Palabras Pintorescas - Squatters strained relations in Morphy Canyon

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By Editha Bartley

When the bitter winds howl outside and it is a lazy Sunday afternoon, I pick up a new book, planning to skim through it along with some other “need to read” articles in the paper. Many hours later, I am deep into “He Heard His Brother Call His Name” by Patsy Dorris Hale. Yes, this is the true story of psychological warfare between Texas’ legendary Hale twins. I reviewed Tom Kizzia’s “Pilgrim’s Wilderness” a while back, and that is only half of the story. Bob Hale’s twin brother’s wife tells the rest of that unbelievable  story.

The Bob Hale Family were our northside neighbors here at the ranch. Our extended dealings with them were difficult, to say it mildly.

Mora County was invaded by various Hippies back in the ‘70s and they usually just came and went with the winds, it seemed. The Hales stayed, squatted for a long time and lived a very primitive lifestyle at the upper end of our Morphy Canyon.

Big Boss Jim and our kids rode our boundary fenceline often, because these foreigners (to us) refused to use our gates and preferred to cut our fence, a not good move when a herd of cattle are in the pasture.

And even with our regular patrolling, we learned from our local law enforcement folk that we had a thriving marijuana plantation growing on the ranch. A top secret raid was planned, carefully and quietly carried out in the middle of the night, to catch the “gardeners.”

This was just before the Hales showed up. Bob Hale bragged about his drug use is San Francisco, so we knew our problems with illegal drugs might not be over. He must have heard the message because if he did grow the weed, we never knew about it.

Now I see that marijuana is a legal drug in Colorado. I had never been near a plant, much less could have identified it when this drug raid happened. One of the officers gave me a full grown leaf so I would know what to look out for when I rode horseback around the ranch. I was so naive about this that I just put the leaf on a paper towel, then slid it under a pane of glass on my big desk.

And a year or more later a dude ranch guest and I were having a visit in my office (he was from California) and he asked me why I had an illegal drug, a leaf of “pot” right there in the desk. I told him the story and he suggested that I put it in the compost pile ASAP. Our big vegetable garden grew well that year. Did the forbidden leaf do the trick?

I know the medicinal use of marijuana is well known and I suspect it will only be a matter of time until sales of this plant will be allowed in every state. And I have often wondered if our cows (and our horses) that spent their summers in that high pastures ever got into that “pot patch” as it was called.

We might have had some of the happiest animals in the area, yet never knew it! And should you, dear reader,  be interested, the book I mentioned is available on Amazon, for some reason. It is a telling story about the close relationship of identical twins, a subject I’m learning about.

Editha Bartley lives in Gascon in Mora County. She may be reached at 454-0563.