Today we post our fourth guest blog! Lisa Poncia from Stemple Creek Ranch has generously shared her thoughts and observances of summer on the ranch. Stemple Creek Ranch is located in Tomales on the grassy hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean. We get beef from Stemple Creek Ranch every other week. Our relationship with Stemple Creek Ranch and Loren and Lisa Poncia is one we cherish. Thank you Lisa for this little escape from the daily grind.
Life on Stemple Creek Ranch is a constant hub of activity, and summer is no exception. The ebb and flow is as predictable as the coastal breezes and afternoon fog that rolls in from the nearby Pacific. Our family has been a part of this landscape since 1896 when great-grandfather Angelo “Pa Nono” Poncia arrived in West Marin from Italy. He worked as a dairy hand to save up enough money to buy this property. Four generations later, we still honor that heritage while putting our own stamp on the business, working hard to keep it profitable for those who will follow.
This time of year, our rich natural grasses have been burnished gold by the sun, which explains the plastic-wrapped bales of “haylage” that lay scattered in the fields. We harvest this forage at its nutritional peak and preserve it as supplemental feed for our grass-fed and finished livestock during these leaner months.
The first fall calves will soon make their appearance, balancing gingerly on spindly legs as they find initial footing in the world. They will spend their days nursing and roaming free-range with their mothers on our vast organic pastures, and will learn to anticipate the sound of the quad-runner which signals it’s time for rotation to a new, fresh field. They eagerly follow Loren like kids chasing after an ice-cream truck. It’s quite a sight to see!
Our mature animals rotate pastures every couple of days as fall approaches. We have over a hundred pastures at their disposal for grazing. They bask in the sunshine by day and lay down under the stars at night, growing fat for winter market. This is what life is like here, year after year.
Of course, there’s always a few twists thrown into the usual routine, just to keep things interesting.
First, we got two new Maremma-Akbash pups–Salty and Pepper–who are growing into their role as guardians of our sheep flock. Bred to instinctively protect, these dogs live and bond with our sheep and will defend them against predators. With them on the job, those coyotes won’t stand a chance.
Summer is also the best time to be a kid on the ranch. Our oldest daughter, Avery (4 years old), has been busy discovering the many nooks and crannies of the property with her cousins–building forts, catching frogs in Stemple Creek, and even making a raft they dream will carry them downstream to the ocean. Their grandparents are in heaven having them all underfoot. While baby sister Julianna (1 year old) teeters toward Bammie’s outstretched arms, Avery lends Papa a hand with bottle feeding baby calves and lambs. Her face lights up as she bribes our ranch mascot, an enormous sheep named Torpedo, with apples.
We watch and wish we could pause these moments, knowing the memories made here will last a lifetime. Hopefully one day, their generation will carry on the legacy of our family ranch–a place that is as special to them as it is to us.