The settlers could tell that Tulare County was good land for farms. They planted gardens around Visalia and other places in the county. The land was good for planting wheat. The power of the river water could be used to grind the wheat into flour. People wanted bread made from this flour.
Wheat grows in the winter, when it usually rains in Tulare County. Other crops grow in the dry time of year. These crops must be irrigated. Irrigate means to move water from one place, like a lake or a river, to another, like a field.
When we water plants in the classroom, we are irrigating them. The settlers dug canals to move the water from the river to their fields. By 1890 the settlers were growing grapes, nuts, peaches, and oranges.
Tulare County also needed cows for milk, meat, and leather, and sheep for meat and wool. The foothills and mountains which are too rocky and steep to grow crops are still used to grow animals.
The Spanish had left horses in California that became wild. Other people caught and tamed them. Tulare County cowboys rode through the hills herding their cows and sheep. Juan Matarell, Jesus Salazar, and some other Mexican-American men invented a new kind of saddle that was light and easy to use. It was called the Visalia Saddle and became famous all over the world. This saddle is still being made.
The mountains in Tulare County are covered with trees. Settlers needed the wood from these trees to build homes, schools, churches, and shops. Many people worked in the mountains cutting down trees and bringing them to the sawmill to be made into lumber. They cut down some of the big Sequoia trees until 1916 when a law made it illegal to cut down huge trees.