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A Family Day at the Ranch

By February 9, 2016Family, Life, Ranch

A Family Day at the Ranch

One of the challenges about being a first generation ranching family in California is the lack of available land!  As much as we’d love to paint the picture that we lay our heads down right next to the rolling hills where our cattle are out peacefully grazing, this is not the reality of our life!  We lease all of the ranches our cattle graze on, and with pasture land becoming more and more limited, we must take what we can, which often times can be far away.

You may be reading this wondering, why is this important?

Along for the ride!

Along for the ride!

It simply adds another component to what we do.  We know our customers and followers enjoy getting a glimpse into what we do and how we do it, so the idea of blogging about a “family day at the ranch” seemed like a good idea!

When we started Open Space Meats, we had 1 child who was 18-months old.  Whenever Seth, the head cowboy, had to head out to the ranch to do things, we’d pack Henry up in the truck, he’d sleep the whole way there, and we would spend the day at the ranch.  We’d bring a picnic, check cattle, fix fence, etc., and when we were all done, we’d head back to our house in Newman.  As the years have come and gone, so have various leases and ranches.  We’ve added two more children to the mix, considerably more cattle, and gratefully, many more customers!  As many of you know, the more people in your family, the more activities there seem to be and free time seems to grow smaller and smaller!  So now, a family day at the ranch isn’t quite so common place.

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Picnic time

This past Saturday we were blessed with the opportunity to go out to the ranch with Seth.  It is off-season for everybody’s sports, there weren’t any birthday parties to attend or family events we needed to be at.  And thankfully, nobody was sick!  So we took advantage of this moment, as well as the beautiful sunshine and packed up the family!  Here’s what that looked like.  The kids and I stayed at the house and packed a picnic lunch, finished up chores, and other miscellaneous items, while Seth drove to the office to get our ranch truck.  He had to pick up the 4-wheeler, load it into the ranch truck and then head back to the house for all of us!  We moved car seats into the pick-up, loaded up 3 dogs and everyone’s necessities and we were off!!

It takes 1 hour and 15 minutes to get from our house to the ranch in Catheys Valley.  It was a beautiful drive, the sun was shining, the skies were blue and for the first time in several years the grass has a green tinge to it!!  One kiddo napped the whole way there, the other one read and the oldest looked out the window.  When we were about 5 minutes from the ranch gate, the reader got carsick!  Luckily she made it out of the car and it didn’t dampen her spirits.  Once we got through the gate and up to the ranch everybody piled out of the car and ran around for a bit.

Exploring time

Exploring time

There is something completely freeing about getting out of town and up to the ranch, I can visibly see a load come off the head cowboy’s shoulders and our children act like kids from years past, they amuse themselves in the great outdoors without any screens, devices, toys, etc.…it is a beautiful sight to behold.

As we no longer can all fit on the 4-wheeler, the kids have to take turns helping out Dad.  Elle went with Dad first to check cattle; while they were away, Henry, Charlotte and I wandered around the property, exploring, climbing rocks and shooting photos.

Checking cattle with Dad!

Checking cattle with Dad!

After about an hour, Henry got his turn checking cattle with Dad and the girls and I hung out.  When the work was all done, we spent the last hour of sunlight enjoying the beauty of God’s creation, watching an amazing sunset and enjoying a day with nothing in particular to do!

Around sunset we packed everyone and everything back into the truck and headed home.  It was a mostly quiet drive home, we had worn out kids and worn out dogs.

Hard working cow dogs

Hard working cow dogs

And like every time we head to the ranch, the head cowboy and I discussed the challenges of living one place and ranching another.  It’s not unlike so many who live in the valley and commute to a big city for work, except that we aren’t commuting to a big city; we are commuting to the country!  We’ve done this for close to 10-years now and there is never an easy answer.  As nice as it would be for the head cowboy and I to pack everyone up and move to the hills, there’s so much we’d miss about where we live.  The ranch offers peace, solitude, beauty and a wonderful environment to raise children in.  But it doesn’t offer a wonderful school, sports and activities for the kids; Bible study and an amazing church; accessibility to our office and cold storage, like we have where we are.  (Not to mention, there isn’t a home available there at the moment either.)  So for now, there still isn’t an easy answer, other than to live where we are planted and enjoy it!  Raising cattle the way we do is so important to us, that it is worth the long drive, long hours and challenges unique to first generation ranchers.  It is the way of life, and the path that we’ve chosen for the moment.  We enjoy sharing all we do with you, our friends, customers and followers!

Sunset through the oak tree

Sunset through the oak tree

Mica Nitschke

Author Mica Nitschke

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