Last year we had pretty good water and the year before also compared to the previous drought years in Wyoming. However this year there will be abundance of water according to Wyoming standards and Big Horn County WSE’s (Water & Snow Equivalents).
Last year officials measured 66 WSE’s which is considered good. This year they measured so far 136 WSE’s, which is abnormal.
What’s in for us? - A lot of water!
However depending if the mountains release all this moisture gradually or very fast will determine the amount of floods and damage the water will do. If the mountains gradually release their water, we have pretty much irrigation water during most of the summer as it flows steadily, seeping slowly down to the valley, creeks and streams feeding aquifers, ponds, wells and springs. This happens when the temperatures gradually go up but remain cold and freezing in the high country. During the day some of the water is being released but during night the frost holds the rest of the water in the mountains.
However if these cold temperatures all of a sudden raise and continue to raise, all this water and melted snow will be released in a short period of time and come thundering down the mountains, washing away what is in its way.
The Hideout is relatively safe as we are on high ground.
Paula nor David are big swimmers, so they build The Hideout Lodge & Buildings on high ground. The Hideout meadows where the horses and yearlings graze around the Shell Creek are natural flooding areas designed by nature to release stress on the creek. This is one of the reasons that there is such abundance of wildlife below The Hideout.
During high water, much like last year all the meadows will turn in to a big moving stream with some higher spots where wildlife (and if we forget to bring in the horses) will stay until the water is gone.
We will loose many of our fish in the stock ponds as they fill with water which allows the fish to swim to the creek. But of course the creek brings more water and fish from elsewhere to the ponds.
In any event our eco-system will benefit. The little Canadian geese ducklings are by now big enough to swim with mom and dad.
Trapper Lodge is a different story…
Located and build in the riparian area of The Trapper Creek, the Trapper Lodge lives in a high risk area. The Trapper Creek drains a lot of country and when it comes flashing through that narrow canyon gaining speed one better get out of the way – even during summer. For sure our meadows will be flooded but that is fine as it will soak the fields and get them ready to start growing. As we speak we are filling sandbags to block water out of the underground basement and garage.
Marco, Junior and Horacio have cleared all big cottonwood trees and logs on our own property and the neighbor’s properties so they do not block the water or knock down walls and fences when being carried away with the waterpower.
Working together with the Beavers…
We have cleared the beaver dams around The Trapper Lodge which where small dams and risk to slow down the water and make the water flow around and in the Trapper Lodge. This happened last winter when big chucks of ice where blocked by the logs in the creek building a huge ice-dam that diverted the water towards the lodge.
However upstream the same beaver dams are very beneficial as “water brakes” and nobody can touch the beaver dams on the property higher up in the canyon. They are holding and slowing down the water up stream. At the big beaver dam there is no harm done when the Trapper Creek flows over. On the contrary, mom and dad beaver upstream Trapper have created over the winter a nice big pond in which there are already plenty of fish swimming. The trees have enjoyed their building passion less as many a tree came down, one even crushing a smaller beaver.
I was just reading on how to restore natural water habitat in which many birds and fish thrive. Beavers are more and more respected for the contribution they make to re-establish these very important eco-systems. At the same time the beaver dams serve as holding ponds for the times when the water drops.
Just shows you that nature, much as life is never black and white. If one works with the flow and leverages the energy that is in abundance around us, it usually works out. If not what can we do? We are not going to wrestle all that water with our hands and will just need to let it flow and make sure we and our animals are on high ground.
Putting all watertalk aside… More on Horses & Royal Food !
Much as the soil around the Hideout you probably had enough reading about water at The Hideout, which for those who visit us during summer might appear very strange given we live in a desert (or half desert).
So let’s switch gears and talk about some real guest ranch stuff. We have the Spring newsletter out and we are finishing up our Spring AH Horsemanship Clinic. One of the repeat guests was so happy with this experience and how much he learned (about how little he knew as he told us) that he suggested we should encourage all new guest first to come out for a Horsemanship clinic week prior to come riding. The week was a good balance between theory (Peter), training and demonstrations (Ramon), working one on one with Ramon. Practicing with Marijn and Shawn, go riding in the arena, outside, do cattle work, etc. All guests worked with the AH branded horses and could try out the super duper AH Saddles. They surely noticed the difference.
As Sheena our new chef lived for 2 years in London working at some great restaurants she is following of course everything British which includes “the wedding of weddings”. In honor to the Royal Wedding she has worked 5 hours in the kitchen cooking up and dishing up some typical Britisch culinary specialities. I noticed she took the pages of the Travel & Culinary section of my last weeks week-end edition of the NY Times away. I am pretty sure to pack “Fish & Chips” = Royal Fish & Chips of course. Nothing less for our Hideout Guests.
Ok – I am off now to go have a pint of Guiness from the Hideout loft bar which is turned in to sort of Britisch Pub for the event. Cowboys in the Pub… Last year we Scotts at The Hideout. Ramon almost died when he noticed that for the Friday evening meal one of the guys had dressed up in a skirt and was blowing the pipe… He had never seen such thing. Of course after working 1 year at the Hideout coming from the ranchside he has seen a few strange things.
Cheers and go have a Guiness !