Natural beauty

31 03 2011

March is typically our wettest month. We had rain and/or snow just four times this month for a total of probably less than a couple of inches. I think it’s going to be a tough year.

But it’s spring. The phlox has started blooming.

Sure was a gorgeous day!





All up

30 03 2011

Also going back a couple of weeks to photos I didn’t have time to tweak and post. A visit to Luna’s was my last of this particular day.

They were napping out past the double ponds. One got dug out two years ago; the other wasn’t because of some sort of problem. The non-dugout one has been dry for a while already this year. I saw tadpoles there earlier this spring (later this winter?), and the one that got dug out is probably dry now (it was down to a puddle last week) – though it did have a shallow bit of water there when the horses were there.

When I walked out, Mouse was off a bit, napping, and the others were almost all in a row. Luna was grazing (baby is getting bigger all the time), but the others were watching me walk up – I had to go out of their view past the lower pond, into and through the arroyo and up the hill – and I climbed up to five amazing pairs of ears – all but Luna’s at first – greeting me!

You may notice I just changed the “banner” pic at the top of the blog. Aren’t they the cutest? I love Alpha and the boys. It may be because of Storm, but Gideon seems to really have become attached to Alpha. I love their big-to-little arrangement … though Storm’s as big as Alpha! Notice Steeldust. Guess where Mouse is.

I dropped to the ground as soon as I came up the hill to this amazing view – just had to take it all in! Mouse here is framed through the branches of the tree on my left. And between him and the band is … you guessed it. Steeldust.

Well, here, I have five ears of four horses … but only two eyes! The wind was blowing really hard from the south. They were somewhat protected here in this little valley – there’s a tall ridge/hill above the arroyo to the right – but it was still blasting. I love to see them so wonderfully relaxed.

Now different eyes, and Gideon’s letting me know what he thinks about the whole thing.

Before I knew it:

I really love it when they’re this relaxed.

Awww … but you know what’s coming …

That’s karma, kid! I couldn’t help laughing about the times he did exactly this to his younger “sisters” in the band.

Ugh – breath mint lately? he seems to ask.

And over he goes. πŸ™‚ Isn’t he adorable? Soooooo sweet and innocent??? Alpha knows what’s coming, though …

… and she’s outta there. Check out Luna’s expression. Gideon had to step back when Storm rolled up – and yes, his forehead is right against Gid’ th’ Kid’s chest.

And what goes around comes around – literally. When Alpha walked behind them, it prompted Butch to move Luna – and there’s Storm about to come to his feet. Poor guy – his nap was so short-lived.

He went over to stand by mama. Look how big he is.

Gideon went to his mama, but she is in the grouchy don’t-bother-me stage of pregnancy. She IS a mama, though – HIS mama – and he did find some comfort:

Just don’t interrupt the girl’s nap. πŸ™‚

And I left ’em to it and tiptoed away through the wind.





In deep

30 03 2011

Sorry about the lack of recent posts. I’ve been working on one that’s more of a rant, and I keep deciding not to post it … and I keep reading things that make me really want to post it.

Suffice it to say that no budget for roundups this year will put the Spring Creek Basin herd on rough ground, literally. It’s hard to feel so nearly alone in this “advocacy.” Thank goodness for the work Little Book Cliffs and Pryor Mountain and McCullough Peaks are doing to stop/slow their roundups.

Here are some pix of Grey/Traveler’s band getting water from a bit flowing through Spring Creek a couple of weeks ago. I was walking back to the Jeep, and they were walking the ridge, and we met in the arroyo.

It doesn’t look like much – and it’s not – but it’s actually trickling through (from beyond them (east) toward my direction and past).

Grey and his girls.

All the family. Love the water droplets.

Gorgeous girl

Sharing a moment with daddy … How many foals has he sired? How many has he helped raise … sent away, seen taken … and yes, I still say a roundup is necessary, and PZP is the best thing to put it off in the future. Where would we be now if PZP had already been implemented? He is so good with them …

I have so many hopes for this herd … . I know the public as a whole sees the trauma of roundups – and their aftermath – and focuses simply on stopping them from happening. Think deeper.

