Wishing for a white winter

22 01 2022

Well, we got nary a single, solitary flurry, which was a really terrible disappointment. Piedra and the mustangs, living in the mild moments, probably aren’t too upset, but I’m already worried about our summer water.





The dark and the light

20 01 2022

Maia and Shane look winter-lovely as they make their way to a pond with their family.

It’s so good to have ponds – mostly iced over and thawing during the day at the edges where the horses drink – this winter, as it means we’ll have water in at least the spring. But that brown ground, almost as far as the eye can see (we get no benefit from La Sal Mountain runoff), does not bode well.

A small chance of afternoon snow tomorrow has entered our forecast, and we’re crossing fingers, toes and paws!





Looking snow-ward

19 01 2022

The sky looked promising for some kind of moisture, and maybe the mountains got a delivery of snow, but Disappointment Valley is still waiting. We’re all still waiting … rather impatiently!





Shadow across the mountains

12 01 2022

It’s nice to see the mountains with a fresh mantle of white, even as we have mud from melted snow. Depending on which side of the slopes you’re on, there’s less (south-facing) or more (north-facing) snow in Spring Creek Basin. When the going gets muddy, walking on snow is much easier – at least for those of us with two legs and flat feet.





Nap time

11 01 2022

When the cold air is sun-warmed and the ground is soft (OK, muddy), a little nap is just the ticket when the belly is full (look at that belly!).

In the distance, clouds were clearing from the base of Utah’s La Sal Mountains – (relatively) warm ground plus passing snow over the mountains.





To roam

4 01 2022

I dreamed the night before last that the road to the basin had been – was being, right there in the time of my dream – paved. Suddenly, the wide dirt path was black and solid under the wheels of my Jeep, and then there were machines and workers and noises and a line of vehicles waiting in the construction zone. I stopped at the end of the line, got out of my Jeep and started walking back the way I’d come, looking for that dirt I remembered.

What a nightmare.

To have giant areas, still, of untracked, unpaved wild lands … what a privilege to witness. Yes, I drive on the roads that exist, to get to the places no roads cross, to walk where mustangs and elk and mule deer and pronghorns roam. What a privilege.





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.





Trot for joy

29 12 2021

While Chipeta may seem to be expressing some joy about the recent rain and snow, she’s really hot-footing it away from her stallion, who is *encouraging* her to return to the band from her wayward wandering (!).

We’re getting great and much-needed moisture!





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?!)