On a Thanksgiving one year when our girls were much younger, one of them asked, “Dad, do we know who raised this turkey?” It turned out we did – we always buy a Diestel turkey, raised by Tim Diestel and his family near Sonora, California (where I grew up). When I was a kid, I can remember going to the Diestel farm to get our turkey; today, Diestel turkeys are available in the Belair supermarket where we shop in Auburn. And they still taste just as good as they did when I was younger!
We’re so fortunate to live in a place where so much good food is grown. Thanksgiving in our part of the Sierra foothills coincides with the beginning of mandarin season – our Thanksgiving table usually includes citrus from Snow’s Citrus in Newcastle, Hillcrest Orchard or Mandarin Hill Orchard in Penryn, or Side Hill Citrus in Lincoln – or sometimes all four farms! This year, we’ll enjoy winter squash from Edwards Family Farm in Colfax, and rice stuffing from Wayne and Barbara Vineyard in Lincoln. We’ll have bread from the Baker and the Cake Maker just up the road in Auburn. And thanks to my successful hunting trip this fall, we’ll have venison salami as a before-dinner appetizer.
Thanksgiving, for me, is a day to celebrate the bounty of our region. As a rancher, it’s also a day to celebrate the people that support our operation. I’m thankful for the support of the folks who let us graze their land. I’m thankful for Derrick Adamache, who shears our sheep; for Ian McKenzie and Mike Corn, who market our wool. I appreciate Superior Farms in Dixon, who buys most of our lambs. I’m especially grateful for my family and my partner, Roger Ingram, who work alongside me every day. And I’m thankful for everyone who asks for California-grown lamb when they go to their local butcher shop (like Longhorn Meats in Auburn).
Food – at Thanksgiving, and all through the year – connects us all. As my girls learned at an early age, knowing who grows food for us is important. As a rancher, I find that it is equally as important to know who consumes what I produce. This knowledge – and these connections – are what I’m thankful for this year. Happy Thanksgiving!