Agave: The Will to Survive

The events in these dog stories are all true. I’ve tried to portray their personalities, the events in their lives, their relationships with each other and their human friends and family they love so much.  I hope you enjoy,  Agave: The Will to Survive.  

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Left to right: Botete, Kalua and Agave

The morning before the storm, Agave felt a strange tension in the air.  She sensed something was amiss because her person, the one they called Raul, was rushing around the ranch as if something were wrong.  She followed along side him just as she always did but he didn’t pay much attention to her today.  He seemed overly preoccupied and worried.  Kalua, Agave’s daughter followed along too.

Agave sat down near the rancher’s cabin and watched Raul and another man they called Mundo who worked for Raul, as they threw a big, blue sheet of plastic over the long row of saddles until they were completely covered and she couldn’t see them anymore.  Rapid movement to her left caught her eye as Kalua dashed off after squirrel.  In Agave’s opinion, this was extremely annoying because Kalua seemed competely unaware as to the seriousness of the day.   In addition, Agave wasn’t in the mood to chase squirrels or do much of anything today.  Her fore leg ached. She remembered the huge, angry cow who kicked her one day while she was working in the corrals that day.  Ouch!

Agave raised her nose to the sky and sniffed the air.  Rain was on the way.   Her ears pivoted to the right.  More sounds and movement brought her attention to Raul and Mundo who were still working to secure the blue tarp.

Suddenly the wind picked up and a loud noise rumbled in the sky above her.  Seconds later a crack of light with ear splitting noise lit up the sky.  The noise burst through her ears with such force she wanted to run and hide.   Her instincts told her to get away from the terrible sound but she focused her eyes on Raul ignoring her fear.

Kalua was nowhere in sight.  Agave stayed with Raul and followed him as he now ran to the barn, and closed the heavy doors.   They checked the chicken coop, the sheep, making sure they were bedded down underneath their shelter, and when he seemed satisfied he called her.  The heavy wind made his strong voice sound distant and far away but the urgency in his voice and on his face was clear.  Agave knew her person very well.  She never let him out of her sight for long and she knew right now he wanted both of them to head for the house on the run.

Once they were safely on the kitchen patio torrents of rain began to fall.  Everyone gathered on the porch and looked up at the storm ridden sky.  The ladies who worked inside, Raul, and Mundo, did little else that day except sit at the patio table, drink coffee, talk among themselves and watch the storm.  Agave laid down near Raul and slept for a while but it was difficult when the incredible sky noise woke her up ever so often.

Kalua, needy as always wined at Raul’s feet. Agave excused the whinning this time because she knew Kalua was also scared.  Unlike herself, Kalua needed constant physical reassurance from her people.  On the other hand, Agave thought a good belly rub was a wonderful thing and more than welcome from anyone who wanted to give her one but Agave’s source of reassurance and sense of safety was not necessarily the need of physical touch.  Agave felt safe just being near her people.  Especially Raul. 

Sometime that afternoon Agave’s haven suddenly turned upside down.  Due to a four year drought, the land had become extremely dry. The top layer of dirt was now just a fine, thick powder with no substance to it whatsoever.   The constant pummel of water caused the loose dirt to run down from the mountains and carry with it small trees, branches from larger ones, rocks and anything else obstructing its path.

Agave watched in horror as rivers of mud and water began to flow into the large patio area and through the corrals.  She’d had never seen anything like this before!  She looked around, “Where was Raul?”  From where she stood on the porch her eyes scanned the out lying areas of the ranch, trying to see through the rain but he was no where to be found.

It was very dark now.   Raul and Mundo disappeared and the ladies went back to the kitchen.  Kalua had vanished as well. Agave watched as mud continued to pour onto the grass and down the walk ways until it completely covered the patio in front of the kitchen.  Now she was scared.

The great sky noise was defeaning. She had to get away from it!  The only hidden place she knew of was underneath the porch. That’s where she had her first litter of puppies, and that’s where she went to stay cool on hot summer days.  It was her special hiding place.  Surely there she would be safe until the noise and rain stopped.  She quietly stepped off the porch and ducked through the Rosemary bush and underneath the patio until she found the dirt hole she made for herself long ago.  She lay down, the edges of the rounded out circle molding perfectly to her body. Once again Agave tried to sleep until the storm passed.

It wasn’t long before she awoke to water and mud rushing around her underneath the porch. She quickly looked for an escape route but the entrance at the Rosemary bush was completely covered with mud.  She couldn’t get out!  Mud and water surged under the porch and  covered her up to her shoulders.  Agave knew she was stuck.  Somehow she managed to tilt her head upwards towards the crack in the porch’s planks about a foot above her just enough so she could breathe.  She thought about Raul and wondered how he would find her and did he know where she was?

