Category Archives: Santa Inés Mission Mills

Volunteer Olive Picking Day at the Santa Ines Mission Mills 2011

by Wayne Sherman

Terri Imwalle picking olives. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

This year marks the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation’s (SBTHP) third Volunteer Day at the Santa Inés Mission Mills and the second time we have focused the day’s event around harvesting the crop. Last year we had wanted to plant trees but were forced to pick olives on the east side of Alamo Pintado creek due to an outbreak of the False Cinch Bug on the west side. As it turned out we picked 600 lbs of olives with under 20 volunteers just from the mature trees along the access road on the Rasmussen property.  Although the forecast for this past November 19th was predicted as less than comfortable it actually turned out to be a perfect day for the harvest and we had over thirty volunteers show up at the sign-in tent eager to get started.

With the sign-in complete the volunteers braved the creek crossing and endured a short lecture titled; “The good, the bad and the ugly” to aid in their selection of the right type of olives to pick for table use. Gloves and buckets were then issued and the volunteers made their way to the top of the Rasmussen Grove to start the harvest. The bearing trees had been marked with white and red flags and once our crew of volunteer pickers selected a starting spot the 2011 Mission Mills Olive Harvest began.

SBTHP Board Member Rich Rojas picking olives. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

Some folks chatted with neighbors while picking some picked in teams and others, determined to fill their buckets with the best quality olives, worked as loners sliding from tree to tree removing the good and discarding the bad and the ugly. With a pleasant warm sun shining down on our volunteers, an occasional billow of cloud floating by in an azure blue sky and the air full of good conversation the morning passed very quickly.

By the lunch hour our volunteers had cleared out the Rasmussen Grove, the Mill Grove and were half way across the Mission Grove when the noon hour came and the dinner bell was rung. Some of our volunteers had to be convinced they had done enough and to quit picking and join us for lunch at the Mills site. David Jackson our unofficial “2010 Picker of the Year” was in a dead heat with Rich Rojas for this year’s title and since it looked as if neither was about to give in I had to go and convince them to stop and join us. David, already covered in laurels from last year’s event, graciously exited the grove first and put down his picking bucket allowing Rich a short happy dance and the “2011 Picker of the Year “ title.

Break time! Photo by Mike Imwalle.

Although some of our volunteers had to leave early I had my first chance to talk with many of the participants as we sat on the south side of the Mills munching Subway sandwiches and drinking in the incredible view afforded by the Mills site. Among the happy gnashers were several students from the Anacapa School in Santa Barbara, some Santa Inez Valley residents and several SBTHP members making the journey from Santa Barbara and Ventura County. Several SBTHP staff, directors and their family members were also in attendance. The sun, the work, the food and incredible views all combined with warm conversation to make this a memorable day for all.

After lunch, as a special treat for our volunteers, an in depth tour of the Mills site with access to the buildings was given by SBTHP Archaeologist Mike Imwalle. Mike’s detailed knowledge of the site and its history along with the insightful questions from the Anacapa School students made this one of the best and most informative tours yet.

Some of our volunteers, including Rich Rojas, sisters Lisa Miller and staff member Sally Fouhse, SBTHP Board Member Terease Chin, Headmaster of Anacapa School Gordon Sichi, and several of Anacapa School's dedicated students. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

With our successful 2011 Volunteer Day at end and 150lbs of the best looking olives I have seen in some time in our buckets, in a year when very few olive trees in the Santa Inez Valley produced anything at all, our volunteers were given jars of Mission Mills Olives picked at last year’s event and warmly thanked for their kind assistance and honorable sense of community spirit.

Thank you Mission Mills volunteers, once again, you made this a great event!  If you are interested in being notified about upcoming volunteer opportunities at the Mills, give us a call at (805) 965-0093.

Wayne Sherman is SBTHP’s Santa Inés Mission Mills Steward.

Be Aware! Be very, very aware.

By Wayne Sherman

Alamo Pintado Creek. Photo by Wayne Sherman.

Recent work by county Flood Control in Alamo Pintado Creek at the Santa Inés Mission Mills has made the channel look like a forgotten country lane in the Deep South. Removal of all the flotsam and jetsam from the recent rains has made it possible to walk along the creek bed in the cool shade and enjoy the wonders of nature sans sunburn. As inviting and bucolic as it may appear, due to a recent sighting of a California Mountain Lion in the area, it is wise to remember that wild means wild and one should take some precautions while enjoying the outdoors.

According to a pamphlet provided by the California Department of Fish and Game Mountain Lions usually hunt alone at night. They usually ambush their prey from behind and kill with a powerful bite to the base of the skull. They prey mostly upon deer, sheep and elk but can survive on smaller animals as well.

As recently as January of 2010 a man was attacked just outside his house on San Marcos Pass. The 6’4” man was able to run the lion off but not before being knocked to the ground and having his cat killed.

Mountain lions are quiet and elusive and prefer to keep it that way if given the chance. But what if we surprise one on our leisurely walk in the cool shade of the creek bed or upon a hike in the mountains? What can one do to minimize the chance of attack? Here are the suggestions provided by the Department of Fish and Game.

1) Do not hike alone. As this cannot always be done I suggest, at least, carry a walking stick or staff to defend your self with. One hiker at the Mills always carries a golf club.

2) Keep children close to you. Mountain Lions are especially drawn to small children and not in a good way. Keep them within your sight at all times.

3) Do not approach a lion. They usually want to avoid confrontation and will run if you give them room to escape.

4) Do not run from a lion. Running can stimulate the lion’s instinct to chase.  Stand and face the animal and make eye contact. Pick up small children so they don’t run but do this without crouching.

5) Do not crouch or bend over.  It is believed that crouching makes one appear as prey to the animal and increases the likelihood of attack.

6) Do all you can to appear larger. Open your jacket, wave your arms slowly, speak firm and loudly. If you can without crouching or turning your back throw a rock or stick.

If none of the above has worked and you are attacked. Keep standing and facing the animal if possible and Fight back with everything and anything at your disposal.


There, I hope this information will make you more aware next time you venture into the great outdoors. Now that I have scared the daylights out of everyone; who wants to go for a hike?

Wayne Sherman is SBTHP’s Santa Inés Mission Mills Steward.