Eagles and Agriculture – February 22, 2014

23 Feb

It seems that my constant refrain is how interesting and historical this valley is and yesterday’s adventure supports that theme.  Jerri and I had the awesome opportunity to join a Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce tour of several ranches in our valley to learn about eagle habits, habitat, and their life cycle and the history of agriculture in Carson Valley.  For 12 years, the Chamber has fostered this program is focusing on non-renewable agricultural land and wildlife habitat we lose when we pave over the ranches and farms.  My last blog mentioned viewing the birth of a calf and how the cow took care of it along with how the eagles come in to eat the afterbirth.  This tour ties into all that.

We boarded a bus and went to the Mack Land Company, which is right on the edge of downtown Minden.  It is one of the few Nevada ranches that remained in the original family for more than 100 years.  There, we

The restored eagle statue

The restored eagle statue

learned about the ranch, its people and the trials and tribulations of working with government regulations, rising costs of raising a calf, coyote kill (at least $1000 down the drain if a coyote kills a calf or if it is stillborn), and the severe drought we are all suffering through.  We didn’t get to see any eagles on that ranch because no calves had been born recently.  In case we didn’t get to see any eagles that day, Mrs. Mack showed us a small eagle statue that she bought at a garage sale and kept in one of the barns.  She told us that a barn owl attacked it and broke off its beak!  Don’t mess with a barn owl!  We also got to see a DVD of pictures taken on the ranch depicting calf births and eagles eating the afterbirth.

 Another historical note about the Mack Land Co. is that the fence around the main house is the original fence that was around the Carson City Mint (now the NV State Museum where Jerri and I volunteer).  Mrs. Mack said she didn’t know the story about how the fence got there, but some of her relatives had been mucky mucks in the state government and they probably pulled some strings after the mint was shut down in 1893.3416Mackhouse

James Settlemeyer, in the chaps,   talking to a constituent

James Settlemeyer, in the chaps, talking to a constituent

Our next venue was at the same place where I saw the calf birth.  I learned it is another historical place…just a few miles from my house.  It is the Settlemeyer Ranch, established in 1890.  Our host was JamesSettlemeyer, NV state senator and ranch owner.  This was a cool place because we got to see 12 eagles!  They were more than 100 yards away, so our binoculars and scopes came in handy.  The birds were in all stages of development and were scrapping over a dead calf.   The birder on our bus told us that it takes 5 years for the bird to become a full-fledged (pun intended) adult.  Another interesting fact is that “bald” in old English means white.  So a bald eagle merely means, white head.

The following is my picture of an adult eagle  (the little dot in the center of the picture) and the picture after that is what fully equipped photographers got.


My eagle shot

An internet shot of a bald eagle

An internet shot of a bald eagle

Barbara Galeppi in her knitted cow hat

Barbara Galeppi in her knitted cow hat

The Galeppi Ranch, founded in 1864, was our next destination.  We were met by Barbara Galeppi who wore a cow hat to help us remember her.  Quite a character, she was.  Her ranch raises registered Herefords, which is why all the cows and even newborn calves have special ear tags.

Checking us out

Checking us out

Lunchtime on the ranch!

Lunchtime on the ranch!

We didn’t see any eagles on the Galeppi Ranch but we did see a pair of sandhill cranes.   Bob and I had seen them in Colorado and Florida, but I didn’t know they also spent time in Nevada.  Again, they were very far away and if it hadn’t been for our birder friends, Jerri and I never would have spotted them as they blended in with the grey sagebrush.  Here is an Internet picture of them.

Sandhill cranes are tall like herons

Sandhill cranes are tall like herons

Our fourth stop was at the Nature Conservancy near Genoa.    There, we hiked a little way and were able to see a pair of eagles nesting.  Again, too far away for my camera, but I did get a picture of the Sierra Nevada and Job’s Peak reflected in the Carson River.

Job's Peak reflected in the Carson River

Job’s Peak reflected in the Carson River

Our last stop was at the Dangberg Ranch that began as a homestead in 1857.  Heinrich Dangberg built a log cabin in the sagebrush and began to build his empire that eventually grew into more than 20,000 acres by the time of his death in 1904.  His ranch is now a Douglas County historic park that one can tour.  We saw a soaring golden eagle, but no bald eagles there.

Dangberg Ranch House

Dangberg Ranch House

Jerri and I are going to return to the Dangberg Ranch to spend more time and take a guided tour of the land and the 4,000 square foot ranch house.  Quite a difference from his little log cabin.

I learned a lot on this adventure about the local history and even more to keep my mouth shut about being a newbie from Southern California.  I can relate to the old timers’ angst as I experienced it down south watching the land transform into something that bears little resemblance to what I grew up in.  Those of us who grew up in Orange County can’t go home again because it’s not there.  How’s that for a bit of sour grapes?  I feel a bit guilty moving into this beautiful place, but at least I didn’t destroy any land or build a new house to get here.  Perhaps I can assuage some of that guilt by supporting the movement of trying to retain the agriculture that is still here and help people enjoy it as I do.

3 Responses to “Eagles and Agriculture – February 22, 2014”

  1. Judy February 23, 2014 at 8:26 pm #

    Love hearing about your adventures. You certainly made the right decision when you pulled up stakes and moved north. You are missed. Judy

  2. howard&sherrill harrison February 23, 2014 at 10:04 pm #

    Thanks, Cora.  It sounds as though the Pajaro gang may have to plan an outing to visit you and Diana one of these years.              Love, Sherry

  3. Connie Raub February 23, 2014 at 10:56 pm #

    So many interesting and educational things you pass on to the rest of us. Thanks for being the ever vigilant teacher, historian and librarian! You help the rest of us to be life long learners! I especially appreciate your continued sensitivity to the land and appreciation for the ranchers and famers. Can you hear me singing “O the ranchers and the farmers should be friends”, from Oklahoma? or. . . Eagles and Cattle and Ranchers Oh My! Well, enough of THAT! Thanks for sharing, Cora! Love, Connie

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