Category Archives: Ramblings by Jack

Today I’m going to have love thoughts and when tomorrow becomes today I’m going to have love thoughts

For me, getting started in the morning is always the scariest time. Seems that all my “doubt thoughts” are at work in full force. I don’t know why it’s so hard sometimes, to not just think but to actually feel that a good day is coming. I know that opening the ‘Love door’ is more powerful than opening the ‘sad door’.  I know this to be true because, if the only thing I had to look forward to upon awakening every morning is to ‘fear thoughts’, I wouldn’t be here today. Now, I’m not talking about your everyday kind of fear A.K.A. terror. That save your ass kind of terror so you don’t get run over terror. I’m talking about, the kind of fear that makes everything seem impossible or dreary or depressing. I think we as a race of people would have all committed suicide a long time ago if that was the best we all had to look forward to. But because of love that is everywhere at all times for us to seek, knowing that if a person acknowledges love and all that is necessary is to say to yourself. “I can and I will feel alive.” But there is a hard part and that is to look inside yourself for that tiny thread of love. It means you’re also going to have to have a little faith that “the times they will get better”. Hey, this ain’t easy and probably sometime you’ll need to use a Herculean effort to stay focused on that little thread of love while keeping your foot on failure. But in the end it’s going to be worthwhile for love will grow and grow. I just went outside to let my dogs out of their kennels. Bob stopped and looked up at me and said “give me a scratch behind my ear and you will feel better, a tiny bit better”, then he added “it’s a start.” So just remember that we all wouldn’t be here if there were only dark clouds of sadness. So even if you think you’re going crazy, don’t believe it. Just look at something pretty, anything to get you looking for love. I’m writing this spontaneously and the phone just rang. “What do you need Katy?”, “Juan just arrived to say that our big 14,000 gallon water tank is empty what shall we do?” These are all Love questions that stomp on loneliness and hopelessness. I’m now too busy helping and when I get done helping love doesn’t just leave when I stop to take a breather.  Love says “that was good”, so just remember that every time it feels like whatever you’re doing, or feeling,  or thinking is good, that’s love. Remember the old saying “if it looks like a duck, if it quacks like a duck, it must be a duck.”
Well I’ve just reread what I’ve had to say about Love, on my trusty iPad. By the way, it has a real nice feature. It automatically spells most of my words, so what I have to say is not just gibberish. By gollies, the preceding words make sense to me and have raised my spirits to feeling pretty darn good. And I feel like I’ve earned my keep. So guess I’ll treat myself to a bowl of Raisin Bran cereal that tastes good in my mouth and helps me be regular out the other end. That’s Love Too.
Love is God, God is Love
See Ya

Healing an abused aquifer

Every Drop Counts on this day of 5/18/18 on the V6.
Little did I know that something as little used and more likely not used at all on most farms and ranches, would be a Sounder. It’s a device that measures the depth to water by dropping a special cable that is marked in one foot increments and when lowered down a water well and touches water  a high pitched annoying sound is emitted.  Then you simply read the number on the cable and that tells you the distance from ground level to water. The importance of knowing the depth to water in the ground helps tell the story of the care being given to the land above the aquifer.
Imagine if you will, a bowl of any size or shape that can be thousands of feet deep or very shallow perhaps no more than a few feet to bedrock and embodies all different sorts of layers, some of which are filled with porous rock and sand and others are filled with water. All together they make up an aquifer, that we can now drill into in hopes of  finding that elusive substance we call water. Before I drill into an aquifer on my ranch the water below my feet is fairly stable in its dimensions and amount. But once I start to extract the water for my use above ground that’s when all matter of problems show themselves. The biggest one is “Over drafting of an Aquifer”. It’s the one that make lawyers rich, makes neighbor hate neighbor, can change the quality of water to the detriment of possibly thousands of downstream users and has kept legislators writing laws and regulations since our state of California got it’s start in 1849. My contribution to the overdraft of the Salinas River water shed might seem minuscule but multiple my use several thousand times over and “Houston we have a problem”.
So my situation even if I can only fix it partially says “multiplied many times over by other ranchers and farmers we can extrapolate that the whole watershed will not be perfect  but has the chance to be better than it was.
I believe I have a unique situation because of the location of my V6 ranch, being at the headwaters of the Little Cholame Creek a tributary to the Salinas River and about 120 miles from where the Salinas dumps into the Pacific Ocean. This then says “that if I make things worse, I did it, and if I make things better, I did it” There are no other users in this watershed that I can point to that could effect my chance at success or failure. By realizing my unique situation I have come up with my first “V6 ranch Water Law” that I must abide by. It’s that my actions will not cause rainwater or irrigation water to move any faster than Mother Nature’s speed and if I do I must try to mitigate the problem.
Below is a list of ways that I would like to use but building retention ponds and having control burns in California is virtually impossible so I will have to put those 2 in “the way down the road category, if ever.”
1. minimize evaporation by lowering soil temperature

