By Kris Paul
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Antonio Francisco had never heard of Loomis St. John, but there, Tonio, stood near the banks of his river, or at least a canal that served as a distributary. It was a fact that did not matter because the irrigation was waiting to be let loose. The oranges were thirsty and reliant on the venerable Antonio Francisco, along with his expecting wife and three other children; whom were all more understanding than the verdant orange groves.
Great Iron wheels that raised and lowered flood gates, that had been built before his great-grandfather was born, were still holding in place as he ignored the fact that many of the flood gates put in about the same time were to prevent another widespread flood such as the one in 1906. The one that flooded much of the land between Woodlake, Ivanhoe, and Northern Visalia. Those gates, and channels, shaped and carved out new waterways that were named after that St. John man.
The waters have flowed from the Sierras, down those paths dug out by men driving teams of donkeys dragging Fresno Scrapers, and into the soils surrounding the roots of the rounded trees alongside alfalfa and other rotating crops. They did so at the command of the man in charge at the time. He was now the current field manager, he was now in charge.
It was his job to ensure the correct amount of water was to reach the trees in the orchards at the right times of year. It was a job that he took very seriously. He slowly paced the orchard, waiting for the right moment. His gaze drifted upward to the sky, his nostrils inhaled the scented air, and knew the time had come.
Antonio Francisco sat in the driver’s seat of his Chevy, opened the water meter app on his mobile phone, pressed the button to begin the drip irrigation system now carefully watering the oranges and his dreams at the right time.