The Island: Reminiscences of Twentieth century ranching on Santa Rosa Island
So near and yet so far…Santa Rosa is one of a cluster of Channel Islands close by the California coast. Now enfolded in the National Park Service, the island, which lies on the migratory route of both Blue and Grey whales, boasted a substantial ranching enterprise from the mid-nineteenth century until 2011. Despite being close to the mainland, it was always quite a job to transport thousands of cattle across fields, country roads, and bridges. There were occasional mishaps during transport when the animals toppled into the sea as they were taken on board to the feedlot to be fattened then slaughtered.
Pete Healey, closely involved with the ranch for a couple of generations, tells affectionate tales of the ranch’s goings-on, highlighting the owners and managers (one of them his uncle) with episodes worth the retelling. Cowboys played an important role, and no practice was more memorable than the herder who hacked off tails to make oxtail soup!
Besides the cattle, prolific bands of wild pigs co-mingled with the elk and deer imported later for commercial hunting. The results, told in numerous black and white photos as well as yarns, make for a charming memoir. Regrettably, Healey is unaware of spell check and cannot handle homonyms, resulting in spelling errors and even the substitution of words such as “efficacy” in place of “efficiency.” It would be worth the time to make corrections.
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