Thank you to
Cat - who devoted a great deal of time, effort and understanding.
I know I am
infringing on someone elses copyright, but I mean it in the best possible way.
There is a bite in the air that tells me that fall is on its way. The hint of dew is still on the grass in the morning, but it burns off quickly leaving us with crystal blue skies and warm sunny days.
The meadow grass is waist high which tells me two things. One, it is almost time for fall round-up and two, I am glad itís almost time for fall round up as it gets me out of the house. I have already begun to see the signs. I donít mean the blackberries that have come to fruit or that the pumpkins are growing fat on the vine. No, I mean the smell of stove blacking and the drapes down for washing has told me we are due for the last big cleaning of the year, and this is when no self-respecting man should be indoors.
I am so very much looking forward to this yearís drive. My first with my sons with me. We will be heading toward Monterey this year instead of down toward Stockton. Stockton has some large ranches of its own and I have found a buyer in Monterey who will take my herd and then sell to the fast growing city of San Francisco.
Scott has been teasing me with the idea of changing from beef cattle to dairy. San Francisco has a great shortage of all things fresh and the prices of fresh vegetables and dairy products are outrageous. A recent news article said a man was sentenced to hang and as a last meal he requested bacon and eggs. His execution had to be delayed for four days while they tried to find eggs. I have told Scott that he is more than welcome to go into the dairy business as long as he personally gets up at three in the morning to supervise the milking. I think that this has put him off the idea entirely.
However, he is still insistent on his idea of a winery. I only disagree in principal to make sure that he has thought the idea through completely. He has been in discussion with a vintner in Napa and has had a great deal of correspondence with two vintners in Italy. Iím not sure where he met these gentlemen, but he has been quite busy and I think it will not be long before Lancer has its own label. Scott asked me to request from you any books you have on the subject and he will pay for them and shipping. I told you he was serious.
On the subject of books, we received your books by C. Darwin, and they have created quite a stir. Scott is an avid reader and although Johnny is not such a quick reader he has a quick mind. Scott will read a chapter and then make a summation of it over the supper table. Mr. Darwinís theories have made for some lively conversation. Iím not saying if we agree or disagree, or on occasions, agree to disagree, but they have been interesting books. Next time feel free to send something less volatile. Like Scottish Clan loyalties.
Now, what have we been doing all summer? There is so much weíve done and so much still to do. Now that the business of Pardee is finished we have been busy getting the ranch back in working order. Not just the work of fence mending and bridge building, but also the hiring of hands, moving the herds and the social aspects of repairing local community relations.
Johnny and Scott have been working wonders in this respect. I have never hosted so many functions as I have this summer. Not all of these are the boyís fault, by any means, as now Teresa has just had her sixteenth birthday and has come of the age to host a party or two of her own. How quickly they grow up. It seems only yesterday she was in braids with skinned knees teaching her doll to swim in the horse trough, now sheís wearing long dresses and not just going to parties, but giving them.
Johnny and Scott have been to every barn raising and hurdy-gurdy for ten miles in any direction. They leave after the last of the evening chores and straggle home in the wee hours of the morning. I long for the days when I could sleep in the saddle and still put in a decent dayís work. They are, however, making a good name for themselves and the family. I have heard from more than one friend that they are truly gentlemen and you will be happy to know that chivalry is not as unused here in the wilds of California as you might expect.
And speaking of chivalry, you might like to hear of a young lady who came to stay at our house as a guest for a week or so. She was a lovely young thing, although her style of dress was not to my taste. The poor thing was left stranded on the road to town with a broken buggy and Johnny rescued her from perishing in the heat. Now, what she was doing on our property, headed for town, is all part of her long involved story, but she had this piece of property that had been willed to her that she needed to sell. Oh, how she batted her lashes and played the poor helpless waif as no other could.
It seems however that a man in town was selling the same piece of property and between them they had sold it many times before. Fortunately, I am not one to buy a pig in a poke and their scheme was found out. But it was nice to have her grace our table for a few days despite her best efforts to fleece us. I think, although heíll deny it to his last breath, that Scott was a little smitten with the girl, and longed to reform her.
