Thursday Oct 09 2008
Farm & Barn tour to highlight Coffee Pot Ranch
By: Liz Kellar The News Messenger
Sheridan ranch sells beef, lamb, pork year-round
It’s true that Lincoln has been one of the fastest-growing bedroom communities in the country. But the area still holds true to its agrarian roots – and there’s no better way to pay homage to that tradition than by attending the Placer County Farm & Barn Tour this Sunday. The self-guided tour, which takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., is intended to connect area residents with local farmers. This year, the tour includes Coffee Pot Ranch and Rancho Roble Vineyard in Lincoln, as well as Twin Peaks Orchards, Lake’s Nursery, Natural Trading Co. and Mat-uda Bonsai Nursery in Newcastle, Horton Iris Garden and High Hand fruit shed in Loomis, and Vina Castellano winery and Thompson Ranch in Auburn. Coffee Pot Ranch is a mixed livestock operation, raising cattle, sheep and hogs on its acreage nestled in the rolling hills near Sheridan. This working ranch offers beautiful views, ranch tours, tasting and sales of ranch-grown meats, sheepherding demonstrations. and kids’ activities. During the tour, visitors can learn about pasture and livestock management from the experts, and listen to music while watching wool spinning, a metal sculptor and other artists at work. Unlike traditional open-range ranches, Coffee Pot Ranch raises its livestock year-round. “We want a meat product all year,” explained Sara Harper. The ranch raises two types of lambs, Hampshire and Dorset; Dor-sets breed twice a year, in the spring and the fall. They also raise beef, mostly Angus, as well as Hampshire and Yorkshire hogs. The cattle mature at different times, since they keep a bull in with the cows all year long. They typically slaughter the beef at 14 months, depending on their finish – the amount of marbling in the muscle. “We breed for disposition as well,” Harper said. “We do a lot of barn tours. It’s like a giant petting zoo; the tours are a pretty neat deal.” At Sunday’s farm and barn tour, Coffee Pot Ranch will have a kids’ corner, where children can color and make animals from wire brushes. A wool-spinner will be on hand to give demonstrations, as well as a farrier. “And, of course, we’ll have food samples,” Harper said. The family-run operation got its start when Harper and her sister, Taran, started raising animals for FFA and 4-H projects. “We have purchased a few (animals), but the majority go back to animals my sister and I showed,” Harper said. “I still have one cow, Chelsea, that I bottle-fed. She’s 20 now.” Harper’s mother, Shirley Field, and stepfather, Bob Sorensen, met at 4-H as young teens when they both started showing Hampshire sheep. They even went to prom together. But they “had gone our separate ways” after high school, Sorensen said; this is a second marriage for both. After they purchased the property in Sheridan, the girls began raising animals for their projects. “That’s how we got back into livestock,” Sorensen said. “I always wanted to be a full-time rancher ... and I finally got my dream.” Sorensen said that the ranching operation began initially on a part-time basis approximately 13 years ago. “We decided to go full-time in the retail meat business three years ago,” he said. “We went for it.” Harper estimated that 90 percent of the meat the ranch raises gets sold at local farmer’s markets and by special order from individual customers, with the remainder going to specialty markets and local restaurants such as the all-organic Green House Restaurant in Roseville. All of Coffee Pot’s animals are sent to USDA-certified processing plants in Newman and Orland. Customers can purchase meat at the ranch on Sundays; Harper advises calling ahead. Coffee Pot Ranch is located at 4225 Karchner Road in Sheridan; call (530) 633-0814. For more information on the Farm & Barn Tour, call (530) 887-2111 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.