Cattle ranching this year has been an adventure. Since we have received no rain until recently, most of our cattle were sent to Oregon. Yet, we did enjoy a wonderful, happy, healthy year with hours spent checking the cattle water (for the remaining cattle). Off the ranch we spent time going to church, the park and other local outings. We also have a new dog named Ruby.
Mom (Barbara Grieb) helps us keep everything in perspective and remind us to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
Being blessed with an abundance of persimmons this year we blessed others and wished them a Merry Christmas with goodies baked from our family recipes for Persimmon Cookies and Persimmon bread. Christmas blessings to you from the Grieb Ranch.
It should have been a cold, dreary, foggy day but it wasn’t. The sun shone down brightly from a clear azure sky. Shortly before 8 a.m. trucks rumbled into the driveway, halting just inches from the split-level house and the tree beyond.
Oh Yes, The Old Oak Tree
Oh yes, the tree. The tree situated just beyond my back fence at the Grieb Farmhouse. That’s the reason for all the commotion. Several days before, the neighbor had received the bad news from an arborist that the old oak tree must come down. Its center was filled with dry rot and termites. It was now a safety hazard. She was heartbroken, as the grand old tree was one of the reasons she purchased the house.
The Take Down
Four men, strong, fit and agile were up to the task of taking down the beautiful, graceful tree. Armed with ladders, long-handled pruners, chain saws, ropes, hydraulic bucket lift and a crane; these men were ready for action.
In spite of the fact that taking down the tree was upsetting and depressing, it was fascinating to watch the men expertly orchestrate this huge take down.
Two of the men effortlessly ascended the immense tree, and with their equipment, systematically and methodically brought down the twigs, branches and smaller limbs in a circular fashion for safely reasons to prevent injury to them, the house and the balance of the tree itself. Another man hauled branches to the grinder and the remaining man fed the branches into the machine. All the small and medium branches were removed, ground up or sawed into big logs. At days end, the old tree’s skeletal frame was still standing naked and tall against the sky. A sad sight to see.
Loss Brings Thoughts of the Past
The loss of the tree brings up thoughts of the past, the history of this living tree that has survived wind, rain, drought and floods during its 150 plus years of life. It played a part in the Grieb family history as it was one of the original oak trees on the Grieb Family Farm established in circa 1872. It represents a piece of the original landscape. It also represents the strength and resilience our ancestors had in carving out a rewarding and prosperous life through labor and hardship. Going back further in time, it provided shelter for pioneers and its’ acorns food for the Chumash Indians. Birds and animals nestled in its ample branches. Children were drawn to climb and play on the sturdy limbs.
A Stump and Heaps of Sawdust
The final workday of the tree takedown, the workers tediously labored to remove the largest limbs. The crane assisted in lifting the heavy limb sections into the truck. The workers’ expertise and experience made the daunting task seem so easy. At the end of day two, all that remained of the magnificent, ancient oak tree was a stump and heaps of sawdust. At the end of its life, the tree was estimated to be 60 inches in diameter with limbs 30 inches around. The tree lived over a century and its’ life ended in only two work days (14 hours of tough physical labor).
Perhaps a New Oak Tree
Without the stately tree, the yard seems bare and open, but bright sunshine bathes my yard. Light pours into my windows and my view is expanded from a few feet to a few miles. I can see Mt. Picacho across the valley. All that physically remains for me, are several slices of a smaller limb that one of the workers kindly left for me, neatly stacked in my yard. The tree is missed, but who knows, maybe one of those plentiful acorns will root itself and grow into a new living oak tree for future generations to enjoy. Life goes on. The tree is gone, but our growing family tree will thrive and survive.
Every Fall Barbara Grieb would make this cake for Doctors, Mailmen, and others who so kindly served the Grieb family throughout the year. This Caramel Glazed Pear cake recipe came from the Telegram Tribune. The cake is made with oil rather than butter, but there is butter in the glaze. This yummy cake is chock-full of diced pears and roasted pecans for the quintessential fall dessert.
Instructions for Caramel Glazed Pear Cake
Caramel Glazed Pear Cake
4 ripe Bartlett pears, peeled and diced (about 3 cups) sprinkle with 1 TBS sugar – set aside
Beat together with mixer
3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 ¼ cups vegetable oil
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
In a large mixing bowl, add liquid ingredients to dry Ingredients – MIX
Fold into cake mixture (with heavy wooden spoon) diced pears and 1 ½ cups coarsely chopped roasted pecans.
