Feb 192021
 

By Patty Wilber

After the first part of the storm.

On Saturday 2/13 in the afternoon, it was 50 degrees F, and I rode Joey and pushed some cows while Heidi rode Lucy so Joey had a mentor (and she practiced other stuff on Lucy). Then, I had a fine time working my two yearling bovines with Lucy out in the pasture. She had some fun moves! We also practiced slides-getting up to about 10 feet semi consistently…

When I was done, Heidi noted that I’d lost a bell boot off Lucy. Heidi offered to cool out Lucy and they spent a good long time searching for that thing! It is black. Looks a lot like dried cow manure. It is still missing, but Lucy appreciated the cool out. (Thanks, Heidi!).

Then it was Landon’s turn. He was very focused and cadenced and long-strided! This was wonderful, all by itself, but even more impressive because the wind got colder and colder and began to really whip across the plain as the edge of the Polar Vortex event started moving in. He rode the same the whole ride!

Heidi helped me untack and get ready to go. To load, I held the heavy trailer door against the wind and she led them in. Then we went to see the baby lambs. They are just a few days old and are, of course, darling. One of them may well end up in my freezer at the end of the year, as have two previous Tucker lambs.

You know, I am perfectly fine not having a close personal relationship with my dinner meat. I will avoid socializing with them as they get closer to market weight.

The lambs had a heat lamp and were possibly headed into the house for the Polarized night.

I drove Heidi back up to the house and, disaster was barely averted, by sheer luck. I grazed a (marked and covered) major water outlet with the trailer. I was blabbing to Heidi and did not even see it. If I had busted it….just as the Big Freeze was blowing in…. I shudder to think. Whew.

When I got home to our place, in a rincon, at the base of the Sandia Mountains, there was very little wind and it was not yet so cold. Only twenty miles from the Tucker’s, but what a difference!

In February 2011, we had a longer Polar Event with temperatures as low as -25 F.  There was snow but not a lot of wind. No horses were blanketed and none were cold.

Horses have a counter current circulation system in their legs, so as the colder blood returns from the legs to the body, it goes right by the hot blood coming down. This helps warm the returning blood. Dry horses, out of the wind, with a good winter coat and adequate feed can withstand very cold conditions  (-30 to -40 F), according to Heather Scott Thomas.   

This time, snow, along with strong winds were forecast, which had me a little concerned.

Jim had topped off all the water including the 500 gallon stock tanks, and by 8pm the temperature was falling, as was the snow.

Three horses were blanketed (two are always blanketed for show coat purposes and I just felt better blanketing the third, although I suspect he would have been fine).

I fed extra hay for the night, but while we have shelters, we do not have stalls, so everyone was “out”.

In the morning it was 3.4 degrees F (slightly warmer than predicted), and we had 5 inches of snow.

The horses were, as usual, NOT under shelter. They were standing in the falling snow with snow sprinkles on their backs. I think it is so amazing that in 3 degree weather, the horse’s coat is so insulative that snow just an inch from the horse’s warm skin does not melt because so little heat is escaping! No wonder they can withstand such cold temps!

No one was shivering!

And, in another interesting bit of physics, NONE of the water tanks were frozen, despite hours at sub freezing temperatures.

Mushy snow insulation on the water tank. You can see the nose holes!

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Oct 302020
 

By Patty Wilber

Mary Ann E., with unerring insight, wanted, before it got too late, to gallop around Hamilton Mesa in the Pecos Wilderness (like we did last year).

We went last Friday, and not a moment too soon, because the temperatures crashed and we got a lot of snow early this week!

The wild rose bushes were shutting down (the leaves are red, indicating degradation of the normal photosynthetic pigments), but I don’t think they were quite prepared!

LT loves to gallop, but she is busy freezing her heinie off in CO, so I took Lucy. Lucy was maybe not as keen on full out galloping and maybe really not as keen on leading while galloping, but I will give her B+/ A- for the day! 

We left from Walmart around 7am.  I left my truck trailer there and loaded Lucy in with Rosebud. My rig did not go unnoticed–two friends texted me pics when they went to Walmart!! Don’t mess with my stuff–I got people!

It was a lovely clear morning until we neared the town of Pecos where it looked like this! 

Fortunately, it was just some odd ball fog and we drove on up, up and out of it!

