Decades before the family became known for its contentious battles with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Clark County School District (CCSD), Cliven and Carol Bundy and their 14 kids were well known locally for growing fabulously delicious melons – Crenshaws, cantaloupes, Casabas, watermelons, sharlyns, honeydew, golden beauties and several varieties they’ve propagated over the years.
Although Cliven and Carol still chip in when melons are ripe and ready for picking, eldest son Ryan, his wife Angela, five (soon to be six) daughters and two sons this year have taken over the melon field.
Three or four tall crates, sometimes more, sitting just inside a gate at the Bundy place off Gold Butte Road packed to the brim with luscious usually just-picked melons. Their enticing aroma wafts over the ranch belying even the nearby cattle pens.
Up at the crack of dawn to pick the fruit before the Southern Nevada sun makes it just too, too hot, there’s Jamie; 15, Sage, 13; Jerusha, 11; Jasmine, 9; Chloee, 5; Oak, 7, and Moroni, 2.
Ryan calls his pretty blond-haired work force, “Melon Queens.” The girls agree growing the sweet melons is hard work.
“There no such thing as sleeping in,” laughed 11-year-old Jerusha.
“We don’t like getting up early, but I guess it’s fun,” Jasmine, 9, said.
The Bundys just started selling melons Monday, the number of ripe fruit increases day after day for weeks.
“We pick everything that’s ripe every day,” Ryan said, estimating each crate holds up to 600 pounds of green, gold and tan melons.
There some 15 to 20 acres planted in melons and Cliven, now Ryan, follows a strict planting and watering scheduled that turns tiny yellow seeds into tasty end-of-summer treats.
The Bundys water infrequently that helps their crop grow sweet and succulent. And people aren’t the only species that love Bundy Melons.
“Coyotes are a constant problem,” Ryan said. “So are skunks, raccoons and ravens. They like ‘em ripe just like everybody else.”
Angela said they use no pesticides. The family fights squash bugs one insect at a time by hand. Bugs can destroy a melon crop in no time.
The melons grow slowly over the summer and as the days begin to shorten toward fall, they ripen and turn the rich colors that mean work to the Bundy family.
Recent rains have had little impact on the melons, Ryan said.
“We were just getting ready to water so it couldn’t have come at a better time,” he said.
Cliven said the rain and sultriness it created this year is good for the melons.
“The heat and humidity is wonderful,” Cliven said. “The field looks beautiful. It doesn’t help too much with the sweetness or flavor, but it makes the vines grow and the melons grow big.
“This rain is what a cowboy dreams about,” Cliven said of rain storm last week. “Look around the foot of the Virgin Mountains. It’s almost covered by a blanket of yellow flowers. Tell people to get out there; get out there and enjoy your Clark County land.”
Like kids from ranches all over the country, the Bundy children are a ready-made work force. Just a month ago, Ryan and Angela removed their kids from school over an argument with CCSD.
“We’re getting a home school program together,” Ryan said. “We’re just a little slower than we’d like.
“We go the university of real-life experiences,” he laughs. We take our education seriously, however, right girls?”
He points to a shallow plastic container over which Oak and his sisters sit enthralled. It holds a large scorpion the kids found while cleaning an area of the ranch.
“They’re learning about real life,” Ryan said. “They’ve had a great year, summer. Swimming in the ditch, the river.”
In addition to melons, the Bundys sell fresh honey from hives bee keepers have placed close to the melon patch.
“The bees help pollinate the melons and we get the honey,” Ryan said.
The Bundys also sell range-fed cattle. The honey is located in a nearby fridge and the beef in a freezer.
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