December, 1891 found Ray carrying his first load up to his new home in San Pasqual. By now Ray and May had two children, Mary, age two, and Ray Jr., age 3 1/2 mos. It ended up that it was not just the Ray Trussell Family that was moving to San Pasqual Valley. In fact Ray's Dad, Amos D. Trussell, also sold the remainder of his property in Sierra Madre and he moved to San Pasqual as well, bringing along Ray's Mother, Sarah, and his youngest sister and brother too. Moreover, Mother Rhodes was still visiting with Ray and May, helping her daughter through the early months of rearing her second child. So the whole family, a total of nine persons, moved into the old Clevenger house, a home built by the first white settler in San Pasqual Valley, and which served as the headquarters for the Trussell Ranch in San Pasqual from 1887 until a new home was built in 1905. In the early days, Ray and May called the farm, Cypress Ranch, naming it after a large cypress tree which dominated the profile of the ranch well into the early 1900s.
Mother Rhodes stayed through the last week of January when she took the stage to Pomona, there to board the train back to Missouri. Her first trip while the railroad was in place, was a little easier. The Amos D. Trussell family stayed on longer, finally moving to San Diego fifteen months late in mid-March 1893.
When the Trussells arrived in the valley, they occupied the old Clevenger place. When they moved in, the place consisted of a small wood frame house with one room and an attic with a additional room Clevenger had added later using adobe bricks. Amazingly Ray, May, Mary, baby Ray Jr., Davis, Sarah, Harry, and Pinkie all managed to live in that close space for quite a while. No wonder the Trussells added a third room, also of wood frame construction. Seems likely that Davis may have done that while he was there. In any case this house served as the happy Trussell home from late 1891 until a new house was built in 1905. The wood frame portion of the original Clevenger home can be found on the Judson ranch today, though not in very good condition.
From the beginning Ray prospered in San Pasqual. The San Pasqual River has the largest drainage of any watercourse in San Diego County and proved fairly reliable. The irrigated agriculture to be found in the upper reaches of the San Pasqual Valley was much more robust than the dry farming he'd been limited to on his Otay ranch. Moreover, the Trussell property was near the head of the valley and included the river course itself, so water was relatively plentiful.
January found Ray cleaning up the place, installing new fence, carpet in the house, wall paper, etc. - probably flood damage from the year before. Before long he was learning how to build a sand dam in the river and learning how to irrigate. From the beginning Ray not only farmed the 80 acres owned by his Dad, but also additional acreage rented from the Clevengers, land east of the Trussell property and along the river. Ray's diary shows evidence of prosperity in 1892-93 in spite of the dull nature of the economy in the area as a whole. We see Ray buying a new mule, a span of horses, several cows, and a new wagon.
Early on, Ray came to the conclusion that livestock would be a more profitable endeavor than growing hay, fruits and vegetables for market. In those early years he experimented with two principal types of livestock activities, raising pigs and dairying. These were the principle activities of farmers in the valley at the time.
Ray came to his interest in raising pigs through serendipity. He had brought a few sows with him for family use and one cold February night they got away. When he searched the woods on his property along the river to find them, he found not only the three sows, but twenty additional wild pigs as well. A year later, even though he'd lost a number of piglets during adverse weather, he had nearly 50 head on the ranch.
The pigs might have seemed like an act of God, telling Ray what he should do, but Ray liked to analyze things. Periodically he'd sit down and do an analysis of where he made his money and where he spent it. By August, 1894 he offers this analysis to the readers of his diary:
"Having made an estimate on hogs, I find that, counting what they were worth at the beginning of the year and what feed I have, feed in grain & alfalfa, and what they are worth now, I find I have not made over $10 ... which will not more than pay for labor in caring for them. Present value of them is $215 and value of feed on hand $50 (pie melons and squashes) In above estimate, no account was taken of milk feed which would more than offset the gain. In estimating the cattle, have made a good $100, not counting feed. Counting feed and pasture and care, they come out little end of horn about $5 or $10, although lost about $50 worth of calves. Present value of stock about $425."
So the cows won and from this time forward, Ray focused on dairying as his route to success in San Pasqual, following the footsteps of his neighbors, the Judsons.
Ray and May Move to Escondido, Find No Water...
Unfortunately, Ray didn't have much time to take advantage of this new insight before events moved on and he found he was no longer in San Pasqual. Presumably further weakened financially by the continuing nation wide depression, Ray's Dad informed him that he would have to sell the place. In December 1894 Ray and May buy a 20 acre place in the upper end of Escondido Valley for $50/acre. In mid January 1895 Ray reports to his diary:
"Pa, Ma, Pink and Harry moved out from S.D. last week and will make San Pasqual their home until place is sold."
Ray had enjoyed such prosperity in San Pasqual, its likely that access to irrigation water played a high profile in his thinking when he bought a place in the upper Escondido Valley. As a matter of fact, Escondido had established an Irrigation District under the Wright Act about the same time that Ray had been agitating for one in the Otay Area. In June 1894 the District had signed a contract with a midwestern contractor named E.I. Doty to construct facilities to divert 200 inches of water from the San Luis Rey River, transport it to a new reservoir and finally distribute it to the Escondido Valley.
Unfortunately, things did not work out entirely as planned. What water did come, came late. By June, 1895 Ray complains that the water seems as far off as ever. The project finally delivered water on 5 July, 1895, the peak of the summer, but, even then system was so full of leaks that only half the water diverted from the San Louis Rey was actually delivered to Escondido consumers. In December, at the years end, Ray states:
"Didn't get enough water to wet 3 acres good. So I went to work at drying a few apricots and peddling."
Well the situation in Escondido didn't get better, it got worse.
Landowners wouldn't pay their assessments and by 1903, not a single house had been built in five years. In 1904, a fire destroyed part of the District's flume system. The District didn't really recover until progressive took over again in 1912.
Sarah Trussell Dies
Once again fate stepped in and changed Ray's future. In the late summer of 1895, a flu epidemic hit the area and Rays mother, Sarah, who had originally come to California because of her poor respiratory condition, succumbed to pneumonia and Ray's father, Davis, also became very ill. Later Davis and the kids moved back to San Diego and Ray and May moved back to the San Pasqual Ranch. This time Ray's stay would be permanent as he purchased the eastern 1/2 of the place from his father.