Aug 042017
 

By Patty Wilber

Ok, so at pushing 56, maybe I am no longer a girl, but “A Woman and her Tractor” sounded too staid, “Me and my Tractor” too plain, and “The Old Lady and her Tractor”… well, I am not THAT old!

We have had the tractor a few years now, and I confess, I get a big kick out of being a tractor operator! Unfortunately, my tractor-ness does not extend to tractor maintenance, so I am not a true tractor aficionado.  I have, however, come really close to tipping the thing over with a loaded bucket and have gotten it stuck (and unstuck), so that does give me some tractor creds!

I have been moving crusher fines to fill in some mud holes, and digging out the culvert after our 1.6 inches of rain event, so here are some tractor shots.

This is the “dump and smooth”. Unfortunately, if crusher fines do not have a chance to sit and pack, big rains wash them down hill. These got somewhat rearranged about two days after I put them in.

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Jul 212017
 

By Patty Wilber

Last Sunday, the Pecos Chapter of the Back Country Horsemen (BCH) helped pack out a folding toilet, a propane tank and other materials that helped make Kevin Balciar’s volunteer trail crew happier on their 10 day stint working on Rito Los Esteros (#226) and Skyline (#251) trails in the Pecos Wilderness.

It was a tough job (really it was just fun), but someone had to do it.

Jim and I spent the night at Iron Gate campground.  In the past, BCH had avoided Iron Gate because the four miles of dirt road was a steep  trailer eater, full of deep ruts and hitch-cracking, axle-snapping holes.  It was repaired, and while still steep (we would not have got our camper and loaded three horse trailer out in the rain without 4WD), it only had two big holes and the surface was solid and not terribly slick, even with water streaming down it.

To begin the day, we had to get an early start to meet Richard, Amber and Peter who had ridden in Saturday and overnighted with Kevin’s group, so we rode out of Iron Gate at 7:10 am.

The route leaves Iron Gate and heads south on trail 249 then right on 250 to Mora Flats.

I do not know if we are on 249 or 250 in this picture. Trail 249 starts from Iron Gate camp ground and joins 250 which stays high for a while then drops down to the top of this valley that you can see to our right. The trail (240) then heads back south and is down there somewhere.

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Jun 162017
 

By Patty Wilber

Back Country Horsemen is planning to pack supplies up the Bosque Trail in the Manzano Mountains for a trail crew on June 26th, but we haven’t travelled that path in many years. So, we needed to check it out.

Also, unfortunately, Bosque Trail, while less than one mile from the Cerro Blanco Trailhead is past the point where road gets steep, narrow and quite rutted. Our own personal BCH Road Scout (Cheryl) advised me to park near Cerro Blanco and ride to the Bosque Trail for the exploratory trip.

I was girding up for a solo adventure.  I have four-wheel drive now!  I am good with a map!  I have a big-ass knife! I was excited to play the brave, lone explorer. (Don’t tell anyone, but part of me was secretly a little nervous.)

But then my co-leader, Peter, was able to come along. Having an accomplice turned out to be really nice.

The road was ok up to the recommended parking area.  It got down to one lane and had some bad spots. I smacked the trailer hitch hard on one hole I misjudged (I have a bumper-pull three horse trailer). No obvious problems, and if there’d been some, I had help in the passenger seat!

We parked, saddled and rode up the road to the Bosque Trail trailhead.  The road was fairly deeply rutted in one section, but we concluded that we can drive up for the project, so long as it is dry.  If there is rain, the dirt ruts will turn to slick and sucking mud pits.  That could be bad, even with help!

Bosque Trail takes off from the campground, not from the trailhead parking area, (at least we did not see the trail at the trailhead parking area). Once we found the real starting spot, the way is obvious, but could use some lopping.  It heads up steeply for a at least a mile and is technical and rocky.  We had to stop to give the horses a breather at least twice and Squirt’s (the horse) butt muscles were twitching from the climb.  Even LT was happy to stop.

Squirt says: don’t look at my twitching butt!

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Jun 022017
 

By Patty Wilber

The wind howled down the mountain slopes, the ground was snow-wet and the trees fell down all around, all around this winter in the Pecos Wilderness!

Luckily, Back Country Horsemen, Pecos Chapter, to the rescue (and a bunch of other people, too, but this post is all about US, not them)!

Yes, we cleared this!

Done! Keith, Siri, Chris, Melissa, Mary Ann, Linda, Kevin, Peter, Me, Jim. This was a fun “wreck” to clear and took about two hours with most of us busy! Photo by Siri!

 

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May 122017
 

By Patty Wilber

We called a range tech in the Magdalena Ranger District for info, scouted all over on roads off of Hwy 60 between Magdalena and Datil based on her input, and decided to camp in Sargent Canyon on FR 476, off of State Road 52 (goes right by the Very Large Array).  But then the weather looked questionable, so we revised to Monica Cabin (168 off 60 which becomes FR 549, go left on FR (not state road) 52) because those roads were not likely to turn into tire sucking mud pits in a big rain event.

Turns out, we had cool and dry weather, but it apparently rained and snowed and hailed practically every where else in the state (0.66 inches of rain at my house)!

