I think that what I hate more than anything about having closed Grapevine is losing touch with some of the great guests who passed through its doors over the years. Understandably, people are finding out about the closing of the ranch gradually, and, while I love hearing from them, I share in their regret at the passing of an era, at the loss of friendship, at the inevitable march of time. But, as some bard once said, nothing lasts forever, and the best we can hope for is that our favorite guest ranch is owned by a family with lots of offspring, like the White Stallion Ranch in Tucson, in its second generation, its continuity assured by two young sons of the present owners, or the Miller family’s Elkhorn Ranch, south of Tucson. Short of that, everything is temporary …. And, viewed in the light of, say, the pyramids, even they are temporary!
However, while I am on the topic of not losing touch – our computer guy has transferred the GCR office computer to my house and consolidated all files on it, and then consolidated both of my e-mail addresses into one, the email@example.com – so, if you e-mail me, not need to ponder where to send it, forget any new ones we may have given you at yahoo or wherever, but use the original one, firstname.lastname@example.org and it will get to me.
As you know, Grapevine Canyon Ranch is closed and the property is being put up for sale. The agent handling it is Walter Lane, of Headquarters West, a company that specializes in the sale of ranches. Looking over their website I see that they have sold a heap of the properties around this area, and indeed sold one of Gerry’s daughters and her husband their cattle ranch in the San Pedro Valley, as well as having handled the sale of the big 47 Ranch on Davis Road between McNeal and Tombstone, and the historic sprawling 76 Ranch near Safford – what a recommendation! Anyway, Walter came to Grapevine and really liked it, but what I wanted to tell you is that he looked over our web page and the guest book, and was most impressed by all the guest comments – as well he might!! Let’s hope that he soon finds a good owner for the ranch we all love so much.
And along these lines, here is a request from guests Mike and Jackie Franke, who said, in the guest book :
“Eve, we still miss our annual trip to Grapevine and all the great friends we met from around the world. You should provide updates on former staff (Rusty/Red/ etc) I bet all former guests would be interested. Also let us know what local ranch you might recommend for next get away out your way, thanks again.” Mike and Jackie Franke
So here is the information –
Rusty is living in Tombstone, singing and playing guitar at Big Nose Kate Saloon; Smoky has retired – had some health issues, but is now living in Sunsites; Bonnie just started a great job with the local bank in Sunsites as a teller (she says that my nagging at her about details, and careful handling of figures has really helped her, as she balanced her books on her very first day and has continued to do so since!), Ruth the cook is between jobs, but currently handling the garage sale of all the Stuff left over from the very successful Grapevine auction; Ed the chef has a job cooking at TJ’s in Sunsites; Sarah has a job as a wrangler at the Rancho de la Osa, a very historic guest ranch in Sasabe; Meagan went back to Pennsylvania, got a summer job as a counselor at a kids’ camp and is now looking for another job, which I am sure she won’t have any trouble in finding, she is so cute and capable; Butch has a job he loves as a sort of horse guru and troubled teens’ counselor at a fancy, expensive, troubled teens’ ranch for rich kids; RJ went back to New Mexico; Dustin went to the Triangle T Ranch (the one by the Freeway) but has now left there, and I don’t know what he is up to; Nancy is semi-retired, Carlos from Maintenance went back to his own business of tire repair in Sunsites; Cody from Maintenance has remained at Grapevine on the payroll as a live-on caretaker and maintenance person; Colleen from Housekeeping is also living at Grapevine, in the apartment above the office. She had got a job at a guest ranch in Texas, but didn’t like it there, and returned to our valley to regroup and recover! I guess all I need to tell you about her experience there is that she lost about 15 lbs in three weeks while there – she looks great, but it wasn’t a good way to lose it! And, talking of people moving far away, Punk and Joy moved back to Pennsylvania. They are living by some river on the edge of a forest – sounds lovely, he is catching a lot of fish, he says – but they don’t get any computer hook-up, so he says, sorry, he can’t answer the e-mails from you all that stacked up on his computer. BJ (his son) and wife Ingrid visited them recently and BJ checked the computer some way or other, so that’s how Punk knows about the e-mails, but he can’t answer them. He says to tell you all that as soon as he gets a hook up, he will get to it! And Ingrid and BJ have gone back to Sweden. They spent some time in Montana but she decided to return home, so that’s where they are. I think that about covers everybody – if I left anyone out, let me know and I’ll check it out!
As to the second half of the question, where to go now, it is not easy to answer, as, along with Grapevine, two other ranches have closed, the Price Canyon in the Chiricahuas, and the Kay El Bar in Wickenburg. I guess I would say that what you need to do is to go to the web page of the Arizona Dude Ranchers’ Association (www.AzDRA.com) read carefully about the 8 remaining members, and take your pick. They’re all good – we all had to meet the Association’s standards in order to belong, so you can be assured of a quality experience wherever you go.
