You may recall that we had our front tank/pond dug out, since it had dried up and it would be easy to remove the silt. It’s now patiently waiting for rain to fall. However, it’s not empty. Apparently it’s filling itself up. Here’s the pond right after it was bulldozed.
Yes, as soon as the digging was over, a puddle appeared. Isn’t that cute, we thought! I went off to Fredericksburg for the first part of this week. When I returned, the pond looked like this:
No, the guy didn’t hit the water line, even though the edges of the pond do look shiny in the morning sun. It’s just clay that was smooshed flat.
Today the pond has enough water in it that anyone would notice it as they drove by. There’s a spring down there, for sure, like we’d been conjecturing. What a magical surprise.
I went over to check it out in person. As barren as it looks, life was there. Pondhawk dragonflies were mating, and neon skimmers were skimming along looking for food, but finding only willow leaves.
As I was taking photos, I looked at the soil I was standing on. When I moved, it made quite the sucking sound. We picked a great place to put a pond, because this place is quite the clay pit. I think my friend Pamela could come get some of it and make me a pot or a tray or something.
I’ll be interested to see how it looks tomorrow. I hope beyond hope that tomorrow will be the last day I can look at the spring water, because there is a promise of rain on Sunday. That would be most welcome. It is very crunchy here and not an easy time for plants and pollinators.
I started out my morning nature break trying to find pollinators and check for damaged flowering plants for a survey of pollinators and plants used by monarchs on iNaturalist. I was very happy to have found bees and a butterfly, and was watching the water flowing in the stream with the dogs.
Then, Lee showed up, wanting me to help get the dogs back up so he could feed them. I said, okay, but look how well the stream is flowing! He noted that the runoff from the pond did not seem to be flowing, but the place where it dumps into the stream WAS making nice little waterfall sounds. So, where was the water coming from?
Lee pointed out to a new puddle or marshy area that seems to have (no pun intended ) sprung up since the snow event happened. I’d been meaning to check on it, too.
The puddle was very full, not like all the other ones that have dried up. Then, lo and behold, I spotted a little hole. That little hole was full of clear water, and it was bubbling up! I finally found the source of one of our intermittent springs! I was pretty excited.
So, water is coming up from this hole (perhaps from the pond, who knows?), then flowing to the marshy puddle, then heading to join the pond runoff water, and on into the big hole that starts the stream.
Yay! Farther down, the water is running really fast, thanks to at least two other springs. We had heard that there have been springs all through that area, but most of them have not flowed since we got here, which was when the big drought of 2011-12 happened. I guess the aquifer has finally recovered! Wow!
Anyway, I was happy to find a Sulphur butterfly, a hairstreak and lots and lots of bees outside. They were pollinating the henbit and dandelions.
Also, one of the young willows in the small pond has started sprouting, plus I saw a bullfrog in that pond (and heard another one jump). I found one wolf spider and another insect that got away. That means some of them lived. This all makes me very happy.
I do hope to see turtles soon. I am worried about them. But, wow, so happy to have found a spring!
Taking a walk in nature is good for your mood, so I have been out walking today. First I walked around our stream, looking for live crawfish, until it rained. Then, after the sun came out, I walked down the road to the cemetery and back, just to see what’s out there.
I really enjoyed looking at the water around our house. It’s so pretty.
I found no living crawfish, but saw many holes and castles (mud they leave while digging holes). I also found mushrooms, raccoon poop and general beauty.
I still can’t find where the front spring is, but it’s still flowing away. I made a movie.
After the rain, it was so beautiful out! I wish the weather was always like this. It isn’t hot or cold. Birds are loving it, too.
Yesterday I’d seen some ducks behind the house, but the dogs sent them away before I could ID them. I was irritated, but hoped they’d stay. Sure enough, I was able to see them through the binoculars this morning. They were hooded mergansers! Fancy!
