Happy first birthday, Ember!

21 04 2009
Ember

Ember

This would have been my first post except for Bones … So in the spirit of moving on and celebrating life, Ember turned 1 on Saturday, the day these pix were taken. Steeldust’s band had moved over to the east side of the roller-coaser hill by the time I came moping back after finding Bones and her baby, so I went out to sit with them and hope for a little bit of healing in the presence of so much wild life.

Ember and Kestrel

Ember and Kestrel

The girl was not very cooperative on the esteemed occasion of her birthday, napping and ignoring all the goings on. But the stallions have kept everyone restless and moving, so I imagine she was tired and ready to catch a nap however she could. Keeping her company there is big sister Kestrel, and though I don’t know the date of her birth, it’s close, so happy birthday to Kestrel, too!

Luna and baby Ember

Luna and baby Ember

One more, just to see how much she has grown. 🙂 This was taken two days after she was born.

Happy birthday, old-soul girl!





RIP Bones & baby

19 04 2009
Bones

Bones

Unfortunately, having a baby was not to be for sweet girl Bones. The foal didn’t even make it all the way out.

Poco led me right to Bones and her baby, which I didn’t even realize until I finally I saw them. For what it’s worth, she was nourishing a golden eagle.

So the basin is one (two) less, but keep these things in mind: She lived and died wild, and her baby died with her (not later).





April fooler

13 04 2009

Seven, Molly and Roja have been elusive during the last couple of trips I’ve made to the basin, but I haven’t gone looking for them, either. They had been hanging out in the general vicinity of the saddle between Flat Top and Round Top. You get a good view of that area from the west-side road, but you can’t see the horses if they’re down on the southwest side. I’d been having a niggling little feeling about Roja, so I went looking. It’s a pretty easy hike around the west side of Round Top to get out there, but I went up on top for the first time in awhile (?) to see who else I could see.

Let me get right to the point: Roja has a foal! And how about this: I’m sure her foal is actually the first foal born in the basin this year.

Baby and Roja

Baby and Roja

When I watched the horses from Round Top, the foal was galloping huge circles around Roja, so I had a couple of thoughts: I bet that foal is at least a week old, and I bet it’s a little boy. A week ago is one of the most special dates to me personally because that’s the birthday of the best horse I ever had. He’s been gone almost 17 years now, and you’d be amazed how much I still think about him. So in honor of my beloved horse, and with a nod to a friend with a colt named Kola Zi, I named this little guy Ze (“zee”) in honor of the first part of my horse’s registered name, which I actually never liked but which proved absolutely true.

Ze

Ze

He IS a colt, and he’s bay! Great big bundle of *CUTE*!

Sleepy

Sleepy

Active little boys need plenty of rest.

Seven comes calling

Seven comes calling

Daddy Seven came up the hill after I’d been watching Roja and Ze for a fair amount of time. I was lying belly down at the edge of a hill across a big drainage from the mare and foal. Roja had earlier looked down the other side of her hill, and that’s where I thought Seven and Molly must be. But then Seven came up from the opposite direction.

Hungry boy

Hungry boy

I read a post on another blog recently about how mamas of all types get “in the zone” while their babies nurse, and I thought of that while I watched Ze nurse. Roja had been grazing constantly, even while Ze napped the first time, but she finally stopped and sort of glazed over while he slurped up some nourishment. As far as I know, this is Roja’s first foal.

Handsome daddy

Handsome daddy

I don’t know if Seven knew I was across the hill or if he was looking back at Molly. This is at least his second foal. When he was gathered, one of his mares had a bay filly.

Second nap

Second nap

Warm milk makes baby sleepy!

Daddy, mama, baby

Daddy, mama, baby

Brumley Point in the background.

Molly

Molly

Can’t forget grandma (?) Molly. I could be wrong, but I think Molly is Roja’s dam.

Ze appears to be solid bay, with no markings. His legs are already darker than Hannah’s. He’s a little hunk already!

I was able to watch the horses quietly for quite a while, and when they moved on (the pic of Molly is her bringing up the rear), I was able to back down off my hill and leave them, hopefully without them ever knowing I was there. This is one of the most wary bands. Molly’s filly Starla died last year, and they had been chased by a guy the last time I saw them; I think they’ve never quite gotten over that.  Maybe I’m way off on that assessment, but they were getting more comfortable with my presence until that event. So I was very happy I could both see Roja’s new boy and get away without disturbing them.

