As the Sacramento area has changed throughout the years, many of its once rural areas are but a distant memory. One of these rural places of the past was the Sutti family’s dairy off Freeport Boulevard.
Because many people today are unaware that this dairy ever existed, for history’s sake, it is important to document what details regarding this dairy remain.
One person who remembers many details regarding the dairy is Elk Grove resident Barbara (Sutti) “Snooky” Palaca.
Having once lived with her family on the dairy, which was located about three quarters of a mile west of the northern end of the old Municipal Airport/now Sacramento Executive Airport, Palaca met with this publication to share her memories of the dairy.
“During my childhood, I lived on (the Sutti dairy) with my dad (Ernest), my mom (Emma) and my brother, Tom,” Palaca said. “The dairy was approximately 220 acres, which my father began leasing in 1951. After leasing the property, he had about 250 head of (Holstein) cattle transported from his ranch in (the now abandoned community of) Betteravia (in Santa Barbara County) to the dairy in Sacramento.”
Palaca added that she believes that the man who leased the dairy property to her father had the surname of Rasmussen.
Anatomy of a working ranch
Although Palaca was very young when she began living at the dairy, she is still able to recall the structures of the property.
“I lived there (at the dairy) from the time I was 6 to 8 years old,” Palaca said. “There were seven buildings on the property. Of course, there was our house, which was about a 1,100-square-foot, flat-top building with two front doors. We also had a milk barn, which was probably the biggest building on the property. Next to the milk barn was a small storage building. There was an old wooden barn that was used for storing grains and cotton seeds that were fed to the cows. Attached to the old, wooden barn was a garage used for our cars and some farm equipment. There were also a couple of other buildings that were used as living quarters for the milking crew.”
Also located on the property were corrals used to separate the bulls from the cows. And because the bulls were so large and strong, the corral’s fencing was constructed with 2-foot by 12-foot boards.
A shady fig tree
Although Palaca has a fairly vivid memory regarding the dairy’s buildings, she said that her favorite part of the dairy was actually a large fig tree.
“In the backyard of the house was the most wonderful, gigantic – because I was only 6 years old – fig tree anyone could ever wish for,” Palaca said. “It was my favorite place to be, to pretend to be whoever I wanted to be. It was the perfect hideaway.”
Tom, who also resides in Elk Grove, additionally shared a few of his recollections from his days of residing on the dairy.
After chuckling a bit, Tom explained that one thing that remains in his mind is the day he caused some difficulty at the dairy.
“My dad was so mad at me one day, because I took the truck out (and created a considerably large problem),” Tom said. “We fed the cattle and took (some) wire out, because we could sell it. We stacked (the wire) in the back and there was a big pile and why I went through it (with the truck) was beyond me. Anyway, I went through (the wire) and it got into the driveline and it wrapped completely around and it literally stopped the truck and he had to get in there with a wire cutter to get the wire off of there, so we could get (the truck) out of there. And he was literally really upset.”
Dairy work ethic
In remembering his father, who passed away at the age of 71 on Nov. 3, 1988, Tom said, “Dad was always a hard worker. He would work seven days a week, because with the cows, you don’t take a day off. That’s where I learned all my ethics for working. He taught me a lot over the years.”
Tom said that he remembers watching his father feed and milk the Freeport Boulevard dairy’s cows.
And at times, Tom, who is four years older than his sister, would assist in feeding the cows.
Borden’s Capital Dairy Co.
The milk from the dairy, which was put into 10-gallon cans, was routinely loaded onto the dairy’s truck, tied down and then delivered to Borden’s Capital Dairy Co. at 1301 S St.
After arriving at Borden’s, the milk was poured into the facility’s tanks for processing. The cans were then transported back to the dairy for the next day’s milking.
Although the Suttis had planned on operating their Freeport Boulevard dairy for many more years, the dairy ceased operating in 1953.
Since the Suttis were only leasing the property for their dairy, the family was forced to move their business to another location.
Property gone to houses
The Freeport Boulevard property was sold for a planned housing development and the Suttis moved their dairy to a 300-acre piece of property that was located about five miles south of the town of Franklin. It was at that time that the Suttis’ dairy became known as the Evergreen Dairy.
Eventually both Palaca and her brother attended Elk Grove High School, where Tom graduated in 1959 and Palaca graduated in 1963.
Last week, Palaca went to the old ranch property for the first time in about 50 years and shared details regarding her visit.
“While I was driving up Holstein Way – which was the street name that was later given to the former dirt driveway to the dairy – during my visit to the old dairy property (on June 7), I noticed that the slight incline in the road is still there, just as it was before. At the top of this incline was where our house and the milk barn and storage barn were located. Unfortunately there are no reminders outside the signs for Holstein Way, that the dairy and some years of our lives were ever there. Nonetheless both my brother and I still talk about the times when we were there (at the dairy) and the many fond times that we experienced growing up on such a memorable place in the Sacramento area.”