OUR FAMILY - The Heffernans
Mary and Brian Heffernan always dreamed of moving to the country to ranch and raise “free-range kids” in the dirt and sunshine. They both have deep agriculture roots and a passion for small town, small business and family-centered food. So when the opportunity to purchase the historic Sharps Gulch Ranch came along in 2013, Mary and Brian knew they'd found their land. With eyes on a new adventure and California soil in their souls, they took their four spunky girls to Siskiyou county.
We are Five Marys Farms - after Mary and our four daughters all named Mary after grandmothers and aunts on both sides of the family. MaryFrances or "Francie" is 11 and loves dogs and veterinary aspects of the ranch, MaryMarjorie or "Maisie" is 9 and can usually be found in her ranch clothes working next to her dad, MaryJane or "JJ" is 7 and will usually be seen in seven different outfits over the course of the day and MaryTeresa or "Tessa, aka Tiny" is 6 and the spunky but tough baby of the family.
Those are the FIVE MARYS proud to be working the ranch everyday keeping up with the leader of our pack, Heff.
Mary and Brian believe that good things take time, from restoring old ranch homes to raising cattle. As they start a new chapter, this ever-adventuring family can’t wait to share stories of everyday farm life, good food and- as always- hard work.
Our livestock spend their whole lives on our Siskiyou county ranch, roaming freely and munching wild, Californian grasses. The ranching methods and beliefs we use, from grazing rotations to slaughter, preserve and protect the land we live on and respect the animals we raise from birth until their "one bad day" sacrificing for the food on our plates.
As far as certifications go, we believe in actions, not labels. Our products reflect our beliefs in respecting our animals, raising them with the utmost care and comfort and in feeding our customers only what we feed our family - the highest quality meats raised as naturally and humanely as possible.
We are raising Black Angus cattle, Navajo-Churro sheep, Berkshire hogs and a wide variety of laying hens.
Everyday is an adventure here on the ranch!
WHY FIVE MARYS?
We believe in selling only the finest meat and the finest meat comes
from animals and land that are well cared for.
There are no shortcuts.
We are a small family ranch and together as a family
we vigilantly care for each of our animals.
Our Black Angus cattle, Navajo Churro lambs and Berkshire heritage pigs spend their lives on our green pastures and hills rich in minerals and with plenty of sunshine and fresh Northern California mountain air.
You can experience the difference in the taste of our beef, lamb and pork.
Our meat is never treated with antibiotics or hormones.
We are organically minded and GMO free.
Our beef is finished on pasture grass and steam-flaked GMO-free barley.
Our animals are processed at a first class USDA process, cut and wrap facility and each cut has complete traceability to our animals.
Our ground beef and steaks are all dry aged for 21-28 days for tenderness and flavor you won't find many places other than the premier steakhouses.
We strive to bring the finest meat to your table, as well as the real story behind it, so you know just where your food comes from.
NAVAJO CHURRO SHEEP
"Known as the 'Chef's Choice' - the flavor of the meat is incomparably superior, with a surprisingly low fat content."
Navajo-Churro sheep are descendants of the Churra, the very first breed of domesticated sheep in the New World. Its importation to New Spain by the Spanish dates back to the 16th century where it was used to feed and clothe the armies of the conquistadors and Spanish settlers.
The Navajo-Churro sheep boasts many valuable traits. The meat is lean with a distinctive, sweet flavor. In addition to quality meat production, these sheep provide abundant milk and have a highly desirable dual fiber fleece. The sheep is hardy, living lightly on the land and requiring less water and forage than other sheep. The sheep is long legged with a narrow body and fine bones. The coat is prized by weavers and pelts are rare, known for their variant array of natural colors and long wool fibers.
... the first Churro sheep were brought into the Southwest by Don Juan Onate. The fact that these sheep still exist today is a testimony to their endurance and endearment. No other sheep population in the history of the world has survived such selective pressure with such dignity and spirit.
By the 17th century the Churro had become the mainstay of Spanish ranches and villages. Native Indians acquired flocks of Churro for food and fiber through raids and trading. Within a century, herding and weaving had become a major economic asset for the Navajo. It was from Churro wool that the early Navajo textiles were woven -- a fleece admired by collectors for its luster, silky hand, variety of natural colors and durability.
