In the neighborhood

Spring has definitely arrived in our western Wyoming neighborhood – all the snow is gone and we are hoping like heck for a wet spring. Our sheep are fat in pregnancy and tired of their wool – a month ahead of our regular shearing time. Our sandhill cranes have returned, as have the trumpeter swans and western bluebirds. I even saw a shrike last week.

Busy with spring chores, it’s been great to be outside in the sunshine, and to have a few wildlife encounters. Jim and I crossed paths with our resident mule deer herd that contains a few white-tailed deer hybrids. I’ve photographed various hybrids in this herd since about 2009. This hybrid doe is a beauty, isn’t she?

Here’s a side-by-side of the hybrid doe next to a muley doe.

We also encountered a nesting pair of Great Horned Owls.  Be sure to click on these images to enlarge. The patterns in their feathers are magnificent.

Dancing for the joy of spring

Had to haul our last load of hay from our friend’s ranch on Sunday. It was very overcast and the ranch is ancient and captivating. These sandhill cranes were in the fields, and I’m sure they were dancing for the sheer joy of spring, rather than simply practicing their mating dances they will soon be performing. I was too far away for any great shots, but I think I captured the mood.

One of the herders from Nepal was finishing up the feeding for the day, putting out hay for the horses and small goat flock used as a meat source for the herders.

The old cottonwood trees on this 100-year old ranch are full of nesting raptors, including two nests occupied by Great Horned Owls.

There are lots of treasures on the ranch, including this row of wagon wheels, next to an old sheep camp that was used to the point of it decomposing into the earth.

This last shot makes me smile every time I see it. It’s our new litter of guardian puppies, firmly latched onto their mother for their dining pleasure. The pups are consuming lots of dog kibble now also, getting a minimum of three feedings a day from us, in addition to their mother’s milk.