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Copyright 2009 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

 

Dog Hair & Mule Sweat

with Natalie Riehl

editor@rockymountainrider.com

 

August 2009 Issue

 

 

     We’re under siege at our place! It’s the summer of the Twenty-Year Grasshopper Cycle and it seems ALL of them have landed in our garden and pasture. I know that’s an exaggeration, because I’m sure that most of you reading this column have also got your share of the hard-shelled winged creatures.

     If I walk through some tall grass, a zillion spring away from my footfall. The beans, peas and sunflower leaves in the garden resemble lace curtains. The iris leaves and zinnias look like someone has taken pinking shears to them.

     I stopped in at a local feed store and they recommended trying a bag of Nolo bait. These are bran flakes infected with a disease specific to grasshoppers. It’s billed as a “biological insecticide.” The hoppers eat it, and when they die, young hoppers cannibalize the bodies, and infect themselves. The feed store assured me that people who had used Nolo bait last year, had come back to buy more this year.

     So it’s been sprinkled near the garden, and put in tin cans with the ends cut out to act as bait stations. The question we have is: So if we kill off a few thousand around the house and barn, there are millions more beyond our fenceline, and won’t they, too, be coming in for our tomatoes, beans and other assorted produce?

     I try not to encourage the cats to hunt the hoppers. They love the stalk and the pounce, and they frequently eat what they catch. And you know, don’t you, where the partially-eaten grasshoppers end up? Clue: Indoors, in an unsightly, undigested pile.

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     I hope you enjoy our Annual Families and Horses Photo Album. We are delighted that so many of our readers have sent us photos of both adults and kids working and recreating on horses. Look for the smiles and faces of contentment on the faces of the humans — they know that a life without horses wouldn’t be at all enjoyable.

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     My dad and I used to ride together when I was a teenager. We lived in Fort Collins , Colorado , and Dad was a big hiker who only occasionally went riding on a weekend. I owned a couple of bay Quarter Horses of Three Bars extraction, and we would load them up in the trailer, and haul them either north to ranch country at the Colorado–Wyoming border or east to the Pawnee National Grasslands.

     We would take a lunch and ride for four or five hours. Most of our rides were on open land and not on trails, and I learned that I had a better sense of direction than he did for getting us back to the trailer. He may have been “Mr. Topo Map” when he was climbing peaks in Colorado , but we did not have detailed maps of the areas in which we rode.

     When we came upon wire gates that we had to pass through, we took turns dismounting to open and close the gates. Dad always teased me by bowing slightly, holding out his palm, and saying, “Baksheesh! Baksheesh!” This, of course, meant that he was suggesting I give him a tip for his gate-opening services, and I can still see the amused smile in his eyes as I rode past him, leading his horse. Ah! He had quite a sense of humor…

     Looking back, I believe these rides were probably the only times I ever had “one-on-one” time with my dad. I don’t recall what we talked about, but it seemed we chatted the entire time we were a-horseback. This differed from hikes with him, when he seemed to prefer inward reflection and was not talkative at all.

     I keep a postcard of the Pawnee Buttes taped to my computer at work. When I look at it, I muse, with a little melancholy, about the “quality time” I spent with my dad on those rides. And they are rooted in my brain as “quality memories.”

 

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Copyright 2009 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

 

 

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