Kern County is oil. Kern County is agriculture. Today I set out on a little drive to check out the wildflowers, but it turned into a story of oil and ag also. This is me. Ready, set, go.
When I say our economy here is based on oil and agriculture, I mean it. Sometimes they are inseperable.
See what I mean? They share the same fields! Kern County is technically a desert, but that drainage ditch shows a precious ingredient, water. As they say, food grows where water flows. And the San Joaquin Valley, where Kern County is located, California’s Central Valley, is known as the breadbasket of the world.
Next time you buy carrots, look at the package. They will almost certainly be from Grimmway Farms or Bolthouse Farms – the biggest carrot growers in the world. The drive I took today took me through the little towns of Arvin, Lamont, and Weedpatch, where Grimmway Farms is.
Yes, we have a town called Weedpatch.
When the first shuttle landing was taking place at Edwards Air Force Base – also in Kern County – I remember that the news organizations were all over the place. There were actually correspondents stationed in Weedpatch waiting to hear the sonic boom. Don’t you love it? “Reporting from Weedpatch, California…”
So I set out, taking a meandering path, going where the road took me.
I went past some orange groves. This tree has oranges on it. We see these every day; we even have an orange tree in our backyard. Most of us have lemons too. But when I was in Palm Springs for the Adam Lambert concert, I went to lunch with a group of Glamberts, and we passed orange, grapefruit and lemon trees. You would have thought we’d seen the space ship Enterprise or something, everyone was so excited. And I remembered that in most of the country, people don’t have orange trees, that to some people these are exotic. All what you’re used to. Anyhow, this was a scraggly orange tree. Needed trimming. And the trimmer was in action.
The machine in the middle of the rows has rotary blades that can cut the tops and sides of the trees. There’s no sense letting the trees get so big that oranges can’t be picked.
Gotta say, I was pretty excited to see this. I was standing at the front of the row with my camera, and didn’t realize how fast this thing was coming – so I had to scramble and jump in the car and move it just in case this contraption had a wide turning radius. Needn’t have worried.
This brings me back to oil, water and ag.
Cool picture, huh? You can see it all, including a faint tinge of orange in the distant hills. From here I got back on Highway 58 only to exit on General Beale Road just in case there was something to see. And there was. A whole truck of beehives was being unloaded with a forklift. The driver was in full bee-keeping regalia.
I bought a book on beekeeping once. I was going to be a bee keeper during the late 60s – you know, when we made our own granola, baked all our bread, and went to gather dandelions for dandelion wine. Except if you’ve ever tried that, you know it’s physically impossible to collect enough dandelions for wine.
Here’s a picture showing the full scene where the bees are.
Kern County is BIG. We’re the third-largest county in California, area-wise.
Here’s a close up of a bee hive I took last year. The hives are being distributed, by the way, because the bees pollinate the crops.
As I was getting back on the freeway, I saw a stop sign where obviously someone hadn’t stopped.
I started out in pursuit of wildflowers, which I did find, but I found so much on the way to wildflowers, that I’m saving them for tomorrow. So I tootled on up to Highway 223 and passed this cattle shute. Cattle is also a big Kern County crop.
What’s cool about this is that last time I was out here, maybe 10 years ago? I took a photo of this but it was a misty day and it had a ghostly appearance to it. I entered that photo in the Kern County Museum of Art annual Visual Arts Fest and won the first prize! I wanted to jump right in here and take the same angle but now there are signs posted about security cameras. Phooey. In compensation, though, there was a really cool fence.
Onward! Highway 223 winds up a hill and back down again, which reminds me of a song I sang endlessly as a child. Mom says that for a long time, every morning when she and Dad got up, I was in my room with my wind-up phonograph, singing to a record: “The King of France with 40,000 men, marched up the hill and then marched down again.” Powerful lyrics, huh. I loved that song.
The point being, from that hill we have a nice view of the agriculture down in the valley.
Tempting you for tomorrow with view of wildflowers. Here’s some more temptation.
While I was up there I took a nifty rear-view mirror photo so you can see my college decal on the back window.
I was now down in the valley, the valley so low. And hungry so I went by McDonalds in Arvin, where a kid’s meal cheeseburger tastes the same as it does in New York, and found an orchard not yet in bloom to eat in. Actually, the trees may be dead. I don’t know. But on my web site, there are photos of other types of Kern County orchards in bloom – almonds and wow, something I don’t know but the blossoms are pink. The first three are almonds, then more almonds at G4-99, and at G4-117 you get the pink blossoms. Conveniently numbered in case you want to buy some, uh huh.
Across the street was evidence of another huge Kern County crop – grapes. The vines are still dormant but I love them like this – they make me think of a city with an electric grid.
I headed on home, but stopped for a huge bag of oranges at a roadside stand between Lamont and Weedpatch – only $3.00.
So that’s just a short tour of one teensy bit of Kern County. And to tempt you, here’s a little of what tomorrow’s post will look like.
This was a great day – my favorite kind. Just driving around and seeing what’s out there.