the morning after…

The fire was given an official name. The Woodhead Fire. I guess so named because there is a campground in the area by Brownlee Reservoir called Woodhead. I don’t know. The fire originated somewhere on Brownlee Summit. It was Labor Day and a lot of people escaped the human feedlots otherwise known as the big cities in the flatlands to hit all the campgrounds and ‘wide open spaces’ to escape the covid restrictions and congestion. Rumors abound as to what the cause was – boat motor hitting the pavement or a loose trailer chain causing sparks or a campfire from an offroad camper who couldn’t get into the campgrounds. It is a small town with small town gossip. Our county has been under a burn ban and outdoor campfire restrictions for several months. And the month-long dry spell, windy conditions and high temperatures only contributed to the volatility of it all.

Bonnie giving me the stink eye cause I chased her from sticking her head over the fence to eat the grass in the yard.

So this day, September 9, 2020, the sun arose in the usual weird orange glow from the smoky haze. The fire burned in the canyons all night. It would flare up, die down and glow for hours. Then it would flare up in another spot. We had a few more hours of sleep than the day before and a much better meal this morning than what we had the past 24 hours. Coffee, a bag of chips and an English muffin didn’t go very far and we were pretty hungry by the time the sun came up. After a good breakfast and chores were finished, we ventured out to assess the damage from the fire.

West of the barn looking northwest

SW corner
east side looking north
our ditch as it comes from the east… acted a firebreak even though we were not able to run water this year
burned from the east up over the ridge…. note the crummy part of the fence on this ridge came out okay. Go figure.
smouldering sagebrush in the middle of what once was grassland
NE corner next to BLM land – fence down and this was a fairly good section of fence.
ride up to Castle Rock
overlooking the property and assessing the lost fencing, another good section of fencing lost to fire. We worked this section over good a year ago.
back portion of the property and BLM… can see smoke from the fire still burning along the highway
Amazing that this little lizard made it through the fire
backside of Castle Rock – even the Oregon grape burned… wonder if it will come back?
the fire revealed that the one of the cows apparently had been drinking
Only the foothills can be seen, not the mountains, and they are still on fire

This is the end of our morning inspection… it was time to grab a drink of water and a quick bite to eat then head on out to the west side and the back 40 (acres) to see how well the ‘campground’ fared there.

Until next time…


2 thoughts on “the morning after…

    1. We butt up to BLM land and Forest Service is above that. There are grazing allotments which means cattle. So we have to fence them out to keep them away from our cows and bulls. And, of course, to keep them out of our paddocks. Right now those poor cows are coming off the mountain since the fire displaced them from their allotments or fences were burned and livestock are wandering in search of feed and water. So we’ll rob some fence posts from interior paddocks to put the fence back up on the perimeter. We’ll run hotwire to separate paddocks inside our perimeter until later. We are also selling some of the bred cows with their calves so that we will have enough feed to get them through the next several months until grass starts to grow again. Bulls are always for sale. Some will go to the abattoir. But the market is going to be poor – there are a lot of other ranchers who are in the same boat throughout the western states affected by the wildfires and will dump them on the market. We are seedstock producers, not commercial. We are selective in our breeding to make our livestock genetically compatible with the environment they live in and they have grass-fed genetics. They don’t get ‘special’ feed. They eat grass, not corn or fancy diets. These are cattle for the commercial guys who need a cow to be low maintenance, birth out a calf without any issues and be able to eat the forage available and not be fed in a feedlot. It has been an extremely challenging year and the fire didn’t help matters any.


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