We bought our first set of 10 bred heifers (young cows that are about to have their first calf) in 2012. We were proud to have those first cows; though there were only a few, they were all ours. With this pride of ownership came the ability to manage our cows and learn what worked best for our specific land and cows. We started out as a simple cow/calf operation, weaning and selling most of the calves at auction once a year. Through the years we retained a few heifers to build the herd, occasionally keeping an animal to butcher for ourselves and extended family. That was a good place to start because it allowed us to build a cow herd we knew inside and out, and to get our feet wet with providing quality beef to others. Eventually, we started to keep the majority of the calf crop to finish and sell direct to consumer. By this time, we knew which mommas we could count on to raise the biggest calves, which momma cows had heifers we should keep etc. We also had a growing knowledge of what was important to consumers, and knew we could deliver.
We know what quality of meat we want in our freezer, and we believe you should have access to that very same quality. Food security comes when there is very little waste and when there is a local, reliable food source. Here we aim for both which is why, while we do have individual cuts for sale, we focus more on selling whole and half beef shares to fill your freezer with high quality, locally grown beef.
Robert's great, great, great grandpa Robert Milton Martin was the original pioneer. He left Tennessee in 1849 to come to California during the Gold Rush. In 1852 he decided to try and "turn grass into gold" by raising livestock to fill the plates of hungry miners. He settled in Little Shasta, CA and began a legacy of ranching that continues to this day. In 1855 he returned to Tennessee to marry Ann Marchbanks. This young pioneer bride is considered to be the first white woman to settle in the area. As the area known today as Siskiyou County began populating, Robert Martin (or R.M. Martin) served as an elected sheriff and a captain in the state militia (later promoted to Major General, earning the name General R.M. Martin), and in 1869 was elected to the California State Legislature. General R.M. Martin left a lasting legacy of ranching, land stewardship and community development that we are proud to be carrying on.
Robert is the 6th generation to be ranching here in Little Shasta, where raising and selling quality beef has been a way of life for over 170 years. The early mining camp business morphed into a large-scale cattle operation. In 1864 it is recorded that R.M. Martin drove 300 head of cattle to sell to miners in John Day, Oregon over 350 miles away. The rumored gold rush was no gold rush at all, but he was able to sell those 300 head "at not too great a loss." From that time forward, there have been countless cattle drives to both sales and pastures. In later years calves would be sold after weaning and hauled to a conventional feed lot to be finished by others. But today we are once again selling our beef to the local "miners" of Siskiyou County and surrounding areas, creating our own legacy of quality, locally raised beef available right down the road.
Laura's family (The Johnson's) "pioneered" to Siskiyou County from Sebastopol, California in 1975 to farm and raise beef. Although they have been here in the valley for almost 50 years, they are still considered newcomers by many of the Siskiyou County natives. Throughout this time, they have prided themselves on raising a considerable amount of the food they eat, enjoying those family dinners where everything on the table is something they have raised and grown. They have raised beef, chickens (both for meat and eggs), turkeys, & pigs. They have kept milk cows, planted and harvested wheat, and grown and canned just about everything this climate can handle. This lifestyle has taught us well that homegrown and homemade are better and that the process it takes to grow good food is worth the time and the effort.
We understand consumers who are passionate about knowing where their food comes from and how it was grown, because we too have been passionate about that for a long time. Providing beef for our customers and their families is a privilege we do not take for granted, and we are grateful to those that entrust us with the raising of their meat.
Ranching and farming are unique in that the old and the young often work side by side, and our ranch is no exception. There are several big workdays throughout the year where you find everyone gathered to help. From branding calves to moving the herd, we love that we get to do it together.
(Pictured left to right: Robert Martin, Isaac Martin, Brice Martin, & J.T. Martin. The 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th generation of Little Shasta Ranchers.)
THE SISKIYOU PIONEER VOL. 2, NO. 5 & VOL. 8 NO.8.
SOME CALIFORNIA RANCHES AND THEIR STORIES AND BRANDS
A CALIFORNIA CATTLEWOMEN'S PUBLICATION 2010