Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Hachita’

Get Ready to Rope

Bev Hachita 001A short true adventure

Cowboys began roping as part of ranch work to brand or medicate their calves. It became a contest to see which cowboy could do it the quickest. Their goal was to throw a lasso around a calf’s head, jump off their horse, tie three of the calf’s legs together, and finish the trick as fast as possible. This led to roping contests at rodeos and fairs.

   Recently, a new type of roping sprang up. My first experience with this happened in a small town of about thirty people called Hachita, New Mexico. The only disturbance in this small town might be a dust devil coming down the street or a Border Patrol helicopter flying overhead.

   One week in 1996, they decided to try this new kind of roping…a chicken roping. Yes, chickens, with feathers flying and beaks crowing. One roper told those watching, “If it has legs, it can be roped.”

   Bev Chicken Roping 001   Now this kind of roping would not be done from a horse and would require a different kind of lasso. Just a heavy piece of string is used, so they don’t choke the chicken.

   Just like in the world of cattle, the chickens they roped all had names. The meaner the animal, the meaner its name. Names like Jalapeno Joe, Cholulu Chuy or Red Hot Flame were typical.

   A large crowd of over fifty people gathered to witness the chicken roping. The chicken would be let out of a box and the cowboy would be timed to see how fast he could rope it. The one who roped it the fastest won a Chicken Roping Belt Buckle with a turquoise stone found in the Little Hatchet Mountains nearby.

   Small towns often have fun in unusual ways. A mural of the Chicken Roping was painted by a traveling artist on the outside of the bar there. Inside on the wall were pictures of the winners. It soon became an annual event with even larger crowds.

   And afterward? What else, but a good old-fashioned chicken BBQ.

Hachita Liquor Saloon was no longer in operation on my last trip west. The paintings on the building were done by an old friend, C.M. Scott, a cowboy artist.

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Lonesome Town Near Mexican Border

Just by accident, travelers might find the little town of Hachita, New Mexico.  As you travel through the Southern part of the state, Hachita is a small town not far from the Mexican border and located in the Little Hatchet Mountains.

This is one of the few towns I have visited where all of the streets are still unpaved. During my first visit to Hachita, the town consisted of a bar, store, and post office along with about a hundred people in residence. The post office is located in the center of town and you can see the dirt road to its front door step, but the American flag is always flying. Another interesting event in years past was the Chicken Roping.  This town was filled with cowboys and Cattle Roping was a year long event there.  One year, the owner of the local bar thought that chicken roping would be an added attraction.  This was a real event and was depicted on the side of the bar by a traveling artist.

This was once a mining area so at one time was a booming and prosperous community. But that was Old Hachita, which is located down the road just a couple of miles and set back off today’s main road.  You have to have a local guide that knows the area to lead you to the remains of the Old Hachita town.

The local guide also took us back in the desert region very close to the Mexican border. We actually had a picnic of ham sandwiches and potato salad with refreshing cold drinks under a giant sycamore tree located near a rare spring.

As we headed back towards Hachita, we came across a sign posted by the Border Patrol which said: Attention!  You are in danger of dying if you do not summon help.This was one of those unusual signs that you come across off the beaten path.

Even attended a town meeting while visiting in the area.  They were discussing their new grant for water for the small town.  Currently, there is an old water tower but water is not really safe to drink.  The new project will have a safe water supply and a better water volume available.  After the meeting, nearly everyone in the town brought a covered dish and had delicious food as well as friendly town talk.

Border patrol frequent the town driving through both day and night as well as covering the surrounding area.  Most of the locals don’t even lock their doors at night as they feel well protected.  This is the place to really get away from it all.

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