Busy bright bees

18 06 2022

As I was leaving the water-catchment work site the other day, I admired the spectacular bloom of *color* alongside the road and smiled to myself, thinking, WOW, that’s some nice color in our otherwise very brown world right now. … Then I hit the brakes, shifted into reverse and went back to take some pix. Because brightness deserves to be shared. 🙂

Odd note maybe only of interest to photographers: The blooms were in reality more purplish-red than the reddish-red depicted in the photo (I took multiple images to be sure I had stamens and bees and petals and pollen sharp, at least in places). But they’re still very bright and beautiful!





Water catchment 2: Phase 1, day 4

17 06 2022

Yesterday was toasty. I never did see triple digits, but on my way out of the basin, the temp was a solid 99 degrees. We felt the heat, but until I *saw* it, I wasn’t quite feeling it the way I did after my poor brain recognized the numbers. The gnats were, well, the same: bad.

We got right to work finishing up the plumbing bits. Above, Mike is shoveling dirt around the vertical culvert we put in over the valve at the trough. The brown pipes are steel pieces like we used for the roof structure last year; they’re meant to protect the culvert (which will have a lid) from the horses messing with it. Daniel is on the mini excavator, filling the trench that holds the “flexible line” from the tanks.

Meanwhile, Garth was up at the end tank, measuring and cutting out the “mouse holes” in the bottom of the last culvert to accommodate the valve and pipe. We cut and placed the other culverts over the other tank valves the day before.

This is what it looked like before filling (we had shoveled dirt into the hole around each of the culverts to hold them in place before Daniel started filling with the machine). Look at the line-up! Like we had run a plumb line to make them straight. … We didn’t. There was some measuring and a lotta eye-balling. … Mike, Garth and Daniel have the know-how for this kind of thing, for sure. 🙂

Let the filling commence!

While Daniel was filling and Mike was shoveling, Garth installed a nifty little critter ladder in the trough down the hill. How cool is it! The metal tabs are bent over the edge of the trough, then screwed into the lip to hold it in place. Then he sawed off the ends so they don’t pose sharp-edge hazards. At the end of the day, we also installed one of these in last year’s catchment trough – very handy now that we have water in that one!

More filling of the hole around the tanks. …

Looking good, right?

Admiring their job well done!

This phase of our new water-catchment project went pretty quickly, which I’m sure is a relief to us all, given the heat and gnatty hordes (!). This fall, we’ll get to work on the roof structure, complete with gutter, and start catching some rain. … Speaking of rain, we’re on day 55 (today) *without* rain.

That’s the dry news; the good news is that the forecast is looking promising, starting with possible storms later today. … Lightning, we can do WITHOUT. Rain … BRING IT ON!!!!!

Thanks hugely to our awesome BLM team: Mike, Garth and Daniel!





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.





Water catchment 2: Phase 1, day 2

15 06 2022

We had a huge relief from the smoke yesterday, and the gale-force winds dropped to merely breezes … which gave the gnats license to descend. (Note Mike’s hand at his neck, below his ear. Gnats are no joke, folks, and they are out. I highly recommend head nets.)

Daniel had to help his wife with their sick baby, so Garth brought out two more water tanks, and Mike and I delivered two more that Garth had brought a week ago to a site nearby for easier transport (the flatbed carries two at a time). They’ll bring the fifth today. This year, the catchment will be built with five 2,500-gallon tanks, compared with the four 3,500-gallon tanks we used last year. These are a bit thicker-walled, and they’re shorter (8 feet tall compared with 10 feet tall), meaning the hole for them doesn’t have to be as deep.

In the pic above, Garth is checking for uniform depth across the bottom of the hole with a laser level so the tanks will have a level base. As before, the tanks, with a roof to be built over their tops, are on high ground, and water will run downhill with gravity to the trough, to be maintained with a float.

Note Mike, still brushing at gnats. 🙂 This time, Garth dug one big hole to accommodate both the tanks and the plumbing (instead of doing one hole for the tanks and then a parallel trench for the pipe to connect the pipes from each tank, as they did for the first catchment of this design, last year). Again, the tanks will be buried about half deep to prevent the water inside from freezing during the winter months.

This catchment is in the far northwestern corner of Spring Creek Basin, which boasts a tremendous and far-reaching view.

Digging and leveling and digging and leveling were the big missions of the day.

For the fine work of filling here and digging there, Mike wielded the shovel while Garth manned the mini excavator.

For those of you wondering just how Garth was going to get that machine out of that hole, there’s a little bit of a ramp that he left under the digger (bucket?). 🙂 Here, he was extending it a bit after we measured the length of the hole to ensure it would hold the five tanks. Two tanks are on the ground behind him, and before we left for the day, we unloaded the two from the flatbed.

More to come!





Wind and smoke and dust and … road work

14 06 2022

Good night, America.

Some people cuss. The above from me passes for a fairly mild epithet. It means that, like most everyone else, I’m worn down by these conditions … and then we got smoke. It never means much in practical terms, but prayers are with folks near Flagstaff, Arizona, who are dealing with the current Pipeline Fire – and two other nearby fires – which is the source of the smoke in the above pic.

And then there’s this little tidbit about the start of the fire, which makes actual bad words come to mind (after one has gotten over the idea that there really aren’t any words appropriate. I mean … good NIGHT!?).

And did I mention the wind? Gosh, when *haven’t* we had wind this year … this whole year?!

But did any of that stop our intrepid BLM expert equipment operator and all-around good guy Daniel from fixing the road to the next new water-catchment site so he and Mike and Garth can get equipment there tomorrow?

No. No, it did not. 🙂

There *were* some who didn’t necessarily appreciate the equipment transfer into Spring Creek Basin:

They’ll be glad of it, though, in the long run when we have another source of clean water for them. 🙂





Turn up the heat

13 06 2022

If this image of Terra seems to imply searing heat, mission accomplished (though it wasn’t quite that hot when it was taken). Pretty toasty out there … out here … all around the Southwest.

So it’s a good thing that our next water-catchment project starts today! Think cool thoughts for our BLM guys, Mike, Garth and Daniel! We’re gonna need it!

Bonus:

McKenna Peak is obvious. Not so obvious is the sliver of Temple Butte at back left.

The almost-full strawberry moon of June – which will be a supermoon when it IS full Tuesday (appearing full Sunday night through Wednesday; pic taken last night) – is the perfect topper. 🙂





Not quite happy

12 06 2022

Sometimes boys have disagreements, even among friends. … And then life goes on. 🙂





Into the sunset

11 06 2022

Oh, I adore thee, wild thing upon the Earth.





If you say so

10 06 2022

Raven and the band move away from their stallion … in a way she and they didn’t necessarily want to go?





Sidelit side-eye

9 06 2022

You really haven’t lived until you’ve traded looks with a glorious mustang stallion giving you *the eyeball* through a long, wonderful forelock. Just to make sure you are where he thinks you are, don’tcha know.