Barely There Ranch
Originally published in the Bend Bulletin July 2012
The drive west out of Redmond lays out like a history lesson of Central Oregon. Old barns dot the landscape waiting to crumble to the ground. 100-acre working ranches and farms sit next to the smaller, hobby farms and housing developments already divided in one housing boom or another. Nowhere along highway 126 is the lesson more prevalent than the Barely There Ranch, complete with slices of yesterday scattered throughout.
“I didn’t mean for this to happen,” says owner Brad Carrell. “I just wanted to keep some of the traditions alive.”
The first exhibit you come to after pushing through a wagon-wheel supported gate is Jim’s Junction. Created out of a long-standing building by the side of the road, Jim’s Junction is complete with many household items of yesterday.
“Jim’s Junction was the first exhibit I built,” explains Brad. “It was created in honor of my brother-in-law. The building was an old fruit and vegetable stand that sold ice cream as well.”
You can see the remnants of a business long forgotten. Counters line the inside awaiting food preparation while a door covers the old below-ground cold storage area.
“I liked restoring the old pumice building, especially since I could save it,” Brad states proudly.
“Beware of pickpockets and loose women”
Many of Brad’s various animals keep a disinterested, but keen eye as you wander throughout the 100 acre ranch. “I have two dogs, two donkeys, two llamas, two bunnies, a lot of barn cats and a peacock that comes and visits once in a while,” explains Brad.
You can’t help but notice the old signs keeping order on the property. The first one to catch your eye reads, “Beware of pickpockets and loose women.” Announcing the presence of a house of ill-repute, the warning is as valid today as it was a 100 years ago. Perhaps the only historical inaccuracy on the ranch takes the form of a roll of toilet paper sitting in the old outhouse.
The rusted out cars made into flower boxes along with a run down gas station give a clue to Brad’s background. “I was an automotive repair guy for 25 years,” says Brad. “I restored old cars and ran a couple of other automotive businesses.”
A Lakeview, Oregon native, Brad lived between Bend and Redmond prior to retiring to the ranch eight years ago. These days, Brad spends his so-called retirement working on the ranch, running in the mountains, and trying to expand on his new-found interest in cycling.
While the exhibits on his ranch give a glimpse into the area’s past, it’s Brad garage that is a snapshot of his former self. Restored, classic cars are the focal point as you feel like you just stepped into the 1950s. Try to resist the urge to order a malt or sneak into a drive-in movie.
For the People
“Many of the features started as projects with my grandchildren,” exclaims Brad. “It’s good to get them involved. They get excited working with their grandpa.” You can imagine the grandkid’s joy while they help create a historically accurate depiction of an old mine or plant flowers in the backseat of an old truck.
While working to please the family may be enough to justify the work, Brad also likes sharing his vision with others.
“That’s the best part,” says Brad. “Almost everyday, people are out taking pictures. I have groups stopping by from all over the state. Buses stop here on their way out of town. I have met some really nice and appreciative people.”
Brad goes on to say, “It’s funny, I have seen pictures of my ranch in stores and flea markets across the state. I even ran into one in Pennsylvania!”
The Sagebrush Skedaddle
These days, Brad is readying the property for the third annual Sagebrush Skedaddle and Central Oregon Cossfit Challenge. Scheduled to take place the fourth weekend in August, the Skedaddle uses the ranch’s topography to create a fun racecourse. The five mile, country course contains different obstacles including canal crossings, tubes, and hay bales.
If strength and heavy lifting are more your style, the Central Oregon Crossfit Challenge may be your speed. Contests such as wheelbarrow pushing and truck lifting separate the men and women from the boys and girls. And speaking of the kids, there is even kids races aimed to get them hooked on physical fitness.
“It’s a fun community event for all ages,” explains Brad. “I’d like to see the event grow.” His excitement is contagious as he finishes with a story. “The first year, a reporter from the Bulletin came out to report on the race. She ended up putting down her notes and lacing up her shoes to compete.”