The house has been filled with many people coming and going the last few months. Both sons are well-liked and well-respected in the community. Scott is an active member of the Business Association and Johnny is instrumental in the Law and Order society. He not only is working to bring a Marshal to the county, but he is the lead scout for the posse. A position that scares the life out of me, Iíll have you know. Heís come home tired and hungry, and more than once reporting that heís been shot at.
I am up for election as the President of the Cattlemenís Association. Before you begin to think this is a great honor, I believe that we are just passing the title around amongst the most senior members. Even those that have done little for the group in their tenure have been elected more than once. I do, however, try to accomplish something when itís my turn at the helm. This year we will be tackling the problems caused by fencing of free range. Bringing feed to cattle is an interesting topic, not only is it easier to fatten up the beef and not lose the weight during the drive to market, but there are other concerns in regards to penning of the animals; disease and water issues are just the top of the list. I know you are about to put this letter down from boredom, but itís interesting to me.
A hot afternoon breeze has come up and brings with me it the reminder of the season. A small number of leaves are changing on the oak trees from their gray-green leaves and I see a hint of fiery red. This time of year makes me think that it is time to get my house in order. I donít just mean washing the bedding and putting new ticking in the mattress. I mean looking at what has been done and what is left to do before winter comes.
Our winter here is nothing like the winters back home, I know, and you will not get a complaint out of me. But I do still feel the change in seasons even if it only means rain instead of snow or wind in the afternoon instead of gloomy gray clouds.
After the round-up, branding and the drive we will begin to get things in order for winter. The boys and I have decided to go on a hunting trip together. This will be a first for the three of us. We will take a week and go up into the Diabloís and bring in game. The smokehouse is already filling the air with the smell of oak and mesquite as we smoke beef and ham. A good many summer crops are being dried for winter and are being put up in the attic. This Sunday after church we are going berry hunting and the ladies will put up jams and jellies and there will be a fresh pie or two.
But there is something else that this season brings for me. Itís hard to put my finger on just what Iím trying to express. Itís a time to review the last year and prepare for the next. Not just that Iím putting in my order for cross-breeding stock and even, despite what I tell Scott, looking into dairy cows. I would buy two just to see his face when they show up if they werenít so expensive to have shipped. I find my self looking to the past and planning for the future. Our future here, the boys and I and the future of the ranch.
The local communities are growing by leaps and bounds and we are there as founding members. New businesses are coming into the area and more and more services are available without having to pay for costly shipping and long delays. I sometimes wonder if all this haste and hurry is good. I donít remember our Grandparents hurrying at everything they did, but this is the time we live in.
Not much other news to tell from here. The boys are healthy and well and business is good. I was happy to see in your letter that Anne and Symon are doing well and settling in nicely into their new home. You must not fret that he is not going into his fatherís business. New times create new business opportunities and from your last letter he seems to have given the plan a good deal of thought. Remember, brother mine, if I had followed in our fatherís footsteps it would be you out trying something new instead of running the largest bookstore in Inverness. And as I recall, Father did not want to go into the publishing business and Iíve heard that you are turning a pretty penny in that venture, as well.
The shorter days allow for longer nights after supper to sit and chat and this is something I quite look forward to. John has become quite the storyteller once he starts to tell a tale. Sometimes I donít think he lets facts get in the way of a good story, but has quite a gift. He is quite observant about people and their actions. I donít think much passes his notice and once he starts to tell a tale be prepared to laugh as he can find humor in the most unlikely places.
These long nights remind me of home, when the three of us would gather in the upstairs bedroom and tell stories. Remember how Iain would make us laugh until we got into trouble with Father for not going to sleep? I miss you, brother-mine. There are days I long to be home and walking the streets of Inverness listening to the old men talk of the days of when the Royal Court was held there and of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites, but I canít and wonít change what I have here.
So, I will leave you now and get this letter into the post and know that I miss you and yours and look forward to your next letter.
Your loving brother Ė
Dear Angus- Fall
By: Tory (Sprite) Fischer