2. build retention ponds to change the direction of water from vertical to horizontal to encourages percolation and have drinking water available for anything that needs a drink. (At onetime our U.S.A. was home to millions of Beaver and their ponds all directing water to aquifers that lay below.)

3. fire can help to keep the land healthy and vigorous, the opposite of old Chaparral land choked with debris.

4. your ranch management practices should consider how each decision will affect the speed of water moving across your land. Slow is good. Fast is bad almost every time.

5. A good well developed water distribution system and good fences, gives many more management options.
I think, that things that you can’t touch or see or smell hangout in the category called subjective. So it’s hard for many of us to imagine something we cannot see like evaporation which takes huge amounts of water turns it into water vapor and then lets it escape into our Atmosphere unnoticed. On my ranch a stock pond will lose about 3 to 4 feet of water in our hot dry summer months to evaporation. So I think it’s safe to now acknowledged that evaporation is also happening on every acre of my ranch. The higher the soil temperature goes in the summer months the faster the soil coughs up it’s stored water. It does so by Capillary Action, a process that moves water from places that are wetter like 2 to 3 feet down in the ground to the dryer soil surface above where we all live.  My part of California which is the central portion where we don’t want any rain from the first of May to the first of November that’s 6 months of dry weather, then hopefully we get 6 months of wet weather.
So what happens on our range if we let the cattle graze off most of the residual dry matter (dry grass)? I know that on a summer day, if the temperature is 100 degrees and I find a Gopher mound of clean black soil and I put a thermometer just under the surface and wait a couple of minutes, then look at what it has to say. WOW 120 degrees but the land with grass covering the surface the temperature is 100 degrees. Well I don’t know about you but 20 degrees is a difference that has to be recognized as a water loosing pit. I don’t know how much more water is being lost on the closely grazed land as opposed to that which has only half of the dry grass eaten. This then is an example of a subjective loss. As to how much would only be a wild a_ _ guess on my part. But I do know that bad things are happening on over grazed  rangeland. Erosion will be a problem. The soil surface will be colder in winter so seed germination will not be as high as covered soil. Old grass also acts as an insulating blanket that allows for our new grass season to get a better start. And old grass will surely slow down the rain that falls leading to better percolation so now with our soil surface wetter and the subsurface dryer Capillary Action now turns and works in reverse pulling water down, plus it gets an additional boost from Gravity,  also pulling it down.
If you haven’t got a good water distribution system it will be real difficult to harvest your grass in a uniform way. For me I don’t want my livestock to have to travel more than half a mile to water, add to that good boundary and cross fences gives me the necessary tools to keep my spirits up and walking on the sunny side of the street with all my bills paid.
Holistic Resource Management as taught by Allen Savory has given me permission to break with tradition and feel comfortable learning how Mother Nature would like us to use her planet in a sustainable way that benefits all living things.
To close, my sounder shows me that even though our ranch received only half normal rainfall this season all my 6 wells have static water levels that are as high as they would be in a wet year and the Little Cholame Creek that is normally dry by the first of June is running in a portion where an old homestead once stood about 120 years ago. I’m sure that they got their drinking water from the creek as it would have been their only source. If this portion of the Little Cholame is still running this autumn I’m going to take credit, for when you “Slow Down Water” good things will happen. I know it’s true because it’s based on “common sense”.
See Ya
Jack Varian

The Slope Field Spring 2018 on the V6 Ranch

It’s cattle branding time 


Here you can see a calf on the ground being tended to by the ground crew and held in position by the two horses either side

