Enchanting Stories of New Mexico - Episode 7 - Hatch Onion Conference

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Episode 7 - Hatch Onion Conference

Michael Swickard here. Welcome to Enchanting Stories of New Mexico sponsored by the Fresh Chile Company in Las Cruces, N M. 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. Monday and Friday regular and Wednesdays, people.

You know, people come from all over and when they get to our little slice of paradise, they notice some of the names of towns and wonder about them. They are called place names for most people; it is just what we call this place. But there is usually a story behind a name. An example is the town of Deming, New Mexico. We know where it is but how did it get its name? Settled in the 1880s when the railroad was built through the area, the town formed. It used to be referred to as the Town of Windmills but not so much anymore with electric water pumps. It was named for the wife of one of the four men who built the early railroad. Charles Crocker was his name. With the honor of naming the town, he gave it his wife’s maiden name. She was Mary Deming who grew up in Indiana. I don’t know if they have a statue of Mary. One of the other four engineers commented, Deming, hmm doesn’t look a bit like her.

One more? OK. Nogal, New Mexico. It wasn’t a comment on the local dating social life, rather was Spanish for Walnut Tree which there was a large one in the early 1880s in the settlement and more up the canyon above it. Originally it was called Dry Gulch by the gold miners of the area and was changed after a flood. It is about ten miles east of Carrizozo, New Mexico. In 1879 Gold was discovered in the area, more so around Baxter Mountain near modern-day White Oaks and it drew in hundreds of gold miners looking for the find of a lifetime. Some did, some didn’t. John Baxter discovered a rich area in the now White Oaks area and over 30 years more than 3 million dollars worth of lode gold and silver was shipped which would be about 110 million in today’s dollars. That’s a lot of money for those times as compared to other activities such as agriculture. Speaking of building, they built an electric plant and lots of mining equipment. The town withered away after the railroad went through Carrizozo but didn’t through White Oaks. Also, the lode gold became exhausted. Lode gold is best described as you hold a nugget in your hand. There was and still is placer gold in the gravel and dirt. You process a ton of dirt with gold in it and make a few dollars which provide a profit but not much.

In another podcast I’ll speak to the mining industry in New Mexico, small and large, mining Gold, Silver, Copper, Lead, Coal, Uranium, Zinc, Manganese, Iron, MolyB, Tungsten, Calcium, Tin, Arsenic, and many other substances like in Lea County near Carlsbad, NM there is the world’s purest potash. And even, for a time, the mining of bat guano for fertilizer.

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.

Did you know that weather scientists have dubbed this an El Niño year. Our little part of paradise should have a warmer and wetter year. This is part of the El Niño-La Niña climate pattern which was observed for a long time before being named as such and then the data strongly suggested that the names were correct for what would happen under each designation. The observed pattern is that a warm ocean current will flow along the equator off the coast of Ecuador around Christmas time. El Nino is a direct reference to the birth of the Christ child which is celebrated December 25th coinciding when these climate patterns are realized.

The forecast of more rain causes ranchers to look hopefully at the sky. Farmers not so much since their water comes from the Rio Grande. You can tell people from New Mexico because when we are somewhere else, and someone mentions that it is raining outside we always flock to the door or windowto watch. I love to watch rain, hope you do too.

Good news on the Lake waterfront, Elephant Butte Dam and Lake is at 28.2 percent full, up a tenth of a percent from last week. So, it is still filling. A year ago, it was only ten percent. This is so very much better for agriculture and for recreation. Boating really improved. Also, with the warm weather fishing all over New Mexico has improved from the cooler month. With the warmer weather comes more insects for the fish to eat. Good luck boating and fishing. Enjoy.

Something most people do not know is that General Douglas MacArthur was once a resident of our area. It is true. Did he remember his time here. Yes, fondly. Said he and his brother learned to ride and shoot even before they learned to read and write. Douglas was born in 1880 to Army Captain Arthur MacArthur, Jr, who was Post Commander of Fort Selden in 1884 for two years. Fort Seldon is 12 miles north of Las Cruces. Captain Arthur MacArthur received the Medal of Honor for action in the Civil War and his son Douglas received the Medal of Honor for his WWII actions, making them the first father and son recipients. Both became generals. So, when you drive by the ruins of Fort Selden which was decommissioned in 1891, picture if you will the young five year old Douglas MacArthur riding and shooting and I bet smiling.

