Friday, July 08, 2005

Grandpa's Ranch - New Canyon

Grandpa's Ranch - New Canyon
Originally uploaded by David B..
View to the West, with New Canyon in the background.

The Willow trees were originally planted from a single start, (a branch from Great-Grandmother Hatch's house a few miles away -- just stuck in the mud -- and it grew) back in 1932 when grandma and grandpa were first married. There are now several willow tress growing there, which have since seeded themselves. The largest willow tree was never pruned, so it had lots of low branches, which made for great climbing when we were kids.

I remember when cousins would come to visit, we would sometimes have watermelon for dessert. We would climb the tree with a piece of watermelon, and spit the seeds from high above down into the marsh below. It was a great place to just climb up its huge curved branches and find a place to recline back and just watch the birds in the top of the tree, and listen to the leaves rustle with the breeze.

There was a natural spring not far from the house. Water from the spring feeds a marsh which in-turn waters the trees.

The marsh was home to countless frogs. The boy cousins really loved catching frogs in the marsh! We would collect them in a large coffee can, filled half-full with water. We just had to bring them back to the house and show grandma our captives - later we would turn them loose back into the marsh. As the sun would go down, the frogs would begin in their chorus of sounds (creeeeeeek - creeeeeeeek ) in a nighttime serenade.

The marsh was also home to various birds: Blackbirds, Meadowlarks, and Yellow Headed Tanagers. There were also other birds nearby such as: morning doves, robins, magpies, and the occasional owl.

We had barn swallows in the barn, and even a few bats at night to help (a little) with the mosquitoes. There were mosquitoes by the billions, especially out in the fields.

In the summer, I would wake up in the morning and hear the black birds singing, the meadowlarks calling, the robins chirping, and the morning doves cooing. That was a sweet symphony.

On the other hand, we had the occasional cacophany of the magpie call, which was a very irritating squawk compared with the sweet sounds of the other birds.

And then there was the Rooster. Him I could live with. The magpie, I could have done without!

We used to get up before sunup, and do the chores: milking the cow, feed the chickens and pigs, gather the eggs, and bottle feed any bum lambs or calves. Run the milk through the seperator, and keep some for our own consumption.
(Yes, we drank raw milk in those days, and never had a problem. We also had real cream, which went great on grandma's oatmeal -- every morning! I still have a hard time eating oatmea, due to overexposure.)

The sun rising over the mountain, and illuminating the red soil in the morning light was a sight to behold. The air was always crisp and cool (sometimes below freezing -- even in summer!).

The quiet of the morning gave you a chance to organize your thoughts and prepare yourself to ramp-up for the days activities (work, that is) -- which would last until sundown, when we would do the chores again in the evening.

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