Who takes care of them when your not there???

It’s a common question. WHO takes care of them when you aren’t there? In this case, our two horses. Jim always looks at me with a twinkle in his eye, as he replies, “what makes you think they need taking care of?”

treeBeing on the farm, usually just 2-3 days a week at this point in time, the horses are on their own. Most people want to know where the barn is, as well, and are taken back when we say, “Hmmm, we would never put them in a barn! We like our horses healthy. We DO have some awesome trees for them to stand under, though.”

If you consider the nature of a horse, it makes better sense.

FRAME OF REFERENCE

Jim’s reply is telling.  It’s telling because it reflects our frame-of-reference which tends to be a bit different than the current traditional mode.

In the past, on our 65 acre ranch, we fenced the house & garden in, and let the livestock pretty much run free. (It’s a little different on our 5 acre farm, but the principles are the same.)

A side note: Well, except for the miniature milking goats…  but that was partly because they were such appetizing morsels for the local coyotes & bobcats, and the fact that they would work hard to get INTO the garden instead of utilizing the acres of pasture available to them. They were kept confined and when I had to make a choice between the Jersey Milk Cow or the Miniature Milking Goats, Bessie’s 2 gallons/day won out easy over 1 cup/day of goat milk.

Bessie, the cow, came out way ahead in productivity compared to the goats. On top of behaving herself, by utilizing the pastures and leaving my garden alone, she provided the basis of some awesome pastured products: butter, cream, ice cream, whipped cream, and cheese.

Let me tell you, it wasn’t a tough decision, choosing her over the goats. Made Jim much happier, too!

CREATING PROBLEMS for yourself (and more work!)

But back to the horses.  We believe in working toward decreasing one’s work load and working with nature as much as possible. So often we humans create a whole series of problems, by not understanding natural processes, that we then have to solve.

Historically (one of my favorite words), i.e. for tens of hundreds of thousands of years, horses have managed quite well on their own.  In the last 10,000 years we took them from ranging on the land, fending for themselves, and put them into tiny boxes.

In those enclosed boxes they are exposed continually to noxious fumes (from the ammonia build up from their urine & the dust it combines with), and unable to travel the miles and miles that kept them in good shape,  wearing their hooves down naturally. They tend to be fed diets that are too rich for their confined existence & minimal exercise. They would easily travel 20 miles just to get a drink, in nature, while grazing on grasses.

PREDATOR or PREY?

Out in nature, If they are “spooked”, they run.  They run for at least a quarter mile, and then will stop to look around to see if they are ok.  They have survived by running first, then reassessing, as horses are prey animals… other things would hunt them down, so they only feel safe/OK within a herd, as there is safety in numbers.  Humans often isolate them and keep them from interacting with each other, which increases their stress levels.

A horse, give a choice, will choose to stand under a tree, in the rain, rather than go into an enclosure. We have seen that over and over. Horses & cows… will choose to stay outside, as a rule of thumb. It gives them the option to run, if they feel threatened, decreasing stress levels. They just need to have protection available to them, from wind and available shade. Trees work quite nicely, thank you kindly, as well a providing access to good ventilation.

MANAGED INTENSIVE GRAZING (MIG)

Pasture for livestock

Pasture for livestock

Their normal diet includes a broad range of forages (grasses not grains), including access to trees & shrubs (leaves) to supplement their diet for micro nutrients they need.

We do supplement, when needed…. because we don’t have the acreage to fulfill their ranging needs.  Ever notice that almost all horse enclosed pastures are stripped down to the dirt?  It’s called over-grazed and basically strips the soil of it’s natural cover.  We seem to think it’s suppose to be that way and that it’s OK. It most definitely IS NOT.

Jim & I have learned a bit more, since being on that 65 acre ranch in 2005-09, about pasture/soil/land management. It’s all a learning curve and I have to say, we’ve been doing a heck of a lot of learning. At present, we are beginning work on creating our “managed intensive grazing” setup (MIG) on the farm in Cotati.

Livestock confined in a space will go eat what they like FIRST, then move on to the less appetizing, less appealing stuff (sounds about right!). But as soon as the forage they value begins to grow again (from the root’s reserve), they take that next bite of their favorite tasty morsel, which kills the plant. It had no time to rebuild the root’s reserves.  When no reserves are left in its root system to regrow it’s solar panels (i.e. leaves), the plant dies.