For me it’s one of my favorite times of the year. A time to help a neighbor or he or she will help you. A time to get together with old friends and maybe meet some new ones. A time to climb onto my saddle and rope a calf or two and over the course of the day the branding crew will usually rope and brand 100 to 300 head of calves and administer several vaccines to prevent some of the more common cattle diseases.
This practice has been a necessary staple of our industry for centuries. I’m sure that it must seem barbaric to some. So let me explain the necessity of placing brands on young calves. First, in order to show ownership of a calf it must be branded while it is living with its mother. It must have a brand on any one of 6 locations on his hide made with a state registered Branding Iron. So if a calf is over 6 months old and no longer with its mother and (has no brand) it belongs to whoever has it in their possession. For this reason banks that have loaned money to a rancher are quite demanding that their asset is properly marked (must be branded).
The day has arrived that my neighbor has chosen to brand his calves. First and uppermost on his mind is to get the calves branded quickly to minimize stress, for stress can be a precursor that can cause a calf to get sick. Ranchers on the Central Coast of California usually choose to rope their calves for there are many good corral ropers in our part of California that make things go quickly and smoothly.
The cows and their calves are gathered into a sorting alley where the calves are parted into a pen and their mothers are put into a pasture next to the branding corral. In today’s world most ranchers use an electric branding iron that is heated by using a generator. I believe an electric iron for the most part will make a better brand that is more legible and will heal faster.
It’s time now to have the first 5 horseback ropers enter the corral and a ground crew that will brand and vaccinate the calves contains the next crew of ropers. Let it be said that working the ground is not near as much fun as roping so the ground crew is always “Johnny on the spot “ because quicker gets you off the ground and onto your horse.
One of the ropers has caught a calf by the neck. Now another roper positions his horse behind the calf and ropes the 2 hind feet. The ground crew moves in and puts the calf on the ground and takes the rope off the head and places it on his 2 front legs. Then the person on the head horse backs his horse to tighten the rope so the calf can’t kick free. This process is repeated on the back legs and then the calf is ready to be vaccinated, branded, ear tagged and if a male, castrated. So you ask how long is the calf on the ground? About 2 to 3 minutes. Because stress is always on everybody’s mind, usually 10 calves are all that are put in the branding corral at one time. These 10 calves are then processed in 15 to 20 minuets as most of the time 2 calves are on the ground at the same time.
Now with a shout of “all done” the corral gate is swung open to where all the mommies are waiting. The calves have been away from their mothers  for 2 to 3 hours so many of the now freshly branded will immediately pull mom off to one side and start to nurse. I hope I have explained with some clarity what happens to a calf before and after he is branded.
I think the population of people that are upset by this supposedly barbaric procedure need to realize that their idea of pain is vastly different than the calves idea of pain. The first glaring difference is we humans are able to anticipate the future . An example, you go to the dentist and he tells you that you will need all your Wisdom Teeth pulled and he or she can do it in 2 weeks. So for 2 weeks you get to agonize over the perceived pain in the chair and the discomfort while healing.
So to all of you, out there, that are looking for places where pain happens. I suggest that you look no farther than your local boarding horse stable. The barn is immaculate, the horses are feed only the best hay and grain so that their hair coat is bright and shiny. Their 12 by12 stall has fresh bedding. Who could want for more? Let’s ask the horse. His body language will tell you of his malaise. Some spend there whole lives Weaving back and forth locked in their 12×12 home others are Cribbing so the caretaker puts a cradle around the horses neck so he won’t spend his days “sucking wind” Mr. or Mrs. horse is irritable most of the time. Just entering his or her “ box stall” you want to be careful for you are the cause of all their irritability. The sure cure for this life of misery? How about some regular exercise and less Box Stall time. “Sorry, I’m to busy,  I haven’t got the time”
See Ya


What’s love got to do with it anyway

Now here’s a good topic to think about. I’m sure that everything that has ever been said about love has already been said. So what can I add to the topic?

I want to talk of love in cosmic dimensions. Physics has Gravity and friction to mold a universe after the “Big Bang” My explanations might seem a little simplistic but for me it explains why love will be around as long as the Laws of Physics are around. Gravity gathers “stuff” together and after a few billion years of gathering and rubbing together “friction” to create some heat we now have a whole sky full of stars, planets, astroids and a whole lot of space junk floating around that can be hazardous to a Planet like ours.

Well I want to explain at least to myself how the Laws of Physics and Love are so interdependent for each to survive. There’s no question of who came first because without the Big Bang I wouldn’t have a planet to stand on. It also looks like more and more of the time, that Organic life will be found all over the Cosmos. Now we’re talking life and how do we keep growing and changing and not getting Wiped out. Love is the absolute necessary ingredient to make life in all its infinite sizes and shapes possible.

