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Back of Beyond Farm is a small, family run operation in Rist Canyon, Colorado. We work closely with natural rhythms to create wellness teas from indigenous and naturalized plants. 2013 marks our 4th year of supporting our community through tasty teas. In the year ahead, we hope to continue our work of not only producing healthful teas, but also exploring the edges of what it means to farm and be a part of a place.

Friday, November 1, 2013

First Seasons: First Hunt

Blue (Dusky) Grouse season opens September 1st in Colorado. It's become, somewhat, of a tradition to head into the high mountain valleys to chase these native grouse somewhere on or around Labor Day. This was to be Makabe's first hunt of the year. And 5 month old Juniper, our Yellow Lab pup, was coming along - not so much to hunt as to burn off enough energy to buy us a reprieve from tending her craziness the rest of the weekend.

Blue Grouse aren't known as challenging birds to hunt. Not overly scared of humans, they have been given the name "Fool's Hen" for their willingness to sit tight or hop into a tree and just stare at you. You can legally hunt them with slingshots and many have been killed with sticks and stones to add to the night's dinner. The hardest part is finding them in any numbers. We had one glorious year that keeps us coming back, but other than that, they are few and far between.

The strategy this time of year is to hunt along streams and seeps, places with green forbs for them to eat, berries to pick, and water to drink and keep cool by.

First hunt: we saw some grouse. But not one shot was taken. The highlight being the boys (we often hunt with our neighbors up the canyon) swimming in Sheep Creek to cool off and Juniper trying to take in all the new scents and sights (we trailed a cow and calf moose for some time). The other highlight, not shared by the boys, was the sampling of 9 different berries by the Dads. At least once I saw eyes roll as I yelled, "Shane, over here, gooseberries!". Not many, but variety and intensity of flavor.

Hunting is so much more than harvesting that species you set out intent upon finding. Some days you replace pheasant with flowers, or ducks with roadside apples, or elk with their droppings for fertilizer. The Good Earth is always ready to give. Sometimes it's just we're not open to receiving. It will take the boys time to realize that: they're fixated on "becoming hunters" and that requires the "kill". What I'll do is model what it's like once you have become a hunter - how it can shift - how it can become even more wonderful to be afield with so many more chances to put something in the "the bag".