in the sagebrush

Kale Boba Slushy 🌵

Some people are intimidated by green smoothies. I know cuz I was one of those people 😹 And I’ve never been one to go out and buy smoothies. (Except for maybe at @sagebrush_cafe who is quickly turning me into a smoothie fiend) I just always thought “man, I could make that myself.” I once created my own smoothie at Jamba Juice cuz they didn’t have what I wanted (in the nicest possible way of course). 🙊 Okay, enough chitchat. Let’s make a slushy.

For the boba:

1/3 cup boba pearls

Bring a pot to boiling water then add boba. Once boba floats cover pot with a lid and boil for about 3 minutes on medium heat. Then, turn off heat and and steep (covered) for another 3 minutes. Scoop out boba and place in a bowl of cold water for about 30 seconds. Drain and add to another clean bowl and toss with 1 tsp. maple syrup.

For the smoothie:

2-3 kale leaves
2 frozen bananas
2 dates
2 heaping TBSP almond butter
1 tsp maca
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 cup water
1 cup ice

Blend until slushy.

Place boba at bottom of your favorite cup and top with kale slushy. 🐭

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Fun Fact Friday: How Do You Survive in the Big Empty? These Lagomorphs Use Superpower Adaptations, of Course.

By Nancy Patterson, Public Affairs Specialist, Greater Sage-Grouse Rocky Mountain Region

It’s wide open in the Big Empty of sagebrush country. For the more than 350 species that live here, hiding spots are few and horizons are long. When you’re a favorite food of lots of predators you need special adaptations to survive. Lagomorphs are adaptation champs in this ecosystem. The term lagomorph describes mammals in the order of lagomorpha, better known as hares, rabbits, and pikas. In sagebrush country, some lagomorphs you might see are jackrabbits, cottontails, and pygmy rabbits.

Rabbits and hares have big eyes set on the sides of their heads. This gives them a wide viewpoint to look around for threats. Their large ears act like giant microphones to capture the slightest sound. And their long back feet act as a speedy superpower. With them they can spring into the air and dart quickly in a jig-jag pattern to escape predators. Jackrabbits can run at speeds of 40 miles per hour and their powerful hind legs can propel them in 10-foot leaps with each bound. Imagine trying to keep up with one of these athletic racers!

But, it’s tough to survive on big feet, eyes, and ears alone. It also helps to have superpower hiding adaptations. And rabbits and hares have some that act just like invisibility cloaks.

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Fun Fact Friday: Looking for a great home with food included? You’ll find it in sagebrush!

Did you know that sagebrush is one of the most important plants in the western United States? It’s a great food source and secure home for Greater sage-grouse and more than 350 other species that live there.

Even though people don’t eat it, Greater sage-grouse find sagebrush delectable. In the summer, they eat a variety of plants and insects. But starting in autumn, most of their food comes directly from sagebrush. Since Greater sage-grouse don’t have stones in their gizzards to help grind up seeds and nuts, they depend on soft sagebrush leaves to eat.

Greater sage-grouse are true homebodies. They tend to stay near their favorite sagebrush landscapes, and depend on their home to give them food and shelter. But, some Greater sage-grouse migrate in the winter. The longest known sage-grouse migration is 100 miles one way, from Saskatchewan Canada to central Montana. Just like some people who move south in the winter, these sage-grouse fly south to escape snow and find  more accessible sagebrush for food and shelter.

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Fun Fact Friday: A Natural Winter Windbreak in Sagebrush

Story By Nancy Patterson, Public Affairs Specialist, Greater Sage-Grouse Rocky Mountain Region; Photos by Nancy Patterson (BLM), Lisa Marks (BLM), and Tom Koerner (USFWS)

It’s blizzarding in sagebrush country! Negative temperatures, snowfall, and winds pull together for a threatening whiteout. What are wildlife to do out in the Big Empty to protect themselves from winter weather conditions? Let sagebrush come to the rescue!

While black-tailed prairie dogs hide out in their burrows during snowstorms and horned lizards move into hibernation, many of sagebrush country’s more than 350 species depend on lucky breaks among the shrubs for food and shelter.

Sagebrush have a long tap root, which helps secure it to the ground and draw water and nutrients from the soil. These nutrients enter the plant and some transpose to wildlife that eat their ever-verdant leaves. Mule deer, pronghorn antelope, and Greater sage-grouse all depend on this food source in winter months.

