thanks to Kathryn and Calvina and GEV Magazine for a great write up and fun shoot on the ranch!
Wow - I used to blog religiously, almost every night... with photos of my baby girls and our daily adventures and business goings ons and way-too-much-information about a whole lotta not-that-exciting stuff! And then Instagram came along and then a few more baby girls came along and then more businesses... and THEN a pick up and move to be ranchers full time happened. And somewhere in there I stopped documenting our daily life here!
But I kinda want to change that. I'm not going to try to commit to anything because I'm pretty sure it won't happen as I see it in my head, but I really want to come back to this space to document life again - our life on the ranch. It is busier and crazier and O-M-G-did-that-just-happen every single day and Instagram gives me a pretty great platform to "micro-blog" a few times a day - but I love the ritual of blogging/recording on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis. I kept a hand written journal every single day from when I was 13 until I was 25. My Dad gave me a daily ledger and I filled one page a day with what I did that day, nothing too deep just what was filling my time. I love looking back at those!
So while not making any promises (and really who reads blogs anymore anyway!?) I'm going to document a little more of our daily adventures on the ranch here. The crazy days when things go sideways and the awesome days when it all goes right and the days in between too. Maybe ;)
Special days like THIS when we get all dolled up for our 10 year anniversary celebration photos (I will blog these!)
and normal everyday days on the ranch feeding pigs and doing chores (and covered in dirt).
and the crazy days when we have bottle feeder baby animals in the house. :)
and everything in between!
I get asked often WHY we named all four of our girls Mary... there is a long history of strong Catholic women named Mary on both sides of the family and Brian and I wanted to carry on the tradition with our first daughter. We honestly never thought about the fact we might have ALL girls but once we started there was no going back!
We didn't know what we were having when I was pregnant and I was sure it was a boy (but so thrilled when SHE was a girl!) and we named her MaryFrances Borchard after Brian's grandmother who had just passed away, her name was Bernice Borchard (and apparently did not like her first name!) but had a sister named Frances and my great grandfather was also named Francis. We loved the name and decided to call her Francie honoring strong family members on both sides of our families and Francie is just that.
Then Maisie came along - another surprise girl! and we named her MaryMarjorie Sheehy after my grandmother Mary Sheehy who died before we were married and her sister, our favorite Great Aunt Marjorie Sheehy. Aunt Marge cries every time she sees Maisie saying how much she looks just like her late sister, my mom's mother who was such a great lady! Maisie is lucky to have inherited the Sheehy girls pretty petite looks and sweet and loving personality too.
We kind of figured we'd have a boy next by the odds of it- but nope, along came another girl! Good thing we still had lots of Marys in the family to pick from. Janie is named after my Dad's mom MaryJane Simonson but we gave Janie my middle name so she's MaryJane Regan. I never met my dad's mom, she died young but I know she had a strong and sassy personality just like her namesake.
The fourth baby had to be the boy right? Tessa surprised us again rounding out our gaggle of girls! She is named MaryTeresa Katherine after my Aunt Tere (Teresa), Aunt Kathy my godmother who died and is greatly missed and Great Aunt Kate who died when I was pregnant with Tess. She's been affectionately called "Tiny" since birth or Tiny Tess which suits her small frame and huge personality well though!
And that's how we ended up the Five Marys 😊
I finally posted an updated blog over at www.fivemarysfarms.com! With so many beautiful photos from Joy Prouty I couldn't not post them somewhere... and hoping to keep posting more often again!
We've been as busy as ever soaking up every minute of ranch life and keeping up with chores. The count is awkward changing between buying new animals, new babies being born and trips to the butcher or casualties of farm life, but right now I think we are feeding and caring for 350 chickens, 100 turkeys, 90 cows and 88 calves, 2 bulls, 36 sheep, 3 rams and 52 lambs, 6 pigs and 12 piglets (with more on the way!), 3 dogs and 4 puppies. There is never a dull moment around here!
here are a few of my favorite photos from the past few weeks....
It stays light so late so we've been working later (and eating dinner later, sorry kids!) but the girls entertain themselves in the hay stacks, in the mud somewhere or building another fort.
Unpacking baby turkey poults is a team effort
JJ doesn't waste any time
Maisie helping to organize the old tack room. And it was backwards day at school.
Francie always finding an animal to catch and make a home for somewhere as a pet.
We call this JJ style.
And we actually got some rain in June! But of course I misjudged the stream and got a little STUCK.
