On the way home from the Temple last night Merriner
Jones was asking me if I remembered some things about the mountains.
It brought back so many pictures to my mind that I thought that I
would try to write some of them for all of you.
When I was very young I used to go to the farm on the
Riquena to work. In the late summer I was usually assigned to herd the
milk cows out on the flat east of the Riquena. Uncle Harvey would hand
me a bridle and tell me to take old Captain and not to run the cows.
Old Captain was a very special horse for me. When he was young he had
been stolen and when he came back his left hind hoof was bruised and
swollen and it permanently gave him a little limp, but for me he was a
big beautiful bay with a nice soft pace and could drive the cows
almost by himself. I didn't have a saddle but I enjoyed sitting on his
broad back feeling the power of his back under me.
Out on the flat the gramma grass was all headed out and
was a sea of dark brown heads waving in the bright sunlight. I would
let my eyes wander over the whole expanse until they came to the hills
in the east and south. Along about mid-morning the cows would fill up
and lay down to chew their cud. I would lay down in the shade of Old
Captain in a forest of grass that came up to the horse's belly. All I
could see was the white puffy thunderheads that shifted around to form
all kinds of shapes and imaginary animals. Soon I would eat my lunch
and move the cows to the canal to water. From the high bank of the
canal I could see the unbroken see of grass in every direction.
Unbroken by fence or tree with only a dark line of Mesquites in the
distance by the hills.
All too soon I needed to turn the cows toward home and
before they reached the milking corral some would be dripping milk
from their too full bags. I will never forget the wonderful taste of a
hot fresh flour tortilla with a cup of warm fresh milk. The milk was
rich and sweet from the fresh grass of the day.
Another picture comes: Dan Taylor and 1, two small
adventurers wandering the hills of the Arroyo Seco, with Scrappy my
dog investigating every bush and tree. Most of the time he would be
lost from sight in the tall green grass. Suddenly with a low growl he
flashed through the grass and caught a spotted White Tail fawn. We
rushed to the scene as the mother Deer came in answer to the loud
bleating of the fawn. We hurriedly rescued the little fawn but my
heart broke to see that the little fawn's hind leg was broken badly at
the hock where Scrappy caught hold of it and had shaken fiercely and
broken the poor little fellows hind leg. I carried the little fellow
back to camp and seeing that it was impossible to repair the leg and
the fawn was suffering we had to dispatch him. I had the skin tanned
and used it as a soft little covering for a shelf in the club house of
the winged four.
I remember my feelings of awe and wonder as we wandered
the high mesas and ridges of the Blues in the Sierra Madre Mountains.
I marveled at the majestic Pines that dotted the mesas far enough
apart to give sunlight to the tall waving grass. I remember in one
place each step of the horses sounded with a hollow boom, boom, boom!
In my imagination I could see a dark cavern beneath our feet but Uncle
Steve Farnsworth said he thought it was because the ridge was of
I was thrilled to see a long line of big Turkey
Gobblers hurrying along the rim to find a roost before dark. On the
west rim the white flags and majestic antlers of the big bucks
parading along the rim made my hunting instincts rise in trembling
The remains of the terraces that lined each little draw
and canyon made my imagination run wild. What did they plant that the
deer would not eat it all? Who made them? How many people would it
take to make so many terraces with such big rocks? Then I would
remember the stories of the Book of Mormon how after the Savior came
they filled the land from the north to the south and from the East Sea
to the West Sea. It certainly would take thousands of people working
together to make so many little farms to feed them all. I loved to
find the dwellings with Metates still scattered about. I could imagine
the young maidens gracefully going down the steep path to water with
their water baskets on their heads and their bare feet clinging to the
rocks. Were the streams filled with trout? Did the Turkeys Gobble up
on the ridge in the roost? Surely the Deer had no place to live with
so many farms everywhere.
I remember when I cut a willow pole and with a hook and
line from my pocket caught a dozen trout in about 15 minutes from the
stream swollen from the melting snow.
A big Gobbler flew straight up into the air so close my
hat blew off from the wind of his wings.
I tied a big buck on the back of my saddle on my little
mule with the horns dragging the grass on one side and the cut off
hocks on the other. That little mule came down off the rugged mountain
with me, my saddle, a rifle on one side and a shotgun on the other and
that big buck tied on behind and she didn't even sweat.
I loved the beauty of the Sierra Madre back before the
sawmills came. They built roads to the highest ridge and the deepest
canyon. They cut down those majestic Pines and filled the streams with
sawdust. They grazed off the beautiful grass and left the land changed
Human hands have torn down the dwellings and even
dinamited some of the cave dwellings searching for I don't know what.
If ever the mountains should be emptied of humans and cattle they
might grow back and maybe the Wolves would come back and drive out the
coyotes and balance up the system again. The Wolves would also cut
down the Coatimundi population so they wouldn't get so many turkey
eggs. The Wolves would kill of the sick and the old Deer to balance
the herd and keep them healthy.
On our little ranch in Pacheco we are trying to restore
the stream with it's grasses and plants and flowers, Just so we can
all go and enjoy that little peice of the mountains as they used to be
with beautiful pines here and there. You are all welcome to come and
enjoy the peace and beauty of this little ranch "El Retiro". .