Over a relatively short period of time, the only thing left alive in the pasture will be the least desirable plants (to the horse).  And in desperation, they may even eat the nasty stuff till nothing is left…  and they are left standing around waiting for “man” to bring them food.

With MIG, we will create small paddock areas where they will only have access to forage briefly.  They will take a bite from everything available because they won’t have the leisure time to pick and choose. In a well designed system, you would have several species follow in order, as they all tend to eat different forages, so you get maximum use out of a pasture, without allowing it to be degraded.

TRADE OFFS

People say, well doesn’t that take a lot of time? Actually NO, not in comparison to the alternative, and it keeps the forage & soil & livestock in excellent condition, as an added benefit. It conserves water.

Stored hay, for the off season

Stored hay, for the off season

Otherwise, we would have to buy off farm feed/forage, haul it in, store it, haul it out to the livestock, make sure they share, and deal with stripped bare soil/dust/mud.

Much easier to just open an entrance to new pasture and have the cows/horses/chickens, etc., move themselves.  They get to spend a day or so there, and then are offered a fresh paddock.  They are kept from moving back to the prior used paddocks by a single electric tape line (that they highly respect!), which allows the forages to regrow, protecting and maintaining healthy pastures.

It’s so easy, even older kids and teenagers can do it… and us seniors!

FOR NOW…

Currently we are not setup properly but we know where we are headed, on this farm property. Now that we have the well drilled, we need to get some irrigation in, rebuild the soil & forage quality & diversity, and create our MIG pattern.  The neighbors cows ranged the land for years and have stripped all the quality forages from it.  We have to do a bit of work to reverse that.

Presently the two horses are allowed to range freely on the acreage, utilizing the trees for shade/shelter as needed.  They are building up a nice stockpile of fertilizer for us to use in rebuilding the nutrients in the soil (and spreading it around themselves for the most part)! But soon they will be introduced to MIG, and restricted from over grazing the forages we will have introduced.

Right now they are stripping out the less desirable stuff, right before the California rains should appear, to facilitate the growth of the new pasture forages. In case this severe drought continues, we now have access to water to get the forages going.  As we rebuild the quality of the soil (humus) and keep it covered with forage, it will naturally retain more water as the humus percentage increases, decreasing the need in the future for ongoing irrigation.

RETURNING TO THE PAST, it’s easier by far!

Bell eating, Lady

On the Cotati Farm, Bella (head down) & Lady

Our 2nd horse, Bella, came to us just recently.  I swear she had not been in a free-ranging pasture for years.  She immediately raced out to start grazing, and I don’t think she lifted her head from the ground, for more than 2 seconds, in the first few days she was on the farm.

Lady & she bonded, but bonded with Bella’s head to the ground grazing! It was a pleasure to see her start to race around the pasture acreage as she stretched her “wings”.

So, who takes care of the horses when we are not there? They do….

and they do a fine job.

The REALLY Big One

It was a silent tsunami in Japan that was the telltale sign of the ‘the really big one’, off the coast of the USA.   It was the beginning of the construction of a nuclear power plant that put things in motion.radioactivity-sign-nuclear-power-plant-19146173

Way back in the ancient days (1970’s I believe) when tectonic plate theory was firmly accepted, the Northwest Coast (Washington & Oregon) were assigned a low seismic rating because there had been no earthquakes in recorded history.  (Well, western recorded history!)

In the ’80’s construction was begun on building a nuclear power plant along south of Puget Sound, in the Coastal Range…  

Only, there was this law that said you had to do a hazard’s review.

Now the Washington Public Power Supply System (WPPSS, pronounced Whoops!), knowing that there was a sub-duction zone 30-60 miles off shore,  claimed it did not have dangerous earthquakes, it had “creeps”. Micro-earthquakes that took the pressure off the fault line.

The review was dropped into the lap of Thomas Heaton of the USGS, who had no idea of what the risks might be (he was located in Southern California).  He decided, in something this big (a nuclear power plant), he needed to play the devil’s advocate… and actually LOOK for previous earthquakes, before the 200 years of recorded western history.

We humans are such funny creatures, as we consider ourselves to be incredibly intelligent, and yet we insist on believing the world we live in right now is how it was and will be, negating natures ongoing attempt to disillusion us from that fantasty.