So now we’re TWO down with (maybe) seven to go?!





Spring in the wind

11 04 2009

Tis the season of deja vu.  Work obligations Saturday sent me to the basin Friday, and glad am I that I went, for what I found and for the fact that it snowed again most of the day today!

The horses had a few human visitors Friday, including some on horseback. Grey/Traveler was standing guard against a truck and trailer parked up on the road to Flat Top while his band grazed down in the valley below the water catchment. Kreacher and the girls were out on the northeast side of the finger hills watching riders who gave them wide berth. Bounce and his girls were out on the southeast end of the “east-west hill,” close to Knife Edge. One dark horse was back to the northwest, sort of north of Spring Creek at the trap site. Duke? That was all within my first 15 minutes in the basin.

Because of hills and distance, I couldn’t quite tell if the single dark horse I saw was Duke, so there was nothing else to do but take a walk. The wind was at about mid-throttle – very tolerable given the insanity of the past few weekends.

Very happy surprise to walk up over a modest saddle to find not only our bay boy Duke but Chrome and Hook back with him! And an unexpected visitor.

Prongs

Prongs

It’s not uncommon to see pronghorn antelope in the basin, not even alone, but this guy figures into the tale, so I’ll include his portrait. He was lying down when I first saw him, on a hill above the horses, protected from the wind, but his back was to me. He got up, and I turned my attention back to the horses. When I looked back at him, he had laid back down as you see in the pic! I wondered if he was hurt, but he didn’t seem to be.

Hook and Duke

Hook and Duke

Chrome

Chrome

Chrome kept looking over his shoulder like he expected another pronghorn to pop up and run by.

Pronghorn saunter

Pronghorn saunter

When the buck walked down off his hill, the boys watched him very carefully.

Spooky boys

Spooky boys

And it gave them an excuse to gallop.

Watching

Watching

But then they circled back to just below the hill to watch the buck cross an arroyo and continue up a far hill and out of sight.

Hearts

Hearts

Do you see the way their heads and bodies seem to form a heart?

Hmph

Hmph

Duke was sound and seemed well, if a bit grouchy. I couldn’t find any outward sign of why he might have been missing last week. I was glad to find him, and glad to find him with his pals. Something interesting: They were quite a distance from the big band, something Aspen may want to consider …

When I got back to the Jeep, another truck and trailer was visible with visitors. I never did see the original three riders again. I stayed north at the dugout intersection, intending to look for Kreacher and the girls where I had seen them last, but from the road you can look down to the south and see the bottom land you can’t see from up on the west-side road. If I’ve cautioned against having an agenda in the basin once, I’ve done it a thousand times, eh? Guess who I spotted? So I turned around and took the fork to cross Spring Creek again, headed south. The first crossing is wet, but the second is completely dry.

Kreacher and the girls were looking toward the east-west hill (can I just say and call it done that the hill really runs sort of northwest-southeast, but it’s easier to type “east-west”?) but not really toward Bounce, Alegre and Gaia, who were up higher at the end of Knife Edge toward the crest where they could have dropped into the valley between that ridge and Lizard Mesa. I watched Alegre quite intently through the binoculars for several minutes because I couldn’t quite tell if she was sporting an extra set of legs – ha. Call me expectant. She wasn’t – sporting extra legs. She should be within two weeks, give or take.

I decided to continue driving because I hadn’t yet spotted Steeldust’s band, and I also wanted to look for Poco, Bones and Roach to check Bones’ progress.

Ah ha! Poco, Bones and Roach, way out on the southwestish side of the far end of the roller-coaster ridge (past where the road goes over to the east side). And then another nice surprise: the big band, napping right at the intersection to Round Top. I parked short of them and took a closer look through the binoculars.

I always make sure all the ponies are accounted for … and they were … but wait a minute …

Do you see what I see?

Do you see what I see?

Steeldust at left, and Luna. You can’t see him very well, but Sundance is on the other side of them. Butch in the middle, Storm at right (such a handsome boy!), and Mahogany behind him. Also over there were Alpha, Pinon and Ember and Kestrel. Farther out was Mouse. To the left were Aspen and Co., but let me wait a minute before we get to them. What’s that at Luna’s feet?

