Jay was born into a family with four other siblings and before the age of 13 his mother had passed away. As a young boy his family didn’t have much in the form of money. It was expected that he contribute to the family so he spent a lot of his early years at the pack station in Shaver Lake, CA that his dad, my great grandfather, owned. At 14 he went to work for a large rancher in the Clovis area named Bud Sample. It was Bud who taught him much about being a man and running a cattle ranch and it was his wife June who gave him a place he could call his second home.
Soon after Jay met my grandma, Betty, they bought a 40 acre parcel in Clovis and started a very humble dairy. For those in the area, the dairy was only a stones throw from Neighbors Bar. It was there that my grandfather slowly began to build a small business. He milked about 40 head of cows by hand for roughly ten years. My aunt and my mom were both born on that dairy.
In the early 60’s my grandparents had saved enough money to sell the dairy and buy a small ranch in Sanger, CA. Although all the milk cows were sold to pay for the new ranch, there were a few heifers that made their way to the ranch in Sanger.
Slowly but surely and by pinching many ‘a penny (trust me, my grandpa was cheap… Just ask the guys who eventually worked for him), he grew his herd and continued to lease every little bit of ground he could in and around the Sanger area. And my mom helped him all along the way.
During the 70’s a sizable ranch in the area (Sand Creek) was put up for sale and my grandpa had his eye on it. He took his idea to a best friend of Bud Sample (mentioned above), named Fred Hazelton. Jay had also worked for Fred over the years and had a very close relationship with him. Upon hearing what Jay had in mind, Fred told my grandfather that he had a better idea. He sat Jay down and offered to sell him about 60% of his ranch, the Hazelton ranch. I obviously wasn’t there but from the stories I have heard that was not a decision that took much time to make. Eventually my family purchased the other portion as Fred got out of the cattle business. Below is a picture of this ranch that my family still raises cattle on today, before my grandparent’s were the owners.
As I have mentioned previously, I feel so blessed to have been preceded by a man who built such an impressive business from literally nothing. This is the same man who showed me what it’s like to love what you do. I only wish I could sit him down today, hold his hand, thank him and tell him how much his way of life influenced mine.