This week’s episode of Valley’s Gold is shear fun! Join our host, Ryan Jacobsen, as he visits a goat dairy and a livestock auction and learns all about our four legged friends, sheep and goats. The show also explores the traditional basque sheep-herding culture and tasty cuisine.
Although sheep were raised as a source of meat, ranchers realized that the County’s plains and mountain meadows could sustain large-scale operations, so their focus changed. With the importation in 1867 of French and Spanish Merinos noted for their wool, the production of wool became a flourishing enterprise.
A large number of Basques, who had left the Pyrenees Mountains and immigrated to Argentina where they raise sheep in the Rio de la Plata, heard the call of the Gold Rush in California. Vast sheep ranches on the West Side required their knowledge and skill. Basque hotels provided sheepherders a place to live between jobs, an employment agency, and a place to socialize, and get health care. Some of Fresno’s Basque hotels were the Pyrenees, Europa, Capital, Yturri, Victoria, Santa Fe, and the Basque Hotel. Only the Santa Fe and the Basque Hotel remain.