31 07 2020

We wish our skies were that shade of blue these days. … But they’re now either clear of clouds, or the clouds are bright white, not rain-promise blue.

Fine dining

30 07 2020

Do you have a great view while you eat supper? Killian’s band does. 🙂

Red in the green

29 07 2020

Mister Hayden’s band was behind him. Another stallion’s band was ahead of him. Another stallion who already has a lieutenant stallion and didn’t need any “help” from Hayden to ward off the young bachelor also on the prowl through the trees.

Wildie tracks

28 07 2020

Temple seems to ask if wind equals rain.

Well, usually?

We didn’t get rain during the above photography time; but it did come later, after a weirdly eerie stillness, in the dark.

I’m not sure what kind of critter made the pitter-pat tracks down her shoulder, but isn’t it cool!? 🙂 (It’s really just still-dark hair that hasn’t greyed out at the same rate as the rest of her coat.) And isn’t SHE gorgeous!

What, me, pose?

27 07 2020

Chipeta is another model-beautiful girl who really doesn’t have time for the glamour shots, thank you very much. 🙂


Shout out to my friend Deb, who is retiring after 31 years at the newspaper in Texas where we met. She was my first journalism mentor (and one of my best), and we’ve kept in touch all this time (since I moved from there to Colorado in 2001). She has outlasted too many people to count – editors, reporters, managers – and is as feisty as ever. We’ve chortled about a great many things during our friendship, and almost every time I make it home to Texas to visit my folks, we have lunch at the Olive Garden in town, right off the highway, which now is an interstate.

I sure appreciate that you’ve kept me apprised of baseball and politics goings-on all these years, and I hope for at least 20 years more of the same!

Congrats, Deb! 🙂

A tale of two tails

26 07 2020

Now, the standard warning: If you don’t like snakes, you might want to skip this post. (Oops, maybe I should have led with this warning: This post is about snakes – rattlers, to be specific.)

It looks like one – a big, rather long one – all coiled up (but not at all aggressive). But it had two tails. I can’t imagine where the other head was (well, I can IMAGINE where it was; I just couldn’t SEE where it was).

I was just walking along when … (don’t all good tales start like that? especially when you walk into the bike shop with your bike – or some part of your bike – in pieces, and you say to the mechanic in tones of absolute incredulity, “I was just riding along when …” …)

So I was just walking along, in the basin, after a lovely, quiet visit with a band, some sprinkles falling randomly, at times, not seemingly connected, dark spots appearing spot by spot on bits of shale and flaked sandstone like magic, when, in the middle of a stride across the still-parched and -cracked earth, I heard the sound no one really wants to hear when their thoughts are still with the ponies they left behind and though they *think* they’re watching where they’re going, they’re really not because they think they’ve seen it all before …

Do you see it – err, them?

When I composed the pic, I put them deliberately off-center so you’d have to search for them a bit. The first thing you might see is the rattle (one of the rattles, the bigger (by far) rattle of the two rattles). Fortunately, IT (they?) heard ME, AND it rattled, AND I heard it because I was walking right toward it – not a foot to either side. (And how does THAT happen, in such big, wide-open country?)

I should also have taken an even bigger-view pic to show that I had (practically) miles of open space on either side of the snake pile on which to tread before – without the warning rattle – I would have tread right upon Mr. and Mrs. (?) Snake, of the Rattler family of Disappointment Valley, specifically County Line Drainage.

So the rattles gave me the heebie jeebies – and if you don’t understand that technical term and can’t find it in an *urban* dictionary (!), let me tell you that you might need, like Harry Potter in order to speak Parseltongue, to be actually confronted with the heebie-jeebie-inducing sound to understand the true heebie-jeebieness of it. My first reaction was to change direction in mid-stride (!) and give them a wide berth and apologize for (nearly) disturbing their repose. (I was, in fact, quite grateful that they heard my apparently thundering footfalls and gave me the warning.)

I was about to leave them to it – I mean, ya see one rattler in the middle of your path in the wilderness, ya’ve seen ’em all … right? Then I saw the weirdness (other than the kind of big bundle of snake itself) of the two tails and decided to whip out my trusty cell-phone-slash-camera.

