This is a small, personal ranch located off a slight turn on highway 101.
Nestled against the San Rafael Mountains, this quaint abode is my first stop in my WWOOFing tour and an unfortunate victim to the drought that has been plaguing California.
Once a highway side gas station, the land was purchased by the farm owner and renovated to become what is now the home to banana, orange, lemon and lime trees scattered around the compound and several edible plants quartered in a separate personal garden. Although it was never a commercial operation, the drought severely affected the planting taking place here and because of this, most of the work I performed during my stay was fire prevention and general landscape maintenance.
My housing arrangement
Welcome to my home for the past 10 days! For this time, this tent was where I slept and stored my belongings. I spent the majority of my time in the The Lounge though, a separate building located on the compound that housed a small kitchen, a spice island, a few couches with a dvd/vhs player and a dining room table that I used as a study hall.
Slightly dusty and cluttered, The Lounge was a testament to the travels of the owner, containing knickknacks of various cultures and origin. The CRT TV was covered in a blanket depicting the Buddha and the perimeter was lined with drums and hanging masks. Spider webs drooped empty from the rafters, sparkling in the afternoon sun.
66 years old
Described to me as “The kindest man in Santa Barbara” Kevin is a young soul trapped in an aging shell, with a thin frame and wispy gray hair in two thick tufts on either side of a sun spotted scalp. He has a wide smile that punctuates his sentences and a deep, commanding voice similar to Bill Maher, with none of the associating characteristics. He is the embodiment of an old school hippy, with loose fitting clothing hanging from his body and an extensive knowledge of zen and yoga. Absurdly generous, his airheaded nature shows as he energetically bounces around between his metal crafting studio and farming duties. He is easy to relate to, with an open attitude, a wealth of patience and a very complimentary manner of speech.
Main quality: Inviting
Age: Unknown ~mid 50s
Nipa is Kevin’s wife and the main gardener on the ranch. She has a clear, wrinkle free complexion and black peppery hair, pulled back in a shoulder length ponytail. She smiles through her teeth and speaks with a strong Thai accent in an adorably laughable way, although she seems much more stern than Kevin is. Her role definitely appears from an outside perspective to be the rock of the relationship, offering encouragement to her husbands endeavors and making sure the homestead functions properly while he toils with his business. She teaches her native tongue through Skype sessions on the side.
Main quality: Accomodating
David aka Kalo
It would be easiest to describe Kalo’s appearance as a thin Santa Claus. When people typically think of a hippy, Kalo would be the poster child, with a full gray beard, white wavy ponytail and oval frame glasses that sit on the bridge of his nose. He has a smile like an old friend’s and is more often than not wandering around shirtless as he performs his tasks on the compound. Stern, business minded, logical and calculating, he is the sober straight man to the antics that happen around him. He has a a quick and sometimes caustic wit and seems to be in a mood of humoring people by default, but brightens up completely once you make him smile. Beneath his demeanor, he is completely humble, deeply invested in the endeavors of others and active in creating networks to help others. He has a matter-of-fact way of speaking, typically engaging others when he looks up from his crafting duties or laptop screen.
Main quality: Unpredictability
Work Preformed at The Ranch:
Weeding exotic grasses
Peppercorn tree removal and disposal
Creating planters and plant beds
General site maintenance and miscellaneous tasks