May 29, 2008

Middle to Mosby Mountain Loop

Today we started from the Paradise Park road’s Middle Mountain trailhead, intending to reach the top of Middle Mountain and search for a trail leading to Mosby Mountain. On top of Middle Mountain, the snow was gone and spring beauties were in bloom. We saw the usual large elk herd melting into the forest. Daisy smelled them but couldn't tell which way they'd went. She ran around sniffing the ground for awhile with little success. We also saw one doe in the woods. Up top, it was windy and chilly, even with the temperature probably in the fifties.

We found a trail going toward Mosby, but after following it for perhaps a mile, it petered out in a dense lodgepole forest that had suffered intense blowdown and was a mass of crisscrossed fallen logs. We tried two routes that appeared to be elk trails, but the logs made the going tough.
Giving up, we turned around and headed out of the forest back toward Middle Mountain. However, Steve took a look at his GPS and map, and realized we’d been within half a mile of a road on Mosby Mountain when we’d quit. So, back we went.
This time, we tried yet another elk trail. We led the horses over numerous logs, through the dense trees and blowdown. Finally, we did get through, ending up where Mosby Creek crosses the Mosby Mountain road, a place we recognized from a ride up that road last weekend.
That last trip, we’d encountered a lot of snow. All of that was gone now. The road had plenty of water pools on it, but was plenty passable, and not too slippery. We continued down that road to our trailer without incident. The total ride was seven miles, 1200 feet elevation, done in about 3 hours.
Moral: Persistence pays dividends.

May 27, 2008

Bad Land Cliffs and the Antelope Rodeo

Today we rode in the Bookcliffs through Chokecherry Canyon and up to the Bad Land Cliffs. To reach the area, go south at the Bridgeland turnoff west of Myton, then east at the Antelope Canyon sign, then take the left fork of Antelope Canyon to Chokecherry Canyon (not marked.) The road becomes a narrow two track but is good all the way. We were able to easily park the trailer at an old drilling site. Beyond the last drilling site, the road is unused and eventually becomes a game trail.
The day was partly sunny, about 55 up high. Chokecherry Spring has year round water, enough for horses and dog, but not enough to support many cows, which probably explains why there is little grazing impact. The land appears to be virtually untouched, with native grasses and plants intact. When we reached the Bad Land Cliffs, we rode along a dirt road, which appears to be lightly used. The view up there is spectacular, a panorama of the snow-covered Uintas, the snow covered highlands of the Books, and the rolling hills and plains below. The only truck we saw turned out to be a government vehicle, BLM. The occupants were two botanists, one of whom wrote a scholarly book we own on the plants in Uinta County. Steve actually recognized him from a lecture we attended in Vernal years ago. The botanists have been conducting a study of plants in the area, which they assured us were entirely native as far as they could tell. Up top, there was a type of bluegrass, mutton grass, and black sage, with a sprinkling of blooming purple milkvetch and daisy-like fleabane.
We were busy taking pictures of each other when a herd of antelope came over a rise, saw us, and scattered. They were close, giving Daisy Mae a chance to chase them for a while, but they soon escaped her. We continued down the road perhaps a quarter of a mile and saw another antelope. Daisy chased this one, too, but it’s behavior was a little strange. It would run away for awhile, until we called Daisy and she was finally tired enough to obey and turn back. Then the antelope would turn back, too, approaching us again and again. We concluded that she was a mother with a newborn calf nearby, hidden in the bushes near us.
At one point, Daisy chased the antelope, turned around to come back to us, and the antelope began chasing her! The antelope approached closely, almost as if she meant to attack Daisy. Daisy realized the antelope had come up beside her, and she lunged at it. The antelope then picked up speed and easily outran her. Steve managed to get this scene on a video, which was a pretty amazing catch.
After that, we went up to a ridge top, tied up Daisy (so she’d take a break and give the mother a chance to return to her young) and ate some lunch while the horses snatched a few blades of grass. From a distance, we observed the mother cautiously approach the area where we’d first seen her. We couldn’t tell for sure if she approached her young, but we assume so. By the time we made our way back through that area, she had moved a distance away.
We returned by a slightly different route, going down a different canyon that connected to the one we’d come from. Again, the land was largely untouched.
We were looking for a place to cross a deep creek bed and chose a crossing that was less than ideal. We got off for the descent, fortunately. It was sketchy, to say the least. Steve went down first, through mud, fallen trees, and some snow. Boss followed, locking up all fours and glissading a good three feet of the way, stopping precariously on top of a fallen log, right beside Steve, who was also precariously balanced. They jumped down, and I sent Mischief after them. (I can't walk fast enough to keep up with him on a steep slope, and he's always willing to follow Boss without me leading him, so letting him go on his own is the safest method. He, too, skidded. He caught his back feet on a downed tree trunk and nearly fell, but managed to keep his feet and continue with fair grace. (Mischief is light on his feet, almost always graceful.) I slippy-slided on down to join the group. Luckily, no one was hurt, but we'd certainly choose a different route next time.
The whole ride, including a side trip up a steep road that made for a nice lope, was about 12 miles, 2000 feet altitude gain, 4 hours in the saddle.
Conclusion: The destination we reached on the Bad Land Cliffs has one of the better 360 views in the area. Definitely a semi-annual must-do for spring and fall.

