The Blizzard, continued ...
Dorothy was getting her self-confidence back big time. She
soon felt frisky enough to take Coquetta loping along the dirt
road to the east of her twenty acres. I joined her on Dudley
while Marcie remained in the pasture with Lady Gold and Xerxes.
After about a mile, Dorothy swerved her mare off the road
and jumped her over a ditch. "It's all coming back!"
she shouted. "When I was a kid, I lived in Mexico. I hitched
horse rides all the time. I hitched rides on cow horses and donkeys.
Once I visited a racetrack, and galloped on a Thoroughbred."
Dorothy jumped Coquetta back over the ditch, balancing on
the close contact saddle like a pro. It wasn't much more than
a leather postage stamp. Even an expert wouldn't normally jump
The mare wasn't flaring her nostrils and sniffing. She
wasn't swiveling her ears like radar dishes, or pointing at anything
with her nose. That ruled out a mountain lion, bear or pack of
coydogs. I said, "This isn't like her. Something must be
wrong. Maybe something bad is about to happen with the weather."
We slowed our horses to a walk, chatting and enjoying the
sights.The high country sun warmed our faces. A Ferruginous Hawk
drifted by on an updraft. He passed so near that we could easily
see his markings, white with rusty stripes, almost like a Snowy
Owl. He was turning his head from side to side, searching for
prey. A flock of horned larks flashed into flight.
Suddenly Coquetta balked, then tried to turn home. Dorothy
fought her, but Coquetta refused.
Xerxes, now muddy thanks to the thaw.
Dorothy nodded. "Let's go home." She was an old-timer
and had told me her weather stories. This time of year, at 6,500
feet and on the flank of a mountain range, weather can turn deadly
I scanned the sky. It seemed friendly. Still, I was a greenhorn.
How did I know what a friendly sky looked like? To the southwest,
just two or three clouds, no bigger than my hand, were rising
out of the Tijeras canyon. I remembered seeing that once before.
The next day, half a foot of snow had fallen.
After we got back, took off the horses' tack and brushed them,
I called the weather service. A recorded voice droned, "Slight
chance of snow showers tonight." I thought about how the
old timers said the government never knew when a blizzard was
on the way.
My teen daughters, Valerie and Virginia, agreed that Coquetta
was on to something. They they wanted to move the bucks in with
the dairy goats close by our home. If the weather got vicious,
it might not be safe to trek a hundred yards over open country
to the buck barn. Because of their breeding season perfume, moving
bucks close in would be a sacrifice. I reluctantly agreed.
The does were already pregnant. So when my daughters turned
their two bucks loose with them, the boys were as polite asif
they had just gotten an etiquette lesson from Coquetta.
We already had a heat lamp in the goat barn, where the Border
Collies and Great Pyrenees also lived. We also had one in the
milking room, where the kitties variously napped, lounged, or
begged for milk. That afternoon, we also installed a heat lamp
in the hen house. Then we put up two hundred yards of snow fence.As
the sun slid down the southwest sky, I slogged through soggy
drifts and turf to the hospital barn and called Lady Gold. She
and Xerxes trotted up and I let them in. Jo Kid and Choplicker
stood guard, making sure that none of the other horses slipped
through the gate with them.
By sunset, the sky hadn't changed much. A few puffs of cloud
were lifting almost imperceptibly out of the southwest. The breeze
promised another night of snowmelt.
At bedtime, I phoned the weather recording. "Chance of
snow showers tomorrow." As I drifted to sleep, I prayed
for snow, imagining the spring green it would feed. I was feeling
like an experienced high country gal. I wouldn't make greenhorn
mistakes. I was prepared for anything.