Like Gravity, Love gathers like minded species together for companionship, safety and if you didn’t have a group of 2 or more you couldn’t have gossip. Most living things need some external heat to keep the life fires alive. So what we the people need is some friction. For that I think of Lust. Rubbing two people together can first bring forth some laughter then some snuggles and a kiss or two then  we could stop and build a fire probably not, more likely we will make love which also guaranties  another generation to carry on and hopefully they might be a little more kindly, carrying and peace like and less war like.

See Ya


To wash or not to wash that is the question

I’ve just finished reading an article that speaks to my “this can’t be so,” side of my mind. It seems that some genius in our U.S. Health Department has decided that if an Avocado falls from its tree and makes contact with the ground it can no longer be sold to we consumers because it has been polluted by making contact with said ground. Which is a lead in to my favorite rant. This pet peeve deals with the “inessential” need to be washing ones hands constantly as if it might possibly cure the “common cold” along with many other supposed “keep you healthy” benefits just by using a little soap and water.

       But there are just too many inconsistencies, like being out in the woods and you forgot your soap and no sink. Will this be the cause for your next sickness down the road, I think not. Now in the case of men we’ve got “taking a leak” all backwards. My Tally-Wacker  hidden away behind, 1st underwear, 2nd maybe a long tail shirt, 3rd my long leg pants and 4th if it’s cold maybe a pair of Coveralls is much too clean for my hands that have shaken a hand or two, wheeled a shopping cart without using the hand sanitizer and many more strange and not so strange places. So if the next time you see me in a public bathroom and I’m washing my hands before I “take a leak” you’ll know the reason. I think that our society is still suffering from some of the teaching of the original Puritans  who landed on Plymouth Rock a few centuries ago. They preached that fun was a sin and what could be more fun than making love. So my Tally-Wacker was made out to be the work of the devil to be considered an unsavory thing. Consequently we still Pee first and wash second and that’s backward. Which leaves, by old English standards, the only other use for a Tally-Wacker is to make babies and that is one time per baby. Well maybe a second time just in case the first time didn’t work. 10 children 10 times but who knows, your mate might let you get lucky ah 20! As for the women of the world if they just blotted their “U Who”they wouldn’t have to wash their hands either. Just think of all the water that could be saved and our Immune System would keep on doing what it’s supposed to do. Keeping us Happy, Healthy and Wise.         

                           See Ya


       P.S. Mary  our class patron saint relayed to me that our beloved editor of the widely read Class News Letter felt that calling a penis a penis was found to be too abrasive a word for our classmates tender ears. I asked, what our dear  editor would rather have me use? WILLY “really” that means that his last name must be Milk-Toast. You know my choice Tally-Wacker it has a manly John Wayne ring to it. I think it’s time to call upon our class members to vote for what moniker our “male member” might be called? We might find how far we have left our Pilgrim ancestors behind or not!!


