Water catchment 2 – phase 2, day 1

6 11 2022

Well, we outlasted the summer heat, the gnats, the dust, the wind, the dust, the gnats, the heat, the dust (you get the picture), and it’s time to finish our second new water-catchment project for our mustangs of Spring Creek Basin!

Last week, after waiting out the drying roads and before the next round of moisture (soaking rain and big, fat flakes of snow that didn’t stick but added to the moisture), Mike Jensen, Garth Nelson and Daniel Chavez – our BLM range heroes! – came out with tools and supplies, and we got started on phase 2 to get the catchment finalized to take advantage of hoped-for winter snow.

If you need a quick refresher about our work to install the tanks and piping and trough, click on June 2022 over on the right under Archives, then scroll down to find the posts about that work.

It all starts with the first post (pipe) hole! Well, it really all starts with running a string (see the pink line across the tanks?) to dig the holes so the line of steel pipes – to support the roof structure – will be in a straight line. Garth (left) and Daniel are on the gas-powered augur (what a difference that makes to digging holes! especially as many as this project requires), and Mike supervises. He would later do the lion’s share of work with the post-hole digger (far left) and tamp bar when the augur wasn’t quite enough to break through the calcium layer of soil.

Moving right along. You can see by their bodies that Garth and Daniel are putting their weight and strength over the augur to dig deep into the soil.

This was the last hole across the front line of the tanks.

Have you noticed the black straps over the tops of the tanks? As you might remember, we had another good monsoon year (heck, we HAD monsoons again this year after *not* for a few years). After the tanks were in the ground (in June) – piped together at the bottom, the dirt covered back over – at least one of those big rains poured off the hill behind and above the tanks and ran across the not-so-settled dirt around them … and sort of UPROOTED at least two of the tanks – and broke at least one pipe connection! The BLM guys had to come back and fix that little issue (no pix of that because the designated photographer/documenter (that’s me) was on vacation in Wyoming at the time). The straps over the tanks – snugged to T-posts driven into the ground – were to hold them in place in case of another gully washer – which seems to have worked.

Mike checks the level of the pipe while Daniel finagles the concrete to straighten the tilt.

Right on the money! These pipes will be holding an immense weight to support the propanel roof sheets, so the guys filled all the holes with concrete to ensure the longevity of the pipes in our erosion-prone soil.

While Mike and Daniel were mixing and pouring the concrete, Garth was cutting the pipes into sections to place in the holes that the guys had dug with the augur. I went back and forth, lending a hand wherever needed and taking pix of the work (because all good work should be documented!).

The guys work together to shovel the concrete into one of the holes to stabilize one of the pipes.

Getting close to end end of hole-auguring on the back side (uphill side) of the tanks. Of note: The white on the far ridges, including McKenna Peak and Temple Butte, IS, in fact, snow. That seems at odds with the guys wearing T-shirts, but it was warmish until the wind picked up. And did I note that it wasn’t HOT, and there were no gnats and no dust?

Here, you can see the pipes that we’ve already placed – and concreted in place – that will serve as supports for the roof.

And then, as we were getting close to placing the last pipes, THIS happened: A couple of bands came down the hill from the northwest bowls (little “swales” in the northwestern part of Spring Creek Basin, above Spring Creek canyon) to drink at the pond in this area that I call the northwest valley. Why are we building a water catchment in an area that has a pond, you ask? Because, other than this year (of course), that pond only rarely has water in it, which meant that this area – usually dry – is a really GOOD location for a water catchment. And it has proved to be a good location – this year – for showing us that the horses will use this area – and graze it – when there’s water there to drink!

The guys used a couple of methods to ensure straightness of the posts (not just the straightness of each individual pipe but all of them related to all the others in lines up and across), including the string line (pink, tied to the short bit of rebar between Mike and Garth); measuring distance with a tape measure between the posts pictured, as well as those to the left, out of sight; and Daniel, shown here employing the eyeball method – sighting along the three pipes.

Mike and Garth level the pipe while the horses decide there’s not much to worry about and go on to the pond.

Peace on both sides, horse and human.

More of the same. I so loved that the horses, after their initial shock at seeing us at their watering hole, pretty quickly decided that we weren’t doing anything upsetting at all.

And the last pipe is in place!

It’s a good-size pond, and when it holds water, it holds a fair quantity!

Shortly after this, we were done with all the pipe placement and started cleaning up tools and supplies. The horses drank and wandered off to graze in the little valley. Even when the guys rumbled out in their trucks, the horses weren’t bothered. I stayed to take some pix. Before I left, two trucks with sightseers (importantly, not hunters (the end of today marks the end of the second rifle season … two more to go …)) drove up into the northwest valley. The horses had drifted and were grazing right along the road, but the visitors moved super slowly and respectfully, and the horses gave them a marvelous view for pictures right through their passenger-side windows!

We’ll continue work on the roof structure over the tanks as weather allows. Another moisture-bearing system is headed our way by Tuesday night. 🙂





Lookin’ for love

12 10 2022

Something a weeeeeee bit different today. Literally. 🙂 This little guy or gal was smaller than the palm of my hand.

Every fall, we start to see the little crawlies crossing roads, trails, random little places.

This link refers to southeastern Colorado, but we certainly have them in our southwestern corner, too.

I like to see the little critters – who doesn’t root for those looking for love? – but a little bit of distance is preferred. 😉