Archive for December 2009

Looking Back   Leave a comment

This is the time of year for retrospectives, it seems.  As I was playing around with Google Earth, I discovered its “time machine” function, where you can look back at older satellite photographs.  Of course, I promptly started checking on the ranch.  The earliest shot was from 1994.  Here it is.

You can see both sides of the ranch, separated by the four lanes of Manor; “our side”, on the west, and “the other side”, on the east.  Below that, I’ve circled part of the big island in the middle of the river.  Changes in it are quite interesting.  Notice the obvious paths, which led to different transient camps (and marijuana patches, it was said).  The river is mostly dry.

Fast forward to 2002.

The river is still mostly dry, except for the channel running to the south of the island.  You can see the round pen we built to the west of our arena, and the big arena on the other side.  Most of the paths on the island are gone, but there are still some camps.  Skipping over 2003, on to 2005.

There’s water in the river; in fact, more than in any other shot.  The little island above the big one is under water.  The trees on the island and along our bank have grown a lot.

The most recent shot was taken in 2008.

You can see immediately there’s been a problem.  This was taken after the big fire, which burned off the island and much of the north bank.  That was a nervous night, but we were lucky.  The river is down a lot, and the shape of the island has changed.

The next time they update, it will look much different.  Most of the riverbed is full of new growth.  It’s hard even to find the channel.  The next high water may be Really Interesting.  Unless there’s another fire, that is.  That will be interesting in an entirely different way.

There are lots of other differences that can be seen, of course.  They’re probably only interesting if this is a special place for you.  But then, it is; not only for us, but for all of the boarders over the years.

Have a happy and safe New Year’s celebration.  We’ll do well to make it to the ball drop.

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Posted December 31, 2009 by stablewoman in Around the Ranch, Kern River

It’s Raining, It’s Pouring . . .   Leave a comment

. . . is what I murmured into Billy’s ear as I woke him up this morning.  (He wasn’t too appreciative.)  When we went to bed, the weatherpeople were grudgingly allowing as how we might get a few sprinkles.  If we were really lucky.  This is what I woke up to.

Those bright glints are raindrops reflecting the flash, as my little camera tried valiantly to light up the whole outdoors.  It didn’t quite make it.

The news at noon said we got .39; a good rain for Bakersfield.  That was the last good thing about the morning.  Andrew overslept, and didn’t make it up to start the feeding.  When he got there, they got four horses fed before the tractor broke down.  When they finally got the feeding done, his little pickup had a dead battery.  And the pens are all Very Wet. 

At least it’s good timing.  They are not predicting any more rain for at least ten days.  We’ve gotten enough to keep the grass coming in the hills, and that will mean wildflowers again.

Of course, we’ve also gotten enough to make Really Good Fog, but as long as we can find the horses to feed them, we’ll be OK.

Posted December 30, 2009 by stablewoman in Weather

Knit, Knit, Knit   Leave a comment

Another gray and chilly day, with only a few people around.  At seven this morning it was forty-seven degrees outside; at noon it was — forty-six.  I spent most of the day feeding the fire and knitting.

I’ve started a striped garter stitch blanket, with the thought it might make a nice housewarming gift for grandson Andrew — if I finish it before it gets to be ninety degrees.  I’m a pretty very slow knitter.  Here’s what I’ve got so far.

It should go well with the golden oak-colored flooring he’s installing.  He told us he had four years of wood shop in high school.  I didn’t even know schools did wood shop any more.  We’ve still got a little magazine stand Billy made in seventh grade, sixty-plus years ago. 

Anyhow, I’ll do five repeats of the color sequence, add side borders in the darkest color, and call it good.  I always enjoy color names; these are Espresso, Chocolate, Toffee, Honey — and Beige.  Beige?  That’s not shining originality.  I think I would have named it French Vanilla.  Then I could call this the Candy Blankie.

Posted December 29, 2009 by stablewoman in Needlework

Kinglet?   Leave a comment

A cold gray day — again, a good day to sit by the fire.

The only thing of interest is on the birdwatching front.  There has been a tiny bird exploring the patio.  I think it’s a Ruby-crowned kinglet; we’ve had them before as they work their way south.  I wish they’d stay longer, because they’re almost terminally cute.  Above is a Wikipedia picture.  The birdie outside might be a little more olive.

They’re called Ruby-crowned because of the tiny red patch at the back of the head.  It’s not conspicuous, unless they choose to flash it to warn off trespassers.  There’s also a Golden-crowned, whose golden head patch is more easily seen.  We’ve had them, too, and I hope to see another this year (or maybe in 2010; the New Year is nearly here!).

Posted December 28, 2009 by stablewoman in Nature

Rain?   Leave a comment

Well, sort of.  I had to turn the windshield wipers on and off twice on the way to the store.  It would be generous to call it a “trace”, but at least its heart was in the right place.

As it happens, both son Scott and friend Marion are in Texas, where Mother Nature has been much more generous.  He’s visiting his daughter and meeting his second grandchild.  They had four inches of snow in little Sweetwater, Texas, the day after he arrived; quite an event for a Bakersfield native son.

Marion, on the other hand, is in Houston, awaiting the birth of her newest grandchild.  She was glad to see her horse was doing just fine back in California, although I don’t think Minka’s missing Marion too much.

Though it hasn’t rained any more, it’s stayed rather cool and gray all day.  There have been lots of people here, but most have checked on their horses and left, though there are always some hardy souls.  Here’s another Purty African violet, brightening my dull day.

Posted December 27, 2009 by stablewoman in Uncategorized

Spring Preview   Leave a comment

In other parts of the country, the new grass is months away.  Here, this is the time for hopeful seedlings to start popping up.  I noticed the sourgrass is starting to sprout around the old mulberry tree.

In a month or two, if the rains don’t stop, it’ll be making a fairy ring around the gnarled old tree.  Its bright yellow flowers will be raising their heads, and it’ll be a cheery spot until the heat comes on.

Earlier I heard the rumble and crash of our latest load of wood arriving in the backhoe bucket.  Free wood is a wonderful thing in this weather, and we’re in no danger of running out.  Son and grandson have sawed us a big batch, and it’s been good, solid wood with no termites — or carpenter bee nests.  Yet.

Posted December 26, 2009 by stablewoman in Nature

Merry Christmas!   3 comments

My sister Sally e-mailed me with Christmas greetings from St. Louis, and asked, “Why do you suppose we say Merry Christmas, and the British say Happy Christmas?”  Good question.  My best guess was that in England, only gentlemen get to be merry.

Anyhow, I’m going to mark the occasion as I did last year; with a few of my pictures from our Snow of ten years ago.  The camera I had then was not very high-resolution, but the pictures are unique.

This one is my very favorite, and I’ve used it several times.  But here it is again; snow on the Kern River.

Merry Christmas to all; and to all a Good Night!

Posted December 25, 2009 by stablewoman in Kern River, Weather