Steve Murray (right) speaking with Kern Young Farmers & Ranchers members while blueberry picking at Murray Farms.  (Photo courtesy of Christine Johnson/KCFB)

By Christine Johnson, Chair, Young Farmers and Ranchers 

Spring has been quite busy for the Kern Young Farmers and Ranchers. In April, we started off with a Saturday morning tour of a non-profit horse rescue operation in Shafter. Known as “All Seated in A Barn,” the facility has rehabilitated hundreds of horses and donkeys. They also house a few exotic animals, including zebras and a very friendly yak named “Yaki-Chan”.  

Our group gathered early in the morning for a brief meeting and breakfast burritos, then received a wonderful tour. LeAnn, our guide, told us background stories about the animals, including their previous lives and now thriving personalities. Some had been with them many years while others, such as four particularly skittish horses, just arrived the week prior, having been purchased off auction and saved from slaughter. We stepped inside one of the animal pens for a few minutes to give some close-up pets to a few horses and donkeys. The animals loved the attention! We also fed a few treats along the way. Smelling the hay feed reminded me of smelling alfalfa growing in the fields next to my house as a child. I lived on the “edge” of town, back when Norris Road marked the transition from subdivisions to rural crops. Before the housing boom of the early 2000s, our little neighborhood was surrounded by acres and acres of almond trees and alfalfa fields. I remember driving past sheep grazing in the springtime, always looking out to spot some cute lambs.  

We appreciated our tour at All Seated in A Barn and hope to spread the word about their efforts. Please note that they often host family-friendly events and it’s very easy to coordinate a tour.  

Next up, the Kern YF&R group hosted a meeting at Cal State University, Bakersfield, in conjunction with their Ag Business Club. We are grateful to Dr. Aaron Hegde, who helped us coordinate the time and advertise to the ag department. He even provided dinner! It was great to meet the students and collaborate with their ag club. There were nearly 30 in attendance. One of my goals this year is to facilitate a working relationship with college students and let them know about our group, and I believe our meeting was a great starting point. We brought in Alex Dominguez, 1st Vice President of the Farm Bureau, as a guest speaker. As a CSUB alumnus, Alex spoke on his transition from college to his career as a water law attorney for Klein DeNatale Goldner. I found his story engaging and full of honest advice while giving credit to supporting mentors along the way.  

One thing in particular stood out to me during the Q&A time.  I asked Alex what he felt his role was at the Farm Bureau. His reply was simple yet clear – “I like to think of myself as helping ag tell their story.” Is that not what the Farm Bureau stands for? Is that not what all of us are aiming for, each with our unique backgrounds and experiences? Some may not have significant ties to agriculture. For others, it’s their entire way of life. Personally, I have no background in agriculture, but was exposed through my career and eventually realized this is where I belong. My husband has more experience than I ever did—he grew up raising steers in 4-H, and his grandpa was a cowboy on Tejon ranch.  

How can we awaken those stories within us and communicate them to the modern world? I believe we all have some connection to agriculture. Don’t let your story get lost in silence. Pass it on to the next generation and find a small way to support agriculture, whether through participating in one of the tours that YF&R hosts or attending an ag club meeting such as the one at CSUB.  

YF&R’s May event at Murray Farms was one more opportunity to hear a story of resilience. Steve Murray graciously invited us to pick blueberries and cherries at his farm next to the Big Red Barn along Highway 58. It was great to hear Steve recount how he started a small cherry farming operation despite all the odds against him. Years of hard work later, he now offers over 100 commodities at two retail locations and participates in several dozen farmer’s markets. We’ve been invited back year after year, and this seems to be one of our most popular events. With about 25 people and some kids attending, we finished the evening with a barbecue. A big thank you to Steve and Vickie Murray for hosting us! 

If you want to keep up with the Kern Young Farmers & Ranchers, please email us or follow us on social media using the credentials below. Please save the date for our next event on June 22 in Kernville. Also, on July 20, we will put on our annual Charity Farmers Market at the Chuy’s parking lot on Rosedale Highway. Please contact us for details.  


Instagram: @Kern_YFR 

Facebook: KernCountyYoungFarmersAndRanchers 

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