THE RING OF FIRE

ringNow the largest known earthquake EVER recorded, 9.5 occurred in Chile in 1960, devastating 600 miles of the coast frontage (5700 people died). This was the equivalent area, only below the equator, as Oregon/Washington fault zone, along the ring of fire.

Four years later, a 9.2 hit Anchorage Alaska area, above the Oregon/Washington fault zone. Between the two area, a silent zone that expelled it’s energy via “creeps” instead of “quakes”, at least according to WPPSS. This was where they wanted to build their nuclear plant. The arrow points to the zone in the ring of fire that was supposedly “different & quiet”.

FAULT ZONE LOCKED

In actuality, research showed Heaton, the creeps were not even occurring.  Heaton was concerned that the “zone” might actually be locked up, and instead building  pressures toward a huge release.  Had it ever happened in the past? i.e. geologic past (decades, centuries ?) Where to look?

First, indigenous peoples… what stories did their oral histories record. YES, they did tell of a time when the waters retreated for four days, and then returned to submerge the Cape & the surrounding high areas, until only the mountain tops were above water. It was days for the waters to retreat.  Tribal members who had canoes where able to escape the rising waters but were carried for away, according to the story.stortell

Estimated dates ~ time frame for the oral story to have occurred:

1657-1777 “…there was a big flood shortly before the white man’s time, ….a huge tidal wave that struck the Oregon coast not too far back in time… the ocean rose up and huge waves swept and surged across the land.  Trees were uprooted and villages were swept away.  Indians said they tied their canoes to the top of the trees, and some canoes were torn loose and swept away… After the tidal wave, the Indians told of tree tops filled with limbs and trash and of finding strange canoes in the woods.  The Indians said the big flood and tidal wave tore up the land and change the rivers.  Nobody knows how many Indians died.  Beverly Ward, recounting stories told to her around 1930 by Susan Ned, born in 1842.

1640-1740  “These are stories from my grandfather’s father (born c. f800) about events that took place four generations before his time… over 200 years ago” “…the land shook… a big wave smashed into the beach.” Chief Louis Nookmis, age 84 in 1964

1690-1715 “My grandfather saw one of the old women (survivors) who had been left alive.  She had been hung up on a tree, and the limbs of that tree were too high up.  So she took her pack line and tied it to a limb, and then when she wanted to go down by means of that, she fell; she was just a girl when she fell from it.  Her back was broken from it (she had a humpback thereafter).  That is what she told about the raised water.”  Annie Miner Petersen, age 73 in 1913

To document the reality, digging was begun, to look at the soil structure beneath the surface.  Sure enough, several feet down beneath the soil was a layer of sand that extended several feet down. Below that, there was a sharp delineation line where a layer of pure black peat was found.

What did that mean? Sand brought in by a tsunami and below that, the black peat was the coastal terrain/swampy area that was above water before the incident. Sharp line means it happened quickly.

TAKING A CLOSE LOOK 

Brian Atwater (USGS) took over the search and more extensive research was done.  An excellent review can be found in Chapter 1 of “The Earth in Turmoil”, by Atwater written in 1999.earth

Researchers found similar layers almost wherever they looked, up and down the coast.  While the earthquakes may not travel far in distance side to side (to the east), they did travel north/south!  Just how big were these quakes?

Land research was followed by core samples from the seabed just offshore, the continental  slope, to look for “debris” patterns indicative of earthquakes/tsunamis.  Six such patterns were identified quite quickly, indicating a history of significant earthquakes with tsunamis. The last one, close to 300 years ago.  The exact date?  They went to Japan, who of course, kept excellent records for a much longer period of time than the newcomer westerners knew of.

Searching the records, Kenji Satake revealed a “silent tsunami”. A tsunami that occurred without an accompanying earthquake, which matched the data from the Cascadian Quake timeframe. The tusnami that occurred equated to the date of January 26, 1700 around 9pm in the evening, in the range of a 9.0 earthquake along the Cascadian Fault line.

By now the idea of building a nuclear power plant had gone by the wayside.

ESTIMATED M9.0 EQ

mms

The estimated 8.9-9.2 Earthquake was slightly smaller than the Chilean Eq of 1960 & the Alaskan EQ of 1964, but in the expected range & comparable to past EQ’s. Further research showed there have been at least 12 giant EQ’s in the last 7700 years, occurring on average between 230-700 years apart. Not exactly an everyday occurrence, but nothing to ignore either!

