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    A Beautiful Day…

    February 16, 2010 by Brandy Vencel

    For those of you who don’t know, Central California is beautiful in February. By summer, all the green will have dried to a brown crisp, a regular fire hazard, but for now, the hills and mountains surrounding our valley look something akin to Si’s pictures from his trips to Ireland. I have been assured, however, that it is much warmer here.

    When we were invited out to a friend’s family ranch in Lost Hills, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go. I’ve been under the weather for a while now, and I didn’t think I was in the mood. But by Sunday, I had improved a bit, and some fresh air and a change of scenery seemed in order…even if it did mean I’d have to man up and learn to shoot a shotgun.

    Now, the trick in going to Lost Hills is to be able to find them, of course.

    We drove along a road, fenced in from either side. The fences mostly keep cows in rather than keeping people out. I loved the directions we received: turn left in three miles, then left again when you see the yellow gate, then drive on the dirt road, turning left at the “T” and right at the “Y”. Just finding this place felt like an adventure.

    As we neared the yellow gate, we found some of those missing hills.

    It doesn’t rain much here, and as you can see, the tops of the hills don’t grow much to speak of.

    The cows saw us coming.

    Apparently, they are tended by men driving white trucks, so they were pretty excited to see our white Suburban. Everyone was thrilled to see the herd run past.

    Our day started with gun safety training for everyone, even, or maybe especially, the little ones. We had to learn four rules:

    1. Always treat a gun as if it is loaded.
    2. Never point a gun at something you aren’t willing to destroy.
    3. Keep your finger outside the trigger guard.
    4. Know your target and what’s beyond it.

    Then, we ate lunch. And then the little boys disappeared, not to be seen for a long time. When they returned, they were red in the face from conquering the ranch’s three steep hills, and ready for shooting lessons. We took a tour of the 80-plus acre ranch, which is primarily used for a shooting range. We hiked too far with six of the children. I, reluctantly, got those shotgun lessons over. And then a friend and I practiced archery. I feel a new hobby coming on. I instantly wanted to be Queen Lucy.

    I want my own bow and arrows, Husband. Are you reading this?

    While we shot our arrows into a target, a handful of little girls climbed the nearby incline. Here are a couple of them.

    In all, a good day.

    Going to a place like this reminds me how confined children are when they are locked inside suburbia.

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  • Reply Brandy Afterthoughts February 21, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    Mrs. H.,

    Snow. πŸ™‚ My children prayed for snow all winter, but I told them it was a long shot, as it only snows here about once a decade. In exchange for mild winters, we receive harsh summers.


    Fencing! I had forgotten about fencing, but that would appeal to me also. Perhaps what these have in common is quiet. πŸ™‚

    I saw that discussion over on Cindy’s blog, and I want to read what they are reading, but it is about 200 pages and I haven’t found the time. πŸ™ Oh well. I have enjoyed scanning the comments, and it definitely relates to some of what we have been talking about over here.


    I agree with you that this is a good skill to have…and kudos to you for doing something like this with your husband! πŸ™‚ Si was shooting clay pigeons with pretty decent accuracy by the time we left. Now, if I could just convince him to go dove hunting next season…hmmm… πŸ˜‰

  • Reply Rahime February 18, 2010 at 9:06 am

    I don’t know what it is about guns, but I flinch every single time I shoot one, and I just feel silly.

    You shouldn’t feel silly. If it’s any consolation, everyone flinches every time they shoot, just in varying degrees…and it takes practice to minimize that flinch (and hopefully train it to come after the trigger is pulled. And shotguns have a LOT of kick and a particularly loud boom.

    I think I’d enjoy archery more than guns too though…most of the shooting I do is kicking and screaming (inside, not out, of course) because there’s often a sort of dread going into it. I go largely because I know it’s something my hubby enjoys doing together and I’ve learned I usually do have fun despite the anxiety before hand. I also honestly believe it’s a good skill to have.

  • Reply Emily February 17, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    What a fun day….especially for the little ones! We have a shotgun which I’ve never learned to shoot. I’m afraid I’d really throw my back out. It’s heavy! We live right down the road from the local rod and gun club with their shooting range and I’m thinking it’s time to get Anna Rose out there wih her papa. Archery has always appealed to me as well as fencing. Wouldn’t that be a blast?

    In a completely unrelated aside, there is a great discussion brewing at Dominion Family on introverts in the church.

  • Reply Mrs. H February 17, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Looks beautiful! We are covered over here with about 18″ of snow! I want summer – NOW πŸ™‚

    Mrs. H

  • Reply Brandy Afterthoughts February 17, 2010 at 2:52 am

    I thought of you when we did this! Actually, what I thought was, “Rahime wouldn’t be such a baby about this like I’m being.”

    I don’t know what it is about guns, but I flinch every single time I shoot one, and I just feel silly.

    You would love this place. My favorite is the target that looks like a goat with giant horns. I think it was supposed to resemble a deer.

    Yes, the rules apply to archery, especially this sort of archery, as it was the real deal. I had no idea how very cool a real bow and arrow is. You really could hunt with it.

    I love cows, too, and these were the happy California kind. πŸ˜‰

  • Reply Rahime February 17, 2010 at 2:33 am

    Sounds like an altogether enjoyable day! Hope the shotgun lessons weren’t too horrible! I suspect several of the basic firearms rules could apply to archery as well. πŸ˜‰ I found shotgun quite fun when I went shooting with my cousins over the summer, but it did make my shoulder much more sore than the handgun and rifle do.

    Ohhh, and cows….how I love cows.

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