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How to read
a horse's

Paso Finos
and mustangs
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A stallion's
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How to Buy
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How to Breed
for Color

Killer Buyer:
True Stories

Visit to Canyon
de Chelly

Sandi Claypool's

Horse photo


Poultry photo

Rattlesnake Acres

I married in 1967 at age 21. Back then an unmarried woman of 21 was almost an old maid, so getting a husband was a great relief to me. Our honeymoon home was in the middle of Tucson, next door to an old couple that had married each other when they were both 14. Used to be when a boy was old enough to ride a horse, punch cattle and draw wages, he was a man.

Ten months after the wedding we had our first baby, a daughter. Three more daughters followed. What with raising kids and our choice of high tech careers, we never lived where horses made sense.

Fast forward through divorce and remarriage to John Bosma.

After the two oldest had grown up and the youngest were in middle school, John and I convinced ourselves we could make a living writing and consulting from our home. We could live anywhere. We traveled New Mexico, dreaming of our writer's paradise. We fell in love with the Estancia Valley.

"Estancia" means "ranch" in Spanish, and the name fits. The valley lies a mile and a quarter above sea level about 50 miles east of Albuquerque. Ten thousand years ago, a sea covered 900 square miles of this valley. Today, at the southern end, only salt pans remain. Across the rest of the valley, a sea of blue gramma and western wheat grass ripples. Antelope, horses and cattle graze this prairie.

To the northwest, the Ortiz Mountains hem the valley. Veins of gold and turquoise streak their slopes. Miners still are extracting gold from the mines in this range. 

In June of 1991 we bought ten acres at the skirt of South Mountain, the southernmost peak of the Ortiz Mountains. An old windmill just to the south promised abundant water and sure enough, othe new well we got drilled gave us abundant and sweet water. The grass was tall, and a juniper/pinon forest ended just yards from the west property line.

Back in the 70s, the people who had owned the land had built a two-story home in which they raised seven children -- and without electricity or running water. When the couple split, they all leftt. The neighbors were quick to mine their home and barns for lumber, leaving chaotic ruins.


View of the windmill from the south fence of Rattlesnake Acres.

The neighbors warned us that these ruins harbored prairie rattlers. They said the neighborhood boys would go there to stock up on rattler hides. They claimed that just months ago a pair of teenage boys had killed 104 of them when the rattlers woke from their hibernation and slithered out of the wreckage. So we named our new place Rattlesnake Acres.

Back then the road we lived on - County Road 11B - was a mighty deterrent to suburban types. It was just a dirt track that ran over a cattle guard. Back then, in 1991, the Soviet Union had just collapsed and with it the Cold War. Much of New Mexico's economy depended on the care and feeding of nuclear weapons. We hoped this development meant that growth would halt. Perhaps 11B would forever remain rural.

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© 2022 Carolyn M. Bertin. All rights reserved.