The greens and golds of home

14 09 2022

Yes, Virginia, it really is that gorgeous.





Just a sliver of bright

24 07 2022

At least somebody’s getting rain. 🙂 Our forecast perks up with moisture in another couple of days, but we wouldn’t mind it sooner than later. Cooler temps ARE much appreciated.





Water catchment 2: Phase 1, day 3

16 06 2022

Partnership is the name of the game with our wonderful BLM guys: Mike Jensen, Garth Nelson and Daniel Chavez. We got a lot done on the water-catchment project yesterday, and there are a lot of pix; let’s get to it!

The above was the first tank to go in the hole dug the day before by Garth. Daniel was back with us, which was a good thing; we needed lotsa muscle.

Pretty soon, things were looking like this at the site.

Then the guys got right to work installing the valves to each tank. (What the heck is Mike doing, you ask? Did I mention yesterday that the gnats were out? Yours truly wore my handy-dandy head net, and I helpfully provided some bug spray for all three delicious-to-gnats BLM’ers (reapplyment was necessary frequently). Garth and Daniel made the extraordinary scientific discovery that plumbing primer and glue is most excellent gnat bait.)

Some extra tweaking and digging out and fine-tuning of the space was necessary (which gives you readers another fine view!). To repeat from yesterday, this catchment features five 2,500-gallon tanks, compared with the four 3,500-gallon tanks in last year’s project. They’re a couple of feet shorter (so the hole doesn’t have to be quite as deep (and we bury them to help keep the water inside from freezing during the winter)), and the walls/plastic is a bit thicker, so they’re a bit more sturdy.

Once again, as with last year’s project, we used lengths of culvert to protect the valves at the base of each tank. The hole will be filled in around the tanks tomorrow, and with these culverts – set vertically – we’ll still be able to access each valve. While Mike and I cut out holes at the base of each for the valves and pipe that links each of the tanks, Garth and Daniel …

… got busy gluing all the valves to the pipe that will link them each and thus allow water to run down the hill to the trough.

Here’s a view of the culverts in place over the valves for each tank.

Then the guys moved right into digging the trench from the end tank down the hill to the trough spot. Garth is carrying the 100-foot length of “flexible line” (that’s a technical term meaning I don’t have a clue what it’s actually called) that will run from the tanks to the trough.

This pic, just because I like seeing all three of our guys in their element: doing what they do for the mustangs of Spring Creek Basin. 🙂

Overall view of the project site: Daniel has dug the length of the trench, and he was leveling out the spot for the trough. At farthest right, you can see the end of the flexible line sticking up from the trench. That will tie into another couple of sections of PVC pipe, from horizontal through an “elbow” to a vertical piece to come up into the trough from the bottom (see the little white bit at the right side of the overturned trough?).

Checking the level of the trough, which is acting like a giant reflector to put light on Daniel’s and Mike’s faces under their ball caps (as a photographer, I appreciated that very much!).

We got the trough set and piped/connected, and here, Daniel is covering the line and part of the trench while Mike stands by to do some shovel work. Today, we’ll set another length of culvert over the valve just barely visible and attach that flexible line to the tanks above.

We got a lot done yesterday!

Today will see the end of this phase of work, and then we’ll wait out the very hot months and build the roof structure over the tanks this fall. We’re tough, but the forecast calls for a high temp of 98 degrees. Yesterday, the forecast was for a high of 88, and it was 94 when I drove out of the basin. Following that mathematical formula, we could exceed 100 degrees today? Yeah – it’s a good idea to wait to work on welding steel pipes and steel purlins and a metal roof. 🙂

In relative-news updates: The water trough at last year’s new catchment has been turned on, and we’re waiting for the ponies to find it. They haven’t yet, but at least a few bands are in the rough vicinity.





Sparkle

6 01 2022

Bay Tenaz glows with health. I love the way his thick coat seems so *rich* in the winter light. And the sparkle in his eye is just the perfect extra touch. 🙂





Pretty in white

2 01 2022

The clearing storm put a spotlight right where it needed to be: on the lovely Piedra!

Lower Disappointment Valley got around 2 to 6 inches of snow! It was hard to tell because of the wind that caused drifts to form across roads and against hillocks and filled little arroyos. That wind was nippy! Then the wind pushed the clouds away, which means frigid temperatures for the next couple of days.





12 from 2021

31 12 2021

Another year comes to a close. Another year is poised to begin. The older I get, the more I wonder about endings and beginnings, and our perspectives about where we are in the middle.

That maudlin attitude aside (!), it’s a pretty good time to roll out some favorite images and a little explanation that goes along with them. Because, collectively, who doesn’t need a little more time at the computer (or phone or tablet) to look at a few more images from this little blue marble-in-space that we’re supremely fortunate to call home? 🙂 I’m kidding about that, of course, and I hope you all enjoy the extra offerings of Spring Creek Basin wild ones!

As I typed for a similar post last year: What follows is one photo for each month of the last year. Some have been on the blog previously; others have not. Onward.

