Thus we reached the southernmost outpost of our quadrangle, and turned to the west, where an ancient Chinaman and an assistant cultivated minutely and painstakingly a beautiful vegetable garden. Tiny irrigation streams ran here and there, fitted with miniature water locks. Strange and foreign bamboo mattings, withes, and poles performed strange and foreign functions. The gardener, brown and old and wrinkled, his cue wound neatly beneath his tremendous, woven-straw umbrella of a hat, possessing no English, no emotion, no single ray of the sort of intelligence required to penetrate into our Occidental world, bent over his work. When we passed, he did not look up. He dwelt in a shed. At least, such it proved to be, when examined with the cold eye of analysis. In impression it was ancient, exotic, Mongolian, the abode of one of a mysterious and venerable race, a bit of foreign country. By what precise means this was accomplished it would be difficult to say. It is a fact well known to all Californians that a Chinaman can with no more extensive properties than a few pieces of red paper, a partition, a dingy curtain, and a varnished duck transform utterly an American tenement into a Chinese pagoda.
Thence we passed through a wicket and came to the abode of hogs. They dotted the landscape into the far distance, rooting about to find what they could; they lay in wallows; they heaped themselves along fences; they snorted and splashed in sundry shallow pools; a good half mile of maternal hogs occupied a row of kennels from which the various progeny issued forth between the bars. I cannot say I am much interested in hogs, but even I could dimly comprehend the Captain’s attitude of swollen pride. They were clean, and black, and more nearly approximated the absurd hog advertisements than I had believed possible. You know the kind I mean; an almost exact rectangle on four short legs.
In the middle distance stood a long, narrow, thatched roof supported on poles. Beneath this, the Captain told me, were the beehives. They proved later to be in charge of a mild-eyed religious fanatic who believed the world to be flat.
We took a cursory glance at a barn filled to the brim with prunes; and the gushing, beautiful artesian well; at the men’s quarters; the blacksmith shop, and all the rest. So we rounded the circle and came to the most important single feature of the ranch—the quarters for the horses.
A very long, deep shed, open on all sides, contained a double row of mangers facing each other, and divided into stalls. Here stood and were fed the working horses. By that I mean not only the mule and horse teams, but also the utility driving teams and the saddle horses used by the cowboys. Between each two stalls was a heavy pillar supporting the roof, and well supplied with facilities for hanging up the harness and equipments. As is usual in California, the sides and ends were open to the air; and the floor was simply the earth well bedded.