Living out in the country, our thoughts turn to the possibilities of raising our own food, getting close to our ancestral roots, close to nature and closer to our own food source. Some in the valley have been more successful than others at this. Experimenting with raising what feeds us and makes a ranch a home. In this column I will share some about that experience – the home farm and the ranch animals that bring an interesting flair to ‘The Countryside of Life.
My first herd
I had raised goats as a child, keeping them as pets. We had been camping at what is now Vail Lake, which was known as Butterfield Country at the time and the Heart Ranch had rental horses and some Spanish goats. I fell in love with them and to my delight my daddy let me take two home.
They lived with my horse in our backyard for many years. They were great fun to watch, that is when I got hooked on goats. They can be cat or dog-like in nature. They are unlike any other barnyard animal, very smart, curious and can be extremely determined and sometimes seemly smarter than their humans. Attributes that have given this wonderful animal a bad rap at times, but for all their difficulties, I just love them.
For fun, my goats as kids would run and jump up on the wheelbarrow full of manure. To them it was a mountain that needed challenging, to me it was an accumulation of my hard work. After the wheelbarrow was knocked over a few times and the manure spilled out, I began to figure out just how to accomplish this daily chore without mishap, which I did and life moved on.
Those goats also would run up the solid wood fence, jumping off twisting their heads backward they did a goat version of a backward flip, it was very entertaining. They loved to have their heads scratched – when it was their idea (just like a cat does) and would follow me around. They would also take walks on a leash, just like a dog. They were alert to what was going on around them and you could bet if something was wrong they would vocalize it enough to get your attention, also like a dog.
So that was my early experience with goats that would spur me on years later to experience life with them again in Anza.
Many years ago before working for the paper, during a particularly challenging part of my life I ended up living permanently here in Anza. For me it was a peaceful place. Then, the winters were mostly mild especially in comparison to where we had lived before were it would often snow 2 feet per storm. This was not uncommon and that accumulation was known to not melt until mid to late May.
The other seasons weren’t too bad in the valley either, though it did get hot at times, it did not seem to last too long nor did the cool spells in winter. It was sunny almost all 365 days of the year and the breeze that kept you cool in the shade in the summer could blow like crazy at times. But overall, the complete quiet, the views, the sunsets and dark starry nights all helped the heart and soul find rest and peace from the crazy world outside of the valley.
Now on the land, I begin to contemplate what kind of crops and livestock would be beneficial to us in our hope to raise and provide our own food.
This began a series of experiments which left me knowing one thing for certain – if this was 100 years ago and we had to live off the land out here by our own hand entirely, we would have starved.
More about goats and my goat life here in Anza in the next column of ‘The Countryside of Life.’ If you have a story to share or photo about your experiences with the ‘The Countryside of Life’ you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office and leave me a detailed message at (951) 763-5510.