Much of what I walk through down the San Joaquin Valley, California, is seemingly limitless vastness. Beauty equal to that of the unlimited vistas of the Rocky Mountains crossing Wyoming and the grassy plains of Colorado.
Before going further today, I wish to make a clarification regarding my Blog.
Even though I walk at 4 miles per hour for 6 - 10 hours a day, that which I see, I see only once and have little time for reflection before another moment of interest fills my head with wondcers. To remember special moments, I often take a photograph or two. At tthe end of the day - more often VERY late at night (it is now 3:44 am - very dark outside...dogs barking in the distance), some details become fuzzy.
Then again, I photograph many subjects - many of which I have NO prior knowledge...or at best, a passing prior rememberance.
In no way do I pretend to be knowledgeable or expert in ANYTHING. I try to record that which is interesting or different or which might be of interest to a "follower" somewhere else in the World.
Bottom line: sometimes I get it wrong. Sometimes I get it confused. Sometimes I sound convincing when perhaps I should just eliminate that event.
All photographs; All comments; All things in my Blog are my best presentation at the moment and must be view from that perspective.
I do...and will continue to do...my best to get it right.
At first glance, this photograph might be a Kennel. On closer inspection (click click), it proves to be "rearing cells" for VERY young Holstein Milk Cows.
For background, I once owned and lived on a 10 acre farm in MAPLE VALLEY, WASHINGTON. On our farm - my Wife, Sharon, and two Sons, Ronald and Thomas, enjoyed freedom of the open country - we had a Salmon Spawning Stream running thru our farm - and raised a garden, pigs, a horse, a Cow - Josie - whom we ate, and wee 7 day-old-calves which we raised to about 6 months whereupon they were sold and replaced with new week-olds. Therefore, I do know a wee bit about the little critters.
This is a close-up of the BACK SIDE of the "Kennels". Each "Box" holds one days-old calf. Each calf is restrained from moving too much - barely room to turn around on the wire "floor"...whie to allow the Urine and Poop to drop onto the ground under them.
Look through this "Pen". On the other side is a feeding / watering bucket...the only access a calf has to reach outside her wire enclosure.
A calf remains in the above pen until moved to a small dirt corral with her siblings...I would guess (I really don't know) at about the age of 6 months.
In this small corral, the young calves remain. There is no grass. They live and sleep on the dirt...always mixed well with excrement.
....until reaching "Heifer" status. These Heifers are living next door to the previous photograph. They, too, exist living on soiled dirt.
This group of Heifers ran pell mell clear to the enclosure as I walked up to them...I did this two times during the day about two hours apart (SPIA was parked here while I walked both North and then South on The Back Road).
They seemed genuinely excited to see me and listened intently as I talked to them - I always talk to all the animals I meet...I even talk to all plants I pass by, too...I have a VERY strong suspicion that ALL living things communicate...we Humans have either lost the means to do so, or have become so arrogant as to think such communication is beneath us.
Upon reaching adulthood and become fresh with milk - a natural post delivery event, as every female knows much better than ME - our Holstein Milk Cows are moved to the "Feed Lot".
Here, the animals live their active lives - "active" = producing milk - until they dry up and can no longer continue to the profits of the Dairy.
Many dairies "pasture" their animals. I did not see evidence that these animals were pastured.
Must check this aspect out further...do these valuable animals actually spend their ENTIRE lives behind bars ???
This dairy has three or four such "feed lots", lined with hundreds of milk cows munching hay or chomping special dry food mix purchased from the local Dairy Products Supplier.
At the end of this "feed lot" is a very large water spout - about 18 inches flat oval - directed at the concrete floor. When turned on, it sends a tidel wave of water rushing by the milk cows feet, cleaning the floor from excrement.
The lush green grass in the foreground is NOT for the milk cows. This is the neighbor's cows seen grazing peacefully under the eyes of the trapped "feed lot" givers of our milk.
I was invited to return at 3:00 pm to witness the Milking Operation. The above photograph is of the Milk Room. Each cow is hooked up with hoses - each hose having a suction cylinder on the end. Each teat receives the suction cup, which proceeds to suck the milk from the Udder.
