As usual, it was a bright, sunshiny morning on the 1901 New Mexico Territory desert. There were very few clouds in the sky and no chance of rain. Not much was to be seen at the homestead, beyond the expected one-room adobe house, the outhouse, the mostly-rope corral, and the few cottonwoods which shaded the shack. The well, just outside the doorway, was hard to see because it was still in shadow, but it wasn't much to look at, anyway. The horse, the four mules, the cow, a few chickens, and the hound made up the stock. The freshly planted garden rounded out the scene.
Inside the house, Jim was getting ready to make the monthly trip into the town about fifteen miles away. Alice, who was about as pregnant as any woman could get, waddled around getting a substantial breakfast together. While she was about it, she made up a package of food for Jim to take with him; he expected to eat at the saloon in town, but no sensible person ever took a chance when traveling so far over the desert.
After breakfast, Jim and Alice loaded the buckboard with the necessaries for any journey, even a short one. Besides the food for Jim, they loaded some feed for the horse, several canteens of water for Jim and the horse, Jim's bedroll, and a tarp to make a crude sunshade. Their weapons consisted of Winchester '73 saddle carbine and a companion double-barreled pistol in 38/40 caliber (that's a bullet diameter of 0.38 inches with a propellant charge of 40 grains of black powder). "Alice, since you are too far along to ride that far in a buckboard without springs, you need to keep the rifle for protecting the ranch while I take the pistol, just in case. I'll take a box of cartridges, but it ain't likely that I will need that many."
"Yes, dear. Now you just be careful and don't worry about me. I'll just do the necessary chores and sit in the shade the rest of the day. There's always mending and such to be done. Don't forget anything on the list, especially the Mason jars, so we will be ready for canning season," Alice said with a loving smile.
Finally, Jim threw his saddle into the back of the buckboard and hitched up the horse. He was ready, at last, and drove away toward town.
Alice fed the chickens, the mules, and the hound. She milked the cow while it ate. After making sure all of the stock had water, she went back into the house. As soon as she got back inside, she closed and locked the shutters to keep out the heat of the day; the only light entering the house was through the rifle loopholes in the door and each of the shutters. She then mover her chair to one of the beams of sunlight and took up her sewing basket.
.... There is more of this story ...