Water, and Our Essential, Antique Infrastructure

… a legacy of the California gold rush two centuries ago

  • Two men in foreground leaning on a wooden trestle that stretches off into the forest background
  • A concrete structure that has a gate to let water in. A pool of water with leaf reflections in front of gate
  • A dam with water rushing over
  • A canal of water
  • A series of connected iron pipes on wooden trestles.
  • A long, zig-zagging and dipping section of connected, corrugated steel pipes on a trestle.
  • Two men leaning on a wooden trestle structure in the forest on a mountainside
  • A long, wooden trestle stretches into the background with an old, 30" iron pipe laying alongside, covered in debris and leaves

Water is dear. Meaning it is precious, and getting it when we need it in California is complicated, and in our case, difficult.

Along with some of our neighbors, our properties have water rights allocated through California’s complex system of water rights and laws.

Our rights are actually among the oldest, most senior, in California, dating from the mid-1800s.

But that’s only if we can get it to our properties. The water is delivered through a two-century old flume and aqueduct system, over three miles long, that snakes along the side of a mountain and along part of an old lumbering railroad bed.

We and some of our neighbors belong to a small, non-profit water corporation that was formed in the 1960s to maintain this aqueduct system. We pay dues and annually labor to keep the flume and pipes in a condition that allows the flume to convey a set number of “miner’s inches” of water from April through November.

Without our labor, there would be no water here in the creek or for irrigation during the hot, dry Summer and Fall.

Our water corporation is very small, and an even smaller number of individuals support it financially and with labor.

One of the unfortunate realities of a common, shared system like this is a problem known as “the tragedy of the commons“. The “commons” are used by a group of people. Some people work hard to sustain it. Other people will steal from it, use it, or just minimize their effort to maintain it. This kind of thing happens to all of us in communities, states, nation and world. We all draw life from something we all share, but the sweat, labor and money dedicated to the effort is not shared by all.

It takes communities of dedicated, cooperating, hard-working people to create just and fair rules governing the way we use our resources and to deliver those resources in reliable, sustainable ways.

A small number of the people in our water group provide the lion’s share of hard labor and financial support necessary to keep our water flowing, year-round. I will not name them here, they know who they are and we are so thankful for them.

In a way, our legacy here is still part of the old America, from a time when people had to work long, hard hours, to accomplish things together, a time before consumer-based individualism and “me, me, me” washed over us and separated us from our earth and each other.

Goat Morning! Off to High Pasture

Every morning, there is some version of this scene as they all head off to the upper pasture. They each have their unique habits and behaviors. The little Girl Story twins (white ones, one at 36 seconds and both at 1 min 13 seconds) are the most independent and very sweet. Bucky talks a lot (44 seconds). Toward the end, you can see it’s Faruk’s day out with them and he’s checking things out as they move along.

Creek, Camelia, Apple, Chicks

Just mixing it up from the last sad post.

  • a creek running past a barn surrounded in newly leafed, green trees
  • A varigated pink and white flower
  • an apple sitting on the counter (kind of blush color on yellow/green)
  • Forty little chicks in a box under a heat lamp

Note: That apple in slide 3 was picked from a tree that lives at Mike’s & Jim’s house. They are the best “keeping” apples we’ve ever experienced. We don’t know the variety. But they are mostly green in color when we pick them. Then we put them in cold storage (spare fridge) at 33 degrees F. By the time we get around to eating them months later, they are much sweeter and still crisp and juicy. Seriously, we are eating them now, and picked them over half a year ago! Keep that tree healthy, Mike and Jim!

Not Fun

Update 4/22/20: Totally sad ending here. He was euthanized today. Really went downhill overnight. We could see the twinkle in his eye was gone this morning. Too short a life. Here’s when he came to us: https://twobucksranch.com/2020/03/12/lil-girl-two/.

Mom and sister are looking for him, but he’s up on the hill with Goatie and Story.

Update 4/21/20: He is still unable to walk or eat on his own. However, he is alert and drinking from a syringe. It is looking like instead of an infection, he has a brain injury — likely from being head butted by a larger goat. We are hopeful, but not optimistic since he is slowly losing ground with his nutrition. We can’t feed him enough milk and he needs to be eating hay and grass at this age. He also needs to be able to walk on his own.


Some days are short on fun. Coronavirus is bad enough. But one of our little goat kids fell ill this morning. It could be any number of things: listeriosis, polio, tetanus, brain swelling from being head-butted by a bigger goat, or something else entirely. Not sure if he will make it. We have pulled out all the stops: antibiotics, thiamine, B-complex and force feeding him milk and electrolytes. He can’t stand and is unable to eat on his own. No improvement in the last 12 hours.

All the other goats are upset, as is mama goat, and us. So sad to see the little guy go from happy, bouncy-ears to this.

Look Mom, It Feels Good to Scratch My New Horns on the Tree!

The kids are big enough to trek into the high pasture. Along the way, they get into all sorts of mischief or merriment. Here are a couple pictures David took yesterday morning as he followed their journey. Girl Story and her little boy.

Green Pastures

Nice spring day for all the animals. We are starting to name some of the new goat kids.

  • young goat kid
  • a young goat kid laying down with a blade of grass sticking out of her mouth
  • a young goat kid drinking from a bottle
  • young goat kid's face looking into the camera
  • two young goat kids
  • a young goat kid
  • a goat face staring into the camera
  • An Anatolian Shepherd in a pasture with cattle and goats
  • a pasture with a new garden fenced off in it
  • a tiny little goat kid
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