Hi! I'm a Vaquero! I tend to the cattle here!
All of these crops are being watered with the Mexican system.
As you can see, the dam is redirecting the water to the crops.
Ranching in the West was built on traditions brought from Mexico. Spanish colonists imported the first cattle to the Americas. In time, Mexicanos found ranching to be a good business. So did the Americans who learned the cattle business from Mexican rancheros, or ranchers.
Rancheros spent most of their day on horseback, overseeing their land and herds. Caring for the cattle was the work of hired vaqueros, or cowboys. Among the vaqueros’ most important jobs were the rodeo, or roundup, and branding.
In the dry Southwest, irrigation was essential to successful farming. Mexicano farmers used irrigation techniques that had been developed centuries earlier in Spain and North Africa. They also borrowed other techniques from the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico.
Mexicano farmers developed an irrigation method known as the Mexican system. First, they built a dam across a stream. Then they built irrigation ditches to redirect the water to their fields. Their fields were divided into squares, with each square surrounded by an earthen wall high enough to hold in water. When one square had been soaked with water, farmers made a hole in its wall. The water then flowed to the next square. The farmers continued in this way until the entire field was soaked.
In the West, laws were shaped by both Mexican and American legal traditions. Once gold was discovered in California, the forty-niners needed rules to keep order. Americans developed a “law of the mines” based on Mexican mining law. California miners later carried this law of the mines to other parts of the Southwest.
Californios worked hard. But they also knew how to entertain themselves with music, dance, and fiestas. Americans settling the Southwest shared in these entertainments. Mexicano music greatly influenced country and western music in the Southwest. The most important contribution was the corrido, or folk ballad. A corrido is a dramatic story sung to the accompaniment of guitars. The subjects of corridos ranged from exciting tales of heroes and bandits to sad songs of love and betrayal.
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