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.

Making Life Memories by Turning Lemons to Lemonade

The Covid shutdown provided plenty of playing opportunities with the grands at the Grieb Ranch. “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” says the optimist. Ranch life gives us plenty of opportunities to make lemonade, both for real and for life memories.

Ride along with us at Grieb Ranch to see how we enjoyed “making lemonade” due to the Covid shutdown.

Picking and eating fruit from bushes Ethan and Mr. P planted.

Playing hide and seek with the bunny in Grandma Great’s yard.

Playing find the singing dog that hides in a different place daily at Nana’s house, eating treats, and training puppies,

Riding horseback with mom and Aunt Amanda,

and enjoying some relaxing creek time with Amanda and Mr. A.

We enjoyed making lemonade out of our church shutdown too

In addition, the Church closed its doors for months and became an online event.  Stan continued to serve our Sunday School class as the main teacher. Because meeting in person was put on hold, we started meeting by using ZOOM.  The added bonus of our ZOOM Sunday School Class was the opportunity for our Missionary friends in Africa and Indonesia to join us. 

On July 5th 2020 we had a 50/50 Sunday School class. This provided for people to meet in person at the church and while others joined in on ZOOM at the same time. 

Covid Lock-down Doesn’t Stop Ranch Work

Although Covid has caused shutdowns across the country and lock-downs in California we are well on the Grieb Ranch . . . The reason you haven’t heard much from us is that we are busier than ever.  Lock-down for us meant work harder.  February gave us a good whip lash with a drought. For the first time in some of our lives not a drop of rain fell in the month of February. This meant daily feeding of our cattle and horses. Then the Covid crisis hit, and impacted many aspects of Grieb Ranch life during the Covid Lock-down.

Grieb Ranch School and Day Care

Covid Lock-down Doesn’t Stop Ranch Work
Grandpa Stan teaches Mr. P

Nana Connie, became the kid care provider and Grandpa Stan became Mr P’s. 1st grade teacher.  As both the grandkid’s parents began work-from-home, and the school and daycare closed, the ranch became not only homeschool, but day care.

Unique Classroom Settings

Covid Lock-down Doesn’t Stop Ranch Work
Classroom work gets done in the shop

Homeschool for Mr. P took on many different looks.  Being on the ranch meant when adults were busy making repairs or doing farm chores, his classroom moved to that location.  In Grandpa and Nana’s house, a spare bedroom was turned into a classroom.  School lessons also took place in the shop, at the Goat camp table, in the truck or in the RTV/Kubota and many more unique locations. 

Upping the Covid Lock-down Technology Game

Nana and Grandpa had to up their technology game for the Covid Lock-down in order to ZOOM with the class.  Supplementing the Coastal Christian School classroom material, is list of favorite learning websites. Here’s the top three:  ABC Mouse (pay a fee),  Kahn Academy (math for free), and EPIC (pay a fee).

Lemon Delight – a Dessert for the Generations

The three Grieb girls, Wynetta, Margie and Connie have many memories enjoying this favorite lemon delight dessert. Now Grandma Great is passing the delight onto the youngest generation. Cooking in the kitchen with Grandma Great is even more fun when dessert is whipped up.

Lemon Delight - a Dessert for the Generations  | The Story of Ranching at Grieb Ranch
Mr. P helps Grandma Great make Lemon Delight

Lemon Delight Dessert

Needed: 9×12 baking dish

Oven: 350 Degrees

Crust Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 ½ sticks butter or margarine
  • 2/3 cup of finely chopped walnuts

Crust Instructions

Mix flour and butter together until cornmeal like. Add walnuts, mix and press into pan. Cook crust at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Middle “Cream Cheese” Layer Ingredients

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4.5 oz of Cool Whip

Middle “Cream Cheese” Layer Instructions

Mix all ingredients together until creamy. Spread over cooled crust.

Lemon Delight Topping Ingredients

  • 2 (3 oz) packages of instant pudding
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2-3 Tbls lemon juice

Lemon Delight Topping Instructions

Add all ingredients together and beat until thick, then spread over cream cheese layer. Garnish with rest of cool whip topping.

Serve and enjoy cooled.

