July & August at the Ranch

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On a Wednesday I went into town to pick up my niece Dana and stay over one night there before going out to the ranch. I visited with Peter and Angenett at Joneses. Hardly recognized Dana. She had grown a lot and was wearing contact lenses instead of glasses. She brought her clothing, etc. in a bright red backpack. Peter and Angenett and children came over for lunch. After dinner Peter came and helped Bob haul two loads of concrete blocks.

Thursday P & A and family went out to the Joneses place at Coffee Creek. Peter went to Redding that Sunday to get a rental car and drive to Arcata to meet Ed Stone, with whom he was going to travel down the coast.

Someone called and told us that Candy and Jim were out of water at their place. They had gone to Idaho to check out a potential new job so Bob was going out early in the morning to see whether he could do anything about it. I didn’t write much while Dana was there but she seemed to enjoy her visit and we enjoyed having her. One day she helped Bob put some concrete blocks in the septic tank and we took a walk up to the top of the meadow.

That week also included major stomach ailments that are better left un-described.
By Sunday everyone seemed fine. We were going into town and the battery was dead on the VW. We figured one of the children left the radio on. So Dana and I pushed and Bob got a run down the hill with it and got it started. We left Weaverville around 7 p.m. and took Dana up to Weaver Bally to see Doris—took sandwiches and apples. Doris had fixed a pot of soup. It was chilly up there and we were all dressed for warmer weather. I’d forgotten how high up the lookout was. There was a nearly full moon and we watched the sun set. The children pretended the mountain was a dragon and we were driving over its ribs.

We left there a little after 9:00. Got home and put the children to bed. Dana got a short nap and Bob went to bed. She and I left for Redding to catch the train. Got there half an hour before the train was to leave. I drank most of a thermos of coffee and she had a coke. Eight people boarded the train at 1:10 a.m. Dana was really looking forward to the trip and especially to ordering her own breakfast. She hoped they’d have grapefruit. I got home about 2:30 a.m.

On Tuesday I finished reading The Hobbit to Rebecca and Jeff. Clarke was napping and I went upstairs to try to take a short nap. Jeff came upstairs and then I heard Rebecca yelling for Jeff. She came upstairs and I proceeded to scold her for waking Clarke. She sat down on our bed and carefully told me how she’d gone up to the outhouse and when running down had heard something about two feet off the trail rattle at her and that there was a rattlesnake out on the lawn. She went on to say that she’d been yelling for Jeffrey because she thought he was still outside and might get bitten. I jumped up, ran downstairs and sure enough there it was. I ran up to the sand pile, got a shovel and killed it—it was rather a struggle to keep it from going under the house. Needless to say I apologized to my daughter and praised her watching out for her brother.

We went into town on Friday. Got some vegetables from Florence and Leonard’s. They were in Colorado. Mildred Gibson was housecleaning. Florence always left one row of green beans to serve as seed for the next year. The bean seeds had been in the family for a long time. I remember suddenly realizing I was picking in the seed crop row. Stopped.

Saturday, the 29th was the raft race in Lewiston, 300 entries!

I had forgotten to mention the previous Tuesday that we met a boy backpacker down by the creek. I figured that on that hot day he had probably just gotten out of the water. He’d been looking for a trail to the ranch and was using a 1957 map. He thought he might try taking a shortcut over to Big French Creek.

Bob continued working on the septic tank and I washed lots of diapers and Jeffrey’s sleeping bag, “which needed it desperately”. After the laundry was done and hung, I had to go to Big Bar to get eggs, having left the ones I bought at the house in Weaverville.

After lunch and reading the Sunday paper I finally started digging along the porch edge so we could start on the foundations. It was hard work. Took me two hours to do about three feet, using a pick, shovel and hoe. The grass sod was hard to remove. Rebecca and Jeffrey voluntarily did enough shoveling to fill the wheelbarrow once and hauled some rocks. Bob really got hot and tired working in that hole. We were thankful for our little above ground pool. Everyone but Clarke and me (upstairs) heard a coyote around 5 o’clock.

“The deer got into my garden the night before and ate off the tops of most of the strawberry plants, which had been doing beautifully. Many were setting up berries. They also chewed on the green beans. It’s so terribly discouraging to put so much work (as I did at least the first month) into a garden and have the deer, etc. eat it. It would be more understandable if there were nothing else to eat here but the grass they eat constantly and apples in the orchard.”

When I went to hook up the hose by the garden to the tree sprinkler one day I startled the twin fawns. Apparently the doe had tucked them away there in the cool tall grass. “For a moment we stared at each other and then they took off. One ran about ten feet from me over past the little pear tree. The other went under the English walnut. The mother came along then and the two soon joined her. One bleated a few times but finally rejoined the group. The doe’s ribs show, probably from caring for the twins, while the mother of the single fawn is quite fat. I think she is also the mother of the little spike. Clarke likes to chase the deer. Last evening he chased, at a rapid toddle, the little buck, who eventually felt I was safer to be around and came to stand about 20 feet from me. “

I worked on the dirt digging again and we had about 10 feet by six feet done. I needed to get a level and smooth out the bumps. The children were playing with little pottery animals (from the Red Rose tea boxes), bulldozers, etc. in that dirt.

