Monday, March 15, 2010

Magdalena Ranch

A visit to Richard and Sally Rogers Ranch in Magdelena New Mexico

We left a cloudy drizzle in Albuquerque. Headed south on I25 towards Socorro.  We were going to visit a knifemaker, Richard Rogers and his wife Sally at their ranch in Magdelena.  The moment we crossed the Albuquerque city limits, the sun came out.  Shining on our 2 hour drive.   I was so excited to see their herd, and Bob to see Richard's shop.  I had a hard time falling asleep the night before our trip.

As we got into Magdelena it clouded over.  The temperature dropped 10 degrees in one minute.   On Route 107 we turned into their drive.  I got out and walked across the cattle guard and opened the gate for Bob to drive through.  It is over  a mile on a dirt drive to their house.  Dogs greeted us, and I could see horses in the paddock and hear mooing in the distance. For me that's the sound of Heaven.

Richard and I went out to feed the cattle.  Bob, not really interested in this stayed behind and drank his coffee with Sally.  We took the truck and drove down their drive to a red 2 story hopper that holds feed pellets.  The pellets look like REALLY large dog food.  In the back of the truck is a container with a conveyor belt that spreads the feed behind the truck.  We drove into one of the pastures, well in NM it's brush, cacti and pinon.  In cold weather they would need other high protein supplement to keep warm.  The herd started walking toward us.  There were Black Angus, and brown Brangus.

 Richard filling the feeder from the hopper.
The herd coming to us.

We got out of the truck and the cattle surrounded us. Gently brushing up against us.  The cows stood back at first because there were so many calves.  Mamas are protective, and I was unfamiliar.  Richard beeped the horn to call some that were far away.  He was looking for "Pup" a favorite of his son's.  Eventually, "Pup" and most of the others came to meet, eat, and greet.  I was surrounded by them.

 A little head butting action.

 Mama protecting her baby and giving me the eye.

I felt a sharp pain in my stomach as I was shoulder to shoulder with these huge animals.  Deep sobs started to emerge, and I could feel  tears cold on my cheeks.  The grief of losing my farm in that ugly divorce rose inside me.  I had flashes of our Nubian goats running down the driveway with their ears out like propellers. I could hear Sophie and Orson snorting and roosters crowing in the distance.  I never went back. Never had a good bye after my exit by ambulance  on that dark Halloween night.  It's a two year blur after that.  But this wasn't the time or the place.  I swallowed down hard, hoping Richard didn't notice.  I focused on the herd.

"Pup" coming in for the lick. 

They were ALL focused on me.  Safety in numbers, and all those numbers kept an eye on me.  They sniffed and licked, and nudged.  I patted, scratched and rubbed those who would let me.  Calves stood next to their Mums, young bulls butted heads.  They were treating me with the respect that was given to them by their owners.   Standing among 100 cattle could be daunting.  But I wasn't afraid, and neither were they.  Nirvana for me.  It was cold and windy, but it didn't matter.  I was kept warm by their energy.  Richard signaled it was time to go.  So we drove back toward the house.

 The horse with the cross on his back.

Some "goofy" horses checkin' me out!

"Wanna see some goofy horses?" he asked.
Absolutely, I want to see them!  So we went into the corral with about 10 horses.  Some had a donkey's cross on their back.  Again, all very tame and gentle.  Wanting to be scratched behind an ear or patted on the neck or snout.  The overwhelming feeling I had with the cattle erupted again.  I suppressed the urge to cry.  I could have stood there forever.  But in back of us we heard Sally and Bob talking outside Richard's shop.  Bob was dying to get in there.

Bob in Richard's shop

As with all knifemaker's shops...they have their own personality.   Richard's was orderly and modest. Bob looked at different jigs Richard had made.    Asking questions.  Talk turned to the machines.  I listened.  Richard gave me a few snail shell scraps for jewelry.  Sally and I talked about her setting up her looms in a new building some day.  Richard is an incredible knifemaker.  I plan to write a blog about a set of knives he made a few years ago.  He'll be at Blade this year, as usual.  No doubt there will be a feeding frenzy at his table as he and Sally try to get knives on their table.

We had lunch in Magdelena.  Of course I had a green chili cheeseburger.  While we were eating someone I knew from the movies walked in:  Cindy.  She has a ranch in Magdelena.  She is one of my favorite teamsters, and I was so happy to see her.  She and Benette drove me to set and back countless times.  Richard and Sally knew her and her family.  It's a small town.  In the picture of us you can see I am not over this virus that has been plaguing me.  I am so happy to have a photo of Cindy and me.  I never got one while working in the film industry.

Their complaint dept! 

Cindy, and paleface
I asked Bob to drive a few miles out of Magdelena.  I had a sense of deep satisfaction as I nodded in and out of my nap on the way home.  Being with animals has always had the effect on me.  I let a few tears escape.  But I never talked about it with Bob.  When he reads this it will probably be a surprise to him.  I am so grateful to Richard and Sally for sharing their ranch with me last Thursday.

The last time I opened my eyes on the drive home.

The time has passed in my life for me to keep hooved animals.  I couldn't manage them now, or the work they require. Below is a Mum and her calf with identical face markings.

 I am content with Buddy and the cats.  Oh, every now and then I long for a fat hen and fresh eggs.  But here in North Albuquerque Acres, the coyotes are too prevalent.   Some day I will get out the pictures of "Bittersweet Farm."  I'd like to put them in books for the kids.  Just not today.

Thanks for reading.  I'm still amazed that you do.


1 comment:

  1. Suz, Anytime you need another "livestock fix" you're more than welcome to come visit. Hugs for the bittersweet memories. Oh, & the 'horses with the crosses on their backs' are actually mules. Between horses and mules we have 11.

    I hope you're feeling better soon & Bob is happily puttering in his shop. Take care & xo, Sally