Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hello from Brenda

Hi, I’m Brenda Lacey formally Brenda Turner before I met a cowboy, fell in love and moved to a very little town of maybe 500 people called Independence in the Owens Valley on the Eastern Side of the Sierras. I grew up in Ventura, California right on the beach and raised 4-H market lambs in my backyard next to Buena High School and knew I wanted to be an Animal Science pre vet major at Cal Poly. I went to Cal Poly SLO got that degree in Animal Science and stayed to get my teaching credential in Agriculture Science and a Masters. When I got my first job teaching at Exeter High School my parents were ecstatic and I was ready to teach. Along the way I kept in touch with Mark Lacey, now my husband, and in 1992 we decided it was love and had a big wedding in San Luis. We packed the horse trailer full of everything I owned along with two dogs, four cats, one horse and flock of sheep and headed up Highway 395 to Independence.

My friends couldn’t believe it. There was no shopping, no movies, no take out, nothing but mountains and big open spaces. I had to explain it was easier to move me than thousands of cattle so we set up house not far from where Mark’s great grandfather settled in the late 1800’s. We have two wonderful girls, Molly 15 and Katie 11, and they love the ranch. They get to ride their horses, raise lambs, hogs, and rabbits. The girls do terrific in school and participate in ASB, sports, and clubs. They only have 32 students in their whole class; I had over 500, but what a great school Lone Pine has.

I worked for the University of California out of UC Davis up in Bishop for 12 years as the 4-H Program Representative running the 4-H program and then 3 years ago was asked by the Superintendent of School if I would help them keep their FFA program. I love FFA! There isn’t a better organization for high school students anywhere and the chance to help them and build a program was exactly what I needed. I said a sad farewell to 4-H and started teaching at Lone Pine High School as an agriculture teacher. Great students, staff, and a program with just tons of potential. There is a 10 acre school farm and we have built a 50X100 foot barn, put in a beef unit, pastures, landscaping, water and electricity. It is a truly a fantastic facility and one we are all proud of.

Living and working on a ranch is amazing, teaching children about the importance of agriculture is my passion, and raising two children with my cowboy is my life. Writing a blog about ranching and agriculture is scary and exciting at the same time and I’m looking forward to giving you a front row seat.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hello From the Lacey Family

Hello from the Lacey family. My name is Mark Lacey I am a fourth generation cattle rancher and along with my wife Brenda, daughters Molly and Katie we manage a commercial cow-calf, stocker, and registered quarterhorse operation in east central California. My father John is the managing partner and lives in Paso Robles along with my mother Dee. My dad oversees our winter stocker operations along with day to day operations of Tejon ranch which is part of a different partnership. My sister Nicki is also a partner, but lives in Kona, HI with her husband Dane where they have various business interests chief among them is raising Kona coffee. That covers the whole family.

This is the first installment in an ongoing blog about our experiences, challenges, and successes as cattle ranchers, parents, and small business people. Please bear with us for this first article we are going to bring you up to speed with a little family history.

In order to orient you with our location if you look at a map and find the east border of California where the straight border angles of to the southeast, then draw a line straight south from there for about 300 miles the triangle that is made will approximately encompass Inyo and Mono counties. These two counties are where our operation is located. Inyo is the second largest county in California and its capitol is Independence, which is where Brenda and the girls and I live. My family first came to Independence in 1867 and we live not a mile from where my great grandfather (John W. Lacey) settled. John W. came out after the civil war primarily for the gold and silver mining boom. There was a great deal of mining activity in Inyo county, as a matter a fact the town of Keeler was the home of a very rich series of mines and was on the short list of towns to become the capitol of California. Needless to say my great grandfather prospected and raised cattle among other things and from one generation to the next we have been at it ever since.

Our operation as it exists today is quite a bit different than it was 143 years ago. First off, my great grandfather sold off his holdings about 1915 and divided the proceeds with his three children. My grandfather (Mark B. Lacey) reinvested his share into the beginnings of a ranch in Olancha just bit south of Independence. He assembled a combination of private and public land. The ranch ran from the winter range on the edge of Death Valley which is the lowest point in the continental U.S. (280 ft. below sea level) to the summer range in the Sierra Nevada mountains where the cattle grazed in the shadow of Mt. Whitney which is the highest point in the lower 48 states (14, 494 ft. above sea level). Eventually we stopped using the Death Valley area when my Father (John W. Lacey) took over the operation in the early 1960’s and he swapped it for grazing land near Independence. However, we did continue to take cattle into the Sierras until 1993.

When we stopped going into to high country we replaced it with private irrigated grazing land in Bridgeport, CA and Mammoth Lakes, CA. We move our cattle to these locations by truck. There are several reasons that we relocate our cattle to these summer pastures. For starters, Independence has about a 100-degree temperature differential from winter to summer. Alternatively, Bridgeport has a 120-degree differential plus snow, so we return to Independence for the winter. Second, our native grasses are ok for cattle to winter on by adding protein supplement but aren’t nutritious enough for maximum productivity. Finally, our cowherd is very high percentage Angus and the cows and calves are much more comfortable in the cooler temperatures at higher altitudes.

The previous is a pretty quick description of our family background and our cattle operation. It probably could have been even quicker by just stating that as we are going on the fifth generation we are still cattlemen to the core. Our family has a few interests outside of Lacey Livestock, but 99% of our business is tied to raising beef cattle. As you might imagine the majority of our activities revolve around livestock activities, whether it be meetings with livestock proponents, opponents, agencies, 4-H, or FFA we are completely dedicated to the raising of livestock or the protection of the culture and legacy of livestock producers.

In the next installment we will get a little more descriptive about where we are in our calendar of operations, and unique elements of our land resources. Until next time.

The Lacey Family