The rain, thunder and lightening continued.  Soon the seeping mud became so thick she couldn’t move her legs or feet anymore. It had completely covered her torso.  She was cold too and as the night wore on it became colder.

Once in a while she heard peoples’ voices above her on the porch.  Kalua kept scratching and pawing at the floorboards but no one seemed to pay any attention.  She wondered why.  Kalua knew how to get attention from people. Why not now?  Did Raul know where she was?  Did he know she was in trouble?

She heard Raul’s voice as he said her name over and over again but she couldn’t answer.  She was sleepy and cold. All she could do was keep her nose up to catch what little air came through the cracks in the planks.

Time passed but she wasn’t aware of exactly how long.  She didn’t really know what time was and at that moment as she drifted in and out of a semi-conscious sleep she was grateful for Kalua’s helpful whinning and pawing over the wooden planks.  This kept her awake and she knew she had to stay there, keep her head up with her nose to the crack in the plank until someone found her.

This was one moment Agave was thankful for Kalua’s relentless insistance and impatience.  Suddenly, she heard the men standing directly above her on the patio.  She heard pounding again. Was it more thunder that hurt her ears so?  No, it was something else.  She tried with all her might to shift her body so she could see what was going on but the mud weighed her down.  Dust and slivers of wood fell on top of her head when her eyes caught site of the wood plank as it began to come loose.  She saw someone’s hands grip the plank and rip it off with a final determined tug.

When Agave saw Raul’s face peering down at hers, heavy with concern, she was elated!  She tried to wag her tail to show him she was fine. She squealed with delight and attempted once again to wriggle herself free from the cold mud as his arms reached for her and pulled her out of the hole.  Someone threw a warm towel around her and it felt so good!  Such attention!  Kalua whinned  and licked her face.  Agave licked her right back.  “I’m okay, I’m,okay.”  She was so happy to get out of that hole!  Raul knelt down beside her. He was talking to her but she didn’t understand every word.  She heard her name and she felt and saw the joy on his face.  She knew he was happy to see her.

Once her body warmed up and her rescue celebration was over she shook herself off and looked up at Raul who was standing nearby smiling at her. She smiled back . Agave could feel Raul’s warmth and affection for her.  She hoped he could feel how she felt about him and how much she loved him.   She was glad to see him too!

 

The End

 

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Agave when she was a puppy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Project in the Works

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Rudo and Kalua ready for work.

It’s been a long time since I really sat down to write.  I’ve written about important recent events but I can’t remember the last time I wrote a short story which, when it comes to writing, it’s what I like to do.

So, with that said, I’m planning a series of short stories about our very special friends and working companions at the ranch. Their names are Agave, Kalua, Rudo, Botete, and Minnie.  Besides our horses, these five canines, including Ricky’s Penny who just passed away, are tremendous highlights to the overall experience at the ranch.  They’re part of the Rancho La Bellota family and I’d like to share with you why this is so, but, in a very different way.  Each dog will tell his or her story through their eyes.

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Agave in the chair posing for the camera

Botete will tell you all about his life long feud with his brother Rudo and Kalua might give us some insight as to why she hates snakes and coyotes so much!  Minnie, our 19 year-old Border Collie will give an account of her life which also has a long and enthralling history, how she feels about the other dogs, especially Kalua, and why she smiles.  Rudo, who gets a little agitated sometimes, and seems to get along with women better than men will also have his story to tell.  And our dear Agave, mother to them all will tell the tale of her life on the rancho, her relationships with her children, and her human friends.

Through the Eyes of a Dog seems like the perfect title for this series of upcoming stories. I’ll post them one at a time and I truly hope you enjoy them as much as I did in writing them.

Warm regards to all,

Caroline Aguiar

 

 

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Ricky’s Penny

 

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Our 19 year-old Minnie Girl
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Dinner time!
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Caroline’s Brandy
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And here is Tequila, the Border Collie that started it all and who brought Raul and I together.

Our Most Cherished Companions

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Penny on the right with her brother Rudo

Although the world of companion animals is large and vast. For those of you who know Raul and I, our most cherished companions are our dogs and this is also true for our son Ricky and our daughter Christine.

Our pack of Blue Heelers are truly hard core working dogs but at the center of the hub, what makes the wheel of joy and delight go round and round is the love which our family receives from them:  Agave, Kalua, Rudo, Botete, Minnie and Penny.

Their unconditional love, their playful antics and displays of near humanism brings sparks of joy to our hearts each time we interact with them.  Their presence as they lie sleeping at our feet, or when they playfully roll over to get their bellies scratched is comforting beyond words.  Sometimes just to touch them and look into their eyes, or gently scratch their ears brings to us a sense of joy and calm like no other.