The kinder and 1st grade classes came to the ranch for a field trip!
The girls got to camp out with Dad and The Moby one night while I was gone
Summer weather is here so j get to break out my sidecar sippy cup! Tiny approves.
We had our first large litter of baby piglets!
Brian's Dad, Tom Heffernan died last week on Monday morning. He had been struggling with Parkinson's Disease for many years and we know his soul is free and at peace now.
Tom was a farmer - his grandfather Antone Borchard was also a farmer and kindled in Tom a love of the soil and the hard working spirit of a farmer. I know Tom was proud to know his eldest son also went back to the soil and is proud to call himself a farmer now too, I know I'm proud of him!
Here is a little video tribute to Tom, my farmer father-in-law. This speech always reminded me of him, it's the Paul Harvey speech from the 1978 FFA convention called "So God Made a Farmer."
We miss you Opa. Rest in peace.
Wow it's not as easy to keep up with the old blog up here living #ranchlife! I don't think I've been on my laptop in months - I have been keeping up with daily life via Instagram (on the side bar) but I'm still trying to figure out how to post those to the blog in an easier way. For now... Here's an update!
This guy is pretty happy and working his tail off to build up the infrastructure of our ranch for what we want to do. That mean a lot of fence building, fence fixing and water management running pipes and wells and pumps and WATER. He's doing a pretty awesome job at it all!
We got our two Bulls delivered last week. We haven't officially named them but it's either Harry and Lloyd or Dozer and Ferdinand (so I can say that's my bull, Dozer. Get it? ;) they are beautiful animals! And we branded our M5 brand on them - very official.
We also got a new group of piglets - berkshires and red wattles. We will raise these ones for 'product' (as in bacon) - our breeder mamas are the GOS spotted pigs.
And our fall calving season is almost done. Our 68 momma cows have almost all had their babies. It's been so much fun to see! We've had three sets of twins and lost one baby early on. We are bottle feeding one of the twins in the barn but the others are all pretty happy and healthy (with a few fixes here and there)
We finally got some RAIN!!! And pretty awesome rainbows too.
And rain on the ground means snow on Mount Shasta. The drought has been so bad the mountain was bare dirt a few weeks ago when the little bit of snow on there had all melted.
And we got a new pivot last week too!! This giant sprinkler will give us more pasture to farm and put our cows on and make a pretty green 'lawn' in the spot where we want to build a house someday.
Dixie is getting bigger and drives us crazy trying to cross the road to the 'action' everyday but the girls love her. We miss our MoosieBoy a lot, JJ talks about him daily.
Our turkeys are getting fatter. They might be small at thanksgiving so we might let them live to see Christmas. We have Bourbon Reds, Narragansetts and Royal Palms.
And we've got 4-5 roosters in the bunch of 130 chickens!! They sure are pretty - but as the girls say 'pretty useless'. They think it's funny that on a ranch the male animals are not as needed - the females seem to do all the work!! (Except their dad of course ;)
And the big project right now is building new corrals. The old ones were beautiful with pieced together old wood and beams but a little too worn out to hold big momma cows and Bulls. Heff is remaking them all with metal pipe welded together. They won't be going anywhere!
Our GOS or Gloucestershire Old Spots are almost big enough to breed. We are getting some farrowing huts for them hopefully soon since pigs gestation is short. 3 months 3 weeks and 3 days!
We've had lots of visitors who are still hanging tough in the bunk house even with the temperature drops - everybody is so willing to help with chores, we love it!
And the leaves are changing giving us a gorgeous show that's different everytime you look. We sure feel lucky to live here in this beautiful place!
My mom came this week to celebrate the birthdays and get some ranch time in! It was SO great to have her here and we got lots of organizing and house rearranging done, her speciality! She got to help with some ranch chores and the girls got lots of books and Jannie time in.
We we picked her up in Medford Tuesday morning and hit Big R for some ranch supplies!
Then home and a tour around the ranch. Pigs first and she took a picture of her five Marys ;)
Tiny looking comfortable with Mercy Watson. We cleaned out the pantry to feed the piggies.
And cozy at home with Tiny's new book and blankie Jannie made her - blanket based on an old book called the Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat. It's a great one! And this cute FARM book.
Tessa's birthday cake- adored by her sisters that's for sure.
Our neighbors came over for Tacos as tiny requested Taco Tueaday. We all sat out on the porch til late.
