back to the ranch

photograph by Matt O'Brien photograph by Matt O'Brien

ucr california museum of photography

Back to the Ranch:
Photographs of the Diminishing
East Bay Cattle Industry

Matt O'Brien (

When I was little, I used to love going to my uncle's ranch. It was beautiful and full of life and so different from suburban San Mateo across the bay where I lived. I have very early memories of being at a round up at the ranch -- the excitement I felt at seeing my Uncle John and other ranchers bringing in the cattle, the sounds of hundreds of hooves hitting the ground as the cattle rushed into the corrals, the mooing, the smoke, the smells of the animals and of the branding. I remember standing on the corral sides watching the roping and all the activity in amazement.

As a kid I took ranching and ranches and their being a part of life in the Bay Area for granted; it was one of the things that made life rich. I don't take it for granted anymore, because ranches and ranching in the East Bay are disappearing, and they're disappearing fast.

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