A 501c3 a non-profit, public benefit corporation
8212 Pleasants Valley Road, Vacaville, CA 95688
W.J. Pleasants/Hoskins Ranch, listed on the National and State Historic Registers
RANCH RUCKUS Spring 2020
March 10, 1904 – Rained 4.6 inches since last night. This creek and Putah creek were as high as they have ever been. Putah creek was up to the railroad bridge (in Winters) this afternoon. Drift and wood piling up were against the bridge. Telephone and telegraph wires are all tangled up so that we have no communication with the outside world.
(Excerpt is from William James Pleasants journal, as are the rest of the bolded texts.)
And so it was this 2019 rainy season. Receiving over 40 inches of rain created an orchard that looked like sheets of water. The front of the Victorian to the end of the barn appeared like one large lake. Creek was up and large logs floated down the raging stream. At one point landslides on the county road from both the north and to the south of the house caused us to be ‘trapped’ for a bit. To help prevent loss of soil and challenges to the 150 year-old olive trees, mulch was added. Also berms were created to divert the flow to two culverts. Huge head cuts to the creek have caused banks to be compromised. Grants are now being pursued to help alleviate this issue. And, with very rainy winters, even in WJ Pleasants time, we this year, are experiencing serious drought conditions, including the driest February on record.
In addition to the challenges of lots of rain, we also experienced epic wind storms. January 1, 1877 – Isaac the peddler stayed all night. Heavy north wind, no appearance of rain. January 12th – uncommonly heavy wind from north all day and no rain. I sold 8 sheep skins and 1 deer skin in trade for dry goods. January 13th – heavy north wind. January 15, 1877 – We cleaned out the Smokehouse and hung up some bacon. I put the joints in brine. Henry Brink came here to buy a mutton. We had heavy north wind all day. Although we didn’t sell any sheep or deer skins, we experienced epic dry north winds in two different times in October, both times losing power for several days. Gusts were clocked at over 60 miles an hour. Tree limbs were down. A historic barn’s roof was ‘rearranged’ and is scheduled to be fixed. On the eve of the PGE power shut-off and the epic wind storm, a friend’s wedding was held. PGE power shut-down at 6 PM, and wedding was from 4 -9. We provided a couple of little generators to keep the celebration going. PGE tree crews are working to prune and/or eliminate trees that could fall on lines and result in power outages and possible fires.
To eliminate potential damage and ensure safety to workers and guests, Solano Shade was contracted to evaluate and heavily prune a 40-foot pine tree, trees that encroached the historic smoke house, and the olive trees.
March 12, 1912 – We just pulled a cow out of the mouth of the culvert in the corral. We got to the wagon and she got up and offered a couple of horns for our kindness.
As early summer saw the roundup of our cattle and moving them to better pasture, walking the fence line on the west side of the county road and up in a little draw that has a seasonal creek, a little mooing was heard. Upon further investigation, a little calf not more than 4 days old was discovered with no mom in sight. Night was falling and Matthew carried the little girl to the ATV and brought her back to the house. She was given Gatorade to hydrate her and was made comfortable with a straw bed in a garage. The next morning brought powdered milk and the building of a temporary pen for her. Searching for a surrogate mom began, and after three weeks, little calf was introduced to her new mom.
New cowboy partner brought a new herd complete with little calves. Hay was used to bait them out of their trailers and to their new home and over to the water trough (served by a solar well pump).
January 27, 1877 I went to Vacaville and received a goat by express from my brother Edward (who lived in the Anaheim Hills). We didn’t exactly receive a goat via train but one did appear on the ranch. Letting animal control know of our find, the little guy was adopted by our goat herder neighbor to the south of us.
June 11, 1877 – Very warm, hot 112. Picked apricots all day. Made an offer with Miss Owen to teach another term of school. Folks went to Mr. Dolan’s tonight for a party. We didn’t pick apricots but we did celebrate Ag Days in July in conjunction with the Pleasants Valley Agriculture Association, and yes, we almost joined the temperature of 112, both days! Girl on the Hill (lavender products), Morning Bird (goat milk products), Sola Bees (has many hives on the property), Roschen Ranch (2 alpacas), Solano Land Trust (SLT), all joined us here at Joyful Ranch. We did 2-3 historic tours of the ranch each day and gave a glimpse of what it might have been like 150 years ago. Later in the year we also provided a historic walk with a Solano County library group.
And…we didn’t hire a teacher but we did host a fund-raiser for the ACE program from Hemlock Elementary School which we will do again this year. Children benefited from the proceeds of this well-attended event.
On the first Sunday in October, we hosted the SLT Sunday Supper fund-raiser.
Proceeds provide funds for the land trust’s many endeavors. Most of the ranch has a conservation easement on it by the land trust which ensures that the property will be preserved forever.
With varying weather conditions, we were honored to also host a memorial, a baby shower, a brunch, a graduation party, a church retreat, and a friend’s wedding, with any proceeds supporting the Joyful Ranch Foundation’s goals and objectives.
Nov. 27, 1885 – No rain but cloudy. We all worked on the road below Mr. Thissell’s. (responsible for ‘county road’ repairs and often used peach pits for the potholes)
Thousands and thousands of peach pits were stored in an outbuilding. Since we don’t have to repair county roads with them anymore, after over 120 years of a collection of them, a bobcat was rented and most of the pits were removed and then re-purposed to put on our own ranch ‘roads’ and to help with bank stabilization.
UC Davis came to look and evaluate the sad looking walnut trees. Possible causes of their failure could be drought shock, canker disease, and/or oak root fungus. Evaluation of the situation and extensive research are being done to determine next best steps for the trees and for the land. Slips from existing 150-year old olive trees were taken, propagated, and hopefully ‘clone’ what is here.
We experienced some thievery this past year…chainsaws, radio, and a Generac generator were taken at two different times. A third time behind closed garage doors, the truck doors were found wide open. Reports were filed with the Solano County Sheriff’s office. As a result, we purchased a shipping container that now contains other ranch equipment and is locked. In addition to installing additional motion detector lights, a security camera system has been purchased and activity is now being monitored.
Future Plans: (among other things)
. Foreman’s Cottage update: Repairs on this building will begin soon.
. Sidewalk March 9, 1904 Ed Wyatt laid some cement walk in front of the wood house and laundry. The sidewalk now needs help and needs replacing, which will be done soon as well.
Dec. 31, 1911 – This is the last day of the year, my little book….May your silent little pages some sweet day in the future be read by someone who has not forgotten the writer though he is in heaven. Always embrace the past as we look to the future, and know that the future begins with the present. As we look back, we realize that good things can come out of hard times and we realize that things have changed since 1877, and yet many things are the same. We have joyous times, challenging times, times of opportunities, times of work, and, in all these times, we pause to give thanks to our Lord for all the blessings we have.
By preserving historic buildings, securing habitat for wildlife and nature plants, conserving land and waterways, supporting agriculture, and maintaining scenic vistas, we constantly strive to embrace and preserve the rich history of this ranch and provide a place for spiritual renewal. We, the Joyful Ranch Foundation, thank you for your encouragement, your donations, and your support!
Praying that you stay well and stay safe.