Chileno Valley Ranch Gardens

The Gardens

The flower garden around the house was put in in 1997 and consists of perennials and a few annuals. There are about 200 rose bushes planted around the ranch, most of which were rescued from a burn pile. 

Besides the flower and vegetable gardens, Mike has planted 400 apples trees. They are new varieties and are certified organic. Some of the varieties are Arkansas Black, Enterprise, Zesta, Candy Crisp, Jonagold, Wolf River, Honey Crisp, Pink Lady, Orin, Pinova, and Senshu. The apples are available on u-pick days in late August, September, and sometimes, October. 

There are over 1,000 pickets in the picket fence, all shaped from redwood boards salvaged from the old part of the house that Sally and Mike took down to create a space for the kitchen, bathrooms, family room and the master suite above. The picket fence is painted Navajo White, to match the trim on the house. It is a beautiful fence and took a good amount of time to build. It circles the front of the house like the lace on a green collar. After it was installed and all the pickets were painted one by one, a concrete curb was installed with an aggregate finish, to match the long, wide walkway to the main entrance.

Chileno Valley Ranch Beef

The Ranch

The ranch is 600 acres of pasture, hills and woodlands. Several streams course through the property, each with its own needs and character. Several of the creeks have been replanted in native trees and restored, mainly by fencing out the cows. Beef cattle graze on the hills and in the pastures around the house. They are of special interest to guests, a fact which amazes Sally, but which Mike finds quite natural since he finds them quite fascinating himself.

Deer, bobcats, and other critters abound. In the spring, many kinds of wildflowers dot the hillsides.

Chileno Valley Ranch Fog

The Out Buildings

There are several other buildings on the ranch in addition to the house. This was a functioning dairy up until the mid 1950s. The buildings all have new uses, but are of interest to historians, as they are all in their original form. Each milking stall in the 120 feet by 60 feet milking barn still has a fancy cursive number painted above it, in a style reminiscent of the last century.

The horse barn has old wooden stalls, chewed down over the years by tethered horses. The calf barn is cleared out but stands ready for calves to stick their heads through the feeding stalls for some fragrant hay. And the old small barn hides an old horse drawn buggy on its upper loft.

Present and future uses for these wonderful old first growth redwood barns include a wood shop, a wood shed, a chicken house, a hay barn, and perhaps some day, a summer theater!

The grounds are available for a limited number of weddings in the spring and early summer. 

 

Chileno Valley Ranch Rustic

Creek Restoration

In 1996, Mike and Sally began restoring the part of Chileno Creek which runs through their ranch. Fences were put up to exclude the cows, two hundred native trees and numerous willow sprigs were planted, a drip system was installed to get the trees through their first three years, and alternative watering troughs were installed for the cows.

The results have been spectacular. Today, the creek is fully clothed in lush vegetation and birds and fish have found a welcoming home. Studies by the Point Reyes Bird Observatory show a dramatic growth in nesting neotropical songbirds. Steelhead have been seen swimming up the creek.

The story does not end with this project. Other gullies and tributaries on the Gale Ranch have been similarly fenced and planted. Neighboring ranchers have gotten interested in doing the same thing, and now over six miles of stream have been fenced and planted. The Marin Resource Conservation District has helped everyone plan and fund their projects.

To volunteer at our annual creek restoration day, visit our volunteer page.

Chileno Valley Creek Restoration