Dave Dixon’s male pup from Ataika by Kyran, who his little daughters insisted on naming “Tazi”. I think he looks amazingly like Dor, except that, living up north in a snowy part of Utah, he grows heavy “pantaloons” every winter, which he sheds in spring. Here he is visiting us in NM last spring and has almost shed out.
Ataika and her son, Tazi’s brother Cisco, who belongs to Greg Rabourn, after a successful hare chase with Greg’s Gyr- Saker hybrid falcon, and me. Photo by Daniela Imre. (And the hawk, same).
Just a few of our successful kids. We are proud, and grateful to Sergei, Andrey Kovalenko, and the Plakhovs, as well as to Daniela and John.
It’s been another week of frequent rain and snow, but lambing is going gangbusters, and most lambs are doing really well. The vast majority of lambs do not need my assistance, but it is easier to warm up a cold lamb than it is to cool down a hot lamb, so I prefer this cool weather. Besides, my longjohns and Carhartt coveralls are so stylish that divas like me hate to put them away for the season.
The lambs run around in gangs, racing back and forth on hills, digging in loose dirt, bucking and leaping, and picking up more lambs as they run back and forth in waves, making the gangs bigger and bigger. Their mothers cry for them to come back and behave, but are ignored. If a ewe comes over to try and retrieve her lamb, she could end up with a gang of 20 hoodlums aimed at her udder, so the ewes pretty much stand back to do their complaining.
This week, I thought I’d share a few shots of my neighbors. The burrowing owl pair has picked their favorite burrow, and it’s the one in the two-track road to my camp. The size difference between the sexes is dramatic. Now that the female has a mate (last Sunday she suddenly wasn’t alone anymore) she is much more tolerant of my photography, but I’ll limit my visits.
I left a pen of five ewes at the house for some TLC when I left for sheep camp, afraid that for one reason or the other, these ewes would have a hard time out on the range. I’m pleased to report my favorite old ewe, which I raised on a bottle, had a beautiful single ewe lamb this year (she had triplets last year). Friendly is 14 years old, and has been my lead sheep for more than a decade. She’s a good old girl, and I’m pleased to continue her lineage. These ewes lay around eating alfalfa Jim feeds them twice a day. I suggested he start providing them some Vanilla Wafer treats (sheep love cookies), but he claimed he would feed them oats instead.
Les Line, the writer and editor who made the (old) Audubon into what might have been the best nature magazine in the world, has died.
Audubon has been very and appropriately kind in its obit. It doesn’t mention that they fired him in ’91 to change the magazine’s direction.
My friend Matt Miller of The Nature Conservancy informed me of his death. I wrote back what I will let stand as my own memorial:
“I knew Les and thought he was some kind of editorial genius, maybe the most brilliant natural history editor ever, publishing everybody from Peter Matthiessen and Robert F. Jones on Africa to John Mitchell (a five- part and fiercely controversial series) on hunting. He, if I remember correctly, broke the Texas eagle shooting scandal with Don Scheuler’s reporting (Scheuler may also be the first nature writer who wrote a gay memoir, though not for Audubon (;-)). Though it obviously still exists, Audubon magazine died as far as I was concerned when PC types pushed and business heads fired him, moving away from great nature writing to pure “enviro” (and both boring and routinely alarmist) stuff.
“He was also a delightfully strange man. He was ENORMOUSLY fat, had at that time– mid- Eighties?– hippie hair and a handlebar mustache, and wore things like turquoise bolo ties in his Manhattan office, where he also had a Weatherby cartridge board and a poster of a Smith & Wesson .44 mag! At Audubon!
“He took me to lunch and recommended a one- pound burger with CAVIAR and some kind of draft German beer. I ate one– he might have had two.
“It’s a cliché but they don’t make them like him anymore. I could have seen my (and my genre’s) own near-doom as popular coming when I invited him to speak about his experiences at Wildbranch Writing workshop post- Audubon and several young “writers” (none to my knowledge ever published before or since) stood up and dismissed– denounced– natural history as “irrelevant”. This at a nature writing workshop!
“I missed him even before he was gone.”
UPDATE: Miller on naturalists.