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Oct 072020
 

By Patty Wilber

The sun was just suffusing the sky with light when two cow elk stepped out of the golden-leaved aspen grove into the meadow above the East Tank.  They were 300 yards away and didn’t hear us.  The little herd of cattle did.  They skittered and plowed across the landscape with no grace and lots of noise.  For some reason the elk glanced up and then ignored the cows.

Those two elk moseyed across the meadow: graze, pause, look, walk, out of our range.

As we watched, two more appeared from the forest, but instead of heading across, they stopped to snack.  We crept one step at time, from tree to tree, until Richard, who had the only cow elk tag, moved ahead. Jim and I breathed slowly and held still.  The aspens we were in were sparse enough that we still had a good view.

The first two elk melted away into the trees on the far side of the meadow and the newest two, wary now, heads up and looking away from our position, circled in a high trot.  We thought they were going to leave, but they settled and went back to breakfast.  Richard sighted in.

Only one elk disappeared into the trees.

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Oct 022020
 

By Patty Wilber

On Wednesday, we went back to retrieve empty water containers and some gear for the trail crew that was working on Pine Shadow Trail at the southern end of the Manzano Mountain.

We drove in on 131 from Manzano, and if you check the map, you can see the road has a big switchback.  That area  is one lane+ and has some wash boarding  on which I was happier in 4WD, but it was not necessary.

The trail head has ample parking for horse trailers and four large horse pens–two are missing gates and the gated two have large chollas in them, but other than that they are servicable.

There is a good size stock tank that is dry, so bring water. There are shaded picnic tables and an outhouse.

The trail crew re-established the trail up to the Crest Trail, they said.  We only rode it to their camp, which was within the Wilderness boundary but not too far in, so I cannot tell you the trail conditions after that point.  I can tell you that it was essentially impassable to stock prior to their work.

Penny and Cometa, “here we go again!”

On the way in. Me on Penny, Cometa packing. Photo by Terri Gore!

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Jul 102020
 

By Patty Wilber

I rode with with my usual Friday group, and we now, after lo, these many years, have an official name: No, were are not “The Covid 5”.  We are “The Flat Stirrup Crew”. 

Yes, the stirrup was literally flattened! Siri says it gives a whole a new perspective on collapsible gear! Photos by Patty S.

We are not exactly sure how this occurred.  Either Siri’s horse laid down while no one was looking or he squashed it against the rather small tree to which he was tied at Pecos Baldy Lake.

Surely, I thought, we could fix it.  

The metal was unfortunately sturdy, even in the flattened state, so we resorted to the only tools we could find.  Rocks.

We hammered, and stuck rocks inside, and used rocks for leverage, and by golly…

We fixed it!

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Jun 262020
 

By Patty Wilber

For Father’s Day we joined old friends and new friends for a camping trip at the trailhead in the Cruces Basin Wilderness Area that we use as a starting point for our packed-in elk hunting trips (the craziest being Camp Wilberry).  Road 572, not maintained for passenger cars.  So we hauled in our horse trailers, because, you know, why not? (And we have been there before, a few times.)

At the trailhead where we camped. Mary Ann, Bill, Patty, me (also Patty!) and Lani dog.

The new trailer went and the truck brakes and the trailer brakes speak different languages, as far as I can tell, so while we just had our truck brakes redone, we put a little wear on them on this trip and later in the week hauling down from the Santa Fe Ski Basin after a Back Country Horseman project.   I am hiring a translator to help them out.  Just saying.

The Cruces Basin is one of my favorite places as it is so beautiful and over the six or so years we have been going there, it also is a place of wonderful memories and friendship. This trip was no exception.

Jim and I won both our horseshoes games. This is only funny if you were there, but I actually played decently, and contributed to our wins.

We rode up Diablo Creek, Cruces Creek, down Beaver Creek (and Jim hiked up) and rode up on Toltec Mesa.

Me and Penny, up Cruces Creek to near the end. Photo by Patty S.

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Jun 122020
 

By Patty Wilber

Last week, I went glamping with three of my friends at Rancho de Fe.   It is about 12 miles out of Las Vegas, NM. We were the first horse guests at this lovely site, and it was pretty sweet!

The ranch is 90 acres with riding access on an additional 200 private acres as well being within riding access to the Santa Fe National Forest. There are very nice view of Hermit’s Peak, to the west!

There are two houses and a cabin that can be rented, two full RV hook-ups and dry camping as well.  We chose one dry camp, one full hook up, and the cabin. I split the cost of dry camping with Patty S., and we paid $15 per night, including the horses. 

