The Old Oak Tree

The Old Oak Tree

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 Were Up to the Task

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

Just a Stump Remained

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

Sandi Erickson Ferrio and The Old 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.

Written at the Grieb Farmhouse by

Sandi Erickson Ferrio, Great-granddaughter of Konrad Grieb

Caramel Glazed Pear Cake

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

Sift Together

  • 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.

Bake

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.

Enjoy!

Summer Staycation 2021 at Grieb Ranch

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.

All the grands explored the ranch and local area with Grandma for a Summer Staycation

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.

Exploring the rocks and tide pools

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.

Just Be Held

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.”

A Roundup of Family, Friends and Cattle

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.

DateProductSerial NumberExpirationRoute/locationLot
1/2/2021Inforce 3  2ml463630A/4550243/15/22Intranasal476540
 Inforce 3 2ml463605A/4642513/1/22 473026
 Covexin8 5ml2280B/50111/1/2021SQ neck 
 Covexin8 5ml2246C/5025/2/21SQ neck 
 One Shot BVD 2ml439283A/4202582/1/2022SQ neck472294
      
 Multimin 5mlB2004021April22SQ neck 

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.

A Lariat Rope Links Grieb Family Generations Together

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.

Lariat rope honda

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.”

Grieb Family Lariat

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.

How Does the Grieb Ranch Garden Grow in 2020?

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. 

How Does the Grieb Ranch Garden Grow in 2020?  | The Story of Ranching at Grieb Ranch
Mr. A stomps down the dirt in the tub.

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.

How Does the Grieb Ranch Garden Grow in 2020?  | The Story of Ranching at Grieb Ranch
Mr. A gets into the action while Mr. L helps out.

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 Does the Grieb Ranch Garden Grow in 2020?  | The Story of Ranching at Grieb Ranch
Mr. P smiles in the newly planted garden.

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.

How Does the Grieb Ranch Garden Grow in 2020?  | The Story of Ranching at Grieb Ranch
Miss R helps set out the Christmas decor to scare away the birds.

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.

Grieb Ranch Calving season 2020 was Quite Memorable

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. 

Grieb Ranch calves – Sharon Jantzen Photos

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

Mother Cow and calves are doing great. – Sharon Jantzen Photos

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!

Here’s looking on the bright side of the Calving Season 2020

Tent Structure Building Project Creates Life Lesson for Generations

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…

Tent Structure Building Project Creates Life Lesson for Generations  | The Story of Ranching at Grieb Ranch

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.”

Life Moves Forward at Grieb Ranch Despite the Shutdown

Animals, people, the ranch they all have needs despite a Covid shutdown. We are thankful for family members who pitched in to be sure Papa and Grandma kept up their appearances. Papa got his hair cut by family members.


New puppies needed training and there were plenty of willing hands with Mr. P and Mr. L for the job.


Daniel had great help building new fences. Missy R helps her dad measure the fence line.


Day care restrictions provided time for kids to help with ranch duties like fence building or gathering replacement heifers to a safer place for them to calve.

Daniel had extra hands to help bring in the replacement heifers to a safer place for them to calve.


Lots of fun is had at the ol’ swimming hole. We love hearing stories of the older generations enjoying the same spot. Now it has two rope swings and a platform for kayaks.

There is always much to do and places to go just here on our ranch.  Life at Grieb Ranch moves ahead despite the shutdown.