We have a well traveled bridge. Since most of our property is on the other side of the river, along with the bulldozer, several tractors, the main herd and the momma cow with her twins, several trips a day are made over our personal bridge across the Nehalem Rivier.
During one of our trips on the way back to the house, we were involved in a commuter problem. As we crested the top of the bridge and headed down the other side, there was a momma cow and her calf resting comfortably on the rock road that leads off the bridge.
The raised edges of the bridge made it impossible to go around this pair who were comfortably lounging in our path.
We stopped the Gator and waited for momma to stand, stretch and slowly move her calf out of the way.
Good thing we did not have to call a tow truck for this stall.
Little and big alike plunge right in as they head across the river to the next area for the fast growing grass. Calves as young as a few hours old are able to ford the river. They walk upstream, right by their mothers side and the current holds them firm against the belly of their mom as they walk across.
The calf by itself in the middle is more than a month old and does not worry about being close to mom now that it understands how to ford the river by himself. On the other hand, the calf will never cross the river without being part of the herd. If he misses the event at the time the whole herd crosses, he will wait on the far side until his mother comes to escort him across. In the meantime, there is a lot of bellowing and crying back and forth until the family is re-united.
This herd was being sorted and moved this day so that they can graze around the far hay field. The field itself has already been closed off for grazing while the grass grows for the upcoming hay crop.
The herd is familiar with the the rotation of areas and are happy to move from one spot to the next with little prompting.
Down near the river, under the maple trees, logs washed in during the high water we had this winter.
As we were dragging the harrow around the far field, we noticed the 3 log sized trees wedged in and around the big maples.
This area is outside the hay field and the big maples are a favorite spot for the cows to hang out during the hot summer days. Before the summer gets into full swing, I’ll start cutting up the logs into firewood and hauling them to the house a Gator load at a time.
It’s a hazard if the trees were left where they are because they could start a log jam that could cause damage when they broke loose during extreme flooding.
Finally, I see a red tinge to the alders that line the river.
This is a sure sign that they have started their spring emergence. The dull look that they have had all winter and through all the snows and rain now sport a bit of red on the tips of the branches. It’s the catkins that give the alder trees their first touch of color after the winter.
The alder is native to Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. It is a valuable shade tree for the waters of all the streams and rivers in the area. Before long, the red color will be lost amongst the green foliage that will cover the tree and provide that needed shade. For now, it is a wonderful sight to see spring about to burst forth.
Trees needing planted along the riparian zone this day had only me to do the work because everyone else had other important stuff to do.
So I loaded the John Deere Gator with seedlings, a couple of shovels, and extra rain clothes to stave off the inclement weather. Then I had to load the dogs because they were begging.
During the wet, rainy and cold day, I paused and realized my day alone was not solitary. The dogs were guarding the trees and Gator, the herd cows were close by just in case I decided to feed them some hay, and a couple of bald eagles were cavorting around between the hillside and the river.
There may not be good conversation going on, but it was an enjoyable day out along the river.
Most of the snow is gone from the fields and where ever it had fallen naturally. The driveway, roads and any paths that were compacted still are icy.
Driving the Gator on the ice is fairly easy, but stepping off can be a whole new scenario.
This is Mike and the dogs loaded with the morning hay coming down the driveway and headed for the cows across the river.
The river is still pretty high while the last of the snow and ice is melting. The cows will not try to cross back over, they are usually pretty smart about staying on the side that feeds them.
The two bald eagles have been guarding the river closely these days.
They can be seen swooping low to watch the water then soar high above the hillside in an air-dance frolic with each other. Occasionally they will sit for hours while they wait for a rain shower to clear, or for their wings to dry before taking off on another hunting jaunt.
These two adults have been a part of the area for several years now and prefer to hunt and rest together. We do not know if they are a couple or what sex they are. Sam showed up first, it just seemed patriotic to name him after ‘Uncle Sam.’ A couple of years later, ‘Yul’ showed up to complete the name, Sam and Yul…Samuel.
The sounds they make remind me of squeaky cupboard doors as they call from one tree to the next. Even when they sit close to each other, the squeaks continue.
Once aloft the familiar cry, the high-pitched iconic squeal, pierces the air as they protect their hunting route.
These birds monitor the river in anticipation of salmon as they complete their life-cycle of returning to fresh water after spending a year or two out in the open sea. The salmon make a harrowing journey back up into fresh water to their own spawning area in order to procreate only to perish in the water from which they originally were hatched. The change from fresh water to salt water was an easy transition for the fish, the change back from salt water to fresh water is impossible for the salmon and they die within a couple of weeks of entering the river. Carcasses of the fish float to the sides of the river after spawning, where the eagles pick the bones clean in short order.