The site of the old cabin
This scene takes me back 80 years to my early childhood. Left of lower center one can see the skeletons of two dead Lombardi poplar trees. Originaly there were four of these trees set around a spring-fed well. About 30 or 40 feet behind and to the right of these trees stood a small three-room board cabin. A few hundred yards up Cattle Creek to the right were pieces of iron and a chopped up boiler, reminants of an old whiskey still. In later years I refered to the cabin as a “moon-shiner’s cabin.” Norton, an older brother of mine, was living in this cabin when I arrived in May 1934.
My mother died in January ’34 while our home was in Boise, Idaho. My step-father left Boise and placed me in the care of my oldest brother, Stanley, presumably so I could finish out the school year at Park School. My grades in school were always average or above. Soon my grades began to fall and I was behind my classmates in learning. One day a representative from the Welfare Department paid us a visit at home inquiring about my well being. Shortly thereafter I was whisked away from all this to live with Norton in the cabin mentioned above. I never finished the 6th grade. I was just 12 years old.
Summer rolled around and Norton found work during the haying season about three miles away. He would come home from work every night and leave early the next morning. My chore was to milk the old Jersey cow and take care of the calf. What was a poor kid to do that had been brought up in the city with playmates and people around? Here on Cattle Creek the closest neighbor was a mile away and they were elderly with a grown daughter. Our cabin was located a mile off the Pleasant Valley road about 12 miles south of Jordan Valley, Oregon. Teddy, our dog, was my sole companion during most of my waking hours during those hot summer days in 1934. Teddy and I roamed about in this desolate sagebrush landscape with nothing particular in mind. I was lonely.
Mother Nature came to my rescue and introduced me to flowers, birds and other wildlife. I got acquainted with a nest of Brewer’s blackbirds and the Bullock’s Oriole which I called a canary. I recall a group of Sage Grouse, Red-tailed Hawks, ground squirrels and snakes. My first encounter with a rattle-snake was when one entered an open door and rattled a warning when I started through the room. All of these things and many more experiences flashed across my mind when I revisited this scene 80 years later. While I feel sorry for this orphaned waif thrust into early hardships I am grateful for lessons learned as a result.
After a day checking bluebird nestboxes we came upon this scene. A doe muledeer and her two fawns were at this abandoned saltlick. We slowly brought our car to a stop and watched the deer as they licked the salt saturated soil. They didn’t show any alarm until we started to depart. I imagine that they settled down and satisfied their hunger for salt after we drifted from sight.
The dry deserts in Owyhee county offer scenic vistas and wildlife unique to this area and worth the trip any time of the year.
In my lifetime I remember when Osprey were considered quite rare in southwestern Idaho. Now it seems like one can find a nest of these magnificent creatures almost anywhere near a creek, river or body of water. If you see one of these large birds passing by overhead look closely and you might see a fish clutched in its talons. It’s probably headed to its nest to feed its nestlings. These birds have learned to carry their prey head foreward to decrease air resistance in flight. Its just another example showing that intelligence is not a gift given only to humans.
Outside the window I see patches of snow on the brown frozen turf. Buds may be starting to swell on the deciduous shrubs and trees but it is too chilly to venture out to do yard work. It is getting close to spring and cabin fever is almost unbearable. I browsed through my albums and happened upon this picture. This summer photo of a Red-naped Sapsucker helped shake the winter blaaas.
Here’s a scanned slide that was taken 40 years ago. The drive down Leslie Gulch is one you’ll never forget. Every turn opens up a breathtaking view of eroded volcanic outcrops. The views are just as spectacular as those in National Parks and Monuments. On this trip I was privileged to view a Desert bighorn sheep (not in this photo).
I browsed through some of my old photo files the other day and came across this old slide. This is my son Jim fourty-one years ago. We were into rock climbing and here he is practicing repelling. This brought back old memories. Forty some years ago we had scaled several notable mountain peaks including Castle Peak in the White Clouds, Mt. Borah, Idaho’s highest peak, Mt. Teewinot, the sixth highest peak in the Teton range, plus many rock outcrops and ledges.
I have thousands of photo slides stashed away most of which I haven’t seen for decades. It’s a difficult job to sort through box after box of forgotten slides to find photos to show friends and family. One answer to the problem is to digitize them and sort them into folders for easy access. The above photo is an example of a scanned slide. My big problem ahead is how do I go about scanning ten thousand slides? I am using a Wolverine 35mm film to digital converter. Four slides are placed in a rack and moved through the device. It takes just seconds to scan each slide. As simple as the process is I’m afraid that I will have a very long white beard before I get all of my slides processed.
Early one morniing a few days ago as I was crossing the bridge at the mouth of Daggett Creek I paused to take this photo up Mores Creek. The sun was just barely visible through the thick pall of smoke. The light in the “v” on the horizon is the reflection of the sun. The source of the smoke is the Pine Creek fire a few miles from here on the east side of Grimes Creek.
We live in the best country in the world.
Buttercups in Owyhee County
On April 28, 2013 I made a trip to my Owyhee Bluebird Trail. Many wildflowers were beginning to make their first appearance for the year. Perhaps the most notable species was the wild buttercup. I just had to share the above photo with you.
- A scene looking down the driveway this winter.
With the weather warming up and spring just around the corner I think it’s safe to look back at a winter scene. Here we are after one of our light snowfalls. I had cleared the snow from the path to the woodshed. The camera lens was set to a slight wide angle which made the house seem quite far away. I like the composition. The path leads the eye right down to the house and the smoking chimney.