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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.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

First Seasons: Little Juniper

Growing up my family had horses. I ended up doing some feeding and lots of "scooping", but never really got into horses with the same passion as my sister (this passion continues to this day - and is passing to her girls as well). My parents, being kind and thoughtful, asked what animal(s) I would like to raise. I chose dogs. Chesapeake Bay Retrievers to be exact.

What I didn't know (nor they) is that getting a Lab would have been so easier. We looked for months. Litters of Lab puppies came and went. We finally had to order a puppy from Nebraska. My first hunting dog. The years make memories sweeter, but one thing has become clear. She was a hell of a dog. Few dogs and boys got to hunt as much as we did and after I left for college, she and my Dad continued the Fall hunts for fowl and Spring and Summer hunts for moles and voles.

Since then there have been Labs. Chesapeake's are wonderful dogs and someday, maybe, I'll have another. But they are a little stinky (they produce a natural oil for waterproofing), a little aloof and territorial. Labs seemed safer as we moved from state to state and townhouses to the country.

Little Juniper joined us in May. Named for a stellar Lab we met a few years back and after a favored family tree. June. Juneberry. Junebug. She's been a handful - as lab pups are wont to be. But slowly, now in her seventh month, she's coming into her own.

Last week she went on her first real hunt. Along with two boys, I knew I'd have my hands full. The boys piled into the duck blind (after I broke ice and set decoys!) and the little dog and I went for a walk. Ducks flew, shots were fired, birds missed. We had a splendid, action filled Thanksgiving Eve.

Her first bird came in the last hour of the hunt. Low flying Canada Geese passed unscathed over the boys and kept their low flight towards me and the pup. Leaning back I pulled the trigger and 16 lbs of bird soared 75 yards into deep grass. We gave chase. When the pup spotted the running bird (geese can run - ask a golf player) she gave chase, pounced and held the bird there. She gave an attempt at a retrieve - but that wasn't going to happen. She stood there - over the bird. Waiting for me to come and retrieve what she had caught.

My first goose in almost 20 years. Her first bird ever. Walking back to the boys and then back to the car with a new dog outfront, having had her first true hunt, it became another - of a long line of shinning moments spent chasing wild creatures, learning with and from them. Connecting more deeply to place and each other - both two and four-legged.