Spring Creek Basin needs to have a roundup this fall. We’ll have it this year, when there are more horses than optimum (90-95) but they’re in good shape, or we’ll have it next year and maybe call it an emergency (with around 130 horses). Why should we have to wait until the horses are in bad condition? Why can’t we do it now, when they’re in good condition – and able to withstand the stress? Argh.





Deadline to get on the list

28 03 2011

Today is the deadline to call the Dolores Public Lands Office at (970) 882-6800 *to request placement on the mailing list* to be sent the scoping letter for the Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area roundup this fall. The scoping letter then should be coming out very soon.

The scoping letter also will be online, and I’ll post that link when it’s ready. The deadline for comments will be in that letter.





Hollywood’s

27 03 2011

Monday, March 28, is the deadline to call the Dolores Public Lands Office at (970) 882-6800 *to request placement on the mailing list* to be sent the scoping letter for the Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area roundup this fall. The scoping letter then should be coming out very soon. The scoping letter also will be online, and I’ll post that link when it’s ready. The deadline for comments will be in that letter.

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Hollywood’s band was *right* off the road when I was making my way out of the basin, all hope of sunset light disappearing behind clouds. He made quite a striking figure standing sentry with some low hills, still spotted with snow, behind him (beyond the basin).

Though the golden end-o-day light didn’t break through as I had hoped, there’s something really lovely and soft about the last diffused light we did get – especially on Holls’ gorgeous dun coat.

Hollywood

Hollywood’s girls – and one of his boys: Baylee (left) will be 4; Iya will be 3 in late April; Sage, his son, will be 2 in late April; and mama Piedra is likely at least 5 this year.

BFFs Baylee and Iya. Has anyone else seen the news that the Oxford English Dictionary added that “word” recently? Like, OMG, I LOL at the ridiculousness – IMHO, of course. πŸ™‚ I (heart) Spring Creek Basin mustangs! I’d try to get *meep* in the discussion – you know, like the roadrunner “says” in the Wile E. Coyote cartoons? – but I just can’t come up with a basin meep. I’ve heard marmots meep but no mustang meeping. Heh. (Wait, is that a word?)

Tenaz seems to be floating above Spring Creek canyon, which is really quite a distance away. That tiny glow of pink in the sky is all the color we got at the close of another wonderful day.





Tender boys

26 03 2011

Monday, March 28 is the deadline to call the Dolores Public Lands Office at (970) 882-6800 *to request placement on the mailing list* to be sent the scoping letter for the Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area roundup this fall. The scoping letter then should be coming out very soon. The scoping letter also will be online, and I’ll post that link when it’s ready. The deadline for comments will be in that letter.

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Most of their interaction involved nuzzling and biting each other’s cheeks. Bounce would strike every so often, but he and/or Whisper seemed to know just how far his legs would reach, and he never came close to actually hitting Whisper (in fact, it seems to me that strikes aren’t intended to connect but to serve as either a warning or a defense of self). Whisper didn’t do any striking. Hasn’t learned it yet? No need to “defend” himself from daddy Bounce? Was it, in Bounce’s case, habit from long use?

Time, time runs away from me. For now, I tease you with slices of their lives. πŸ™‚





Funny boys

25 03 2011

Monday, March 28 is the deadline to call the Dolores Public Lands Office at (970) 882-6800 *to request placement on the mailing list* to be sent the scoping letter for the Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area roundup this fall. The scoping letter then should be coming out very soon. The scoping letter also will be online, and I’ll post that link when it’s ready. The deadline for comments will be in that letter.

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A little entertainment to get you in the mood for the weekend.