Holy baby!!!!!!! I have to say, I didn’t quite expect to see a foal this weekend. Luna was first to foal last year, too, but Ember was born April 18 or 19 (I like to pin it to April 18). Friday was a full week earlier than that.

I started to walk out on the road, trying to decide if I could drop down off the ridge and skirt around them without worrying them. Then I heard the truck and trailer coming behind me. I decided the best course of action was to walk back, tell the people in the truck there was a brand new baby with the band and ask if they would wait until the horses finished their nap and moved away from the road.

As it turned out, the man driving the truck was born in Telluride and knew the country quite well. We had a great conversation – though it was sometimes hard to hear him over the wind. He lives in California now and has worked on Thoroughbred racehorse farms most of his adult life (he’s now “nearly 70”). He brought his cousin and two horses, which they rode later. It was pretty cool to hear him talk about some of the history of the land and the horses and roundups past, horses he has ridden and rodeos at which he has competed. I hope I get this right: He won the calf roping at the Norwood rodeo seven times!  They ended up turning around there and drove back toward the dugout, then parked along the road to unload their horses and enjoy a ride in the basin.

While we were talking, the horses woke up, and the stallions started messing around. It seems like Butch and Sundance are finally starting to feel their oats – are they 3 this year? Four? Three and 4? The “pink” boys are silly boys. They started moving, and I’m still somewhat surprised to report that after I visited them, and after I visited Poco and Co., and after I drove away … at least an hour and a half after I first saw them? … they were still moving, heading to Round Top from Flat Top! Those rowdy boys.

But let’s back up. You’ve been waiting, and … but of course I have baby pix! 🙂

Oh, wait; first, the promised pic of Hollywood, guarding “his” band, which just so happens to contain the stallion that stole “his” mares.

The breakaways

The breakaways

Hollywood at left; Aspen with Baylee, barely visible behind him, and Piedra.

Welcome to your family

Welcome to your family

Little Hannah girl. Such a little thing and now famous! Mama Luna at left, and big sister Kestrel, now 2, at right. I’ve been wondering for a while whether the pink boys are descended from Luna. They did stay rather close … or was it my imagination?

Snuggly

Snuggly

Luna-dear is an old hand at mothering. If she’s 10 – I suspect she’s close, one way or ‘tother – this is possibly her eighth foal! She did not seem at all concerned with me, focusing instead on eating everything palatable within reach.

Baby, meet baby

Baby, meet baby

This is one of my favorite pictures of the day. Storm is no longer the baby of the family! I love his expression; I can’t imagine what he’s thinking.

Keeping up

Keeping up

Luna didn’t exactly ignore her baby, but she didn’t coddle her, either. This might be a good place to say I think Hannah is at least a couple of days old (I put her birthday at Wednesday, April 8). She doesn’t have that newborn look anymore, and she wasn’t so new that Luna was constantly checking and nuzzling her. She expected baby to follow, and baby did!

Hannah

Hannah

Isn’t she a doll?!

Peace

Peace

Welcome to your world, sweet baby girl!

All calm

All calm

Meanwhile, Aspen and Co. were following the band at a respectful distance.

Beeline

Beeline

Piedra started walking toward me, and Baylee was not quite sure that was the wisest move.

Making a run for it

Making a run for it

Apparently, Baylee dawdled too long because Comanche came calling. The butt straight out is Mouse’s, and he’s directing Steeldust’s horses away from the fray.

Get lost, buddy

Get lost, buddy

Then Aspen, who had been trying to protect Piedra from Hollywood, came running back to the rescue. The grey in the background at right is Steeldust.

Eye of the storm

Eye of the storm

Piedra tried to ignore the chaos swirling around her (but note the ear). Baylee is just happy to be back at her side. Aspen – you can see his head just over Piedra’s hindquarters – cut Comanche off … but Hollywood was about to make his move.

Around and around

Around and around

Now see what I meant earlier when I said Aspen would do well to put some distance between himself and the band (again)? Personally (and not-so secretly), I’d love to see Holls get the mares back, but if Aspen stays in the vicinity of the big band, I’d wager that the dynamics of this little band are going to change, or Aspen is going to be run ragged – or both.

