Taos A to Z: R Taos Unlimited's Taos A to Z

The beauty of ranch life in Northern New Mexico.Ranch
A very large tract of land used for raising livestock. In New Mexico and the Western U.S., many ranches were a combination of privately owned land which was supplemented by grazing leases on land controlled by the Bureau of Land Management. However, many families own ranches that are simply used as a residence, regardless of acreage, without engaging in ranching or farming businesses of any kind. (~Aimee)

Michael Nesmith, former member of The Monkees.
A Bit of Ranch Celebrity Trivia: Two famous men who own ranches in the Santa Fe area: 1) Val Kilmer (actor and potential politician) has a beautiful working ranch just outside Pecos, and 2) Michael Nesmith (former member of The Monkees and renaissance man), pictured left, lays claim to a residential ranch near Nambe. (~Jean)

The cowboy tradition of the Old West as we know it originated in Spain, where arid climate and sparse forage meant that herds of cattle needed to cover large distances in order to obtain enough food. This required cattle herders on horseback rather than on foot. During the 16th century, Spanish settlers brought their cattle-raising traditions, as well as horses and domestic cattle, with them to the Americas. In one fell swoop, cattle ranching and cowboys were born in the Old West. The vast open land of New Mexico and the Southwest brought about open range ranching, in which cattle and other livestock were turned loose in spring to forage. In the fall, the mature animals were rounded up and driven to market. The breeding stock was then kept close through the winter for safety.

By the 1880s, the range had been severely overgrazed. In the winter of 1886-1887, animals already stressed by reduced grazing died by the thousands. Many ranching operations went bankrupt. The recent development of barbed wire combined with overgrazing brought about the fencing-in of the West, with those ranchers still in business negotiating individual grazing rights. (~Aimee)

A method of hanging chiles, garlic and other foodstuffs on a string for drying and storage. They are commonly used for decoration inside and outside adobe houses in Taos and Santa Fe. New Mexican legend has it that hanging a ristra outside your home brings good luck. (~Aimee)

The unusual Roadrunner, the state bird of New Mexico.Roadrunner
The state bird of New Mexico, the roadrunner, is a terrestrial cuckoo. It is famous for its unusual appearance, its ability to catch and eat rattlesnakes, and its habit of scooting across the desert, as popularized by Warner Brothers cartoons.

The roadrunner is a large, mottled bird with a distinctive head crest. It has strong feet, a long, white-tipped tail, and an oversized bill. When it senses danger, the roadrunner flies, but is too heavy to stay airborne for more than a few seconds. It is capable of running up to 17 miles per hour.

The roadrunner is uniquely adapted to desert living. Being carnivorous affords it a large supply of moist food, and it has the ability to re-absorb water from its feces before excreting them. The roadrunner reduces its activity by 50% during the heat of midday. Its extreme speed allows it to catch dragonflies and hummingbirds. (~Aimee)

Pictured top to bottom: 1} View of a ranch near Pecos, New Mexico; 2} Roadrunner, the New Mexico state bird

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