Our family has many memories of the old hay barn. Our three children loved climbing the tall, dusty ladders, sharing picnics atop the fresh-cut hay bales, hunting for eggs, playing hide-n-seek tag games, and fighting epic imaginary medieval battles. We always had an audience of black and white Holsteins watching with steamy breath and snorty curiosity. The barn was a magical place.
Unfortunately in 2004, we sold our happy holsteins like so many other dairy families had to do in our valley and eventually, we planted a beautiful almond orchard. Yet the old barn seemed hollow and alone.
During the beginning of the pandemic, as our now adult-children began to trickle back home like many others did, my daughter and I began to talk about the idea of a new venture. Excitedly, the family began working long days to transform a once-thriving dairy into a place where family and friends could come together to create new memories in the old barn.
Everyone helped make this venue a reality. Our eldest son,Cody, now a graphic designer. and his wife, Ashley, a software analyst, shared their ideas and created the website and the logos for the venue. Sophie and her fiance, Jacob, both photographers, returned home from Maui to help with the demolition, painting, and a lot of pressure washing. We were fortunate to have two professional photographers available on site and Sophie began to take on all the marketing responsibilities. My husband, Jim, and our youngest son, Gabe, who now lives in Sacramento, worked side-by-side every day reconstructing, making repairs, roofing, doing cement work, just everything. It was so great to watch them work together.
Well, we managed to survive and now we are really excited to share this historic, rustic bit of romance with you. All of it. The quiet country. The barn. The sunsets. The golden hills and the black buttes. Truly a place for love.
Old Colony Ranch began as The Hall Ranch in 1876. Prior to this date, the land was territory of the Nomlaki tribe. The first owners, Andrew and Amanda Hall, devoted their time and land to general farming, mainly wheat and barley, and stock-raising of cattle and hogs. Eventually the thousand-acre ranch would have a dairy, three-hundred head of sheep, hay,and almond trees. The forty-acre fruit orchard included apples, peaches, prunes, nectarines, apricots, and pears. The Halls and their families would continue farming the land for the next sixty years. In 1936, C.Fred Holmes,Inc. acquired the Halls Irrigated Colony (the name it had come to be known). Now the property was home to a Holstein dairy, and Mr. Holmes, along with various members of his family, maintained it until 1950 when Albert Wackerman signed a lease to operate the 469-acre Grade A dairy. Mr. Wackerman and his wife, Bev, would receive a grant deed to the ranch in 1961. The land would remain as the Wackerman Dairy until 2015 when the Wackermans would merge with cousins Berton and Carol Bertagna to become the Old Colony Ranch.