4881 Hanks Exchange Rd.
Placerville, CA 95667
Proprietors: David and Deanna Fausel
The Fausel Ranch is listed in California’s Agricultural Heritage Club and received special recognition in 2010 with a plaque in their honor. The ranch’s first year of operation is listed as 1877, but the Fausels were busy long before then.
There are two family founders to be acknowledged who immigrated from Germany: Fred and Mari Giebenhain who built the brick house on Placerville’s Main Street circa 1860 and started a brewery there. And Kasper and Filomena Fausel of Germany and Switzerland who settled on Hanks Exchange Road in Placerville circa 1870.
Fred and Mari Giebenhain had five boys and two girls. Kasper and Filomena Fausel had five children. Kasper’s eldest son, Emil, married Giebenhain’s daughter, Mary in 1900. They lived in the downtown brick house until Mary’s death in 1959. She was 90 years old.
Kasper was known for his rock masonry work, building cellars and buildings in El Dorado County. He is listed in the George Peabody book of History. Other attentions involved horses, wine, potatoes, grapes, cows and milk sold to Sacramento Crystal Creamery. The biggest venture was the brewery downtown, where “Mountain Steam Beer” became so well known it won 1902 World’s Fair recognition in St. Louis. It was said to cure everything from women’s ailments to sunburn. Prohibition in 1921 closed that venture, and the family took up farming on the then 40 acres on Hanks Exchange Rd.
The property included the Squaw Creek Dam that was built in 1861, but broke down a year later. The water from Cosumnes River that feeds the ditch run to Squaw Creek is still used by the County’s Irrigation District. Diamond & Caldor Railway also ran through a corner of the property.
Kaspar’s sons Emil, and Bill both worked the ranch and also worked the Victory Mine until his youngest son, Albert closed it. Albert continued working the ranch until 1975. Eggs, milk cows, pears, apples and vegetables from his large garden kept the family busy. Emil’s son, Frank Fausel, married Helen Rudkin in 1945 and had two sons, David and Dan, both of whom have been living and working in Placerville.
David and Deanna Fausel own and operate (with their son Albert) the oldest hardware store west of the Mississippi – a veritable gold mine for residents, visitors and tourists in Placerville. “It has everything,” locals often say, “if you can’t find it there, they don’t make it.” Gold mining tools, equipment and supplies are well stocked. Employees of the store participated in the 1998 World Gold Panning Championship held in Coloma. 2016 is a busy gold mining year for the entire County as participants in the World Gold Panning Championship event descend on the area in April and in September taking prospecting to the next level.
The Fausel family ranch on Hanks Exchange grew from the original family property to 93 acres, 15 of which is heavily planted with peach, nectarine, four varieties of cherry (some boasting 30+ years), plum, chestnut and pomegranate trees.
In addition to weather (especially rain at the wrong time or no chilling hours), gophers, voles and other wildlife, “it’s a constant vigil,” he explained. “In 30 years, I never had peach rot ‘til last year, an internal rot. Everything you do is preventive. If you see it, it’s too late. You can lose a whole crop that way. If a disease is present in the tree, it isn’t enough to spray, you spray it, and cut it down.”
“I just love farming,” David Fausel says. “I like to grow good food, work away from the hustle and bustle, investigate and try different varieties to grow, and try to beat Mother Nature’s dirty tricks.”
“I tried organic growing at one time,” he said. “But honestly, it’s way too much spraying, too often. Manufacturers are very up-to-date on ecology, organics and the like. There are specific sprays for specific pests, so you’re not inundating the entire orchard with chemicals.”
All spraying is done during dormant or early bloom and long gone by the time fruit arrives. He hand thins the fruit himself, emphasizes the need for heavy winter pruning and the need for frequent replanting/replacing trees. David emphasized that he is planning more orchard space and expects to keep the farm running indefinitely.
“It’s very much a family affair,” Deanna Fausel says. “It’s a joy to watch three generations picking peaches, there is plenty of hustle and bustle, and then helping with a late, big family dinner. I don’t think farm to fork is such a new idea. I remember grandma collecting eggs and taking them downtown to trade or sell.”
Today, David sells much of the fruit he raises at a roadstand at the end of their driveway, or at the hardware store. “And it all goes,” he says.
Categories: Farmer Profiles