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The Windmill

In the 1940s I remember my grandfather digging a well at our pear ranch. It was not very deep and he lined with wooden boards. He purchased the parts to a windmill and when it was assembled he tilted it up right over the well on a wooden platform. World War II was going on and pears were in high demand. Water from the well was needed to fill the sprayer to control insects in the orchard.

The pear trees were pulled out in the 1970s and the windmill stood there alone for many years. In 1980 I needed to separate the ranch and the parcel with the windmill was sold. I asked for the windmill but before I could retrieve it someone stole it.

Heartbroken, I spent many years afterwards looking at advertisements in papers for used windmills. Over many years I purchased some complete windmills and other times just parts of stands, blades, fans, or whatever was available.

In 2009 my Healdsburg Ranch neighbors Walt and Barbara Gruber were also looking for a windmill to highlight their beautiful Healdsburg Country Gardens Event Center that they rent out for weddings.

I found that I had all the parts for two towers plus enough fan blades for two full fan circles. What I did not have was the gearbox that the fan attached to so it would revolve and turn around with the wind. So I attached the fan blades permanently to the top of the stands. Looking from afar no one would know that the windmills were for aesthetics only.

One of the windmills was given to Walt and Barbara and it stands proudly near their restored 1902 wooden barn. I'm told the windmill is the backdrop for many wedding pictures. The second windmill I took to my Hopland ranch. I stood it up in the middle of a vineyard on a slight hill facing the East. Anyone driving up to my ranch now has a perfect view of the windmill in the middle of a vineyard.

I found that I still had some blade sections left over. I assembled some of them into a circle and have attached this one to a 30 foot tall tank house that I built on my Healdsburg Ranch. The tank house has permanent Christmas lights outlining the building and the windows. I added Christmas lights to the outline of the fan. All of the lights are turned on during the holiday season.

I have had many compliments from my Healdsburg neighbors. One in particular is Martha. She works with real estate agents and stages houses that are for sale. Since I still had a few sections of fan blades left, she inquired about renting four of these sections each with four blades which would make a semi circle. We agreed on a fair rental price and with her ingenuity she attached it to a wall of a detached barn/recreation room with a decorated picnic table in front.

Within a short time offers came in on the property and the prospective buyers wanted the windmill left in the recreation room. Unfortunately, Martha had to inform them that the windmill did not come with the property. However, we understand an offer is still forthcoming on the property.


  1. Marshall Newman March 4, 2015

    For years my brother Aaron was among the few pump people in Sonoma County to repair and build water windmills. Virtually all were Aermotor, though on one occasion in the early 1980s we built and installed a Sears, Roebuck windmill that had been stored unassembled perhaps 40 years earlier. Aermotor is still in business, building mills from 8 to 16 feet in diameter and also supplying parts. Things may have changed regarding where the mills come from: an unassembled (which is how they were delivered) Aermotor windmill we built in the 1980s came from South America, complete with a parts list and assembly instructions in Spanish.

  2. raymond vingo March 17, 2015

    hope you can help me locate someone to replace leathers on my windmill located in jamestown area

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