We feel so blessed to have these wonderful animals in our lives as friends, life long companions, active/working contributors to the over all functioning of the ranch and to those who visit us, from what I’ve seen, they provide equal amounts of happiness and joy to our guests as well.

Yesterday, we lost Ricky’s dog, Penny.  She was involved in a car accident and suffered many internal injuries.  Although everything that was humanly possible was done to save her life, her body couldn’t withstand the internal damage.  As you can imagine, we’re terribly grieved over the loss of this beautiful, sweet girl who was a special and most cherished companion to our son Ricky.

Penny was a spark of joy. She was always happy, always ready to play, and to please. She loved Ricky so much.  Everyone loved Penny and we will truly miss her, always.

For those of you who have a special dog in your life. I leave you with a prayer that you might appreciate.  Their unconditional love, devotion and the companionship they provide to us through every phase of our lives no matter who we are, what we do, or what we we think we look like: there are no  barriers between the love of a dog and their human friends and family.

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Penny and her mom, Agave

                              A Dog’s Prayer by Beth Norman Harris

Treat me kindly for no heart in all the world is more grateful for kindness than the loving heart of me.

Do not break my spirit with a stick, for although I should lick your hand between the blows, your patience and understanding will more quickly teach me the things you would have me do.

Speak to me often for your voice is the world’s sweetest music as you must know by the fierce wagging of my tail when your footsteps fallupon my waiting ear.

When it’s cold and wet, please take me inside for now I’m a domesticated animal, no longer use to bitter elements. I ask no greater glory than the privilege of sitting at your feet bside the hearth.  Though had you no home, I would rather follow you through ice and snow than rest upon the softest pillow in the warmest home in all the land, for you are my friend and my family.

Keep my pan filled with fresh water for although I should not reproach you were it dry, I can’t tell you when I suffer thirst.  Feed me clean food that I may stay well to romp and play and to do your bidding, to walk by your side and to stand ready, willing and able to protect you with my life, should your life be in danger.

And, should the Creator see fit to deprive me of my health or sight, don’t turm me away from you.  Rather hold me gently in your arms as skilled hands grant me the merciful path to eternal rest…amd I will leave you knowing with the last breath I drew, my fate was ever safest in your hands.

 

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Ricky’s Penny

Explore Baja with Baja Peninsular Expeditions- Rancho La Bellota

 

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My husband Raul has traveled up and down the Baja Peninsula all his life and during the last 30 years of our marriage so have I with two children in tow since they were toddlers.  To us, a trip down to Mulege or Scorpion Bay is in no way an long and rigorous journey.  We look at it as a time to explore the surrounding of our incrdeible home, the Baja Peninsula, spend time together with family and friends, and to visit amazing sites filled with rich history and pristine beauty.

Last December Raul and I took a trip  into Baja Sur to scout out a 10 day route to offer to our guests in addition to our winter whale watching tour for those who are interested in exploring the natural wonders of Baja, learning more of its fabulous history, and visiting places that are off the grid, unique and truly amazing.

We started from Ensenada, and worked our way down the peninsula where we visited many places we had taken our children to many years ago when they were very young.  The well known surf and camping spot such as famous  Scorpion Bay in San Juanico were a few of these places we visited while on our journey south.

While at Scorpion Bay we camped at a beautiful spot high on the cliffs overlooking the bay.  From there we crossed the Sierra La Giganta in our super, off road camping equipped Toyota that our good friend Jim Berrian gave to us not long ago.  Raul designed a roof top tent for the truck, added a few extras here and there for extra off road terrain durability and off we went!

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We spent the first night in Catavina where by luck or coincidence we met off road racing legend Malcolm Smith and his wife Joyce who were also staying in the same hotel.  Malcolm is a childhood hero for Raul who has been affiliated with off road racing most of his life.  Malcolm and Joyce had breakfast with us while we poured over maps, and talked about familiar places on the Baja and people we knew up and down the coast.  It was a great pleausre to meet them.

After leaving Catavina we headed south and spent the next night at San Juanico, Scorpion Bay, a famous surf spot where we used to take our children for camping when they were young.  We spent a peaceful, starry night on the cliffs above the bay.

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Next we headed to the Sierra de la Giganta which extends along the southeastern Baja California Peninsula, parallel and close to the coast of the Gulf of California Sea of Cortez. The highest point is Cerro de la Giganta at 3,858 feet (1,176 m) in elevation, located near Loreto.

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This is the mission at San Jose Comandu built in the late 1700’s and is still an actively working church today.

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After crossing through the pristine region of the Sierra de la Giganta we came to Loreto where we visited the mission of Loreto, we also visited San Javier both of which are still in use today and were built between 1690-1700’s.