Bob the Lion Hearted

Bob my right hand dog was born on the V6 Ranch on a cold blustery day in the year 2004 February 9 making him 14 years old. Now some people say that to determine a dogs age you multiple by 6 years and some people say by 7. Anyway it makes Bob and old friend a couple of years older than I. I’ve written about Bob in his youth. When the distances he would travel to go “girling” was the talk of the Canine community and to my irritation, I traveled a good many miles at times to retrieve my wayward partner from neighboring ranches. But Bob was always ready to give his all when it came time to round up the cattle on the ranch. There was no bovine too mean or ornery that the Lion Hearted wouldn’t grab a hold of until the critter said “uncle”.
Bob’s now 84 or 98 or somewhere in between for which only Bob knows. So let me tell you of Bob’s exploits these past 12 months about how he is “growing old gracefully”. Helping with the cattle work has become a duty that I can no longer dictate but rather Bob will join up if it’s cool enough and no more than 3 or 4 miles distance.
But accidents have plagued him this past year which have slowed him down but not to a stand still. Last November I was cleaning a pathway to put in new pipe line for a watering trough when I noticed that Bob was sitting in the shade of a tree and not trying to catch a mouse or Pack Rat as my tractor uncovered their homes. This was not like the Bob of 1 hour ago but I just put it off to “getting old”. Next morning Bobs left hind leg was badly swollen and he was unable to stand. So I brought him some water and a Hot Dog for a snack, sounds like an oxymoron to me. It was also time now, for me, to use my self taught Veterinary skills. My first thought was that Bob was kicked by a horse but upon closer examination I noticed 2 little blood specks that said Rattlesnake bite. This bite has taken several months to heal, leaving a permanent limp to his left rear leg that now works at 50% of normal. He has taken this in stride as he still wears his happy face every morning when I let him out of his kennel.
It’s now 4/12/18 and Bob has just finished his morning hike with me, but the day before yesterday was a different story. Zee my wife had saddled her horse and went to check on some cattle on what we call the Middle Ridge Pasture. All 6 of our dogs left with her, knowing that there were some cattle to move, lay just around the corner but it was not to be as the cattle were no where in site. Heading for home Zee passes a water trough which the dogs made good use of, all but Bob. Zee thinking Bob was sauntering at his own pace said to herself “ he knows the way home“.
I always feed the dogs at night and Bob is not always waiting to be fed so I left his gate open and food in his dish. Wednesday morning I was in a hurry and didn’t notice that Bobs food was not eaten. I was home for lunch and Zee asked me if I had seen Bob. I said “no” and went about my work. Zee was uncomfortable about Bobs where a-bouts. So saddling her horse again, she mounted and began “back tracking” to the watering trough where she had a hunch that Bob might be. Sure enough there he was, but he was a straddle the trough. His hind legs were on the outside of the trough but they didn’t quite hit the ground and the front half with legs just long enough to keep his nose out for breathing while in some real cold water. He couldn’t go forward or backward as his weak hind leg was of no use. I can’t imagine what kind of fortitude it took to straddle a one quarter inch edge of steel watering trough cutting into his body right behind his rib cage for 24 hours in cold water. It would have been so easy to let ones nose slide under the water and say Good Bye. But not Bob. Zee got off her horse and pulled him out where he collapsed to the ground. Zee headed for home and got our Foreman to take his pickup and rescue the Lion. When I arrived home Bob was laid out on his side still wet and very cold. We quickly dried him with a towel and then wrapped him in a blanket. I felt that if he was going to survive he would have to eat something tasty. What do all dogs love to eat? Steak, that’s what, and boy did he. 3 feedings of steak later and a good nights sleep was the cure. Thursday morningBob awoke a little bit wobbly but solidly with the living and with a grateful look on his face he said” Never yell whoa in a bad place”

What a definition for courage and growing old gracefully.
See Ya
Bob the Lion Hearted dog

Water is The Life Blood of our Ranch 

Water being fundamental to life has surely brought out the best in “we the people” and the absolute worst in “we the people”. I find myself in a very unique position as caretaker of 20,000 acres of California grassland situated at the head of the Little Cholame Creek, a tributary to the Salinas River.