May 25, 2008

Mosby Mountain Attempt

We parked where Paradise Park trail crosses into forest service land, near the corrals. A ranger came by while we were saddling up. Since those guys have never stopped to chat before, we thought we were in trouble. However, he said we were fine, he was just feeling a little lonely up there on a holiday weekend with no one around. Bad weather had scared off all the customers. Steve was able to quiz him on trails, so that was somewhat productive.
Mounting up, we followed a trail past a spring, uphill to a rocky road that we followed the rest of the way.
The road and trails were very wet and slippery. Before long, we ran into pools of water, then into snow along the trail. The horses plowed through both. When we reached the spot where we were planning to go cross country, we found lots of snow in the trees, lots of blowdown, and no sign of a 2 track or animal trail to follow. There may be one, but the snow obscured it. We’ll have to check again in better weather. Some snow fell on us, and the wind blew pretty hard in that area. Luckily, we wore our Aussie dusters, which are good windbreaks, waterproof, and quite warm.
Boss began acting squirrelly about the time we ran into the first snow on the trail. He even hung back and let Mischief go first, which is unusual behavior for him. After we realized we couldn’t reach our destination and turned back, we saw bear tracks in the snow, somewhat obscured by Daisy’s tracks. Boss must have smelled bear on the way up. Guess he figures he’d rather let Mischief take the lead at those times than risk being eaten by the big old scary mountain goat… er, bear. Or whatever gives off the unpleasant smell he fears.
As we neared the spring close to the trailhead, we stopped to take some pictures in a picturesque clearing with sunrays and Indian paintbrush in abundance and a beautiful mountain backdrop.
Surprisingly, we saw another group of horseback riders, 3 riders and a dog, after we gave up Mosby mountain and took a little 1000 foot climb sidetrip to the top of Lake Mountain. Up and down took a little over an hour. Boss again hung back and let Mischief take the lead on the way down, maybe upset over more bear smell. When we returned to the trailer, he was sweaty under his blanket. Mischief was dry. Is it possible that my horse is too dumb to be scared? No way. Not my highly gifted horse. He's just more experienced, I maintain.
Overall, a nice ride on a less than stellar day.

Cedars Loop

On Saturday, the weather was predicted to be chilly and rainy, so we stayed close to home and rode in the Cedars area about ten minutes west of our house. This is the same area where we cross country skied every weekend last January and February. We rode our old ski trail, then continued down to the gulch and across. We had wondered if the gulch would be marshy and difficult to cross, but we found a narrow, rocky, easy crossing near the southern part of an alfalfa field. We continues south for a few miles, found another easy crossing, and made a loop back to the ski trail and eventually the trailer.
We saw a golden eagle swooping along above us. Daisy didn’t catch any rabbits, which was a blessing, because she always manages to catch their fleas. We made an 8 mile ride, basically flat, in about 3 hours.
We started out from the trailer with cold wind, rain, and popcorn snow, but sun came out and warmed us up considerably, turning this into a very pleasant ride.
Moral: Don’t let the weather stop you. By the time you get where you’re going, the weather will probably change.

May 21, 2008

Migratory Birds

Today I saw a black-headed grosbeak at the feeder, my first sighting of this migratory bird.