While in Loreto we visited the mission plaza which has many side walk restaurants with authentic Mexican food, lots of seafoood for your dining pleasure.  After three days of camping it was nice to stay in a hotel and wash clothes. Once we stocked up on food for the next leg of our journey and gased up we headed back up highway 1 made a quick stop in Mulege for gas and continued on to the Sierra de San Francisco  where the oldest and biggest cave paintings are located on the entire peninsula.

rock paintingsWithin the mountains are the prehistoric rock art pictographs of the Cochimi people, also known as the Rock Paintings of the Sierra de San Francisco.

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We have this project in the works right now.  We’ll have more information for you on this 10 day excursion into the depths of the Baja for anyone with an adventurous spirit, who likes to camp and explore either by highway or off road the magnificent Baja Peninsula.  More on this exciting adventure is coming soon!  We’ll keep you posted!

Another Good Story: Feathers and Wings

 

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Raul and I have something very special to share with you.  We’ve had an amazing visitor stay with us at the ranch these past two months that no one, least of all us, would have ever expected to drop by.  The events behind this visitors arrival has given Raul and I a lot to think about regarding “coincidences” and in this case it was about being in the right place at the right time, which might not be as random as we think.  Maybe its not all up to luck. Maybe things really do happen for a reason.

It all comes down to the decisions we make, and the chances we take that lead us into new areas of learning and growth.  It’s experiences like the one I’m about to tell you that enrich our lives in so many ways and it makes us appreciate life and all it’s wonderful ocurrences more than ever before.

A Fall From the Sky

It was late afternoon.  Raul was out riding with a group on a beautiful day in May  when he decided to take them through the canyon towards “The Twisted Ankle Trail” so they could ride underneath the shady oak trees, then up and out onto the mesas above the ranch.

Just after the first gate, he stopped to tighten cinches before the climb when he pointed out a Red-Tail Hawk’s nest about 25 ft above them and the two fledglings, that were inside the nest.  The mother watched vigilantly on a branch nearby.  So as not to anger her, Raul and the group slowly moved away.

Suddenly, the mother hawk flew into the air. Raul and the group gasped at what they saw next.  One of the fledglings was hanging upside down by feet of the mother!  They watched as the mother circled around, heading back to the nest but when she was within inches of landing, the fledgling fell.  If you can visiualize a leaf falling from a tree this is what the little fledgling looked like.  It was as if in slow motion, the baby floated and bumped from branch to branch all the way to the ground and finally landed in the oak leaves at the bottom of the tree.

The dogs were on it within seconds. Fortunately,Raul called them off so he could assess the situation.  When he arrived at the scene, the fledgling was buried head first in the leaves, but it appeared to be fine.  He knew once a fledgling hawk falls from the nest, the mother won’t come to retrieve it.  Those were the laws of nature.

Raul later told me, when he held the tiny creature in his hand, which actually only fit into both hands cupped together, he couldn’t believe he was holding a Red-Tail Hawk.  The baby was big, but at the same time he sensed how small and defenseless it was too.  He knew there was no way he could leave it for the coyotes, or subject it to the elements and the chances the mother would pick it up again were none.

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The fledgling Hawk it’s first night with us.

The laws of nature say, only the strong survive.  He knew this and as he stood there holding the hawk, a million thoughts raced through his mind.  What was the right thing to do?  And Raul, who’s seen first hand the sometimes harsh laws of nature in action, also knew, the event that just took place, this strange coincidence of being in the right place at the right time was highly unusual.  What were the chances?

He looked down at the little hawk who sat comfortably in his hands.  It’s eyes were closed as if asleep. When Raul put his finger underneath one of its feet, the little hawk responded and grabbed on tight..

When the hawk gripped his finger Raul knew it was strong and healthy. The little fledgling deserved a chance to live and a chance at life was definitly worth a try.  Raul set the fledgling carefully inside his saddle bag where it rested for the remainder of the ride.  This gave Raul plenty of time before he returned to the ranch to contemplate how he would begin to feed and raise a Red-Tail Hawk.

The New Arrival

During the course of those afternoon events, I had gone into the town for supplies.  When I returned, and as I walked from the car to the kitchen, I heard some members of the group commenting on “the baby hawk”, and “did you see it when it ate?”, or ” isn’t it beautiful?”  I wondered, what hawk and what was all the commotion about?

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When I reached the patio, I saw the entire group huddled around Raul. Everyone seemed excited not to mention Raul who had an enormous grin on his face. I moved closer to the group and when I peered into the circle I saw him feeding raw chicken to a big, baby bird.  I also noticed he had built a nest inside of a box.  Apparently, we were now fostering a baby Hawk.  I couldn’t believe it.

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Raul constructed a perch/house 15 ft  off the ground.

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On Sunday afternoon, after the group left, Raul and I sat down to discuss the next phase of fostering the hawk.

