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The Ministry For The Future

Six weeks ago, I got a tip from Yvon Chouinard about a book. He said it was a must-read. He held the book up to the screen on our Zoom call, pointed to it, and smiled. He shook his head. “You got to read this book,” he said. “This guy’s thought of everything.”

BY THE DARK OF THE MOON

There are almost no artificial lights on this ranch. We don’t find them comforting. In fact, we on the Cheyenne River Buffalo Ranch love the darkness of natural night and embrace it as an element of nature as essential as grass at our feet, wind in our faces, or the sound of coyotes from four directions. It is Dark Skies week around the world...

Erney 1940–2021

Erney Hersman is dead and the world is now a darker place. The call came in earlier this month, the ringing penetrating my dreams at four o’clock in the morning, and I waited a beat before I picked up the receiver. It was the night nurse at the rest home where Erney had been for over a year. “It was another stroke,” she said. “He passed peacefully”.

The Winter of Our Discontent

I have always thought of myself as a refugee from the clutter and decay of population centers. We live thirty-five miles from the nearest store; thirty-five barren miles is what I was searching for when I moved here. It is something of an animal oasis, a utopian community for people, dogs, and birds. But this COVID winter has threatened our tranquility.

Call to Duty

I’ve been thinking about all the people who have answered the call to duty for the United States of America, about the sacrifices many of them have made for love of this country.

Space

A friend from Saint Louis came out for a week’s visit. Laurie is a doctor but writing a novel and she needed a little peace and quiet, so we offered her the bunkhouse. The bunkhouse is hardly peaceful or quiet, given the fact that it is attached to the dog kennel and the mews, where I keep the falcons. We told her what to expect: Dogs howling at the coyotes most of the night, falcons eechipping every time they saw me crossing the yard.

Autumn

It’s that time of year again. This September came quickly and burst forth with a 77-degree drop in temperature. On Saturday, it was 106 degrees with the kids begging to go down to the river to swim, fish or just lie in the shallows. Tuesday morning it was 29 degrees with a crust of ice on the windshields.

Summer of 2020

The summer of 2020 has been pretty bleak. The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many of us to the brink. Despair of businesses struggling or closed, workers without jobs, school openings uncertain.

Wild Idea and POC

Though we strongly support Black Lives Matter and People of Color (POC), we rarely even see black people. Some people and companies in the American West use this fact as an excuse to disengage from the current upheaval in our current race relations. That excuse is both ignorant and cowardly.

Buffalo vs Bison

One question that we often receive is: “What is the difference between buffalo and bison?" Quite simply, both names refer to the same animal. Understandably, this has caused some confusion, but both terms are used interchangeably, and both are accepted.

Restore, Regenerate, Reclaim

There is an 80-acre patch of ground in the center of our buffalo ranch that sometime in the past was plowed up and planted with crested wheatgrass. Whether the work was done using modern, John Deere–type equipment or by a couple of guys behind a mule pulling a beat-up harrow, hand-broadcasting seed, I do not know. But I’m pretty sure however it was done, the people that did it believed that they were improving the land.

Sharing Our Solitude

I’ve always been pretty good at social distancing. Hell, I’ve been practicing it for sixty years.  Writing and ranching are both solitary pursuits, so since college days, I have pretty much lived alone. It has never been unusual to go for days without coming in contact with another human being. But, until the last few weeks, it has mostly been my choice to be alone.
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