A lone deer had bounded out behind the horses, which caught their attention and put them on the alert. A much bigger group had been grazing earlier nearby, so I’m not sure why that gal was lagging. Seemingly to lighten the mood, Whisper started playing with Bounce. He indulged, and they nuzzled and “chewed” on each other around the face, etc. But Bounce kept turning his back on Whisper to face me. He’d back into Whisper and raise one hind leg then the other in a clear signal to get Whisper to back off … but not only did Whisper not back off, he finally grabbed daddy’s tail, which – of course – had the effect of getting daddy to turn around and play with him again! This is the second time Whisper did it. πŸ™‚

Horses with a sense of humor? Of course!





Subtlety

23 03 2011

This will be at the top of posts until the deadline – Monday, March 28 – to call the Dolores Public Lands Office at (970) 882-6800 to request placement on the mailing list to be sent the scoping letter for the Spring Creek Basin Herd Management Area roundup this fall. That should be coming out very soon.

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The following are photos from my visit with Hollywood’s, Comanche’s and Mahogany’s bands last week. They were once all part of Steeldust’s large band (except the youngsters and Iya) – though not for a couple of years now. πŸ™‚ Mahogany leaving with Sundance and bachelor Aspen is the most recent development.

Full brothers Tenaz, almost a yearling, left, and Sage, almost 2, right.

Here’s the rest of that story:

“Reading” stud pile messages. Iya in the background.

Mahogany (bay) and Sudance. SunD stays close to her to ward off Aspen. Mahogany is in much better shape this year after a year’s rest from raising a foal.

Mahogany is the dam of Baylee (almost 4), Pinon (almost 3) and Sable (almost 2). Bayles is with Hollywood; Pinon and Sable are with Hook. She should be due in May.

Aspen with Round Top in the background. See the road? It ends just above the curve you can see. That’s where I parked the day before and walked around the west side (to the right) and came back to the Jeep from the east side (left). Seven’s and Bruiser were “behind” it on the leftish side – basically southeastish.

I’m positive Iya is pregnant.

Baylee sure doesn’t look pregnant …

Watching me carefully while she rubs an itch using that greasewood! (Check out her lip!)

What do YOU think?

Straight-on of Baylee …

Straight-on of Iya.

Hang in there, mama Piedra. Only about another month for you.

If she’s as consistent as she was with Sage and Tenaz, she’s due around the end of April.

Sundance – check out that groovy, wavy mane.

Camouflage, naturally. (Did anyone see him in one of the pix above of Baylee?)

As he grows up, he reminds me more of Chrome in his carriage.

Comanche

I had been photographing Sage and Tenaz playing over the stud pile when I noticed ‘Nona moseying in our direction. Hollywood’s had spread out grazing, but Tenaz was lingering even after Sage had wandered off. Oh, sly boy, I wonder why? πŸ™‚

Winona walking down into the shallow arroyo. Sure-footed and beautiful.

Earlier, Tenaz sticking to big brother.

Big trot …

Do you see the future? Mr. Tenaz guarding his family? Brother Sage and auntie Iya in the background.

Watching daddy Hollywood, who hadn’t yet crossed the arroyo. Don’t you see Hollywood in this boy?

Curious George, err, I mean Tenaz. πŸ™‚

I went on up the hill to watch them, and Mahogany and SunD came up and past me again … Lack of golden sunshine didn’t diminish the beauty of the basin.

Someone in Telluride asked me (basically): Of all the wonderful places in the West that are loved and cherished and protected and should be protected, what’s so special about Spring Creek Basin?

An innocent question (I think … I hope) … one whose answers completely undid me.

“It’s magic,” I finally managed. I can’t remember what else I said through my tear-choked throat.

Is magic enough? To protect this place that most would see as empty, desolate, scrubby and lonesome and well off anyone’s definition of a beaten track?

I think I tried to say that I write a blog to try to tell people just what’s so special about it … Mostly, my attempts fall short.

The wind, howling the day before, howling overnight, was still at dawn and for a couple of hours … until it returned seemingly out of nowhere about midmorning. I got up to head back down the hill, and saw that Winona had laid down for a nap not far below me.

