GREEN GULCH RANCH
Green Gulch Ranch is a historic property located in the unique Sierra Valley of California. Originally settled by the Lafranchini family in the 1860's, the property is now owned and operated by three generations of Harrison's. The ranch, originally settled by Italian Swiss immigrants, use to supply milk and butter to the miners in Virginia city, a two day wagon ride at the time. Two large hand hewn barns still stand on the property today, attesting to the fortitude and ingenuity of the early settlers. The first, built in 1894, included dairy stanchions along one side, with an overhead rail to carry the buckets to the milk room. The north end of the barn had a separate area to stable and feed the draft horses. The rest of the structure was devoted to hay storage. In the early 1900s, a second barn was erected for additional hay storage. Both barns are still in use today. The original, two story farmhouse, built in 1926, is used by members of the family.
The 3800 acre property, which lies up against the mountains at the north end of Sierra Valley, consists of open meadow, sage covered hillsides and a 1000 acres of cultivated farm ground. Two large ridges, stretching south, form the large meadow in the heart of the ranch, which is divided by the seasonal Lafranchini Creek. The meadows, which formally grew hay for the dairy cows, are now grazed by the family's red angus cattle. The sidehills, on either side of the meadow, are mostly a combination of sage and grasses, providing suitable habitat for the abundant wildlife which inhabits the property.
The 1000 acres of farm ground on the south end are mostly irrigated by overhead sprinkler systems called pivots and devoted to the production of alfalfa for the dairies and high quality grass hay for the nearby horse market in the Reno/Tahoe area. With the north end of the ranch part of a major migratory path, hundreds of mule deer can be seen utilizing the meadows for fawning and grazing the alfalfa in the fall. Development of habitat has always been a priority of the ranch and there are several ponds throughout the property. The first and largest, 10 acres, is a major focal point for the complex and home to hundreds of geese.