Daily Life on the Ranch

It is hard to imagine today, but at one time the Loomis Ranch was completely isolated from the world for much of the year. There were no roads leading to the Ranch, which was part of the attraction of the place, one relished by the Captain.

During the summer the Ranch was frequented by hikers and friends that were hardy enough to make the trip by foot, horse, or mule over the mountainous trails from Acton or Los Angeles. During the winter, they were utterly alone. Anything that they needed had to be packed in before winter hit. They had to cut all the firewood for the fireplace and wood stove, grow much of their own produce and meat, handle any emergencies that arose, and entertain themselves without TV.

Captain Loomis would make the trip to town two or three times per year to purchase supplies that they could not produce - food staples and clothing - while Grace stayed to tend to the Ranch and their animals. It would take him a week to ten days to make the round trip. If they needed something they didn't have, they had to make it or grow it themselves, or do without.

They did all of their own butchering, canning that part of the meat that they could not use fresh. The Captain had to shoe his own horses, do all his own blacksmithing, solder all his tin cans and buckets, do their own shoemaking, and numerous other things that people in a city could either buy or have someone else do. Quite often, they did these things for the hikers who came through, some not well prepared for their travels.

The Loomises never intended for their home to become a resort, but as hikers discovered their peaceful, isolated retreat and their warm hospitality, the number of visitors increased. By 1919, the inconvenience of accommodating guests in their two room log cabin suggested it was time to consider expanding their small home. Grace wanted to build some guest cabins, and Lester wanted a larger barn, one big enough to hold their increasing numbers of animals as well as their the hay and alfalfa. They had been stacking the hay and then carrying it to the cowshed in all kinds of weather.

Lester realized, however, that it would be impossible to pack in lumber for a big barn and a cabin. He had on hand a water turbine of about 15 horsepower that he had formerly used to power his arrastra. So he built a makeshift water powered sawmill which, when completed, cost him less than $25 (about $500 in today's dollars).

They had plenty of alders on the Ranch, which Lester cut into logs 8 or 9 feet long so he could handle them alone. During that winter and early spring he cut over 10,000 feet of lumber which he used to build two new cabins and a fair sized barn.

Despite their protests, their many friends were constantly bringing them things - books, magazines, radios, and one of their favorites - ice cream. It was a very much appreciated gift, brought to them quite often during the summer when they could not make it themselves. In the winter time when they had snow or ice available, Mother Loomis made her own ice cream. They would build a roaring fire in their stove and sit around eating their homemade treat. The hot stove was a necessity to make them think of summertime. It somehow made the ice cream taste even better.

[Source: Lester Loomis Journals - Wandalee Thompson Collection (2002.1.23)]