We both agreed, the idea was to raise it and release it back into the wild. That was first and foremost.  Raul said he knew two Biologists, Marco and Ernesto who specialized in hawks whom he’d call on Monday to come out to the ranch to check the hawk’s health conditions, weigh it and begin to measure it’s growth rate.

We sat on the front porch of our cabin with the fledgling between us. Raul made an open air box for it to stay in during the night which we brought inside the cabin with us.  We knew not to touch it, no more than necessary, so it wouldn’t imprint on either one of us, but we couldn’t help but marvel at the little guy as we peered into the box to get a closer look.  Never had I, or Raul had contact with such a magnificent bird of prey.  It was like exploring a whole new world we’d never known before!

I can’t begin to tell you how many times we’ve laughed at the antics of this little character.  When the fledgling went to sleep, it stretched out its legs, like a baby lying in bed with its head turned to one side to sleep.  Imagine, a bird doing that!  And every morning, around 5am, the second it sensed movement in the cabin, it started to chirp, peep, or whatever it is that baby hawks do. 🙂

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Raul and Pollito posing for the camera.

Raul tried to wait as long as he could before getting out of bed, but duty called, and baby hawk was hungry.  In the beginning Raul fed it raw chicken, but later, Marcos and Ernesto suggested  fresh quail which is ideal for a fledgling because the meat, feathers, bones and everything is high in protein and exactly what a growing, young hawk needs.

Marcos and Ernesto also informed us that the hawk was indeed a male so we decided to name him Pollito which means, Little Chicken.

While the biologists were at the ranch, the three of them discussed the possibility of returning the fledgling to the nest.  Raul took Marcos and Ernesto to the nest site but it was soon unanimous, because it of it’s height, and it was an old oak tree with a dried out trunk that returning the fledgling to the nest was too risky for them to try.

And So It Begins…….

Raul’s plan was to simulate a natural environment for the hawk to live in during the time it was to stay with us until it learned to fly and hunt on it’s own.  This was the reason Raul built yet another house, a perch/house which sits in the center of the main garden and is 15 ft off the ground.  In a sense, he constructed a make shift tree so the hawk would be up high near the trees and it would see other birds flying in the sky.

During the growth of a young hawk there are different stages of development and behaviours the hawk is expected to meet within each week of it’s developing life.  I did some investigating on my own and I discovered at week 4 they begin to stand up on their feet, rather than on their feet and knees, and begin feeding independently of parental guidance.  During this stage the fledgling also moves into the wing flapping and hopping in the nest as it exercises its wings in preparation for flight. 

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We tried to encourage the onset of its kill instincts by offering it dead quail or mice just as it’s done in the wild by the mother.  In the beginning we chopped up it’s food and fed it in small pieces which the fledgling rapidly gobbled up!

Later, we introduced a complete quail, or mouse, not cut up as much, but opened up so the hawk smelled the warm meat and blood. I know this sounds grisly, but this is exactly what the mother does in nature and the idea was to remain consistent in simulating it’s natural environment as much as possible.  As the weeks progressed we watched and waited for the various stages to occur and when the hawk passed each stage successfully and right on time, Raul and I applauded like proud parents!

Each day was a new discovery not only for us but for the hawk as well.  We were amazed how his senses caught all sorts of movement  and how quicly he zeroed in on anything that moved with the intense gaze of a predator.  You can imagine all the tweety birds in the garden, the butterflies, gophers and squirrels that kept him very busy for most of the day.

Feather and Wings

At week 4 we finally came to the stage of nest hopping and wing flapping.  Everything was rolling along smoothly and he continued to grow.  I was downright amazed at the changes I saw in him every week when I returned to the ranch.  His feathers grew in at an alarming rate.  No longer was he a ball of white, feathery, fluff.  He really looked like a hawk!  His body became covered with beautiful hues of tan, brown and white feathers and he was so big!

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A few weeks ago it was really hot, and although his perch had shade it was obvious he had enough sunshine for a while.  It was time to get out of the sun and find another spot.   We knew he would eventually try to fly which is why we put him in the main garden.  It’s a huge fenced area which allows for plenty of room to safely learn to fly.  If he should land on the ground, or if we weren’t there to watch him the fencing would protect him from a curious dog or two and it also protected him from getting stuck in a tree which has already happened.  Just the other day he got stuck in the grape vines near the pool. Fortunately, Raul was there to get him out. Regarding my reference to the dogs, Raul’s also taught them not to bother the hawk.  They know he’s off limits but still we can’t be too careful.

With wing flapping week underway, and as advised by our biologists, Pollito was due to fly very soon.   We watched while he ventured to the very edge of his perch,look up, down and all around, then flap his wings with a furry and return to the security of the nest. After about an hour of this, Raul and I could barely contain our excitement as we eagerly waitied in anticipation of his first attempt to fly!  It was like waiting for your child’s first steps!

