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Soul of the Desert

More NaN Ranch – The Small Ranch House

Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, you couldn’t just run into town for takeout. Shoot, even when I was growing up in NM in the 70s and 80s we didn’t do that. We had a huge 1/2 to full acre garden, fruit trees, pigs, and cows. At times we even had chickens. So I can imagine the NaN Ranch, being much larger, had to have an even larger garden to supply enough food to go around. There was a separate gardener’s dwelling on the property that was all about quaint and efficient. It’s also quite beautiful today, but the rooms were small so taking pictures was impossible! It reminded me of a tiny house–a small kitchen with a bar/open window overlooking a sitting room with a single easy chair that had space for a few books on the window ledge and in a pinch, you could add a guest chair. The sitting room could function as a closed in porch too. A small bathroom has been added and there was a small bedroom. As for the gardens, the vegetable gardens seem to have been replaced with grass and flowers. Only a small vegetable garden remains.

I’m not sure why there are two large ranch houses on the property–the kitchen I posted yesterday is from the larger ranch house where the family lives today. These pictures are of the smaller ranch house (which is quite large, btw). It was remodeled years ago into a modern building, but has since been restored with more historical aspects–although still modernized for current use. This first photo is a large ranch style table for feeding quite a few people at one time. At the far end of the picture, you may be able to make out the more modern stove/kitchen elements.

Note the wood stove (that had been taken out and is now returned) and the bins for storing flour/potatoes/rice?

My grandmother had one that we used for potatoes and flour. The guide did not know what the bins were used for originally, but sugar and flour came in giant bags back then– 50 to 100 pounds. For that matter so did pinto beans, onions and potatoes. Dad reminds me quite often that they sold dried pinto beans for 5 dollars per 100 pounds.

This ranch house has many bedrooms and barrack style showers. I assume that at some point it was used to house many employees, perhaps workers during branding season or to move cattle from one end of the ranch to the other. Cattle can be moved several times a year from pasture to pasture. Branding is usually done in batches, but those occur close together (in the case of Dad’s cattle, he brands most of the calves during the same month, but we are talking 30 to 40 head of cattle). The cattle would also have been herded across wide spaces to get to market when it was time. In modern times, they are loaded into a cattle or horse trailer and taken to auction.

There were showers for men in one room and one for women in another. I doubt the original concrete floors were polished as they are today. 🙂 There were at least two bedrooms with rows of bunk beds stuffed inside the narrow rooms.

Porches were a key feature of homes back in the day–not only could multiple windows be opened to let in breezes, those same windows could be closed and the doors and windows out to the porch closed. The porch was, in essence, added insulation against the elements. With the porch closed off against the cold or heat, it was another layer between nature and home. Today’s homes rarely have wrap around porches or a roof that extends well past the house itself (a great feature for cutting down on heat–shade is provided near the house and the sun is reflected away from the house, again acting to keep heat out, cut down on wind/rain/snow against the house and so on). There were porches around both the main houses that I”m sure are great places to sit in the morning and evenings.

Large sitting room between the kitchen and the porch area. There’s a large fireplace behind me.

There are multiple other buildings on the property for today’s employees. There’s a set of apartments (with their own garage below) near the pool. I didn’t get the impression that the bunkhouses in another area were in use today (for employees) but instead can be rented for your weekend away in the middle of nowhere! There was another cluster of what was probably bunk houses that appears to now be used for storage and washing machine facilities.

Posted: June 12, 2017