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Creepypasta #1019: I Buy Antlers - All Kinds!

Length: Super long

CASH FOR ANTLERS! screamed the homemade cardboard sign at the side of the winding mountain road.

I slowed my car down to stare at it, immediately drawn in by the curious sight and enthusiastic words.

As a freelance photojournalist hoping to make it big with my portraits of the still-wild western United States, I was always on the lookout for all things strange, quirky and quaint. I’d soon discovered the remote mountain villages of New Mexico to be a goldmine for off-the-wall and unexpected gems.

In search of the perfect stories, I’d wandered among the blood-colored bluffs and cliffs, gathered sweet-scented sagebrush alongside wild horses, and scrambled across craggy lava flows that had buried the bones of ancient dinosaurs. I’d been blessed by medicine women and slept in haunted hotels. I’d even crawled into the dark hollows of allegedly haunted mine shafts in search of long-lost Spanish gold.

Even still, it was never good enough. After returning home, I’d often feel restless and unfulfilled, my blood hemorrhaging from some unseen cavern in my body. I’d dream of being taller than a mountain, burying my enormous hands into every cranny and every canyon, trailing my fingertips through the pallid white sand dunes, dipping my toes in the cold snowmelt streams. From above, my eyes would survey the landscape, its hills and arroyos as textured as the back of a horned lizard, and my dreamer’s heart would thrum and throb with love for my homeland, strange as it was.

But I’d never seen anything like this sign, a sudden flicker of civilization in the remote and untamed Jemez Mountains.

Such a fervent prayer for the severed, bony protrusions of hoofed mammals. I heard the prayer repeating, repeating, in the hidden folds of my mind.

What in the world would anyone want with antlers?

I parked my car in the gravel turnout, and slung my camera over my shoulder. I got out of the car and walked closer.

“Hey there,” came a voice from behind a parked pickup truck I hadn’t noticed until that moment. A man stood up from his canvas lawn chair he’d placed in the truck’s shade. “Have you got something to sell?”

“Ah,” I said. “No. I was just curious about the sign.”

“Curious?” the man said, slowly plucking pistachios and pinyons from a plastic bag. He cracked the nuts with his thumb, their dry shells plinking in the gravel like clipped fingernails.

“Why do you buy antlers?” I asked. “What sorts of antlers?”

“All kinds,” he said, simply, breezily, with the casual grace of an experienced salesman.

“I’m sorry to be rude or nosy,” I apologized. “I’m a journalist and photographer, and I’ve never seen anything like this. If I may ask, what do you do after you buy them?”

“I resell them, mostly,” he answered. “Tourists and locals like them for decoration. Some of them I carve into knife handles. I’ll take anything you’ve got. Deer, elk, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, chamacorn. You know. Anything.”

“Wait. What?” I said. “What was that last one?”

“What?” he said. “Anything. I said I’ll take anything.”

“You said-“

He stared at me.

I looked back towards my car, and considered just walking away. But oh! I desperately wanted that photograph. Or at least, I wanted some sort of souvenir. Something to plug the hole in the bleeding depths of my secret heart.

The man beckoned to me.

“Come on up to the shed,” he said. “I’m sure I’ve got what you’re looking for.”

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Fun Fact Friday: To Migrate or To Staycation? Sagebrush is a Great Home for These Birds

By Nancy Patterson, Public Affairs Specialist, Greater Sage-Grouse Rocky Mountain Region

Brrr! It’s getting cold out in northern sagebrush country! With snow beginning to fall, animals are on the move. Like Greater sage-grouse, more than 350 species call this place home, but some only spend part of the year here and others stay year-round.

Many birds head south. Sage thrashers and Brewer’s sparrows fly to the warmer southern United States and Mexico. Swainson’s Hawks left months ago, gathered into kettles of tens of thousands of birds to travel all the way to Argentina for the winter months. Imagine doing a round-trip trek of more than 12,000 miles from South America to northern North America each year like these world travelers do!

For some, the sagebrush landscape is their favorite winter resting spot. All summer Rough-legged hawks spent in the Arctic tundra. Their journey south brings some of them to the western sagebrush landscape. You might see them perched on utility poles, transmission lines, fence posts, and other high ground throughout the winter months.

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California native plants for Lida. Thank you for sitting so tough! We did this in one giant sitting. Ow! California wild rose, California poppy, California sagebrush silhouettes, lupine, and fremontia.