Another tidbit that came out was that the Cascadia Fault Zone seemed to trigger off the San Andreas Fault as well. EXCEPT for the 1906 SF EQ, the major EQ’s along the Cascadian Fault appear to trigger EQ’s along the San Andreas Fault Line.  Hmmm, nice to know.

The Cascadian Fault zone runs from Vancouver B.C. all they way down to N California @ Cape Mendicino, 1000km (630 miles).

Below that is the beginning of the San Andreas Fault line that runs the length of California.090827.Juan.de.Fuca.EQ

The Cascadian Fault Zone is where the Juan De Fuca Plate (JDFP)  is subducting (which lies just west of the west coast) under the North American Plate… It will eventually disappear completely under the continent, as the Pacific Ocean is shrinking. The Pacific Ocean Plate will then meet up with the North American Plate. Juan de Fuca Plate is a remnant part of the once-vast Farallon Plate, which is now largely subducted underneath the North American Plate.

We have a few islands, called the Farallon Islands named after that disappearing plate, just west of the Golden Gate Bridge entrance. On a clear day you can see them in the distance. They used to be the mountains on the coast to the west of the San Francisco; coast line around 10,000 yrs ago, now submerged with only the peaks showing as islands today.

The Farallon Plate has almost completely subducted beneath the western portion of the North American Plate leaving that part of the North American Plate in contact with the Pacific Plate as the San Andreas Fault. But the two plates are shifting past each other, instead of the ocean plate being sub-ducted under the continental plate as it is in Oregon/Washington.

SUB-DUCTION VRS TRANSFORM FAULT

Cascadia Fault: subduction means one plate is being forced under another & can trigger tsunamis; creates active volcanoes, mountains (Cascades)

San Andreas Fault: transform fault means two plates are sliding along side each other , also called strike-slip, they don’t make or take away land, they just shift positions (north-south). Thus tend to do much less damage unless, of course, you build a major city right smack on top of the fault line!

Yes, LA will move up next door to SF, some day… talk about a crowded neighborhood!

I vote to move away from the actual fault line (remember California EQ’s damp out really, really fast)…. and localize resources so that disruptions in transportation will not cripple one.

TAKE HOME POINT

The next “big” one in terms of distance & destruction ~ EQ & Tsunami will probably be based off of the Cascadia Fault Zone and trigger the San Andreas Fault.  If it just triggers a segment of the zone instead of the whole fault line, we may get off light with just an M8.0 EQ, unless it affect highly populated areas. 

The Hayward Fault in Berkeley-Hayward is long overdue, but while disastrous, will be relatively localized.  Heavily populated with people & businesses it will, still, have far reaching effects.

“Civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice.”   Will Durant (1946).  How true…

rf2-cascadia-subduction-zone-usgs

Oregon/Washington Cascade Range (mountains) & active Volcanoes are a result of the          JDF plate being sub-ducted under the North American Plate.

Rockin’ & Rolling California Style known as: 6.0 EarthQuake

I LOVE California Earthquakes… all except for that gut-wrenching panic fight-or-flight instinct that kicks in after the first 5-10 seconds. Mind you, most EQ’s here don’t last all that long; a bump, a jog, a shift.  Heck, when the washer would kick in the spin cycle, in my mom & dad’s fancy travel RV shaking the trailer, I’d have an automatic panic reaction thinking we were having an earthquake… then I’d realize what was going on.  Perhaps that has de-sensitized me a bit.

That and having experienced the ’89 SF EQcypress2 in which part of a double decker freeway & a segment of the Bay Bridge collapsed. 36 seconds of undulating concrete walls and rippling pillars in the hospital dungeon where I was working (in the basement L&D unit).

As bad as it was, we just had some cracks in the wall, some supply carts that dumped their goods. My husband, a patient in the hospital, went for a ride in his hospital bed as it rolled back & forth, post surgery.

We were only 25 miles away from where some of the major collapses occurred, a 6.9 EQ (officially known as the Loma Prieta EQ). Basically, very minor damage.

OTOH, after that experience, when I went back to college as an older adult to update myself, first thing I took was a class on Earthquakes & Volcanoes. Being a transplant from Texas which deals with floods, droughts, dust storms, and hurricanes; I figured a better handle on more likely california disasters would be useful. Us nurse types like to be prepared!

Here is a question for you. Where has the most serious earthquakes occurred in the USA? The REST of the story….

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