4 07 2010

Talk about symbolism: Here you see sort-of-leafy, sort-of-green things … not lush, exactly, but browsable things. What you don’t see is what Comanche has his head down for, sipping in trickles the tiny bit of water that seeps up to ground level and is *available* for sipping. What you also see in the background – the green, feathery thing tufted with bits of pink – is tamarisk, also known as saltcedar. Until recently, the government has told us it’s the scourge of the West’s limited water sources, and eradication efforts (yes, even within the basin) have been wide-ranging and dedicated. Now, however, the government says it’s no more a scourge – sucks up no more precious water – than cottonwood or willow and is precious bird habitat to boot, and we’re to let the poor things be.

When I say the water where Comanche is drinking – and Kestrel is waiting to drink – is coming out in a trickle, if you take that to mean drip by drop where it doesn’t collect so much as glistens over top of rocky, sandy soil, I’m not exaggerating.

Well, I never said he was a particularly careful drinker. 🙂 See it dribbling from his tongue? Kestrel takes the opportunity to take her turn at the source.

Now Comanche waits patiently (seemingly so) while Kestrel sips. And Winona decides it’s time for some liquid nourishment as well. ‘Nona looks small again from this angle, but I tell you, I think she’s grown between last week and this!

We’re finally starting to get some rain again, and I know some of it has reached the basin with its lovely purple fingers. But it never seems to be enough. The ponds are dry. Wildcat Spring has water (liquid but stinky), and seeps like this produce it at a maddeningly slow trickle, but the ponds are dry, including the two dug out last year. We’re hoping the rest will be dug out later this summer, but there has to be rain to fill them. Despite the snowfall of last winter, the rain earlier this spring, the ground proved itself as thirsty as any living thing and just sucked it all up. Other ranges enhance their springs and provide guzzlers. We have what’s called a water “catchment” that provides good, clean, fresh (non-alkaline) water … but it’s on the dry west side, and most of the bands seem to avoid that area. We’re working on ideas for more and better quality water sources. On a managed range like this, water cannot be un-managed.

Tamarisk-control? Well, that’s another subject – related.

And look who else was nearby – and as calm and relaxed as I’ve seen them lately?

Roja and Seven

This picture isn’t “glamorous,” but it’s my favorite in this particular collection because of the horses’ behavior – relaxed, heads down (Spring-baby-girl was keeping an eye on me), grazing, unconcerned. This sight made my heart soar. With these particular horses, it’s a huge moment to be this close (almost 200 yards, across a little arroyo) with them so relaxed.

They finally did look up, of course – left to right: Spring, Roja, Ze (look how big!) and Seven. And they did eventually walk down off the top of this little hill and out of sight. What a marvelous, quiet, visit!

And one more of a beautiful pair:

Beautiful baby Winona and her lovely mama, Kestrel.

Overflow of: love, appreciation, marvel, wonder. Not so much: Water.



4 responses

4 07 2010
Victory Cowgirl (Jumper)

You take great pictures, TJ… of some pretty great horses. =) Too bad there isn’t much water around – do you think that’ll change soon?

4 07 2010
Marilyn Wargo

TJ, I hope the water problems are worked out. These horses live in a harsh place. Lucky they have mostly mild winters. Love the photos. mar

4 07 2010

VC – It’s an arid climate, so in that sense, no. I think it is our responsibility to make sure they have access to water, however (good quality water as well as abundant quantity).

Mar – Maybe not “problems,” so much – as you say, reality of their lives. True, indeed about our winters – and we here, as in most of the West, rely on those winter snows for summer drinking!

5 07 2010
Lynn Bauer

Great post, TJ! Thanks – we appreciate and understand the water issues out there. How these beautiful horses manage to survive is a testament to their survivability and history in this country and we can only try to help them stay wild and free. We LOVE Kestrel and Winona – that line is so unique in color! Hope rains come soon and often!!
L & K

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