January

In the year’s first month, we had snow to cover the basin with blessed white, also known as frozen gold in our neck of the drought-stricken woods. I found Hayden’s band back in the east pocket, calm as fuzzy, fully winterized mustangs can be. My presence wasn’t any deterrent from the serious business of looking for tasty bits as the snowflakes covered us all.

*****

February

I don’t think Hollywood thinks he’s a comedian as much as *I* think he has the potential to be! Wild stallions, after all, are very serious about the business of survival and protecting their families. This particular day in the basin brought several inches of snow, and I was on snowshoes. Fortunately, it was months before I would roll my ankle because the hike out to his band, which wouldn’t have caused a sweat in dry conditions, was about as difficult and wearying as any I’ve ever done. It was worth it (of course) to see the horses looking good and finding edibles … even if they did sometimes come up looking as though they’d been snorkeling.

*****

March

In March, this little cutie was the first arrival of the year to grace the herd. He’s sire Corazon’s mini me and growing up just as handsome. The band was keeping to one area so the little one didn’t have to go far on those wobbly legs, and I was able to sit with them and observe respectfully. Mama seems pretty proud of her little one, and she took to motherhood like a natural (of course she did!).

*****

April

In April, we welcomed baby No. 2, and she was big and feisty right from the get-go! Most readers know that we use fertility-control vaccine PZP in Spring Creek Basin, and it is THE reason we haven’t had a roundup in 10-plus years. I read an article this fall in which a person was quoted as saying that because of PZP, our herd would be extinct in 10 years. … Well, probably, that person hadn’t seen this little darling, or any of our other foals (or other young horses, or maybe even any other-age horse!). And it’s too bad that they’d rather have roundups. For my part, to see more of THIS (which is to say, healthy foals that grow up to be wild and free mustangs) and fewer roundups, I’ll stick with PZP, thanks!

*****

May

We didn’t have as many wildflowers as we’ve had some other years because of our ongoing drought (we were still in the “exceptional” category at that point in the year; that’s the worst category), but we had a few spots of color to brighten the desert. Bursts of color and the shedding of shaggy coats lets us know winter is in our rearview … but it also heralds anxiety and sky-watching (for clouds, particularly dark ones).

*****

June

“Drought?!” you may be asking yourself. “What the heck is she talking about? Look at that grass!” And it WAS good in June (and then later, after the monsoons finally found us) … before it got hot(ter) and dry(er), and the grasses withered and shrank and turned crunchy underhoof and -foot. This day, pictured, was one of the loveliest days and memories with a little group of young bachelor stallions, recently on their own for the first time. Look at those shiny, slick coats! In the northwestern part of the basin, a mustang (and a human) can see for … well, a pretty long way! To know that our mustangs can roam almost all the land pictured (not the very farthest, pinon-juniper covered hills and ridges), it’s worth everything. … Everything.

*****

July

This little treasure graced us just as the monsoon rains did this summer. With soaring birds on each shoulder, she zoomed right into our hearts from first glance. It had been several years (I’d lost track) since we had an actual monsoon weather pattern over Disappointment Valley, and in the midst of our excruciating drought (that might be a “better” term than “exceptional”), more welcome than I can even express. Those rains set us up for a less-anxious autumn than we would otherwise have had.

*****

August

If you read any of the blog this past year, surely you caught at least a glimpse of one of the posts about the new water catchment our excellent BLM guys built in Spring Creek Basin this summer. We started it at the end of April, I think, and finished by the end of August. Lots of hot, hot, HOT welding work with heavy steel posts and purlins and reflective metal roof sheets. The new catchment gives us the potential to catch and store 14,000 gallons of fresh rainwater and snowmelt for the mustangs in the northern-ish part of the basin. While we were still in the building phase, a few bands of mustangs occasionally meandered through the area to check things out. The image above came together as three of our most perfect grey girls turned to look just as the sun was setting. On the left, our venerable Houdini is most likely in her third decade of life – wild and free on the range where she was born (and birthed many babies).

*****

September

Another big milestone of 2021 happened in September, when we welcomed three young mares from Sand Wash Basin to Spring Creek Basin. Because Spring Creek Basin is small (almost 22,000 acres) and the herd correspondingly small, we periodically introduce mustangs from other herds to contribute to its genetic viability. The grey-and-white pinto stallion was the first to greet the girls, and he had them for their first week and a half here. Then his uncle, the grey stallion, acquired the mares, and they’re happily (so I like to think) with him still. The youngster is hanging out with another young bachelor and a veteran stallion. He’ll have more many chances to win more mares!

*****

October

This beautiful girl is a daughter of Storm-my-love. After growing up in the best of bands, she finally left daddy’s band this fall and joined another stallion and his mare, where – interestingly – she has taken on a bit of a lookout/protector role. She’s much more interested in the goings-on than the very sedate stallion and his low-key mare. Maybe it’s a bit less energy than her natal band, but I think she is enjoying her new family.

*****

November

Our little spotted girl with her daddy, curiously watching a nearby band near a wonderfully full pond. I love to see babies with their steadfast sires, and I love to see ponds with water, rippling gently at the shore. Some of our ponds have even had mallard ducks on them this autumn. Starting the year with dry ponds was awfully awful; finishing the year with water (or even ice) is such an enormous relief.