Vegetation Management 2020

We at Grieb Ranch strive to be the best stewards of our land and cattle. Vegetation management is a key component of taking care of our land. Trees and shrubs are important to wildlife habitat, for erosion control and even wildfire safety when they are in the right places. When not in the right places, trees and shrubs quickly become “brush” and should be managed accordingly. In addition, we need to be sure there is proper grazing vegetation for our cattle.

Vegetation Management 2020  | The Story of Ranching at Grieb Ranch

Grieb Ranch Vegetation Management Plan 2020

Vegetation Management 2020  | The Story of Ranching at Grieb Ranch
Daniel surveys the land

Over the past year we have been making plans for how to best manage the ranch. So with a lot of prep work and over a period of time we have removed some brush and strategically planted grass seed.

Rotational Grazing a Tool for Vegetation Management

Vegetation Management 2020  | The Story of Ranching at Grieb Ranch
Time, hard work bring big dreams

To keep land useful, and beneficial to raising cattle, the grazing must be managed. Therefore we have employed rotational grazing to keep areas of the ranch usable. This means we move the cattle from area to area so that areas can rest and rejuvenate. It is amazing how much nicer our beautiful hills look when properly grazed.

The Whole Family Helped Move Cattle

Vegetation Management 2020  | The Story of Ranching at Grieb Ranch
Several Grieb Ranch Family generations helped move the cattle

We had a great family time moving cattle to the back country-back of the ranch. By using some simple vegetation management techniques we can help reduce the fuel load, provide for our cattle, control erosion and provide habitats for wildlife.

Carl and Barbara Grieb celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary at the Grieb Ranch

February 12, 1950

Mr. and Mrs. Carl Grieb recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary hosted by their family. The event was held at the couple’s house on the Grieb Ranch in Arroyo Grande, California. Barbara made over 200 cupcakes for the event. Flavors from the Grieb Ranch produce were part of the delicious cupcake flavors. The celebration was attended by over a 100 friends and relatives.

Carl and Barbara Grieb Marriage Story

Carl met the former Barbara Decker in 1945 at a 4-H event at the Canyon Ranch in Shandon when she was 13 years old. He lived in Arroyo Grande, and she was the city girl from Los Angeles. Following a five-year long distance romance, they were married on February 12, 1950 in the “Little Church around the Corner” in Los Angeles. Carl graduated from Arroyo Grande High School in 1947.

His family pioneered in Arroyo Grande Valley in the farming and cattle business. He did dairying in Templeton in the 1950’s and in Guadalupe in the early 1960’s, then raising cattle near Lopez Lake. He was a truck driver and heavy equipment operator for more than 30 years. Carl has been retired, yet working as a rancher, for the last 34 years. Barbara has been a homemaker for all these years. She and Carl were married three weeks after she graduated from George Washing High School in Los Angeles. She worked with the 4-H club for 19 years and taught youth at the Arroyo Grande Presbyterian Church (now Grace Bible) and Good News Clubs for 42 years.

Two of their daughters, Wynetta McClain, and Connie Willems live on the Grieb Ranch. Daughter Margie Runels and family live in Oregon. Over all they have six grandchildren , 12 great grandchildren and two great, great grandchildren.

Daughters Connie and Margie, Barbara, Carl, Cousin Sandy and Daughter Wynetta
February 9, 2020

Mountain Oysters Cooked Two Ways

Grieb Ranch enjoys two recipes for Mountain Oysters, a cowboy delicacy, depending on the environment they find themselves cooking them. As a college student, Connie deep fried the oysters and served them to her classmates.

Mountain Oysters Cooked Two Ways | The Story of Ranching at Grieb Ranch

Mountain Oyster Deep Fried Recipe

“I deep-fried some mountain oysters as a low cost meal for my cooking class at Cal Poly.  The girls at my table at first had no idea that the oysters were bull testicles.  One said they were the best oysters she had ever eaten.  It was then that I let her know that they were not from the ocean.”


  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. salt (or 1 tsp SuzieQ Seasoning)
  • 2 dashes pepper
  • 1 cup Bread crumbs (I like to use Progresso Italian Style)
  • 1 lb. medium Mountain Oysters


Mountain Oysters Cooked Two Ways | The Story of Ranching at Grieb Ranch
  • Pre-heat fat for frying oysters. 
  • Clean oysters (remove outer membranes) and cut into large Walnut-sized pieces.  
  • Dip in beaten egg and seasoning. 
  • Roll in bread crumbs. 
  • Submerge in hot fat. Fry at 350 degrees until golden brown – about 3 minutes.

