All winter I grew my greens and picked the “bunch of the day.” But it’s been touch and go the last few weeks while waiting for our full warm up…windy, raw, overcast…through it all, I nursed my seedling indoors, hardened them off outside and then started the work of getting them into pots and into the ground.
A few days ago we had a rain and I peeked under the new burrow I had constructed last spring for Chasca, my desert box turtle, and I saw part of the side of her shell glistening..I literally jumped for joy! She’s made it through another winter! Then, she was gone again, back buried under the soil. Turtles will sometimes appear after a rain or even during a warm February day, but Chasca wasn’t ready. Today, I can see her again at the back of her burrow with part of her shell visible! The nighttime temperatures will begin to rise and it won’t be so chilly in the mornings and today’s warmth in the 80’s will bring stability to my favorite reptile. Today is also the first day I saw a “big mama” lizard out, so Chasca will be officially out in the world soon! I can’t wait!
The Kentucky Derby is now in the record books and for once, Mine That Bird was mentioned, even to the extent that there were clips of his 2009 Derby win, his New Mexico people and the trailer they used to drive him to Kentucky. There were more stories about the horses and the history of the race instead of the endless stream of personalities and cast members of NBC shows who have usually cluttered up the broadcast in the past.
Winx, of course, came to mind when we were told that “turf runners never win going wide” after exactly that happened in one of the turf races on Kentucky Oaks day. REALLY? Winx ran wide nearly all the time and she won 33 straight times doing it that way on turf!
It’s already two years ago that she ran her last race on April 19, 2019. She lost her first foal, which was stillborn, in October 2020 and there’s been no news about future breeding plans. In March, the owner who named her passed away. Richard Treweeke died at age 90. As he told the story, “She’s out of Vegas Showgirl and if you have been to Vegas and watched the showgirls, they might flash some skin and the blokes will give them a wink. Try putting that in print!”
Happier Winx news was made when a statue was unveiled at Rosehill Gardens, her home track in early March of 2021. At 110% her actual size, it is situated so that it is the first thing visitors see when the enter the track.
While she was racing, she may not have been the most perfect looking thoroughbred. It’s like her front end is out of balance with her back end. Her backside slopes down. People who know more than I know said she has terrible feet.
She didn’t care. She raced until she was almost 8 years old. She ran. A lot. And she won. A lot.
The Preakness will be soon, Chasca will be roaming the yard any moment now, and we’ll be looking to see what Winx does next. It’s a good start to Spring 2021!!
A year has gone by since my first post about “my horse pilgrimage.” (Scroll down for Part I…). It wasn’t supposed to be that way, but a series of “hoof” issues kept me from focusing on doing it! Well, a year later….
So, now it is a little over 2 years ago since I’ve completed my pilgrimage, but the memories remain fresh and inspiring!
December, 2015. It was very dreary and my mood was just as depleted. My mother was in hospice and there were clearer signals as to when she would pass on. My days were full of errands, visits and keeping up a cheery demeanor for her. At night, I would be exhausted, physically and emotionally, and it was hard to settle down and get to bed.
For some reason I will never know…one night/morning at about 2 A.M., just before Christmas, I went to Youtube and typed in the search box …”Secretariat.” To this day, I do not know why.
The first thing I came upon was a video of the 1973 Belmont, a grainy video with music (from Secetariat–the movie) posted by wyocalboy:
I watched it. I watched it again. And again. And, suddenly I was crying.* Was it over the time that had disappeared, or was it because the magnificent power of that horse?
Over the following nights, I watched this video every night, multiple times each night. And I began to realize that it renewed my spirit. I began to talking to myself in terms of being carried forward by “my inner Secretariat.” Secretariat came to embody endurance, strength, and the spiritual. Secretariat became The Source.
My mother passed in early February 2016 a few days after my birthday. She passed at 4:18 P.M. and the wind passing through the pine trees outside of her window must have been her spirit. My father died at 4:18 P.M. I was born at 4:18 P.M.
My mother was only a couple of months older than Secretariat’s owner, Penny Chenery, who would pass in September 2017. Shortly after my mother died, a “new” video of the 1973 Belmont appeared on Youtube. The NYRA (New York Racing Association) had FINALLY released a full-color version of the race! It was a like a new day was dawning!!
After finishing up a lot of estate work and catching my breath, I decided to return to the East Coast for the first time in 16 years. I was on the road for about a month and it was an epic trip!
I went up to Saratoga, New York just after the close of the season and enjoyed the National Horse Museum and a kind guard allowed me to take some pictures of the track from inside the gates. I trekked down to Monmouth Racetrack and was treated to a tour of the entire facility by a staff member. What a beautiful place!
