|The Mammoth Pond|
As the tide rose this spring, there were numerous jokes about kayaking in the Mammoth Pond, and then the lower yard, and then every pond in nearly four square miles of sagebrush. Eventually, they weren't really jokes anymore. It became a sardonic complaint. "For goodness' sake, when will we be able to do anything out here?" Not funny. Not at all.
|Maestro in the willows|
So it was quite a surprise in June when my father, Maestro, brought the kayaks up and offered to take me out on a pond or two.
Now keep in mind, I've never been kayaking. He bought these things as a way to connect with his sons-in-law several years ago. Some of my sisters have been out. Munchkin grew to be pretty good at it in her several trips to local lakes with her grandfather. But me? Nope. There's always "this much to do." But being a fish, I've always been jealous.
|Around the farm truck|
And so Maestro taught me to kayak in the Mammoth Pond. How many people can say that? I learned on my own land! How cool.
But there are drawbacks to this. Kayaking requires balance, and most training involves purposely flipping the rig to learn how to escape safely. I was not interested in that in these mud holes. Being very careful, I was able to keep upright and non-muddy. Yay! What a relief. Even Munchkin wouldn't kayak in the nasty ponds.
|Rounding the truck|
We started in the Mammoth Pond, and progressively moved north. We did several circles around the tules, before beaching ourselves and hauling the kayaks over the fencelines. That was probably the deepest pond of the day; we estimated it at 12' deep this year.
|"I don't understand..."|
|Lower yard, note house to right|
We loaded up and headed out to the Big Spring and the overflow lake. The Big Spring is the main year-round water hole for the larger of the cattle operations. It's an artesian spring, and only dries up when the cows fill the hole with mud as they slosh around in it. It's muddy and nastier than the ponds by the house, but this year it's the perfect kayaking lake. We snuck the kayaks into the water between the yarrow, wild irises and other flora, and headed out on the water, maybe a third of a mile to the Big Spring.
|Big Spring overflow lake|
It was so peaceful. Wild ducks told us exactly how offended they were at our presence. Little flowers that reminded me of a cross between fish-tank plants and lily pads floated in clumps around the far bend. I took note of a patch of noxious weeds we needed to pull in an area we never inspect. And the cows made a good show of being brave, but eventually gave in to their fear and stampeded away. These were not welcome, the talking blue creatures invading their drinking fountain.
|Big Spring and angry cows|
By the time that trip was over, I was an old hand at this kayaking thing. So, with the sun heading for the horizon, we headed out to find just one more pond. We ended up on the southeast corner of the ranch, in the water hole for one of the ancient homesteads -- a bit smaller and definitely shallower than the Mammoth Pond. Nothing exciting, but representative of the many puddles found everywhere this year.
Thanks to Maestro for the great, once-in-a-generation experience! At least we hope it is... there's still "this much to do."