20 09 2019


It’s hard to acknowledge hate when surrounded by love in and for the natural world.

The planet – our home – is worth fighting for.

Fight for love. Fight WITH love. Everything you do with that in your heart, it’s worth something.


19 09 2019


Golden girl Chipeta in the golden light of an autumn evening.

The face everyone loves

18 09 2019


Of course, we have our own handsome beefcakes right here in Spring Creek Basin. 🙂

Killian is one of our very handsomest young stallions. (Yes, OK, I say that about all of them, young or otherwise!)

Gold ‘n bays

17 09 2019


This was the second of the three bands I saw in Piceance-East Douglas. They were quite a bit more wary than the first band, so I didn’t get to spend much time with them.

Notice the haze in the background; a prescribed burn was going on nearby. It was not close enough to be a danger to the herd, and the area received rain the night before, which served to cool temperatures for the first time in a long time.

It was a beautiful day on the range. Although I didn’t see many horses (the third band was far away across a road, arroyo and sagebrush-and-rabbitbrush sea), this is such a beautiful area that the looking made it all worthwhile. 🙂 And the horses just happen to be as gorgeous as any mustangs I’ve ever seen!

(The yellow-flowering vegetation behind the horses is rabbitbrush, also called chamisa. The rabbitbrush in Piceance was ahead of ours here in Disappointment Valley.)


16 09 2019


Healthy, shiny, bay beautiful wild ponies. 🙂

Big, shiny, healthy mustangs

15 09 2019


This handsome guy is – in fact – Guy, band stallion in Piceance-East Douglas Herd Management Area near Meeker. My friend Pam Nickoles gave me the ID after confirming with her friend Dona Hilkey.

Isn’t he a beefcake? I couldn’t get over how stout and SHINY these horses all were.

The horses pictured are just part of his band; he had another mare and foal pair, and another single mare. Gorgeous family!

Ssssssssnake sssssaga ssssssorcery

14 09 2019

At Ace Hardware in Norwood, Colorado, the young man who helped me find the pieces and parts for a snake-pole-lasso quickly grasped the idea of what I needed. It was his first day on the job. What a first day. 🙂

Here are the parts:


Five-foot-long, 1 1/2-inch PVC pipe

1 1/2-inch cap

15 feet of soft, 1/4-inch rope

21/64-inch drill bit

Drill – already mine (battery was on the charger)

This is how it went together:


I drilled two holes in the cap and threaded the rope (the Ace Hardware man burned the ends for me in the store; he also cut a 10-foot length of pipe to the 5 feet I needed) through one hole from the inside, made a loop and threaded it back into the other hole, knotting it inside the cap. The long end of the rope then drops through the pipe to the other end, which is where the snake wrangler wants to be.


Voila! Snake lasso!

Heading to the basin now …


Snake wrangling equipment:

Step stool – because I realized I had to stand basically over the top of the vertical in-ground pipe to bring the snake up, and I really didn’t want to get struck in the shin if it came up less than happy.

Trash can – previously used for feed in the barn. Use: transport the snake from hole to home, away from water trough that the horses use.

DIY snake-pole-lasso. About $20 total.

And of course, my cell phone, which is only slightly easier to operate one-handed than my camera. Because I had to document the process for you faithful readers who are cheering for snakey-snake.

At left: fenced-in aprons that catch rainwater and snow.

Background: Our destination is the green water tank, on the far side of which is the valve pipe in which our reptile has been captive for at least a couple of weeks.

Question: Did rattler make it out on the crossed sticks … or was snakey still stuck?


Answer: See above. The thing had a slightly unnerving way of looking up at me the whole time, like it knew things were happening. Finally.


Here’s my setup:

Step stool on the north side of the pipe; trash can on the south side. Snakey in the hole in the middle.

I won’t lie; my hand was shaking as I was taking these pix. Everything’s all fun and games until you try to lasso a rattler at the bottom of a pipe.

OK. Deep breath. Ready?


It’s not easy to hold a lasso’d snake with one hand (I was holding the pipe and rope coming out the end to keep a snug hold on the slippery slitherer) and a cell phone with another (your only other) hand AND try to two-finger zoom the image because you’re several fraidy-cat feet above it.


It wasn’t heavy, and it didn’t wriggle or writhe. And – maybe wildest of all – it didn’t rattle. I managed to catch it at “neck” level (!), so I was confident it couldn’t reach any shins.


Don’t worry, dude/ette, it’s bigger, and it’s totally temporary.


Valve-pipe cap. Replaced.

When I called my mom from the road, snake-filled can (lidded) safely in the back of the truck, I admit that I was still breathing hard, and not just from carrying my equipment back up the slope (the water flows downhill from the catchment aprons).

Snake couldn’t live in the metal trash can any more than it could live in the bottom of a PVC pipe, so release was the next part of the capture saga.


Rattler relief is close. See that the boulder is shaped so that it provides a shady shelter?


I appealed to many deities, entities and spirits before embarking on this jaunt, including my mom, my dad, snakes in general, rattlesnakes in particular, even Lord Voldemort, that sovereign of serpenty Slytherins.

While carrying the can up to the pictured perfect boulder, I realized that getting the lid off the can wouldn’t be too bad, but having been so gentle so far, I didn’t want to just kick the can over!

Check out the perfectly shaped branch I found nearby (pictured above, hooked through the can’s handle)! On the bare, rocky shoulder of Filly Peak! I mean, trees aren’t what this area is known for. But it was perfectly perfect. Some spirits definitely were with us. Using the branch, with its excellent length and hefty hook, I was able to tenderly tip the can onto its side without even a jangly, jarring thump.


