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Life's a Journey

Clear skies on the farm

By: Dan Tomich
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Those early 1940s, the years before I started school, I learned to love the country, the animals, and the clear blue sky. I stayed with my grandparents, on their farm in Southern California, and I don’t know for how long. I was a little boy and no one seems to know how long I stayed with them. Those folks are all gone now.

It doesn’t matter but it would be interesting to know the facts.

During that time on the farm I learned to be comfortable being alone. I wandered the fields and grew to love the countryside, the wide open spaces. That experience left me with a desire to have a few acres of my own someday. I wanted the cows, the chickens, the barn and the gates and the fences when I grew up. Just like the old farm. That desire never left me but I eventually was returned to the city, and grew up right there in Los Angeles.

Mickie and I were married in 1958 and lived in rentals until we bought our first home in Torrance, in 1964.

In 1981 we bought our 11 acres of cattle grazing land and poison oak in North Auburn. It took us until 1986 to get a house built and to move up north to Auburn. It was everything we had ever hoped for. But it was just 11 acres of unfenced land with a new house on it.

We both had to find jobs. Mickie as a legal secretary in Auburn, me as a union glazier in Sacramento. After work we would work endlessly on the land that we loved. Mickie worked at getting the landscaping done around the house and a garden going, while I worked at pounding in T posts around the perimeter of our land. Many’s the day we had dinner late at night, trying to get that last bit of work done before the sun went down.

As we’ve gotten to know our neighbors, we’ve shared meals with them during the various holidays, as well as on less formal occasions. It’s such a joy to break bread with your neighbors and talk of their plans for the future and to share yours with them.

And the other wonderful part of living here in small town Auburn is getting to know people where we shop. In 22 years of living in Torrance, I never knew a soul at the market where we shopped.  When we shop at Bel Air Market here in Auburn, we always chat a bit with Cathy or Vicki at their check stands. And before we shop, we usually have coffee at Pete’s, and say Hello to Michele, Karen, or Jennifer. It means a lot to us to feel part of this community. These people are our friends and we look forward to seeing them.

This is cattle country and we raised a few cows a few years back. We’ve also raised sheep, goats, llamas, and chickens over the years but now it’s become time to slow down a bit. I can’t stack those bales of hay as easily as I used to.

It’s just me, Mickie, our dog Lily Rose, and our cat Tucker. We’re a pack and we just want to live out our years on this land that we love and that we’ve put so much of ourselves into. We’ve been here 32 years now and with constant attention to rotting fence posts and decks, and the occasional irrigation problem, we’ve finally got this place the way we’ve always envisioned it after all these years of hard work. The barn is still in good shape but the pond is begging for attention. There’s always something to be done when you live in the country.

But now a new threat has arisen to what we have looked upon as our forever home. The county wants to make our street, Cramer Road, access to the Hidden Falls parking lot. Cramer Road is a winding narrow country road that we use every day to enter and exit our property and the county wants to use it to move 100 cars, plus 40 trucks pulling horse trailers to drive to a parking area off Bell Road. That’s just a short distance beyond where we live.

We, and our neighbors, have loved the serenity of our location here in North Auburn. It’s quiet, other than the occasional owl or howl of a coyote late at night. Mickie has always been able to safely walk our dog Lily on Cramer Road with little fear of being threatened by a wide swinging truck pulling a horse trailer. And now we’re being told of a potential of 40 truck/trailers and 100 additional cars all headed for a new paved parking lot on rural land off Bell Road.

How can this be done in good conscience? We came here 32 years ago seeking exactly what we’ve made of our land. And now, at this late date, we wouldn’t have time to do it all again somewhere else. I can’t help thinking of that old song from the ‘60s by Janie Mitchell.  It was called “Big Yellow Taxi.”

“Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.
They paved paradise,
Put up a parking lot.”

And that pretty well sums up the county’s plans for Cramer Road, Lone Star, and Bell Road.  Their plans for an entry on Bell Road will turn these country roads into a crowded, noisy and dangerous entry to Hidden Falls. It’s just not a decent way to treat all these people who have loved and enjoyed their lives along these roads up until now. It’s about time the county gave some thought to all the lives that would be disrupted by this new additional entry to Hidden Falls. And especially let those folks on Bell Road keep their property as private as it been for so many years.

Dan Tomich, who spent his career in the construction industry, lives in North Auburn with his wife, Mickie. Their sons are grown and are all in the same trade. Tomich can be reached at dttomich@gmail.com