America as it was |

America as it was

by Ron Walker

As soon as I see the “Fresh Eggs Daily,” and “Local Honey” sign by the dirt road to Renner Farms, I make a quick turn. It’s the time of Halloween. I become a General inspecting a battalion of pumpkins on the right, and an orderly maze formation of corn stalks on the left.

Three shiny black hens peck and cluck their way across a neatly trimmed lawn while simultaneously, coming toward us is a handsome young man with a wide smile and a full beard. His name is Josh. He is the Manager of Agricultural Operations, although they haven’t as yet given him this lofty title. When he hears I’d like one of his pumpkins, he dispatches Chandler, his younger brother, to ready the John Deere and in a flash, I am riding shotgun. With considerable fuss, Chandler and I search out and find the “just right” pumpkin.

The charm of the Renner Farm has me in its grasp, and it seems, Orllyene as well. She has discovered three jars of homemade jam, a clutch of roma tomatoes and half a pound of freshly dug garlic and is ready to make her purchase. “I feel great. This is the happiest I’ve been in days,” she exclaims, and once again Smith Valley is our Shangri-La.

Next day, Orllyene still feels fine, but I am lower than a skunk at an Avon Convention. It is so bad I clean our refrigerator for want of something fun to do. On a hunch, I return to the Renner Farm, for more romas and garlic (you can never have too much garlic on hand.)

It is a lovely sunny Sunday. A gathering of family folk is seated next to a smoldering half barrel-turned-bonfire holder they’ve used the evening before. A crowd of kids are throwing themselves around in the “Bounce House,” a huge plastic, air driven contraption. They jump up and down, do flips and plunge down a slide, and do it all over again. In back of me a boy is being chased by a young girl to the cornstalk maze. Not to be ignored, three immigrant farm workers are loosening up for a bean bag toss tournament. It’s playtime for kids and grownups alike

“The garlic is $2 a pound, so charge him $1 and he has two fifty in tomatoes,” says an attractive woman to the mother of her granddaughter, and I divvy up.

I turn to the grandmother. “I’m Ron,” and she replies, “I’m Tosca” (yes, from the opera). We soon find we have many Smith Valley friends in common. As we are speaking, Josh walks up and being quick on the trigger, I say “Tosca, this is Josh.” Without missing a beat, she says “Yes, I know. He’s my son.” From then on, we’re good friends.

Time to leave. My “downer mood” is gone. The field of pumpkins, the goofy “BOUNCE HOUSE”, and being with Chandler, Josh and Tosca has been a tonic. Renner Farms isn’t a nostalgic replica of a long-ago farm, it is a working farm of today; it’s where I go to shop, and oh yes, to visit. Happy pumpkin day everyone.

Ron walker can be reached at