Horseracing Heart 2 Heart

Angel's Story

Horseracing Heart 2 Heart header image 4

The Internet to the Rescue

February 18th, 2012 by Janie

White Oaks, New Mexico is an old gold mining town now officially listed as a Ghost Town. Janie had chosen this place for the ranch because of the history of the area, and because of the beauty of the surrounding mountains.  White Oaks is, however, in a remote location.  Having a population of about 32 hardy souls, the only business in White Oaks is the No Scum Allowed Saloon.  While one has to drive 12 miles to the post office, and over 70 miles to a major store, one only has to turn on the computer and there is an instant link to the outside world.

This link to the outside world included places where one could generate money.  Since Janie had more stuff than she needed, she decided to explore the possibility of selling on eBay.  She had also once made horse themed jewelry and she decided to once again search out materials to do this.  Setting up an account on eBay was easy; finding quality material to make jewelry was not, especially with the sky rocketing price of silver.  Fortunately the largest Gem and Mineral Show in the world was soon coming to Tucson, Arizona which was only a seven hour drive from White Oaks, and so Janie decided to make the trip.

Now the Gem and Mineral Show in Tucson is not one show but many shows, some of which require a business license to gain admittance.  Thousands of dealers from all over the world come to Tucson for this event.  The result is the largest collection of not only gems and minerals, but of all types of jewelry, textiles, carvings and sculpture, leather goods, and much more.  Here Janie wandered among the tents and displays looking for odd and unusual gemstones.  She not only found some great gemstones, but found a dealer that had beautifully carved buffalo bone horse pendants.  With these treasured purchases, Janie was homeward bound, and two weeks later, Janie was selling on eBay (Janie’s eBay name is: crosscreek-ruffian).

Below are two of several offerings currently posted on eBay.  Anyone reading this blog can go to eBay to see the horse themed jewelry that Janie has made.  All proceeds from these sales will go toward the purchase of hay for Angel and the herd.   Angel appreciates all sales.

Rainbow Calsilica and Bisbee Turquoise Horse Pendant
Calsilica is a colorful jewelry stone which is made by a combination of natural ingredients and man made pigments. There is a claim that in Mexico In the Province of Chihuahua. Natural Calsilica is mined, but this has not been substantiated. These shaped Calsilica stones have brillant variated hues and are separated by stabilized natural American Bisbee Turquoise nuggets mined in Arizona. Only one of this necklace has been made and if you are looking for the striking and unusual this is the necklace for you. Click image to view larger photo or…
view the full details posted on eBay.

Handcrafted Safari Jasper and Howlite Horse Pendant Necklace
Jasper has been used in jewelry for centuries. This Jasper
has been drilled so that the center section of the stone has been removed giving the gemstone a unique appearance. White Howlite with a trace of the brown hues in the Jasper separate the Jasper gemstones. If you are looking for a most unusual and striking necklace, this one will suffice. Click image to view larger photo or…
view the full details posted on eBay

Angel develops great feet.

  • Share/Bookmark

Tags:   Comments Off

Sacrificing Comfort to Buy Hay

January 26th, 2012 by Janie

Janie had to somehow raise the funds to buy hay for Angel and the herd.  In spite of the forecast for a “dry” winter the month of December had already dumped more moisture than the entire monsoon season.  The first big expense that Janie had in the winter was to buy propane to heat her cabin.  It was clear that this was going to be a hard winter.  While the cabin was not large, it did require an expensive amount of propane to heat.  Janie decided to utilize the fireplace for most of the heat and only run the furnace for several hours a day.  While this would mean the cabin would never get much above 60 degrees on a good day, it would save on propane, and thus leave more funds for hay.

There was plenty of wood on the ranch.  The problem with the wood was that it was presently in tree form.  A beetle infestation a couple of years before Janie moved to New Mexico had killed many small pinion pine trees.  Juniper and cedar trees had been cleared around the cabin and these were in big piles on the mesa.  All this wood was available, but all this wood had to be cut and dragged to the cabin.  There had been some wood already cut, but it was not nearly enough to last the winter.  The person that had cut this wood, being a city person, had also cut most of that wood too large to fit in the fireplace, so it had to be re-cut.  Enter the chainsaw.

Now anyone who has ever operated a chainsaw knows that they can be dangerous.  The first thing that Janie did was to get the chainsaw repaired, because the previous user, being a city person, had made it inoperative.  That being done, Janie got out the manual, usually an action of last resort, but in this case, essential.  It was discovered that you mixed oil with the gas that ran the chainsaw, and then put oil in another section as well.  After reading all 99 precautions about safety using a chainsaw, and noting the death threats if these safety precautions were not followed, Janie wanted nothing to do with this chainsaw.

