Winter wings

21 12 2021

Happy winter solstice, everyone!





Gnarly napper

20 12 2021

Winona found a low spot in a shallow arroyo on the west side of Flat Top to nap; it was as out of the wind as possible that day. Even in her sheltered spot, she had a good view of the human wandering around in the snow.

You really have to wonder what they wonder about our strange-to-them movements: I’m not grazing. I’m not looking for a spot out of the wind. I’m not with others of my kind. I’m just wandering around, clicking every now and then and making other also-unintelligible noises. What weird creatures! 🙂





Winter waves

19 12 2021

It’s not too hard to imagine the immense ocean that once covered this whole region of the Colorado Plateau from this angle, eh?

Madison looks toward her bestie while I watch the snow rolling over the southern ridges of Disappointment Valley. As it came over the ridges, the wind blew it west, and it never did reach us in Spring Creek Basin (which is included in the valley).





The checkout gaze

18 12 2021

As the sun was setting behind clouds over the basin, Corazon came to see just what the heck I was doing sitting there in a pile of snow (answer: because it wasn’t mud). My camera’s ISO was still set for better light, so he’s a bit out of focus, but I love his expression of curiosity!





A little to the left

17 12 2021

Another little snowfall … another lotta melting going on.

I was trying to catch Skywalker with the mountains in the background, but he was much too interested in finding edible bits. And the mountains, though draped in a mantle of long-awaited white, were barely visible through snow clouds. The mud makes it harder than usual for the horses (and humans) to get around, but you won’t find any of us complaining! In fact, we wouldn’t say no to more snow for Christmas. 🙂





Remembering a great

16 12 2021

Six years ago today, we lost one of the greatest wildlife advocates of our age: Dr. Jay Kirkpatrick.

I’ve never known a more intelligent, compassionate, big-hearted human being. When friend and inspiration Marty Felix, champion for the Little Book Cliffs horses for more than four decades, suggested I contact him, early in my advocacy years, it was like she’d told me to call up a rock star. And when I did call him, he was just … so … kind. When I met him in August 2010, when I went to the Science and Conservation Center in Billings, Montana, for the training and certification to become a PZP darter, the first thing I did was ask if I could hug him. 🙂 The memory makes me smile and cry in equal measure.

It’s still true: I honor him and his legacy to preserve wild horses (all wildlife) with every dart I fire. He is one of our mustang angels over Spring Creek Basin. He is missed, never forgotten.

(Sun halo seen yesterday over Spring Creek Basin and Disappointment Valley.)





50

15 12 2021

Today is the 50th anniversary of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.

We still have a lot of work to do to promote and ensure the protection and good management of America’s wild horses and burros.

Readers of this blog know that we’re doing good things for our mustangs in Spring Creek Basin. We = our BLM range staff, led by herd manager Mike Jensen, and advocates.

We’ve had our own challenges in the time I’ve been involved (since 2007), but any ONE of our achievements is something to celebrate … let alone our LIST of achievements … topped last year by the update of our herd management area plan, which raised the appropriate management level for our herd, continues PZP darting and promotes bait trapping over helicopters if the need comes in the future.

The biggest thing to celebrate in this 50th anniversary year is that we set out with common goals, and we achieved each of those. It took a while; it took a community of us. We did it for the good of the mustangs that are our responsibility by the simple fact of being *managed*, which we choose to prioritize as *protection*.

With sincere gratitude to Mike and our other BLM folks, and to our long-time, steadfast cadre of loyal volunteers (you know who you are!), for our mustangs: Happy anniversary, and thank you.





Super shaggy winter girl

14 12 2021

Spirit is sporting quite the shaggy winter coat. It’s a little ruffled with muddy bits, but all the better to insulate against those bitter breezes! (Isn’t she the cutest?!)





Steamy

13 12 2021

To illustrate the chill still in the air a couple of days ago after our recent snowfall, two images of lovely Chipeta are required:

It’s still frustratingly hard to see in these images, but Chipeta was blowing out steam with every breath. In person, backlit, it was so much easier to see! Chilly, chilly. 🙂





So many seasons

12 12 2021

Thanks (!) to colllllllddddd temperatures (note that clear turquoise sky), snow lingers on McKenna Peak and Temple Butte. Lower, Houdini and her bandmates have to slog through soggy soil where that wonderful snow is melting – melllllltttttinnngggggg! – into ground that very much needs it.

Houdini, our grand dame of Spring Creek Basin, has seen snow on the heights and has slogged through winter mud … how many seasons? Unknowable … infinite … many, many, many. We’re fortunate to share even a few with her.