Dec 072018
 

By Patty Wilber

We have had a week of wintery weather, with more on the way. This is good news for our drought stricken state of affairs, which, surprising to me, is actually quite a bit worse right now, as compared to a year ago

All this cold and snow, however, is not so great for outdoor horse training, especially since it had been in the 40’s and 50’s up to now.

I am quite happy to be outside for hours if it is 25 F and sunny, but 15 F? at 9 am?  I just need another cup of coffee.

Monday 12/3/18. There is a ridge to the east of us, so the sun hasn’t quite made it to us yet. It was  15F. Looking west.

Later on Monday. Getting better, but by the time it reached 25 F, it was after 11 am, so not really enough time to get anything done before I had to head to town to teach one of my last microbio labs of the term.

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Nov 162018
 

By Patty Wilber

It is getting late in the trail work season, but the forecast for last weekend was looking good, so we put together one last Pecos Chapter of the Back Country Horsemen trail project for the Manzanos.

We were scheduled to have seven riders but lameness (in a horse) and a dead battery took out four, leaving just Jim, Mary Ann and me.

It was a good thing we picked last weekend, because Monday, a storm came in and now there is snow!

View from my house, at 6800 feet. The trails we clear in the Manzano Mountains, 50 miles south, go up to 9,000+ feet, so the snow is probably going to stay on the ground there rather than melting. There were already some small patches last weekend.

We cleared a big log a few weeks ago, and the trails were clear, but then we got reports that there were a lot of down branches on the Albuquerque Trail-Mosca-Crest-Cerro Blanco-4th of July loop. (This is a pretty cool map and it even shows the horse bypass on Cerro Blanco that BCH put in around 10 years ago. Or more.  Time flies.)

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Nov 022018
 

By Patty Wilber

I went to Golden Open Space last Friday with four friends.  There was water in the arroyo that is normally dry and we had some gold cottonwoods–which were not the source of the name!

The water.  We got nearly two inches of rain last week, which seems like a huge amount here considering that our annual precipitation is around 16 inches at my place and only 8 inches in Albuquerque. The amount that we had actually caused live water to be running down the arroyos at the open space.  If you live in a wet area, this excitement may seem ludicrous, but to use desert rats, any running water is a thing.  A big thing!

Siri on Tabooli riding along WATER!

I know our 2 inches was a mere dribble compared to the hurricane drenched states where 30 to 50 inches fell in a matter of days.  If that happened here, all the houses might literally wash away.  Our soil just could not handle it.

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Oct 262018
 

By Patty Wilber

Lucy!

Lucy got here in July and quickly wormed her way into my heart.

She is a rather calm sort.

This was ride 13.  Mary Ann and I spent a couple hours out on the trail near my house. Granted Lucy did not lead, but she didn’t spook at anything, either, and she does cover some ground with her walk, without being in a rush, like, say, LT. Lucy is way way way way way easier. Way.

The only thing that I don’t care for so far is that saddles like to ride forward on her, so I think, for the back country, I will get her a britchen.

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Oct 192018
 

By Patty Wilber

Three forests, six horses, one week!

Last Monday, we returned from our hunting trip in the Carson National Forest in the Cruces Basin Wilderness.  Indy and Cometa went on that.  It was Indy’s first hunting trip and because she had Cometa, our old and very level-headed Spanish Barb as her companion, she really did well.  I have considered selling her, since she is currently relegated to a walk-trot horse due to her bone chip, but, well, not yet.

The habitat consists of meadows, some big like in the picture below. and some small.  The trees are mostly aspen and spruce.  The aspen was turning and the gold leaves are so stunning!

Last Friday, Mary Ann Ende and I went to the Santa Fe National Forest in the Pecos Wilderness to get trash, already bagged by other trail volunteers, from an abandoned camp near Stewart Lake.

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Oct 122018
 

By Patty Wilber

Jim had an elk tag and I have a license that I can use for grouse, so we took Indy and Cometa and went to the Cruces Basin to try our luck. This year it was Camp Wilberry and not Camp Kingsbury and we did miss the camaraderie and amenities of the amazing Camp Kingsbury!

On Friday, we loaded up, left our place, and  after four hours of travel, arrived at the last turnoff to the trailhead.  There we discovered that the door to the camper had popped open, probably somewhere on the 25 miles of dirt road we had just driven, and virtually all our food, wine that we had put in metal water bottles, our brand new Jet Boil stove, our water purified and my very best milk crate from my days as a wildlife major at Humboldt State University had ejected out the back.

We were so hosed.

Well, when life gives you lemons you can give up or you can regroup.  We turned around, drove an hour back out and went first to Tres Piedras (no food store) and then the other way into Antonito in Colorado to restock.  We even found a small stove, but the store did not have the proper fuel canisters for the model they stocked…

We finally made the trailhead by 5:30 pm.  Indy and Cometa had a fine bonding experience, but they were ready to get out of the trailer! They stayed overnight tied to the trailer that was hooked to the truck and they did not wiggle or mess with each other.

