Tag Archives: cattle drive

The Poo Table

An actual picture from the cattle drive between the two ranches.

An actual picture from the cattle drive between the two ranches.

For as long as I can research, and for as long as family lore goes back, our family has always wintered cattle in the Sacramento valley (Butte County) and summered cattle in Plumas and Lassen counties. It’s just how it’s always been.

The cattle trucks we use now.

The cattle trucks we use now.

Now we use large semi trucks to take our cattle back and forth every spring and fall, the trip takes about a hour and a half. But before we had cattle trucks, the family had to move cattle on horseback, twice a year. The trip took at least a week. A week of following cattle everyday on horseback, a week of chuck wagon cooking, a week of no baths, no indoor plumbing. It’s like my nightmare (I am a huge fan of plumbing, huge!).

Great Aunt Byrdie and Harry on the way home from the mountains circa 1930ish

This a picture of my family on the way home from the mountains circa 1930ish

My great uncle and the chuck wagon to his left.

My great uncle and the chuck wagon to his left.

Last spring my Dad found the “port a potty” used by 3 generations before me on these week-long cattle drives. This port a potty could be placed between two rocks or stumps, and it would give you a nice seat to do your business. When you moved on the next day, you simply grabbed your port a potty seat, stuck it in the chuck wagon, covered your business hole and moved on. Ingenious actually.

This was the poo board before. Notice it is damaged - rot and termites.

This was the poo board before. Notice it is damaged – rot and termites.

When my parents showed me this board I said, “that’s mine now” and scurried it off to a friend’s house. This friend just happened to be a skilled furniture maker. I traded him old barn wood from the collapsed barn of last year, for him to turn the poop board into a coffee table for me. And boy howdy did he do a good job!!!! My friend, Jordan brought the finished table over yesterday. It is gorgeous.



If you haven’t figured out by now, I’m slightly obsessed with learning more about this side of the family. I’ve spend countless hours researching, looking through pictures, talking to family members, so something like this table means so much to me. Plus it’s quirky and fun.

Jordan went to great lengths to keep the poo board as authentic as possible. Instead of replacing the damaged board he painstakingly refinished them. Wow.

Jordan went to great lengths to keep the poo board as authentic as possible. Instead of replacing the damaged board he painstakingly refinished them. Wow.

Jordan used old fence posts from the ranch as legs.

Jordan used old fence posts from the ranch as legs.

Now that I got the poo table refinished I think I’m going to move on to the outhouse door my Dad found in this year’s collapsed barn. Ideas anyone?

The door to the outhouse at was at the ranch.

The door to the outhouse that was at the ranch.


Filed under Ag, agriculture, arts & crafts, Beef, History, Humor, photos, Ranch life, Uncategorized

Before it Was Cool


In an effort to get me to write more, my Mom sent me this picture. I must have been about 6, because I was riding my unicorn horse Sequoia. I called Sequoia my unicorn horse because he was a mustang from the BLM and at some point during his life he had run into a barbed wire fence which created scar on his face that reminded me of a unicorn horn. This was taken on one of the cattle drives we had. We would spend a week pushing the cattle up to the Plumas National Forest, where they would spend their summer grazing high country meadows.

Most of my childhood memories involve horses, cattle or the Ranch. When you grow up an only child on a large cattle ranch in the country, your activities do have a tendency to be limited. When I was a little girl, the Ranch was very old school. My Great Aunts and Grandfather were still alive and running the Ranches, that means everything was done just like their Parents did it.

My Dad was the ranch-hand during this time. Like all successful ranchers, my Dad was lucky enough to have a wife (my Mom), that worked in town. This was awesome because we had health insurance and a steady income, unlike most people in my Dad’s position.

One of the many unique aspects of my youth was instead of going to day care or having a babysitter like normal children with working parents, I had a horse. This horse made me an asset at an early age. Of course, to me, this was normal. Until I started school, I thought everyone had horses and cows. That cattle drives high into the mountains was what everyone did during their summers. It was quite a shock to my little 4 year old self when I realized I wasn’t normal.

By age 4 or 5 most ranch kids are professionals. We work, we have responsibility, we have jobs. I was no different. By the time I started Kindergarten, I had life experience that most adults would never have. From getting a piggy back ride from Mr. Clint Eastwood, to going on weeklong cattle drives twice a year.

