I get around to a lot of places in this county. And while I read articles in the Chieftain and Observer about wolf depredations, I never dreamed I would come up on the scene of one myself. Or, I guess I should say a "suspected" wolf depredation until ODFW confirms it.
The wolves are either hungrier or getting braver, because of all places, the one I stumbled upon was within the city limits of Joseph. This is what I walked up on...
It was a massacre.
And while no cattle corpses could be identified specifically, the carnage of other livestock could not be missed...
Chickens were shown no mercy. They experienced, well, foul play.
Goats couldn't butt their way out of the attack.
"NOT THE FLYING PIG!"
Yep. I'm afraid so. His wings weren't much help this time.
Something must be done about those wolves. It's getting personal now.
At our Write Women writers group today, we were given the prompt, "Write about your first day, and you can make it up." We met at my house, and where I was seated, I had a full view of Ruby Peak. So I wrote with Ruby's voice, her first day as a mountain...
"My first day as a mountain stayed at a standstill. The previous day's pushing and pushing (or was I raised, being pulled from above?) left me exhausted.
But this morning I awakened to the sun kissing the top of my head and I am shouldered with a cape of pure white snow. I'd be chilly otherwise. Beneath my cape, I'm wearing a deep green velvet gown with folds that are highlighted with flakes of golden embroidery. Around me, vapors of wistful clouds drift by as onlookers gathered at the nursery window to see the new baby.
I am named Ruby for my red cheeks and the gemstones gathered around my neck.
I have a wonderful view of the valley below me and more mountains beyond. But for today, I am content to just stand here with my brother Joseph, and be a mountain."
A friend has been teaching me to hunt. On Monday we headed up Whiskey Creek Road, then onto Troy Road until we reached the unit boundary. It was raining all that morning. This was new country for both of us, so there was an "exploring" element to this trip.
We turned onto the north end of Tick Hill Road. My vehicle was in 4WD- High and in a short distance we were squiggling through the mud. I steadily kept my foot on the gas pedal and just kept going and going and going while mud flung onto the windshield and was tossed on either side. It seemed to never end. I began laughing. Not because it was funny- getting stuck out there had no appeal to either of us- but I was laughing out of astonishment that I was in such a pickle.
We kept telling each other that when we topped out, it would get better. We finally did stop climbing and in a big swirl we landed exactly perpendicular to the road.
When I straightened us out, we were faced with this...
Think "small pond" when you gaze upon this body of water.
We couldn't go back, so I shifted to 4WD Lo and drove on through. We did make it and squiggled our way across the flat.
We finally reached a stretch that was more tame, and when we completed the loop at the Whiskey Creek Road intersection, we both said, "Well, THAT was an adventure!"
The deer were safe that day. The weather made it too miserable for them to be out, my friend said.
I silently wondered, "Then what in the heck are we doing out here?!"
Wasn't that wind last night something?! Howling at my window, throwing things at my house and roof- broken plexiglass is scattered in my yard, so someone somewhere is missing a window. And while I appreciate the fact the yard was swept clean of maple leaves from my tree, I'm now finding locust tree leaves everywhere.
"Whose yard are these from?" I wonder.
It's interesting what thoughts a windstorm can generate. Upon seeing my neighbor begin to rake the apples in her yard, in the photo above, I ran across the street and said, "I'll take them!" I recently purchased a dehydrator and am having a lot of fun making apple snacks I'll send to my grandchildren.
I was ruminating about the word "windfall" while gathering these. Until I moved up here, I only heard the word "windfall" in the news in relation to tax breaks or corporate business.
"The etymology of that word must have come from something like this," I mused, "long before the business connotation."
Just looked it up. "Originally literal, in reference to wood or fruit blown down by the wind, and thus free to all. Figurative sense of 'unexpected acquisition' is recorded from 1540s." Thanks etymonline.com.
More wind is expected the next few days. I plan to leave time open for gathering more windfall. It's a fun word to say.
I have a buck tag in the Imnaha unit and have laid eyes upon some extraordinary scenes as friends have helped me search for the elusive "big one." We were ready for a lunch break and I spied an unusual "peak" from the distance, and drove closer to check it out.
I'm told it's a shepherd's monument, used to mark boundaries back in the day. I imagined the hillside covered in sheep, and the lost culture of those sheep herding days. So thankful Pam Royes has captured it so well in her memoir, Temperance Creek, available at The Bookloft.
On the way to La Grande last week, I first met the huge smoke plume from the prescribed burn on the Minam. I was astonished that this was scheduled in such dry conditions. When I later read the report on inciweb.com, it looked like the Forest Service had intended it to be raining, but that was not the case that day. It looked even more intense as I topped out on Cricket Flat and looked back.
However, toward the La Grande direction, in the distance was a large storm cloud dropping rain. I hoped it would head toward the Minam.
Once through Imbler, I saw other dark clouds rising from the ground and swirling, which puzzled me. They were on opposite sides of the road and I wondered if they were double tornadoes. But as I drew closer, I saw they were dust storms generated by the storm cloud sucking the soil up into the air. The soil was loose from the recent mint harvest.
It was an eerie sight.
A storm cloud sucking dirt into the air and drenching it with rain... Would that be called a "mud storm"? The wind is blowing the mixture about 40 mph across the road in front of me.
Then I looked back toward Imbler, and above the mountains and through the storm I could see the Minam smoke clouds. With the rays of the setting sun upon them, they looked ablaze themselves...
I turned once more, and of all things, there was a full rainbow! The left side was a bit faded, but the right side could not be missed.
Quite frankly, I felt afraid at the spectacle of all of this power of elements- fire, storm, wind, rain. But when I saw the symbol of God's promise, I was reassured and continued my trip.
And on the way home later that night, I followed the wet highway all the way through the Minam to home.
A 50-something woman comes home to a place she's never been before.