Category Archives: family

The Saga of Sam Brown’s Wedding Table

When I was a very little girl, I used to ride my horse over to my grandfather’s ranch from our house. At that point our families ranches reached from one end of Indian Valley to the other. It was still a big deal to be allowed to ride alone that far, at least it felt like it to little me. Little did I know I was carefully watched the whole time by my Parents and Grandfather.

Pre-ride over to my Grandpa's ranch. Notice I didn't use stirrups. I didn't like them.

Pre-ride over to my Grandpa’s ranch. Notice I didn’t use stirrups. I didn’t like them.

I was my Grandfather’s favorite grandchild, and he had many. He made sure I knew it. He purchased my first 4-H pig. That was remarkable because he was not known for going out of his way, in this case to a fair, for his grandchildren. He gave me my first bottle calf that ended up being a reserve grand champion. He always kept candy hidden in his unused dishwasher for when I would come over and secretly sneak it to me. He threw a fit when I got my horse Dusty D, said it was too much horse for me. He was right, of course, but I couldn’t be stopped.

So it was a treat when I was allowed to make the mile trek through the valley, I had to open and close big gates, and jump ditches on my trusty steed, all alone. When I would arrive at my Grandpa’s house he would make a huge deal of it! He would always act like I had just completed a huge day’s work. It would make me pleased as punch to have him be proud and make a big deal over me. When I got off my horse, and put him in the horse pasture, Grandpa would have a big slice of cold watermelon with salt on it waiting for me. We would sit on the porch and visit for a while, waiting for my Dad to come get me. During these visits he would tall me stories about the family.

My Great Uncle Sam, my Great Aunt Ella, my great grandpa (who built the table) Sam, and my Grandpa Fletcher.

My Great Uncle Sam, my Great Aunt Ella, my great grandpa (who built the table) Sam, and my Grandpa Fletcher. Behind them is the big house.

He would talk about his Dad, his Mom, the ranch. These are very cherished memories to me. I felt very connected to people who died years before I was even a thought. One story in particular was my favorite. Probably because there was a gift attached to it. One day he asked me to come on in the big house and look at this table. He told me it was a special table because his Daddy made it long ago, by hand! His Daddy, Sam F. Brown, was born in 1883, right after his parents moved from Tennessee (when I asked my Dad about his grandfather now, he said he talked funny, so I am assuming he had some sort of Southern Drawl left from his parents. This tickles me to no end. Pretty much all I want in life is a southern accent. He also said the Great Grandpa was fond of saying “if you can’t make it, you can’t have it”).

The porch where my Grandpa and I would sit and eat melon. Right inside and to the left was where my table lived.

The porch where my Grandpa and I would sit and eat melon. Right inside and to the left was where my table lived.

My Grandpa showed me this table, it was right against the front door, covered with tools of our trade, buckets, cattle medicine paraphernalia, jackets, etc. He told me that one day this table would be at my wedding, it would be mine. I think he already knew at this point I was going to be the only child and the one that was to be heir to the bulk his estate someday. After my Grandpa died when I was 12, we moved into the big house. The table was left where it was, safe.

We moved out of that home when I was around 20, but that is for another blog. We left some furniture there mainly because at the time we had a travel trailer, then a mini home with no room for a large table. During my mid to late 20’s, I had a falling out with my Dad, and got an off the ranch job. According my to research almost everyone, for generations, have done this, even my Dad! During this time my wedding table was lent out without my knowledge or permission. Since I made it a point not to go into the old home except once in all those years, I didn’t notice until this summer, that my table was gone! The horror!

I immediately asked who had it. I felt relief when I learned a neighbor that watched me grow up had it, mere miles from our ranch! In fact, I can see their house from ours! They borrowed it for their daughter’s birthday party. I wrote a letter explaining I wanted my table back. They responded that as soon as they saw the document that granted me power of attorney over the ranch trust, they would “gladly comply”. The document was sent that day, and I was ecstatic that my table would soon be mine again, as I now have my own home and a place for it! I’m not quite ready for it to be at my wedding, lol. 

If you let your half naked kid ride someone like a horse, you probably trust them with your kid's wedding table.

If you let your half naked kid ride someone like a horse, you probably trust them with your kid’s wedding table.

