These economics have taken us a long distance from the ranch and its Orientals. The Japanese contingent were mainly occupied with the fruit, possessing a peculiar deftness in pruning and caring for the prunes and apricots. The Chinese had to do with irrigation and with the vegetables. Their broad, woven-straw hats and light denim clothes lent the particular landscape they happened for the moment to adorn a peculiarly foreign and picturesque air.
And outside of these were various special callings represented by one or two men: such as the stable men, the bee keeper, the blacksmith and wagon-wright, the various cooks and cookees, the gardeners, the “varmint catcher,” and the like.
Nor must be forgotten the animals, both wild and tame. Old Ben and Young Ben and Linn, the bird dogs; the dachshunds; the mongrels of the men’s quarters; all the domestic fowls; the innumerable and blue-blooded hogs; the polo ponies and brood mares, the stud horses and driving horses and cow horses, colts, yearlings, the young and those enjoying a peaceful and honourable old age; Pollymckittrick; Redmond’s cat and fifty others, half-wild creatures; vireos and orioles in the trees around the house; thousands and thousands of blackbirds rising in huge swarms like gnats; full-voiced meadowlarks on the fence posts; herons stalking solemnly, or waiting like so many Japanese bronzes for a chance at a gopher; red-tailed hawks circling slowly; pigeon hawks passing with their falcon dart; little gaudy sparrow hawks on top the telephone poles; buzzards, stately and wonderful in flight, repulsive when at rest; barn-owls dwelling in the haystacks, and horned owls in the hollow trees; the game in countless numbers; all the smaller animals and tiny birds in species too numerous to catalogue, all these drew their full sustenance of life from the ranch’s smiling abundance.
And the mules; I must not forget them. I have the greatest respect for a mule. He knows more than the horse; just as the goose or the duck knows more than the chicken. Six days the mules on the ranch laboured; but on the seventh they were turned out into the pastures to rest and roll and stand around gossiping sociably, rubbing their long, ridiculous Roman noses together, or switching the flies off one another with their tasselled tails. Each evening at sunset all the various teams came in from different directions, converging at the lane, and plodding dustily up its length to the sheds and their night’s rest. Five evenings thus they come in silence. But on the sixth each and every mule lifted up his voice in rejoicing over the morrow. The distant wayfarer—familiar with ranch ways—hearing this strident, discordant, thankful chorus far across the evening peace of the wide country, would thus have known this was Saturday night, and that to-morrow was the Sabbath, the day of rest!