70 minutes at 350 degrees in a greased and floured 10 inch Bundt Pan or Angel Food Cake Pan
OR small pan with half the recipe and then bake 35 mins an hour.
When done remove from pan and poke with fork tines
Prep time 10 mins Cook time 70 mins Total time 1 hour 20 mins
Caramel Glaze DRIZZLE Prep
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 Tbls butter
1/8 cup evaporated milk or cream
1 tsp vanilla
Stir together brown sugar, butter, and evaporated milk in a small saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil, and cook, stirring constantly, 2½ minutes or until sugar dissolves.
Pour the warm caramel glaze over the cake allowing it to drip down the sides.
What is a grandma to do with all her grand-kids on the ranch for many days of summer? Well the answer is simple: Make it a Summer Staycation and go outside and explore God’s wonderful and fascinating world. Grieb Ranch provides an endless array of things to explore. Plus exploring the ins-and-outs of our beautiful locale simply add to the fun.
Summer Staycation Activities
A Summer Staycation at Grieb Ranch means . . . almost daily trips to the creek or rope swing when it’s hot, exploring places on the ranch we’ve rarely seen, watching a monarch caterpillar metamorphosing into a butterfly which we released, checking livestock water daily due to the drought, helping host Ag Adventure Day Camp at Thousand Hills Ranch for two weeks (much more time was taken for setup and putting things away), following bear tracks while having fun singing “Going on a Bear Hunt” (shucks we never found the bear), climbing trees, making guacamole, keeping the stop-by Fruit Stand full, prayer walking the property with friends, and playing follow the leader on horseback.
Exploring the Local Offerings
One fine day we packed up our picnic lunch and left the ranch to explore the beautiful central coast.
First stop, Shell Beach and caves. After descending the long flight of stairs to the rocky beach below, we set off exploring the rocky caves and tide pools. Here we discovered many sea creatures like crabs, hermit crabs, limpets (conical shell snail), turban snails and sea anemones.
Next, we climbed the rocks, then built roads and castles out of the gravel type sand. We all enjoyed our picnic lunch and the amazing weather.
Our adventure continued to Avila Beach Aquarium to see things we missed at Shell Beach. Here we were fascinated with little jelly fish, shrimp brine, crabs, the touch tank and watching the crab and other fish be fed. We learned limpets and turban snails are gastropods which means their stomach is in their “foot” or pod.
Creating such wonderful memories together, while experiencing first-hand the wisdom and creativity of God on display is a wonderful way to spend a Summer Staycation.
Getaway For a Celebration
We did enjoy one getaway to Margie (Grieb) and Scott Runels’s 50th wedding anniversary in Oregon. Our stay was at their home. Carl (92) and Barbara (89) endured the 15-hour trip driven by Connie with flying colors.
We’ve been riding a ranching roller coaster. This experience often brings us to the place where we just want to be held. We love having our hills green by Thanksgiving, but that didn’t happen. The hills were not green by Christmas either. So, we waited, trusting. However, the hills were still not green by Valentine’s day so all our cows and babies were shipped to San Joaquin to a feed lot. That decision was made after feeding out three barn loads of hay. Papa with his tractor would load our RTV Kubota’s with hay and off we would go, up into the hills to hand-deliver feed.
While the cows and babies were away, hail hit our hills.
The natural feed and the hills have simply not recovered.
Just Be Held
Many other crazy events have happened in our lives so we are trusting in God to see how He puts the Grieb Ranch back together. As the words from Casting Crowns’ song Just Be Held explains, “Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place.”
There’s nothing like a roundup to bring ranch people together. Grieb Ranch family members and trusted ranch hand friends pulled together to gather bulls, cows and calves in order to vaccinate, de-horn, castrate, ear tag and brand the animals. The fun family day put the hands of helpers aged 2 to 92 to work. Working together they processed the whole herd making the Grieb Ranch roundup a fun success.
Planning for a Roundup
Planning for a roundup involves many aspects from getting the vaccine trays, de-horning and castrating equipment, plus branding devices all together to planning enough food for feeding all the ranch hands and family.