Then, came the biggest part of the trip…
I braved the traffic down I-95 to Doswell, Virginia the day after the State Fair of Virginia closed. It was rather bittersweet to see The Meadows turned into a carnival site. Through the disarray, I toured the grounds with Leanne Ladin, the author of Secretariat’s Meadow….she had even kept the life-size banner of Big Red up for me…and, he WAS big (for reference, I am 5’5” tall). The day I was there at his birthplace was actually the day when Secretariat passed, October 4. That realization literally gave me the chills.
“Twice the Heart”…
A few days later I was at Secretariat’s grave at Claiborne Farm, weeping unabashedly. As the group left, I lingered and the guide patiently listened to my story about my mom and what Secretariat meant to me. He took a rose from the bouquet lying on the gravestone and gave it to me…and I got it safely home. And I also shed a tear for Riva Ridge, who deserves credit for saving The Meadows, a fact that most people forget.
After the Claiborne tour, I dashed down the Paris Pike to Gainesway Farm. I had made an appointment to visit privately because I could not make it to their tour in time from Claiborne. Of course, I saw Tapit…but my actual goal was to see the now unheralded Birdstone, who won the 2004 Belmont, robbing Smarty Jones of that year’s Triple Crown. Birdstone…the sire of Mine That Bird! (another story about him coming!)
Of course, I visited many other places around Lexington, Kentucky: Keeneland Racetrack, Old Friends Equine for retired horses, WinStar Farm, Kenny McPeek’s Magdalena Farm, and The Kentucky Horse Park. The Kentucky Horse Park has a special place there which I will muse on in the future. Pictured below is Tinners Way at Old Friends, the last colt from Secretariat’s final crop…Sadly, he passed away in July 2017. I was so lucky to meet him as he enjoyed what would be his last fall.
And then came the two and a half day trip home. And, along the way I stopped in Ruidoso, New Mexico, home of Ruidoso Downs and the All-American Futurity, the “richest race for 2-year-olds in North America, regardless of breed.” (!!)
I toured the fascinating Hubbard Museum of the West (formerly the Museum of the Horse) which is next door to the track. And right outside, there is one of the largest sculpture installations of horses in the world, consisting of eight horses, one and a half life-size, representing seven horse breeds — the Standardbred, Morgan, Arabian, Paint (mare and foal), Appaloosa, Quarter Horse, and Thoroughbred — as they gallop over the landscape.
Free Spirits at Noisy Water by Dave McGary
One year after I was on the road visiting the places where Secretariat and Riva Ridge lived, ran, and are laid to rest, Penny Chenery passed away on September 16, 2017.
I am fortunate that Penny was still signing pictures and other memorabilia at the time I started collecting and which I cherish today. My house has become a shrine to Secretariat, Penny, Riva, Tinners Way, and my beloved Mine that Bird, who, yes, has a bit of Secretariat in his blood.
And, now, happily, I have horses in my blood again…
Robins faked me out….after being gone for several days….they were all back this morning hanging out! This time I counted about 16…and got a pic of a large group frolicking in the bath! I have no idea where they went off to…they must be floating around the area rather than sitting in my yard all day! Still wondering why they are still here–unless the weather is cool enough for them and they also think further north isn’t so great yet!
Things have been very busy here, what with my trying to learn how to invest in the stock market with some new efforts at self-education and Slick’s bout with the vet-dentist and 10 days of tracking multiple meds. He finished everything and his follow-up on Friday gave him the all clear, but he will have to have his teeth cleaned every year from now on.
When I came up for air on Friday, I noticed something curious. A small flock of robins, about 12 in all that had been hanging around my yard, were suddenly gone.
Here in southern New Mexico, robins usually have come through the city lower down in the valley by the end of January, which is much more lush and a bit warmer. In past years we’ve seen a few up here (we’re maybe 1,000 higher in elevation) but most stay down lower and all pass through the area within a few days as they continue heading north. We have had a couple up here that have overwintered in the arroyo over the last few years, but this year was not one of them.
So, it was quite surprising to see the robins appear in late February (instead of January) and stay…and stay…and stay in the arroyo and my backyard!
A Robin Indulges…
At times about 6 robins at a time were crowded into the birdbath partying all at once!
This character was simply adorble…
Now it may not be such a big deal to most people up north, but down here this is a big deal for me. Coming from New Jersey, I was used to seeing robins all the time but it’s so exciting to see them hanging out in my yard, which they never have done before. But this is an El Niño year, so odd things happen!