There were five of us and we used three different methods of overnight equine restraint.

Marcia: A portable pen.  It is stored on the outside of her trailer for transport, and attaches to the side of her trailer.  Up in a flash!

Siri and Linda: High ties. A high tie is a flexible pole that swings out from the side of the trailer.   An equine can move around a little, and hay bags and water buckets can be secured to the trailer.

Zodi: i got this!

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Mar 312017
 

By Patty Wilber

This winter has been warmer (Accuweather) and slightly wetter (at least until February)  compared to the historic averages as reported by Intellicast.

We didn’t get a lot of snow.

Here is a summary:  Precipitation from Intellicast, and my rain gauge, temperatures from Accuweather. Links above.

Historic Averages                            My house ppt      Accuweather this year temps.
November:  1.2″   45F                      1.46″                    48F
December:   1.3″    36F                    1.58″                    39F
January:       1.2″    37F                    1.54″                    39F
February:     1.3″    41F                    0.21″                    46F
March:          1.4″    48F                   0.60″                    55F (as of 3/29/17)

In February, we only had one precipitation event, (Feb. 13th, 0.21″) and it was dry again until March 23rd (0.24) and March 28th (0.36).

Mar. 28th. The rain gauge is on the railing!

A late afternoon break in the damp.

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Mar 172017
 

By Patty Wilber

Last Friday, my camping “group” spent 14 hours scouting for horse-friendly campsites in the Magdalena Ranger District, NM.

We found a two and a half.

I tried to search by normal means–the Internet–and while the Forest Service website gives information such as number of camp spots and potable water for developed campsites, it does not say if there are horse pens and livestock water…which seems like basic info…

So, I called the ranger district and spoke to a super helpful Range Technician.  She was a fount of information on good non-campground spots with possible water, so, I picked a few and off we went, without the horses, to reconnoiter! Good thing we did not take a trailer. We would have still been out there, stuck.

We tried a spot called Monica’s Cabin, first.  There is a stream (which may be dry in May when we go), a metal water tank full of water and a nice area suitable for camping, in the oaks.  The horses could be high-lined or we could set up electric fence pens.   The road to get there is in very good shape. There are not a lot of trails but there are a number of forest roads that would make for good riding and it is right next to the Withington Wilderness Area.

That is Monica’s Cabin!

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Jan 112017
 

By Patty Wilber

Why do horses lie in the mud?

That is a rhetorical question, although I suppose there may be a real answer.

It was a rainy December at our place.  This is the second year (of 20 that we have lived here) that the precipitation was not snow in December.  The other year was 2015.  I wanted to cut and paste a graph of the temperatures for the month, but the best I could find in my 30 minute inexhaustive search was this link on Accuweather showing the actual December temperatures in 2016 compared to the historical average. Mostly, it was warmer. (Surprise, surprise!)

So, with rain, we get mud.  And for whatever reason, horses like to roll in, lie in and get covered in mud. I read some article suggesting that in winter one should not brush that stuff off!  (Or ride your horse in winter at all, which may give a clue to the nature of that writer.)  But, if you don’t curry it off, isn’t the loft of the coat compromised and won’t they be colder despite the mud layer?  Anyway!

I also looked up mud and horses on the Internet to find out why horses like to lie in the stuff in winter (it is not to keep the bugs off–there are no bugs) and found that some authors thought that muddy ground prevents horses from lying down.  Apparently, our mud is not muddy enough to deter reclining. Nothing that I came across had an explanation for why the horses pick the wet, not the dry, spots for their siesta-ing.

Indy (bay): “the mud is warm. i like the soft  feel on my legs.” Me: “I dispute the warmness of the wet stuff.  Surely with evaporation it is cooler than the dry areas!”  Indy: “huh?” Me: “There is a drier spot up a bit! If you laid there I would not have to chip the chunks off you!”

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Nov 182016
 

By Patty Wilber

When Dancer, a Paso Fino cross, arrived last month, she jumped out of the trailer, flattened her long, black-tipped ears at life in general and tried to double barrel a dog to drive home the point.

“Oh dear” or maybe more accurately, “Holy sh**”, I thought.

Six weeks later, I am nearly ready to send her home because she has done SO well!

She is an unusual horse in that she really does seem to hate a lot of stuff.  At first she wouldn’t even talk to me! I could barely halter her because she would not let me touch her ears or poll.  Try slipping a bridle on. Ha! She still tries to kick her neighbors about 10 times a day. And she really doesn’t like being petted.  Cuddling?  Forget about it!

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Oct 142016
 

By Patty Wilber

Jim drew an elk tag this year, so we joined Camp Kingsbury in the Cruces Basin. There were four hunters with elk tags and three others in the riding-out hunting entourage, plus Amber and Abby who did a lot of the work at the camp area.

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Derek (aka Sugar) and Mike heading out of camp for a quick ride Friday evening.

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Jim and Mike riding back into camp Sunday afternoon.

Before we went, LT called up Auntie Shelley (without my permission) and said, “this time last year I was vying for a world title in jr. working cow horse!  now she is making me go on this hunting trip.  I need camo!”

Shelley got her a a camo pommel pack and a hay bag!  Thank-you Auntie Shelley!

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