Many Grieb Ranch Family Members Worked the Roundup
A variety of extended Grieb family members had a role: Papa brought up the feed for the cattle and hauled out debri while Amanda kept Papa company.
Little Mr. L at age five performed his first castration.
Connie planned the food and directed activities. Daniel led the ground crew.
Brian cooked the meat for the roundup lunch. It was really great this year to have the food ready to eat rather than wait around for a BBQ to get started.
Records of Work Done is Vital at a Roundup
Each one of the cattle received a multivitamin injection, along with needed vaccinations and a de-wormer. Records must be kept of all injections for cattle being shipped. Ear tags are also attached and go in the left ear in each animal. Ear tags contain important information for each animal like their registration number if purebred, the cow number above the calf number or animal’s name. On the back goes the bull number when available and the date of birth. Here’s a chart of all the recorded info kept for each animal.
Inforce 3 2ml
Inforce 3 2ml
One Shot BVD 2ml
Roundups are a Family Affair Enjoyed with Friends
Roundups truly are a family affair and many hands make light work. Local ranch hand friends make the rounds and show up to help out with other rancher’s roundups through the roundup season.
Just like a father may pass down a favorite tool, ranchers pass down their favorite tools – such as a lariat rope – as well. A lariat rope is simply the long arm of the cowboy.
Having the skill to swing a lariat rope to pull in stray cattle is a useful and admired ranching skill. The lariat has an eye, or a honda, tied at one end. The other end is threaded through this eye to form a big loop. Swinging the loop over his or her head, the cowboy or cowgirl then throws the loop from horseback towards the stray calf to lasso it for control.
Grieb Family Lariat Rope
Recently Daniel received a lariat rope passed to him by his great uncle, Larry. The card accompanying the lariat reads: “I heard it was made by an old horse trader that lived between Arroyo Grande and Pismo. I figured he lived in the area that Teddy lived in the 1950’s.”
Loop of Grieb Family History
This loop of Grieb family history will not be lassoing calves on Grieb Ranch. Instead, this lariat is hanging on the wall as both decoration and an historical keepsake.
Well, the past few years the gardening at Grieb Ranch has been plagued with squirrels, rats, gophers and more varmints that seem to increase all the time. So, to thwart the said varmints Connie decided try to beat the odds by planting a garden using tubs placing them in the dog pen.
Connie Gathered the Grandchildren to Create a Garden
Inspired by her friend’s beautiful garden, Connie gathered the grandchildren plus some gardening supplies and got started.
To prepare the creation of the garden, Connie and kids assembled a variety of repurposed ranch items. Supplies came from things they had on hand plus a trip to the feed store. Items gathered were: supplement tubs (from feeding cows), gravel (left from putting in a new leach line), soil, compost, drip line, small tubing and tubing T’s, gorilla tape, edible plants, and most importantly, an automatic timer to keep the garden watered when the kids 😉 forget to water.
Connie took the kids to the local feed store nursery so they could pick out their favorite edible plants for their own garden tub. Edible plant choices made were: broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, strawberries, lettuce (which is used almost daily for sandwiches), beets, radishes, onions, oregano and celery. Then they got to work.
Each one of the four grand kids labeled and decorated their very own mini garden tub then planted their plants. First Mr. P (who is quite handy with a drill at 7 years old) helped them drill drain holes in the bottom of the tubs. Next, each filled the bottom of their tub with gravel. To add in some fun, they used toy dump trucks to move dirt mixed with soil amendment to fill their tubs. Finally, each gathered the plants they chose to grow, attached the drip system, and planted their plants.
How Did the Grieb Ranch Garden Grow?
Well, the gophers and squirrels were beat to start off with, but not the little birds and bugs. They are enjoying destroying the kid’s garden. You can imagine how horrified Connie was when she went to pick lettuce for her sandwich, only to discover the birds had eaten a lot of the grand kid’s garden. Her solution was to re-purpose shiny Christmas decorations to scare away the birds. We’ll see if this will help encourage the destroyed parts of the garden to survive.
It will fun to see how the kids solve their garden problems. We will see how the Grieb Ranch Garden will grow in 2020 and into 2021.
Like the rest of 2020, calving season on the Grieb Ranch was quite memorable. It kicked off with pulling a calf… this happens all the time, nothing too exciting. Happily mother cow and baby are fine. Our next adventure began when we noticed a heifer straining to calve. We got her in and then it took three of us three hours and sore bodies to deliver a dead calf. The mother cow is now fine and has re-joined the herd.
