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Episode 11 - Unveiling the Lincoln County War
Michael Swickard here. Welcome to Enchanting Stories of New Mexico sponsored by the Fresh Chile Company in Las Cruces, N M. Thank you for joining us. Our award-winning Hatch Green and Red Chile is brought to you from locally owned farms in Hatch, NM, The Chile Capital of the World. Hit subscribe to automatically get these Podcasts.
First, before I do anything else, I have some very good news. Some of the Chile Peppers in the Hatch Chile fields are ready to be picked, and therefore, the roasting drums that have been silent since last fall are just now getting ready for that wonderful sound and smell, roasting Hatch Green Chile. It takes lots of skill and expertise to pick the Green Chile at just the right stage of growth and an equal amount of skill and expertise to roast it. The transformation of Hatch Green Chile Pepper plants growing in a field to that magical moment of eating the Hatch Green Chile involves several steps. The Chile Peppers must be picked at just the right moment when the Pepper is done growing. Then it is taken to a place for fire-roasting. This roasting is done at the Fresh Chile Company plant in Las Cruces. Then the roasted Chile is prepared into the 16 oz. jars. In the fire-roasting process, it takes a very hot flame, we use propane burners in the drums. When we do, the outside waxy layer of the Chile Pepper is quickly scorched to a char in just a few minutes, allowing the removal of the outer waxy skin without damaging the inside Chile meat. The Chile Pepper plant produces a waxy coating to keep moisture inside the Chile Pepper while it is growing. Fire-roasting prepares the outer skin for removal and gives the Chile meat a wonderful flavor.
So after all these months of watching and waiting for the Green Chile to ripen, the harvest is starting today. It will go into full swing in the next couple of weeks and will produce some of the best Chile that can be produced. You know, one thing else. I love to hear the sound of the Chile roasting and I suggest to all of you inventors that instead of a sound machine that has gently falling rain, the roasting sound would be great. I give that idea for a New Mexico product to anyone who can take the idea and make a Chile roasting white noise machine. What a great idea, a good Chile lunch and then a nap with Chile roasting white noise.
Now I do have to mention that it has been a bit hot lately, even in the mountains by comparison. All I can do is look at the clouds and wish for rain. When I was a boy, my Air Force military father was stationed at Yokota Air Force Base in Japan. We went too and due to my mother’s influence, we didn’t stay on base. Heck, we had been living on Kirtland Air Force Base for three years. No, she wanted to live in the town, Fusha Naka, next to the base. I’m going to make a point so just stay with me.
In and around the town were rice fields and I don’t know if you are aware of this but rice is delicate. Having too much rain on the fields or too little rain is a big problem.
So, I went to school on the Air Force Base but lived in the town. I would stand and watch the rice farmers sing their chants to start or stop the rain. Naturally, I joined in. They encouraged more voices. They were impressed by a blue-eyed blond haired ten year old boy who knew all the rain making and stopping chants including some of the songs on the local hit parade like Planting Rice Is Never Much Fun. That really was and is a song.
Now I’ve forgotten the chant to stop the rain, but I’ve been thinking about the one to start it. If it rains, it may be me. No, I promised to never ever teach those chants to anyone else.
Let’s do a Western quote. This is from Ramon Adams, one of my most treasured Old West authors. He wrote: Today’s cowboy must know more than how to handle horses and cattle.
He got that right in the past and even more so today. Ranching is economics, genetics, efficiency, really lots of everyday efficiency, and the ability to tolerate disappointment.
Ramon Adams wrote 24 books on the western life in the past and at that time. I enjoyed his 1952, Come an’ get it: the story of the Old Cowboy Cook. The cattle drives ran on the effects of the Chuck Wagon cooks. Without great meals the whole enterprise would not have been possible. In 1961 he put out The Old-Time Cowhand. Later he wrote one Burs Under the Saddle: a second look at Books and Histories of the West. He carefully looked at the books of the west and noted when they did not ring true which many did not. I have owned and quoted so many of his books over the years including The Legendary West, The Cowman and his Philosophy, a favorite of mine is The Cowboy and his Humor. Also, important to understand that time and those people is The Cowman and his Code of Ethics. It was only somewhere between forty and sixty years of the Old West but out on the ranches today, much of the philosophy at attitudes of those cattle ranchers is still alive and well. They live by: If you climb in the saddle, be ready for the ride.
Yes, Today’s cowboy must know more than how to handle horses and cattle. Amen Ramon Adams, Amen and I am thankful there are still cowboys working seven days a week to make the beef industry viable. That beef industry that is on my table regularly.
This is Enchanting Stories of New Mexico sponsored by the Fresh Chile Company in Las Cruces, N.M. Hit subscribe to automatically get these. Thanks for turning in. We have more.
Fishing is good in New Mexico and certainly at Elephant Butte Lake. I was speaking to someone who fishes often there, and he said the extra heat makes being on the water even more pleasant. One day, though, he was fishing from the shoreline and said it wasn’t bad. The fish species he was interacting with included Blue Catfish, Crappie, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Striped Bass and White Bass. There is an entry fee required and a fishing license is not required for 11-year-olds and younger. You can get your license online if you go to the New Mexico Game and Fish Department website. And great news: if you are 70 years of age or older your fishing license is free. I like free, don’t you?