Fortunately Bill volunteered. Soon two people, two cats and a dog set off on a wood mission.  When a promising pile of wood was spotted, Bill pulled the cord and with a menacing growl the chainsaw roared into readiness. The wood waited. This was the first step in saving money to buy hay.

Economic times are tough these days.

  • Share/Bookmark

Tags:   · Comments Off

Snowed In on the Mesa

January 13th, 2012 by Janie

The storm had passed, but another one was hard on the heels of the first one.  That night it clouded over at sunset and soon the wind picked up.  Within an hour snow was once again swirling around.  Once again the horses huddled all night against the wind and stinging snow.  By daybreak another foot of snow had fallen, but the day was clear.  Since the bottom valley where the horses lived was fairly level, there were no drifts in spite of the wind, but on the road leading up to Janie’s cabin on the mesa, the snow was deep and drifted up against the side of the mesa.

Foreseeing that much snow was coming, Janie had parked her truck down at the concrete bridge crossing the arroyo into the ranch.  From that point to White Oaks was about a ½ mile of dirt road.  The county did not plow this road, but snow hardly ever drifted here.  It was another ½ mile up the driveway to the cabin, but that driveway was drifted deep with snow, and even with four wheel drive it would be a risky undertaking to take the truck to the cabin.  While Janie could have saddled a horse to make that trip, it was easier to walk, as she would have had to bring the horse back down and end up walking back anyway.  With this thought in mind, she and Bill walked down off the mesa, started up the truck and plowed through the ½ mile of snowy road on a quest to get groceries and water.

Now carrying bags of groceries uphill through deep snow is a chore.  When the horses saw Janie and Bill trudging along through their pasture, they immediately figured that there must be something in those bags for them.  With snorts they took off, snow flying, and soon surrounded Bill to discover what he had in those bags.  Angel stood back a little, hoping that soon there would be treats distributed.  To the herd’s great disappointment there were none, but then they had two feeders of good hay to munch on.  Good hay to a horse, however, can’t compete with treats.

Sacrificing to Buy Hay

  • Share/Bookmark

Tags:   · Comments Off

Angel Copes With A Blizzard

January 4th, 2012 by Janie

The wind that had hit the ranch with gale force diminished to a steady 30 mph the next evening when it started to snow.  On the ranch you can see the storm clouds coming from far away.  Depending on which direction the storm is coming from, the clouds cover the top of either, Carrizo, Baxter or Patos Mountain and then descend down the slopes until they are even with the mesa.  Then you can see the snow swirling around in the clouds before it actually reaches the ranch.  This storm was a fast moving one, and soon chunks of snow were belting down on the herd.

Angel prefers to be outside in a storm, although there is a shed she can go in.  She is not at the top of the pecking order, however, so she huddles outside next to a thick juniper bush with her best buddy, Pioneer, up against her.  She would rather stand peacefully with Pioneer and endure the storm then be jostled around in the shed by the horses higher than her in the pecking order.  Sometimes all is peaceful with all the horses in the shed, but Angel knows this is not always the case.  She and Pioneer stood, heads down and rumps against the driving snow.  Every now and then they would stamp a foot.  Soon they were covered with a thick layer of light, fine snow which acted as an insulator against the cold.

Since this was a fast moving storm, about 10 hours worth, the clouds scuttled off and the next morning it was clear.  The horses are fed generously with plenty of green alfalfa hay and free choice grass hay, so they had plenty of food to help keep them warm through that stormy night.  When the rising sun streaked red and gold over Patos mountain,  Angel snorted and shook the snow off her back.  Then she stood looking at the fresh snow.  Soon she was dancing around while the herd bucked and played with her.  Bill spread fresh alfalfa in piles on the snow, and Angel and Pioneer stopped their playing and headed for their breakfast.  To look at the herd you would never know that they had just experienced a howling blizzard.  Horses do amazingly well when left to nature.

Snowed in on the mesa

  • Share/Bookmark

Tags:   · Comments Off

Gale Force Winds Hit New Mexico

December 28th, 2011 by Janie

The snow from the first storm had melted, but the weather forecast was for a major snowstorm preceded by hurricane force winds.  While Janie had stored some alfalfa hay, she wanted to get another load before these storms hit.  The high wind forecast was to hit central New Mexico around noon, and Janie figured they could drive to San Antonio on the Rio Grande River and be headed back home before the worst of the winds came.  There was some wind as they drove west and entered the mountains before the descent into the desert near the White Sands Missile Range, home of the first Atomic Bomb blast.  These winds were only about 35 mph which is a normal speed for New Mexico.  With the big heavy GMC pickup those winds were hardly felt.

