Member Spotlight: Barinaga Ranch

Photo by: Paige Green

New month, new member spotlight! This month we want to introduce you to Marcia Barinaga of Barinaga Ranch. Marcia joined CAFF because she wanted to be more involved in her community, plus she enjoys those nice membership perks! 

Favorite Moment of the Day

Photo by: Paige Green

“Watching my sheep graze, especially in the fading light at the end of the day or in the early morning light. It’s a sight I never get tired of.”

Proud & Challenging Moments

“My greatest challenge is time-management. I love every part of my work. I love spending a day working sheep, because I just really enjoy spending the time with my hands on my flock. Each one is a unique individual I feel a real connection with. I enjoy managing the data on my flock, deciding what breeding matches to make to optimize the traits I’m seeking in my lambs. I enjoy poring over pasture data to plan my grazing rotation, or planning the projects we have undertaken to sequester carbon in the soil and improve our pasture productivity. I love answering emails from customers or potential customers, filling their orders for lamb or fiber products, and meeting them should they visit the ranch. I’m a passionate knitter, and spend most evenings knitting, almost exclusively with fiber from my sheep. I like creating social-media posts about work we are doing on the ranch, or the most recent sweater I’ve made from my wool. I also sit on three boards, the Marin Agricultural Land Trust, the West Marin Fund, which is our local community foundation, and the Bay Area Ranchers’ Cooperative, which is a co-op formed in 2020 to open a slaughter facility to provide a rancher-owned local slaughter option for our community. And my main recreation is riding my horse, which I try to do several times a week.

I feel very fortunate; I get to move through my days from one activity I love to another that I love just as much. The stress in my life comes from the fact that there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done the way I would like to. My to-do list for each day is pretty hilarious, and my husband jokes that in Marcia’s ideal world, every hour has 90 minutes and every day has 36 hours. I always joke that my tombstone epitaph should be one of my most frequent exclamations: “Well THAT took longer than I expected!”

A Word to Consumers

“There is a world of difference between large corporate food production and small family ranchers and farmers. Small, pasture-based livestock operations that practice sustainable grazing are enhancing the environment in numerous ways; providing wildlife habitat, improving soil productivity, protecting watersheds, and sequestering atmospheric carbon in the soil through the enhancement of healthy forage plants and their root systems. The local community where I live has recently become very polarized; one segment of our community is hugely supportive of the local, small producers, and understands the benefits they provide, in creating a sustainable local food system that is environmentally friendly. But there is another very vocal segment that equates all animal agriculture with environmental degradation. It is an individual choice whether one wants to eat meat, but for those who do, I want them to understand that finding a local, small producer to supply your meat is very rewarding. My customers feel a bond with my ranch, they know where and how their lambs were raised, and they know that they are not committing an environmental crime by eating meat.

The Silly Moments

“A bit of background: my sheep, especially my Corriedales and East Friesians, are pretty large-stature, with some of my ewes reaching 250 pounds, and more than 2 ½ feet tall at the withers. One day we were working sheep in the corrals, and an ewe panicked in front of me, and dove between my legs. Before I could react, I found myself sprawled along her back with my chin above her tail, as she galloped crazily around the corral area, my arms and legs flopping off each side of her and not a part of me touching the ground. There was nothing I could do about it, and she took me for quite a ride. I was laughing hilariously, and it was actually a lot of fun. My helpers were all worried about my safety, but I just wished that one of them had taken a video”