The lazuli buntings are still around, as well as the red-winged blackbirds and the finches.

Yesterday I filled a hummingbird feeder and put it in an aspen tree in the side yard. No birds yet. According to online sources, they should be back from the southlands by now, so maybe they'll appear soon.

The rest of my time has been occupied with setting up two electric cross fences for the pasture. This will allow us to rotate the horses through three areas, better preserving the grass. Right now, the grass is so deep that it seems impossible that they could consume it all, but a little over 4 acres of grass is not excessive for 2 horses, so they might.

May 19, 2008

Lake Mountain from Paradise Park Road

Last Sunday, we rode to Lake Mountain from the Paradise Park road, which travels north from LaPoint. Just after entering Forest Service land, we turned to the right to an area that has corrals and serves as a riding trailhead, with plenty of room for parking trailers. We went through a gate near the corrals, traveled up a steep, aspen-shaded trail that traveled along a small creek much of the way. Daisy and the horses had plenty of water. We even encountered a trough full of water. As we neared the top of Lake Mountain, we saw a herd of maybe 30 elk. They were only a few hundred feet away when they saw us and began running downhill. Daisy went off chasing one of them.
We rode over to Gull Lake, where Daisy took a swim and we stopped for some peanut butter crackers. (Boss, Mischief, and Daisy each got a taste.) Instead of returning the same way, we made a loop hike by traveling along Middle Mountain before starting downhill and back to the trailer. We didn’t see the elk again, but we did scare up a couple of deer.
The entire ride was about 6 miles and 1200 feet vertical. Not as long as our usual, but a welcome respite after the long ride to Buck Ridge the previous day. The temperature in Roosevelt reached 90 degrees today. The temp at 10,000 on Lake Mountain was very comfortable, probably about 70.

The Bear Scare

On Saturday, we rode Buck Ridge from the trailhead located off the Whiterocks road just as it reaches Forest Service Land. We took this ride several times last fall, but this was the first spring attempt. We followed a 2 track up a rocky slope, around the side of a mountain, through a basin and up again to the ridge. From there, we rode through forested trails until we reached too much snow to continue. As we first started into the forest on the ridgetop, Boss started acting spooky, as he does when he smells something strange. Steve spotted several mountain goats about the same time Boss did. Boss whirled and tried to run back the way he’d come. Mischief, traveling behind, saw Boss’s sudden move and decided he was out of there, too. I was able to stop him before he did more than change direction in a hurry. Steve, likewise, got control of Boss before he went far. We thought it was funny that the mountain goats scared Boss so much. He is, after all, a big, strong horse. Em-barrassing!
However, on the way back, in the same area, we saw fresh bear scat. (Black bear, since that’s the only variety that lives in the Uintas.) Boss may very well have smelled bear on the way out and, since he’s never actually seen a bear, assumed the white critters (the goats) were what carried that scary odor. So, maybe he’s not such a ridiculous coward after all. Being scared of bears is okay. After all, according to Stephen Colbert, they’re number one on the Threatdown…
We also saw a couple of elk on the way down the mountain. Overall, a very good ride, which we accomplished in 7 hours with some trotting and a short gallop uphill. The GPS profile showed 5000 feet altitude gain, and about 12 miles. The rocks tore Mischief’s front boot’s gaiter. I replaced that gaiter after we returned home. All of the boot treads showed wear from the rocks, but the hoof protection appears to be very good.

Spring Has Sprung

Our small acreage is a veritable bird haven. We’ve been seeing mallards swimming in the creek pools for weeks, but recently we’ve also seen a pair of cinnamon teals, which are apparently common in the west. Robins are everywhere. We hear meadowlarks singing constantly. Raptors cruise the area. We haven’t heard the owl this year, but I expect we will this summer. One day I saw a turkey out by the mail box. It looked wild, but turned out it was a domestic from a neighbor’s coop.
Today, we spotted 4 lazuli bunting at our bird feeders. Beautiful birds. They were out there with the house finches and goldfinches, enjoying the black oil sunflower seeds.
The cottonwoods are leafing out today. Elms, aspens, fruit trees and willows have been coming out over the last few weeks. Grass and alfalfa are 8-10 inches in the pasture.

