I'd actually worked on the ranch a couple of summers before I moved there in 1965. Clearing the land of weeds around the log cabins and other structures. Summer in the mountains of Southern California is hot, and clearing the land by hand is hard work, because the soil is baked hot and flat, and dust flies as you hoe, the air is hot, and the sun grows hotter still.
I'd get up early, just about daybreak, and take a walk way up the road through the ranch and meet up with some deer who'd gotten to know me and would let me walk with them. They'd graze, and I'd stand there. They'd move a bit and walk over somewhere else to graze and so would I. Then I'd go do the clearing for hours until an hour before noon when it was already too hot to work much more. You'd have to carry a bucket of water with you to drink from. And finally that wouldn't be enough, and I would head for the stream when I was baked through and through and plunge. The water even in summer at first would be so cold, you'd nearly pass out, an icy snow fed stream was still cold even in summer.
There were still wild mules on the land then, left behind by some miners. And they'd come to visit sometimes. And rumors of a few big horned sheep, which I was certain I had only seen once and at a far distance, but their sightings were so rare, I wasn't convinced I'd really seen them. The ranch was so old, all the materials for building the cabins and house had been brought in by muleback.
But even in Berkeley I carried around memories of the ranch within me, like a small diorama of treasured times that I could take out and look at, I could remember and look at the place whenever I wanted to. I can even recall the rich smell of wild buckwheat and the sweetness of ceanothus. And the refreshing aroma of mountain bay laurel, which always seemed to grow in shadier spots by a trail exactly when you needed to stop walking for a bit and cool off and take some deep breaths in the shade.