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Finally the big moment arrived.  Suddenly,.without warning he flapped as hard as he could, and leaped into the air.  He remained airborn for about 4 ft but then crashed into the grape vines, landing on his back, his wings sprawled out to the sides, with both feet sticking straight up in the air. A bit stunned but otherwise alright, Raul helped to turn him right side up. He shook himself off and flapped his wings some more.  I started laughing when I noticed the top of his head was disheveled with bits of grass stuck in his feathers. Poor baby it was a hard landing!

Worries………… and some very good news.

As his feathers grew in we begin to notice a difference in his wings.  The right wing hung lower than the left one although it didn’t seem to bother him, and he wasn’t in any pain. The area in question was more at the elbow, rather than the entire shoulder where it bends on the outer edge of the wing.

It wasn’t until after his feathers grew in that we noticed this and we wondered if it would inhibit his ability to fly.  Our son Ricardo, who is a large animal vetrenarian made some phone calls and contacted a Wild Animal Vet who is due to come out to see Pollito within these next few weeks.

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Raul and I have gone over every moment of his stay with us including the day he fell. Raul says he remembers how Pollito hit various branches on the way down. It’s very possible he hurt the wing during the fall.  I remember very well those first few weeks Pollito stayed with us.  He seemed to use both wings like little arms to support his weight, or move from side to side while sitting in his make shift nest.  It wasn’t until his feathers grew in that we immediately noticed the hurt wing, although now completely healed, it’s obvious it didn’t properly fuse together.

One of our guests, and friend reminded us that sometimes, even when animals have disabilities they learn to compensate and carry on.  It looks like this is exactly what Pollito has done because as I write this post he’s already flying!

I can’t tell you how happy Raul and I are to see him in the air.  He’s progressed beautifully!  Pollito has also learned to kill his food.  We provide live quail for him now, but he kills it and eats it just like a big hawk does, and lately we’ve noticed him watching those cute little tweety birds with more more enthusiam than before!

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The nest that Raul made, which sits in the center of the garden is still there but it’s no longer in use.  We left it there completely open for him to come and go as he pleases but we’ve noticed he prefers to sleep in the oak trees and that’s fine with us.

In the mornings, you’ll see him sitting on the roof above the kitchen.  When Pollito sees Raul enter the big garden with a live quail he waits until Raul leaves then swoops down to the railing above the gate and sits there biding his time while eye balling the quail until he’s ready to pounce.  I never thought I’d enjoy seeing another animal killed but I remind myself, this is how its done in the wild.  Hawks hunt and kill their prey.  This is how they eat. It’s how they survive.

So when I see him land on the quail and dig his talons into it, rather than feel bad for the poor little quail, I’m glad nature is taking it’s course and Pollito is developing into a healthy adult just as he should.

He’s still very young, so Raul will provide a live quail for breakfast for a while longer, but lunch and dinner is now up to him.  Since he started flying we’ve noticed he likes to sit on the far hillside next to the barn where there’s lots of squirrels at play.  It’s our greatest hope he learns to hunt one of them for his evening meal. 🙂

 

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Pollito is in no way restricted from flying anywhere he pleases.  Right now he’s flying everywhere and gradually he’ll venture farther away and that’s exactly what we want. The farther he goes the better. That means he’s learning to live on his own.  Both Raul and I agree if he wants  to come back from time to time that would be great but our main objective is for Pollito to fly free.

There is so much to tell you about Pollito, I couldn’t possibly include it all in this one post.  He loves to sit in cold water and give himself a big, bird bath.  He likes the shade and often sits in the middle of the table or on a chair on the patio next to the pool.  In the mornings while it’s still cool, he seems to enjoy lying on the roof tops of the cabins where it’s nice and shady.  He’s also very comical. I laugh every time he turns his head upside down when he’s extra curious about something. Pollito has personality and I’ll readily admit, until I grew to know him, I really didn’t think birds could be so communicative, but they are.

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Our experience with Pollito has been phenomenal and such a huge privilege for Raul and I. A new world has opened up for us while all along neither Raul or I ever imagined we’d have such close contact with a majestic bird of prey.  Coincidences are they? Or do things really happen for a reason?

Pollito is such a delight.  The entire process of his growth has been an amazing adventure and Raul and I truly see him as a special, feathery gift who has brought us so much joy while at the same time, he’s added an extra dose of beautiful peace with his presence at the ranch and for this we are extremely grateful.

The Wild Animal Vet is due to visit the ranch soon even though we think Pollito is fine. He’s flying all over the place and since their first visit, Biologists, Marcos and Ernesto have been back to the ranch and they say Pollito is looking great.

Raul also checks on Pollito’s mother and the nest on a regular basis. It turns out Pollito has a brother who is doing fine too!  The other fledgling is already flying so it looks like both of them are right on schedule.

