If you were to scan each of the posts that have appeared on this humble blog, you might notice something odd (O.K., I’ll admit it, this entire blog is a little odd, but that’s another story!). What I’m getting at is this – in none of the posts will you find a NAME attached to our little home here in the Ozarks. Because Retta and I have not settled on a name for this bit of heaven on Earth, you will find references within this Ranch Ramblins blog such as: the property, the land, the farm, the ranch, etc. But no specific name is ever cited.
Perhaps it is time for this deplorable situation to change. This farm/ranch/preserve/recreation area we call our home really should have a proper name that we can refer to in passing. It would make the place seem, well, more rooted, more permanent, and somehow, more personal.
When we purchased this tract of land, we had the Abstract of Title brought up to date, and we were provided a copy for our records. As a result, I can trace the ownership, as well as past mining leases back to the original land deeds created immediately following the Louisiana Purchase. But those records say nothing about the names that past owners have dubbed this land. I have, however, discovered the following bits of information.
When this property was developed into it’s present configuration in 1980, the owners (who had just retired from an agricultural advisory career in Latin America) dubbed it La Esperanza. In Spanish, this translates (roughly) into The Hope, or The Aspiration. I have gleaned this information from the following two sources –
First, long time readers may recall from a past post entitled Lay, Lady, Lay that shortly after moving into this house, we discovered very touching farewell letters (pictured above) written by grandchildren of the aforementioned former owners of the property. The envelope of one of the letters has La Esperanza written across the front.
The second (less subtle) clue was found after clearing out one of the landscape planters located along the side of the house. I have used the “magic” of digital image manipulation to enhance the carved lettering found along the top of the planter, which clearly reads La Esperanza Farm, 1980-1996.
In the years that intervened between 1996, when La Esperanza’s creators sold the farm, until early 2001, when we bought the property, it was owned by two other families in rapid succession. One of those families must have re-dubbed La Esperanza to Happy Trails, as evidenced by the sign above, which we found hanging by the property entrance in 2001.
Two issues are involved here – the first being the appropriateness of re-christening a farm or ranch. As you may know, at one point in the past, Retta and I lived aboard a boat named Lorelei (siren of the Rhine River). After purchasing the vessel, we debated changing the name to one of our own choosing. We opted to retain the name Lorelei. Apart from the expense involved to repaint a new name across the transom, there is a substantial body of myth/lore/superstition surrounding the supposed “dire consequences” that would befall those who would dare re-christen a ship from it’s original name (however, to be fair, there is an authority who claims his special renaming ceremony works like a charm).
While I’m not one who clings to superstitions, when one goes out onto the vast untamed sea in a relatively tiny 20 year old vessel, it’s best not to “tempt” fate. We never ran aground, never sank, never capsized, and never foundered in five years of frequent cruising, so there just might be something to the “renaming” superstition. In any event, I do not know whether the “renaming curse” also applies to farm and ranch names, but it is something we must consider, if only to be on the safe side.
Second, assuming that we were to decide to adopt our own name for this property, what would we call it? La Esperanza, while a good name, seems so out of place in this part of the Ozarks, where the year 2000 census indicated a Hispanic population of 0.8 % (8/10ths of 1 percent) of the county’s total population. Retta and I would be two among only a handful of people in the entire county who would know what La Esperanza means.
My first choice for a name for this property might be the following …
… because, with all the mowing, tractor work, sawing, toting, etc. to be done around here, there is always some part of the body that experiences aches and pains.
Retta, on the other hand, who is more involved with gardening, poultry, and the other farm animals, came up with this whimsical name …
Due to the shear volume of ticks and chiggers that call this farm home, this would also be a very appropriate name, were we to adopt it for our farm.
On the other hand, either of the previous two suggestions might get others to dub us …
That would be no good now, would it?