Nature Friday ~ October 23, 2020

Pat yourself on the back-you’ve made it to another Friday. We are joining our furry friends, Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard. It’s the time of year where the Ranch hands call it “Hallowinter” as autumn and winter collide around Halloween to spoil little goblins’ annual candy begging trick-or-treating. Even when there’s snow, I see kids run like their lives depending on hitting every possible house in the neighborhood. It’s incomprehensible to me but probably because I’m no longer a kid who now has far more pressing matters to pursue. Since nature usually makes the young ones hardy and primed for adventure, it should be interesting to see how many actually go door to door in a state where the COVID rate has significantly increased. Let’s just hope people use extreme common sense and mask up (or better yet, forego the whole thing). I personally can’t fathom any kind of candy being worth the risk and I’m a chocoholic, but hey…what do I know?

Nature is still very upset with its human tenants with more fires springing to life around here with warm temps and high winds contributing to more fires popping up. Eleven fires continue to burn in Colorado, including the Cameron Peak fire near Glenwood Springs which I posted about 7 weeks ago. This week a new fire blew up in Grand County near the town of Granby. Known as the East Troublesome fire, it grew over 150,000 acres in a 24 hour period and now has consumed over 170,000 acres, making it the second largest fire in Colorado history. High winds and dry conditions allowed this fire to literally explode across the area. Even with a foot of snow predicted to fall over the weekend, firefighters say while it will help, it will not put the fire out. As of today, it is only 5% contained. The Cameron Peak fire outside of Fort Collins required officials to close Rocky Mountain National Park to visitors; with Trail Ridge Road (highest paved road in Colorado that crosses the continental divide) being the only road allowing evacuees to leave the park though it is not passable on west side because of downed trees. The air quality is hazardous.

This screenshot of some of the nearby active fires is a grim reminder that Nature is not a happy camper these days.

Wildfires

Here is a photo from Saturday of the East Troublesome fire just west of my neighborhood showing apocalyptic clouds billowing across the northwestern suburbs. High winds and dry conditions allowed it to explode out of control during the week.

Wildfires

A  bit closer to home, the trees are changing colors (and dropping their leaves after last night’s hard freeze) and our daily walks involve loads of crunching sounds along city sidewalks. Plumbago has changed into its annual bright mahogany shade and looks glorious in golden autumnal light even with a freezing mist falling this morning. It’s definitely time to pick all the tomatoes and bring them indoors to ripen up. As nearby fires continue to burn out of control, these colors remind me why autumn is my favorite time of year.

Plumbago

Whatever your weekend plans are, we hope you stay safe and cozy. Keep an eye out on Mother Nature, she’s likely to provide some beautiful (and/or scary images) this “Hallowinter.”

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ August 14, 2020

Greetings nature lovers. Welcome to Nature Friday where we join our hosts and friends, Rosy, Sunny & their brothers for this week’s edition. Nature appears to be pretty upset judging by the numerous wildfires that have popped up around the state. The most concerning one is near Glenwood Springs where my brother and SIL just moved into their newly built home. Known as the Grizzly Creek Fire, it doubled in size overnight and now has consumed nearly 15,000 acres. I-70 has been closed in both directions and it is unknown when it will reopen. The fire began August 10th, is zero contained and some residents have been advised to be prepared to evacuate. The cause of the fire is undetermined but there are some suspicions it may have been human caused. This view was taken of the smoke and flames just south of the Colorado River on August 11, 2020. It gives you an idea of the roughed terrain in the area. That guard rail in the foreground is I-70.

Fires
Photo Source: InciWeb-Incident Information System
Fires
Map of the Grizzly Creek Fire. The red line was the perimeter at 12:47 a.m. MDT August 13, 2020. The white line was the perimeter about 24 hours before. Source: Wildfire Today /USFS /NASA

Another larger fire, the Pine Gulch Fire is located 18 miles north of Grand Junction, has now consumed over 70,000 acres as of this morning. Started two weeks ago and attributed to a lightning strike, the Pine Gulch fire is burning in remote, rough terrain of pinyon, juniper, oak, and sagebrush.  It is now the 5th largest in the state’s history. Hot, dry and windy conditions have forced three days of red flag air quality warnings with temperatures soaring into the 90s and windy conditions, with gusts up to 27 mph.

