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.





Wisdom of pinon and mustang

14 06 2021

Storm does know how to strike a pose under the spreading pinon tree.





Gnatty, knotty girl

12 06 2021

What a dirty girl! Reya’s been living wild and free, and if she takes a spa day now and then, to help ward off those pesky gnats (!), who’s to blame her?!





Black and white in the golden light

11 06 2021

It’s very hard to get laidback, nonchalant Corazon to look my way with his “wild stallion” look. That’s not to say he’s not alert and ever watchful … just that he disdains my human presence as not much worthy of note (which is OK by me).





Wisps of light

10 06 2021

Just enough wind and just enough light make pretty Chipeta glow.

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Tonight is the night of Kat Wilder‘s in-person reading of her memoir, “Desert Chrome,” at the Sherbino Theater in Ridgway, Colorado. Please join us if you’re in the area. Tickets ($10) are required (see link for details and location). “Desert Chrome” is getting rave reviews from readers! To get your copy, order directly from Torrey House Press, from your local independent bookseller, such as Maria’s Bookshop in Durango, Colorado, or chain if you must or Amazon (if you must!).





Water catchment: phase 2, part 2

9 06 2021

This was a short day because of the concrete in the post holes. It has to set/cure before more work can be done. Our part of the world is heating up, one of the guys will be on fire detail, and another person will be on vacation, and there’s monitoring to do on a lotta range – not just Spring Creek Basin.

So without further ado, let’s continue with the last bit of work that happened in the basin a week ago.

More measuring had to happen to ensure that the structure will be “square” in its rectangular layout. I can’t remember the dimensions, but there’s going to be a lot of roof space on which to catch rain and snow!

Also the inner measurements had to be taken.

Then more drilling and more cutting. …

And more concrete pouring (and Jim was back from his weed spraying).

We did have a bit of excitement when the augur got stuck in the hole. They used the section of steel pipe to try to leverage it out of the hole, and even I lent my muscles to the task (now THAT would have been a pic – all five of us heaving on the augur, which was stuck fast in the hole). in the end, they had to dig it out from where it had gotten stuck on rocks.

While the guys continued to set posts and pour concrete, they acquired a bit of an audience. Do you see them?

How ’bout now? 🙂

The posts are in. Next, the purlins have to be welded in place to complete the structure for the roof panels. As it happens, I’ll document it!





Water catchment: phase 2, part 1

8 06 2021

Our range guys were back in Spring Creek Basin last week for some more work on the water-catchment project, this time, to start on the support structure for the roof that will eventually go over the tanks to catch rain and snow (no snow for a while … we have a few 100-plus-degree days on tap!).

I took at least one billion and one half pix (if you know me, you know that’s really not a ginormous exaggeration), so while I’ll try to keep the images to a minimum, I’m also so proud of our guys and this project that I want to highlight it. That said, I’m going to stretch the post into two days.

The day started with measuring. When you’re this far out from Ace Depot Lowe’s Improvement Store (aka *civilization*), you measure LOTS and then cut confidently (if you’re our dream team; if you’re me, you rely on your dream team!). First, they set rebar stakes and ran strings and measured up and down and side to side and in between so they could start with a square-angled rectangle frame to then be able to augur holes for the steel-pipe posts.

Garth and Mike – the young guys – watch Mike dig out the hole they just drilled with the augur. The dirt is soft and dry, and the (dreaded) post-hole digger wasn’t a whole heckuva lotta help.

The first pipe is in!

Daniel has a well-known aversion to working in gloves. … But those pipes were HOT. I helped carry a few of them, WITH gloves, and my gloves were only barely a protection against the heat from that steel.

The guys were all in love with THIS particular tool – a battery-powered band saw. It cut through that steel pipe … if not like butter, pretty darn well.

They brought a supply of water to mix with cement to make concrete to pour in the holes to hold the pipes (at least partly because the soil is so dry and soft and crumbly).

This little tool, a magnetic level, turned out to be one of the main tools of the day and was used to ensure all the pipes were straight.

Glop! They put two bags worth of concrete in each hole to hold the pipes.

Jim was in the basin, too, and he was out spraying weeds along the roads and some of the ponds, so I got to be in charge of pole leveling duty for a bit.

And of course, we had some fun. 🙂





Heartthrob

6 06 2021

How handsome is this guy?!

Storm had been napping and then woke up to realize his girls were ambling on up the hill. No rest for the wild stallion protector!





Showoff

5 06 2021

Thanks to Raven for helping to show off the water tanks that are the first part of Spring Creek Basin’s newest water-catchment project!





