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

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.

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.

Fun With All Kinds of Ranch Kids

Ranch kids enjoy so many fun activities that their non-ranch companions may never get the chance to experience. All kinds of kids have fun on a ranch and not just human kids, goat kids get their fair share of fun activities too.

Fun With All Kinds of Ranch Kids | The Story of Ranching at Grieb Ranch
Easter Fun with all the Grands

Ranch kids get to experience new life throughout the year as calves are born, goat kids arrive, bunnies appear and chicks peck through egg shells. New life is celebrated at Easter, and so are cute kids. Grieb Ranch had all the grands together for a fun Easter pic, complete with a kid goat.

Baby Kid Delivery

Fun With All Kinds of Ranch Kids | The Story of Ranching at Grieb Ranch
Mama Goat and Kid doing well.

Sometimes new life appearing needs a little help from the ranch hands. This momma goat had a tough delivery with Connie to the rescue to bring this new life into the world. Mama goat and baby kid were good to go a few hours after delivery.

Electrical Fencing Keeps Kids In and Out

Fun With All Kinds of Ranch Kids | The Story of Ranching at Grieb Ranch
Red wires are hot and green are ground wires

Electrical fencing is employed often to keep goat herds contained. The fencing keeps both adult and kid goats inside. Little ranch hands soon learn the red wire is hot and the green wires are ground wires. Electrical fencing keeps goat kids in and human kids out.

Ranch Kids Learn to Count with Ear Tags

Fun With All Kinds of Ranch Kids | The Story of Ranching at Grieb Ranch

Think back to the games you may have played learning to count past 100 . . . betcha only a handful of you may have learned to count past 100, and identify the numbers, while helping grandma with the ear tags. Ranch hand P gets the ear tags ready while keeping the numbers to 110 in order.

Fun With All Kinds of Ranch Kids | The Story of Ranching at Grieb Ranch

So many memories and life skills are developed everyday on a ranch where there are kids of all kinds doing fun things.

Gathering Family and Friends

Fern Canyon  (1024x686)

Fern Canyon on the Grieb Ranch is a gathering place for family and friends.  Special days such as Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day give us reason to celebrate and create memories.

Easter 2016 2016-03-27 021 (1024x580)

Easter provided a time to remember Christ’s Resurrection. Memorial Day we took time to remember those who have served our country and then we feasted.  At any gathering includes much food and fun – visiting with family and friends and playing badminton and horseshoes.

Memorial Day we enjoyed a roasted sucking pig stuffed with lemon grass. BBQ Tri-Tip and chicken are always a scrumptious staple at these gatherings.

 Roasted pig texturedRoasted Suckling Pigs

  • 1 suckling pig (approx. 17 lbs)
  • 10 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp coarse salt
  • 1 tbsp cracked pepper
  • Ample vegetables to fill the cavity.  Onions, carrots, apples garlic and parsley are recommended (the traditional recipe calls for lemongrass alone).
  • Heavy wire and a pair of pliers (to stitch the belly of the pig).
  • 3 Cups salt-reduced soy sauce
  • 3 Cups olive oil
  • a shovel, for moving the hot coals around
  • Cook’s notes

    We cook the pigs over an open barbecue spit. All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified.


    First, light the barbecue coals. The coals are not ready until white (no flame should be present when cooking). This will take an hour or two.

    With a sharp knife, remove the tail and ears of the pig. Turn the pig over and remove the kidneys and any loose fat.

    Rub the surface of the pig with crushed garlic, ensuring it is well massaged in. This will add flavor as well as moisten the skin. Once thoroughly massaged, place the remaining pieces of garlic inside the cavity of the pig.

    Apply a liberal amount of coarse salt to the skin and massage well. The salt is crucial to dry the skin and create a perfect crackling. Add salt and pepper liberally to the cavity.

    Apply a liberal amount of pepper to the skin.

    To ensure an even roast, fill the cavity with the roughly chopped onions, carrots, apples, garlic and parsley. Once the cavity is filled, stitch the belly closed with heavy wire, ensuring a tight seal.

    Massage the soy sauce into the skin. This will help create a golden-brown color.

    To mount the pig on the spit, place it flat on a large bench or table, belly down. Instructions will be provided on how to use the spit attachments (each varies slightly). Ensure you have them all in place as you slide the main axle along the length of the pig. The axle is inserted from the rear of the pig. It is vital that the pig does not slide around on the axle – check it prior to loading onto the spit.

    An 8kg pig will require approximately an hour and a half to two hours of roasting time.

    With a shovel, move the bulk of the coals to the edges, underneath the legs and shoulders, with only a small amount of coals under the mid-section. The legs and shoulders are the thickest areas and require the most heat.

