OUR FAMILY

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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, MaryMarjorie or "Maisie" is 9, MaryJane or "JJ" is 8 and MaryTeresa or "Tessa" is 6.

Those are the FIVE MARYS proud to be working the ranch everyday keeping up with the leader of our pack, Heff. 

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Before we moved to the ranch we had small businesses and restaurants and we spent a lot of our time sourcing really good quality ingredients for our menu.

In the quest for super high quality meats, raised ethically but with great flavor, we did a ton of research with our chefs  to know exactly what we wanted for our customers.

+ We wanted superior quality beef with a great story behind it.
+ We wanted a grass-fed lifestyle with a barley finish and a 28-day dry-age.
+ We wanted to know the animals were raised right and harvested humanely.

We searched high and low in small farms and couldn’t find anyone who could do this on a large enough scale to supply what we needed. 

So we decided to do it ourselves.

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We originally thought we'd just go up on the weekends and hire a ranch manager commuting back to our businesses in the city during the week, but we quickly realized we couldn't do both of these things well.

It didn't take us long do decide to totally change paths and jump into ranching full time. This meant selling our businesses and leaving our beautiful home we’d worked so hard for, Brian leaving his busy law practice and moving away from a land of opportunity and the only livelihood we knew.

We knew we had to find a new model and create a business from scratch to sustain our livelihood, so we started from square one.

When we started selling the meat we'd worked hard to raise, we would personally deliver to customers and then we started “farm stands” (our own version of farmers markets). They were a great way to kick start our sales and grow our business early, but we knew that wasn’t sustainable for us because we wanted to be on the ranch, not traveling all of the time to sell our meat.

The answer seemed to lie in shipping our meats directly to customers - and finding customers who appreciate high-quality, well-raised meats.

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Shipping meat is no easy task, it took well over a year to navigate - but with lots of trial and error and learning from many mistakes - we have a tried-and-true system to sell, pack and ship meat directly to customers all over the US. 

We use social media to share our story and sell our product and in four years we've grown to reach over 8,000 customers all over the country and we ship over 10,000 pounds of meat every month right from our ranch in rural California.


Using Social Media to Grow Our Brand...

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Thanks to sharing our story on social media, we have received national attention over the past few years - with features in Oprah Magazine, Parents Magazine, Enjoy, Eating Well, Flea Market Style, GEV magazine and Real Simple.

We were also named "Best Farm" in America by Paleo Magazine in 2018!

All of this is because social media allows us to share our day-to-day life. To share our story and help tell the story of agriculture in today's world.

Follow along with us on Instagram as we share our day-to-day lives on the ranch!




Mary and Brian believe that good things take time, from restoring old ranch homes to raising cattle.

There simply are no short cuts.

We commit to consistently provide the finest quality meats only from animals we raise as a family on our ranch directly and hassle-free to your family's doorstep anywhere in the US.

After years in the restaurant business we had a lot of trials cooking with different meats from small farms to bigger names. We appreciate that consistency matters and that extra effort, like well packaged products and a 21 to 28-day dry aging and old world butchery practices (one animal at a time), is required for the most amazing flavor and tenderness. Above all, constant and unwavering care is required every single day of an animal's life to achieve a premium cut of meat. We go that extra mile.

Order our beef, lamb or pork by the individual cut, try one of our sampler assortments or get a customized box regularly with our Farm Club membership. Our ordering process is easy and your product will ship and arrive quickly and without hassle. No minimums or subscriptions are required and we ship anywhere in the country.

We are now the primary meat source for hundreds of families throughout the country and they will tell you our products are consistently fantastic and delivery is quick, easy and predictable.

We hope you will taste and appreciate the difference as well - you won't be disappointed!

Oh, and to answer your first question about us - yes, there really are five Marys. Five Marys Farms is named for the five girls in our family, all named Mary! Our four girls (ages 6-11) are all named after grandmothers and aunts on both sides carrying on a long standing family tradition of strong women named Mary.

We hope you’ll SHOP Five Marys meats or join us for a Five Marys experience!

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OUR OPERATION

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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!

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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.

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OUR ANIMALS

NAVAJO CHURRO SHEEP

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"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.

**http://www.navajo-churrosheep.com/sheep-origin.html


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.

 **https://www.angus.org/pub/Anghist.aspx


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

OUR LAND

The History of our Agricultural Background & Sharps Gulch Ranch

The land we live on is rich in family farming history and we are proud to continue that legacy through hard work, storytelling and the restoration of the ranch’s two homes, a large victorian and a 19th century creamery-turned house. We both come from a long lines of agriculture families, so we are grateful and excited to see these California roots grow into a story of our own.

- Mary and Brian Heffernan

California Stories

Sharps Gulch was established in October of 1857 by early pioneers of Scotts Valley, William and Augusta Sharp. After trying his luck mining in California’s booming gold country and farming in the San Joaquin Valley, William Sharp moved his family north looking for better land and a better life. Traveling in a covered wagon across California and through the Scott Mountains, the Sharps arrived near Fort Jones on Christmas Day of 1854 with chickens, pigs and the first turkeys to be introduced to the county. After renting land for a time, they purchased the gulch in 1857 and planted 500 acres of grain. William and Augusta had ten children: Emily, Philip, Frederick, Augusta, Friedell, Eugene, Josephine, Frank, Walter and William, and the farm stayed in their family until 1974 when it was purchased by the Hansen Family.

Brian and Mary Heffernan purchased Sharps Gulch from the Hansens in 2013 and continue the family farm legacy with their own roots in California agriculture- dating back to the 19th century.

Brian's Family Legacy:

Casper Borchard, Brian’s great, great grandfather, was born in Germany and came to Ventura County to began farming sugar beets in 1867. Known as one of the first agriculturalists in this region, Casper and his wife Theresa farmed in the area and eventually bought the Conejo ranch of four thousand acres. Their son, Antone, continued the family ranch and later settled in Orange County, where Brian’s family continued working in agriculture until the present day. Brian's Dad felt a strong tie to his farming roots and left the business world to begin his own farming journey in Imperial Valley and then in Tehema County  in the North Sate. Brian's dad, Tom, passed away this year but made many visits to the ranch before he died and was very proud to see his son following in his footsteps. We farm to remember Tom and his dedication to the land, the animals and the California farming community. 

The Conejo Ranch, founded by Casper Borchard

The Conejo Ranch, founded by Casper Borchard

Mary's Family Legacy:

Mary is a 6th generation Californian, with her family roots in Watsonville/Santa Cruz county which began when her ancestors came from Ireland to the Pajaro Valley in 1859. They grew strawberries, apples, lettuce, and sugar beets and farmed in the Watsonville area for five generations.

Below are photos from the Sheehy Family produce facility and the Sheehy family apple crate labels and brands. We proudly hang these in our home to remind us of our farming ancestors and our farming roots!

Watsonville farmers outside of the Sheehy family's produce facility: Golden Rule Brand

Watsonville farmers outside of the Sheehy family's produce facility: Golden Rule Brand

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We are very proud to be back in agriculture, just as our ancestors were, on our own family farm to continue our Californian history on Siskiyou County soil. Our daughters are 7th generation Californians who we hope to raise with a love and respect of the land where we live.

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OUR MISSION

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.

We believe that food should tell a story, and are thrilled to share ours with you.

 
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