Family history and heirlooms are incredibly important to me. I live in my Great Aunt’s old home. My coffee table was made by my Great Grandfather. My cast iron pans are from my Grandpa. I traveled back to Tennessee to see the plantation where we came from. I work and live on the same ranches as my ancestors, I’ve spent days and days researching them. This is something I will fight for, because it’s my history.

My Great Grandpa Sam, Great Great Aunt Brydie and Great, Great Uncle Albert, 1892.

My Great Grandpa Sam, Great Great Aunt Brydie and Great, Great Uncle Albert, 1892.


Sadly, despite a polite letter asking for it back, and subsequent daily check in’s, my table is still being held hostage. I think we are on day 10 or 11. I’m heartbroken over this. The worst thing about it is I don’t know why, they are completely ignoring me. I didn’t even get a wave when I drove by them on the road, and everyone in Indian Valley waves when you drive by, it’s good manners!

Here is the thing, instead of being heartbroken and wallowing, I am being proactive. I am going to do my best to get it back or at least find out what happened to it. The people who have it, were considered family at one point, I’m sure that’s why my Dad felt like it was ok to let them borrow my table. They are friends with me on social media. They drive by our ranch everyday. In fact I’m even a partial owner of their ranch. So this makes no sense at all. Even, baby Oprah forbid, if I don’t get my table back, I’m leaving a digital diary for my future ancestors. They will know I tried. Hard.

Hopefully this is just a big misunderstand or miscommunication and my next blog will be me showing off my wedding table! Stay tuned!

 

On a related note.

 

5 Comments

Filed under Ag, agriculture, family, History, Humor, photos, Ranch life, Rants, Uncategorized

The “Farm Wife”

I used to think I wanted to be a farm wife. I always thought I would follow my Mom’s example. Working unpaid for the ranch. Doing the same work as the men, plus the books, the cooking, cleaning and taking care of me, the kid AND having a full-time off the ranch job for health insurance and financial security. I thought I’d marry, and my husband would take over for my Dad and I would continue my Mom’s role.

See the woman in the center. That "farm wife" is the reason there is a farm in the first place.

See the woman in the center? That “farm wife” is the reason there is a farm in the first place.

Then I grew up. I realized just how much work it was to be a farm wife. I realized they did the heavy lifting. They were the unappreciated glue that held everything together. I finally understood I am not tough or smart enough for the “farm wife” label. Nope. I can handle being a rancHER. That’s easy. But farm wife? I simply don’t have the balls for it. Major props to you Farm Wives! Thank you for running this industry we call agriculture! We all know what you do, but we don’t vocally ever recognize and appreciate you in a way where you get to hear or see it. I hope that starts to change, and after what I’ve witnessed over the past few days, I think it will. We need to respect, praise and appreciate the women that keep us going.

 

Probably the most important read out of all of this. 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Ag, agriculture, animals, family, History, Know a California Farmer, Ranch life, Rants, Uncategorized

Throwback Thursday: Margie

This photo is going to be a hard one, I’m skeptical if I’ll ever know more about it then I already do. But then, my readers have surprised me again and again with who they know.

Margie

Margie

This photo comes from the Sammie’s Friends envelope. There is writing on it, but it is hard to make out. It looks like at one point this photo was pasted into an album, when they did that the writing was bleached. This is what I could make out:

“To Sammie, With lots of lite Love, Margie”

I thought perhaps she wrote, with lots of love. But the two words don’t match up when I compared them. I can clearly see a ‘t’ in lite. So who knows, really? But there is no date or last name.

Since most of these photos seem to be from the 1940’s and Margie’s hair and make-up, which are swoon worthy, seem to reflect the style of the 40’s, I think we can safely assume, this was taken in the 40’s. This leads me to believe Margie was probably a friend from school. Which means she probably went to Greenville High School.

Here is my question to you Indian Valley historians – do you know who this is? Do you remember Margie that would have been in her late teens/early 20’s in the 1940’s? Does her photo ring a bell? Please leave me a comment if you have any leads!

1 Comment

Filed under family, History, photos, Ranch life, Throwback Thursday, Uncategorized

Throwback Thursday: May 4, 1947 “Shirley”

This is another photo from the envelope labeled “Sammie’s Friends”. This photo has “To Sammie, A swell guy, Sincerely, Shirley May 4, 1947” written on the back of it, no last name, no place.

