Twenty-five years in the making, this book is a collection of true stories about the animals and the people of California's Santa Ynez Valley, in the heart of wine country, farm country, and animal country. The animals Brooks Firestone and his neighbors have lived with, worked with, played with, and otherwise associated with include horses, cattle, dog, cats, elands, alpacas, bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes, deer, ostriches, parrots, geese, ducks, and even an Elephant at Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch. This book is a tribute to a beautiful valley, with all its landscape in both town and country. Most of all, it is a celebration of that magic that happens when human beings and their animal neighbors interact.
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Brooks Firestone is a rancher in the Santa Ynez Valley. He is also the founder of the Firestone Vineyard and Winery and was a California State Assemblyman. He lives in Solvang, California with his wife and many animals.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Introduction This is a book about animals and people who live in California's Santa Ynez Valley. The past and present relationship of Valley people with animals, and the things that our local animals get up to, is an ongoing source of many fascinating stories. All the stories included in this book are true. Sometimes the details might have become a little fuzzy over time, but each vignette is based on a factual event. There are alterations to protect the source or marginally legal interaction of individuals and animals, but the basics are factual. As the saying goes, you couldn't make up stuff like some of these stories. In 1972, our family was lucky enough to move to the Santa Ynez Valley from our former home in London. Life in our new home mostly involved growing grapes and starting up a winery, and this new career demanded most of our working time. But we also lived on and farmed a 2300-acre cattle ranch, the San Antonio, three miles north of Buellton on Highway 101. For twenty-five years, before moving to the winery property in the mid-nineties, we experienced all the country events a family would encounter growing up in the Valley and managing a ranch property. Valley ranching inevitably involves many animal adventures of one sort or another. Fortunately, from time to time I made notes of our own animal moments as well as the stories we heard in passing. I have kept up these observations now for over thirty-five years of Valley life and, more recently, have sought out and researched more stories for this book. . . .Household animals, wild animals, commercial animals, working animals, and competitive animals all exist side by side with humans, and the relationship between the two is a source of ongoing fascination. Valley people tend to be creature-friendly and involved with animals. We are country people in that respect, and people living here are often judged by their relationship, treatment, and understanding of animals. What the animals think of us, we will never know, and sometimes there is a suspicion that they are as much in charge of events as people; certainly equally interesting.. . . The primary motivation in my telling these stories is that through them we might better understand the culture, traditions, and philosophies of the Valley. There is a generosity of spirit here, but also a down-to-earth attitude that makes this a real place. Animals help us keep our sense of proportion and better nature-a sense of who we are.
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