*****

December

Readers will remember this image of our fabulous elder lady, Houdini, because it wasn’t all that long ago that I took it and posted it here on the blog! She should have full immunity as an ambassador, but I don’t think she would like that title because, truth be known, she really doesn’t like or trust humans all that much. Who can blame her? Though her last 10 years (have to) have been the most peaceful of her life. And to have been part of that … ? Well, I can’t begin to tell you all how happy I am to have played a part in *that*. What better life for a wild horse than to live it fully IN THE WILD?

*****

Bonus

Because, as always, who doesn’t love bonus content? Readers also know how I adore backlighting. … Why? Please see above. 🙂 We did have some wildfire smoke in our skies this year, again. And we had a lot of love and family. If it started relatively dry, and Mother Nature made us wait, anxiously, for moisture, she did come through rather well this summer. Then we had a very dry autumn, and winter didn’t make a very auspicious start. But the last few days, we’ve had a nice little contribution from the heavens: Rain in some areas, a rather large amount of snow in other areas! All of it begs the question: Are we at the start or end or in the middle of our weather year? 🙂 We hope more is to come; it’s all a cycle, after all!

*****

Thank you all so much for following our Spring Creek Basin mustangs this year! Many quarters of this ol’ world endure so much violence and strife and endless struggles that threaten to tear apart people and wild things alike. The very planet is threatened as never before. Observing and acknowledging the beauty of our home rock in the universe has to be a foundation of working to preserve it for all those here and those to come. Just as we strive here to continue our mustangs’ peaceful existence, surely it will take all of us, working together, to preserve life FOR us all.

Peace on Earth, goodwill toward humans and animals and plants alike.
We are not alone (no matter how hermitlike we may favor being).
Here’s to 2022 being a year more steeped in love than hate, more in peace than violence. Here’s to the power of wild and the healing qualities all around us.





Whitening our horizons

11 12 2021

Yesterday, for a few hours, it looked a little like this in Disappointment Valley and Spring Creek Basin:

Looking eastish toward McKenna Peak and Temple Butte from Disappointment Road.

Looking northish to McKenna Peak.

Temple Butte and looking farther into McKenna Peak Wilderness Study Area beyond Spring Creek Basin.





Water catchment: phase 4.9

26 07 2021

Do you suppose we’ll get to phase 5 soon!? … I think so. 🙂 Close. We’re SO close!

Those wily BLM’ers – Mike Jensen and new dad Daniel Chavez – hustled out to the basin without alert or fanfare last week and finished attaching the rest of the propanel sheets to the roof structure.

The last time I’d seen it, when Garth Nelson and Jim Cisco were out to attach the gutter and install three of four pipes, the roof covered half the structure. Because of rain in our forecast, they wanted to get the gutter installed so we could start catching SOME water.

Sure is shady under there! And think of that whole span of rain-catching marvelousness!

Just the end tank has to be piped, then the trough installed (the pipe to its destination is already in the ground) and the structure fenced to keep curious ponies from rubbing on tanks and posts and pawing at lids.

And what the heck is this, you ask?! It might be the strangest, most mind-bending pic I’ve ever posted on this blog. That’s a reflection – in WATER – of me gripping tightly my cellphone at the open lid on TOP of one of the water tanks. See it now? Even standing on the valve cover, I couldn’t quite see into the dark depths. Although I turned on the “flashlight” of my phone, I’m not sure it worked very well; you can see what you *can* see only by virtue of a little Photoshope lightening of shadows. But when I looked at my phone, I knew by the “white dot” – the reflection – that there was water TO reflect my phone and the lid and the metal roof above: I knew there was WATER. 🙂

Wow, wowza and zowie Marie. 🙂 That itself was worth a little dance (and it’s a good thing no ponies or humans were around to witness!).

And YES! We got our biggest rain to date later that evening. Perfect timing, guys. Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!





Beloved horizon

2 07 2021

Just about everything is shown in this one pic – just about everything I love: Mustang (and there are more in the yonder) and that horizon that always lets me know I’m home after any amount of time away.

As always, I wonder what the horse sees/thinks as he looks out on that view, those places he knows intimately as a true, wild resident of that vast, wild land.





Top of my world

15 06 2021
Upper Disappointment Valley from Dawson Draw Road.

From high on the south side of Disappointment Valley, this is part of the amazing view looking eastish. Lone Cone is the prominent lone (!) peak in the far center background. Brumley Point and Temple Butte are visible at left.

Upper Disappointment Valley and beyond from Dawson Draw Road. Lone Cone and Groundhog Mountain visible

Layers and layers and layers of magnificence. Disappointment Road is visible in the middle distance and at far right. San Miguel Mountains in the center distance, and Groundhog Mountain slightly nearer to the right.

Spring Creek Basin from Dawson Draw Road above Disappointment Valley

And looking down into my heart’s own home ground: Spring Creek Basin. Round Top and Knife Edge are visible from here … and all the millions of other unnamed (or named only by me) places I traverse in my travels to see the mustangs. There actually are horses in this pic, though I’m not sure they show up in this very long and very far cellphone view. 🙂 Do they need to? The magic of knowing they’re there is enough.