Monday, June 13, 2011

More than wildflowers

“I like it,” said Omaha middle schooler Makayla Lieb when asked what she thought about the native shortgrass prairie and wide-open spaces of the EJE Ranch south of Kimball, Neb.

Makayla had made the long trek out from the big city with friends Faith and grace Evertson, who also live in Omaha. Grace and Faith’s Dad Andy, an Omaha Firefighter, grew up on the EJE. He brought his kids and their friend out to experience the beauty of the shortgrass prairie in spring.

City girls cool off in a stock tank June 4 during the fourth annual Wildflower Week celebration on the EJE Ranch south of Kimball, Neb. From left: Faith Evertson, Makayla Lieb, Grace Evertson, Andy Evertson, all of Omaha. Click on the picture for a larger image.
In addition to participating in the wildflower event, Andy gave the girls a comprehensive tour of the ranch and of Kimball -- including the swimming pool and Dairy Queen. Old hat for his kids, but I believe Makayla was enchanted.

Three friends from Omaha pause along a canyon wall June 4 during The fourth annual Wildflower Week celebration on the EJE Ranch south of Kimball, Neb. From left: Makayla Lieb, Faith Evertson, Grace Evertson. Click on the picture for a larger image.
The Omahan’s trip coincided with the fourth annual Kimball Wildflower Week celebration, hosted by the ranch as part of Nebraska’s state-wide Wildflower Week Celebration.

Saturday was actually a make-up event, following the rain-out on the event’s previously scheduled day, May 28.

While May 28 was cold and soggy, June 4 was just about perfect. The sky was deep and blue and clear, with hardly a cloud to be seen. A south breeze was just enough to be cooling without being bothersome. The temperature topped out in the mid-70’s.

And following a couple weeks of much needed spring rainfall, the prairie was vibrantly green and flush with colorful wildflowers.

A group of wildflower enthusiasts move along a canyon trail June 4 during the fourth annual Wildflower Week celebration on the EJE Ranch south of Kimball, Neb. Toward the back of the group is an avid reptile hunter and his trusty assistant. Click on the picture for a larger image.
Turnout for the event was a bit smaller than in recent years, due mainly to the last-minute postponement of last week’s event. From my perspective, however, the number of participants is far less important than the fact that I can share the beauty with those who don’t get to see it every day.

One participant, five year-old Aaron Gilming of rural Bushnell, Neb., came prepared to “catch a lizard.” Arriving at the ranch, he climbed down from his father’s pickup with a clear plastic reptile case. Though he didn’t manage to find a lizard, he did capture a great plains toad, which clearly pushed his day onto the success side of the ledger.

In addition to sharing the natural beauty of the ranch with everyone who attended, I was also able to talk a bit about what we do on the ranch. Though by no means comprehensive, my talk was aimed at pointing out the differences between the reality of ranching and the more commonly held ideas most people have about where their hamburger comes from.

I kept my remarks brief and too the point, though, and let the prairie and the peacefully grazing cattle tell their own story.

The smiles I saw, the joy of discovery and delight in the beauty all around – these things pushed the day on the success side of my ledger. I can’t wait to do it again next year. Stay tuned to this space for details of the 2012 – and FIFTH annual – edition of Wildflower Week on the EJE Ranch.

No comments:

Post a Comment