It was the 60s.
I suspect that my father was a hippie.
Missed being a beatnick by just a couple of years.
Goats, chickens, ducks, geese.
And I spent many many hours in serene reflection, riding our donkey, Poncho.
Yes, indeed, but long ago. It was actually a ranch, rather than a farm. Farms grow vegetables and fruits; ranches have cattle and sheep. We were a small operation (and remember, I said long ago), and I was fine with everything except branding. That was a cruelty that I’m glad has mostly passed out of favor.
We ran perhaps 200 head of cattle, in various stages. It’s an interesting moment, at birth, because the destiny of nearly all males is to be castrated, and become steers (and that even includes fancy purebreeds). Females are usually held back, and spend most of their lives making more cattle. I always found it a bit funny, because I don’t digest beef well, and almost never eat it. Not even then, when it was free.
We often had a lamb or three, because we had the skill of keeping bummer lambs (look it up) alive, and then raised them to a proper age. We also (of course) had chickens, and an excellent flock of geese. Geese, btw, are the best watchdogs on the planet. They are also meaner than sin, and can actually hurt you if your back is turned.
@Shrdlu@kls_in_MD - While some people make the farm/ranch distinction as you do here, it is also a matter of regional custom: in the far west, almost everything is called a ‘ranch’ - as in a ‘dairy ranch’ or ‘sheep ranch’ or even ‘chicken ranch’ - at least in common speech. Yet, ‘dairy ranch’ or ‘sheep ranch’ would sound very strange to the ear of someone from the mid-West, the South or the East, who would naturally say ‘dairy farm’ or ‘sheep farm’ or ‘chicken farm’. About the only thing ever referred to as a farm in the far West would be truck farming, and even then, not generally.
Anent geese: you’re absolutely right that they’re mean as sin… my mother grew up on a ranch in Oregon in the 'teens and 'twenties of the last century. It was a well-known family story that as a little kid, when a gaggle of geese came after her as she headed for the privy, she picked up a 2x4 and whacked a couple up the side of the head hard enough they had the Thanksgiving geese a month or so early!
I almost miss that life. Almost. The saying I always heard growing up ws that you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl.
@kls_in_MD@rpm I suspect that I’m a bit older than you, or perhaps just lived a different life. I’ve never lived anywhere other than the west (although I’ve traveled and been to multiple different places). My daddy was from the TX/OK area, but his adult life was spent in the west (which is as it should be). The old movies where there was a divide between cattlemen and sheepherders was normal to me.
When I was a girl, there were cattle ranches, and there were even ranches that had sheep, but it was a serious divide, and I would never call it a “sheep ranch” because my daddy would know, and would haunt me. What’s funny is that I don’t eat beef, and I eat a lot of lamb (beef does not agree with me). I suspect that the farm/ranch definitions are as much regional as anything.
Where the ranch was is now hideously californicated, and it made me sad to see it (even though I’ve been gone from there for 50+ years.
Dammit. Now I want to roast a goose, and it’s the wrong time of year to even find one worth cooking. Maybe I’ll find a duck; ducks aren’t too bad, as long as they’re not over-roasted.
@kls_in_MD@Shrdlu I doubt you’re older than I am… I grew up in the Northern California wine country. My reflections on the farm/ranch distinction reflect my experience back 70+ years and my parents in both Northern California and Oregon (hence my reference to the Far West) going back to the early 20th century. In the late 19th century, my grandmother stopped a war between the cattlemen and the sheep men in SE Oregon by getting in between the factions faced off in a little town with a pair of pistols, telling them she’d shoot the first SOB who made a move to fight!
@kls_in_MD@Shrdlu Funny you should mention OK… the song from the musical The farmer and the cowman should be friends runs through my mind from a high school production well more than 50 years ago. I think of OK as on the border in many ways: border between very Southern Texas and essentially Northern Kansas, border between Southern/Midwestern Missouri and Arkansas and truly Western Colorado and New Mexico… I spent two years in the Army in Oklahoma at the Comanche County Cannon College (for Confused Cannoneers) and ranged fairly widely in SW Oklahoma and Northern Texas and the Panhandle. I liked Dallas/Ft.Worth, OKC not so much. I have to say it was quite an experience discovering Larry McMurtry’s novels in country in which they were written!
And, as you can see from my prior post (no longer editable), I’m fully aware of the sheep men/cattlemen divide… IIRC, it was fundamentally about the fact that sheep eat grass down to the roots, so there’s no more grass, where cattle don’t and the grass renews naturally if you graze cattle on land.
@rpm@Shrdlu Thankfully, my stay at Ft Silly was much shorter, just enough for basic and AIT IN '84. I was lucky to have my brother there on the outside w my civvies. On the weekends. I was nearly normal!
@rpm Just a brief note: You’d said “sheep eat grass down to the roots, so there’s no more grass, where cattle don’t and the grass renews naturally if you graze cattle on land” in your post up above.
It isn’t exactly true. If sheep have enough grass to eat, they don’t graze it to the ground. My daddy used to say that if cattle could graze it to the ground, they’d probably do it too. A decent rancher will move cattle (or sheep) from pasture to pasture, so that they have time to recover, or else put them on land that’s big enough to support them in the first place.
As an amusing (to me, anyway) aside, sheep are one of the few animals that are born with a bit of common sense, and lose it as they mature. A lamb, no matter how rambunctious, will stop short of a fence. An adult sheep will run into it every time.
So it goes.
(I forgot to say that we’re probably a year or two apart, at most. I’m 72.)
@Shrdlu I’ll be 72 this summer…
You’re right of course that sheep don’t have to graze the grass to the ground, but, too often they have, which as I understand it is the source of the hostility between sheep men and cattle men. One of my uncles in Oregon ran between 500-1000 head of cattle over many years, one of my cousins mostly paid for college with a state fair blue ribbon steer (which a local restaurant bought… I remember all of us going their to eat some of “cousin Dale’s steer”… My other cousins usually had sheep for their 4-H projects, but their dad never had sheep on his ranch… Sigh. It’s hard to believe that we all grew up on or with close family on ranches/farms, and very few of our children’s contemporaries have any idea whatsoever of America’s deep agricultural roots. My dad grew up in San Francisco, but spent all of his Summers on family ranches and vineyards in Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino counties.
@kls_in_MD@Shrdlu Interesting cultural note… in my (obviously limited) experience, Ft. Sill was referred to as Ft. Silly by many NCOs and Ft. Swill by most officers (at least the O-1s through O-4s)… suggests the NCOs had a slightly better adjusted perspective on the place…