In 1956, when I was 12 years old, my mom and dad bought a 13-acre farm in Fulton, California, seven miles north of Santa Rosa, where we lived for three years before moving back to town.
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My sister, Gaynl, age 9, brother, Mike, age 7, and I enjoyed many wonderful experiences that provided us with childhood memories we are still fond of sharing. On the farm we had a Collie named Bonnie, a horse named Princess, cats, chickens, vegetable gardens, and fruit trees. We had fresh-laid eggs with brilliant yellow yolks and we learned that fresh eggs, when hardboiled, are nearly impossible to peel.
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Mom was the quintessential Good Housekeeping Mom who canned peaches, pears, apples, pickles, jams, and jellies. Each summer she would make an embarrassment of applesauce, apple pies, and apple butter with Gravenstein apples grown in orchards not far from us in Graton. She froze the pies and we enjoyed them on cold winter evenings, still warm from baking, as we watched TV in front of a blazing fire. Canned pears were used to make pear crisp, my favorite dessert, which we enjoyed warm with fresh cream.
To enhance our awareness of and appreciation for the miracle of life, Dad bought two ewes that had been bred and who, in due course, produced a single lamb each—unlike our female cats who regularly produced large litters of kittens. Following an early morning walk around the farm on the spring morning that the first lamb was born, Dad came into the house to herald its arrival. “It’s a beautiful day in Fulton, California!” he proclaimed in a booming voice. “Come greet our new lamb!”
Mom, Gaynl, Mike, and I jumped out of bed and hurried to dress. We walked excitedly to the pen where the sheep were kept. Silent with wonder, we stood at the fence staring at the new arrival.
“Is it a boy lamb or a girl lamb?” Mike asked.
“It’s a little boy lamb,” Mom said. “A ram.”
“How do you know?” he asked.
“Because,” said Mom, “I saw his ram parts.” Silence ensued as we watched the little ram wobble tentatively testing his unsteady legs.
“So that’s what that means!” I said, breaking the silence.
“What what means?” Mom asked.
“O’er the ram parts we watched,” I said.