So heads up, they’re heading your way up to all of you way up north!
Another odd sight I haven’t seen that often is this: the peach blossoms open (way too early as usual in February), and snow on the Organ Mountains at the same time:
Meanwhile, this is the first spring that I’m using the porch that we enclosed last summer. It’s doing exactly what I wanted it to do, housing all my plants in preparation for planting. I buy “doubles” of plants and split them to get 2 for the price of one! Several varieties of tomatoes, including a new one for me called “Solar Fire” which supposedly can take the heat, Ichiban eggplant, and basil which I still have to split, are all waiting patiently for things to get a bit warmer. Now, I just have see if I can get pimiento peppers, my favorite for growing in these parts.
The geraniums started blooming well over a month ago and continue to look wonderful as we wait for official spring on March 20!
This week I planned to post some pictures of all the cactus blooms, but an unexpected visitor changed my plans! For the first time in the 10 years I’ve lived here, a roadrunner strolled onto my patio and hung out for a long time in my backyard! I’ve seen them on the wall and sometimes they’ve hopped down into the yard, but they’ve always stayed away from the house. This time was totally different…and I got to see this visitor attempting to find a meal, too!
I ran to grab my camera as soon as I saw this fellow on the patio. He (she?) then hopped up on a flower pot:
Perched on the petunias...
Here’s a closeup:
For a moment I thought this wild thing would take a drink from the fountain…but, it didn’t happen.
No drinking today...
Getting bored on the patio, our friend decided to head on over to the side of the yard, toward a couple of the bird feeders I have there (I have others on the wall facing the arroyo toward the back, too):
Heading toward the feeders...
Once at the feeders, the visitor eyed the situation and decided to stay awhile. I watched him/her lie in wait for small birds and try to fly up and catch them. He/she literally hunkered down and then “launched” in pursuit. Didn’t catch anything this time around…
Planning an ambush strategy...
Finally, I decided to try out the video function on the camera. Toro came out of the house to bark and the bird didn’t care at all. A short time later, Toro figured out that there was a big bird and he went over to bark at it directly. Without any panic at all, the roadrunner decided to take leave of the yard. Unforunately, I couldn’t figure out how to get the video over into WordPress…
I’m trying out something new…posting directly to Open Range Ramblings with a link over at IA for visitors to that blog. Hopefully, folks will find their way here!
Well, this week I bought a product at Home Depot called “Critter Ridder” which is supposed to “deter” pests lik squirrels. After my local little devils munched on petunias and newly planted lettuce in pots on the patio, I got frustrated. So I bought this stuff (organic) and sprinkled it on the other side of the wall, hoping to keep my squirrel invaders at bay.
WITHIN 10 MINUTES…I was in the house and glanced out the window…and there was the ringleader on the wall and down on the ground taking a drink of water in the bowl I have there.
So much for “Critter Ridder” when it comes to squirrels!!! However, it MAY help with another problem…my two little ones, Toro and especially Tico, have be digging in the garden for some reason. Tico seems to love digging holes and sits in them. I filled in the one in the grassy area near the house and covered it with a flower pot so now he (with assistance from Toro) is digging by the wall under the plants and hanging out there. So, I may have to use the rest of the “Critter Ridder” to discourage Tico…it’s safe for dogs, so I’ll see if I’ve wasted my $15.
The Big Event of the week is the arrival of the orioles on a regular basis to my yard! I’ve been hearing them for a couple of weeks and my neighbor had them in her yard. Now, I’ve got at least two males visiting. One goes to the feeder, the other likes the grape jelly I set out. The females will start visiting soon, I hope. Last year I decided that the two types visiting were the hooded and Bullock’s orioles…
Hitting the bottle:
Hooded Oriole enjoying the sugar water...
Jelly! (Bullock's Oriole)
Out in the plant world, the mesquite trees are finally leafing out…and doing the pollen thing. I’m allergic so the last couple of days have been a bit stuffy…and the high mulberry pollen counts haven’t helped much either. Mulberry trees aren’t being planted anymore but the ones that are still around are pretty potent especially when the wind blows.
Lots of sweet smelling pollen going on here:
We’re also beginnning to see a lot of yellow cactus flowers popping out…
Cactus Flower Duo
There is a lot more yellow in store from cactus plants. The cholla is beginning to get ready to blossom as well. I’ll be posting some pics of other flowering plants soon!
In the vegetable garden, the first banana pepper is about and inch long and I’ve already started picking basil for drying. I finally have cheescloth down over the sprouting squash, okra and chard in a last ditch effort to keep the bugs away!