The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is BULL
This is dry land. Some crop land, a lot of pasture and hay with patches of brush. On prairie soil maps the soil in this area is classified as “dune sand” – not much worry about getting stuck in mud after a rain. Plus it’s rather saline, not suitable for a lot of trees and shrubs.
Buffalo berry, wild sagebrush, some wild rose bushes and chokecherries are the natives here. Silver Buffalo Berry (shepherdia argentea) is a very hardy, slow growing shrub found around sloughs, in coulees, and on light soils across the prairies. Buffalo berries, like chokecherries, are food for birds. The shrub is blessed with natural deterrent: deer won’t eat silver-leafed bushes and cattle seem to leave it alone, too. It can handle this alkali soil so it survives here. Ditto with sagebrush (artemisia tridentata)
As I said, we have a lot of pasture and cattle. There are a few dairies so we see some Holsteins, but mainly black Angus beef cattle. Some farmers have a mottled mix and I’ve seen the odd animal with long horns, indicating some Texas ancestry. Pasture grass is not lush here; beef cattle growers need to have a fair number of acres per animal and supplement with hay in winter & spring. We often see round hay bales being transported on flatbed trailers or sitting in neat rows in fields.
In spring and early summer we’ll see a few bulls in a pasture by themselves, or even one lone bull grazing or lazing. Contented or bored – one never knows. In early July they’ll be called upon to do their duty again, so calves will be born in April. Obviously calves have a much better chance of survival if the worst of winter is past. Calving is a hectic time for local ranchers, who must be near at hand, checking cattle frequently, to be sure no complications develop that will cost them a calf.
Light as it is, in the Dirty Thirties this soil really blew. Wannabe homesteaders picked a 160-acre quarter section at some govt office–usually the Land Titles Office in Winnipeg. Did the homesteader threw a dart at the huge map there? Most of them had no clue what they were getting and no idea how to farm this dry country.
However, they got the land and it was their business to farm it, until people realized – and the govt finally admitted – that some land may be open prairie, easy enough to plow, but NOT suitable for constant cultivation. And for sure not deep plowing. After the 1930s the govt bought back huge chunks of land in this area and designated it as community pasture. So it is to this day. From time to time we see mini cattle drives down our road, moving cows from the community pasture just east of us to pastures just west of us.
Inspired by today’s prompt, I hope my little ramble has given you a little picture of what we see in our area.
Old Angus sits in the shade
4 thoughts on “Rambles In Sand”
You’ve described the San Luis Valley with a couple of differences in native plants. We don’t have true sagebrush or buffalo berries. “We” have a beautiful Hereford bull who’s now on duty in various fields. It’s his photo on the prompt. 😀
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A handsome specimen. Herefords were once more common here — now we see some white-faced Angus cattle to remind us of those days. I’d really like to see the desert lands, but I suspect my long-trip days are done.
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A really descriptive piece with a bit of history for good measure!