Comanche

Comanche

This guy is pretty burly. It’s only a matter of time before he starts to collect a harem, I think, though there are only so many to go around.

Pinon and Ember

Pinon and Ember

Pinon is a month from his first birthday; Ember is just a week away!

Keeping the girls in line

Keeping the girls in line

Steeldust had his hooves full trying to keep his ladies together, but Mouse seems to be pulling his weight.

Still a baby

Still a baby

Don’t grow up too fast, little man. Pinon with Mouse.

The ponies moseyed on, and I sat awhile longer, marveling at the horses and all the behaviors and interactions I’m privileged to witness. Really amazing. They crossed the arroyo I was sitting at the edge of, and I waited until they had dropped out of sight over the next little ridge, then went on back to the intersection.

Poco, Bones and Roach had gone out of sight from that side of the roller-coaster ridge, so I drove on that way to see if they’d gone to the other side. Sure enough, they were down by the squishy arroyo on the east side of the ridge. I watched them from the Jeep for a while, then turned around and headed back. Bones looks like she could foal at any time … Fingers crossed she safely delivers a healthy foal.

Mountain majesty

Mountain majesty

Looking northwest, look who I spotted right on the west-side road! I stopped to scan for Bounce and the girls toward Knife Edge or down toward the arroyo below the road, but I didn’t see them. By the time I got moving again, Kreacher and the girls had dropped out of sight – again.

I decided to go down and see if any water had collected in the pond by Flat Top. Hook was a short distance west of the road, acting as lookout. I caught a glimpse of Duke but didn’t see all three of them until later, on my way out. And I got another surprise because Kreacher and the girls had gone slightly southwest and up toward that north-south road that goes between the Flat Top pond and the main road. After them disappearing and re-appearing all day, I finally had the chance to see them from a closer vantage, which gave me the chance to check on Raven.

Three girls

Three girls

Kootenai, left, Raven and Mona right on the north-south road.

Kreacher

Kreacher

I think the ponies aren’t so used to a lot of visitors like they had Friday, so they seemed a little more nervous than usual.

Kootenai

Kootenai

Mona

Mona

Raven

Raven

Compare the bellies

Compare the bellies

I’m just sayin’ … Maybe she’s just an easy keeper …

They went on up the road, so I decided to turn around rather than follow them and have them feel pushed. Once back out on the main road, guess who else I found? Only my very favorite boy!

Lowlanders

Lowlanders

Between them, Grey/Traveler and Houdini-mare are wise, wise ponies. They were down in this shallow arroyo, at least semi-protected from the wind. It did turn out to be another very windy day, but the moisture we’ve gotten recently (snow last Saturday) seems to have glued some of the dirt to the ground, so we didn’t have the major dust storms we’ve had lately.

All at attention

All at attention

Well, except Mr. Twister, snoozing in the protection of the ladies. You can’t see their whole bodies here, but look how big Iya’s face (center, bald face/big blaze) is compared with older sister Two Boots’, next to Twister, behind Jif. Maybe it’s the marking, and maybe it’s that Iya has a big Roman nose and Two Boots is quite a bit more refined, but Iya is one big girl (and her first birthday is coming up in about two weeks!).

Is it summer yet?

Is it summer yet?

I noticed that some of the horses didn’t seem quite as fuzzy as they had even last weekend, but check it out: Jif is shedding!

Testing her limits

Testing her limits

Where have you seen this before? Cheeky Jif tries to outrun her stallion …

Ducklings

Ducklings

… while the youngsters crowded around mama Houdini, who  went the opposite direction. I thought that was funny. 🙂

Pied piper

Pied piper

Traveler, of course, brought his wayward young mare back to the fold, but how she ended up at the head of the line, only she knows. She has just a little belly, but Houdini is bulging at the seams.

And there you have it. Duke and his pals were all visible in the “flats” east of the catchment. I think I didn’t stop smiling all the way home. 🙂 A beautiful new baby, a missing boy found, a day in the wild. Could it have been a better day? I can’t quite see how.

One down, eight to go? We shall see!





Meet baby Hannah!

10 04 2009
Mama Luna, baby Hannah and daddy Steeldust

Mama Luna, baby Hannah and daddy Steeldust

Dear Miss Hannah S.,

A couple of days ago, a lovely bay filly was born to buckskin Luna in Spring Creek Basin. In honor of you and your generous contribution – $100 of your babysitting money! – board members of the Colorado chapter of the National Mustang Association decided to name a filly after you.