Then Wednesday after ranch chores a lunch date at Lalo's and visit to the Fort Jones museum.
And cake baking with Jannie for Francie's birthday Thursday. Funfetti wedding style was requested ;)
Turned out pretty awesome!
Sister love for our sweet SEVEN year old
And presents Thursday morning
We had to take Jannie back to the airport Thursday afternoon but first a DMV stop for her genius idea we ordered months ago - thanks Jannie!! Come back soon!!
We are working on turning an old truck that was on the property into a Cluck Truck for the chickens to roost in at night. We designed it on the fly but I think it is turning out great! Heff did the box on the dump truck part on back - it even has sky lights!! And the girls and I painted and painted. It is no small job :) we will add roosting poles inside, laying boxes and a feeding system tomorrow. Hope you are ready for real rotating pasture life chickens!
This was the truck before we started yesterday. Needs a little love but good bones.
The girls helped me paint. We started with red enamel spray paint.
But it wasn't covering enough and was a little too red do we switched to a can of barn red I bought for the pig structure Heff built but I forgot to get primer paint so it went to this project.
The girls took a break in the ranger at nap time. Francie erected a shade tent over it for them ;) tomatoes and goldfish crackers for snacks kept them occupied awhile.
Francie did a good job helping to watch her sisters so we could keep working all afternoon.
And JJ helped rip the wood siding. She's not sure how she feels about this.
Ahhh little kids and paint. There were a few long baths after this.
Heff built a strong frame around the existing sides and then added this plywood siding.
And Maisie worked SO hard with us out in the hot sun all afternoon. She insisted on finishing the paint job even all the way at the top.
She was covered in red paint but pretty happy to be helping.
Getting there. Paint done now for the roof
There we go - even has skylights to wake them up in the morning!
Good work Heff ;) part 1 is done!
We have lamb ready to order!!
Check out our ranch website at www.sharpsgulchranch.com for more details or to order!!
We lost our sweet dog Moose today :( I was going to repost what I posted on Instagram but a screen shot is easier...
He was such a good boy - he hung out by the house or on the porch and slept on the old couch on the porch every night.
He let tiny climb all over him... even stick her fingers in his nose!
Sweet babies. Moose was only 10 months old and the most mellow lab puppy I've ever known. :(
Moose helping me with morning chores.
And sleeping at the foot of the bed while the girls "camped" on the porch
He wasn't here long but was such a part of our family
Patrolling Tiny to keep her safe
Good looking boy.
He got into mischief sometimes like all puppies do. But he gave us an easy time of it that's for sure.
Bavk when tiny was tinier
the first week in the bunkhouse back in February. He was already huge!
helping me work ;) we still have his paw prints on the floor where he ran in when I was painting!
girst dog I ever snuggled so much ;)
I miss you MoosieBoy. ❤️
We all do.
Be good up in doggie heaven.
The ranch won't be the same without your wagging tail to greet us home everyday
His first night home.
Love you boy. Rest in peace.
Another awesome year at Black Butte Ranch for the annual gathering of the Heffernan brothers four and their families. It's quite a group - with lots of kids! Black Butte is a great spot for lots of family fun and we are so lucky everyone makes it a priority every year!
first night bunk bunk bed sleepover with Oliver
Surrounded by little pink ladies
Cousins in rainbow
And the boys Oliver, Thomas and Patrick.
Cousins on the golf course
New bathing suits from Jannie!
Ready to float the river
Pizza picnic on the pond after the float
Octaball was a huge hit! Thanks to Opa Bob and Dan
The oldest set of cousins - acting like teenagers already 😜
Such great family fun for all of us
Beat her uncles in a round - proud girl
The littlest set, the two and almost two year olds
Ellie a pie baking machine with Fort Jones strawberries and Oregon blackberries
The group back from 5am fishing with A fish!
We only got one day of glaze meadow pool time in and it closed for lightning strikes after a few hours!
This crew serving up kids cocktails with Aunt Maureen's homemade grenadine and Uncle Mark's homemade pretzels
Teams for the first day annual Olympics events! All boys on one team this year. Versus three full teams of girls.
Lined up at Auntie Otter Pops house for dinner
Relaxing snd crowding around aunt Kat at our cabin
Love that Auntie OtterPop (and all those awesome Aunts!! Hi LaLa)
Giving thanks... And thankful for this great big crazy family. I'm lucky to have married into it!
