about it. Just do it. Legally, it's O.K. I checked that out once myself with
We shake hands
and I let him go back to fighting the machine, while I drive on back up the
road to the ridge that I named Apple Pie. If it weren't so beautiful, the hard
living that nature exacts would be slavery.
From now on I
must keep the colt in a tight corral, and I resent it every day when I toss hay
into the pen. He could just as well be out eating grass on the hillsides, but
he's no match for a dog pack.
Maybe I ought to
sell him. But with the sheep gone, the colt is the only interesting animal on
the whole ranch and a country man needs to raise something.
or move to town. Buy into one of those condominium slums they're tacking up all
over the valley. Keep a cat.
Someday I intend
to ride the colt back into the Ventana Wilderness if he turns out to have good
mountain feet. You don't want a clumsy horse carrying you on cliff-hanging
trails, nor one that will spook on a ridge back. I reckon my legs will wear out
about the same time the colt is ready.
But for now in
this birthing month of April, I enjoy long walks in the green hills, into the
primitive wilderness. I like to keep in time with the living system back up
there: bucks and does, wild boars, how many mountain lions and coyotes feeding
With binoculars I
study a group of rooting wild boar on a far hillside. A coyote lies off to one
side, his nose tucked under his tail. He has learned to travel with the herd
and live off newborn piglets. The pig population is probably determined by how
often the coyote is bored by baby pork. When he pines for a juicy wood rat or
bunny rabbit, he leaves the herd for a while and gives the little ones their
chance to grow.
The wild boar
have been moving away from the highway. There was a time when they rooted
through my front yard at night, but my guard dogs chased them out, and now the
dog packs are harassing them farther and farther away.
A few rifles and
shotguns hang on the wall of my shop, but I haven't hunted much since my boys
grew up and went to Australia. I wanted the kids to be nourished by the
least-poisoned food available, including meat, and I wanted them to know that
meat doesn't come in a plastic skin. I hunted according to my own ideas—young
does in the fall, the bucks in the spring, wild boar any season. There were no
game wardens or stray bystanders to worry you then.