The prairie at midday in autumn.

… sans kids, because school, and celebrated with a deli meal from the grocery store.

Cedar, elm, cottonwood, sumac, bluestem, sunflowers. This road is one of my favorite things.

One thing about the pasture is that it’s pretty much impossible to capture the feel of it in a photo. I’ve come close a few times, but the day I perfectly catch the feel of it will most likely never happen.

Every time I’m there I wonder if we could possibly retain that feel if the day ever came that we could live there, but a) I have it on good authority the answer is nope, and b) probably there will not be a chance to try it, thus c) it’s fine if I can just visit a little bit.

Earlier this week I saw a photo of Oregon Trail tracks on a ridge at Ash Hollow and that came to mind twice today while out south of Smithfield.

First: The last two times we’ve been out, Jeremy’s used a side-by-side instead of our usual four-wheeler. I honestly like the four-wheeler better for a whole host of reasons, but the side-by-side has some advantages, like it has cup holders, and you can take mineral bags and salt blocks with you, and it’s also marginally more stable on the inclines and deep-worn cow paths and whatever else.

One of Jeremy’s goals is always to find all the bulls, and here he’s figuring out how old the oldest one is because “he is looking old today” — he’s only 6 or 7 in human years, but that’s getting right up there in bull years.

I’ve never ridden in a covered wagon, just posed with them at places like Gering and Fairbury, but comparing the 14 miles per hour of the side-by-side with the 7 miles per day of an ox team — OK, I will not be complaining.

Second: It is downright difficult to find a suitable route to get from the bottom of the canyon to the top of the ridge, or vice-versa. I imagine that long, long stretch of ridge by Ash Hollow was purely a gift for the people in the wagons.

I’m always curious how all those little humpy pieces of land got there. Best guess is water, but it could be a number of different reasons. There are a bunch of them, though.

At this time of year, going through mature grasses and forbs with any degree of speed is less than fun. Zillions of seeds fly up all around and stab your eyes and creep into your clothes and itch like mad. But, I dunno, it’s hard to complain even about that — it’s still better than coming home and painting the bedroom or dealing with the computer that needs a couple updates and one of those restarts that takes 45 minutes.

Mullein — nature’s toilet paper. This one overwinters like this and then will grow the characteristic tall flower stalk in its second year.

In this part of Nebraska, fall color is a little limited. It’s nothing like, say, Maine. But the plants are still interesting. We have color and texture. Just got to keep your eyes open.

Buffalo burr — nature’s backup for barbed wire.

And if someone asks you what animal has the best life, I hope at least one contender would be the beef bull at his prime. Man, that guy totally has it made.

The bull that’s second from left was sound asleep on his feet. We kinda surprised him when we pulled past six feet away.

2 thoughts on “The prairie at midday in autumn.

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