Mountain Oysters Grilled in an Electric Skillet

“Sometimes we had to improvise a way of cooking the oysters when out during branding on 166. We had no skillet, but did have electricity so used an electric branding iron to grill the breaded oysters.”

They are considered to be quite a delicacy.  Like other organ meats, testicles may be cooked in a variety of ways – deep-fried whole, cut into broad thin slices, or marinated.  At roundups in the old West, cowboys and ranch hands tossed the meat on a hot iron stove.  When the calf fries exploded, they were done!”

Directions for Cooking on an Electric Grill or Branding Iron

At the branding have a electric skillet going.

Cover the skillet with olive oil.  Remove outer membranes of the mountain oyster, roll in pre-seasoned bread crumbs and grill.  Serve to the Cowboys as done.     

Where is the Cowboy Bathroom?

Decorating styles come and go, but at the Grieb Ranch one consistent statement was made no matter the trend: We are Cowboys.

This statement was most clearly communicated through a visit to the Cowboy bathroom. Barbara Grieb the amazing women who kept the Grieb Ranch running by feeding the Cowboys and friends was also an amazing decorator.  Enjoy a peek at her Cowboy Bathroom. Many visitors do a double-take to be sure they didn’t wander out the backdoor to the outhouse.

Entering the Cowboy Bathroom

The first clue you were entering a not-so-common bathroom was the swing door you pushed through to enter. You entered it just like you were entering a cowboy saloon. Only here there was not a slew of cowboys belly-up-to-the bar.

Cowboy Bathroom Decor

Once inside you notice the wood paneling with brands burned into the planks. One window is stained glass showing grass-fed beef and the Grieb Ranch brand. The paneling gave you the feeling you that maybe you were not inside a home, but perhaps took a turn outside to the outhouse.

Suspicions Confirmed

Finally you get to the place where you do your business. Here the bathroom takes a quirky turn to make you smile. Yes it’s just like sitting in an outhouse! Your suspicions have been confirmed and you smile. Many a visitor left with warm memories of visiting the Grieb Ranch cowboy bathroom.

Fast and Fresh Applesauce Recipe

Grandma Gertrude Grieb was way past her cooking years when the microwave zapped into the kitchen scene.  Upon retiring from kitchen duties, she had two stoves in her kitchen: A wood stove she used daily and an new electric stove right next to it. She only used the electric stove occasionally. Grandma would cook the apples in her wood stove when making applesauce.

Apple peeler, corer and slicer

Although we are thankful our time-saving microwave, we still manually peel, core and slice the apples when using this applesauce recipe. The counter-top-mounted apple peeler/corer/slicer has added a lot of fun to the apple peeling, coring and slicing process.  Kids of all ages like to see who can make the LONGEST snake to eat out of the apple peel.

Apple peel skins

Microwave Applesauce: Fast and Fresh Applesauce

From the Kitchen of: Connie Grieb Willems                  

Servings: 5


  • 8 apples (peeled, sliced, cored)  – Gravensteins or Braeburn are my favorite to use).
  • 1/4 cup water or apple juice(used the juice we made)
  • 3 Tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon1 pinch nutmeg


  1. Peel and core the apples (we use The Pampered Chef apple peeler/corer/slicer)*.
  2. Place all ingredients in large microwave safe bowl. Stir to combine.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap. Put one slit to vent the mixture. Microwave at High until apples are tender, about 7 to 10 minutes.
  4. Mash apples to desired consistency. Uncover and cook 5 more minutes.  Serve warm or chilled.

Variation:  Add 3 Tablespoons red cinnamon candies to applesauce.  Microwave at 5 minutes.  Stir until candies are dissolved.      

The nice thing about making your own applesauce is that you can freeze it or can it to enjoy months later. However, we usually eat each batch so fast there is nothing left for later.

Enjoying the fruit of their labor and time with Grandma.

* Just so you know, clicking the link above takes you right to the product on the Amazon site. We do get a little kick-back from any purchases made through that link, yet your price stays the same.