Community - Ranch Life

How To Spring a Calf


Some people know it's spring when they see asparagus and rhubarb at the market, or bunches of daffodils in the neighbor's yard. Maybe they celebrate by planting potatoes and peas on March 15.

It snowed in Wallowa earlier this week and there isn't a flower in sight, but we know it's spring because we're welcoming a new crop of calves.  

Mostly, cows handle the birthing process on their own. We don't have to pull calves often, but sometimes the birth isn't going as it should, so we try to assist.  Take cow #292.  She's a three year old and this is her second calf.  She's been in labor for several
hours and her calf's feet are showing, but she's exhausted and has given up.  We make the decision to bring her to the calving pen. Dave begins by fastening what we call "pulling chains" to the calf's feet.  He pulls with each contraction.  

He isn't getting anywhere, so I put down the camera to help him.  Even with both of us pulling, we aren't making much progress and we start to worry about the calf. We get the "calf puller." This medieval looking contraption operates like winch.  We hook the chains on to the puller and slowly crank the winch. The cow grunts.  Finally the nose comes, then we can see the calf's tongue sticking out.  We
pull hard, desperate to help it take its first breath.  Finally, his head comes out and he gasps for air.  He's alive!  We keep  pulling and slowly, and after we get the shoulder out, the rest follows easily.  He hits the ground with a thud and we release his mom from the pen.

Now I can take out my camera again.  Cow and calf are both visibly stressed.  They take a few minutes to check one another out, and very soon, #292's instinct kicks in and she begins licking her new baby. 

He's slower than normal, but in half an hour he's on his feet, nursing.  It isn't exactly how we hope for births to go, but we're really grateful that this one turned out well. 

A bunch of daffodils, a pile of morels, daily deliveries of new calves--it's all spring to me.

Plate & Pitchfork


Hi everyone

I know I’ve been a little scarce on the blogging front, but yesterday was so remarkable I wanted to share the story and post a few photos. Carman Ranch just hosted the first Plate & Pitchfork (P&P) event to take place outside of the Portland area, and it was a blast! P&P is a summer dinner series that actually happens on the farm or ranch where some of the food is grown, creating a meal that uses mostly local ingredients (Scroll to the bottom for the full menu from yesterday). 


I tell the story of Carman Ranch as Dave & Plate and Pitchfork Founder, Erika Polmar look on.

I met P&P Founder Erika Polmar through a friend less than a year ago and attended a P&P dinner at Sun Gold Farm in Forest Grove. I was so impressed, I told Erika we’d love to be a part the series. Fast-forward a matter of months, and there I stood yesterday in one of our pastures telling the ranch history to crowd of a hundred as they sipped on wine and martinis and nibbled on hors d'oeuvres prepared by some of Portland’s top chefs.

Between appetizers and dinner, Dave and I took everyone on a ranch tour, and then we headed down to another pasture to feast on a four-course meal centered around Carman Ranch beef that was prepared by Chef Pascal Sauton from Carafe and Chef Aaron Dionne from Leftbank Annex and Lewis and Clark College, each course paired with wines from Bethel Heights Vineyard

We ended the evening under a blanket of stars, enjoying Raspberry Cordial from Stein Distillery and Strudels and Caramels from Portland Confectioner Faith Dionne of Bees and Beans

What a wonderful evening! Thanks so much to everyone who came out to support local, sustainable food. I’ll post more photos and the full menu below.



Carman Ranch 2010 Plate and Pitchfork Menu


Hors d'oeuvres

Crab Cocktail with Horseradish Cream and Tomato Aspic

Beef Tongue Fritters with Sauce Gribiche

Rabbit Rillettes with New Harvest Apple Chutney

Beef Heart and Potato Churrasco with Sweet Onion and Roasted Jalapeno

Beet Pickled Stuffed Eggs with Radish

Romano Bean and Pancetta Bruschetta with Heirloom Tomato

Stein Rye Martini

2009 Bethel Heights Vinyard Pinot Gris



Steak Tartare with Poached Quail Egg

2009 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir, Justice Vineyard


Braised Short Ribs with Garlic and Ginger

Summer Vegetable Salad with Carrot Vinaigrette

2008 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir, Southeast Block


Rosemary and Olive Oil Marinated Strip Steak, Arugula, Marinated tomatoes, Sheep’s Cheese

2008 Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Noir, Casteel Reserve


Honey and Walnut Strudel with Peaches and Ricotta

Wild Plum and Black Pepper Caramels

Stein Raspberry Cordial


Special Thanks to:

Grand Central Bakery, Organic Valley, Backyard Gardens, Arrowhead Ranch, Double Eddy Farms, and Amy’s Garden.

 More photos from the dinner:

Early August


Things have been busy on McClaran Ranch.  Summer is quickly going by and we have been trying to keep up. We breed and raise all of our own horses to ride when we move cows. We raise our own horses so they are born and raised in the environment they will work in.  This results in our horses all being comfortable with the landscape and being sure footed. This week we moved our brood mares and babies to a new pasture.

My dad, Beth and I went and checked on our yearlings. They are all grazing happily and getting fat on the summer grass.  We continually rotate the yearlings through pastures to give the plants rest and time to re grow.  In this picture the yearlings are in grass almost over their heads.

Carman Ranch hosted an event for a few Bon Appétit Chef’s and employees.  Carman Ranch grass fed beef is now offered at some Bon Appétit locations in the Portland area.  This tour was designed to show where the meat comes from, how it’s raised and create a connection from pasture to the table.  The group toured Carman Ranch as well as McClaran’s.  We told stories about the life of cattle ranchers in Wallowa County, raising grass fed beef, as well as sampled some tasty beef.  Cory talked about sustainability, and grazing rotations.  At McClaran’s proper animal handling was discussed and demonstrated by Scott McClaran.


Wallowa County Ranch Life


Hello everyone!

My name is Maggie McClaran.  I am fourth generation cattle rancher in Wallowa County.   Our family ranch was started in 1919 by my great grandfather Joe McClaran.  I am the youngest of three daughters to be born to my parents Scott and Vicki. We are all currently home working on the ranch together to take care of our 1,000 head of mother cows. Due to the large size of our operation we are partnering with Carman Ranch to meet the growing demand for grass fed beef.  I am a going to be a senior at Oregon State this fall pursuing a degree in Agricultural Business Management.  I am here to give updates on the happenings of the Carman as well as McClaran ranch.  This will provide all of you with a closer, more detailed look at the daily routine of working cattle ranches in Wallowa County.  If there are any questions about my posts/pictures or you are interested in knowing something more about what I have said feel free to contact me. Below are a few pictures to paint the picture of my family.

Left to right. Jill 26, graduate from University of Idaho with a degree in Animal Sciences. My dad Scott, lifelong rancher, and daily operations manager. Me. Mom Vicki, receptionist, bookeeper, and head of finances.  Beth 23, graduate from Oregon State University with a degree in Rangeland Ecology and Managment.

Three McClaran sisters moving our yearling cattle.

My grandfather Jack McClaran. At 83 years old he still loves spending time on the ranch.
Me, moving a group of our mother cows.

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