A couple weeks ago there was an interesting meeting at the Fabian Garcia Science Center which is part of New Mexico State University’s Agricultural heritage and future. At the facility just west of the main NMSU campus was a meeting to showcase the research being done on the growth and development of onions. Among the speakers was Dr. Christopher S. Cramer, a Horticulture Professor who has been at NMSU for more than 25 years and has been part of the Onion research that has released eight NuMex varieties of Onions including NuMex Fabian Garcia. He said, quoting here, “Onions are a very important crop for New Mexico, In 2022, 5,700 acres of onions were harvested in New Mexico. Those acres produced a total of 165,300 tons of onions. Those onions had a farm-gate valve of $153 million. In terms of farm-gate value of agricultural crops grown in New Mexico, onions would rank third behind alfalfa and pecans.”

Great conference and great research from New Mexico State University. For two months a year I am told, about half of all the onions for sale in the United States are tied to New Mexico. PS, I love onions almost as much as I love Chile. Together, onions and Chile is great, eh?

One morning at the cafe a bunch of us we were talking about New Mexico outlaws. The one that comes to mind for most people is Billy the Kid, but we didn’t talk about him. Many outlaws made it through their wild years and then became somewhat model citizens or at least never reverted to their outlaw ways.

One such outlaw lived many years west of Oscuro, New Mexico, 20 miles or so South of Carrizozo. His name was Baldy Russell. The name, “Russell” was assumed--the name “Baldy” was applied for his lack of hair on the top of his head.

His real name was Jim Mitchell, and he was wanted in Texas as a young man for murder in the 1870s during a Texas feud. In the wilds of the then territory of New Mexico in the 1890s, Baldy wasn’t bothered by lawmen. And the best we know he never did run afoul of the law.

There were many men in our western history who were known as Lefty or Slim or Baldy. These men had a history elsewhere but since it was considered an insult to ask questions of strangers, everyone left them alone.

Baldy was noted for extreme quietness. Old timers tell of the time he rode into a Bar W cow camp at dinner time. Back then at mealtime everyone within riding distance was welcome to eat at any cow camp chuckwagon. Coffee, biscuits, and beans were always served. And cobbler.

Baldy rode into the camp without speaking. He nodded to men he knew but for reasons of his own he didn’t feel like talking. He got himself a plate of food and squatted down by himself.

The cowboys knew that if Baldy wanted solitude, it was best to leave him alone. That is the way it was done in the territory of New Mexico a hundred years ago. Baldy got himself a second cup of coffee which he drank while rolling himself a Bull Durham cigarette. He handed the cup back to the cook with a nod to the men sitting there which meant that anyone near his ranch at supper time was welcome to share dinner with him and then ambled over to get his horse.

On the way out of camp he saw a horse he had once owned. He walked over to the horse, patted it and to the horse spoke the only words he spoke, “Hi, Fella.” Now that’s the silent type.

Another story about Baldy involves him and Jim Gilliland, a man who while not officially an outlaw, was thought by some as having some of the same attributes. At first neighbors Jim Gilliland and Baldy Russell got along fine, but then one thing led to another, and they became suspicious of each other for stealing cattle. Each had mysteriously lost cattle.

This all built up to the point to where one day Jim rode up on Baldy unexpectedly and they both immediately drew their six-shooters and kept each other covered. Neither had made up his mind that shooting was called for, but both had pulled their pistols. They stared at each other for a little while. Finally, Baldy said, “Well, one of us either ought to smile or pull the trigger.”

He meant someone had to either shoot or admit he was just fooling when he drew his pistol. Later, Gilliland said, “I smiled because I knew Baldy didn’t know how.” Baldy Russell wasn’t Billy the Kid, but I find him much more interesting.

One thing that happens when people live in Las Cruces, live close or happen to be in our little slice of paradise, is that they can come by the Fresh Chile Company Gift Shop. It is located at 1160 El Paseo Rd, Suite D7A in Las Cruces, NM. It is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. No need for shipping when you live close by.

If you are living far enough away to ship: If you buy 12 jars, we offer Free Shipping if you live in the lower 48 states (excluding Alaska & Hawaii). Stock up and make sure you always have plenty of that which makes everyone smile: Hatch Valley Red and Green Chile. And a case of that delicious Chile would make a great present for someone who moved away and still has a taste for Hatch Valley Green and Red Chile. Also, if you buy three jars, we will donate one jar of our award-winning Mama’s Salsa to a local food bank in New Mexico called, Casa de Peregrinos. They provide school lunches and much more to those in need in our community.

This is Michael Swickard with The Fresh Chile Company Podcast brought to you by The Fresh Chile Company. Thank you for your time today. We will always have lots of News and stories about New Mexico for you on this Podcast, If you have something you want me to talk about in a future podcast write to: michael@freshchileco.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.

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