We hear about lawlessness in New Mexico as one of the reasons that New Mexico, which became a United States Territory in 1850 by the signature of President Millard Fillmore, that New Mexico spent sixty some years trying to become a State of the Union. Finally in 1912.
But in the 1870s it was close since in 1876 our neighbor Colorado was made a state in the union. But New Mexico was considered lawless. Too many outlaws. The Lincoln County War which simmered for a few years and really blew up in July of 1878 was bad publicity for the Territory of New Mexico. Of course, it did give us Billy the Kid and the Lincoln New Mexico celebration called, The Last Escape of Billy the Kid. Let’s just enjoy the celebration but I suspect you didn’t know what a gunfight the battle in Lincoln was, so I’ll tell you a little of it.
Two groups of combatants were the Dolan/Murphy/Seven Rivers Cowboys. Go ahead and hiss at them if you want and what was called, The Regulars, which included Billy the Kid, Charlie Bowdre, Frank Coe and George Coe among many others. For three days the Regulars were inside several buildings including the McSween house with Alexander McSween and a number of vaqueros from Mexico. Long story short, it was quite a gun battle and there are literally dozens of good books on the subject. Of lasting interest, because of these battles the then Territorial Governor of New Mexico Samuel Beach Axtell was replaced by Civil War General Lew Wallace who also wrote the Novel Ben Hur. I always note that Lew Wallace wrote three best sellers in the 1880s that include Ben Hur. But he never even once wrote about his interactions with Billy the Kid, someone who inspired many books and movies.
Speaking of authors: I mentioned in the McSween house with the Regulators was George Coe so I should mention a book of his I have, Frontier Fighter: The Autobiography of George W. Coe. Great reading. I sure wish we would do a celebration for Pat Garrett, both the Sheriff of Lincoln County who got Billy the Kid at this time in 1881 and was Sheriff of Dona Ana County years later. Great story but I have been working on getting a Pat Garrett Days going somewhere for at least forty years. Isn’t happening yet. More about that at another time.
Michael Swickard here with Enchanting Stories of New Mexico. You know every day is someone’s birthday. I would like to celebrate William Calhoun McDonald who was born July 25, 1858. He was the first elected governor of New Mexico. I sure did like his campaign slogan on his campaign posters: good government and a fair shake. Did he say a fair shake? Yes he did ,and that is something I think we all want. A friend still had one of the posters.
Born in Jordanville, New York, that is where William McDonald was raised. He attended a Seminary, studied law, and taught primary school in New York. At age twenty in 1878, he followed New York Daily Tribune editor Horace Greeley’s July 13, 1865 advice:
Go West, young man, go West and grow up with the country. He moved to Fort Scott, Kansas about 90 miles south of Kansas City, where he was an apprentice in a law office and admitted to the Kansas bar in 1880.
Go West was still on his mind so with the discovery of Gold in the White Oaks, New Mexico area he moved to the gold fields there where he tried staking out mining claims and made much more money as the United State Deputy Mineral Surveyor. He ran for office in Lincoln County, was the County Assessor from 1885 to 1887. Then he ran for the legislature and was successful for twenty year. Always frugal, he saved and saved and finally bought the Carrizozo cattle Ranch then dubbed it the Bar W. He was active in Democratic politics and was nominated to be the first elected governor of New Mexico. He won.
What is coming in a few weeks with this harvest around the corner is that the Fresh Chile Company this year is offering a special reserve release of the Hatch Green Chile varietal Big Jim in a 16-ounce jar. Varietal means that this product will only be made with Big Jim Chile, which is sweet and has a medium heat level.
Big Jim is very popular in New Mexico restaurants & homes. In 1975, Big Jim was listed in The Guinness Book of World Records as having the largest Chile Pods, perfect for Chile Rellenos. It was developed by Chile Researcher Dr. Roy Nakayama at New Mexico State University. It is a hybrid of New Mexico Chile Peppers and a Peruvian pepper that Nakayama and fellow researcher Jim Lytle combined. Big Jim is named for Jim Lytle who died unexpectedly at that time.
One thing that happens when people live in Las Cruces or happen to be in our little slice of paradise. They can come by the Fresh Chile Company Gift Shop at 1160 El Paseo Rd, Suite D7A in Las Cruces, NM. It is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Now I need to tell you about some new products at the Fresh Chile Company that I find wonderful. There is a Local Honey with Hatch Red Chile that is great on biscuits. French fries are so much more with the Fresh Chile Company’s Hatchup which is ketchup and Hatch Red Chile. Come browse and there are many more surprises and also, there are some frozen surprises that I assure you are wonderful. Again from Monday to Saturday, the Fresh Chile Company Gift Shop at 1160 El Paseo Rd, Suite D7A in Las Cruces, NM. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
This is Michael Swickard with Enchanting Stories of New Mexico brought to you by The Fresh Chile Company. Thank you for your time today. We will have lots of News and stories about New Mexico for you on these Podcasts, If you have something or someone you want me to talk about, write to: email@example.com Have a great rest of your day. Oh yes and eat plenty of that good Hatch Valley Chile. Like I always say, “Some Chile is good, more is better.” Bye for now.