Monday, November 11, 2013

Gardens of the Carrillo Ranch

Leo Carrillo had a couple different names for his ranch.  On our tour we saw the "Flying LC" painted or carved in many places on the ranch, and that symbol he branded on his cattle.  You can see the symbol on the chimney of the house in the picture below.

 Another name was Rancho de los Quiotes (Ranch of the Spainish Daggers).  Quiotes is believed to mean an agave or century plant sometimes known as the "Spanish Dagger".  Many of those plants are on the ranch.
Before our guide Pam even started showing us the buildings of the ranch she first pointed out many plants along the path which led us to the adobe hacienda. She showed us some white dots on a prickly pear cactus and quickly wiped them on her hand.
The white substance from the plant became a red dye- commonly known as cochineal.  When it is mixed with calcium or aluminum salts the dye is used in food colorings and cosmetics.  Pam also pointed out a spineless cactus plant to us.  It is a hybrid cactus developed  by Luther Burbank and is a cross between an Indian fig and Mexican prickly pear.  This particular cactus was once fed raw to cattle as there are no prickly spines on the pads (properly called thalli) of the cactus.
In keeping with the theme of his Spanish California heritage Leo Carrillo wanted peacocks on his ranch.  He remembered them wandering around his uncle's ranch, so he started a peafowl collection of 6 birds.  By the way, a peacock is the male peafowl.  Today there are about two dozen peafowl roaming around on the ranch grounds.  In 2004 one of the peahens had a clutch that included one white baby chick.  According to Pam this variation in peafowl occurs rarely but with some regular frequency due to a recessive gene.

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