Monday, December 07, 2015

Kerrydale Ranch

As mentioned in my previous post, my first horse was raised from a weanling to age 10 by Lauren, a girl in California who was preparing to go off to college and needed to sell Gayranna. She put a classified ad in an Arabian horse magazine. I saw the ad and contacted her; she sent films of the mare; and the deal was made. Arrangements were made to ship Gayranna to Indiana.

Ten years went by, during which Lauren and I stayed in touch with each other; but we had never met. In 1977, I made the trip to California to meet her. By then, Lauren was married to Mel; and they were living on a 5,000-acre ranch near Eureka, California, not far from the Oregon border. The ranch was a totally new experience for me. I was in awe.

Mel & Lauren's House

The house pictured above is where Mel and Lauren lived. It was small, with few modern conveniences. I stayed with them the first night of my two-day visit, sleeping in the living room, in the company of a crate of recently hatched chickens who were kept in the house at night for warmth and for protection from marauding skunks.

Kerrydale Ranch Main Ranch House

This was the main ranch house, where the owners stayed when they were at the ranch. It had no electricity, but there was a generator that could be activated with the flip of a switch. They arrived at the ranch on my second day and stopped by Mel and Lauren's to offer me a bedroom at the main house that night. I was given a daylight tour of the house; shown where my bedroom was; and told to feel free to activate the generator when I came in so that I could see to find my way.

It was fully dark that night by the time I went to the main house, and the owners had already gone to bed. Knowing that the generator was very noisy, I opted not to turn it on, feeling confident that I could find my way without lights. As I entered and felt my way through the house, I heard a sound behind me. I had seen a large Doberman Pinscher in the car with the owners, and my first thought was that the dog was stalking me. The sound I heard sounded very much like a dog's toenails on a wooden floor. I hurried to the room I'd been assigned, put my purse on a chair by the door, and moved toward the bed. Just then, I heard a loud thud and was sure that the dog was going for my throat. I know I made a sound of fear, and my heart was pounding...until I realized that the thud had been made by my purse falling off the chair. The sound of toenails on wood that I'd been hearing was the crackling of dying fires in the numerous fireplaces in the house. My heart was still pounding by the time I crawled into bed, but it was accompanied by embarrassed giggles. Fortunately, no one seemed to have been disturbed by my panic.

Following are several pictures of the ranch itself.

Kerrydale Ranch-8

Kerrydale Ranch-5
Lauren said that the ocean was visible from the ranch on a clear day, but it wasn't quite clear enough that day.

Kerrydale Ranch-7

Kerrydale Ranch-4

Kerrydale Ranch-Black Walnut Corrals
Black Walnut Corrals, built by Mel

"Bacon" Bull

Kerrydale Ranch-9

Mac & Bawly-Kerrydale Ranch
Mac & Bawly
Mac and Bawly were a breed of herding dogs known as McNabs, bred as the perfect cattle dog, able to both head and heel. I saw these two in action and was amazed. The cattle on Kerrydale Ranch were basically wild, but these dogs showed no fear as they worked, obeying hand signs and whistles from Mel. It was a treat to see them work as well as to see them play, as in the above photo.

Lauren came to Indiana the following year, to see Gayranna once again and to attend the U. S. National Arabian Horse Show in Kentucky with me. She couldn't get over how flat it is in Indiana. "On the ranch," she said, "if we need a flat spot we have to level it."


  1. Linda, this is great that you both kept in touch. I love ranches! Your photos are lovely! :)

  2. What a love
    Y story. I had to laugh when you heard the thud and scratching.

  3. It sounds as if you had quite an adventure on the ranch, but it must have been fascinating. Betsy would agree with Lauren about the flatness of Indiana.

  4. so cool. and quite rustic, it seemed!

  5. Great story, Linda, in so many regards. Living and working in such a farm must be so different from what I'm used to… I'd love to experience it and I'd love to see such dogs in action. Once I saw a documentary film about border collies working with sheep and that was amazing.

    You must have been full of expectations before the mare arrived. Do I get it right that you hadn't seen her personally before you bought her, just in the films?

  6. Linda - Lauren and I lost touch with each other after Gayranna died in 1982, but she recently discovered my blog and we connected again. The internet can be a marvelous thing sometimes.

    Margaret, I was able to laugh, too, once I realized the attack dog wasn't really there.

    Steve - The primitive side of it wasn't totally foreign to me because, when I was growing up, my family spent two weeks every summer in a cottage without electricity or plumbing. Both then and later, in California, it was an adventure.

    Thank you, Ruth.

    George - Let's just say there's not much opportunity to get in condition for hiking in the Smokies when one lives in Indiana. :)

    Rustic indeed, Tex. But so beautiful!

    Petra - I love to watch working dogs. The McNabs are similar to the Border Collies in size and color, but they have short hair. And, while Border Collies usually work from behind the animal, the McNabs will work from either end, even nipping the cows on the nose to get them to do what they want them to.

    You did understand correctly that I hadn't seen Gayranna before she arrived in Indiana. I took the films to some dear friends who raised Arabian horses for showing. They watched the films with me and encouraged me to buy her, even agreeing to let me breed her to their champion stallion.

  7. Really liked your blog. The story about the horse was cool, but the pictures, wow!!! Isn't that the thing about horses that is so interesting, they seem to reside in the most beautiful settings. From Kentucky to Ocala, Florida, I have seen some true natural beauty will dealing with horses, truly a privilege.

    Wilbert Bowers @ Mirr Ranch Group


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