At the farm where Janie bought hay, you have to load your own truck.  This hay is stacked about 20 feet high and you have to use a long heavy pole to knock down the top bales.  The bales while two string, are also a heavy 65 pounds.  Janie and Bill weren’t getting any younger and loading that truck took all the strength they had.  By the time 36 bales were on the truck, the wind was gusting.  Bill put an extra strap across that load to hold it securely because it looked as if the trip back to White Oaks was going to be in gale winds.  There was one spot, a long level stretch by the White Sands Missile Range that was especially windy on good days, and today it was going to be really windy.

Now driving across the desert with a full load of hay with the wind gusting at 75 mph is an experience.  It is an experience that Janie just as soon not have, but there was no turning back now, so forward they went.  That good GMC diesel just pulled along as if nothing was amiss and soon they were back in the mountains where the wind was lessened somewhat.  After a slow and careful trip through the mountains they were over the worst of the journey.  Angel would have another load of hay safely stored to last through the next storm, but Janie decided that the next time hurricane winds were forecast, she would not choose that day to haul hay.

Blizzard conditions cause a “white out” on the ranch.

  • Share/Bookmark

Tags:   · Comments Off

The Crisis is the Hay Storage

December 19th, 2011 by Janie

New Mexico has experienced a drought for two years.  This year the rainfall was below average in spite of the fact that the weatherman had forecast a good monsoon season.  The farmers that grew hay locally saw their hay crop diminish.  Those that had irrigation over in the upper Rio Grande river region grew hay, but unfortunately heavy rainfall just as they were harvesting that hay ruined several cuttings.  Over Texas way, things were even worse, and those ranchers came to New Mexico to buy hay for their stock.

The upshot of all this was a skyrocketing price for hay and the real threat that even high priced hay would disappear.  Small bales that cost $8 a bale in 2010 were now selling for $15 a bale at the feed dealers.  Large 3 string bales of alfalfa were selling at $24.50 a bale.  Coastal Bermuda grass hay was being shipped in from Arizona and California and the three string bales were selling at $22.50 a bale.  Those of us with horses were facing a grim winter.

In spite of the forecast of an “easy” winter with little precipitation, winter came early.  The first snowfall was on October 27 and that meant that the grazing for the horses on the mesa was over.  Janie felt panic thinking about the long winter ahead.  Fortunately the farm where she purchased alfalfa hay was not selling hay to anyone but established customers of which she was one.  At least she would be able to buy hay; the problem was how to afford it.  Meanwhile, Angel had not a care in the world, trusting that hay would appear as it always had.  Since Janie believed in miracles, she hoped this would come to pass.

Hauling hay in gale force winds.

  • Share/Bookmark

Tags:   Comments Off

Angel and The Herd Stay Home

November 18th, 2011 by Janie

After the first week of grazing on the mesa, the horses had fallen into a routine.  They would bring themselves up on the mesa around 8 AM.  Then they would take a drink from the water tanks and wander off away from the cabin to graze.  They were now going quite a distance from the cabin, and Janie was worried that they would stray too far and would not be able to find their way back to home base.

For this reason Janie and Bill decided to see exactly where those horses were.  There was an old rutted faint road that led to the back of Janie’s property, and Janie and Bill started down that.  After walking about a half mile they saw some horses grazing, but there were only six of them, including the buckskin, Corona.   Folly, the Appaloosa mare, and Angel with her stable mates from the track were missing.   There were tracks leading toward an old abandoned road that ran from White Oaks to the base of Carrizo mountain where there is an old lodge  and a cabin that may have been used back in the days when White Oaks was a gold rush town.

When they reached the road, there were more tracks leading up toward the mountain and Janie had a sinking feeling that those horses were headed in that direction.  Rather than continue up the road which was impassable except on foot or horseback, Janie decided to go back to the cabin because finding the missing horses on foot was near to impossible.

Much to her surprise when they arrived back at the cabin, there were all the horses, standing peacefully around the water tank.  Then, again to Janie’s surprise, after resting awhile, all the horses of their own accord trooped back down off the mesa.  Their routine was now established and without human interference they knew exactly what to do when night approached and the predators prowled.  Never underestimate the homing instinct of a horse.