So today I met Hannah, and she is as beautiful as I imagine you to be. She has a huge blaze that runs more on the right side of her face than the left and ends in a big snip that covers her right nostril and down to her lower lip. And the most pristine socks and stockings you’ve ever seen!

Thank you so much for thinking of Spring Creek Basin’s wild horses! I hope you and your family will be able to visit Hannah and her family and watch her grow up!

Most sincerely,

TJ (and other board members of the National Mustang Association, Colorado chapter)





All dusty; one missing

4 04 2009
Calendar months, state lines, boundaries between state and private land are all constructs of mankind, but Mother Nature is blurring the seasonal lines this year – as is her right and royal privilege, of course. And if she thinks it’s still March, when we should be getting a good percentage of our moisture, that’s fine. March has roared right into April, but it’s also snowing – again. All night and all today, so far. 🙂 (I know people are tired of snow, but my ponies need moisture!)

Well, I didn’t see everybody during my visit to the basin yesterday, but I did see enough to recognize Duke is “missing” from his usual group (Hook and Chrome, following Steeldust). Last April, he turned up alone and limping, and he stayed alone for nearly two months. I didn’t see him at all yesterday … I hope that’s all it is.

The forecast and weekend work duty gave me an excuse to head to the basin Friday (and given today’s 6 inches of snow and still falling, I’m glad I went). I didn’t go out last weekend; the mares should start foaling any week now, and I’ll be out there plenty for at least the next month of weekends.

Grey/Traveler and his band were out on the hill above the corrals southwest of Filly Peak when I first drove in. By the time I drove out later that afternoon, they were still on the hill but a bit farther south. Not close enough to see the mamas-to-be, but everyone was accounted for and looked content.

Poco, Roach and Bones

Poco, Roach and Bones

These horses were my next sighting (from near OR far), and they were right off the road in their usual territory (eastish, nearish the double ponds). Can you see the grey girl from here?

Bones with a belly

Bones with a belly

How ’bout now? And you can actually see her weird hip from his angle, too … Please, God, don’t rip her in half when that baby comes out into the world. I don’t mind saying I’m a little worried about the plucky girl.

Two windblown boys

Two windblown boys

Roach and Poco, enjoying some of the sunshine in the wind.

Bad dread day

Bad dread day

The wind is tough when you have dreadlocks in your mane. It was deja vu from last Sunday and the Sunday before that. The wind was insane, and the dust was hanging in the sky before I even got to the basin in the morning. Thunderstorms were in the forecast, but that wind must have blown any thought of rain clear to Wyoming.

Swaying with the wind

Swaying with the wind

Poor Bones was literally swaying on her feet as the wind pushed her. I was crossing an arroyo to get ahead of her for better light when I took this shot. You can see her big baby-belly and her protruding hip from this angle, too.

Bones and Poco

Bones and Poco

Poco had walked over to her, but she didn’t want any part of him.

Frisky Roach

Frisky Roach

Then big-boy Roach ambled over and nickered to her, but she wasn’t having any of him, either.

Poco to the rescue!

Poco to the rescue!

But that was more than Poco could take, so he chased away the interloper and saved the day, err, the mare.

At ease

At ease

A few seconds later: one little happy family (but note that Poco is between Roach and Bones). Brumley Point in the background.

Aspen and Co.

Aspen and Co.

A few minutes later, I spied the breakaway band just as I was about to cross the “squishy” arroyo. Helpful, I know, but it’s the only one that’s even slightly wet anymore (except the first Spring Creek crossing), and it’s, well, squishy. At bottom left, left to right: Hollywood, Aspen and Piedra. At far right: Baylee. Up the hill: Hook (left) and Chrome. Duke usually hangs out with Chrome and Hook. The horses walked up and over that hill, and I wondered if Steeldust’s band was on the other side – and maybe Duke, too.

