When our grandparents ambled out here in their covered wagons in 1902, Grandmother described the grass as being “belly high” on a horse.
As I grew up listening to that description and her other stories of the pioneer days, I tried to imagine such tall grass but could barely picture it that high on a Shetland pony.
While driving around in Quay Valley recently, I became much aware of the tall grass and took several pictures of Aggie as she bounced along trying to see what lay ahead.
Last week, we stopped to watch some cattle grazing and noticed that the calves shoulders were covered. The cows also were more than half covered as they munched along on that beautiful grama grass.
Some of the inedible grasses are even taller, but the tasty kind is as tall as I have ever seen it in our part of the country.
For the most part, we have been pleased to see it tall enough to be knee high on a jack rabbit, but we have rarely seen it looking quite as beautiful as it now looks. Just to see the waves forming as it blows in the wind is more than a little thrilling because it reminds some of us of the beauty of wheat fields, and we surely didn’t get to admire much of that beauty this year.
We also saw quite a few cattle enjoying an afternoon siesta as they lay on the grass near some of the dirt tanks that still have plenty of water for them to drink after having their fill of good grass. I could almost hear them chewing their cuds and could see just how relaxed they were. In fact, they weren’t about to let anyone cause them to get up from their rest and just looked at us as we wandered by.
I looked back at the pictures taken in the same area just this summer and noted how those pastures had changed from almost bare land with grass so short that it wasn’t able to hold down the blowing dirt.
Very few wild flowers could be found and little green was showing.
Beginning in August, great change began to occur as the new green began to appear to cause us to squint at its brightness. A few sunflowers began to appear in the ditches and along the fences, but almost no other wild flowers could be found.
As we drove last week, we stopped often to admire the many small sunflowers, the wild asters, and numerous other blooming plants that were enhanced by the tall grasses. The pictures certainly contrasted with those taken earlier in the summer and made me want to keep going back to some of the crowded areas in order to enjoy the growth for as long as possible before frost hits.
The bright green grass has begun to fade as it has headed out, and some of the leaves on the various bushes and plants are beginning to announce the approach of fall, but the summer colors can still be appreciated for a few more days.
At least, some of us can now say we have seen fairly tall grass in the pastures and can almost imagine what those pioneers saw as they came to their new land and selected their homesteads amid the tall grasses that covered the area.
We can feel the same thrill they felt as they admired each scene and can know why many chose to hang up their hats in a place that was to become Quay County and a territory that was to become the state of New Mexico.