In the 1850's thousands of Churro were trailed west to supply the California Gold Rush. Most of the remaining Churro of the Hispanic ranches were crossed with fine wool rams to supply the demand of garment wool caused by the increased population and the Civil War. Concurrently, in 1863, the U.S. Army decimated the Navajo flocks in retribution for continued Indian depredations. In the 1900's further "improvements" and stock reductions were imposed by U.S. agencies upon the Navajo flocks. True survivors were to be found only in isolated villages in Northern New Mexico and in remote canyons of the Navajo Indian Reservation.
In the 1970's several individuals began acquiring Churro phenotypes with the purpose of preserving the breed and revitalizing Navajo and Hispanic flocks. By 1977, the "old type" Navajo sheep had dwindled to less than 500 head so Dr. Lyle McNeal formed the Navajo Sheep Project to revitalize this breed and keep it from further depletion. There are currently over 4,500 sheep registered with the N-CSA, an estimated 1,500 on the Navajo Reservation and several hundred undocumented sheep in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
BLACK ANGUS BEEF
"Angus Beef is known for it's finely marbled meat, tenderness, juiciness and preferred flavor over many other breeds."
George Grant brought four Angus bulls from Scotland to the middle of the Kansas Prairie in 1873, and these four Angus bulls, probably from the herd of George Brown of Scotland, made a lasting impression on the U.S. cattle industry.
Farmers took notice of their hearty breeding stock and superior meat qualities. The first great herds of Angus beef cattle in America were built up by purchasing stock directly from Scotland. Twelve hundred cattle alone were imported, mostly to the Midwest, in a period of explosive growth between 1878 and 1883. Over the next quarter of a century these early owners, in turn, helped start other herds by breeding, showing, and selling their registered stock. Because of their native environment, the cattle are very hardy and can survive the harsh winters, with snowfall and storms. The cattle have a large muscle content and are regarded as medium-sized. The meat is very popular in Japan for its marbling qualities.
Angus beef develops with better marbling than most cattle, which improves flavor, tenderness, and keeps meat juicy while cooking (especially at high temperatures). Angus beef is considered the "gold standard" by high end steakhouses and meat connoisseurs across the globe.
Angus Beef is known for its finely marbled meat, which means that the fat is dispersed evenly against the actual cut of meat. This marbling trait of Angus cattle typically creates a tender, juicy and flavorful meat.
Heritage Berkshire Hogs
Three hundred years ago - so legend has it - the Berkshire hog was discovered by Oliver Cromwell's army, in winter quarters at Reading, the county seat of the shire of Berks in England. After the war, these veterans carried the news to the outside world of the wonderful hogs of Berks; larger than any other swine of that time and producing hams and bacon of rare quality and flavor. This is said to have been the beginning of the fame of the Reading Fair as a market place for pork products.
For 200 years now the Berkshire bloodstream has been pure, as far as the records are known today.
The excellent carcass quality of the Berkshire hog made him an early favorite with the upper class of English farmers.
For years the Royal Family kept a large Berkshire herd at Windsor Castle. A famous Berkshire of a century ago was named Windsor Castle, having been farrowed and raised within sight of the towers of the royal residence.
According to the best available records, the first Berkshires were brought to this country in 1823. They were quickly absorbed into the general hog population because of the marked improvement they created when crossed with common stock. At least one of the major "American" breeds has publicly admitted its debt to Berkshire blood in establishing its foundation. This breed carries identical color markings.
The Berkshire is such a true breed when crossed on other breeds or on common hogs. His characteristics have been established and purified over a very long period of time. Breeders have been working at the task of improving him as far back as any record goes. He is indeed a splendid example of an improved breed of livestock.
Content providers via OKSTATE.edu
American Berkshire Association, 1769 US 52 West, PO Box 2436, West Lafayette, Indiana 47906 Phone: (317) 497-3618
National Pork Producers Council, P.O. Box 10383, Des Moines, Iowa 50306
We are the Heffernan Family and are proud to be stewards of the land at Sharps Gulch Ranch. With farming in our blood from generations past, we are raising livestock and our children as natural as we can in the California sunshine.
We like doing things the hard way.
We believe in muddy boots, calloused hands and nurturing our land and livestock through dedication and hard work.
We believe that healthy animals live in big spaces with lots of sunshine, and don’t need extra hormones, chemicals or antibiotics.