So I drove up onto roller-coaster ridge and pulled over where I could watch them – Steeldust’s band and Mouse and Comanche were, indeed, on the other side of the hill. In fact, I walked over that same hill a few weeks ago when I visited Poco, Bones and Roach on the south side and Bounce, Alegre and Gaia on the north. The horses were up against the hill, which comes down in  a couple of ridges, and I still couldn’t see Duke, but I thought he was just still out of sight. But then they all moved into the open, and he wasn’t with them. Where on Earth is he??

I hiked down the ridge and took some pix from across the arroyo that runs along the base.

Itchy

Itchy

It’s a good thing the ponies are all still fuzzy, seeing as how winter follows spring this year (not that that’s a terribly unusual seasonal progression on the edge of the Rockies). Ember-girl is the oldest of last year’s babies and will be a year old in just a couple of weeks!

Ember with the boys

Ember with the boys

Possibly her brothers? Sundance in the middle and Butch at right. I don’t know if it’s very visible in this small pic, but see how the roots of Ember’s mane are grey? I had started to wonder lately if she was going to keep her red color and not turn grey, but seeing that grey-grey mane growing out, I do think she will eventually turn grey. Iya also was born bright sorrel – like Gaia and Storm – but she has gone so dark she looks black from a distance (sister Two Boots was born black and is now dark grey). Gaia will stay sorrel, I’m pretty sure, but I think Storm will eventually go grey, too.

Greasewood - breakfast of champions

Greasewood - breakfast of champions

Or lunch of hungry mamas-to-be. That’s heavy-pregnant Luna chowing on prickly winterized greasewood with Sundance, left, and Steeldust. Luna is Ember’s mama.

Focus on the belly

Focus on the belly

Just as Mahogany was walking along the opposite side of the arroyo, I hit the shutter … only to see later that she was trying to hide behind that weed covering her face. Drat. This girl still has a ways to go; she’s not due till May.

Lovely

Lovely

Beautiful Alpha-lady, with Ember behind her.

Sleepy Storm

Sleepy Storm

After lunch, little Storm-chaser was a tired boy, napping here with the wind in his face. He’s a little older than 8 months old now and still nursing from mama Alpha, who still looks good, if a little ribby. The good news is that she doesn’t look pregnant (PZP at work).

Seeing rose

Seeing rose

Mahogany, left, and Kestrel grazing … crazy dust in the background, looking northwest (roller-coaster ridge is to the left). Pretty Kestrel looks a little bulky, but I think she’s just an easy keeper like her mama (Luna) and maybe a little bit of long-lens compression.

Mouse doing the snake

Mouse doing the snake

How do lieutenant stallions know what to do? Is bachelorhood sort of like ROTC or OTS, and now he’s commissioned, and he has his orders? He walked a little farther, turned his tail to the wind, cocked a hip and tried to act like he was napping. Most of the other horses did the same; Steeldust was on the opposite side of the band.

Doing the walk-on-by

Doing the walk-on-by

Hook, left, and Chrome walk past Aspen and Co. (Hollywood at right, watching them). Knife Edge in the background. By this time, I knew Duke wasn’t around. Unhappy to not see him. I hope the boy is all right … It may sound weird, but I hope he’s “just” hurt (and just a little, enough to not keep up) and not worse. They were out on the other side of the big band, so I didn’t walk out to them. Piedra looks a little “thick” through the middle but not as pregnant as (I think) she should look. Best guess: She’s due this month (with Hollywood’s baby).

All in the family - except Duke

All in the family - except Duke

I stopped to take one more pic after I left them napping. It was nice right up on the ridge-side protected from the wind, but they were all out in the howling inferno across the arroyo. The arroyo looked (and felt) damp, but there was no water in that particular section). Notice a couple of things: Mahogany, left, Aspen, up in the “back,” and Comanche, single horse in the middle, are still grazing, and only one goofball – Hook – is facing the wind. Chrome is maybe a little hard to see, right behind him.

When I got back up to the Jeep, it was starting to sprinkle dust. When even the raindrops are dusty, you know it’s bad. Has anyone checked on Arizona lately? Is it still there, or has it been wiped from the map and deposited in Colorado? I’m not a lifelong resident of these parts, so maybe the fact that I’ve never seen it quite this bad in seven years (total, not consecutive) of living in Colorado doesn’t mean diddly, but I also think it’s visual, in-your-face proof of how dry it is. Arizona (and this bottom corner of Colorado) wouldn’t be blowing away if it was wet enough to stick to the map, err, ground, no matter what state we humans say it ought to be in. Pretty crazy.