Shirley

Shirley

This looks like a high school prom or graduation picture. Look at her beautiful hair and dress and the corsage. Also how badass is that car? Also I can tell by the trees it’s in Plumas County. I went ahead and looked up all the “Shirley’s” that could have gone to school with Sammie.  This lead me to a Shirley Benson (class of 1947).

The back of the photo

The back of the photo

 Ms. Benson’s trail has gone cold. If anyone has anything to add or offer with this photo, I’d really appreciate your help! Thanks!

Leave a Comment

Filed under family, History, photos, Ranch life, Throwback Thursday, Uncategorized

Throwback Thursday: Sammie Brown Jr & Jinks Retzlaff

This is yet another photo from the envelope marked “Sammie’s Friends“. Unfortunately, there is no date or writing on the back of this photo so I don’t know much. I do know who this beautiful woman is now! It’s Jinks from last week’s Throwback Thursday. From what I gather, Sammie and Jinks went to high school together and were close friends. Sammie Brown is on the left.  I wonder what they were doing? It looks like they are dressed up in their fancy clothes and I see what looks like a theater marquee behind them. Look at Jinks’ beautiful corsage. I think we should bring those back as a fashion accessory and hats too. She looks so classy and elegant. The men too.

Sammie Brown, Jinks Retzlaff

Thanks to last week’s post and help from a local community group on Facebook, I was able to find Jinks’ family. Both of the pictures I featured on this blog are being sent to her family. These will be the third and fourth pictures from my collection that I was able to get to the families. I’ve enjoyed this project so much and have started learning more about my community. Stayed tuned, I have more to come.

Leave a Comment

Filed under family, History, photos, Ranch life, Throwback Thursday, Uncategorized

Throwback Thursday: March 27, 1935

I have a good one for this week’s Throwback Thursday. When I found these pictures I got a serious kick out of them. I can remember back when I was in high school and what a big deal it was getting a good couple picture with your boyfriend. You always had that one friend tasked with trying to take the perfect candid shot, but subtly, you know? And it was a big deal because this was back before smart phones, we actually had to get pictures developed to see how they turned out!

Mary and Floyd holdig hands
Anyway this photo is of my Great Aunt Mary Allison Brown and our neighbor’s Dad, Floyd Neer. The back of the picture says they are at the Greenville High School.
I’ve had the honor of meeting both of these people. And the families are still friends! However, apparently back in high school they were a couple. I had no clue. To be honest, I don’t know that much about Aunt Mary. I actually spent quite a lot of time with her. But we never talked of her past very much that I can remember. I find myself learning more about her and the rest of the family as I go through my box of photos and glean bits from history books.

mary and floyd
Aunt Mary ended up marrying Cecil McIntyre. And Floyd married Margaret. Both couples were married for their lifetimes.

"Mary Brown and Floyd Neer at the G.H.S. Mar. 27, 1935"

“Mary Brown and Floyd Neer at the G.H.S.
Mar. 27, 1935”

These photos are among my favorite I have found so far because I can imagine this happening. I’m betting Mary had her sister take these photos. I almost feel like these would have been a whisper scandalous for 1935 high school kids! I wonder if they were at a dance? I wonder why the couple didn’t work out?
Could you just imagine how different Indian Valley would be if it did? These are the times I wish the older generations were still around because I would love to hear the details of this story. If any of my Neer friends would like a good quality digital copy, please let me know and I will shoot one right over. Till next week!

Leave a Comment

Filed under family, History, photos, Ranch life, Throwback Thursday, Uncategorized

Bathrooms, Perverts and the Humanity Card

Agriculture, at times, has an image problem. I spend a great amount of my time advocating for agriculture to combat this. I share so much of my life in an effort to connect to the public and show farmers and ranchers are human, we want the best for our animals, land and family, just like them. I wanted to use my relationship with the public to educate and influence their thoughts about my way of life.
But I what I didn’t realize, was how much people influenced MY life. They have changed how I feel and perceive many, many social issues. You see, I got to know people who live very different lives from me. People that live in the city, rich people, poor people, people from other countries, religions, orientations, well, you get it. But I learned they are just like me! They have soapboxes too, and sometimes all they want is to have their soapboxes recognized.
There is a big issue making waves in my social media circles. It’s not an agriculture issue, per se, but it is something that I’ve seen many of my agriculture peers talk about. The recent North Carolina bathroom law. Basically, this law requires transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender of their birth certificate, not how they currently identify.