We know Pollito is still very young and we hope for the best in his growing process.  We also know many things can happen along the way  but Raul and I will do our very best to assure he becomes a healthy self-sustaining adult hawk.

Thank you for reading our story and allowing us to share with you the details of our wonderful experience!

See you at the ranch,

Raul and Caroline

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heartland: Family, Life and Horses!

 

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Raul and I have discovered a wonderful television show, based out of Canada that beats all the mainstream TV shows that are on the air right now by far.  In fact, with the poor quality of television these days, Heartland shouldn’t even be associated with mainstream shows, it’s that good!  Why am I writing about a TV show? For starters, it centers on three things that catch our eye.  Horses, ranching, and family.

I started watching the show 6 months ago, and I told Raul on many occasions how good it was and if he wanted to watch an episode with me. At first he laughed it off and said it looked like a teenage soap opera, although the horses and beautiful Canadian country side did catch his eye.  Finally, we watched two shows together and that was it. He was hooked.

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Now if any of you know Raul personally, and many of you do, my cowboy husband is not the kind to sit down and watch fantasy story lines with exaggerated, over dramatic actors pretending to know what they’re doing, especially when it comes to riding and handling horses.  He wants to see  real ranch life and he wants to authentically relate with what goes on behind the scenes of a working ranch.

Besides, horses, and ranching, Heartland is about real life. It’s about family, growing up, and relationships with a strong emphasis on morals and principles that everyone would want their children to learn. There are joys and often sorrows, but that’s what real life is about. Learning and growing, and that’s what Heartland is about too. I’d recommend it to everyone if I could.

And the best part about this show?  There is no sex, drugs, or violence!  None. Hard to believe in this day and age but it’s the truth. Adults, children, teenagers and horse lovers everywhere will love it.  Heartland is for everyone and it will truly warm your heart.

Will you see horses on the show?  Yes! Heartland is loaded with horses and everything that goes with them.  In every episode the story line brilliantly covers each genre of horsemanship; rodeo, roping, bull dogging, barrel racing, Show Jumping and Eventing, trick riding, and natural Horsemanship as well.  One of the lead characters, Amy Fleming, played by actress, Amber Marshall, is a young girl, who, after losing her mother in a car accident, decides to follow her mothers footsteps as the horse trainer at Heartland Ranch.

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At first, Amy is unsure of her abilities as a trainer but her natural gift for working with horses and the loving support of her family inspire her to move forward with her life even if the face of tragedy.  She’s a brave girl who discovers her strengths and reconciles with her weakness.  She learns from her mistakes and carries on, as we all do.  That’s what life is about; learning, growing, and moving forward.

As I write this, Raul just called me from the ranch. He rode his horse to the top of our hill where we get a cel signal.  He said he just finished watching another episode of Heartland, Season 8, and he says it’s sooo good! I tried to get him to tell me what happened in the last episode, but he laughed like a kid who had a big secret to tell, but couldn’t. He said I’d just have to wait and see.

We found Heartland on Netflix, and you can watch up to Season 6. I guarantee, after Season 6 you wont be able to stop.  We bought the following seasons on Amazon, but if you want to see the Heartland Website go to:  Heartland CBC TV Series for times and zoning nearest you.

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Amy Fleming, played by actress Amber Marshall, on her horse Spartan with her grandfather, Jack Bartlett, played by Shaun Johnston

It’s not everyday you find a good, wholesome show on television these days. It’s gotten so bad, I quit watching it. Heartland is a show the entire family can watch together. Every Sunday night, after the group leaves, the horses are fed, the sheep are safe in their corral and bedded down for the night and when all is quiet again, Raul and I whip up some snacks and watch a couple of Heartland episodes before turning in for the night.  It’s something we look forward too, and it’s something we enjoy doing together.

Give heartland a shot.  You won’t be disappointed!

 

 

 

 

Color, Creativity, and An Adventurous Traveler From Far Across the Sea

 

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This week, Award Winning Water Colorist and Illustrator, Helen Shafer Garcia, joined us for a weekend of color and creativity in her water color worskhop which was held at the ranch in our barn-studio. Helen and a group of nine art students arrived late Thursday afternoon and on Friday morning, bright and early after coffee, freshly baked muffins and a hearty breakfast, they headed to the barn, eager to begin the class and get creative!

Our barn is an art studio. At least half of it is, while the other half is used for hay storage, and Raul’s work area. Of course our now retired Baja Desert Racer needs a home too, but by far, the barn is the designated area for the creative art workshops we facillitate at Rancho La Bellota: ceramics, print making, photography and plein air painting thanks to our sister site, Baja Rancho Art who does the foot work in bringing these wonderfully talented artists to our ranch.

