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. 🙂 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. 🙂

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



3 responses

1 04 2011
Linda Horn

So what’s left for water sources if these two ponds are dry? Are they exclusively filled by rain/snowmelt? In your last post Grey/Traveler and his band were drinking from what little water is in Spring Creek. Has it been know to dry up in bad years?

On the Spring Creek HMA/HA map I noticed a long, thin sliver of the HA (SW border) had been excluded from the HMA. I think there’s a road along the fence line. That sliver includes portions of Disappointment Creek. That piece of land is such an unusual shape I can only conclude that, if it’s good, year-round water, the horses were deliberately fenced off from it.

1 04 2011
Linda Horn

Also, are there dams or stock ponds upstream from either of these creeks?

1 04 2011

Other ponds have water right now, but they’re all pretty shallow, even the ones that got dug out. Spring “Creek” is a misnomer; it’s definitely not perennial, and the only times it “runs” are after major rain events. It’s almost always dry. There are some seeps, but like all the other water sources, they’re very alkaline. There are several “braids” of it, and on the eastern end – where it originates, I’m actually not sure which is “the source.” There are several major arroyos that run through the basin – draining each other and smaller and bigger ones. It really IS a “basin,” though it’s very dry! 🙂

You can’t tell it in the pix of Grey’s band, but there’s a crust of white on top of the soil there – the salt leaching up. My years are starting to run together now – was it last year before the three ponds got dug out or the year before – or both – that all the ponds went dry? Last year, at least, they ALL then had water toward the end of the monsoon season … of course, we got those MAJOR rains in August or so. That/those were events that don’t come ever year – not even every other year – in fact, that was the first time I’d seen something like that in my years of documenting. With the La Nina weather pattenr, reinforced by the really mild winter we just had, and the shallow ponds already, I think we’re going to be pretty dry. This is the main reason the basin can’t support X number of horses – we just don’t have the water quantity (and we certainly don’t have the quality, even in a good year).

The ponds are filled exclusively by rain/snowmelt, yes. That’s why I’m always asking people to do a snow dance! People think Colorado = high alpine mountains, but we’re Colorado, too = high elevation desert. No dams or stock ponds that I’m aware of above the basin. I think that water originates in those hills/ridges – you can see the trees there, so missing from the big open interior of the basin.

We have urged the installation of guzzlers, to no effect (yet), and we have a signed agreement for a second water catchment – that’s now 12 years old. We keep pushing that, too.

My friends who’ve been on the NMA/CO board for so long know the history of fencing off Disappointment Creek. I’ve never been able to pin it down exactly, but yes, they say the horses were fenced off the creek – or the creek was fenced off from the horses. I don’t know the details, though – especially the “why.” The creek runs mostly on the other side of the Disappointment Road/County Road 19Q, then crosses the road just … I guess that would be just west of where the Spring Creek Basin HMA fence goes up toward Filly Peak. That creek does run nearly perennially, but I’ve seen it with stretches of dry creekbed and with just standing puddles. Also apparently very salty and carries a major amount of sediment into the Dolores River.

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