Local Antelope

Part of our local herd of antelope heading up one of the hills below our home.

We often seen antelope that come through our property and the adjacent state land (aka “BLM” or Bureau of Land Management land). I took the photo above on my way back to our house as they were heading up the hill to our back yard.

They are quite skittish and mostly keep to the wide open spaces. It’s a sight to see them run. As our fastest land mammal, they can clock upwards of 55mph. (My husband refers to them as speed goats). I’ve spooked them near our home before and they are amazing sprinters and will zig zag to avoid predators.

Grazing most of our front yard.

Lo and behold, once I parked my vehicle in the garage and allowed the yard to return to quiet again, they began hopping over and stepping through our wire fences to graze our land.

Grazing near our loafing sheds.

This was just a few antelope of the overall herd that often wonders through. The vast majority of them stayed off our place but this group must have felt a bit more brave in wanting to explore the remaining patches of prairie grass we still have here in winter. While the natural grasses here look yellow and dead, they are very much still alive.

The antelope moved here and there across our front yard and then began to head back towards the sunny plains beyond the shadow of the hills.

Back into the sun and more grass to graze.

They finally joined the rest of their herd which was already wandering off to the south. In no hurry, they meandered along their journey of grazing and avoiding people and cars.

Moon Reflections at Night

In tidying up photos on my computer recently, I found this one that reminded me of the calm before the holidays descended back in mid-December.

I had begun to crawl into bed for the night and with the lights off my attention was taken by the unusual glow of the moon in combination with the blue tones in the sky with the twinkle of a few stars that were starting to become visible. I snagged my phone off of the night stand and gave it the best shot I could at taking the photo. (Anyone who has ever tried to photograph the moon or stars at night with a smart phone knows, it’s never a great shot). But there was just something about the fact that while it wasn’t a perfect capture of the moon, it was not a bad capture of the sky’s dark blue tones with the stars.

A pair of windows is positioned just over the head of our bed and it makes for wonderful stargazing if I lay on my back and look upwards through into the night sky. On this night I knelt on my pillow and stared outwards at the candle-colored moon glow over the valley that our house sits above. The sky was unusually clear and almost everything out there was illuminated (apart from the light you see in the grass from our security lights).

It just goes to show that it is not always the perfect picture that we enjoy so much, but it’s what we felt and what we remember when we see that photo later that makes them enjoyable. This picture reminds me how in awe I was to be able to see light from the sun reflecting off of the moon, to the dark side of the earth, is a wonder and creates such beauty for our eyes to feast on.

Frosty Forecast that Missed the Mark

Rocky outcroppings hidden by low-hanging clouds.

This weekend’s forecast of 6-10 inches in our area produced barely an inch (not even half) of accumulation. A lot of ice, a lot of short hoar frost, but not the major weather even predicted.

Our area is notorious for poor weather forecasts. Based on my time living here (five years so far), it seems 8-9 of every 10 meteorological estimates are a total miss or greatly off.

We could still see the valley and meandering North Fork Crow Creek this morning.

The stillness of this kind of winter is contemplative. Especially when one is a bit isolated. Weather has a way of slowing us down, making us more thoughtful about moving around and other things. It is almost like a frozen hall pass to stay in, do only the necessary and stop the rush of things.

Curtains of gray wrap around nearly every horizon.

This coldness, despite the lack of accumulation, wrapped everything in sight in gray blankets of clouds, fog and frost.

Minor hoar frost appears on some surfaces.

I never get tired of seeing hoar frost. It is a bit magical having come from the southeastern US where I had not seen it before. I suppose that as long as I live where it appears, I will always want to step outside and look at it.

Exterior door handle with frost.

Even as I turned around on our front porch to head back inside after my impromptu photos, there is a little Jack Frost there on the door too.

Porch post with frost following the wood grain.

Even the wood grain of the posts that support our front porch put on their own little show of crystalline frost when examined closely enough to see. This is just the start of winter here, so I look forward to a few days of warming trends hopefully soon until the next batch of frozen stuff comes around.

December Cold Colors

Before the preparation for the holidays took hold, I ran outside on a cold December morning this month and snapped this sunrise with my iPhone. Admittedly it is getting more difficult to motivate myself to step outside on some of our frigid mornings lately.

With fiery colors like these, I liked looking at the rest of the sky and land in this frame. The eye inevitably is tugged back to the brightest point of the shot, but it’s an interesting look to instead follow where the gravel road travels and consider the rock formations on the hills too. In a way, it leads one to wonder what else lies to the right of the focus points here (hint – more rocky hills).