We were ready to drink the new bottle of wine we bought.

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Sep 282018
 

By Patty Wilber

In order to see if my body stays in shape using only horseback riding as exercise, I went backpacking for my birthday with the Spouse and Progeny #2.

We went to Rocky Mountain National Park. Rocky mountain high, a la John Denver.  (Which, since 2007, is one of the official state songs of Colorado. Click the link to hear it.)

My trip leaders billed this as a very leisurely 6 mile hike up Inlet Creek.  It turns out doing pretty much anything outdoors with that duo results in the Epic Dial being in play. And it was 7 miles.  Just saying.

Mark, me and Jim. Mark’s wife Erika, missed the fun. She is in Vancouver!

First off, we drove from Estes Park (the town) into the National park, and the park was spectacular!  We saw a huge bull elk, a huge dead bull elk, pronghorn and then I said, “I would sure like to see another moose” (having seen some in Alaska).  We turned the corner and there was a bull moose!

I then tried conjuring up a bear on the drive, but that did not work. (We were also bear-free out on the trail, which was fine with me.)

The hike in was uphill, but the grade was gradual, so while is was not “very leisurely”, it was not strenous.  Also, my pack was light (this being a one night excursion), so the hike (and a short-on purpose-freezing cold swim in the creek for Jim and Mark) went well.

We cleared a down tree, because, well, once a Back Country Horseman trail volunteer, always a  trail volunteer, even if your horses are at home. In truth, I directed and Jim did the work.

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Sep 212018
 

By Patty Wilber

This is the last chapter!  If you missed any of the past Chapters, the links are all here. Thanks for reading!

CALLIE’S STAR by Patty Wilber

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapters 5 and 6
Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13
Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16 Chapter 17 Chapter 18  Chapter 19 Chapter 20.

CHAPTER TWENTY ONE-CALLIE’S  STAR

“I couldn’t raise Mom on the radio,” Jeff said.

“What if she went to town and doesn’t return until late?” asked Callie. A touch of panic made her voice squeak.

“It’s already pretty late,” Uncle Bob reminded her. The shadows were getting long. “But don’t worry, Callie,” he added. “We’ll think of something.”

“We can’t put her back! She might get kicked again!” said Callie.

“You sound like a mother hen,” said Uncle Bob, patting her shoulder.

Callie looked at the filly who was standing quietly with her head hanging low, still feeling the effects of the tranquilizer, and ran the lead line back and forth through her hands.

“Why are you so worried?” asked Jeff.

Uncle Bob winked at Callie. “She’s got a new filly, and she wants to protect her.”

“You mean…?” said Luis.

Callie looked up and a smile stretched across her sun-browned face. She stood very straight and squared her shoulders.

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Sep 142018
 

By Patty Wilber

Callie’ Star Chapter 20 is posted.

+++++++++++

I have mentioned a few times that we have been having a long spell of dry weather in New Mexico.  Years.

We have had rains this monsoon season, so it seems like things have eased up some, but truthfully, we may be just getting adjusted to a new normal.  It has not been wet enough to turn the drought monitor map green.

The Forest Service has had reports that Spruce Spring in the Manzanos was not running. This is a developed spring, with a spring box and feeder hose the empties into a water tank.  Back Country horsemen packed in the current tank on Cheryl Nigg’s mule, Joker, many years ago, and we also fixed the spring in June 2017, when a tree had fallen on and crimped the feeder hose.

We were hoping the current problem was something like that, this go around.

Mary Ann and I left the Ponderosa Restaurant with our take-out hamburgers at 1:30 pm (Atti and I had played with cows in the morning, so this was the earliest I could go) and we headed to the Spruce Trail trailhead.

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Sep 092018
 

By Patty Wilber

To get every chapter as soon as they post, you can subscribe to the site!  If you missed any of the past Chapters, the links are all here. Thanks for reading!

CALLIE’S STAR by Patty Wilber

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapters 5 and 6
Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13
Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16 Chapter 17 Chapter 18  Chapter 19

CHAPTER 20 THE FILLY

It was late afternoon when the other groups began to ride in. They were trail worn and weary until they saw the corralled herd. Then the tiredness melted away like dirt removed with soap and water.

“Well, look at that!” said Mr. Sanchez, trotting his horse up to the fence. “There are some nice mares and babies in there.” He nodded with pleasure. The orphan filly rushed to the fence. “Looking for your mama?” he asked her gently. She sniffed his gelding’s nose and walking dejectedly away, crying out in disappointment.

“Her mother wasn’t captured,” explained Callie. She noticed that the filly’s patchy coat was beginning to darken with sweat.

Jo McCabe rode up to join them. “We thought they’d headed for greener pastures, and they’ve been here all the long!”

Callie, Luis and Jeff beamed like proud parents, but when the filly, hearing the new horse, spun around and whickered hopefully, Callie’s face fell.

Jo saw the distress in the girl’s eyes and said, “That’s a pretty little filly, Callie. Don’t worry about her. She’ll be fine.”

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