In my teenage years, we moved out of the sprawling metropolis of Arbuckle sixteen miles down the road to the farm not many miles west of Grimes. I have moved a dozen plus times since then, but this one was the most fun and rewarding. I haven’t resided outside California and will defend myself as a rural, Northerner. There are two matters that have me grinning with respect to what we call living on the ranch. Sort of interesting, most times I would refer to home as the ranch when the topic came up with my Cal Poly peers and they would immediately ask what animals we raised. Cats and dogs were the usual reply, two children possibly made that list if you asked my parents. There was absolutely no livestock on our ranch. The term was left over from a bygone era. My Dad and uncle saw animals on the ranch and my sister and I did feed the chickens once or twice in our early years. By the time we arrived to take up residency, the animals were gone. We’ve inherited the term from family before us; we’ll most likely be keeping it.
One of the two amazing details about growing up on the ranch was all the many wonderful acres that a kid could get lost on. What a blessing to say that the extent of my lost was in work. There were always tasks to be done and my mind easily wanders back to small town Saturday nights. My recreation didn’t venture down the path of drinking and drugs. Lost way too many friends there. Dad did share with me once that the beer was in the refrigerator and that I was welcome to it at any time after a good day’s work. What that meant to me was that he could easily locate a crawler for me to operate if I ever came home drunk. Never tested him on that one. I had no desire to live the reality of movin’ at less than half a mile an hour to the power-driven tune of the track layer hung over.
An enduring memory from the ranch years is the annual bird migration. Walking out the back door I could be seated on the steps of the porch and take in the sights and sounds of tens of thousands of ducks and geese. The harvested fields again teaming with life over the winter as the birds replaced the rice. The patterns of the airborne waterfowl would mask the sunset while their callings would add a musical score to the evening. My mind might drift to family stories heard about the place before my time. One such personal fascination is of a family member walking a few more steps from where I sat and during a winter or two, would crawl into a rowboat before the dams were built and row on into College City to court his future bride.
I owe a debt of gratitude to my family; past and present. It would not have been bad to have the Girls share in the experience of growing up on the ranch. Their grandfather would have taught them how to work. They would have enjoyed my second pleasure of the ranch as well; my own room for the first time. Family, ranch, and my own room are good things! ■
— Scott Arens is a lifelong resident of Arbuckle. To contact Scott email firstname.lastname@example.org