The next evening I was cleaning the pool and slapping mosquitoes when Bob got home. I asked Rebecca to ask him whether he could read to Clarke while I finished up. Clarke got so excited when he knew Bob was coming home. “Daddy—Big truck—Beep-Beep. “ I put Clarke to bed with his snuggy, a bottle and a nursery rhyme book with the page opened to a cow. Then we ate and Bob read a book with poems to Jeffrey ending with one about “ If I were a one-legged pirate” which sent Jeffrey off with a very pleased smile. His father had dramatized it for him.

Bob took the convertor off the generator so we were running on car gas again for a while. The convertor was leaking into the oil at a tremendous rate so we were using it a minimum amount of time.

I had just finished reading The Man Who Walked Through Time by Colin Fletcher. I wrote that I’d like to make a two -month trip like that but probably not in desert country.

One afternoon Jeffrey and Clarke played with milkweed and thistle seed down. “The breeze was just right and the down would go up 25 or 30 feet sometimes coming down to the ground where they could catch it again. I took some pictures of Jeffrey which I hope turned out, clothing-less, brown, reaching for these white puffs all against a shadow background and backlighted.”

We celebrated Clarke’s second birthday one day early because Bob was leaving for Garberville that day, a Monday, and wouldn’t be back until Wednesday night.
Rebecca mixed up the cake mix batter and Jeffrey helped me with the icing. He gave it a basic yellow color and then added separate colors of blue and green. Bob and I gave Clarke a Tupperware ball with shapes that fit inside; Rebecca and Jeffrey a canvas hat; and Florence and Leonard a little red bull with black felt ears and tail, white horns and a music box. The bull also rotated its head. I found it in the Sears catalog and suggested to Florence that it would make a good gift. So she ordered it. He took the hat and “daddy cow” to bed with him. He was really funny with the bull when he unwrapped it—stared—touched it gently here and there, almost as if he couldn’t believe it.

It was a very hot day and we were in an out of the pool a lot. Rebecca got the idea of sleeping out on the fenced- n porch so she and Jeffrey went out there around 9:00. Mosquitoes were bothering them even with repellent. I didn’t know how long they would last. Bob and I were slapping mosquitoes right and left that they must have let in on all their trips in and out with stuff. They slept out there all night with no problem. I worried about them off and on during the night, mostly about whether I would hear them if either one screeched if Tigger landed on them. After Bob had left and everyone was through with breakfast we went to Big Bar. Stopped at the River Store to get bleach, crackers, 7-up and coke and went over to Price Creek to pick blackberries. There were lots of berries. We picked for about two hours. The children ate them and I saved them. Rebecca and Jeffrey did very well, kept their tempers and took care of Clarke, etc. The road ws very busy, lots of traffic, rather surprising. I tried making jam with pectin but it came out syrup so I decided to make the next batch my usual way, just boiling. The two children slept outside again.

Bob had installed a phone extension upstairs and a very loud outside bell.

The previous Tuesday Bob brought the generator convertor out and hooked it up again. I fed him dinner and he left around 9:00 to go back into town. He had to be in Hayfork at 6:15 a.m. Wednesday to watch the mill start up. Wednesday evening he called to say he had work to do at the office. I made a last minute decision to go into town and we got there around 8:30. Thursday was busy with grocery buying, Varney’s , library, drug store, etc. Got a used tire from the tire shop for a swing. Ironed, cleaned the bathroom, left the children at Linda’s so I could pick vegetables and tried on some clothes at Van Matres. We left town later than I had planned. I had Rebecca and Clarke. I guess Jeff rode out with Bob.

It was around 8:30 when we got to the bridge. Just above the bridge, at the base of the steep, rocky, hill where the bears went up and down, we saw a family of ring-tailed cats, either two adults and two children or one adult and three young. They zipped over the edge of the road where an adult sat up to watch us. They were tiny, with tails as long as their bodies, strongly resembling weasels.

Friday Bob got up at 5:00 and was in town by 6:30. I didn’t hear him at all. I’d been so tired the night before I felt sick.

Bob went into Redding to get pipe for the septic tank and also brought back a few clothes he’d gotten for me at Dicker’s—some striped hip-hugger shorts, two backless tops and a sleeveless top. “So far I’ve worn everything he’s gotten me. I’d hate to have to pretend.”

The heat was difficult. Kids got cranky. I got cranky. The water warmed too much in the pool and it needed cleaning more often and was then too cold for awhile. Older children sat in the treehouse munching salt crackers while I mowed.

They slept out on the porch again. “Rebecca said they like to hear the overhead sprinklers so I turned them on. It is kind of nice—the water makes different sounds as it hits the metal porch roof, the tarpaper, the wooden shakes and the leaves of the black walnut. You can hear it coming closer by the sound patterns. Also there’s a steady drip from the roof as if it’s raining.”

I found a mouse skeleton and showed it to Rebecca and Jeffrey. Tossed the skeleton but kept the skull.

Bob called from Weaverville. He had to catch a plane from there to Garberville the next day but would be back the next night. Not sure whether he got out there that night from my writing. He had thought so when he called that morning but it sounds as if he got in late and stayed over. I took the children to Big Bar to get bread and sugar. I’d been making pie and jam with sugar combined with honey.

Rebecca decided to sleep upstairs that night but Jeffrey decided to sleep on the porch again by himself, sleeping on the couch where Rebecca had been. I put the air mattress alongside in case he fell off. “He’s very brave. I’m sure I wouldn’t have slept out by myself at his age.”

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