Calving Season C-Section
Those two experiences were nothing compared to what came next. This story begins when we noticed a heifer kept going off by herself in the brush. We were detecting signs of a calf coming, yet we felt something was not right. So, after examining the heifer, it was determined that her calf was “mis-presented” – meaning the calf was upside down with its head and front legs facing away from the exit. Calling the vet was our best course of action. Then we patiently waited. With the vet arriving around 8:00 at night in the darkness, providing aid took place under the barn lights. The first course of action was trying to turn the calf, then pulling the calf was attempted, finally we realized cutting the calf out was the only option left to save the heifer. The vet performed a c-section to remove the calf.
We all got to watch and it was an amazing process. Fun fact: The vet put on 3 pairs of gloves to start the procedure so that at each new level of the process he had a clean pair of gloves. All ended well with the young cow, but not for her calf. The vet finished stitching her up at midnight.
Tiny Tim is the Star of the 2020 Calving Season
Fortunately for us, our young c-section heifer was introduced to Tiny Tim, an orphan calf we received from another ranch. He weighed all of 30 lbs when he arrived. Upon his arrival we tried to graft him to a heifer whose calf had vanished, but the relationship didn’t stick. Thus, Tiny Tim was available to be introduced to this young c-section heifer, their connection was like magic . . . or so it seemed.
Checking on the pair the next morning revealed the heifer had broken out of the pen and abandoned the little orphan calf. So, the little guy was tubed with electrolytes, kept under a heat lamp and Connie began bottle feeding Tiny Tim three times a day. But all was not lost for Tiny Tim, as a day later during our rounds of checking cows we came upon one with two dead calves at her feet. Tiny Tim was introduced to this cow and she has become his fourth cow mom and fifth mom including Connie with the bottle!
Calving Season Not to be Repeated
More good news for the young heifer c-section cow. We happened to have a friend that had twin calves. Calves and mother cows do better with no competition for milk. So our c-section heifer got a calf grafted on her. All new mothers and calves are doing great. We are thankful, yet still reeling from this difficult calving season. We hope to never have another one like it!
We have many generations working and lending a hand on the Grieb Ranch. Mostly we are thankful for the blessing of working with several generations, but sometimes it can be quite challenging.
The Challenge of Working With Different Generations
Recently I (Connie) experienced one of those challenging times. It went like this…
I needed some help putting up a tent shade area on our property. So, thinking about who could help me best, I asked the former-kid who could transform Transformers without instructions. I thought I was asking the right person for help and to sweeten the idea, he said, “sure.”
The Project Disaster
Almost from the get-go the project proved to be a disaster…wrong parts stuck together…falling parts became near misses…not enough hands…heightened frustration…
Finally, I suggested that the computer wiz go google the instructions and even watch a YouTube video of the assembly. He came back with a list of the parts and a diagram of the numbered pieces. We went back at it. It was better but the frustration continued. Eventually, without success, we stopped trying to assemble the tent shade.
The Project Solution
However, I was not thwarted. Awake in the middle of the night, I went online to search the project. Imagine my surprise and joy to find written step-by-step instructions and a three-minute fast speed video of how to put up the very shade shelter we were struggling with.
So, the next morning I re-approached the project with my same assistant. I told him, “We can do this.” This time we followed the step-by-step instructions and got it done.
The Project Lesson for Generations
Then it hit me, that project experience is like our relationship with God. I shared this with my next-generation assistant. Here’s the lesson, God has all the instructions to an abundant life, but so often we fail to read the instructions. We stand by watching those who are blessed, yet wondering what we are doing wrong. We would rather do it “our way” which results in having to experience unnecessary frustration and failure.
Well a few months later… Do you think I learned my lesson? We had another shade tent needing assembly. I thought I remembered how to put the tent together, but no, the pieces were just not going together. Remembering my late-night discovery last time, I went back to the owner’s manual. Such a great reminder for the importance to check in with God and read the owner’s manual daily. We need to refresh and renew our relationship with God in order to be sure the pieces of our lives fit together properly.
Lesson Scripture Passages
Two passages of scripture came to mind as I drew wisdom from this valuable lesson:
Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding: in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Acts 17:11b “ . . .for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”