to the trawling gear?

An ad for any of the good products of Belgian Trappist monks would seem fitting!

Left Hand Brewing Company

One of the changes I’ve noticed in the twenty years we’ve been away from Colorado is the proliferation of micro- and mini-breweries here. As Matt pointed out when we talked about this, it’s sort of a “return to the future” as in the 19th century where most towns had at least one brewery. Competition in these new breweries seems more intense here than in Southern California, maybe because there are no wineries to speak of to divide people’s attention.

One of the first of these I noticed back in December was Lefthand Brewing Company located in Longmont up in Boulder County. Their website says they make about a half-dozen styles, but I’ve only seen two in stores: the Sawtooth Ale (pictured above) and a Milk Stout. I enjoy the ale but can’t drink the stout – and I’m a stout lover.

A bright person in their graphics department came up with this simple but distinctive logo. Another bright person in their publicity department got the smart idea of putting one of these stickers in each six-pack. You see these things stuck up all over the place around here – lots of free advertising.When I first saw these it occurred to me what the origin of the name must be, and I was able to verify that checking with the brewery’s website.When the Boulder County area was first settled by Whites in the 1850s, a band of Arapahoe Indians lived there. The leader of this band was Chief Niwot. Niwot very quickly understood the futility of trying to fight back, and adopted a policy of peace and cooperation with the incoming Whites. In the long run, it didn’t do him any good. He and his band were camped with Chief Black Kettle and other Arapahoe and Cheyenne when they were attacked by Col. John Chivington and his regiment at the Sand Creek Massacre. Niwot is not believed to have survived the battle.Niwot’s link with a modern brewing company is the fact that his name means “Left Hand” in Arapahoe. This left-handed chief and his people were abused, but he so impressed White settlers that they put his name all over the landscape. There is a town of Niwot, Niwot Mountain (el. 11,471 ft.), Niwot Ridge, Left Hand Creek, Left Hand Canyon, Left Hand Reservoir, Left Hand Park Reservoir, and Left Hand Valley Reservoir.

Our Roving Correspondent

Phil Grayson is stopping through Magdalena en route to Poland from his last job in Istanbul. I am hoping he will be posting himself soon from Poland, with his own password, but he has given me several travel essays to entertain you meanwhile. Here is the first.

It’s Vrahati Time!

A ways west of Athens is Corinth, and a ways west of Corinth is Vrahati. A little Peloponnesian village on the coast of the Gulf of Corinth, Vrahati has everything you could want in a vacation spot, beautiful vistas, perfect, warm, crystal clear water, loud nightclubs, and umbrellas and lounge chairs set up all along the beach, free for anyone to use, built on the assumption that if you swim and sit out in the boiling Greek summer long enough you’ll pop in to get a soda or beer or something from the café behind you. It has Greek girls, tall and dark and having smoked themselves into a beach-ready thinness, it has cheap wine, great food, and friendly people. Everything, with the exception of hotels.
As far as I could discern, there is one four-star hotel somewhere in Vrahati unseen by me, nothing at all below that, and with beach-camping forbidden by Greek law, it puts the frugal yet law-abiding traveler in a bit of a bind.
As a result, Vrahati is mainly a destination for Greeks, who keep their summerhouses there. This makes it a nice refuge from the tourist traps and conmen of Athens, an escape from post-Olympics inflation, and generally a nice, laid-back way to take in the ease and love of life that you came to Greece for.
One glorious manifestation of this is the siesta. Wake up at dawn, eat breakfast for a few hours, sit around having coffee, shooting the breeze, maybe go for a dip to beat the midday heat, have lunch for a few hours, then crawl into a cool dark room and sleep through the prohibitive heat of the afternoon. The siesta chases off the heat stroke, digests the pig or two you’ve eaten at lunch, and, when everything in town closes down until 4 or 5 in the afternoon, enforces leisure and patience, at least until your body falls (as it will easily fall) into the proper rhythm. The best thing about the siesta, though, is the nighttime. Rolling out of bed around Quittin’ Time, USA has a way of making a man willing and able to stay out all night, wreaking all manner of havoc on the good people of Vrahati, his own body, and the laws of both god and man. And that, my friend, is what vacation is all about. Just ask the bars that open, open!, at 1 am.
All of which brings us back to our original problem, the terrible dearth of hotels. One can nap the afternoon away on the beach, somehow as long as you’re running the risk of skin cancer it doesn’t count as camping, but sooner or later a man has to sleep. Really sleep. On a bed.
Of course, you could bus it back to Corinth and environs, plenty of reasonable accommodations there. Otherwise you could head on further down the coast to any of the other perfect beaches that fill the peninsula, some even with sand in place of the smooth stones that make the beach in Vrahati and most of the rest of Peloponnesia. But those both sound an awful lot like giving up, letting this cold world get the best of you once again, surrendering this little slice of heaven to a bunch of rich foreigners (at least they would be foreigners in America), admitting defeat. And there’s no reason for that when you’re one of the only foreigners in town and the Greek habit of being incredibly hospitable fits together so well with the American habit of abusing the hospitality of others. I discovered this on accident one night, trying desperately, Greek-English dictionary furiously churning, to convince a group of Greek girls to let me sleep with them. Something must have been lost in translation, but I spent the rest of the week napping on the beach and sleeping on their couch. So I implore you, good reader, pack your sunscreen and your puppy dog eyes, and hit up the unsuspecting little town of Vrahati, Greece.

Phil Drabble

Richard, a commentor below, was kind enough to tell us of this obit for Phil Drabble

Drabble was an old- fashioned naturalist, conservationist, and hunter of the kind we may not be breeding anymore. He kept lurchers and pigeons and hawks, and wrote books like A Weasel in my Meatsafe, Badgers at my Window, and Of Pedigree Unknown.

He was not easily crossed, either. From the Guardian obit:

“Just after Phil Drabble started his 90-acre nature reserve, hunting hounds invaded it and began scattering the deer. When Drabble asked the huntsman to remove them, he was told that the hounds had followed their fox into the reserve, as they were legally entitled to do. After some discussion Drabble went back to his house to fetch his rifle. In full view of the hunt, he pushed in a cartridge. “Now are you going to take them out?” he inquired. They were taken out. Somehow, after subsequent frank conversations with the hunt, he found himself invited to its supporters’ dinner.”

Read, of course, the whole delightful thing, and raise a glass to his 93 well- lived years.

New Dawg

Our friend Henry Chappell over at Home Range writes a good story about getting his new pup: a field-bred (ain’t no other kind) mountain cur. She’s a cutie.

Incidentally, I’m always impressed by blog posts with dialog.

“You don’t say?”

I do. Chappell blogs like a writer of quality print features, which he is. There’s dialog, character development, humor and a point. I appreciate the free copy!