On a sunny and windy Saturday in September, Rangeland Trust Chairman Darrel Sweet and his wife Karen and their family welcomed 25 guests to their ranch on the eastern edge of Livermore in Alameda County to enjoy a day on the land. The guests were treated to a tour while Darrel shared his family’s history on the ranch dating back to 1868, adding that the ranch is home to the fifth, sixth and seventh generations of his family. Darrel also described the production cycle of the cow/calf operation the family runs, the management practices employed to sustain a cattle operation for 145 years, and the wildlife that reside on or frequent the ranch. Tour participants asked a lot of questions about ranching, water supply, and maintaining the stock ponds while enjoying a spectacular view of the Livermore Valley below. Two enthusiastic four-year-olds were especially appreciative of all the new calves scuttling around their mothers’ legs.
The ranch tour was followed by a barbecue of Sweet Ranch estate hamburgers with Darrel’s son, Eric, manning the grill, and Karen and Darrel’s sister, Sylvia Chatagnier, preparing salads, side dishes and dessert. While everyone was enjoying dessert, Judge Hugh Walker spoke to the gathering about his recent experience selling a 400-acre conservation easement that is held by the Rangeland Trust on his family’s ranch nearby in Contra Costa County. Judge Walker expressed his appreciation to be able to conserve and continue part of his family’s ranching heritage, allowing him and his partner, John Passama, to continue the ranching operation.
Guests included representatives from the local newspaper, Zone 7 Water District, the California Coastal Conservancy, the City of Livermore, AT&T, Mechanics Bank, UC Cooperative Extension, UC Berkeley, former Rangeland Trust Board member and current California Cattlemen’s Association President Tim Koopmann, and Rangeland Trust Legacy Council member Kelly Cash. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and left with a better understanding of realities of life on a ranch. The event was supported by Rangeland Trust staff members Nancy Schaefer and Randy Gustavus, who inspired the gathering as a way to improve understanding about rangeland.