    As the pig cooks, ensure the color remains even. If any patches are lighter in color, move more coals under this area. If an area is darkening too quickly, move coals away.

    Occasionally, apply olive oil with a basting brush to improve the crackling.

    In the late stages of roasting, the vegetables in the cavity of the pig will soften and release their juices. It’s a good idea to wipe the juices away to maintain an even finish on the skin.

    When the knuckles of the pig begin to be exposed, the pig will be close to ready. To test, stop the rotisserie and insert a meat thermometer into the thickest portion of the leg of the pig. A reading over 160 F will indicate the pig is ready. Alternatively, insert a small knife for 30 seconds and remove to test whether the tip of the knife is hot.

    It’s important to move the pig to the place you wish to serve it, prior to removing the spit-mounting from it, as the connective tissues will have cooked and the pig may fall apart if it’s moved after the apparatus is removed. Turn the rotisserie off and use tea towels or oven mitts to handle the spit-mounting. You will need two people to move the roasted pig.

    Once the pig is in its final position, carefully remove the spit-mounting, carve and serve.

    Grandma Grieb’s Apricot Jam


    Every summer the Grieb family spent many hours harvesting apricots. Most of the crop was cut and sun dried in preparation for selling to SunSweet Growers.  However, the family always saved enough to meet their own needs to eat fresh, bake in pies or cakes or preserve in Mason jars.

    Apricot Jam

    Orchard Apricot Jam

    Our favorite was the jam. Many hands were needed to make enough jam to last until the next season. Tasks were divided up – washing, peeling, grinding, measuring the sugar and stirring the big pots and ladling in jars. It was hot work, but oh, how good that jam tasted and smelled. And the family time was priceless.

    Here is Grandma Grieb’s recipe—no pectin—no pineapple just pure apricots.

    Apricot Jam (Makes 2 ½ pints)

    3 C ground apricots (Grandma peeled hers)
    2 C sugar

    Bring to boil and boil 20-30 minutes stirring constantly until jam drips heavy off wooden spoon.  Skim off foam. Ladle into hot jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace.Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw on band until just tight.

    Need to make a big batch? Here is the big batch quantity.

    9 C ground apricots
    6 C sugar

    Prepare as above.

    Recipe submitted by Sandi Ferrio a grandaughter.

    Trout Fishing in the Arroyo Grande Creek


    Grandpa Fred Grieb enjoyed fishing.

    The Grieb cousins have fond memories of Grandpa Fred Grieb teaching them how to make fishing poles out of bamboo sticks and fishing line.  The cousins would walk up and down the Arroyo Grande creek and stop and fish from the banks.  They also enjoyed camping out at the Nelson Place (now under Lopez Lake that was built in 1960’s) where Grieb Ranch ran the cattle.  So many treasured memories and fun times camping with the Grieb cousins.


    Recipe for: Trout

    From the Kitchen of: Grandma Gertrude Grieb                    Servings: 5

    Needed: 6 Medium-sized fresh trout

    Ingredients for Coating the Trout:

    1C Milk in bowl
    1 tsp Salt
    Dash Pepper
    1 Cup Progresso Bread Crumbs
    ½ Cup Cornmeal

    Bacon grease for fry pan

    Instructions for Cooking the Coated Trout:

    Begin heating fry pan with hot bacon grease.
    Put milk, salt and pepper in bowl.
    Mix cornmeal and bread crumbs in another bowl.
    Dip trout thru milk.
    Roll in crumbs.
    Fry coated trout in bacon grease until fork-flaky.

    Enjoy Liver, Onions and Bacon

    liver onions bacon

    We process the entire beef cow. Each carcass provides about 27 lbs of variety meat: liver, heart, tongue, tripe, sweetbreads & brains.

    We, at Grieb Ranch, keep these special variety meats – heart, tongue and liver – for that once a year special treat.  Because liver has a texture and flavor all its own we always cook it with bacon and onions and serve it with mashed potatoes, and green peas.

    Recipe for: Liver, Onions and Bacon

    From the Kitchen of: Connie Grieb Willems                   Servings: 5


    6 strips of bacon
    1 lb thin Sliced liver ½ inch thick or less
    ½ onion thinly sliced
    Salt & pepper


    1. Cook Bacon in pan until half done.
    2. As the bacon is cooking coat each piece of liver with flour and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
    3. Place the thin liver slices under the bacon.
    4. Add thin onion slices to pan and cook to carmelize.
    5. Cook on medium high heat until the liver is cooked through. When the juices in the liver slices rise to the top on one side flip to the other side.*

    *Avoid over cooking, which toughens liver.

    Serve with mashed potatoes and peas.