Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Bison Roundup

This is a bison.  He is basically a cow, only bigger, much faster, leaner, and tougher.  He can outrun a horse and can jump a 4 foot fence.
In the middle of the Great Salt Lake, there is a state park called Antelope Island.  I have done a lot of photography out there over the years.  One of the interesting aspects of the island is that they keep a wandering herd of bison. The island is about 12 miles long and a few miles wide, so there is a good bit of space.
You can see the bison in the distance, but the clue they were missing is this horse with a saddle on it.
OK, the more obvious clue is the dozens or even hundreds of horse trailers, horses and cowboys.
It is the annual Antelope Island Bison Roundup. The island can maintain a healthy herd of about 500 animals, but with no natural predators, their numbers swell most years.  They are all rounded up, checked for health, given some vaccinations, and then some number are auctioned off.
Some of those auctioned off become meat.  Others become breeding stock.  Some are used as trainers for cutting horses.  Apparently Bison are much more challenging to herd than cows.
The riders start at the south end of the island and start moving the animals along, picking up groups as they go.  Once they get moving, the idea is to keep them moving so they don't stop and ponder their alternatives.
To be a participant, you need to bring your own horse and pay something like $50.  People come from all over to participate.  I guess there just aren't many chances to round up bison.

This offers an interesting perspective.  The long line of dots is the bison being driven along near the base of the mountain.

You have to double-click on this one to see all the detail.  The bison are on the hill, but so are lots and lots of cowboys.  There was clearly a surplus. They pushed them up this hill. When they got them to the top, they let the animals rest for about an hour so they wouldn't be too stressed for the last 30 minute push.
These riders were part of the surplus.  They seemed quite content just following along, chatting up a storm.
The cowboys now have most of the island cleared and the animals gathered to go into the large pens.  This was the first time I saw the bison start turning around and trying to head the other direction.  I think it was finally dawning on them that this was not a good thing.
Credit where credit is due.  This large bull decided there was no way in hell he was going to follow all his friends into that fenced in trap.  He just stopped.  Period.  The best guidance I heard the entire day was "You can herd a bison anywhere the bison wants to go."   They apparently avoid trying to force these big bulls to go in.  They get very angry, can hurt riders and can kill bison calves.  This one got to spend the night outside the pens.
We were there on Friday, which is the day to go if you want to see much. Saturday is left to go find and corral the remaining 5% that were off exploring on their own.

If you haven't seen this before, it is definitely worth a trip.  The only cost is the standard admission into the state park and it is very easy to get around and watch the events.  The real herding started around 9:00.  We got there by 8:00 because we weren't sure where to be or how things would proceed.  If you go, just be there in time to get to the Fielding Garr Ranch at the far end of the island by about 8:45.  That's where all the action starts and there are lots of people who can tell you where to be, and perhaps more importantly, where not to be.  Bring lunch and drinks.  The concession stand is closed for the year.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Trekking back to NC

My poor, ignored blog.  I think it goes hand in hand with my poor, ignored photography.  Haven't been doing much of either.  I was going to head out and FINALLY do some star photography, so it immediately clouded up.

Julie and I made a trip back to North Carolina, visiting both Asheville and Raleigh.  Asheville is still at the top of our list for where we would live next if we left Park City.  The first day we settled in and then went for a realtor tour through a neighborhood we liked called the Cliffs at Walnut Cove.  No serious shopping.  Just seeing what kinds of neighborhoods are available.

That evening, our friends John and Pattie Steigerwald drove up from Cary to stay with us.
Part of our time in Asheville was supposed to be spent golfing.  We wanted to play a round in the neighborhood we had looked at and another at the Grove Park Inn's course.  We managed to get in a fairly wet round at Walnut Cove.  The course was beautiful, even in the less than ideal weather.
We went from damp, to drizzle, to rain, and back again. And again.  And again.
The course plays long already, but when your balls don't roll at all, it gets tough!  I would tell you what I scored, but I quit counting.
The next day we were driving by the Asheville Country Club.  You can see that the entire course was just a wee bit short of a  pond.  Standing water was everywhere and the predominant sounds was "squish".
Here is the cart path bridge across what would normally be a tiny creek.  Needless to say, that was the end of our golf plans.  We spent the rest of our time wining, dining, and looking at art.
We were staying at a really nice little VRBO house a few miles north of downtown.  It was perfect for two couples.  If you haven't tried VRBO, it is a great way to rent.  It stands for Vacation Rental By Owner (www.vrbo.com) and you can get anything from a shack to a mansion.  You have to be careful about anything that looks too good to be true, but we have used it for rentals all over the country.
Even with the rain, we spent a lot of time out on the porch.  It was very comfortable.
On each side there was a bedroom with a new king bed and its own bath.  All nicely decorated.
On several of the evenings, we wandered into the downtown area for dinner.  Asheville has some awesome restaurants and they are priced much more reasonably than Park City.  We didn't go for a ride on the wandering peddle bar, but they seemed to be having a great time.
From Asheville we headed to Raleigh, mostly to see family and friends.  Unfortunately the rain went with us.  Jumping to the conclusion, it rained EVERY SINGLE day I was in NC.  They actually set a record for consecutive days of rain.  I got up to fly back to Utah.  Sunny, clear skies.  That really wasn't fair.

While in Raleigh, we went to an NCSU football game.  I didn't take pictures there.  Why?  It was raining of course.  And we lost to Louisville.  When you only get to go to one game a year, you think they could get around to winning.

Jim and Carmella Saunders were kind enough to put us up, yet again and we got to see their lovely daughters.   Still so sad that as bright as they are, they both went to UNCheat.  We got to see family and friends at almost every meal of every day.  Still a nice trip, even though I was wrinkled like a prune when I headed back for Utah.

Settled back into Utah again and hoping to go out and shoot some photos.