Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

Well, it has happened again. The stars aligned themselves and all the pieces fell effortlessly into place. These opportunities materialized so quickly and unproblematically that I am still waiting for the hammer to drop out of the sky. You see, I am returning to the Black Hills. This area has always called to me and it is time to return….again….for the 3rd time. 2 great things happened. The first, I was offered a position that I had applied for and I was also given the opportunity to become care taker of a small ranch in the southern hills.

Now, being the care taker only involves, at present, making repairs and clean up. Only next year will the crops go in and the real work begins. I have missed eating fresh vegetables and fruits. It has been much too long and I am very much looking forward to homesteading again. For my sins, I also inherited a female companion to keep me company. She is an Australian Shepard that will need some coaching on what the words “come” and “sit” mean.

Some of the additional benefits, other than being in the back country where the local livestock consist cattle, horses, deer and elk, is the fact that there is no cell phone service, no internet service and no cable TV service. The closest store is 12 miles north or 16 miles southeast. I can not see my neighbors and I doubt I will even hear them.

I sat there the other afternoon, dog at my feet, and listened. No sounds of traffic. Only the sounds of the wind through the pines, the screech of a hawk and the grass dancing in the warm breeze. Sunset came and went with a fiery whisper and the night closed in, bringing with it the coolness of the high altitude. So, being remote, my access to posting will be limited, but I think many of my ramblings will involve the happenings here at my new home…. Tranquility at its grandest…. 

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Sitting back and contemplating my recent road trip, I can honestly say that the adventure was a success.  The only downside, if one can actually call it a downside, was that in the 3.5 hour run to Rapid, every vehicle but two passed me.  I even had one little gray haired lady crawl by me in an old Crysler and gave me a wave and a smile.  Guess I made here day. The two vehicles I had the opportunity to pass where sitting on the side of the interstate and were not really competition.  If you are wondering I am somewhat concerned with speed, I usually run at higher speeds than the Jeep I was in during this trip.  Running 37’s does not generate high speeds.

I met up with several old cohorts from my previous job and indulged in good conversation and good tequila, resulting in solving many of the world’s problems which we considered our good deed for the day.  Having people in one’s life, such as these friends, makes one realize how lucky we can be.  The stop and go trip through these craggy hills was outstanding, though having temperatures higher than 7 degrees would have made the run a more attractive, but I am not complaining.  Just being here makes life extraordinary.

Having to leave the comfort of the 80 degree interior of the Jeep and attempting to stealthily creep  closer in 7 degree temps to the wildlife I was photographing was a tiny bit difficult.  At those temps, trying to be sneaky and silent is almost impossible as the frozen soil and grass crunched with each step, alerting every living creature within miles that I was getting close.  I was somewhat successful getting near enough to the elk this way, but could not set up with the tripod as they had already heard my approach and where on guard.  Out here in the hills, the mountain lions are the high end of the food chain and everything that has a conscious need to survive stays constantly alert  in fear of becoming the next meal.

Many of the back roads where I usually drive had been gated and being the honest person that I am, I did not attept to drive around the gates.  What I did was locate those roads I knew that had no gates and back track to the back country.  There is more snow here this winter than in previous seasons and the traveling was slow..and slippery.  Airing down the tires and kicking in the lockers helped in most situations but I came across a couple spots that cowardice prevailed.  I figured that no one would know that I hit reverse and retreated from possible disaster.  It is my firm belief that cowardice and ignorance can sometimes be blessings.

Overall, I rekindled the connection I have with this back country, got to shoot a number of photos and topped it off with good conversaton with good people, so I will give the adventure a 9 (1 point lost for single digit temperatures) and I am already making plans to try it again.

ryeder… more photos

Tanka… good snacks

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