Written by Alisha the Explorer
Recently, I went on a local outdoor excursion with local researcher, educator, and outdoorsman, Dr. Bruce Milne.
Our day began in the morning, and we drove to visit his horse, who is being boarded and trained at the Valencia Farms in the Village of Corrales, New Mexico, which is a small village located in Sandoval County. Corrales neighbors Albuquerque, and is a slow 25-minute drive north, from nearby Downtown Albuquerque’s Route 66.
During the drive, Dr. Milne told me about the training that his horse was in the midst of, called dressage. Dressage is a french word that simply means “training”. According to Wikipedia, the dressage training is a competitive equestrian sport, defined by the International Equestrian Federation as “the highest expression of horse training”, where “horse and rider are expected to perform from memory a series of predetermined movements.”
My experiences of riding horses has been somewhat limited since childhood, but my desire to be around them and to ride them has never quite subsided. Once onsite, I enjoyed watching Dr. Milne lead and brush his horse, in preparation for an extra-curricular ride/lesson. I felt that I could both sense and observe that Dr. Milne’s horse enjoyed being with him. Next to the area where the horse was being treated, stood a young adult rider who was brushing her partially-Arabian horse.
I could see by the calm look on the faces of those around, that everyone was happy. And, on that pleasantly warm day, I watched Dr. Milne first lead his horse through unmounted memory and skill exercises. Next, he did some mounted exercises.
As it happened, I should have worn different shoes because of the thick dirt, and because it was then my turn to ride! After Dr. Milne led me around on the horse to familiarize the lot of us, I was handed the reigns. I know that my ride was considerably less-impressive to watch than what I had witnessed, watching Dr. Milne. And, I laughed to myself during a “reign-free” exercise when the horse walked over to get a drink of water, because I knew what that meant. (The horse was owning me.) After “asking” (working with) the horse to perform a few more uncomplicated commands, I dismounted and headed for a nearby hose to get a drink.
Visiting Los Poblanos
We finished at Valencia Farms, and drove back towards Albuquerque on our way to Los Poblanos “Historic Inn & Organic Farm”. The purpose behind our visit was to observe the gardens of the beloved farm, and to check for signs of food-pollinating bees.
Once out of the car, we walked to The Farm Shop. After our last stop, we both agreed that a pre-lunch gelato treat from The Farm Shop’s freezer would be a welcomed edition to the warm day. We sat in shade to discuss sustainable business and farming, and I enjoyed my Blood Orange Sorbet while watching a pretty chicken casually wandering around. (Note: If I were running The Farm Store, I would place a compostable trash receptacle somewhere visible, outdoors.)
Once finished with gelato, we (and our gelato containers) began to walk around the general area. Just our luck, we were immediately greeted by several staff persons that Dr. Milne knew (and who knew him and warmly greeted him), including Penny Rembe, Los Poblanos’ resident matriarch. We then walked through a famous flower garden on the west side of the property that had a very interesting artistic walking path, and then through the famed organic food garden.
While in the organic food garden, we met and spoke to Farmer Kyle, the man in charge of the food garden. Farmer Kyle was young-looking and kind, and Dr. Milne explained who we were (people who care about food and bees) and why we were there (to see food and bees). Farmer Kyle told Dr. Milne that he had heard his name on an ongoing basis, and they each seemed genuinely enthusiastic to meet each other. We observed several top-bar Honey beehives. We learned from Kyle that soon Los Poblanos was going to be planting culinary lavender for the first time. (Bees love lavender.)
Click here to visit Pollinator Support Movement online.
We left Farmer Kyle to his work, and walked east of Los Poblanos, towards several large fields and crop rows (of what appeared to be a cover crop). As we walked and talked, we spoke about potentials of collective community food gardens and food preparation centers; who would benefit, why, and the types of people and businesses that would support in and invest in such a concept.
Inside of a repurposed and remodeled farm production building in the midst of the large fields and crop rows, we observed a Honey beekeeper walking an acrylic demonstration hive full of bees into the building! (I wonder: what were the chances of our being there to see that?) There was an event happening at the building, which turned out to be a local children’s summer camp that related to farming and sustainability. On our way out of the building, I was pleased to see and greet a woman who I had met during May’s Agricultural Collaborative meeting. At that May meeting, she had told me about her teaching kids about sustainable farming. And now, I was getting to see her in action… cool.
It had been a few hours since our outing had began, and I had myself some left-overs in my fridge to eat for lunch. So, Dr. Milne and I agreed that it was time for us to walk back to Los Poblanos, and to leave. Ten minutes later and I am back at home. I dust off my shoes; happy to now know that there are great horse farms like Valencia Farms nearby. And, I put the Los Poblanos’ Lavender Festival, happening this July 13-14, on my calendar.