Fires
Source: Denver Channel 7, KMGH

The smoke from these fires has reached Denver making for blazing sunrises and sunsets as well as unhealthy air quality alerts. This eery image was taken a couple of evenings ago from the front garden.

Fires

The Cameron Peak Fire fire near Chambers Lake, also popped up yesterday afternoon in Larimer County, 18 miles northwest of Fort Collins, and has grown to over 1500 acres in a matter of just four hours. Evacuations have been ordered. Fire season is always challenging in a state with high mountain valleys, canyons and wide open vistas but with the state suffering from a widespread severe and statewide drought, nature has us back on our heels right now.

While Mother Nature can provide us with all manner of beauty, she can get cranky real quick. It’s wise to act consciously whenever your path crosses with nature. Obey campfire bans and for heaven’s sake, please don’t throw your cigarette butts out the window when you’re driving. While we encourage everyone to enjoy Mother Nature, please be careful. And pray for those who are fighting these wildfires and all those who are personally displaced and affected by them. Stay safe.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nearly Wordless Wednesday ~ June 24, 2020

Wordless Wednesday

Morning walks are always interesting around the Ranch.

Live, love, bark!  🐾

Nature Friday ~ June 12, 2020

It’s been a wild week at the Ranch beginning with hurricane force winds over last weekend and a busy schedule but that doesn’t mean we can’t showcase the good, the bad and the ugly that Mother Nature offered. As is customary, we’re joining our friends Rosy & her brothers for this week’s edition of Nature Friday. Let’s see what Nature dished out but don’t forget to check out what Blogville offered elsewhere by clicking on the link.

The wind storm that blew through was devastating around the town. Nearby parks were particularly hammered with several trees downed. It’s heartbreaking seeing fully mature trees ripped up out of the ground or large branches snapped off effectively destroying a tree. I was surprised the silver maple in my front garden wasn’t impacted. Not so far away, it looked like a war zone. Workers removed the broken branch a couple of days ago to assess the damage to the house and front porch. The force that snapped that branch off must have been unbelievably strong.

Trees

Evergreen trees with their shallow root balls are particularly vulnerable when high winds hit. My heart was heavy seeing so much carnage laying across the grass and Elsa and I stood there for a long time taking it all in.

Trees

These images make you wonder why nature choses one tree but left two others  nearby unscathed.

Trees

But all was not lost this week despite the damage around the ‘hood. While the peonies and irises finished blooming, new flowers appeared. Mock Orange shrub is in bloom now and its heavenly scent with its beautiful blossoms are impressive.

Flowers

Deep purple Salvia is blooming, adding bright color to the landscape.

Flowers

And the ever cheerful Achillea ‘Moonshine’ (yarrow) is beginning to brighten up the garden space replacing spent lupine and poppy blooms. Unlike some invasive yarrows, ‘Moonshine’ doesn’t spread everywhere.

Flowers

And like the Beverly Hills Cop theme song, the heat is on with 90’s in the long range Denver forecast. With some easing of pandemic restrictions, a day trip to higher altitudes with the Ranch hands may be called for but in any event, after this crazy week, whatever we do, chillaxing will be at the top of the weekend agenda as ‘somebody‘ will be counting down the hours until certain headgear comes off while staying cool. Paws crossed your weekend is great.

Norman

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ November 18, 2019

Time to start a new week out with a smile within a tiny bit of a rant because you know me subtle is my middle name. The Knuckleheads and I were recently on a morning walk and came upon a fellow walking his little dog. So far so good. I’m always glad to see people walking their dogs, especially in the morning. As we got closer, I noticed he was looking down at a personal device. We stopped to wait for him to realize he was about to walk into a couple of excited Spoos…but no…he kept looking down at his phone. “Ahem.” I cleared my throat loudly hoping he would rejoin planet earth to alert him of our presence (his dog was weaving back and forth from an expando-leash, a second no-no in my books but that’s another story). By the time he was about 4 feet away, he finally glanced up, gave me the stink eye and an exasperated ‘hrumph.’ Oh Dude, you did not just do that! We each went on our way without incident and as I turned around to throw mental darts at his back, I noticed his head went down again reading his screen. I’m not sure if he was catching up on his social feed or proof reading his notes for a cancer cure but jeez…what the dog?! I may also have prayed for an open manhole.

