Brandt and I slept in the upstairs bedroom. I loved the upstairs in the old farmhouse. The windows could be opened on all sides to catch the breeze above the citrus trees. I could hear the water running through the headgate in the ditch, or a car driving down the road for miles around. At dusk the birds would make fluttering and cooing noises as they found places to sleep for the night. If a nearby field was being irrigated I could hear hundreds of frogs croaking their thanks for the cool water. There was the faint barking of dogs from farms that were miles away, or cows mooing from the distant dairy. The milk truck that went from dairy to dairy picking up milk had the loudest and squeakiest brakes I’ve ever heard. He would ride those brakes for a quarter of a mile before he finally came to a stop. Every time he pulled up to the corner, Dad would say, “There’s the milk wagon and his noisy brakes!” There weren’t many cars that drove by in those days. I would lay in bad at night and watch the faint, fuzzy, dancing light the car headlights would make on the bedroom wall as the car drove the mile or two towards our house before they actually passed by. Very late at night I would wonder who could be driving down the road and I was thankful I was safe in my bed and wondered if the person driving that late at night wished they were home in bed too. The sound of automobile tires that changed from the cement highway to gravel meant that someone had pulled into the driveway and we had a visitor! Picking up the living room as quickly as possible was an organized fire drill with Mom yelling “Each person pick up three things and take them into the other room…..and don’t stomp your feet!” That’s because we had a wooden floor and she didn’t want the visitors waiting at the door hearing all of us running through the house in a panic. But when we answered the door, the visitors were usually smiling and would make a comment about our noisy feet and Mom would make an excuse, let them in, and usher us kids to a corner. We’d be polite and smile and shyly respond at the appropriate times, but we know we were to be seen and not heard.
Our neighbors down the road were Basque sheepherders and every winter they would drive the sheep down from the White Mountains to the alfalfa fields in the valley. When we would see a temporary fence being erected around the field next to us, we would get excited cause it meant they would be moving sheep there soon. It was exciting to be driving down the road and come upon a herd of sheep being moved from one field to another. There would be an entire herd of hundreds of sheep right in the middle of the road. There were too many to drive around, so all you could do was drive up to the sheep very slowly and them come to a stop and let them drive the sheep around your car. Some of them already had small lambs and the shepherds would either be carrying them or would place them in the back of a truck. I couldn’t believe how much poop they left behind. On particularly cold nights I would lie in my bed under the warm covers and hear the bleating of the sheep and the lambs all night long and wonder how those little lambs stayed warm.