Does God or religion really belong in our public bathrooms? I'm kinda of the mind that our cell phones don't even belong in there.

Does God or religion really belong in our public bathrooms? I’m kinda of the mind that our cell phones don’t even belong in there.



This law has brought out a lot of ugly. Some people are very concerned about what happens in the privacy of a locked stall. Some people have apparently turned in their humanity cards over it. Ag people have been posting horrible memes, advocating violence and assault to the transgender community. Even a well known agricultural cartoon posted about it. I realize that most of my ag peers have little to no experience with transgender, or other gender identities. They do not know what these labels are or why they are important. They just know it’s different, therefore, scary and wrong.

And this breaks my heart.
You see I believe agriculture is better than that. Since we so proudly and often tout we are a minority and we are often misunderstood by the public, who better than us to stand behind other minorities? We KNOW what’s it like for people to have preconceived ideas about us, and we do not like it.

I see straw man excuses being used – that our women and girls need to be protected from “pervs”. That it’s about the children. It’s a “safety” issue (I actually do agree with the safety argument. We should all safely be able to use a restroom without fear of being attacked or having our genitals mutilated by vigilantes.

Yes, as the agricultural community threaten a minority that already has 1 in 2 assaulted. Aren't we brave?

Yes, as the agricultural community threaten a minority that already has 1 in 2 assaulted. Aren’t we brave?

But guess what? Our transgender friends are not the ones committing the crimes they are accused of. According to actual statistics (which again, agriculture loves to trot out to proves our points):

  • Approximately 4/5 of assaults are committed by someone known to the victim
  • The average age of a rapist is 31 years old.
  • 52% are white
  • 22% of imprisoned rapists report that they are married.
  • Juveniles accounted for 16% of forcible rape arrestees in 1995 and 17% of those arrested for other sex offenses.
  • In 1 in 3 sexual assaults, the perpetrator was intoxicated — 30% with alcohol, 4% with drugs
  • In 2001, 11% of rapes involved the use of a weapon — 3% used a gun, 6% used a knife, and 2 % used another form of weapon.
This is our reality. Like it or not.

This is our reality. Like it or not.

HOWEVER:
One in two transgender individuals are sexually abused or assaulted at some point in their lives.
Instead of blaming and targeting our transgender peers, and preventing them from peeing comfortably in public, let’s talk about the white, intoxicated, married man that is actually a threat to us, shall we?

Men have scared me.

Men have scared me.

I have several points here. First and most importantly:

  • No matter how you feel about people that have different beliefs, lifestyles or orientations, it is NEVER ok to advocate violence or death to them because of how they label themselves. Think about that for a second. Let that sink in. Some of our ag peers are suggesting we hurt, mutilate, attack and kill, actual human beings, that have family, friends, hopes and dreams because of the bathroom that is actually appropriate for them to use.
  • If you are advocating for agriculture on social media, you are in the public’s eye. If you post horrible, hateful meme’s or encourage physical attacks against people that are different you, you are part of agriculture’s image problem. It might be funny to you, and that IS totally your prerogative (Yay, freedom of speech!), but at least have the decency to keep the hate to yourself. Some of us work very hard to build bridges with our consumers, don’t blow that for us.
  • Try having some empathy and sympathy. The saying goes, be kind, everyone is fighting a hard battle…. If you, your kid, your sister or brother or Mom or Dad was in this position, how would you treat them? Would you advocate for them to be attacked?
If you have a handle like cowgirlamerica, you are speaking for a lot of us. Please don't share hateful things. Use your power for good!

If you have a handle like cowgirlamerica, you are speaking for a lot of us. Please don’t share hateful things. Don’t use straw man attacks.  Don’t block your peers when you get called out for posting horrible things. Use your power for good!