Talent Show team - lots of great performances this year
Patrick on the ukulele and Roman's homemade drums
Geocaching award ceremony.... Competition gets hot!
Mad rush for homemade pie at Opa Bob and LaLa's (Aunt Francy) - we are so lucky they host us all every year.
Walking home with a headlamp and babies in a bag. 👍
Big girl sleepover party our last night
And homeward bound til next year!
We've been so lucky to have so many visitors at the ranch this summer!! Between 4th of July and last week I think we had almost 50 friends and family come up and most of them stayed for a night or two
One weekend we had FOUR families at the same time! One if them was our neighbors from Los Altos and their sweet girls (Maisie's buddy Marisa here) and above with our old neighbors who also have four girls who are moving to Portland!
And we got Emmy for 10 DAYS!!!
Aunt Kat and Uncle Donald come up from Red Bluff or stop on their way from Oregon often too- always so much fun to have them and to talk cattle with Donald (he is a 6th generation cattle rancher). Kat is due with her third baby in a couple months too!
The Keeley family came up for a weekend - it was a HOT weekend so we took a trip to the river and turned lots of sprinklers on.
So great to have good friends to share this place with!
The Alticks stopped on their way home from Oregon with their girls and adorable baby boy Elliot. So fun to have a baby around
And our LA heff cousins made a big move up to Portland snd stopped for two days between one house selling and the new house closing! We are so excited for them and their new farm in the PNW.
The Henderson family stopped with their three kids too- they moved from Los Altos to Hawaii for a slower pace of life and were back visiting family on a drive up to a Oregon too.
We love having visitors - you have an open invitation to come up to Camp Heff friends!! ❤️
We've got lots going on at Sharps Gulch Ranch!! We've been adding to our chicken flock raising the day old babies. After a batch of 50 rainbow layers that got delayed it transit and only 18 made it to 2 weeks old (!) they hatchery sent us another batch and then I ordered 22 turkeys with a trigger happy laptop hand (might have involved a sidecar) and 45 more baby chicks arrived with the turkeys. Oops! So the count now is 130-something chickens and 19 turkeys (3 drowned themselves the first night, not the brightest birds ;) I love my day-old chicks!
New painted mailbox - it was faded red and silver and the address was worn off. I was going to go all metallic silver but Jannie voted all red. She won. Good call.
New baby chicks in the nursery area next to the big coop. We will introduce slowly when they are big enough! Attempt 1 was not successful. Chickens are mean.
Post Office pick up of 50 rainbow egg layers - batch 2. Much more successful (49 still going strong)
New pigs! We got four gilts who will be our breeders. They are Glouchester Old Spot pigs, a heritage breed - here are Baby, Mercy, Eugenia and Hillary. I could watch pigs all day long.
A new "pool" haha ;) I got a big huge feeder trough at the garden center and brought it home as a swimming pool. It works great!
Cabana for shade and maybe a cocktail for kid watching. Who needs more?!
I picked up two pool noodles at Raley's and told the lady I was trying to convince my kids a horse trough was a pool. It pretty much worked.
New cows!! Finally! We've been waiting patiently to find just the right herd to start our operation. Uncle Donald helped us find a beautiful load of black angus cattle - 37 pregnant mommas - all from a closed herd that descended from some of the very first Black Angus brought to California from Canada in 1938. They are big beautiful moms all due in September.
More photos to come!
And we host some neighbors cows in one if our pastures so we get to see some cute calves too.
Heff got his tractor. A lifelong dream come true ;) and now he can move, lift, pull anything I ask in minutes win-win
And 7 weaner pigs! These guys will not be breeders but fattened up for pork chops this year ;)
And ewes! We got 30 ewes (momma sheep) and 4 baby lambs. We will breed them with our Navajo-Churro rams in the fall for spring babies. This was me sorting - and there is a GREAT story an hour after this involving 3 big horned mamma sheep jumping ship from our trailer on the road!! 2.5 hours and miles of chasing them through wet knee-high alfalfa they see safely back in ;)
And every night is a new sunset over the barn - more blogging coming soon I promise!
4th of July we were lucky enough to have a group of my family up to the ranch! My parents, my Uncle John and Aunt Kim and their three awesome kids and Jen and Zach and their two sweet girls. Everybody pitched in for ranch chores and making lots of good food. We went out to the wet hay fields Friday night for some firework action from the back of a pick up, swam in the river, BBQed and explored the ranch. It was so great to show my family what "ranch life" is like - they all approved and agreed it's pretty sweet!!