Bird Report

We discovered a killdeer nest in the pasture. First, we saw the killdeer mom pretending to be injured to get our attention, we assumed to keep us from walking near her nest. We stood back and waited for the mom to calm down and return to the nest area. Even with that hint, we had to look for awhile to find the four gray speckled eggs parked on top of a cow pie. Steve cordoned the area off with 4 step-in fence posts and some electric wire to discourage the horses from stepping on the eggs. About 3 days later, the eggs hatched. Killdeer chicks are hatched more developed than most birds and are able to leave the nest within days. Note the large, strong legs enabling them to run and hide. Sure enough, these chicks were gone from the nest 2 days later.
A week after hatching, I saw the adult birds swooping around protectively, so I looked for the young. I saw one chick, about a third the size of an adult, scuttling down the dirt bank toward the creek. The coloring was exactly the same as the adults, but it still looked fuzzy. The poor little guy was hurrying so fast that he tripped on his oversized legs and fell on his beak. He got right up, though, and scurried into some brush.

Where the Antelope Roam


We rode Little Mountain from the crested wheat grass meadow, which you can reach from a turnoff to the north from the LaPoint highway just east of the 27 mile marker. We drove up the dirt road through the huge flat meadow and stopped just before it started into a canyon. Just past that descent, rolling hills begin, leading to Little Mountain where a group of radio/cell phone towers for the Uinta Basin area reside.
We unloaded the horses from the trailer, and I let Mischief graze, unattended, as I often do. Meanwhile, I was checking my tack and brushing off my saddle blanket. Steve called out that Mischief was wandering a little far, so I hurried around the trailer to see what was up. He was standing there, staring out into the distance, and I saw the shapes of maybe a dozen animals. As I approached, and they approached us, I realized they were antelopes. When I drew close to Mischief, he turned to face me. The antelope must have noticed me at the same time. They spooked and ran toward the trailer and Steve. One of them went within 50 feet of him before bucking to a halt, circling, and taking off another direction.
After that little adventure, we went ahead with our ride. About 16 miles, 4 hours, 2600 feet. We reached the top, where we found a small pool of water in a road rut. We had noted the pool, maybe a foot deep, the last time we were up there. We also stopped at a nice spring along the way, giving the horses and Daisy ample opportunities for water. Weather was windy, probably about 50. Sunny and pleasantly warm.

Indoor Robin

Several times this week I noticed a robin flying out of our garage’s open door when I went from the house to the garage. This morning, I finally realized why. She/he had made a nest on top of the garage opener mechanism!
· The nest looked complete, but I got on a ladder and saw that there were no eggs in it yet. I carefully removed the nest, still damp from wet grass and the mud that had been packed into it, and set it in a fork of a nearby aspen tree, hoping the birds would find it and use it in the new location.
· A little later, I saw a robin fly into the garage and leave again, probably extremely confused about what happened to the nest. I closed the garage door to avoid more indoor nest building. A little later, I saw a robin flying in the vicinity of the garage with grass blades in her mouth, apparently still with building on her mind.
· I’ll be leaving the garage mostly closed. Sure hope the robins are able to make a new home in time to welcome their young…

Propane, the Right Spot

· When we moved into our new house last summer and filled up the propane tank for the first time, the propane company informed us that they’d been telling the old man who preceded us that the tank was too close to the house. The propane regulator was also misplaced and violating another regulation.
· At the time, we couldn’t decide where to move the tank, and winter snows were upon us before we did anything. Today was the day.
· The propane guy did a great job of moving the tank without even breaking any limbs off the apple tree. It is now located at an appropriate distance from the house. Unfortunately, the gas line to the new spot needs to be buried in an 18 inch deep trench. I was hoping the propane company would do the grunt work with a ditch witch. No such luck. We either had to pay a ridiculous price per hour for hand digging, or do it ourselves. So, I’m doing it. Gradually. It’ll take a week at 1 hour per day, at least.
· In other news, I hung the sprinkler box more securely and figured out why the sprinklers didn’t come on automatically this morning. I forgot to turn the dial to Auto! That was simple.
· After doing so much handiwork around the house, maybe I should hire myself out as a handyman. Could be some money in it.