“Around 1983, I drove up to Oregon with my college girlfriend to meet her parents. They had her very late in life; she was in her late 20s, her father was in his early 80s. His name was George Engleheart (related to, and named after, the English miniature portrait painter). His family had moved from England to Mexico at the turn of the century. He was a fascinating guy: English, but only saw England when he was sent to University in his late teens. He spent his time learning Latin, Ancient Greek, drinking, and pursuing English girls… when the final exam came, he decided it was a good time to go home to Mexico. He landed a job as a geologist in Chihuahua – spending months alone in the countryside. 50 to 60 years of life passed, and we were sitting in the cold, damp basement in a rundown neighborhood in Portland. Smoking and sipping cheap wine, keeping company with his aging, incontinent, Black Lab (smoking wasn’t allowed upstairs). And here’s where the story of the Pistola Carcajada came in:
“George had been out working in the mountains by himself; after a month or so he wandered into a village after dark. Seeing a cantina, he made his way straight for it. When he stepped through the door of the lamp-lit room he noticed everyone was lining the walls, and there were only two men at the bar – standing at either end. The bartender was trying to make himself part of the bar back. Young George walked up to the middle of the bar and asked for a drink… at which point the men at the ends of the bar pulled out their guns, a Luger and a Pistola Carcajada (better known as the Colt Single Action). Caught in between, George hit the floor as the men covered their heads with their left arms and emptied their guns, then rushed for the door – fighting to get out. The ceiling ended up the only casualty of this gunfight.
“George asked if I was familiar with the Colt Single Action… oh yes, nothing feels as right as drawing back the hammer of an old or well tuned (3rd Generation), Colt SA. It truly chuckles, or laughs, with its sharp, light clicks.
“Every time I shoot one of mine I can’t help but smile and think of George.”
So I had to find this and scan it for her. Me in the yellow and old friend Mike Conca (who now has a huge white beard) at a filling station in Connecticut, 1966 or 7, on our way to the Lime Rock sports car races. Another world.
My old Montana friends John Barsness and Eileen Clarke, who run the site Rifles and Recipes, have two new projects worth your attention. John, who may be one of the best gun writers in the world– what other former poet is also a world- class gunsmith?– has started an online mag called “Rifle Loony.” It comes out four times a year for $8, and stands to become the best gun mag out there, not to mention the cheapest.
And Eileen has a new and unique cookbook, Slice of the Wild, which may have more on practical meat processing than any book written, complete with useful pix. I have always bartered for butchery ( a quarter to the butcher for his work) but if my condition allows this book could change things. As Eileen says, “Buy this book and never pay a processor again.” Even someone who already eats game as about 60- 70% of their meat, as we do, can learn a lot.
Slice also contains unique analyses of individual game animals to show how various factors influence taste, tenderness, and other meat characteristics, and a wealth of recipes for both game and side dishes that have me digging through our diminishing freezer stock. I should add that John and Eileen eat NO domestic meat and never have for the more than twenty years I have known them. She estimates they eat game 350 days a year– a friend actually said “you treat it like real meat!”
Slice is $29.95– details about it and Rifle Loony, and many more good books by both writers, at the site.
Two evocative essays, here and here, about the “pigeon warriors” of the ancient town of Urfa in southern Turkey near Syria. I have seen this, but too little, and would love to go back– will post some of my photos taken there separately later. The writer gets the atmosphere perfectly, and is a Turkish American pigeon man who knows his subject. I want the black ones with the white wing bars and jewelry!
Sane takes on impossible issues: LabRat on immigration and Holly on lead shot and bans. Holly’s commenters are unusually sane and civil too. LabRat also lays down the science on closed breed registries.They diminish genetic diversity, which is NEVER a good thing– period.
Meanwhile Denmark may not just kill all dogs of “vicious” breeds– it may kill off all mongrels as well. Way to go. Has western civilization lost its collective mind?
Matt on this NYT article on coyote coursing:
“Even if the writer wasn’t ridiculously biased, the Times’ readers would have no way of understanding a man like Hardzog. A few quotes about God and what people ought to be doing—-and a few well placed references to chewing tobacco —and the game is over. The game is substantially over, anyway. There is nothing good and real that can’t be made scary.”
Mick Jagger claims that one of the things that kept him sane midst the chaos of making Exile on Main Street was falconry!
Tom Russell, who may be my favorite singer- songwriter (and who is almost a local, based in El Paso) writes about Hemingway and Chandler. Russell is also a real blogger, worth checking often.