Photos like these remind me that so much more is to come next year in the spring and summer when we can see these sunrises when things are green and growing again – so much to look forward to!

First-time Steller’s Jay Sighting

There are not many types of birds frequenting our little ranch house so far, but I was treated to a first-time sighting of a Steller’s Jay outside of my office window recently. My initial reaction was it was a Blue jay in shadows, but once I realized it was sitting in full sun I did a double-take to re-check what I was seeing.

So far, it has only been by the house this one time that I know of. Hopefully we will see it again. It was a beautiful painting of blue in motion to see it flit from branch to branch and then hop onto a caged feeder we had nearby. Just as soon as I realized it was there, it had flown off but I at was able to snap a quick photo or two before it departed. What a treat!

Our Only Tree

On our new property, we have just one tree on our nearly twelve acres. It is surrounded by wintering vegetation and the dried remainders of past trees that could not weather the elements. But somehow, this one tree has made it to a grand height of almost six feet and stands alone.

We are going to take very good care of this one. It has moxie.

Admin Update

Hopefully in the last 24 hrs any subscribers did not receive a number of duplicate posts from me, I’ve moved this site back to WordPress.com (more to come on that later perhaps but it’s mostly related to technical issues).

The reason you might have received some emails is that there was a technical glitch relating to the domain coming over correctly that I had to seek help on from the wonderful folks at WordPress. The result was having to re-upload several recent photos again after the move, but apologies if anyone woke up to loads of update notifications today and wondered why.

That should be it though, and the move is complete.

Morning Gratitude

There are not many daily experiences as visceral as a beautiful sunrise here on the high plans in southeastern Wyoming. This property we just moved into is in a location where I am pulled outside, even in the cold, to take photos like these before I miss the changes in the light.

Home sweet home early in the morning.

We have a LOT of projects with more coming for next spring. Interior and exterior updates are on the books too. But we are so close to winter that we are focusing on making things sturdy and sound first.

Our new ranch house has views on all sides. But for being in an elevated location to have those sights, it receives serious wind on a daily basis. The mornings are usually quiet and calm with the winds building into the afternoons. We see everything from strong gales to storm force winds (on rare occasion up into low hurricane speeds). And this little house takes it all.

This is what makes the mornings so special, though. It’s generally at this magic hour of sunrise where we don’t have those winds and it is as if anything negative from the day before has been magically erased and the new day awaits like a clean canvas.

On mornings like this one where there are no clouds or weather, the dark blue curtain begins to lift as the earth turns into the first golden light and boom – there it is: A humbling new start to feel grateful for. It is as if the universe dropped a note on your front porch to say “Here is your free pass to have a do-over today and oh, by the way, anything is possible.”

Morning sunrise overlooking part of our property facing southeast across state land.

It is usually when I’ve padded into the kitchen and started to make a cup of tea or coffee when I spy a really amazing sunrise coming up. I will grab my phone and quietly head outside to see how long I can tolerate the cold morning temperatures to snag a few shots and then dart back inside where a very impatient and hungry cat is usually waiting. It is sometimes a toss up as to how accurately cameras can reflect the true colors of the sun in a photograph, but the above and below photos were close.

Panoramic view of our front yard sunrise and the state land and ranch land to the east, south and west.

There is a lot that can sometimes be overwhelming about facing the day. Whether you are working on a fixer upper, have a big day at work, or are surviving a really crummy week. But we should take heart from what sunrises give us: The world is really beautiful, today is a new day no matter what happened yesterday and there is always something to be grateful for when the sun comes around again.

Reflections on First Snowfall of the Season

View of Table Mountain from our back deck

These are the mornings where I am going about my early-morning routine and pause to look outside, reveling in the feeling we made the right choice to move here. I do this usually while traversing between cardboard boxes and objects not located where they should be organized weeks later, still. Today was extra appreciative as we saw our first snowfall of the winter season.

A lot about this move was unusual, unplanned and did not go with the way we thought it would. But so far, the privacy and simplicity of our new home location has proven a sanctuary long awaited and worth the unusual path we took. We have connectivity via internet wireless radio transfers and it is every bit as fast as standard broadband and cable. That said, we choose to not have television for now. We don’t miss it and frankly we have been far too busy for it.

There is still so much more to do, but we are excited to be on this journey and are pacing ourselves while not forgetting to enjoy the views (literal and proverbial) as we go.