Jack searching for water on a new piece of property in Parkfield by following creeks and examining wild pig tracks. Photo taken March 2017
So the issue for me to solve is? How best do I use the water that falls as rain and that which is already stored in the ground so that when  the time of my passing arrives this ranch that has been so generous to myself and my wife and family will be in good health.
           Hopefully this land will be better off because of the care and protection that everybody who has lived and worked here and given their best and to those who have found peace and wonder while visiting this exquisite place will feel secure knowing that the V6 Ranch will always wear Mother Nature’s clothes.  Zera and I first recorded the deed to this most beautiful and productive place.  The year was 1961.
          About a year ago I wrote about one rain drops journey traversing the V6 using some Gravity and Capillary Action to keep him on the move. I imagine that he’s probably in the Pacific Ocean by now. But this year is different as our state and federal government regulators become evermore aggressive in their zeal to control every ounce of the “wet stuff” that exists in our U.S.A. The problem as I see it, is my use of water is unique as is everybody else’s use of water unique. The problem that comes to the surface is when you try to treat everybody as equals, which is impossible because we are all uniquely different. So what we need is equal opportunity to solve our water problems with a good deal of flexibility built in.
                But tradition dictates that lawmakers are elected to solve problems using only the law or regulations, with penalties firmly attached, to solve all matter of presumable bad decisions made by “we the people”. Anybody who questions the wisdom of their handy work, even though the law or regulation flies in the face of common sense from every angle, has no place to air his or her grievance. Oh yea, I could write my congressman, then what!
            I want to state my case as to how I can best partner with water so that we both prosper and as I prosper so do, “we the people.” There is one universal truth that Mother Nature always utilizes when dealing with water. She “slows it down” because to speed it up, water becomes very destructive. She uses a variety of ways depending on Topography, soil type, climate, the 3 states of water and the list goes on and on. The water that I can effect the most travels on the surface. In the 1940s, Australian water guru P.A. Yeomans whose book “Water for Every Farm” is still an important read as to how we land owners should try to eliminate surface runoff. This is where one size fits all doesn’t work because there are no two mountains, hills or Valleys or streams or rivers that are the same.
John Varian, Jack’s son, points to one of the two waterfalls at the back of the V6 Ranch on last years (2017) Easter hike.
               What’s needed is some mutual trust, that in my case I have lived on the same ranch for 56 years, and in those years one becomes a very keen observer of how Mother Nature carries out her duties. I have a comprehensive plan that can benefit the land, the people, the wildlife and our planet. The V6 is mountainous so it lends itself well to the building of small Stock water ponds that can replace the beaver pond that before the European invasion they had made millions of ponds. In fact Beaver ponds took up 8% of the North American landscape.
           Why are small Stock ponds so important to everybody? It’s  because they are the main building block to “slowing down water” thus allowing big winter rain events to be captured, then metered out slowly and all the while leaving “Top Soil” behind. This water is clean and clear for livestock and wildlife to drink. But some will be lost to evaporation and some to leakage (a good thing).
Next we need a well designed water distribution system. What follows are 3 values that I will be able to accomplish with my range water plan. First, I will be able to do a better job of grazing by presenting to the livestock and wildlife ( cattle, horses, deer, feral pigs ) a greater variety of things to eat. Second, when you create a lot more places for everything to get a drink you make it safer for wildlife because they don’t all have to congregate at just a handful of watering troughs which makes it easier for the predators to fill their bellies. Third, better grazing means leaving the land almost empty of bare ground and full of covered land.
Bessie and Tinkerbell, 2 of the V6 Ranch cattle-dogs drink from one of Jacks well situated water troughs.
 When the ground is shaded at all times soil temperatures go down and so does evaporation. Rainfall readily percolates into under ground aquifers because the grass, brush and trees are in place to dissipate the energy from each drop of rain, leaving it to do its main job, which is to participate in the chemical reaction better known as Photosynthesis.
              Now I must address “reality.” None of this can happen if I don’t pay the bills. So to stay in the game I need to constantly reinvent myself because irrelevance will surely take you to the sidelines. There you have two choices, i) change, “a good thing” and ii) no change, “you’re out of here”. This is where Government laws and regulations can strangle a “best laid plan” because governments tend to move at Glacier speed and their bureaucracies don’t move at all. So what’s a person to do? Sometimes as the old saying goes “it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission” which is not a very good way to run a business. Leaving our 2 biggest tools to manage land constructively and sustainably. The building of small retainer ponds and the controlled use of fire both talked about as being useful by some thoughtful members of government but most live with me in Never Never land where the best laid plans are put out to pasture.
                                    See Ya
  P.S. Monterey County is about 2,100,000 acres in size. If land owners in  our Salinas Valley and surrounding mountains using small ponds, good grazing practices and production crops and cover crops to keep the valley floor insulated from evaporation. If they were to sequester just 2″ of rainfall that might have gone to the Pacific Ocean would amount to 350,000 acre feet the entire capacity of Lake Nacimento.
The second waterfall found at the very back of the V6 Ranch. Photo taken this past Easter Sunday.