Finding this meme made me chuckle as I totally see this clown behind the wheel of a vehicle with no turn signals too. Sadly the attention too many of us give those little mini-computers in our pockets is not only rude, it’s unsafe.

Monday

However your week goes, and we hope it’s pawsome, just be sure to use your turn signal and make it a safe one. And ditch that expando-leash so your dog doesn’t poop in someone’s flower bed.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Happy ‘Howleween’ ~ 2019

We survived Snowmageddon and its evil companion, Jack Frost this week and are looking forward to thawing out and getting back to our regular long walks. We await any souls brave enough to participate in the ritual of trick or treating but personally think they might want to think twice about it since it’ll still be pretty cold tonight. Then there’s this outdoor decoration we came upon along one of our walk-abouts before the snowstorm. I can’t decide if I want to get to know these neighbors or steer clear of them. The dogs absolutely refused to get anywhere near this outdoor decoration even though it was completely quiet (thankfully). Cool or creepy?

Halloween

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ October 4, 2019

It’s time to celebrate the beauty Mother Nature provides us and because it’s Friday, that means we’re joining our fur-iends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard. Autumn has definitely arrived and judging by your kind comments this week, a favorite of many peeps.

This week nature has had a lot to offer. Sadly, not all of it was good either. Several wildfires continue to burn in our fair state and there have been a number of officially ordered evacuations. Winds, warm weather and tinder-dry conditions have fueled these fires and we pray for the  safety of residents and firefighters.

Fires
Photo courtesy of Jerry McBride/Durango Herald via AP)/The Durango Herald via AP

Human activity can impact the look of nature in any number of ways. Last week while visiting the Vail area, I saw what extraction mining can do to a remarkable landscape. The ghost town of Gilman, Colorado, located near Battle Mountain was once a thriving mining operation with a number of mines being opened beginning in the 1870’s during Colorado’s silver boom. Gold and silver were mined until the 1920’s.

As is often the case, mining operations went deeper and deeper and the extracted ore contained heavy sulfide content which local smelters refused to process. Separators were installed in 1905, and a problem was turned into an asset. Zinc, often a by-product in silver mining, became the economic mainstay until the early 1930’s. When the zinc market dropped, the mines switched to copper and silver ores which then became the main focus until the zinc price returned. Zinc became the principal ore until the mine was forcibly closed due to extreme pollution by the EPA who designated the town a Superfund site; it being listed on the National Priorities List in 1986. Gilman’s residents were forced to abandon the 235-acre site, many leaving much behind. By 1984, rock-bottom zinc prices coerced the company to leave Gilman for other profitable enterprises. A couple of attempts have been contemplated for redevelopment of the site but much like the town, they have also been abandoned.

The thriving town of Gilman (population of around 350) once included an infirmary, a grocery store, and even a bowling alley in its heyday. By 1970, total production was 10 million tons of ore ( 393,000 troy ounces (12,200 kg) of gold; 66,000,000 troy ounces (2,100,000 kg) of silver; 105,000 tons of copper; 148,000 tons of lead; and 858,000 tons of zinc) while an astonishing 8-million tons of mine waste was excavated and deposited into the ecosystem.

The townsite has long been notoriously vandalized over the years with worker’s homes being heavily tagged in graffiti by trespassers and nearly every window broken. The main shaft elevators still sit ready for ore cars, permanently locked at the top level. Various vehicles still sit in their garages, left behind by their owners. The town has been the subject of interest for many historians, explorers, and photographers.

Gilman, COThe once colorful homes of Gilman sit close to the mining facilities with the waste tailings flowing down the hill. Though posted as a no-trespassing area, the town continues to draw vandals who have posted hundreds of images on social media sites. Looking through many eerie and creepy images on Instagram, it seemed the residents left in a hurry. One particular image, a box of Cheer soap, spilled on the floor along with children’s toys, magazines, among scads of debris haunted my thoughts. I did not trespass the fence area, instead taking in some of the natural beauty of the mountain. I couldn’t help but wonder about those who lived and worked there and how many of them fell ill after they left.

Notice the mine tailings flowing down the hill on the right.Gilman, CO

Still, all is not all bad and I certainly don’t want to end on a sour note. All the changing leaves reminded me that Nature can still be a very beautiful place.