The milk goes into a large stainless steel tank, where it is stored waiting for an 18-wheeler tanker truck to come by later in the day. I photographed one such truck, but did not post it.
This is an "Auction Yard"
I am sitting in an amphitheater - sitting around me are folks in 10-gallon hats, shit-kick'n boots, and pad and pen. These are the BIDDERS.
The fellow inside the pen with the cow is making the cow parade three or four times back and forth across the pen. This gives the Bidders a good look from all angles.
The fellow up on the stage (on the right - on the left is a lady speacking on a microphone giving instruction to "back-stage" hands to take away the current actor-cow and lead in another cow) is the Auctioneer.
I watched this Auction for nearly 30 minutes, taking many photographs.
You like McDonalds or Burger King ?? He asked me...
Before I could reply, he continued...Well, there goes their future Hamberger.
With that he stood up and walked back down the steps.
The Auctioneer in action. Although I could not understand one single word he yelled into his microphone - repeated in speakers around the room -, I gathered most of our out-or-work Milk Cows were sold for about $75.00.
This region of the San Joaquin Valley is known as the Tomato Capital. I walked by three huge Tomato Processing Factories. Tom, one of four folks to give me rides today, worked at this factory for 29 years. About 1,500,000 TONS (a ton is 2,000 pounds) of Tomato Paste is processed in this single plant each year.
This is the third Tomato Processing Plant I tried to visit...no tours for individuals !!! ..., a competitor to Tom's plants 3 miles up the Back Road.
Now, this I do know about...an 18-wheeler. I meet dozens - if not hundreds - of these monsters every day walking the highways and byways of America. This beast is waiting in line at the LIBERTY Plant to pick up a load of Tomato Paste.
A wee background: My Dad drove this critter for a living. At 9 years old, I drove my first 18-wheeler. At 12, I and little Brother Jim (miss you Jim) who was 10, together drove a 60-foot long 18-wheeler - owned by PIE (Pacific Mountain Express) out of Los Angeles - loaded with Asphault Roofing to the new homes in RICHLAND, WASHINGTON - where the Hanford Nuclear Power Plant (built the Atom Bomb wich destroyed Nagasaki, Japan in 1945 - which I also visited in 1953 -) is located. Jim & Me are/were real DOWN WINDERS.
Jim and Me had a "Race" with the two real drivers - there were two such rigs that day - that Jim and ME could deliver our truck load of roof shingles - each bundle weighed 75 pounds...30 to this house...28 to that house...etc. - and return to the designated Restaurant before the real drivers could unload the second truck.
Jim and ME were already finished with Lunch before the second truck showed up.
I also received my Drivers License at age 14 while driving our own (We owned Tri-City Freight Lines in PASCO, WASHINGTON) 18-wheeler loaded with lumber. Passed the road test in a breeze at the ELLENSBURG, WASHINGTON State Patrol Office and received my license...Of course, Dad lied about my age.
Guess I was a bit of a problem at every age. Such as...I flew my own Airplane from age 12, having Solo'd after 45 minutes Ground AND in the air Training. Yes, I tried to do everything as well as possible...I LOVED to fly.
Please say HELLO to John. Two times today, I met up with John...quite by accident...and received rides. Thank you, John.
John is a Land Surveyor living in GUSTINE, CALIFORNIA.
The most unique fence I have ever seen...surely to keep out undesirables. A home near LOS BANOS, CALIFORNIA.
Main (Central Avenue) Street in DOS PALOS, CALIFORNIA (where SPIA, SAM and ME are spending the night)
Click Click...I do believe this animal is a YAK. If so, YAK is from Mongolia...where I will walk on my Around-The-World Walk...Oh, have I not shared that bit of information...well, I will...
This farmer controls the flow of water in his irrigation canal by lowering this half-oval barrier into the ditch.
This is a Harvester Machine. The precision of the rows in the previous photograph allow this machine to drive down the rows, harvesting six (6) rows at a time...see the slotted forks in front.