Vertigo, Now I have it, Now I don’t

For possibly 2 or 3 years I believe that I’ve had a “goings on”, that has been annoying to say the least. The kind that never made my world spin around so that I might find myself on the ground, but left me with the anticipation of being laid out on the ground with the world spinning above me. I was never able to completely erase the feeling that it might happen. The name Vertigo is one of those dreadful words that scared me enough, to fear that even if I open a book on the subject I might become infected.
But good luck, which has been a close friend of mine all my life, was along with me a couple of weeks ago when I went to see our family doctor for my biannual check up. The time when you breathe deeply, pee in a bottle, check blood pressure and then he asked the closing question “how do you feel”. I said I feel fine except that if I get up to fast, twist around to fast or put my head down to tie my shoes I feel kind of “yucky”. My doctor then went on to explain that my balance was being compromised because of Vertigo. He said “some crystals in my inner ear were not where they were supposed to be.” Well good ole me thinking the worst said “what do I do now?”. He said, “I’m sending you to a physical therapist”. Well, what did I do? I walked right past his receptionist who was to make an appointment for me to see a therapist. I slid right past her and out the door. I was sure that the therapist would induce a dizziness that I would never recover from. How stupid, but still real to me. After my visit with my Dr. and a couple of days had gone by I’m bending over to mark a piece of steel that I needed to cut when all of a sudden I lose my balance and feel nauseous. It only lasted a few moments. That’s it you coward, you’re going to call that therapist and then probably spend the rest of your life just spinning around. The only guy who ever went into orbit with out leaving the ground.
The first day, of the rest of my life, to spend in orbit had arrived. But I came prepared with a list questions that if the therapist ‘Toni’ could not answer to my satisfaction I could still ‘chicken out’. But before I could unleash my list of anxieties Toni totally disarmed me with questions that all I could do, was to answer yes, leaving me no escape route to where ‘Chickens’ live. She knew that she had me and that for me to turn back now she had every right to call me a “Weak Heart”, a disgrace to the male population of the world. So like any captured animal with no escape I capitulated and took the goggles that she asked me to look through, while she looked at my eyes from the other side of the goggles. This she explained dictated that I would do the Gufoni  Maneuver and this maneuver would put the Calcium Carbonate crystal  back in their proper place. This would be my inner ear, the part where my balance resides. She said ” I would feel much more balanced.” Next Toni had me lay quickly on my left side on to a padded table with a pillow and to look at a 45 degree angle for 3 minutes. I was comfortable when she said, “you can sit up now” and I said “That’s it?  That’s all there is to it? You mean that I called on  all my courage for what I do every night”. Toni said “well it’s a little different and more structured it’s so that Gravity can start to strip the crystals (Otoconia) stuck on some little hairs in my Horizontal Canal and then Gravity would  put them back in my (Utricle) where they belonged. Then she said “I’m not quite finished yet, I want you to repeat this exercise twice a day at home for one week and then come back so I can test your balance and I will most likely be able to send you home without having to see me again. Well maybe a little tune up in the future.”
By the time I left I was already feeling like I could pass a sobriety test if necessary and every day since, now day 4, I feel like walking a tight rope, well not quite. But to all you class of 53ers if your feeling a little Rocky, The cure requires no pills, no shots, no X rays just a little Gravity to shunt those pesky little crystals back where they belong and then you can give Vertigo the old heave ho.
See Ya
P.S. update 3/14/18
Just finished my third weekly trip to have Toni, my Vertigo guru, work her wonders.  She’s getting the last of my Crystal’s to move back where they belong and you know, l also get a neck massage as part of the get well process and I have an eye exercise that she has taught me to do at home that works well also. Ya know, I’m getting to like Toni and my Vertigo visits that will soon be over. But I guess that’s the price you pay for getting well.

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Whale Rock – This rock still looks hungry on Mustang peak


Cowboy Ambulance to the rescue!! Rescued from a ditch, operation was a success and after some feed and water he walked off.


If you’re going North follow the arrow. Do not disturb or go to prison, leave it alone and go North!


Don’t believe that a Cat Tractor can go anywhere


Horse made the only shade on a hot day!


Bumper Love! A real tree hugger!


Two new arrivals at the V6 Ranch making friends!


These boots were made for walking


The writing on an old fire extinguisher. Have you ever wanted to turn your bottom up to play?


A real red head painted by nature


Her friend, the phony, painted by an aerial fire retardant drop


Rocks need love too


Grandson Kade at the farm show 5 years ago “I want one of these when I grow up”


Tough Love – A tree can get divorced too
Parkfield Then
Parkfield Now


This blog is a collection of photos from throughout the last couple of years I’ve collected from various places. Hope you enjoyed seeing these snapshots.

