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Copyright 2011 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

 

June 2011 Issue  

 

 

     When I rented pasture for the mules over on the west side, the old farm came equipped with a yellow barn cat. As I was fixing fence, he’d follow me around and love to hang out nearby. He must have enjoyed the company.

     I’d put in hay for the winter into a couple of sheds, and I never had a problem with mice in the hay as long as that cat was alive. He became so old and arthritic, I could not believe that he was still able to mouse at all! I never saw him in action, but I never saw a mouse.

     Then he died. And shortly thereafter, the mice moved in and destroyed many, many small bales. Since that time, I have never taken the value of a mouser lightly!

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     Sometimes we find little presents in the house left by the cats in their attempt to “feed the family.” Yes, this can mean a wide assortment of baby mice and voles, to adult (we’re hopin’) pocket gophers. Whole rodents are much easier to dispose of than partial remnants.

     The other night, as I opened the door to let in our thin, long-legged yellow cat, Stretch, I commented, “A good mouser is worth his weight in gold.”

     Rick perked up and replied, “Considering the price of gold these days, I wonder what that’s worth? Even better, I wonder if we could find a buyer?”

     We are astounded that gold has been going up and up…and it’s now in the $1,500 per ounce range. What the heck would that cat be worth in gold? He’s a twelve-pound cat… so we did a little calculatin’. 192 ounces times $1,500. Oh, boy! He’s worth $288,000!!!!

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     An annual spring site in western Montana are the gazillions of dandelions in bloom. I find them pretty, their bright yellow contrasting with the dark spring grass, large meadows of the sunny flora in front of snow-capped peaks and bright blue sunny sky. The spring view of the Mission Mountains near St. Ignatius and Ronan is especially striking with the mountains’ steep, rugged faces covered in snow and uncountable acres of dandelions spread across the valley floor in a spring carpet.

     Rick is not so fond of dandelions. In fact, he would like a dandelion-free zone, at least in the yard around the house. “They are so huge, they look like cabbages!” he exclaims.

     Our 80-year-old friend Al, with his more-often-than-not practical mind has another opinion altogether: “What are you going to do? They are everywhere!” he exclaims emphatically with his Bronx accent. “You’ll never be able to eradicate them. Look! Every time they go to seed, there are billions and billions of them flying through the air!”

     It’s true that they are not a dangerous plant. I’m sure that he’s used young dandelion greens in salads, because when I met him 20 years ago, he used bitter volunteer lettuce growing on his place, along with lambs’ quarters in his salads. I think that Al made dandelion wine once... and even courageously drank it!

     Al’s solution to the Dandelion Problem — “They should be made the National Flower!”

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Copyright 2011 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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