Vail, CO
Betty Ford Alpine Garden, Vail, CO

We hope you have a beautiful weekend.Vail, CO

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ June 21, 2019

” Into Each Life a Little Rain Must Fall” [Henry Wadsworth Longfellow]

Rain dropsNot sure Longfellow had this quote in mind for the first day of Summer but this is what greeted the Mile High City today.

While Summer officially arrived earlier today (9:54 A.M. MDT), my Internet was missing (hence this late post). But we wouldn’t miss an opportunity to share some of the good and bad Mother Nature offered this week with our hosts Rosy and her brothers from LLB in Our BackyardIt’s been one of those days and since we couldn’t post the intended potpourri of lovely, I thought I’d share some of the not so lovely aspects Mother Nature dished out on this cold and rainy day.

There are elements of nature that aren’t quite as picturesque as the beautiful flowers that are just beginning to peak. Weeds fall in that category but even some of them can be quite stunning. As in this wild dandelion. That bloom is over 3″ across and I couldn’t help but wonder if that meant when you blew those seeds, you’d have more wishes fulfilled.

Dandelion

Along with weeds, some nasty critters are part of dear Mother Nature. Two days ago, the neighborhood nemesis (aka Hoodlum Bastard Squirrel “HBS”) decided to grow a BIG pair and attack the other kitchen window that faces the street (this makes the 4th time squirrels have chewed through the screens). From the living room I heard something crash in the kitchen and went to investigate and found HBS scrambling over the drapes and behind the herbs looking an exit like his life depended on it (it did-I was super cheesed off at this latest ballsy move by the little creep). Lots of HBO words were screeched which frightened said HBS which made him totally freaked (there were skid marks in the sill) out but he managed to exit the same way he broke in. For my part, I wailed my head off and then began looking for the roll of screen material and spleen tool to repair the latest damage. Man, you’d think the mouse traps on the outside sill would be a hint he’s not welcome here. Frankly, he’s not welcome outside either, but that’s another story. Who knew squirrels were so clueless?

Squirrel

Despite these bad elements Mother Nature provided for the arrival of summer, I’m not completely oblivious to the beauty she does offer. Rain drops on this nearby Clematis this afternoon looked especially lovely.

Clematis

So how’s the weather on your first day of Summer? Anything like the cold, wet stuff we have going on in the Mile High City (which is forecast here for most the weekend)? We hope your first weekend of summer is sunny and bright.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

 

Monday Musings ~ June 10, 2019

Happy Monday, peeps! Hope you had a brilliant weekend; I spent mine volunteering at an agility event to benefit a rescue group I’ve long supported. It was a lot like a dog show. On steroids. Whoa, what a fun but exhausting day. I’ll never understand how those pups manage to keep up that pace racing over obstacles and weaving through poles barking while they’re doing it. Talk about sheer joy for their sport that these super-star athletes have! To my great surprise, one of our hospital pet therapists competed and did quite well. More on that hopefully tomorrow.

But before then, let’s start the week out with a bit of a smile. Creating hybrid dogs have become quite the phenomenon these days but it just may have gone over the top with this one. With Bern-a-doodles, Sheep-a-doodles, Labradoodles, Goldendoodles to name a few, there appears to be no shortage of new breeds being created all the time, but this may just be getting out of hand. Seems like some people will breed a poodle to just about anything to obtain a striking new variety of ‘doodle.’ While some combinations make sense, some absolutely do not. Don’t get me started on the clothes they ‘put’ on this doodle!  Even the guy in the upper right hand corner thinks someone went a doodle too far.

Poodle

Have a great Monday and week, but don’t forget to smile while you’re doing it.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Moving Slowly

We’re moving a bit more slowly for a couple of days. There has been a pleasant change in the weather which has actually been accompanied by a little bit of moisture which means there’s some actual humidity. Something we’re not familiar with here at all. Though it’s not enough moisture to say the drought has been alleviated, it is certainly a slight reprieve.

With that moisture has come some very severe hail storms. I saw a very battered car this morning and remembered last year’s costly storm. I wonder how this guy handles those golf/baseball sized hail storms? For the record, this is the biggest snail I’ve ever seen here. HIs ‘house’ was just about an inch or inch and a half in size and stretched out he must have been almost three inches long. Eeew-they are fascinating but creepy looking little chaps, aren’t they?

Live, love, bark! 🐾