When you get out of your car at Lost Marbles, you are greeted by their official greeter, Abbie, who looks to be a mixed breed herding dog. She checks everyone out. The ranch is so called because Dick Spencer purchased the 20-acre ranch in the center of Sierra Valley in 2004, when his wife Chris was on holiday. In Guatemala. When she returned home and found what he had done, she told him flat out that he had “lost his marbles.” The ranch house on the old Solari Ranch – 1870 – 1968 - had burned down before the land and barns were sold. The Spencers still find things from the original house, silverware, bits of china, things that didn’t burn.
The couple built their own home and have turned the ranch into a destination spot for weddings, family celebrations and events such as the Sierra Valley Art and Ag. They also raise a small herd of Sierra Valley Black Angus Cattle. Their Barn Quilt represents a Sandhill Crane. The road that goes by the ranch and on to Marble Hot Springs Road, the Steel Bridge and ends on A23 just south of the new west entry to the Feather River Land Trust site, provides one of the finest birding areas in Sierra Valley
On Friday evening before Art & Ag, Lost Marbles hosted an opening event with sour Dough Slim performing. It was very well attended. Members of the sierra Valley Cattlewomen served at the bar during the evening festivities. Scott Keough, a Graeagle contractor, made a picnic table of redwood that was auctioned off that evening. The table was taken to Loyalton Saturday, where it was branded with Sierra Valley cattle brands. The table was auctioned off again Saturday, and the Lost Marbles Ranch now has it.
Ralph Atkinson, the Back of Beyond Ranch, Reno, Nevada, had his two mules and an ancient chuck wagon on display, He and his wife take the wagon to events such as Art and Ag, to show how people lived in a time when men went with their herds as they grazed in the mountains or were moved from place to place. The wagon was built in 1892, and was recently fully restored by _Kelly Dalen, a contractor in Reno, Nevada.
Artists displaying their wares at Lost Marbles were Peter Rhode, with his amazing stone sculptures. Peter said that it takes two or more days to make each sculpture. Karen Rickman, A Bit of Beach, had her hand embroidered hand towels and assorted items of fabric. Karen has always loved to sew and has put her talent to good use. Her table runners are beautiful. She has a shop in Portola and has just started quilting. Gloria Gipson, Earth ‘n’ Light, makes crystal and gemstone jewelry and also had a display in the barn at Lost Marbles. Her pieces are unique. Erik Roosenschoon, displayed his hand made cutting boards and other hand crafted items of wood from the Dixie Fire. Erik’s business Rose Island Cabinets is also located in Portola.
THE ROBERTI RANCH:
The Roberti Ranch Barn is a focus on A24 as it goes through the center of Sierra Valley. The 6000-acre ranch spreads out on both sides of A24 for several miles. The barn is also on the Barn Quilt tour of Sierra Valley. The Barn Quilt is one called “Weathervane” and the Roberti cattle brand is at the center of the quilt.
Cattle raised on the ranch are mainly Angus, with some other breeds mixed in. Elmer Roberti took a chance when he purchased a registered herd of Black Angus in 1952. To his credit, the Angus adapted well to the altitude. Previously, most of the cattle raised in valley were white-faced Herefords. Now the cattle raised in the high mountain valley are mostly an Angus breed.
The ranch does two cuttings of hay each year and sometimes three. The large barn was full when we drove through after the Art & Ag tour. This year they did not have anyone at the barn for Art & Ag, but they did have coffee and water available for those waiting for the ranch bus tours.
Antelope are often seen in their fields as you drive along A24, well as Sandhill Cranes, multiple other birds and coyotes. The valley is a bird watchers paradise. We used to see elk in the valley but haven’t seen one in years. Rick said that elk have been seen recently.
Now run by Rick Roberti and his brothers Dave and Jim, who all have homes on the ranch, the Roberti ranch was established by their grand-parents Alfred and Josephine "Josi" Roberti in 1922. It was then run by Elmer and Helen Roberti. Elmer passed away in 2012. Helen still lives in their home on the ranch, a beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. The family has been actively involved in the Sierra Valley community through three generations. b
The ranch has grown to its current size over the years with the acquisition of several adjoining properties. It includes a very well-planned wildlife preserve with a lake, and a small private retreat that includes an old cabin that they moved and rebuilt and a smaller lake.
The Roberti Ranch provides bus tours of the ranch during Art & Ag. The tours are very informative on ranching in this high Sierra Mountain Valley and on how agriculture improves and preserves the land.
At the Hollitz Ranch........