For generations, Cascade Creek ranchers have used progressive methods to produce free-roaming, naturally pasture-raised lamb.  Here are just a few members of the family...
Forrest Arthur with his flock

Forrest Arthur
Paul, Idaho

A true sheep entrepreneur, Forrest Arthur feeds several thousand lambs a year, trades all classes of sheep, and farms 1,500 acres of organic hay and grain. He also feeds two bands of old ewes and has a baling business. Plus, along with partners, he has 11,000 ewes. “When people comment that I can’t possibly do all of this, they are right. I can’t. But thanks to being surrounded by family and qualified people who work with me, we can,” he says. “Those of us in agriculture depend on each other for a variety of things – relationships are so important.” When asked which of his enterprises he likes best, Forrest smiles and answers, “Each one of them. You do things because you like to – not because you have to. My big goal in life is to create something my boys may want to take over some day and, along the way, teach them the same work ethic that my parents taught me.”

Rancher Robert Irwin and Family

Robert & Jaime Irwin
Clearlake Oaks, CA

Grass fed and vineyard raised is how we approach caring for our precious lambs – naturally, sustainably, compassionately. Grazing in this special vineyard environment creates a mutually beneficial relationship between winemaker and rancher; the flock is nourished with nutrient rich vegetation naturally occurring beneath the vines while the winemaker is provided a natural solution for ground maintenance and fertilization. The grapes truly benefit from this process too – the soil is enriched, rooting is strengthened and the growing and vitality of the plants is increased. This effort is led by Robert and Jaime Irwin. Robert is a third generation sheep farmer who was given five sheep the day he was born, and he’s a proud member of the Cascade Creek family of farmers. At just five years old, he started his own business by purchasing sheep from his older siblings as they went off to college. Robert raises his flock with the utmost respect for the land and is a true steward for the care and raising of the sheep. Ranchers like Robert take the foundation of their family legacy and bring it together in its simplest form … “Just let nature do its job.”

Ryan Mahoney stands with his flock

Ryan Mahoney of Emigh Livestock
Rio Vista, CA

“My greatest satisfaction from raising and feeding sheep comes when I go to the store or restaurant, see eye-appealing lamb in the case or tasty lamb served to customers and know that I had a hand in bringing that to the consumer,” says Ryan Mahoney, a fifth-generation sheep and cattle rancher who serves as operations manager for Emigh Livestock, based in Rio Vista, California. “That’s a darn good feeling.”

At Emigh Livestock, mature ewes, yearling ewes and lambs are run on grass year-round, thanks to irrigated pastures and California’s mild temperatures. The irrigated land can carry 1,000 lambs on 160 acres, but Emigh Livestock prefers to run its sheep in smaller bunches of 400, simply because “they do better.”

Ewes are lambed in the fall, with lambs weaned in May weighing 90 to 100 pounds. The lambs then go on irrigated clover. The sheep take full advantage of every bit of edible vegetation, including nutritious native plants like filaree and burclover.

Ryan, who joined the family business after graduating from St. Mary’s College of California in 2006, says one member of the sixth generation of the family is already learning the ropes at age six. Ryan and his wife Kelli have three children: McKayla, 6; Emily, 4; and Connor, 1. His young daughter McKayla worked on the farm with him this past summer, earning $1 an hour. She saved up $60 – “and got her share of Frosties along the way.

“It’s quite unusual in California to have five generations of sheep ranching to one’s history, and it makes you feel good that the next generation is interested in the business. We’re a family business, with four generations – my grandpa, mom, me and now my kids – involved right now.”