For someone who loves agriculture and the people in it, it makes me sad, angry, hurt, scared, worried, fearful and a whole other slew of emotions to see my peers in agriculture sharing a rubber band applicator and inferring it’s ok to harm a fellow human being because of how they gender identify. Think of the bigger picture. We are all human. Keep that humanity card friends.

4 Comments

Filed under Ag, agriculture, family, Know a California Farmer, Media, Ranch life, Rants, Uncategorized

Throwback Thursday: The Brown Home

It has been a few months since I have posted a Throwback blog. It’s time for a good one.

When my Grandfather died, and the rest of the family was fighting, I quietly slipped away with all the pictures I could find (and the cast iron cookware). I ended up with a rather big box of family and ranch photos. Before I donate them to my local University, I’m scanning them into my computer for safe keeping. As I do this I try and learn the story of the photo if I can. It’s my ultimate goal to write a book or two about this family – we have such a rich history, I think it’d be great.

For today’s Throwback post, I selected a very interesting picture indeed. This photo is one of the very oldest I have of the Brown side. It shows the first few years of my family’s time in the Plumas/Lassen area. It was taken in Coppervale, a now abandoned town in Lassen County.  It would be around 1880.  My Great, Great, Grandparents, Samuel A. and Mary Priscilla (fun fact: my pet pig Silly is named after Mary), came from Washington County, Tennessee. According to records they spent time in both Lassen County and Glenn County, California. I’m assuming they were the family inventors of summering in the Sierra Nevada’s and wintering in the Sacramento Valley – our family STILL does this.

I don’t know if this is true or not because no names are written on this picture, but according to my research the three children in the picture look to be about the same ages as Albert, Clara, and Birdy, Samuel and Mary’s three eldest children. They would go on to have one more son, Samuel F.,who would become my Great Grandfather.  This side of the family tends to get very confusing because they all named their children after each other. In fact, if I was born a boy, I would have been named Samuel as well.

The Brown’s ultimately ended up in Indian Valley, which is in Plumas County. However before we explore that ranch, I still have several more photos from this time that I need to research. Stay tuned!

The Brown Home at Coppervale Lassen Co

The Brown Home at Coppervale Lassen Co


The Brown Home at Coppervale, Lassen Co

The Brown Home at Coppervale, Lassen Co

4 Comments

Filed under Ag, agriculture, family, History, photos, Ranch life, Throwback Thursday, Uncategorized

Throwback Thursday: Little Brown’s

I thought this would be an appropriate time to post a picture of some my Dad’s family. This is a rare picture that has lots of information on the back. The top says “Little Brown’s Dec. 1956” then a list of names and birth dates. I know by the background is was taken in the Family house on Stampfli Lane. 

December 1956

Little Brown’s

From left to right:

Sandra D.
Carl E.
James E. (Jim)
Gary L.
Linda I.
Fletcher L. (Larry)

It’s also noted on the picture that “ALL have BLUE eyes”. It’s funny because the Brown family blue eyes are totally a thing. I have them, my Dad obviously has them, my Grandfather had them as well, but past that point I don’t know. All the pictures past my Grandfather are in black and white.
I think it is worth noting my Dad is the last surviving Brown brother.

Leave a Comment

Filed under family, History, photos, Ranch life, Throwback Thursday, Uncategorized

Throwback Thursday: March 5, 1953

The Brown side of the family has always been just a touch horse crazy. In the old box of family photos I inherited, I’d say about 75% are horse photos. Photos of horses out in fields, photos of foals, photos of mares. It drives me crazy because often the names and dates are written on the back of the horse photos but not on the photos of people!

This week’s Throwback Thursday photo does have names on the back, and not just the horses’. I found it in an album labeled ‘Sammie’s friends‘.  The woman “at halter” is Bess. Look at her hair and outfit, pretty glamorous for horse holding! This was March 5, 1953, in a little over a year, Sammie Jr would be dead from polio, and my Dad would be born.

Bess is holding ‘Crescent’ and ‘Vicki’, age one day, is the the foal. They are in the front field of the Table Mountain Ranch. I think I’ve seen Bess in some other photos, I might even be able to find her last name if I keep looking. In the meantime, if you recognize her, please leave a comment below?

Bess at Halter

1 Comment

Filed under Ag, agriculture, animals, family, History, photos, Ranch life, Throwback Thursday, Uncategorized