And a lot of you have been asking about the Grapevine horses. Those of you who knew Sarah, the last barn boss, can be sure that she worked very diligently to find them all good homes. Seeing them go was hard – some of them had more personalities and ties to us than others – some of the older ones, or the ones that needed special care, I have kept, and, selfishly, I have also kept some just to have to ride, and for my visiting friends to ride. So here is the list of those who are here:First of all, of course, there is Himself, none other than ranch owner Comanche, with his compadre, Tequila. Both these boys are now retired – Comanche is 25, and Tequila a venerable 28. They make up the grumpy old men of Cobre Loma, you might say, though why grumpy, I don’t know, as they lead the proverbial life of Riley. Comanche has a bit of a foot problem now, has to be kept off any hot feed and specially shod now and then, even though he is not being ridden, and Tequila developed a melanoma in a very unmentionable place, which, luckily, we found in time. So he made several quite expensive trips to the excellent Cortaro Equine Hospital in Tucson, where he had to be sedated each time as he resolutely refused to present the offending organ for inspection and now he is cancer free, though I should have taken out a mortgage on him! But, seeing that in all his 28 years he had never, ever, been to a vet, I guess I owed him, and was more than happy to pay! Then, still on the retired list, there is Bonny, Gerry’s retired cutting mare, as grumpy and bossy as ever, living her life of Riley in a separate pasture, where she lords it over three Grapevine horses – Blaze, who is also semi retired though rideable in a limited way, and two Appys, Lady and Joey. Joey is the only gelding in that pasture and he and Lady are inseparable – I guess being spotted gives you some sort of affinity? Joey had never been an assertive horse, Sarah told me, when he was at Grapevine. Boy – he has come into his own here! He does not, of course, stand up to Bonny – Gerry was the only being alive who could do that – but he lords it over the other two mares and, now possessing one of his own, he is, as the Mexicans say, muy contento.
In the Trap opposite my house, live five horses. The undisputed boss is Grapevine’s Waylon, who rules even over Scotty, the erstwhile Mafioso in that trap. It was quite comical when Waylon first arrived. Scotty bustled up to him, full of importance, and presented his business card introducing himself as the boss of the pasture. Waylon sniffed “So what”, turned his back and let fly. “OOPS” said Scotty, “really? Oh well, OK then.” And that was that. I was amazed – but glad that hostilities had ceased before they had begun. The other horses in that pen are Sabino, from Grapevine, and Chikala, my big Canadian rescue Pinto, a peaceable character at any time. And the last resident, amazingly also not troublesome, is filly Bertie, also a rescue from Canada. Bertie came here with Chikala, but she was only a 6 month old weanling to his mighty two years when they arrived. She is quite funny – she divides her favors between the boys, spending time now with one, now with another – we call her Flirty Bertie! (The last of the trio, Yukie, has found a good home with a friend in Dragoon, along with gelding Ven, also from Grapevine.) It has been a job, finding good homes for all these guys!In the Vacation Lane are five who now think they are on permanent vacation – Snip, Gus, Mouse, Boots and Hank. We opened the gate from the Lane to the huge horse pasture beyond, now full of tasty grass, and they disappeared there, only to surface now and then for a drink at the tank. In the roping arena reside two mares, Isha, who is expecting in December (do I want my head read, or what? Making new babies in these times of high hay prices and a surfeit of horses? But then, when is any horse owner sane, anyway?) And last but not least, the one horse to whom I had always promised an honorable retirement, fat and full of the devil so that we have to stable him by himself and only let him out on pasture by himself, as he is so awful to other horses, none other than that begging horsy pestilence, full of equine charm, Peanut. Do you remember how he would never pass me at the hitching rail without extorting a goodie from me? I always promised him that I would never sell him – he is, without a doubt, the ugliest horse I have ever laid eyes on, but the most plucky, the hardest worker, full of heart and try and charm. I am sure he came from Mexico, and I am sure he was not treated well there, but the bad times appear to be something that he has willingly forgotten and forgiven. He is so combative with other horses that he has to be kept in a pen by himself and every other day or so we let him out to run free and graze – and that is a sight to behold! From a tired, thin little horse, as he was when we retired him (I thought actually that he was not long for this world, as he does have some age on him also) he has turned out to be fat, sassy, and full of fire and vinegar. Danny opens the gate and out boils Peanut, tail held high like a banner as, at full gallop, he bucks out into the barnyard, does a sweeping circuit of all the horse runs and then heads out to the front drive and the Cochise Pasture beyond, to enjoy a day of eating and freedom. Danny says he has a good mind to put a saddle on him to see what happens – I think what might very well happen is that Peanut will buck him off he feels so good! Wonderful to see.
Anyway, all this horsy love is consuming hay at the rate of 100 tons a year, and it was obvious to me that at the Grapevine price of around $230 a ton I could never afford it. Luckily, a friend told me of a farmer near Benson who is growing a mix of Rye and Bermuda, and selling it in 1600 lb bales for $165 a ton. So Danny and I went to see him. We were mutually delighted with each other – we liked him, we liked his hay and his businesslike attitude, and I imagine he liked our required quantity. He said he could cut the bales in half, so they would weight 800 lbs each and measure – whatever, I forget, I think 4×4. But whatever it is, Danny figured out that these bales would fit into the Cobre Loma barn at the rate of a couple of flatbed trailer loads a time, so four loads a year. Let’s hope!! But right now, with the lovely rains we had, it’s difficult to imagine that there might ever come a time when hay will be needed – the horses are in that legendary belly high grass and, as the song says, “livin’ is easy”!
And I just realized I didn’t mention donkeys Miss Katie and Miss Sarah, nor the two bovine ladies, Clementine and Twiggy. They had to be let out of their pens each morning and penned up at night, until it occurred to me that the Corner Pasture is the very place for them – so that’s where they are, four lucky creatures in 40 acres of belly high grass. The other day we couldn’t find them, and Danny got quite worried, until he spied just the tips of Clementine’s horns sticking up out of the green. I was returning from Tucson today and, casting a possessive eye over the Corner Pasture, realized that my attitude towards it has always been like that of a miser with a handful of cash. That lovely, lovely grass – a pity to eat it up! Better to save it!! I had to laugh at myself – is that a stupid attitude or what! So I am happy that the four princesses are out there enjoying it, and that all is well with their world.
I wish we could say the same for ours!