Stewards of the Land
Inspired by Dean Houk, who has kept the 400-acre, Stanislaus County family farm together for more than 100 years, Janine Goubert snapped this photo of her landlord as he ran his backhoe near the river. Houk, who raises lima beans, hay, replacement heifers and corn, was very concerned about soil erosion and planted bamboo along the river’s edge to provide a natural break.
Chuck Lowery sees a lot of interesting things during his workday, so he’s learned to carry his camera with him always. As he drove through the Butte County rice fields, he came upon three barn owls that had taken up residence in a wood-duck box. He gave a whistle and the owl peeked out long enough for Chuck to take this picture. Rice fields provide winter habitat for a wide variety of birds. The door is always open for barn owls at these nesting boxes because the owls eat mice, rats and gophers.
Obviously, Jon Ruskovich and Buster have a special bond. John and Agena Ruskovich have lovingly cared for Buster, a breeding bull, since he was born seven years ago on their Carrizo Valley ranch. During the summer, the cattle are taken to higher elevation pastures where they can graze freely. Although there are nearly 10,000 acres of wide-open space on which to roam, Buster was waiting for John near the road and walked right into the truck.