See ya,


Parkfield Then And Now Pt. 4

Parkfield capital of the Cholame Valley finally had reason to awake from its self imposed 95 year sleep. Ranching at it’s best is always a gamble but the most tenacious and hard working recognized that ranches in The Diablo Mountain range had to be bigger in order to survive so like myself and others started to consolidate by buying the land that surrounded the “home place.” 10,000 acres is a common size that seems to work (pay the bills) but some are much larger and some a little smaller.
1980 was the year that determined the direction that Parkfield would take. A developer from Los Angeles decided that this Valley split into 40 acre parcels would be very salable, especially if deer and bird hunting or raising horses and cattle were all options on these parcels. Those of us that could see the possible conflict between people that had different values and priorities and seeing what happened when ranching communities took land development as an expected transition to a more urban environment. 7 of we ranchers thought that it didn’t have to be the normal course of events. We petitioned the Monterey County Board of Supervisors to change the zoning from its present 40 acre lot size up to 160 acre minimum size. Needless to say this was not a very popular proposal but on a 3 to 2 vote the board did save Parkfield as a true ranching and farming community for 160 acre was too big to fit a developers agenda so another possible but not wanted industry left.
This zoning change did create a vacuum but did give enough time for Parkfield  to reinvent itself into a neighborhood that its priority would be, to encourage hunting, horseback riding, living the Cowboy life, cattle drives and birdwatching. The list is limited to activities that leaves Mother Nature still in charge.
Well if your going to have recreation as an industry, then the logical place to start would be downtown Parkfield. It’s glory days were long gone and by 1987 Parkfield was in bad need of a major remodel. I felt that in order to have one theme that told of Parkfield’s history I needed to own the land that our town was built on. Remember, those town lot deeds that in the 30s and 40s were sometimes used as Chips in a Parkfield Poker game?  Well they had moved from the Poker table to actually having some value and all could be bought for less than a $1,000 per lot.
So over several months in 1987 I was able to purchase most of the lots that I needed to carry out a major “do over” on Parkfield. 1988 my son John who had just graduated from Cal Poly university at San Luis Obispo Ca. decided he wanted to make his home in Parkfield. I said the cattle business will only support 1 family so why not a cafe for you? John said ” sounds good to me, I’ve got a hammer and if you have a saw let’s go for it”. John grabbed his hammer and some nails and I hauled things to build a proper cafe and in spring of 1989 John opened for business. We still needed a place for our guests to get some “slumber time”, so John went to his shop got out his hammer and in 1991 he opened the Parkfield Inn.
The renewal of a Rodeo in Parkfield took place at the new Rodeo grounds in 1993 produced by our daughter Katy and in 1994 Zee and I went to the movies and saw ” City Slickers.” A movie about 3 wanna be Cowboys on a cattle drive. I looked at Zee and said we can do that, we have the ranch, the horses, and family with the skills to make any person feel right at home on his or her horse for 3 days of living the life of a cowboy or cowgirl and in the blink of an eye 24 years of cattle drives have passed from view and into V6 ranch history.  Now as the family looks forward to our 25th year this spring I’m hoping that several of our grandchildren will be helping with the drives and getting themselves ready to take the reins to continue giving our guests a chance to experience driving cattle over the beautiful V6 ranch. John and wife Barbara have developed several different kinds of cowboy and horseback vacation events that are sure to please.
I hope you have enjoyed Parkfield history 101. Now we must look to Parkfield’s chances to survive in a tumultuous, interesting, scary, optimistic, pessimistic, brave or fearful New World. I think our Cholame Valley brightest days are starting right now and then melding into a future that will fullfil a need for people who want to reconnect with Mother Nature, Horses, livestock and a land that is much the same today as it was 100 years ago. But you say Parkfield’s success will be it’s downfall as the developer’s will arrive to carve up our Valley and then cart of the spoils. Not this time they won’t. Because of a tool called a Conservation Easement which if a land owner voluntarily chooses to place this kind of deed restriction on his land organization like The California Range Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy and many local Land Trust’s are available to hold your restricted deed in perpetuity and can also help raise the funds necessary to pay you the land owner for the difference between its present “sub dividable”value and it’s restricted value when the Conservation Easement is recorded the land will be devalued because it can no longer be divided. This that’s left is called its Conservation Value and is held by a land trust that protects the land in its present state. Parkfield presently has about 40,000 acres with recorded easements. Add to this our 160 acre minimum size zoning restrictions and a Monterey County Board of Supervisor who loves Southern Monterey County in its present state and would be committing political suicide if for some reason they chose to allow the South County to sub-divided. Mother Nature you can take a sigh of relief as well as all the Wildlife that calls this Valley home and all the rest of us that enjoy this beautiful Valley, I think we’re safe from man’s heavy hand.
See Ya