I really wanted a photo, though. I was excited to see them in the pond by the road on my walk. Of course, they took off. But, ha! I had the phone camera on burst mode! I got them flying!
Then, I heard a noise. It was the unmistakable sound of starlings. We have large flocks of this non-native bird around here. I knew they’d take off soon, so I waited a minute. Sure enough, they broke into two groups. It’s fun to watch.
It doesn’t take much to entertain me, does it? I just wish I had someone to walk with. I’d probably feel like going farther with a co-walker!
The Winter Solstice here in North America is a favorite day for me. I know the days are getting longer, which is good. But I also like to stop and savor the pale sunlight and see what winter is bringing to the ranch.
So, since my horseback ride was canceled, I took the dogs out to check the moisture levels in the ponds and springs. We all had a good time!
For it being damp and chilly, we ran into lots of wildlife. A flock of chopping sparrows was irritated by the dogs and flapped and flitted, which sent a rabbit dashing away. A little peregrine falcon twirled above us making its little hawk sound.
And hooray! Yesterday’s quarter inch of rain was plenty to keep our newly active springs flowing nicely. I could even hear the water trickle along. Vlassic caught a crawfish but wouldn’t let me get a picture.
I decided to find the larger spring that’s feeding our stream. We tromped around and could see where the arroyo was still just damp and not flowing, but I got my feet so wet and my shirt so full of burs that I gave up. I’ll try again in January.
I came back by the pasture and enjoyed watching Penney and Vlassic play with cows, which is always fun. Not a bad way to start a new season.
Get ready for adventures! We’re on the road right now. A week with just my husband is coming up! I’ll get caught up, read, knit, and hike.
Wow, yesterday was just one amazing discovery after another around the ranch! The wind finally died down, which made it much easier to be outside, so I engaged in a lot of running around with dogs and exploring things, once the cattle moved off and the cattle torture ended.
Our neighbor Mike came over earlier than usual in the afternoon, so that we could go check out a few things in the woods. Of course, the dogs went, too, which gave them more opportunities to irritate the cattle. Sigh. But the good news is that we found an old food storage container that had slipped out of Lee’s hands and disappeared into the woods during the summer, when you can’t see a thing in there.
But, WAY more important was that I confirmed my suspicions that the last remnant of the big drought that was going on when we first came to this area is going away. It’s quite clear that our springs are back!
I’d been seeing a wet area from our side of the fence, but we wanted to see it up close. Sure enough, water is seeping out of the ground and heading toward the stream. I’d heard that there were springs in there before, but other than getting a little muddier than the rest of the area, it hadn’t showed any signs of flowing.
We also noted that the little brook/stream that flows into Walker’s Creek is flowing pretty briskly. Two things could cause that. Either the pond is still getting water from runoff and flowing through the arroyo, OR the other spring is working. Mike and I confirmed that the culvert is barely dripping, so that brisk flow of water must mean that the big, deep spring is flowing on its own again. Hooray! There’s water under the ground again!
Now that the flooding has died down, we can see lots of tracks in the mud that the flooding deposited. One thing is for sure, those herons are BIG birds.
And the chickens?
I am very happy to report that the longer days, increased food, and/or less owl stress have combined to ramp up egg production. We were afraid that the one who was still laying had been the last owl victim, but, hooray, we had three eggs today, and since two of them were white, there are at least two laying now! Of course, we are down to a dozen chickens, so we won’t have what we did before, but it’s an improvement.
And, by the way, Mandi is ordering some netting to help foil the predators.
And more mooning
We got back home and sat on the porch (it was cool, but not too cold) to enjoy blackberry wine and yet another lovely sunset, which I managed to frame in the porch, like a painting on a wall.
Then we turned around to see the super moon rising in the east. Wow, that thing was big. My phone doesn’t do very good eclipse photos, but the red moon was very cool. I wish that happened more often. You know that sight must have been confusing to ancient people who didn’t know how the sun. moon, and earth coordiate!