Robert looks forward to our meeting up again...who knows.
Spent last night parked along side Highway 43 mid way between CONCORAN AND WASCO, CALIFORNIA, next to the Game Reserve. Have discovered many new aspects to the long-ago Lake Tulare, which is today, the California Wildlife Refuge where SPIA, SAM & ME parked.
A few grape vineyards line Highway 43. This photograph shows yet another farmer's solution to supporting the vines.
That water ditch is actually a continuation of Lake Tulare Wildlife area. And, here is the Land Bridge - the Railroad System of transporting Containers across the country. Even received a Toot Toot when I waved to the train Engineer.
This photograph shows some of the remaining waters from the original Lake Tulare, once a nearly 700 square mile fresh water lake forming much of the San Joaquin Valley.
Lake Tulare was intentionally allowed to dry up by the State of California daming and diverting the mountain rivers flowing into the San Joaquin Valley 150 years ago.
Trees along the remaining waters of Lake Tulare (now wildlife sanctuary) are resting places for the many Egrets (at least I believe these large white birds to be Egrets).
Highway 43 runs right through the center of the remaining waters of Lake Tulare. Many aquatic birds are swimming around out there...at the moment, mostly ducks.
Craig tells me the story of a boater who sailed his boat from present day BAKERSFIELD all the way to SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA before Lake Tulare was allowed to dry up.
The rich soils of the San Joaquin Valley produce some of America's prime crops. Here, a Swather is harvesting a large field of Alfalfa. The crop will be allowed to lie in the field for a few days to dry a bit...then will be "bailed" into rectangular bales or rolled into large rolls.
This primary food is shipped all over the USA and into some foreign countries for animal feed.
A "Swather" used to cut hay and grain, such as Alfalfa. I used to work for a Company in SPOKANE, WASHINGTON - R. A. HANSEN COMPANY -, which developed and built the original "articulating" Combines which allowed grains to be grown on uneven land; such as hillsides.
A Swather varies from a "Combine", in that the Swather only "CUTS" the crop. The Combine cuts the crop, removes the "grain" from the stalks, and loads the grain into following trucks.
Ironic is seems, that the fertile San Joaquin Valley, once a vast fresh water Lake Tulare, should have a water problem. Pictured out of Craig's Pickup Truck driving along the wide "Berm" is one of the California Aqueducts carrying precious water through the San Joaquin Valley near WASCO, CALIFORNIA.
This water is not intended for the vast crop fields lining the aqueduct. Some of this water may in fact reach local crops, but it belongs - in great part - to the large Cities like LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, which import water from hundreds of miles away from rivers like the Colorado River (Hoover Dam, etc.)
Local farmers often have their own deep water wells. The "Water Table" in this area lies at 300 feet. That means at 300 feet under the surface, lies vast reservoirs of fresh water, which is pumped to the surface, stored in privately built and owned Reservoirs. Farmers invest large $$ to build their water systems to irrigate their crops...a highly scientific and controlled practice to use every drop.
This is just one of Craig's reservoir systems. On the left is the pump lifting (sucking) the deep well water (from 300 feet down) into the large reservoir on the right.
Additional pumps draw water from the reservoirs as needed. This water is processed through large water filters which remove large particles of dirt or other water-born particles. This filtration is very important as the water is then put into the tall standing concrete pipes where it is "gravity" fed into the surrounding underground pipes carrying water to each and every tree in the vast Almond Orchards of Craig's ranch.
If the large particles are NOT filtered out, they would plug up the tiny holes of watering pipes lying on the ground beneath the trees, or the sprinkler heads for the other crops Craig raises, such as Cotton, Carrots, Onions, Garlic, etc.
Careful crop rotation is chosen for each of the many fields in Craig's 1,000 plus Acre Ranch, nearly half of which is planted with Almond Orchards.
Another of Craig's water reservoirs nearing completion. The concrete pad will soon receive the water filters. The big pump up on the reservoir berm pumps water out of the reservoir into the filtration system. All in all, a highly technical system of water management.
The "inside" filter. Fully automatic, this filter is 135 micron capable. To clear the filter...also fully automatic, the Orange rings which contain to filtration holes are spread apart and flexed to remove any large particles which collect, impeding water flow. This entire operation is automatically controlled by pressure sensors which activate the various components built into this highly complex installation.
Orchard in full growth cycle. Blossoms first appear in early February. Bees are "rented" to pollinate the buds. In late February, leaves first appear on the Almond trees.
Harvesting of Almonds occurs in August. In the interim, the ground separating the trees are carefully cleaned and compacted to prepare for the Almond harvest.