Herbs and Medicinal Riding

Brenda visited our house today with her new horse, Affie. We put her horse in the pasture to get acquainted with our horses who were contained in the barn lot. There was much neighing and posturing.
· Meanwhile, we went off to a meeting on herbs, Brenda’s reason for being in town. I’m not convinced to go au naturel yet, though I heard mucho praises sung about herbs whose names were totally unfamiliar to me. Perhaps some of them are worthwhile. Also mentioned were common herbs like rosemary. I think that and other Italian type seasonings are purported to be good for staving off colds.
· I wonder, with the FDA doing practically nothing to monitor big name drugs, who, if anyone, is monitoring the herbal industry? It’s a mystery. Also, with drug companies paying for their own studies and putting out suspect “facts” cherry-picked from those “studies”, can we expect that herbalists’ conclusions are any more honest or scientifically accurate? Just a little food for thought.
· Point of interest: The lecturer highly praised eating crushed raw garlic cloves as a prevention for the onset of pneumonia. I’m thinking that if I were a pneumococcus and came onto garlic breath of that magnitude, I would, indeed, run the other way.
· I’m not saying there’s nothing to these herbal cures. I’m just saying, how do we really know? And that also goes for modern medicine’s pharmacology.
· After the noon lecture, we returned to the house in hopes of going for a horseback ride. About the time we arrived, the wind picked up, dust was blowing in the air, the sky was dark. In general, it looked like the gods were angry. However, we decided Brenda had trailered her horse 40 miles to do a ride, and we were going to do one, cooperative gods or no.
· The wind settled down a little in response to our decision. We went out to fetch the horses. At first, Affie didn’t want to be caught. He was having way too much fun running around in the pasture. Boss was galloping around in response to Affie’s excitement, preventing Mischief from coming up for a treat. Finally got Boss penned up in the bull pen corral and caught the other two. Boss was disturbed at being left alone. He neighed loudly from his enclosure as Mischief and Affie went off to the trailer.
· We drove to the Cedars, a few miles west of our house and had a nice hour’s ride, blessedly uneventful. As Steve always says, if no one got jobbed in the dirt, we’ve had success.

Summer Timer

Our lawn grass was looking dry and listless. It was time to give it some care… in the form of regular watering, that is.
· Our old automatic sprinkler control box was kaput, so I fetched a new one from Lowe’s, a nifty 12 station Orbit Watermaster. I had replaced one before at our Vernal home, so I wasn’t too intimidated. The installation turned out to be relatively easy.
· My difficulty came in trying to get the water turned on (couldn’t seem to get the turner-on-er into the right slot), then in figuring out how to close all the valves that the sprinkler winterizer dude had left open. I kept having trouble with not enough pressure and with the zones staying on when the timer was off. Finally got that figured out and solved.
· After a little adjustment, we were in business! Our lawn feels loved now. All we have to do is sit back and watch it grow.
· And tune up the lawn mower while we’re resting…

Little Mountain via Cottonwood Springs

5-4-08 To reach the Cottonwood Springs turnoff, we drove east along the LaPoint highway toward Vernal and turned off a little past mile 32. We turned left onto a dirt road and drove up several miles. We parked our trailer just as road began to rise, saddled up and took off.
· After about a two mile ride to Cottonwood Springs, we offered the horses a drink. They were only interested in grass. They hadn’t worked hard enough to be thirsty. While stopped there, a couple of four wheelers came by. Turned out they were folks who had helped us haul hay 2 years ago. The young woman had worked in Steve’s clinic at the time. They recognized Steve and stopped to talk.
· After a short break, we trotted up the steep road another thousand feet to a pass. The horses were winded and sweaty by then. At that point the road divides, one fork leading down to another spring, one leading up to Little Mountain. We took the low fork first and went down to give the horses another look at some water. They were more than happy to drink then. Daisy was much in need of cooling off, too. She jumped in the pool for a swim.
· We munched granola bars while the horses grazed on tender new grass and sedge. Then we went back to the pass and took the high fork leading to Little Mountain. We rode up most of the way but turned back before reaching the peak, thinking the dog and horses would need water before we could get to the top and back. We couldn’t be sure we’d find a pothole with melted snow along that road, and we know of no springs that high.
· On the way back, we met another group of five four wheelers. They stopped to let us go by so they wouldn’t scare the horses. Our horses don’t really mind the wheelers, but we appreciated the courtesy. They were apparently looking for elk or deer, because they asked us if we’d seen any. We hadn’t.
· All was uneventful on the way down until Steve decided to try a “shortcut” through the Junipers, traveling along a ridge instead of following the road. Unfortunately, the ridge ended, and we up and down several steep gullies before finding our way back to the road. Good work for the horses, poor boys. They were pretty tired. The ride was over 4 hours long, with 30 minutes or so in breaks. Probably 14 miles, and 2000 feet or more elevation gain. Though the temperature was comfortable today (70 in Roosevelt, and probably 60 on the mountain), any warmer would be too hot for the horses and dog with the minimal amount of water available.
· Conclusion: This may be our last Little Mountain ride until fall.