Bounce and his lovely girls were by the arroyo by the west-side road, but I wasn’t taking any chances with potential rain (it was supposed to thunder and storm, remember), so I waved and drove on by. Cutest-girl Gaia watched me, as did dark-and-handsome Bounce, but Alegre pretty well ignored me (this from the girl who used to be like Duke in that any appearance of a vehicle sent her into get-away mode). Gaia will be 1 year old on Earth Day!

I looked and looked and looked for Kreacher and the girls but never saw hide nor hair of them. As already mentioned, I saw Grey/Traveler and his family again, still out on the far hill that’s basically above (east of) the corrals out on the county road. I did not see any cattle in the basin, but a group of mamas and babies (not the ones that had been in the basin until recently) were very disgruntled about having to give up the road when I first drove in that morning (on/near/next to the road just on the private side of the cattle guard going into the herd area). Sorry, ladies and babies. I did drive down to the trap site (pond dry). No sign of the ponies, but that section of Spring Creek, especially in the canyon, does have water, so I suspect they’re around somewhere amid the hills and swales and dales.

It was early yet, so I decided to drive down the county road to see if I could spy the spots like last time. No spots, unless you count rump patches …

Shadow and shadowy deer

Shadow and shadowy deer

Yay! David and Shadow, thought I from the Jeep on the county road just barely into Dolores County from San Miguel. But then I spied spots, and I thought, hmm, no, must be Mesa and Ty and the pintos. Then, no, I decided, David and Shadow and dusty muley rump spots! Ha. As you can see, it got much dustier (dustyer? much mo’ dusty?) – again, deja vu two weekends ago when I stopped in nearly the same spot on the county road to visit with the painted ponies and their solid suitors. David was just to the right, out of the frame of the above pic.

I drove on down to the valley of the pintos and what I am henceforth naming “dysfunction junction” in honor of the “dysfunctional” family make-up of the pinto girls and babies (well, young ladies) and one pinto boy and three solid boys, and the “junction” of my favorite hike-in spot, and the not-so-fondly named “malfunction junction” in the city where I once lived (bonus points to you if you know the city), which has since been “fixed” (but not really, according to some). Well, it made me laugh, and I liked it, and it will never show up on any official map, so there you are.

Point: No spotted – or otherwise – ponies were to be seen that day from the road (except the aforementioned David and Shadow).

So I turned around and parked the buggy and headed in to visit with David and his young lady, who will be 2 this year but hopefully not a mother until next year at least.

David the horse

David the horse

Not to be confused with the three Davids who named him right before the roundup of ’07. David was on private property. The private property gate was opened, the contractors took down the herd-area-boundary fence across the county road, tied some saddle horses in the trees inside the herd area and used Shorty the Judas (and the helicopter) to lure young David back home. He tried to hook up with a band of sorrels almost immediately, but though those sorrels were rounded up and removed, our David never was. Last year when the southside boys ganged up on pinto former band stallion Bruiser  (still a pinto; no longer a band stallion), David lured away young Miss Shadow and stole away, leaving the other boys with the band. Cinch later decided he had better company with Bruiser (who may be his sire; they look an awful lot alike).

Blending into the dusty shadows

Blending into the dusty shadows

Shadow and David

Shadow

Shadow

Shadow is black as jet. Black as night. Black as a … shadow. No markings. Her mother was the older, independent mare Ceal, who was sometimes with Bruiser and the pinto band and sometimes not. She was very thin in the fall of 2007 (and possibly had a hip injury) and died that winter. Shadow stayed with the pintos until the brouhaha when David claimed her.

Together

Together

Closer

Closer

The end.

They followed the deer into the trees farther up the hill, and I headed back to the road and the Jeep and the highway and home. Woke up the next morning – this morning – to snow. Where/when have you heard that before? Good for the dust, good for the ground, hopefully good for the ponds that are dry, definitely good for the ponies (Ma Nature can’t fool them; they’re still wearing their winter coats!).

Unlike two weeks ago when the snow mostly stopped by mid-morning, this snow has been falling all day long. I hope the ponies are getting it, too! There’s only a little grass here and there yet, but that greasewood has to taste better with a little topping of whipped snow! 🙂