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 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 072018

By Patty Wilber

For the last eon, the Pecos Chapter of the Back Country Horsemen has gone to Beatty’s Cabin in the Pecos Wilderness over Labor Day. If you click here, you can check out five years of Labor Day blogs.  I am sure there are more.

But this year, we went to the Manzanos to work on the Ox Canyon Trail.

We stayed in the Ox Canyon Campground.

Pretty ! Jim and Terri set up an electric pen. We highlined.

Here is a link to a topo map.  This is not a very well known campground and it was perfect for our bunch of horse trailers.  I think three other parties drove through over the weekend and because we had sort of taken over, they moved on.  It is a a dry campground, in that there are no water spigots, but there are nice tables, fire rings, and a decent outhouse!  There are good places to highline stock and plenty of trailer parking.

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Aug 102018

By Patty Wilber

Chapter 17 of Callie’s Star is up!

We did it! The New Mexico Appaloosa Horse Club sponsored Fourth Annual All Breed, Appaloosa and Quarter Horse Red Hot Ranch Horse Challenge  and Second Annual Ranch Pleasure Challenge is in the books!

The Red Hot Challenge winner of $1000 was Katherine Arnold with Deal a Little Lena, for the third year in a row!

Katherine and Lena. Photo from 2018, by Ed Armstrong.

Cody Crow was reserve on Peptos Blue Oak ($500)

The Ranch Pleasure Challenge winner of $1000 was Natalie Baca and SSSmokin Z06!

Natalie and Z. Photo by Joy Roberts.

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Aug 082018

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


“It sure took you guys long enough to get here,” said Luis.

Jeff shrugged. “We had a little trouble,” he said, making his voice sound important.

“Oh” said Luis, not really listening because he was bursting to say, “We saw the Outlaw!”

“You did?” said Callie and Jeff with almost the same voice. “Where?”

Luis pointed toward a low hill west of camp. “Right over there,” he said. “There were about fifteen mares and ten colts with him.”

“I can’t wait to see them,” said Callie, picturing them in her mind as a copper, black and orangish blur of sleek coats shimmering in the sun.

“It’ll be a couple of days, probably,” said Jeff, “‘Cause we’ve got to repair the corrals and then you never know how long it’ll take to find the herd, again.”

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Aug 032018

By Patty Wilber

Ch 17 of Callie’s Star  is languishing, but not forgotten.


We are still very dry in New Mexico, but we have gotten some

monsoonal rains, humidity is no longer in the single digits, the forests reopened, and so Back Country Horsemen got go to work!

We packed a trail crew into Horse Thief meadow.

I was planning to take Atti and let her be a big girl pony horse, but she pulled a shoe, so I took Penny.

Good thing, because we had a loose mule come barreling at us on a steep and narrow section of the trail, and while Penny didn’t love it, she didn’t come unglued, either.  Atti might have been ok, but that would have been a lot to ask of a three-year old.

“this wasn’t my fault,” says Leo. “i was tired. i needed a rest. and then everyone wanted me to go, and i just went the wrong way. a little fast.”

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Jul 072018

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


The sweet, warm smell of strawberry waffles wafted into Callie’s room and seeped into her sleep. She dreamt she heard her mother’s cheerful voice calling her to breakfast.

Every birthday since she could remember Callie had awakened to this delicious smell. Callie followed the sweetness down a very long hallway, with lots of doors.  The hallway wasn’t straight and Callie wondered if she would ever reach the kitchen.

Suddenly, she was there.

The bright blue candle, surrounded by the red of the strawberries, was burning brightly from the center of the stacked waffles and a cloud of whipped cream graced the edges. Her mother stood at the end of the table, near a flat package wrapped in gold paper and tied with a deep green ribbon.  Callie sat down at the table, but before she could eat, her mother moved her plate and made her open the package.  Callie carefully untied the ribbon and put it on her head.  Her mother laughed.  Callie untaped the gold paper and before her lay a beautiful wooden picture frame, but inside, instead of a painting or photograph, there was a wide sheet of clean white paper.

Callie stared at it for a minute and then her mother said, “I hope you like it. I have to go now.”  She walked to the doorway and she began to fade at the edges like a watercolor painting.  She paused on the threshold and said,  “I love you, Callie,” and then she simply vanished.

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Jun 292018

By Patty Wilber

Chapter 12 of Callie’s Star is posted.


Last week, I left the horses behind and went on a trip that included a tour of the San Juan-Chama Diversion Project.

First, we went to the Brazos Box Ranch.  I had my cattle there in 2011.  Me and Penny (the horse) had a very fine time being cow girls with all five of our mama cows (in a herd that belonged to my friends Peter and David). It was a blast. I have not had any bovines since, but it would be fun to try again. In the meantime, if any one needs some cattle help, you can try calling me (and Penny)!

My cows once grazed there!!

There is a lot of wildlife at the ranch and even though it is a very dry year and some of the streams that are usually running are dry, it is still a heck of a lot greener and cooler at 10,000 feet elevation than at 6800 feet at my house.


We saw elk, deer and pronghorn antelope.  Seeing them triggers what feels like an instinctive primitive response, making me think I should ditch modern life and go back to a more subsistence existence… as long as I can still have my Internet connection…wine…and a hot shower every few days. Ok, maybe I will just settle for stalking grouse while Jim hunts elk this fall.

Deer! Not a bad shot for an “aim in the general direction cuz I can’t see a thing” using my phone.

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Jun 052018

CALLIE’S STAR By Patty Wilber

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapters 5 and 6
Chapter 7


Callie awoke while the sky was still streaked with pale pink and yellow streamers. She hoped to enjoy the quiet solitude of the dawn alone. Mornings were her favorite time, and she wanted to ride to the overlook where she had first spotted the Outlaw. Callie always felt strangely happy when she was up there, looking into the little valley. One morning she caught a glimpse of the stallion, black and shining silk in the soft early light. Her breath had knotted in her throat, and his beauty and freedom filled her mind until there was room for nothing else.


She turned toward the voice.  It was Uncle Bob.

“I was just coming to wake you, but you’re already dressed!”He reached out to touch Callie’s horse picture that matched the picture on the wall.

“This picture was a favorite of your mother’s,” he said.

“Was that hers on the wall?” Callie asked.

Uncle Bob looked up at that one with surprise, and back to the one on the dresser and said, “Yes. Is this one yours?’

Callie nodded.  “I found it in…in a… store we used to go to.” She didn’t want to say, “the Goodwill we used to go to.”  Aunt Martha and Uncle Bob donated to Goodwill.  They didn’t shop there. “Mom didn’t tell me she used to have one just like it.”

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