Of course, it didn’t take long to realize that the moment needed the big gun, in order to record the moment for posterity (and you faithful blog readers, who always think you’re going to see lovely images of wildly wonderful wild horses). … Don’t you guys know anything by now?! Including the fact that although snakeys give me the heebies, I might as well share the joy of the jeebies?!

Are you ready? I think I’ve rambled on long enough to spare delicate viewers, no matter how large their screens might be (even if they’re vertical like we page designers used to have ours – and they who are still page designers may still have theirs).

I mean, it’s not gross, but in-your-face rattlers with one head and two tails IS rather, um, off-putting.

OK, you were warned.

Every time I shifted closer (because, I mean, you have to fill the frame, right?), out came the tongue.

Again, the disclaimer: For taking pix of the four-legged wildies, I have a telephoto zoom lens. It also comes in handy when photographing less-desirable (and less-legged) critters. You can see (I think, for those of you familiar with the behavior of reptiles of the slithery variety) that the snake is pretty relaxed here, about a minute or so (time flies while your heart stops racing from the heebie jeebies, not to mention the crazed and totally unnecessary dancing around you do in joy of having NOT been injected with other heart-racing-inducing material) after I first (nearly) disturbed it (err, them). The tails are relaxed, not upright and buzzing.

The temp was in the 70s, which is pretty unusual for Disappointment Valley (for anywhere in Southwest Colorado) in July, and it occurred to me that their piling might have been an attempt to ward off the, you know, *cold*. Who knew snakes could get *cozy*!?

Moving on in our observations, check out the rattles on the little tail … and the rattles on the bigger tail. Our rattlers are pretty small (especially compared with the Texas giants I grew up with). I haven’t seen (m)any around here longer than about a foot and a half (? it’s not like I asked them to stay still while I whipped out the ol’ tape measure) and not much thicker than a garden hose (OK, maybe a little thicker). This little pile of lovebirds (err, snakes) or mama (or daddy) and youngster wasn’t any bigger than a dinner plate (and maybe a bit smaller).

Here’s another view that shows the tails/rattles better (because you know you wanted a better view of the least-threatening and best ends of rattlesnakes).

In any case and from any view, I think the feeling was mutual that I didn’t actually step on them.

No snakes, no photographers, and definitely no horses, were (much) bothered or hurt in the making of these photos during this encounter. And I’m definitely not responsible for any dreams (nightmares) you may have if you scrolled down to see the pix (I was thinking about bears recently and dreamed about an alligator – go figure). You’re welcome. 🙂

This guy

25 07 2020

Storm, born after a big storm swept over the basin, has a pretty calm personality – unless anything threatens his family.

If he has any pull with Ma Nature, maybe he can keep the rain coming. 🙂


24 07 2020

Killian might have been looking at a couple of his mares. … Or he might have been listening to thunder.

Not long after this pic was taken, we did get a little wave of sprinkles. But the bigger wave came around 8:30 p.m. And was still going as of 10 p.m. 🙂

The roof over Disappointment Valley is leaking, and we couldn’t be happier – or more relieved!

Parched and waiting

23 07 2020

This was our view last night in Spring Creek Basin. Looks pretty parched, eh? It is. Those clouds to the east beyond McKenna Peak and Temple Butte didn’t prove very helpful in the moisture department.

The horses aren’t very far from Spring Creek canyon here, which has water in holes and pools. During my hikes around the basin, I keep an eye on the seeps and have seen them recharge with even the recent little rains, so that’s encouraging.

Skywalker, above, is quite relaxed, keeping his own eyes on the band down the hill. He and his bachelor buddy napped for quite a while before finally returning to grazing as the shadows started to creep their way from the rimrocks.

Green = good

22 07 2020

That looks lovely, right?! That’s nearly all of San Miguel County – McKenna Peak is outside the basin’s eastern boundary – under wonderful green, which in radar terms, of course, means RAIN.

Except that it wasn’t actually raining when I took this screenshot (around quarter after 8 a.m.). The heavens had leaked a little a little while earlier, but someone fixed (!) the leak. (Note to someone: We’re really OK with that kind of leak … and it could rip right open … really!)

We are so hopeful, and we need it BADLY – GOODLY? … We need the goodness of it in a really bad way ’cause it’s really kinda bad dry out there.