(Step) daddy-daughter time

30 06 2012

Sundance and Mysterium

What a good stepdaddy he is. 🙂





Piedra & Temple

30 06 2012

Just a pic I liked … Temple nursing after mama Piedra drank from a seep in Spring Creek Canyon.

I think it’s pretty obvious by now that Temple will NOT be grulla. Seems she’s taking after mama and will turn grey. 🙂





Mysterium & Kootenai

29 06 2012

Kootenai is less than two months from her due date.

And Mysterium is still nursing.

And the baby girl shows no sign of stopping – nor Kootenai of weaning her.

She looks healthy and glowing with good health, doesn’t she?

Am I biased, or is she really as stunning as I think she is? Maybe it’s her color (dun), maybe it’s their shared Sand Wash Basin heritage, but she and Winona (buckskin) remind me quite a bit of each other.

Tell me the little miss isn’t just exquisite! Such refined, pretty faces and kind eyes.

I love Skywalker’s funny little look at “auntie” Kootenai over his shoulder. Raven is grazing just in front of him.

I had the most peaceful visit with this colorful family at sunset. I went out and sat, and Raven calmly and surely grazed her way toward me, and then they were all around. Like a laidback introduction of baby to “society.” So sweet about it.

Grey/Traveler’s family also were in Wildcat Valley; they’ve been hanging out there for weeks now, with water in a rough triangle between the trickle (which is doing well after our work), Wildcat Spring and the main arroyo at the base of the east-west hill.

Kootenai’s due date is a surer thing than our next rain! How weird that is to contemplate.

Thank you to all who have expressed care and concern for those in Southwest Colorado who have been evacuated from their homes and/or are fighting the fires. Most of the smaller, lightning-strike fires have been stopped in their tracks, apparently. The Weber Fire just southeast of Mancos is now estimated at 9,279 acres with 45 percent containment. Unfortunately, a juvenile is a “person of interest” in connection with starting that fire.





Won’t you play with me?

28 06 2012

Winona still has her playful streak!

One stick to play and one in reserve. 🙂

But Terra wouldn’t bite. Har.

I’m struck every time by her loveliness.





Looking for – and finding – water

28 06 2012

FS range guy HP and I did some more riding to GPS water seeps in some of the main arroyos, trying to get an idea of water availability for the horses. There is good news to report: Three ponds still have water – though one is much shallower than a week ago. And we have GPS’d at least half a dozen places where water seeps up or percolates down in various arroyos across the basin. The horses continue to be in good condition.

Pix of our pony partners:

Fox trotter Pinch and HP.

HP’s other fox trotter Jammer, my partner for the trek.

Handsome and smart and willing! These guys went everywhere they were pointed. I think the only time Jammer’s pointy ears were less than full forward was during our lunch stop! HP wrangles and rides Forest Service horses in the course of his duties, too, but Pinch and Jammer belong to HP.

These with my cell phone (so I didn’t have to carry my big camera). Sorry about the quality!

HP riding Pinch near the weeping wall. The white is salt from the alkaline soil. Almost everywhere there’s water, there’s salt in abundance. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much salt coming to the surface of the ground. We found water in an eighth- to a quarter-mile stretch through this arroyo. Clearly getting active horse traffic.

Jammer, left, helps HP and Pinch check out the old guzzler. It’s dead dry. We’re not sure why. (Note the shade of cloud cover – ahhh!)

Jammer drinks from water in a tire tank near a natural seep. The first time I found this area, a few years ago, the tire was full of water and the seep was producing water. Every visit since then, the tire has been dry. Now, the seep is nearly dry, but the tire is full and trickling over. Hmmmm??

Thanks again to HP for his work and horses! And thanks to BLM’s Tres Rios Field Office management and our herd manager, Kiley Whited, who is spearheading these projects!





Close and wide

28 06 2012

On our way out of the basin after working on the trickle, Chrome’s band blessed us with a visit right by the road. We stopped to admire, our curiosity matched by ‘Nona’s about us.

Winona and Terra

Terra and Chrome. The water catchment storage tank is visible in the middle background. Note also the cloud shadows. If it seems odd to note such “normal” shadows across the landscape, consider that our Colorado-blue skies have been nearly cloudless for nearly two months.

‘Nona walking across the road to get a better look. I took this out the passenger-side truck window. The weird vertical dark line on the left is the truck’s antenna. Isn’t she a most gorgeous creature?





Tackling the trickle

28 06 2012

Clouds = relief.

If it’s not too much to ask … some rain??

At last count, there were 23 wildfires burning in Southwest Colorado (this doesn’t include the fires elsewhere in Colorado). It is supremely, horribly dry. Please be careful, no matter where you are! And please send positive thoughts and prayers to the firefighters and people evacuated from their homes as well as those who have lost their homes (none that I know of in SW Colorado).

Forest Service range guy HP was back in the basin this week to honcho the task at “the trickle,” an overflow pipe at an existing well that apparently used to support a drinking trough. We didn’t quite get accomplished our original goal, which was to dig down and install a drinking trough that would be filled by water from the trickle (just too rocky for shovels). But we did get the water flowing through a hose to fill the existing little pool, which we then dammed to try to hold better water there.

This is the end of the source pipe after we pried off the end-cap filter, which, because of mud and silt, was acting as a solid cap. There’s also mud backed up inside the pipe, and we’ve been playing in the mud to clear as much of it as we can reach, so yes, it looks pretty black and yucky.

The filter that had capped the source pipe. The pipe had been broken above where this fit inside, and the littlest trickle of water was flowing out (hence the name). Despite the poor quality and low quantity, the horses drink here, so we’re trying to make it better.

The water flowed downhill, caught in that little pool at the base of the tamarisk, then flowed on around and down until it just ran out.  The light-colored dirt at lower left is what we gathered to pack in around a plastic hose/pipe that we inserted into the source pipe, wedged with rocks and then packed with sand/clay/mud to force the water into the hose to run downhill. The line of rocks covers the hose from hoof traffic, and I’ll keep an eye on it until we can come up with another solution.

The end of the hose, with clear water continuing to trickle out. The water has been tested in the past, and although it’s salty, the horses clearly take advantage of it. (And all the water in the basin – except at the water catchment – is salty because of the alkaline soil.) We’re hoping this mucky little pool will clear up a bit and offer the horses a better source of water.

Apparently, some years in the past, the well fed a drinking trough that has since been removed for unknown reasons. That’s what we’re trying to restore.

Many thanks to HP of the Forest Service in Dolores, who supplied tools, muscle and know-how! He’s using his tamp bar to pry up rocks below the source pipe. The original well is up the hill behind him and the tamarisk you see in the background. Even though someone decided tamarisk is now OK, as it’s habitat for birds, we’re still on a mission to remove as much as we can from the basin, especially near water sources – which is exactly where it likes to grow.

Yours truly, captured by HP, who stole my camera to take this shot. 🙂 I’m shoveling mud into a little dam we made with rocks to hold the water in this little pool. (Note another tamarisk that needs to go bye-bye.) The trickle hose comes out at lower right. The trough we’d hoped to install is behind me.

To come: some poor-quality cellphone pix from riding the arroyos to GPS water seeps. We made some interesting discoveries. While there’s not a lot of water, there IS water, and the horses continue to be in excellent condition.

Rain dances encouraged and welcome.