My Great Aunt Mary lived on the same Ranch as we did during the winter. I had a wonderful relationship with her. I spent a lot of time with her, because she was our only neighbor. Instead of going out and playing with neighborhood kids I played with animals and old family members. She grew up during the Depression; therefore she saved everything from old mayonnaise jars to the twist ties that closed bags of bread. In fact we are still finding these “treasures” in our barns.

One item reminds me of Aunt Mary more than anything else, and that is maple syrup. Every time I see a bottle of it, I am instantly whipped back to 1986. Aunt Mary would save all of her empty maple syrup bottles for me and whenever my Dad and I worked for her in the summer, she would bring me cold water in an upcycled syrup bottle. To a hard working 4 year old cold, maple syrup flavored water is just about the best thing ever.

Recently upcycling has become trendy and green. A fact that never fails to amuse me since it seems like most farmers and ranchers were upcycling long before it was cool. Currently I battle with my Parents over old barn wood, I NEED it for my various pinterest projects and my Dad keeps trying to re-build corrals with it. It’s a vicious cycle of recycling.


Filed under Ag, History, Humor, photos, Uncategorized

Outhouse in House?

You can buy this book at amazon 

In honor of Dr. Grandin’s visit, my Parent’s are installing our third set of humane handling corrals. I got to share with Dr. Grandin how much her designs have helped us and our cattle. I think she liked hearing that. My Dad has been on his backhoe this week, tearing down our old wooden corrals so we can install the new sweep and solid panels. In addition to tearing down the old corrals, my Parents have been cleaning up some old barns and buildings that are slowly falling apart.

The herd heading to the Valley in 1939

The neat thing about having old buildings and barns is the cool stuff that my family stored there generations ago. For example, we found the old port-a-potty that my Great Grandpa used on the week long cattle drives we used to have. It was made so you could set it on two stumps or rocks, have a nice seat to do your business, yet it was small enough to be portable so they could carry it on the chuck wagon.  According to legend, they also had a “deluxe” model, with two holes, so the kids wouldn’t fall in. Isn’t that ingenious? They never covered that on the Oregon Trail game we played in elementary school. I know my least favorite parts of cattle drives was pooping in the forest. In fact, I attribute my early woods pooping experiences to why I loathe camping now. Scarred for life.

Sam Brown Jr. and his dog. Notice the chuck wagon behind him?

This port-a-potty is so neat, and has such a wonderful history, I want to make it into my new coffee table. Yes, I am aware generations of my family pooped through it, but that just adds to the charm, in my opinion. I could even put a chips and salsa bowl in the hole when I have parties! I have several talented friends that I am talking to right now about this project.  Hopefully I can blog the whole process and share with my readers! Check back often!

My new coffee table!

“The Seat”


Filed under Ag, History, Humor, photos

Remember When?

Remember the post I did about Fall Shipping? The local paper from where we summer our cattle the Indian Valley Record printed the below article in their paper this week. How awesome is it that we still do the same things my Great Grandfather did? Learning more about the history of my family is bringing me a whole new sense of appreciation for what we do.

Remember When for the week of 11/16/2011

Keri Taborski

Feather Publishing Historian

75 YEARS AGO……….1936

Move them out! S.F. Brown of Crescent Mills in Indian Valley started out for his winter range near Chico with 650 head of cattle. There were seven riders with the herd accompanied by a truck carrying provisions and bedrolls for the week on the trail.


Filed under Ag, History

Wordless Wednesday: Living and Working in the Times of My Grandma

Great Grandma, Hazel Brown with the day’s milk. “Pony Hill” Ranch, Plumas County

Cattle drive from Greenville, CA (Plumas County) to Chico, CA (Butte County). Legend has it, it took 2 weeks.

Sam Brown Jr and the chuck wagon – cattle drive. Plumas County.

Making Hay on the “Pony Hill Ranch” Greenville, CA

Making hay “Pony Hill” Ranch Plumas County

Harry Lutz plowing for SF Brown Nov 29, 1934. “Pony Hill” Ranch, Plumas County.

A mule team in the snow. Lassen County 1904