Jannie's first trip to the ranch and she jumps right in with the pigs and girls ;)
My Dad treated us to a few rounds of fireworks from the volunteer fire department stand.
Emmy is back and staying for 10 days. Woohoo!!
Sweet cousin Ella with hr biggest fans - the girls in matching outfits Jannie got at the Gap outlet on the way up.
The girls were so excited to show the cousins the river. Only on a serious CA drought it's mostly a river bed! Come on rain.
Sweet girls in the teepee decked out for the 4th! The girls decided Lola and Amelie are their honorary sisters ;)
Heff and his flock - they beg very time the ATV starts up, especially Tiny - "wif you dada!!"
And sometimes I get a turn too
Jannie playing games on the porch with the girls - lucky ladies
And hammock and a sidecar to follow!
Sunset dinner at the big table
And games with James and Luke
Ranch breakfast. Tiny wants mine.
Trip to the u pick berry patch next ranch over
The whole crowd relaxing in the shade
Four wheeler ride up the gulch Saturday afternoon
And so thankful for this friendship of 36 years
This kid! Found a dead bull snake and carries it around like a trophy
Aunt Kim giving JJ a lift to the barn
Adorable Lola striking a pose. She has the cutest personality
Tess loves to squeeze those chicks
Thanks for such a fun weekend family!!
Happy 4th if July from our little homestead to yours! ;) 🇺🇸
Friday morning after school got out we were en route to the ranch. Emmy came with us for the weekend this time which was a treat!
This little one barfed four times driving up - we think she had a little virus or something poor baby!
Vacaville stop for potty break and Starbucks - one kid down clothing or a diaper 😜
We stopped in Red Bluff and the kids stayed w Em at Oma's house while Heff and I picked up my birthday present - a welding set up!
And then Emmy and I stopped in Yreka and picked up four craigslist bunnies. Just adding to the menagerie madness!
They tried to convince me to take these three free kittens. Great story behind this one and thank god I said no way😉
Finally arrival in Fort Jones! 4-wheeler ride to check water first
Takes a fee minutes to breath in the mountain air and be grateful we are here.
Put these girls to work
Moving wheel lines with Dad
Sunshine and Emmy!
We brought Penny the cat to live out ranch life. We didn't see her for a few days (not surprising after 8 hours in a dog crate) but now she stalks around killing field mice and moles all day long. Happy cat.
Lessons from Dad on how to hold bunnies without getting your face scratched up. Some learned the hard way ;)
Relaxing in the hammock
Bunny enclosure done. They escaped the next day through the wire holes and are now free range bunnies who wiggle back in to eat and drink. Somehow all four are still alive.
Ready to work Saturday morning in my Five Marys Farms gear!!
Tractor selfie moving dirt with my husband. And yes I wear overalls now when in farming ;)
Planted 100 more tomato plants a friend gave me she'd started in her backyard and didn't end up needing. Tomato sauce for days we hope! Maisie was a great helper planting all of the with me.
JJ came to help too. She was pretty excited to be touching horse poop.
Lunch break - for my mountain man and I
Found this old welded swing buried in brush by the big house
Fixed up for swinging!
Saturday night Em babysat and we went to Etna Brewery for live music night! Our new friend up there Jason Conley played and the place was packed! A really fun night seeing friends we've made and meeting new ones. We feel lucky to be so welcomed in this really great community
Morning view from the barn while Heff and I were working
Emmy time playing cards on the porch
And taking amazing photos as usual!!!
Big girl Francie. Officially a 1st grader now!
Only a few of Emmy's photos. Always awesome.
And Emmy took and posted this picture of JJ holding a chicken - to which my sister MADD this comparison and texted us she had seen that face before ;)
Sunset ride up the gulch!
Lots of dirt and sunshine up here, my favorite.
We came back to Los Altos for the last few days of school - Francie finished Kindergarten and loved her teacher Ms Wiley (so did Maisie ;) end of the year picnic, hanging out at home, park dates with Emmy and planning to go back up to the ranch! Ice cream cones at the picnic and Emmy, good combo Tess!
Sister walk the secret way back home
Even snuck in a date night with this handsome guy... In my new truck! Ranchers and ranchers wives need some power, power that fits 4 children and 2 adults of course ;)
And couldn't stay away from Home Depot. When it's only 5 minutes away instead of 85 miles you don't take that for granted.