Archive for June 2012
The big cactus on the levee is almost done blooming. Only one saucer-sized flower was left when I went past it.
It’s interesting to compare it with the little potted cactus on the porch. The form of the blooms is much the same, but the flower is much more delicate.
The horsenettle is a pretty weed, with its violet flowers and silvery foliage. If it weren’t so toxic, it’d be a popular garden plant.
Tomorrow should be an interesting day. I’m going with friends Sasha and Andy on a tour of the Tejon Ranch; a place I’ve always wanted to see. I’ve even bought a nice new memory card for the trip. Now if I can just remember the camera, there should be an interesting entry on Sunday.
Once, the area of the Kern River where we are located was known for its almost impenetrable jungle of wild grapevines. When Billy was a boy, and his mother Irma had a rent string, they had to go out periodically and chop out the trails with machetes. Otherwise, the horses would not have been able to push their way through. The river bottom was a great spot for local kids — including author Gerald Haslam — to play Tarzan. Huge old cottonwoods, thick lush willows, and above all the grapevines; it was as close to a real jungle as you could get.
Then came the Isabella Dam.
The river corridor dried out; the trees died, except for those closest to the river. When I arrived on the scene, over forty years ago, their dead hulks were everywhere. Now they’ve been reclaimed by the soil, and there is little sign left of the original habitat. Things began to turn around, though, when the city acquired the river, and the water pumped hot and stinking from the oilfields gave way to a more natural flow. Well, at least as far as the weirs west of Chester, and farther yet in good years. But t’s the old jungle that Rich and Andy and the rest of the crew at Panorama Vista are trying to re-create; and they’ve got a good start, now.
But it was the wild grapes that gave the old river its character, and there are only a few left now. We’ve got some; here’s a view of the river that’s framed by them.
With a good imagination, you can see what it must have been like seventy years ago.
Times have changed. It’s no longer safe for kids to walk from town and play in the river. But maybe someday, at least their parents can bring them to see what the river used to be.
Xena and I were fetching sticks — I fetch just as much as she does — at the river crossing when we spotted a rider getting ready to cross. She stopped to let her horse get a drink. They seem to enjoy drinking out of the river.
We got out of the way, because a dog bounding through the shallows is a little alarming to a horse trying to cross. But they turned west, and went sloshing downstream. They made a nice picture.
It’s a little risky, riding in the river, because there may be boggy spots. We’ve had to help haul more than one stuck horse out of the river. By their confidence, though, I judge this pair had done it before. You can see the water is not very deep.
I think green and gold are my favorite colors — at least in the summer.
When I first got Kody, almost a year ago, he was not really in full summer coat. He looked nice, but started putting on his pale shaggy winter coat nearly as soon as he got here.
Now he’s shed out fully, and really looking good.
He’s also overly fat, because he hasn’t been working a bit. Bella’s been getting all of the attention lately, and when she wasn’t, it’s just been too hot to do anything — at least for me. There are no hundreds in the predictions for the next ten days, though, so he’s going to have some work very soon. I put him on the longe line today and made him trot a bit, and he’s about ready to pull that cart again.
It’s been beautiful weather here. It was cool enough to get out and clean him up at three o’clock in the afternoon. When usually it would be in the nineties at least, it was seventy-seven degrees. It feels as if we were at the coast.
We know it can’t last, but we’re sure enjoying it!
Xena and I walked downriver today, chasing a stick. At least that’s what she was doing. I was enjoying the cool morning and the view.
I looked upriver. I wish my camera could record just how many shades of green glowed in the early sun.
I looked out at Xena, bounding after her stick. It’s amazing that one little thirty-pound Border Collie can leave a wake like a battleship. I wonder how big a splash a really big dog, like Bassa of Bassa’s Blog, would make.
Then I looked downriver. Something new had been added.
It appeared to be someone’s backyard pool. It was good-sized, probably ten feet across. It can’t have been easy to get it down to the river, and I don’t think it added much to the view. On the other hand, I could almost sympathize with whoever — probably a bunch of kids — who wrestled it down to the water. They probably thought it would float, and they could ride downriver in it. Who knows; maybe it did. One side was collapsed, though, so it couldn’t have gone far. And there it is, and there it will stay, because certainly no one will haul it out.
It’s full summer now; the fluff from the willows and cottonwoods is drifting through the air and settling on the ground like rather dingy snow. It’s a good thing we’re not prone to allergies.
Another thing in full bloom is the parade of peculiar people coming by. Last week, for instance, one of our boarders had a saddle stuffer in. I’m not sure that’s the correct title for someone who re-stuffs the padded undersides of English saddles, but that’s what we call them. Anyway, the stuffer was interested in buying a horse trailer with living quarters. Knowing we wouldn’t mind, the boarder offered to let her look inside ours. They opened the door . . . and someone was asleep inside. We didn’t learn about that until later, because they thought it might be someone with permission. It wasn’t. I checked the inside, and there was no harm done except for some rumpled bedding. I think, though, we’d better check it more often. We’d lock it — if we had the keys. I don’t think we ever had them; but the question never came up before, as it’s only about twenty feet from the door of the house. Live and learn.
A couple of days ago, I looked out to see the most inebriated person I’ve ever seen go by; at least, the most inebriated who was still able to walk. He was staggering and reeling from side to side. Every once in a while, he’d lean forward too far and run a few steps to catch up with himself, then continue on down the trail. More or less. David happened to be there, and I asked him to follow him on down, because he was headed toward one of our boarders working in her pen. David drove down there, just as Billy arrived with the same mission in mind. They watched him out of sight.
Later, though, he came back the other way, on past the house again — the dogs really didn’t like him — and headed toward the main road. Or at least so I thought. Later, I learned that he had turned up staggering around in the horse pens on the other side, and someone called 911. A fire truck showed up. He declined to go anywhere with the fire truck; he had someplace he needed to go, but he wasn’t quite sure where. They had to let him go, and he headed out again.
Apparently he ended up on the overpass, and so alarmed the drivers who saw him weaving in and out of the road that someone else called 911. This time a patrol car hauled him off. I don’t suppose he’ll even remember where he’d been.
You don’t suppose . . . he was the occupier of our trailer? Nope; he wouldn’t have left. At least, not without some encouragement.
Marion was out for a ride with friends a few days ago, when they noticed a snake crossing the road ahead of them. They stopped for long enough for Marion to get this shot as it disappeared down a hole. It includes her horse EZ’s ear — always a nice addition to a photo, in my opinion.
EZ stood nicely while she took the picture, proving yet again that horses are not particularly afraid of snakes. Snakes do not dig holes, so doubtless some unfortunate squirrel was about to face its worst nightmare. It’s a king snake, and not very big, so no doubt it’s hoping for a small squirrel.
One of the volunteers who works on the Panorama Vista preserve, where they were riding, reported seeing a rattlesnake recently. We’ve seen gopher snakes, king snakes, racers — all kinds of snakes in the area, except for rattlers. If they are moving into the river bottom, everyone will have to be a little more careful. There are plenty of rattlers in the mountains, though, but not many reports of bites. You just have to use good judgement.
Horses don’t have very good judgement. Most rattlesnake bites reported in horses are right on the nose.
You really don’t want to sniff a rattlesnake.