‘Home on the Range’

4 06 2021

“Managing Wild Horses on Colorado’s Public Lands”

On the heels of this week’s feel-good good-news stories, here’s another one to end your week on a high: Through the end of the year, Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum (formerly called Anasazi Heritage Center) will host “Home on the Range: Managing Wild Horses on Colorado’s Public Lands,” an exhibit to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. Images and information about Colorado’s three herd management areas (Spring Creek Basin, Sand Wash Basin and Piceance-East Douglas) and one wild horse range (Little Book Cliffs) are included in the exhibit, as well as an adopters corner, which highlights a few awesome adopters of some of Spring Creek Basin’s awesome mustangs with a poster and short video. (Thank you to Tif Rodriguez and Whisper, Keith Bean and Skipper, Alice Billings and Liberty, Steve and Teresa Irick and Breeze and Sage, and Olivia Winter Holm and Ellie!)

The exhibit is a collaboration between CANM (Bridget Ambler), our local Tres Rios Field Office (Mike Jensen and Connie Clementson) and Colorado BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program (Ben Smith and Eric Coulter). I can’t begin to describe how incredible it looks. I walked through the doors, stopped dead in my tracks and burst into happy tears! The poor CANM employee who showed me in waited ever-so-politely for me to regain my senses (it took a little while). It’s THAT beautiful!

The center/museum is located on Colorado Highway 184 above the town of Dolores and McPhee Reservoir. If you’re in Southwest Colorado this year, please stop by to view the exhibit and the rest of the museum for a glimpse of ancient life here on the Colorado Plateau!

Below is a selection of photos of the exhibit. Really, it’s best viewed in person!

If you know me, you know that I’m the biggest emotional softie when it comes to my mustangs. Therefore, it will surprise none of you to read that when I drove up the road to the parking area below the building and saw handsome Hollywood and his beautiful mares, that was the first burst-into-tears event of the visit. Notice also the vertical sign on the side of the building in the background – also Hollywood. (Really, this guy should have his own star on a walk of fame!)

This was the next – and biggest – burst-into-tears moment: when I first walked into the exhibit hall and saw all those beautiful mustang faces. At right: Sand Wash Basin mustangs. In the background: Little Book Cliffs mustangs. At farthest left: Spring Creek Basin mustangs (the pic they used on the outside banner). Piceance-East Douglas mustang fans, don’t worry; your ponies are around the Sand Wash Basin wall. And the little section out of frame to the far left is the rest of the Spring Creek Basin area.

Right around the corner from the doors into the exhibit hall, the adopters are featured. Belatedly, I realized the mistake about Steve’s and Teresa’s mustangs: They’re both geldings. But I love the photos and quotes from everyone! These people all recognize the beauty and value of America’s mustangs (particularly our Spring Creek Basin mustangs), and I’m so glad BLM wanted to highlight their horses and parts of their stories. (The mustangs were adopted in 2005, 2007 and 2011.)

The exhibit also pays tribute to Colorado’s mustang advocacy groups – at least one for each herd in the state! Our mustangs are blessed to have people involved in every aspect of their observation and management (of course, we advocates know that WE are the blessed ones!).

No exhibit of mustang management in Colorado would be complete without a display of some of the tools of our fertility-control trade (on the wall across from this is an info-graphic panel about fertility control). We use CO2-powered darting rifles in Sand Wash Basin and in Spring Creek Basin, and they use .22-type rifles to dart in Little Book Cliffs. At upper left is a teeny branding tool for foals. Hopefully coming soon is a darting program in Piceance-East Douglas; all the pieces are being put in place.

Let’s see some pix of the pix (they are beautifully printed on canvas; each of them will go to the respective offices (Tres Rios, Grand Junction, White River and Little Snake) when the exhibit closes at the end of the year):

One of the walls of Piceance-East Douglas beauties.

A cozy corner of Little Book Cliffs mustangs with some of the astounding scenery shown. Part of Little Book Cliffs also is a wilderness study area (like McKenna Peak in Spring Creek Basin).

Some lovelies of Sand Wash Basin.

And of course, my most-beloved Spring Creek Basin wildies.

Deep, heartfelt gratitude to Bridget and Mike and everyone who conceived of and then brought this exhibit to reality. It didn’t open in January as planned because, you know, Covid, but it’s been open since mid-April and will be open the rest of the year (check the link at top of the page for visitor center/museum hours). (As of this writing, they’re following safety protocols with limited capacity in the building and social distancing.)

If you’re coming to or through Southwest Colorado in 2021, please, please, pretty-pretty please make a stop at Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum and take time to walk through, and/or sit, and very most definitely enjoy this exhibit of some of the mustangs that call Colorado home. We are SO proud of our mustangs!