THE WHEELER SISTERS

 

A Whole different kind of  “Country” Girl

By Nancy A. Lamfers

 

Country music has long sung the praises of the all American country girl.  She’s riding horses or pickup trucks on the range in Texas, or swimming in the creek on a sultry moonlit night in Tennesee.  Sometimes she is described as a honey from the Heartland riding tractors in the cornfields, or a honky tonkin rodeo queen, but Cristina and Dani Wheeler are country girls of a very different variety.  The Wheeler sisters grew up on a farm on the edge of the Mojave Desert.  That’s right, their grandparents planted “Rancho Arcuri” right smack in the middle of one of the dryest places in the United States and set about planting orchards, growing grapes and raising a menagerie of farm animals for the family’s consumption.  Harsh summers saw temperatures upwards of 110 degrees and these girls learned to beat the heat by running in the sprinklers that soaked acres and acres  of Alfalfa fields that surrounded the ranch.  They have fond memories of riding the family tractor through the dusty rutted roads between fruit trees during the harvest season.  In late September the girls helped their grandmother prepare pies from the “last chance” peaches and then sold the excess at the local farmers markets.  Their grandfather taught the girls how to use a 410 shotgun which came in handy for dove hunting, killing the occasional rattlesnake that found its way into the family chicken coop, and chasing off coyotes.  Their father, Eugene Wheeler, grew a small onion farm into one of the most successful onion farming operations in the country. 

Cristina and Dani often rode with their dad in his pick up truck dodging roadrunners and pot holes as he surveyed Wheeler Farms and managed the planting and harvesting of the onion fields. One of Cristinas first jobs was working beside her dad and her brother learning the family business from the ground up.  There is nothing “typical” about life on the farm for these country girls where fighting dirt devils, tumble weeds and 80 mile per hour winds was the norm and growing up “country” was all about battling the elements, loving family, and music…lots and lots of music.

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