Saddle up, this week you’re in for a treat as our next WFCF Storybit feature takes us to Five Dot Ranch in Susanville, Cali. This isn’t your typical family ranch, because, not only do they raise cattle, but they also have their own butcher shop and restaurant located in Napa Valley, Cali. At their restaurant, The Cookhouse, they do things a little differently. You pick it, they grill it! That’s right, at their restaurant you pick any fresh cut from their meat case and they grill your pick just for you. Locals even have the chance to buy beef and take it home for themselves. So while you’re thinking of planning your next trip to Napa, let’s dive into the story of the Swickard Family and Five Dot Ranch.
In order to get to the beginning of the Swickard family’s long history and tradition when it comes to cattle, we have to look all the way back to 1852 to get it. Traveling by wagon across the plains and the Rockies, the Swickard’s landed in California in 1859 with 250 head of cattle. Their story continued to evolve over the decades as the ranch they established was continually passed down to the next generation.
In 1949, Jack Swickard would have his turn, at the age of 15, to step in and help care for the cattle and the ranch. Jack was one of the youngest purebred Hereford breeders in the nation. If that wasn’t enough, Jack was also the youngest commercial breeder in the Santa Clara Valley. He was quite the local celebrity. He took over the ranch and put the Swickard Ranch on a path to success. Along with the success of the ranch, Jack was also expanding his family. After marrying Margret Hangstabeck, they had two sons, Tim and Todd. In 1959, the family would soon be on the move north to Susanville, California. Jack planted new roots and started the Five Dot Land and Cattle Company in Lassen county, now full of Angus cattle as well. Within four years of Jack starting with 200 registered Hereford cattle, his brother, Tom, joined him. Together they developed successful herds and land operations.
In 1994, Todd, Jack’s son, would step in to take over the daily operations of the ranch. Since that time, Todd and his wife, Loretta have maintained the herd and in 2006 developed a Verified Natural Beef, a third-party verified branded beef program, named Five Dot Ranch. They had been raising Natural cattle since the ’90s and saw a demand in California.
They spent every weekend visiting farmers markets throughout the state, which is what got them noticed by the people that were opening up the Oxbow Public Market in Napa, Cali. So, in 2008, they took the plunge and dove head first into the restaurant industry! Today, their beef product is sold wholesale to multiple restaurants in California, and most recently has been added to Crowd Cow. Todd and Loretta’s children now assist with the ranch and make up the 7th generation family ranching legacy, and the first born of the 8th generation was born last year!
Today, Five Dot Ranch takes part in many, many verification programs through Where Food Comes From and their IMI Global division. They are Source & Age Verified, Non-Hormone Treated Cattle (NHTC), Verified Natural Beef (VNB) and Non-GMO Project Verified. Todd is dedicated to creating a product he’s proud to put their family’s name on. Through the use of verification programs and labeling claims, the team is able to learn about new processes and Standards that help continually improve their product. Verification is more than a term, it’s a commitment to their consumers.
The team at Five Dot Ranch is highly skilled and focused on the quality of their Angus cattle herd. This includes everything from what the cattle eat to their daily care. They own and trace every cattle they produce because they know the importance of understanding the story behind your food. Their standards are high and proud producers of beef. They believe in order to raise natural cattle they must provide the finest environment and sustainable practices. If you want to learn more about Five Dot Ranch check out their site, and stay tuned for our next WFCF Storybit video!