Amid Prop. 19 uncertainty, family fears for 134-year-old Sonoma Coast ranch

By Andrew Graham

On a ridgeline northwest of Bodega, cattle dot a sloping field, oblivious to the soaring, million dollar view and waiting, as livestock here have for more than a century, for the nourishing hand of a member of the Ryan clan.

In a hollow below the ridge, smoke curled from a farmhouse chimney and a rusted cattle chute waited for the next branding. The Ryan Ranch has not gone unchanged — the livestock have shifted from sheep to cattle, and timber harvesting, once a moneymaker, has been abandoned. Other things, like the farmhouse and general sleepy bucolicism, have stayed the same since the ranch’s founding in 1887.

The Ryans would as soon keep it that way, particularly when it comes to the name on the deed. “I’ve always said, ’over my dead body are we going to lose the ranch,’” Joan Ryan, 71, said.

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