Little Mountain, By the Backroads

We’ve had some excellent horseback outings from March 15 to the present. We started out in the relative lowlands near the Ouray Wildlife Refuge and gradually moved up to the Nine Mile canyon area.
· Our first ride into the mountains was off the Lapoint highway toward Little Mountain. We almost made it to the top. Snow stopped us at around 8200 feet. Our horses made a 15 mile run, 2600 feet elevation gain, in about 5 hours.
· This is our second year using easyboot bares. We think we went through 2-3 sets last summer, covering a distance of 3oo-400 miles, but we didn’t keep very good records. We’re going to try to keep up with the mileage and boot wear this year.
We’ve ridden Little Mountain many times from Cottonwood Springs and from another road that leads past a huge meadow planted in crested wheat grass. Both of those routes begin off the Vernal-LaPoint highway.
Yesterday, we decided to try a route starting from the Paradise Park road. Steve had spotted a road on Google Earth and identified it on his Topo! Map, so we thought we had it all figured out. However, the route he’d marked had a locked gate. We found an alternative that looked like it might work, but that one also had a locked gate. Unfortunately, we didn’t discover that second gate until we’d driven the horse trailer down a narrow two track for almost a mile. There was no turnaround that would work for the truck and trailer, so we ended up backing up for 200 feet or so before coming to an area that was open enough to turn.
Whew! That was a good find. Backing up all the way to the main road was not going to be fun.
At that point, glad to be out of the woods, so to speak, we parked near the road, saddled up, and did our exploration on horseback. The route was on Indian land, posted No Hunting, but not No Trespassing, so we took that as a go-ahead sign. No fences there, at least. After much wandering through giant sage (we’re talking 5-6 feet, full of pollen), we found a deer trail that crossed Deep Creek. On the other side, we came to a faint road that led to a fence with a gap that just happened to be there, almost as if it were created just for us - one of those little unexplained miracles of life. Since the gap wasn’t locked or posted, we went on through. On the other side, we found a more apparent two track that led to a definite dirt road that eventually led to a BLM gate.
Quite an adventure, but we ended up where we were supposed to. Now on BLM land, we were able to continue the ride as originally planned.
We saw Indian paintbrush, wall flowers, milkvetch, and phlox in bloom. Bluebirds flitted through the meadow. A small herd of cows and calves snorted at Daisy, whom we managed to mostly contain so she wouldn’t chase htem. Farther up the hill, we came to two very nice springs with great water for the horses and dog. Both had small ponds. At one, we disturbed a pair of ducks, who flew away as we came by.
We had a bit of a search to find the springs, but the GPS is really a miracle worker when it comes to locating anything. Other than when we were searching for the springs, we were able to follow a road on our way up. The steep parts of the road were very rocky, but the horses manage rocks just fine with their EasyBoot Bares.
Having spent a lot of time finding the trail and the springs, we were running out of time before we reached the towers on Little Mountain. The top was in sight and maybe only a mile away, but we decided to head back. After retracing our crazy and somewhat ugly route through fence gaps and giant sage, we reached the trailer about 5PM. The total ride was 15 miles, 2000 feet elevation gain, and about 5 hours in the saddle.
Conclusion: An interesting trail, but not one we’d try again unless we can find better access.