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Feb 072020
 

By Patty Wilber

Well, it is still January, and unsurprisingly, it is still cold (whine), but this obviously has had no bearing on the manure producing ability of our equines.

Man, it is a lot of poo.  So, I have been contemplating new and novel (to us) ways to use all that s**t up.

Right now we compost it.  It has been difficult to find good tarps to cover the bins to keep moisture in so that composting actually occurs, versus horse apple mummification. It is pretty dry here in New Mexico, a lot of the time.

We had a roll of some sort of plastic-ish stuff (I know, plastic) that we used for years.  It was relatively long-lasting, but it did do what plastics do, and broke up into small pieces, some of which are still hanging around the place, not degrading.

Ok, we ran out of that, and tried big heavy duty tarps.  Fail.  They are also some sort of environmentally unfriendly plastic, but even worse, they fell apart within six months of use in the NM sun.  Now we have blue bits of those hanging around with tan bits of the other and they may make a nice archeological find for someone, one day.  “Hmm,” they will say, “These people sure liked to use plastic. No wonder their whole civilization collapsed.  But at least they were composting.”

So, we went to a more cloth-based heavy duty tarp, from Tractor Supply, at 100+ bucks each, and they seem to last through one composting cycle, and maybe will even make two, so still not very long-lived, but at least they don’t seem to fragment–just tear.

Composting manure and the tarp, too, to some extent, apparently.

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Dec 062019
 

By Patty Wilber

On Thanksgiving, we left for the airport at 4 in the morning in a snowstorm and used four wheel drive all the way there!  A very unusual occurrence.  Our plane got de-iced and we took off pretty close to on time (the crew was a bit late due to the weather.)

We landed in Oakland, CA, took the BART train to near my folks house, and as soon as I could, I got my hands on baby Amara!

Who needs to take their coat off when they can hold the grandbaby! Maegan in the background!

Most of the rest of my photos of my amazing family are terrible, so I won’t post them, but Jim got a couple nice ones (like the one above and the one below).

Granddaughter Leilani age 2 (left) and my niece Avery age 1 (right). My brother (Mike) and sister-in-law (Tina), Avery’s parents. You can tell which kid lives in Hawaii and thinks it is cold!

The entire immediate family got to hang out, and I have to say that while we might be a little competitive, we might have a hard time making group decisions, and we might be a little weird, I sure think the world of all of them!

We got home Saturday night, very late, and Sunday I went down to check out the arena.  I found that it had transformed into a partial ice rink!  This is the first time that has happened.  I guess since we had an inch of rain the week before and then 10 or so inches of wet snow, which largely melted, but didn’t absorb, and cold overnight temperatures, we got ice–2 inches thick in some spots!

I didn’t even try to ride.  I got out the old blue tractor and dragged and plowed and got things pretty well churned up, except in the thickest spots. Then I dug some little drain canals to try to accelerate the drying out process.

That is a definite improvement, but not rideable.

On Monday it was mostly ice.  Tuesday had much less ice, and lots of water.  Koh-Doh did get to  practice ice water crossing, but most of our work was out on the roads.

Tuesday: Lots of water with ice underneath.

But, hey! We got to practice ice-water crossing!

On Wednesday, we were down to almost 100% water without the frozen base, so the pond/arena was rideable (with water wings)! Yay! And the predicted “wintery mix” did not materialize.  Yay! Again.

Thursday, it was still very wet but still improving and Mary Ann, Sombra, the dogs and I had some wet fun!

I did pull the trailer up to the house Wednesday, just in case the weather went bad, as I was planning ahead for my trip to Clovis today (Friday) to do some cow work with Lucy and H at Clay Hight’s!  It will be H’s first live go!

And so I will leave my arena to dry for a few more days and head southeast!

But…woke up to a horse not feeling great, so trip delayed at least for the moment.  Fingers crossed.

 

 

 

Jun 282019
 

By Patty Wilber

This past weekend I gave my first (annual?!) Practical Trail Clinic at the Trout Stalker Ranch in Chama, NM. What a great location!  Thanks for hosting!

L to R Patty from Texas, Catrina, Jim from Texas, Lily, Natalie, Janet, Gina, Siri, Marcia, Conlon, Me, Ana, Colleen.  Brittany took the picture!

Wow! It was a lot of fun and we hope to make it an annual event! We thought about a second one in the fall but I have a trip to Sweden in August, a new granddaughter due in September and the World Appaloosa Show in October… and Trout Stalker is pretty busy, too, so next June, it is!

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