Laughter echoed inside a large barn and chickens squawked as I pedaled down the misty gravel driveway of the Orman Guest Ranch. Needing a day of respite and email catch-up, I jumped at the chance to set up camp on this quiet rural property just outside of Crescent City, California. I did not intend to start SFT farm visits so quickly into my journey, but when opportunity knocks, you must answer!
The proprietors of the ranch – Konnie and Keith – were warm and welcoming with pleasant smiles and big belly laughs. After I was settled at site #7, Konnie offered to give me a tour of the Ranch. We set off to meander through the fields but our walk was immediately thwarted we rounded the first corner and met, Keith, covered in plaster. He was in the midst of a remodel project and needed our help, stat. 30 minutes later with a lot of elbow grease and a bit of luck we had the wall securely in place and Konnie and I returned to our walkabout.
We meandered through the property and Konnie pointed out major highlights. The property has campsites for tenters or RVs, horse stables and fields for a variety of livestock. The couple raises goats, sheep, chickens, rabbits & cattle. The meat and eggs are free-range, grass fed and all of the animals have vast pasture to graze upon. Konnie explained how they rotate the animals’ locations on the property in order to keep the land healthy.
When asked about who buys their products, Konnie explained that their customers are a mix between individuals and local businesses. She said that breaking into the local market has been a bit slow, but demand has picked up as the word about the quality of their products spreads. Surprisingly, Konnie informed me that the best advertisement for their business has been the release of the documentary Food, Inc. The Ormans have a list of people waiting for their sustainably raised meat and eggs; they bring an obvious passion and joy to both farming and hospitality.
And speaking of hospitality… I was lucky enough to occupy the site directly next to two of the kindest couples a traveler could be lucky enough to meet. Joe & Joanne (married 54 years) were traveling with Mike and Dawn (married 52 years) from Wyoming in a dualie truck with large trailer in tow. The trailer was not your typical cozy motor home but rather, it contained two motorcycles that the couples used to tour the countryside when they arrived at their destination. They informed me that their priority was fun and not comfort – instantly I knew we were going to be good friends. These folks shared their scrumptious dinner with me that included BBQ ribs and fresh berry cobbler from the Dutch Oven.
After a great meal and equally fine conversation, I slept peacefully, knowing that I was surrounded by both happy people and animals. Sincere thanks to the Ormans and my favorite camping neighbors for a great stay in the Crescent City area!
For more information about the Orman Guest Ranch, please visit their website: http://www.ormanranch.net/