I paricipated in this workshop too, and I had a great time. Helen presented us each with a blank art journal she had made for us which we were to work on during the weekend. She also supplied handouts on drawing,  and water color tecniques she used to create her personal style of water color art.  She went over everything with us step by step, complete with hands on demos and explicit explanations.  Plus, there was a ready supply of every art material for everything anyone could ever need for this workshop, right down to the needles we used for binding the pages of our journals together!  Helen and Baja Rancho Art did a great job with an abundant supply of art materials for everyone.

A landscape painting was also on the workshop itinerary. Friday afternoon, the group took a short nature walk for a morning of plein air painting before embarking on an afternoon trip to the wineries in the neighboring Guadalupe Valley, Baja’s exquisite and booming wine capital.  Of course while they worked,  Raul generously supplied everyone with a Cantaloupe Margarita, or two. My knee would protest loudly if I even tried to go with them, so I stayed at the ranch and painted the Owl Tree next to the garden (my landscape homework) which didn’t turn out so bad. I was happy with it, and that’s a plus!

Some of the particpants were seasoned artists while others, like myself, were beginners but Helen’s clear explanations and patience with all of us made it so easy so want to pick up a paintbrush and get to work.  Helen did a marvelous job. She made it fun while demonstrating her specific techniques for capturing light, contour drawing, and adding bright color to her work.  And if we didn’t get it the first time, she gladly explained it again until we did. She wasn’t worried about making mistakes, so why should we?  The whole idea was to have fun, relax, and let your creativity flow!  And that’s exactly what we did.  If you would like to see more of Helen’s work her website is Agave Latte you won’t be disappointed!

 

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An Adventurous Traveler From Across the Sea!

A few months ago Raul and I connected with Photographer, Writer and Adventure Traveler, Zoe Cano.  Zoe is based out of London, England, who, with a spirit for adventure traveling from an early age, decided to explore the roads less traveled and left her job and the corporate world behind her.

With her love of motorbikes, she succeeded in a massive exploit to cross the American Continent solo, without assistance, back-up or sat-nav, on a classic Triumph Bonneville 860cc T100.  Zoe wanted to meet people, and see what’s really out there in the big wide world we live in. Her question to all of is, “How far would you go to make a dream come true?”

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The highly acclaimed ‘Bonneville Go or Bust – On the Roads Less Travelled’ published by Road Dog Publications USA narrates this unique solo adventure. Since its launch in 2014, the book has received rave reviews and 5 star ratings on both sides of the Atlantic.

Now Zoe is on yet another adventure, and this time in Baja California, Mexico! Solo!  She stayed with us at Rancho La Bellota for a few days before heading south to the southern tip of the peninsula.  I’ve got to say, because we get this all the time, but while sitting on the patio veranda one night discussing her travel plans, the subject of safety in Baja came up. I’d like to share some of it with you because I feel its important to clarify on this subject where there is often confusion or mis-information.

Here’s a woman, from a foreign country, and as far away as England who chose  to travel in Mexico because she wants to meet the Mexican people and she wants to visit the many beautiful places she’s only heard about in Baja California.  We asked her if in England she’d heard any of the hype about traveling in Baja and she replied there was some, but all of what she heard came from the United States.

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Zoe and Raul both agreed, you can’t believe everything you see on your TV screen, especially these days.  Sometimes, guests who come to the ranch are slightly worried about what they’ve heard from the news media regarding safety in Mexico.  Immaginations play a big part in creating the snowball, but when they see for themselves, in person, how beautiful, and peaceful it is here, they’re quite surprised.  Then they ask us, “Why does the media still discourage traveling in Baja?”  Well, we answer, “Your guess is as good as ours!”

Raul and I are always more than happy to clear the air on this very subject. And I, as a woman, and an American who has lived, and traveled in Mexico for over 25 years can tell you first hand, there is nothing to fear here. I’ve traveled the highways up and down, over hill and dale by myself and never have I seen anything out of the ordinary, nor did I ever feel my personal safety was in danger.

Both Raul and I have traveled up and down the peninsula many times, and Raul for most of his life, but when the topic of safey in Meixco arises, we strongly feel, right down to our bones, that there is heavy misconception on what is safe, and what isn’t.  In the quest for a specific answer to this dilema, you need to get to the heart of the matter.  The only way to do that is to come down and see for yourself!

Baja California has a multitude of beauty to offer travelers from the tip of the Peninsula starting in Tecate, Baja’s wine country, the Guadalupe Valley, and Ensenada, right down to the southern tip, some 1,000 miles away in La Paz and San Jose de Cabo. Oh, and let’s not forget Rancho La Bellota!  If you’re traveling in Baja, look us up.  Raul and I will be there to greet you and welcome you into our home.

And Zoe, que te vaya bien, May you travel well!

Zoe Cano

 

 

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