Ordinary? She’s watching a pair of noisy (mating?) ravens flying across the hill that had been with us all morning. Maybe, to her, alert to the goings-on of her world. Extraordinary.

Loved the soft light illuminating her mane, the dark eastern ridges rising above her, complementing her buckskin gold.

Head. So. Heavy.

What’s so special?

Really?

Do words even exist??





‘Off topic’

23 03 2011

Yesterday at about 5 p.m. on the highway I use to commute from Mancos to Durango, a horrific wreck killed three people and sent two others by helicopter to hospitals. One vehicle apparently crossed the center line and slammed head-on into a vehicle carrying a mom and dad and two children. Killed were the driver of the one vehicle, and the dad and one of the children in the other vehicle. Both vehicles caught fire. That anyone survived must be a miracle.

I work in a newsroom. I can’t imagine being a first-responder, law-enforcement, emergency medical personnel … Listening to details emerge through the static of the scanner was horrifying. (Thank God for those people who give of themselves to respond to tragedies such as these.)

The survivors – theΒ  mom and one of the boys – were originally flown to hospitals in Durango and in Farmington. Now they’ve apparently been sent to Albuquerque and to Salt Lake City. Only in the last few hours were they identified. The single driver apparently has not yet been identified.

http://durangoherald.com/article/20110323/NEWS01/703229912/Hwy–160-crash-kills-3

http://durangoherald.com/article/20110323/NEWS01/703239889//article/20110323/NEWS01/703239889/Colorado-Springs-father-and-son-among-accident-dead

A tragedy that hits close to home … Please offer your prayers for these families. I’ve been thinking about this all day, and I finally decided to share some of the grief I feel about this wreck and these people I don’t even know. Sometimes, no matter how careful you are, terrible things happen. Please be careful on all your journeys.





Get on the list

23 03 2011

Howdy, readers.

Just a quick update to let you all know that the scoping letter ahead of the EA for the Spring Creek Basin roundup (and, hopefully, fertility control program) will be coming out shortly. If you want to get on the mailing list to have a letter sent directly to you, please callΒ  the Dolores Public Lands Office in Dolores, Colo., at (970) 882-6800 by Monday, March 28.

I’ve been told the scoping letter and EA will be here when it comes out if you don’t want to call (you’ll have to provide contact information with your comment):

www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/sjplc.html

By the time of the roundup, we’ll likely have 90-95 horses. If a roundup is not held this year, we’ll have ~128 next year. The appropriate management level is 35 to 65. When 110-120 horses lived in the basin at the time of the 2007 roundup, the horses were very lean; after the roundup, with less pressure on scarce resources, the condition of the 43 remaining horses improved rapidly.

We are proposing that the fertility control program – using native/annual PZP and trained volunteer darters – be implemented in conjunction with the roundup this fall. It’s my understanding that this scoping letter is precisely our opportunity to let BLM know what we want to happen with management of our Spring Creek Basin mustangs going forward. Fertility control – limiting the birth rate of the horses – will limit the population growth – will reduce the need for roundups, which is the goal we’re all after. Continuing to allow the horses to breed unchecked is status quo – which is what we’re all trying to change.

When it does come out, I’ll post the direct link as well as specific information about where to send comments and by what deadline. We’re going to resubmit the fertility control proposal I wrote last year, but I hope to put together some points to make when crafting your own comments and have them available here on the blog.

This marks a potentially huge step in the “best science” and most hands-off (reduction in roundups) management of our Spring Creek Basin mustangs, and you all have the chance to be part of it – just like you have with the recent Pryor Mountain and McCullough Peaks EAs. Little Book Cliffs has been darting annually uninterrupted for almost nine years (this year). Pryor Mountain has done it, has been stopped, is doing it again. McCullough Peaks most recently approved an annual PZP darting program.

Please help Spring Creek Basin join that list. I know the horses, I’m trained, I’m ready to go. The program just needs the green light from BLM – and to get that, apparently, we need YOU to tell BLM this is what we, the people, want of our government, for our mustangs.