This Thanksgiving I was thankful for my family, for my work which has kept me insanely busy for a month, and for a day spent in the country this fall learning about one of my ancestor gardens at the Agua Linda Farm.
We spent the day there in October with my dad, my brother and his wife Sherry and my two girls. The Agua Linda is special to my family because my grandparents lived there roughly from 1950 to 1957 after they sold part of the big ranch. My parents lived there in a small adobe house (that no one liked) and my brothers and sisters were raised there as babies. My grandmother built a beautiful Joesler designed home and changed the name from Reventon to Agua Linda for the beautiful Santa Cruz River that she had a view of from her sweeping picture windows.
I was married there in 2000.
So the place is very significant for my family. (And any data I give is probably contestable except for my wedding!)
My family sold it to the Loew family in the late 50s when we could no longer afford to keep it. Members of the Loew family (of Loew’s Theaters and other famous Hollywood names) have lived there since and they have been gracious enough to let me get married there and also indulge in our visits. They have also turned it into a fantastic organic farm that’s open to the public, hosting the greatest pumpkin patch you’ve ever been to. (Of course, I’m biased.)
We had a great day there and also a great conversation with my dad who told me all the history I should know and seem to continuously forget. He says it’s a frustrating place for him to remember the crops that didn’t grow and the cattle that he had to sell, but it still seems magical to me and it’s truly one of the most beautiful places on earth. My Grandma was right! And her iris plants (and maybe violets) still sprout along the brick pathways and courtyard surrounding the house.
Well, here are some photos and some interesting things about silage that my dad told me. (I asked about that because my daughter ran away from me in the silage maze!)
Back in the days we started the farm, they had a cattle feeding operation there and they fed raised corn to feed the cattle–Mexican June, was the name of the corn. It grew so high and tall that the producers of the movie Oklahoma used it for the “Corn as high as an elephant’s eye.” No joke. (Later I will post a beautiful picture of my mother standing next to it.) They bought it and took it away from the farm and planted it somewhere else where they filmed that scene. At least, that’s family lore. But here’s the silage details, which are probably boring next to the gossip, but the farmers out there might like it.
“We put 3,000 tons of silage in a pit. We buried it and put water on it and it ferments. Wheat, soybeans, cotton, …you chop it and ferment it and the cows get drunk on it.”
“First we dug it and with pitch forks feed it to the cattle. Then we found a silage loader. You dropped the silage on a conveyor belt and it went on the feed truck and we fed the cattle. It was the first silage loader in Arizona. Our silage pit was the length of a football field.”
Here we digress into a general history of every ranch in Southern Arizona and who sold what and who bought what and who lived on a crappy piece of land where it never rained (I think that was every rancher in Southern Arizona.)
Well, I wrote enough and I’m boring you. I hope you enjoyed the pictures! If you are ever in Tucson, drive south towards Nogales and go to the Agua Linda Farm. There’s a big sign on the highway so you can’t miss it.
Happy Thanksgiving! What garden, new or in your past, are you thankful for?
Great story, great history! My in-laws lived in Green Valley for ten years and we made many trips south of Tucson to get there. Must have passed the farm. Great memories! I bet a lot of folks born in this country can remember their grandparents having a farm, or at least a garden. – Kaye