But you know how it is when you leave your old home for a new one. Maybe you’re excited, and maybe you’re a little nervous, too.

Rattler was a bit reluctant, so I had to find another stick to tip the bottom of the can up a bit and encourage (!) the slithery sucker to slide to the ground.


And that’s when happiness kicked in, and snakey slithered right into the super space like s/he owned the place.

I’m pretty sure I heard him/her speak Parseltongue ere s/he slithered out of sight: thanksssssssssssssssssss.


Mischief managed!


Thank you all for following along and wishing the best for our rattly reptile!

Happy life and many rodents, rattler!

**Update (and thanks to Sue for the reminder!): I meant to credit Linda Carson at The 7MSN Ranch for the snake-pole-lasso. I admired her nerve in snake wrangling … and never thought I’d have to make a pole of my own!

Comanche moon

13 09 2019


The almost-full harvest moon rises above Spring Creek Basin last night.

Tonight’s Friday the 13th moon will be a “rare, full harvest micromoon“!


Snake update: I’m chagrined to report failure in Project Stick-a-Stick-in-a-Pipe-to-Help-a-Rattlesnake. Slowly and also failingly, I tried to use the stick to raise the snake up against the inside of the slick plastic pipe, but the wriggler wriggled its way back to the bottom of the pipe.

To tell the honest-to-goodness truth, I had no idea what I might do with the slither-critter if I happened to get it to the surface, other than fling the whole kit-n-kaboodle (snake, stick, any pride) in some direction closely related to *away*. I think the hole is so deep and so narrow that it keeps the stick relatively vertical, and the snake just can’t climb it any better than the inside of the pipe.

I texted our trusty BLM law-enforcement ranger. He forwarded my text to one of our other range specialists (our herd manager is on vacation). Maybe he knows a good snake-wrangling technique. I looked up “snake poles,” and I may or may not have handy any bits and pieces that may provide the next chance at rescuing the snake.

In the meantime, I put a second stick in the pipe with the slight hope that the snake might make it to where the sticks cross, and from there to the surface.

Here’s the thing: How many of you are pulling for this basin rattler to return to ground level? 🙂 That has to be *uplifting*!

A snake that needed a helping stick

12 09 2019

If you don’t like snakes, stop reading.

If you don’t like looking down cobwebby holes (pipes) and finding a snake at the bottom, stop reading.

Spring Creek Basin is home to more than mustangs, and some of those things are both creepy (I suppose that’s a matter of opinion) and crawly. If you don’t like those things, stop reading.


I think the story has a happy ending (I’m not sure yet), but really, if snakes aren’t your thing, you were warned!


So … I went out to check the main catchment trough last night after our nice rain, and I remembered that the BLM guys had recently told me that they looked into the valve pipe and found a snake. What? They said the lid was slightly off, and they figured the snake was looking for a cool place, crawled or fell in, then couldn’t get back out. So they left the lid off and figured it would make its way out.

On my way back up to the road to my vehicle, I stopped to check the valve pipe.

Holy mother of a freakin’ rattlesnake!

I expected a bull snake, or a little “racer,” or some other kind of little, *harmless* kind of snake-in-a-pipe kinda snake.

As soon as I recovered and looked back in the pipe, I could tell by the streaks on its face – it was definitely a rattler kinda snake. Great.

I mean, it’s not like I was going to reach in and let any ol’ kinda snake crawl up my arm in order to get it out of the pipe, but a rattler? Well, sometimes ya just gotta laugh at the things Ma Nature puts in your path. 🙂


This was my first view of it. It’s reaching toward the top, about halfway up the interior of the pipe.


For reference, this is the pipe in the ground by the water tank. It has a diameter of maybe 8 inches or so. In order to turn the valve on/off, I have to lie down on my belly and stick my arm in it all the way to my arm pit. I’m tall – 5’10 – so I don’t have short arms.


Here’s another view of our friend. See all the cobwebs?


Because it’s not enough to have a rattler down the creepy pipe, oh, no. You have to also deal with giant, fat black widow spiders. Of course you do.

I told the snake I was going to go find a stick, and I’d be back.

I knew where an old stake was, but I didn’t have to go that far; another one was nearer, so I brought it back after measuring it along my arm to make sure it would be long enough.


By the time I got back, the snake had retreated to the bottom of the pipe. Maybe it didn’t believe my promise.


Is it just me, or is s/he looking up with a hopeful expression? See that rattle? Bugger had the ingratitude to rattle at me when I cleared the cobwebs. I couldn’t help it, I fumbled and dropped my phone. At least I didn’t drop it down the pipe!!!! (Can you imagine?!)


Ever so slowly and carefully, I inserted the stake in the pipe so it didn’t hit the snake, and then I got outta the way! I didn’t know how fast it would come up and out – or how mad it would be when it did!

On my way back to my vehicle, I texted my mom. 🙂

So that’s the current end of the story. Hopefully I’ll be able to report next that the pipe is empty and Mr. or Ms. Rattler has escaped to live a long, reptilian life elsewhere in the basin. I’ll replace the cap, and the blog will go back to its regular pix of lovely ponies. 🙂

Pretty in red

11 09 2019


Did someone say lovely? 🙂

Speaking of lovely, Disappointment Valley got some much-needed rain yesterday! A handful of waves of sweet-smelling rain left puddles and created rills of running water and gave vegetation the drink for which it has been waiting too long. Hopefully it’s an omen for a better autumn.