Tree "shakers" are rented. These small machines grasp the base of the tree trunk and shake the living daylights of the tree. The mature almonds fall to the prepared ground. Along comes another rented machine which "sweeps" the fallen almonds in the center of the rows, where they are picked up for transport to the Almond Husking Plant.
This Factory has equipment which removes the "furry" outside layer of each nut; then removes the nut from the "woody" husk, and finally packs the nut for transport.
The Almond grower pays the Factory by the pound of nuts delivered for processing. The Factory Processors keeps the hulls and furry outside layer, which he sells as part of his income.
Each grower receives back a share of the Processor's income from hulls and outside layers.
Please click click to see the water sprinklers at work on this field. In the foreground are Onions. To the right are Garlic plants. Many crops are sold before they are even planted. Other crops may be sold during the growing season. Others are sold at harvest time.
Buyers often have their own harvesting equipment. The Grower minimizes overhead $$ in this way by staying out of the "machinery" business, concentrating his efforts on "growing" the crops.
A future facing many San Joaquin Valley Farmers. These pink marks are "Surveyor" marks on the ground. They exist throughout the Valley. They show the planned route of the new HIGH SPEED RAIL SYSTEM planned to run up the Valley.
As presently laid out, the System cuts through the centers of many fields. The farmers have organized to influence the High Speed Rail System planners to use routes (such as along Section Lines) to minimize impact on their farms.
This Almond tree was planted in 2007 (making it 4 years old). It has many Almonds in the early stages of growth. Craig showed me that many folks like to eat the new Almond, husk and all, taken at this stage of development. Yes, I ate some...they are a bit Tart, but very tasty.
Each tree produces about 20 pounds of nuts at harvest time.
Onion field receiving a non-damaging weed control spray, which also contains fertilizer for the Onions.
These large pumps are in the CALIFORNIA AQUADUCT which runs through some of Craig's properties. These pumps are used to control "Reverse Flow" of the entire Canal. Sometimes water is needed back where the Canal comes from. To get the needed water back there, these huge punps actually make the canal water flow in the opposite direction...not too difficult a job as the Valley is quite flat as the result of Lake Tulare bottom being naturally flat from thousands of years of existance.
Please say HI to Karen, Craig's lovely wife and her new dog, Ginger. The little guy I don't have a name for. I am sitting in Karen's Kitchen at the moment, trying to make a rational pictoral story for today's Blog.
Karen and Craig have raised four grown Sons in their home...all out on their own now.
A most pleasant Ranch Style Home about 1/2 miles from downtown WASCO, with luschious crops surrounding their home.
SPIA, SAM & ME have spent the night in their Driveway...thank you very much...and have been welcomed into their home for breakfast and a much appreciated shower.
I was walking North on Highway 43, when Craig, also heading North, stopped and offered me a ride. Normally I would politely refuse because I still had a mile or so to walk back to SPIA. Instead, I agreed, hopped in, and was shocked to have Craig say he came out to get me because his Cousin, Ron, living in VALE, OREGON, told him this crazy old man was walking nearby.
Ron was so kind last July, to give a ride while I walked across Oregon on my way to Oklahoma City...thank you ever so much, Ron...glad you are still following me along...hope all is well with you.
So, I followed Craig to his home, where he demonstrated the mysteries of SPIA's water system - now all of a sudden, we have 30 more gallons of water on board.
Then, we went on a tour of their Ranch...some of which I have attempted to share above.
In early evening, we enjoyed a local Mexican Restaurant dinner...thank you again. Karen and Craig went off to a meeting while I walked around town and back to their home.
Across the Carrot Patch, are three large "Silos". Not at all for crops. These silos receive COAL from Utah via Railroad Coal Cars. The coal is off-loaded into those Silos for storage and trans-shipment via 18-wheelers to Coal-Fired Power Plants located nearby.
All is not necessarily as it at first seems.
Downtown WASCO. Like most San Joaquin towns, WIDE avenues...not a bit of Litter lying about...all in all, very happy folks enjoying the pleasant weather.
As I walked out of WASCO, the Sun cast my long shadow down the dirt path leading to Karen and Craig's Home, where I slept like a baby in my familiar bed aboard SPIA.
DAILY REPORT: Received 3 rides today...two from Women with their baby on-board - walked 16 miles.
SEE YOUR IMPACT.ORG: Credit 16 miles @ $0.02 per mile = $0.32 for the day.
Today (as this is written on the morning after; i.e., April 05, 2011), must walk back North on Hwy 43 to complete my walk to WASCO, CALIFORNIA. Karen has offered to walk along with me...look forward to her company.
Then head South - still of Hwy 43 - towards BAKERSFIELD, CALIFORNIA.