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Episode 8 - Chiles, Cowboys, and Skunk Shenanigans
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, let us do an Old West quotation since New Mexico was part of the Old West cattle drives which combined getting cattle to market and doing so in a way as to not lose cattle, along with not have the cattle lose weight while driven. Max about 12 miles a day would work out fine for the ten or so cowboys on the drive, often Texas to a railhead in Kansas. Of more interest to me was the Goodnight and Loving trail through the territory of New Mexico to Colorado to sell the cattle to the Army. Regardless of what Hollywood shows in movies, about thirty of them, the cattle were driven carefully with a couple of rest times a day at high noon and overnight. That’s why it was a couple months from gathering the wild Texas longhorns to when they were delivered to market. The cowboys who herded the cattle usually had three horses they used each day since the herd was controlled all 24 hours to keep from losing cattle and hopefully to avoid stampedes. And we should remember the cook who was essential for a couple hearty meals a day. Which brings me to quote: only the cattle know why they stampede, and they ain’t talking.
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 are unusual. They are place names for most people, what do you call this town? It is just the name of a place. But there is a story behind the name so that is what I’m going to reveal. Take the unusual New Mexico town name of Truth or Consequences. What an odd name, eh? Here is how it came about. There was a radio and then television producer, Ralph Edwards growing up loved a children’s game called Forfeit. Someone is given a two second challenge and failing to do it has to do something stupid and embarrassing. He made it into a radio and then a television show, Truth or Consequence.
So, Ralph Edwards made this hit radio show in which contestants were given two seconds to answer some question or a buzzer called Beulah the Buzzer sounded and then since they failed, they were given some embarrassing consequences. The radio show started in 1940 on NBC Radio and was quickly a hit with listeners. For the ten-year anniversary of the hit show in 1950, Ralph Edwards announced that he would broadcast on the 10th anniversary from the first town in the United States that changed its name to the name of the Radio Show, Truth or Consequences. And the rest is history since the town leaders did change the name. There is still a yearly festival in May. However, you will find that us locals often abbreviate it to TorC.
The town was known previously as Hot Springs, New Mexico and it still has some great hot springs for your soaking pleasure. And, while there are many other Hot Springs in different states, to the best of my knowledge this is the one and only Truth or Consequences anywhere.
I want to tell you about one of the most interesting Old West gunfights in New Mexico. It involves a man known as Mysterious Dave Mather. He was a Dodge City Kansas lawman at one time and moved to East Las Vegas, New Mexico when New Mexico was a territory. He was on the police force. History lost track of him around 1885. While a lawman working with Bat Masterson in Dodge City he was in several gunfights and prevailed. He also is noted as having one of the more interesting gunfights: he and another man were playing poker and the charge of cheating was announced by one. Both drew their pistols and started blasting away. Each had two pistols so there was more than twenty shots fired. Naw, they were both OK, though a dog on the floor named Toodles was almost shot but escaped unharmed. That was before smokeless gunpowder so after the first shot their eyesight was blinded by the smoke and their hearing wasn’t all that good. But both survived. Dave had one other Old West Connection that the Movie Tombstone didn’t show. Wyatt Earp was caught in Texas in 1878 with Mather selling fake gold bricks that were only lead painted with gold paint. Both made it out of town.
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.
Now for some good news if you love Green Chile. We are just around the corner from the harvest season for Green Chile, in fact, there are a few Green Chile peppers already being harvested, a few, and of course that means they are flame-roasted and turned into something delicious to eat. Fresh Chile Company’s owner, Randy McMillan has some video on the website of the Chile fields and a few Chile peppers that he cooked into a delicious dinner. Go to Facebook and follow the Fresh Chile Company to see those and many other videos.
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.
The Fresh Chile Company Owner Randy McMillan said, “Over the years growing up, we went to the farm for the harvest of Chile. We would roast it and enjoy the wonderful taste. Many times, it was the Big Jim Chile that we enjoyed. The peppers were perfect for Chile Rellenos and, when cut up, made a great condiment. No one has ever sold a Hatch Valley Varietal in a jar before. It will be the first time you can buy Big Jim in a jar. It will be about forty-eight hours from picking and roasting to bottling. When you open the jar, it is fresh.”
McMillian explained that the notion of Varietal manufacturing comes from the Wine Industry, where Varietal Wine is made with only one variety of grapes. The Varietal Big Jim Chile will only have that one Chile variety, Big Jim, in the jar.
Fourth Generation Farmer in Hatch, New Mexico, Scott Adams noted, “Big Jim is an older traditional Chile. The plants have fewer pods, but the fruit of the Big Jim Chile is best because of its thickness and taste...”
At Elephant Butte Lake the boating is good with 28 percent water, a far cry better than the ten percent last year. The snow in Colorado and Northern New Mexico is raising the water level. With the boating there has been questions about the fire restrictions. The lake website noted: Stage I Fire Restrictions: Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, charcoal, coal, or wood stove is prohibited except in State Park developed camp and picnic grounds where grills and stoves are provided by the State Park. However, campfires are allowed on the lake shoreline in areas cleared of flammable vegetation for at least 30 feet.
Let me tell you about a close skunk encounter. It all started when I was loading my camping gear. I had almost all of my gear when I heard my cat crunching her dry cat food with extra vigor. She is a self-feeder, I just leave food out all of the time and she eats when she is hungry. She was really crunching that dry cat food. Then I saw her standing next to me at my front door.
If she is here, who’s in the kitchen eating? I looked around the corner and I swear I thought I saw a…. no it can’t be. But it was. So what’s the size of a cat, likes dry cat food, is predominately black but has a white stripe? SKUNK!
It is hard to convey the utter despair a person just about to go on vacation feels when he finds a skunk in his kitchen. I thought thank God I have a cat instead of a dog. My cat sat watching the skunk without excitement. If I had a dog, it would have been a complete nasal disaster.
The skunk paid me no mind while chowing down the cat food. So what does an educated person do in such a situation? All of the years of school and my Ph.D. offered no help.
I vacated the premises so the skunk could eat in silence. Outside my house holding my cat, I revisited credulity and wondered if my imagination could have created the skunk. I peeped in and the skunk was digging in the cat dish, throwing cat food all over the kitchen floor.
It turned to me and smiled with the happiness of the moment. Nope, that was a skunk. My cat and I sat on the porch thinking of plans. I waited a while and then longer. My camping trip was discarded. A person doesn’t just leave skunks in the kitchen.
After a bit I cautiously looked back in the kitchen to find the skunk had gone somewhere else in the house. So I had to do something. I could open both front and back doors and flush the skunk out of the house. Naw. Instead, I grabbed the cat food and cat bathroom and moved to a relative’s house while I sorted out the problem. After a couple of days with the air-conditioner off and no food in the house I carefully looked throughout the house and concluded that the skunk had left for better pastures, and I put the screen next to the furnace back on. I had said to myself when I noticed that I had left it off that a skunk could get through there.
Yes, it is true that when I noticed it was off months earlier I neglected to take action because I couldn’t imagine it happening. I don’t know where the skunk went. Someone else’s house? I walk around my house with my eyes wide open both day and night. Some say, I have a case of post-skunk syndrome. Every so often if I see a dark shadow, I will suddenly climb the bookcase So far, no skunks. Hooray.
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. There is no need for shipping when you live close.
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. 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 for those in need in our community.
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 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.