The Perils of Winter Approach

  • Share/Bookmark

Tags:   · Comments Off

Angel Climbs the Mesa

October 22nd, 2011 by Janie

The next day after her adventure in the tangled brush, Angel followed the herd up the trail leading to the mesa.  There was a gravel road that went along the side of the mesa, but the horses had found an alternative route.  This was an old road bed that was the original way to the top, but it had been abandoned because it was too steep for the previous owner.  Being the shorter route, and less rocky than the present driveway, the horses had immediately chosen this path.

Folly, the Appaloosa mare, and the herd leader, led the way.  Six horses, including Angel, followed her.  Another group of four followed, too, but they had stopped to eat grass along the side of the trail so that there was quite a gap between them.  Angel paid these stragglers no head, as she was with her ex-stable mate, Doll, and she trusted Folly as a leader.  The way was steep and Angel had to work to keep up with Folly.

Once on the mesa, Angel was amazed to find space filled with grass.  This is not the lush grass of places where it rains with any frequency, but the dry pale green grass of the high desert.  It grows in clumps and the horses have to work to get it.  Angel took a quick glance around and then immediately put her head down and began snatching at that grass.  Now this was more like it!   She hardly glanced around her because she was attending to getting as much of that grass as she could.  Angel decided that the climb up here was definitely worth it.

Angel Experiences Total Freedom

  • Share/Bookmark

Tags:   · Comments Off

Angel Shows Her Trust

October 15th, 2011 by Janie

Being the curious creatures that they are, as soon as the horses discovered the open gate, they went though it and were delighted to find grass on the other side.  While some of the horses marched on up the road to the top of the mesa, for some reason known only to horses, three of them, including Angel, went along the fence through the brush and rocks and trees heading back toward the barn.  There was grass in that area, but mostly fallen trees and rocks, and the ground was rough and sloped upward.

This is a very rough place for horses to be, and if they had not been led there by a wily buckskin mountain horse, it is doubtful if Angel would have gone there.  As it was Janie didn’t want her in there, so she and Bill followed their footprints that snaked through the trees and rocks.  The plan was to lead them back to the open gate.  After about a quarter of a mile the horses were seen grazing up ahead.  They were still close to the fence and close to the barn which was on the other side of the fence. There was a little level spot with grass but then the ground sloped sharply uphill, so it was unlikely that they would head in that direction.

Bill went to the barn to get a halter.  The wily buckskin and his buddy Appaloosa mare were up ahead of Angel who was closer to Janie.  While Bill was gone, Janie called to Angel who raised her head.  Janie gestured to Angel to come, and she did, which surprised Janie, as Angel was leaving the other two horses.  Then Janie turned around and started to walk away.  Angel looked back toward the other two horses and then back at Janie.  Then she took a step toward Janie who gestured for her to come again.  Angel began to follow.

Slowly the pair wound their way through the brush and rocks until they came to a very tight spot.  The only way through was to push through the branches.  Janie pushed through, but here Angel stopped and looked concerned.  She was standing with her chest up against those branches.  Once more Janie beckoned for her to come.  With a sigh Angel pushed against the branches and walked through that space.  This to Janie was Angel’s supreme trust in her human to lead her to safety.  They stood there together for a moment and Janie hugged her neck and told her what a great mare she was.  Angel, of course, knows this already.

Angel Learns to Navigate the Mesa

  • Share/Bookmark

Tags:   · · Comments Off

Open Grazing Awaits Angel

October 7th, 2011 by Janie

The spring and summer had passed and fall was upon the high desert mountains.  Janie had been very neglectful in keeping up with Angel’s story, but now resolved to do better.  Angel, living in the moment, had no concept of the passing of this time, nor in the fact that her story had seemed to end.  She was very happy with her herd and with the occasional petting she got from Janie.  Horses live in the moment and what happened yesterday and what might happen tomorrow was of no concern to Angel.

New Mexico was experiencing a three-year drought and there was no pasture left in the valley below the mesa.  Janie had 40 acres up on the mesa where her cabin was located and that piece of land had plenty of grass.  There were also 500 open acres behind Janie’s 40 acres for the horses to graze on.  New Mexico has an open grazing policy which means if you don’t want livestock on your property, then you must fence them out.   Janie knew, however, that her herd would not stray too far from their home base, especially since there was no water out on the mesa.

The plan was to open the gate by the road leading up the mesa and allow the horses to come up to the mesa.  Once or twice this gate had been left open, and some of the horses, being the curious animals they are, had ventured up to explore a new place.  Now, however, they would be allowed to stay up on the mesa all day to graze.  The plan was to herd them back down in the evening when the gate would again be closed keeping them safely in their home base during the dark hours when predators prowl around.

Angel Gets in a Tight Spot

  • Share/Bookmark

Tags:   · · Comments Off