WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST | PHOTOGRAPHER | WRITER | GREGARIOUS NOMAD

KENT REEVES

Desert Mama- Who is Kent and where can we find him?

Kent- I am still working on that. I am a lifelong learner and like Stephen Jenkinson says, «Learning is a subversive act!»

I am a gregarious nomad who is stationary at the moment in the California San Joaquin Valley. I am a person who loves being on the road. I spent a good part of my life working as a wildlife biologist, which allowed me to be outdoors and studying a myriad of critters.

When traveling you will find me with my co-pilot and companion – Zero the Hero, a Border Collie mix rescue I have been with since 2016.

D- Tell us how the ranch life is, and what is the best part of it and the worst:

K- Well, right now I am not living a ranch life. I am caretaking a small property for a dear family friend. I worked on a 15,000-acre ranch here in California and a 138,000-acre ranch in New Mexico. That was a few years back. I do get to visit ranch life through my work with the Rancher-to-Rancher Network (R2R). I also recently spent time with friends in Arizona on a 55,000-acre ranch that they manage.

For me the best part is being outdoors working horseback. To ride a horse or a mule with purpose, that is what matters for me with ranch and packing life. Cowboy can be a noun or a verb, for me it was a verb in that it was something I did on ranches at one time. It is a noun if someone is doing it for their life work. Not sure what my noun is. 

With ranching it is about taking each day as it comes which might include good things happening and not so good things happening. How someone reacts to day-to-day happenings can be what truly makes the day. It is all about attitude. If you are working with someone who has a terrible attitude that can make for worst days or not so good days really.

D- We have seen a recent article where you talk about fighting climate change by repairing California´s grassland. Can you tell us about this?
 
K- This is related to the next question, so will address both here!! (What do you think about climate change and what advice would you give us to start helping?) Feeding two birds with one spoon! 
 
We are not really «fighting»  climate change with R2R. That was an editorial term to describe what we are doing and not my description. R2R is about engaging more people while encouraging them to ask better questions. We are about listening to not only the land but listening to one another. We encourage a way to see ecosystem processes and understand whether they are healthy. These processes are the Water Cycle, the Carbon/Nutrient Cycle energy Flow and Community Dynamics. During an R2R day or event, we listen to one another, we learn how to listen to ecosystem processes using simple demonstrations along with monitoring that support decision making.
 
Too often «experts» get caught up in research style evaluation of simply plants that have nothing to do with management decisions that require the ability for a rancher or land manager to respond quickly. We rely on the collective expertise of the people we are working with. We are not the experts. We learn together and, on the ranches/property we cooperate with we establish learning sites based on the manager or owner´s question they have. Too often experts show up with answers before a question has been asked! Understanding ecosystem processes and their health is the same as understanding the health of livestock.
 
Ranchers know how to do this, and we simply provide a way to direct those powers of understanding to the land. Also by focusing on the principles of soil health (Soil cover / armor; minimizing disturbance; plant diversity; continual living plants / roots; and integrating livestock) one will be focusing on economic health, too. We don´t need expensive technology solutions to restore native grassland. Ranchers have the most inexpensive means to accomplish this creativity and lifestock!
 
As individuals we can do the best we can, but with petroleum and coal contributing over 80% of the carbon emissions we are not going to do this without major changes to our dependence on these industries. Listening and learning is a place to start for each of us and do the best we can. 

D- You also love photography and we saw you do beautiful pictures, When did the love for this come about? And how long have you been writing? We would love to read something of yours.

K- I bought my first 35mm camera at the age of 20 over 40 years ago, an I have been hooked ever since. My camera went everywhere with me, and I used both slide and black & white film. I used it a lot in my career as a wildlife research biologist and when I was packing/cowboying. I had photographed quite a bit of everything – landscapes, wildlife, people. What I finally figured out was how much I enjoyed photographing people. I was the photographer for the award-winning book, Between Earth & Sky: Poets of the Cowboy West. Many of the poets in the book were friends from my early days reciting cowboy poetry and it was fun to spend time where they got their inspiration. My work has appeared in a variety of magazines, books and journals. When I rode rodeo in college, I wasn´t winning any money, so I turned to photographing the other events to pay for my entry fees. My first photography show was all color prints of rodeo. Some of my most recent writing was about my friend, Jennifer Roeser for Filson. 

https://www.filson.com/blog/profiles/mcgee-creek-pack-station-sierra-nevada-california/

Along with a short piece on How to Pack a Mule. 

https://www.filson.com/blog/how-to/pack-a-mule-with-a-diamond-hitch-and-packing-list/

I have some short stories that have yet to be published, and enjoyed writing fiction in college. I have a few stories that want out of my head. I wrote a lot of technical papers for reports and journals during my wildlife years.

D- Where and how would you like to see yourself the next few years?

K- Wow, not sure. I am enjoying my work and travel with R2R and my current photography project about California packers. I see a possible road trip across the country that includes visiting family and friends throughout the United States and Canada. Nomadic life calls to me constantly!

 

PERSONAL QUESTIONS

D- Your happiest childhood memory:

K- For me it isn´t so much a specific memory as the general memory of freedom and joy I got from playing outdoors, being gone all day with friends exploring. Then coming home in time for supper. I had a blend of suburban and rural experiences in Arizona and California.

If I have to pick one it is the joy of learning to drive from my cousin Bill on my family´s ranch in Central California. I was 11 or 12 and Bill´s dad, Uncle Jim, taught me to drive, but Bill taught me to enjoy and love driving!! It was driving a WWII Weapons Carrier through almond orchards

D- Your best quality and your worst defect:

K- I have learned to listen so much better. I strive to listen to people tu understand.

Worst defect was selfishness. I say Was because it is something I work on every day not to have anymore. It is a destructive trait that acts as an umbrella for so many other defects of character.

D- How is a perfect day in your life:

K- If I get to imagine it would involve the ability to go surfing and be near the ocean. My perfect days involved surfing and being horseback. Usually in the company of family and freinds.

D- A success and a failure:

K- Not sure I can take credit, but my son is someone I am quite proud of. He is following his passion. Something his mother and I always encouraged.

I can take full credit for my failure with Love.

WHAT DOES KENT PREFER?

  • Ten years in a coma /Ten years in jail
  • City life / Country life (I love so much about both)
  • Talking to animals / Talking to the dead
  • Only being able to whisper/ Only being able to scream
  • Lifetime free wifi / Lifetime free coffee 
  • Singing in public /Dancing in public 
  • To only eat salty food / To only eat sweet food
  • Waking up in a desert / In a boat in the middle of the Ocean (worse nightmare along with spiders)
  • Something organized / Something improvised
  • Visiting the past / Visiting the future
  • Being unable to see / Being unable to hear
  • Reality / Fiction
  • Motorcycle trip / Car trip 
  • Never leaving your city / Not being able to return 
  • Continuing with your life/ Restarting your life 
  • Knowing what you will die of / Knowing what day you will
  • Music concert / Theater play

I am also on Facebook with a personal page and two photography pages