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Farewell to a Rancher

jesikah maria ross

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Attilio Genasci
(Steve Frisch)
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Attilio Genasci: Well, there's fewer year-round families that stay here with their cattle and everything. What is there, one or two of us? There used to be about 85.

Yeah, here's the cows that we worked yesterday.

I have traveled a lot. And I've seen the other world. And when I come back here, I see what I have. It's a beautiful, beautiful valley. Some people say it's the largest alpine valley at 5,000 feet elevation in North America.

I get up sometime when the snow's on the ground. You can see a blanket of snow. You can hear the train on the other end of the valley, 18 miles, you hear the clickety-clack of the trains that go by, it's so quiet and peaceful here.

When my wife and I were first married, the realtor stopped by and asked Angie if she's sell him some land up next to the mountain up there - he had a person who wanted to build houses up there.

And she told him in no uncertain terms that her land was not for sale, or would ever be for sale to build houses on.

Before she died she said, "I want my ashes scattered on the ranch here, on the fields north of the house."

And I'm not going to let somebody build a house there with a cess pool where I scattered her ashes. I'll never betray the trust that she placed in me.

The land does not belong to me. The land belongs to future generations. And the land also belongs to the general public.

It's one of the natural wonders. It's there for humanity, and we dare not destroy it. Anymore than we cap the geysers in Yellowstone or put the Bridal Veil falls of Yosemite in a pipe.

I think we have a natural wonder here that I'll do my best to preserve.


This piece is part of the public radio series "Stories of the Heart of the Land," produced by Jay Allison and Emily Botein.

  • Music Bridge:
    I Come Home
    Artist: Catherine Feeny
    CD: Catherine Feeny (EMI)


  • Comment | Refresh

  • By Gary Habeeb

    From Nevada City, CA, 02/09/2008

    I have these great memories of Attillo driving the truck following cattle from one pasture to another, driving the herd down Highway 49. He always had a kind smile and a wave.

    By Jerry Donnelly

    From TX, 02/09/2008

    This was a gut-wrenchingly beautiful story. We lost a really great person when Attilio Genasci died in January. I hope there are others who can fill his boots, they are big boots to fill.

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