Daisy, the Fishing Lab

Daisy was in heaven on the Green River last Sunday. She got in some good swimming and had great fun watching Steve pull in fish. She really wanted to check out the fish, but I kept her on a leash away from the action. It was funny to see her straining and whining as soon as she saw the swirling in the water.
The mayfly (baetis) hatch was minimal compared to the norm for this time of year, and the fish numbers, as seen in the clear water, seemed much less than 5 years ago. Numbers seem to go down every year as the mud on the bottom rocks accumulates. This may be due to the low water flows in the drought years. If the trend continues, the Green’s days as a quality fishery are over.

Kinda Homey

April 30, 2008
We’ve lived in our small Eastern Utah town for just over six months, and already the receptionist at our vet’s office knows my first name the instant I walk in. She even gets in the ballpark on the spelling of my last name, and that’s pretty good, considering. (Could this be a sign that we have too many animals?)
The pharmacist sees me coming and has my order at the cash register before I can even get to the counter to ask. (Maybe we’re buying too many drugs, too.)
Our neighbor brings over a dozen fresh eggs once a week, straight from the overactive hens in their chicken coup. Our neighbors have also been kind about helping us deal with snow during this year’s abundance, and guiding us through the irrigation process. Steve brought Caleb, the neighbors’ 6 year old son, a horny toad we found on our ride. Caleb said, “It’s the cutest horny toad I ever saw!” Steve made lots of positive points there.
Our street doesn’t have a sign, but we identify our location to locals by naming our neighbors and saying we moved into so and so’s old house. Everyone knows everyone else, so that works. Of course, small towns have limited shopping, but the necessities are all available. For instance, we have several irrigation supply stores and places that sell groceries, dog food, horse feed, birdseed, and western wear.
What else does one need, after all?

More Day Labor

We had our first irrigation this past Saturday. I was under the mistaken impression that we just had to turn on the water to the gated pipe system when it was our turn to get the ditch water, and we’d be set.
First we had to repair the hole in the pipe where Boss stepped on it last fall. (After that mishap, we ran electric wire along the pipe to keep the horses off.) The pipe replacement wasn’t too difficult. Then we found out that we needed ditches and some furrows to reach the higher areas. Even though the pasture appears completely flat, it’s not, at least not as far as the water flow is concerned. Our neighbor dug some of the ditches with his backhoe, but the furrows were up to us.
The actual water flow went pretty well, except for a minor tsunami coming out of one of the pipe connections with a worn out gasket. Finally, exhausted and filthy, we had the whole pasture watered, after 9 and a half hours of monitoring. But… we couldn’t get the water turned off! Something was wrong with the seating of the valve. With the neighbor’s help (he was anxiously awaiting his own water turn) we managed to get it closed down.
Ah, the relief. However, three days later, the valve is gushing again. We’ll just have to accept the extra water until the group of neighbors who are on our system finish and the main pipe is shut down. Then we can fix the problem. We hope.
Ibis, some kind of gull, and other long-legged fishing type birds seem to follow the irrigation in the early spring. It’s fun to see the birds squabbling with each other over a worm. We also saw mallards in the flooded field, and possibly snowy egrets (not sure of the identification.) We’ve seen lots of goldfinches and other finches at our backyard feeder, and there are always plenty of water birds, robins, and various raptors back along the creek.

Country Life

This is our first spring in our country home, and we’re not lacking in things to do. We did our best to eradicate the thorny Russian olives growing down by the creek. Our plan was to stack up the leavings and burn them, but, to our chagrin, we couldn’t get the darn stuff to burn even with a dousing of diesel fuel. Guess they need to dry out a bit. Maybe next fall?
Meanwhile, I obtained 50 dry root trees and bushes from Natural Resources on April 18. (Okay, I admit I got carried away. They were incredibly cheap, though, and it sounded like a good idea at the time.) Finally got them all planted. Golden currant, dogwood, lilac, Siouxland poplar, and littleleaf linden. The lilacs are planted in the yard, the rest down by the creek. I have to water them at least weekly. For the creek plants, that means hauling buckets of water up to them.
Oh, well. I needed the exercise, I guess.

While I’m working on my gardening, I let Daisy come along with her shock collar on. She’s learning, gradually, that ignoring Mom isn’t a good plan. Lately she’s been sticking with me most of the time. See photos of Daisy Mae, our yellow lab. Also known as HiLee, short for Highly Gifted.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin