|TURKEYS and CHICKENS in JOSHUA TREE
Movie-making and turkey ranching had become a booming industries in Joshua Tree in the 40's. In 1949, the area boasted 19 established ranches and a turkey population of nearly 50,000. Ambitious plans were afoot to develop the Sunfair Road area into Turkey Town, U.S.A.
Green Acres Ranch was an egg farm with a bunkhouse, kitchen and a few other outbuildings.
The Roadrunner cabin was once the large coop for the chickens and turkeys. It had door-sized openings from one end to the other. Some still serve as doorways, and some have been converted into windows. The Cactus Flower cabin (the red one) was lodging for the rancher.
AKA THOMPSON'S CHICKEN RANCH
In the 1960's and 1970's Green Acres was known as "The Thompson Ranch". During the latter part of that time, the ranch grew into a new kind of place, a hippie commune, a place of "peace, wild times and collective living".
Thompson's Ranch commune was a true desert commune, consisting of a gutted main house, a machine shed, a couple of lean-to's and a water tower that had water when it rained, which it never did.
There were some geodesic domes walled with old automobile roofs. There was a backyard sauna (now the goldfish pond). There were huge communal meals every night, often stocked with grocery runs to nearby Palm Springs where they got free food from Safeway and some churches.
The core population of the ranch was about fifteen "freaky hippies" who communally shared their money and food. The majority were lanky quiet guys in breechclouts (loincloths a la Native Americans) who lounged in the shadows in the daytime, and ventured out at sundown. A never-ending stream of visitorsboth expected and unexpected arrived, found a corner to crash in, and did their thing.
It was the classic communal family with no leader and no criminals, unless you count the AWOL marine from 29 Palms who could reportedly trounce anyone in chess in a handfull of moves. A woman named Kathy ran the place for a good stretch of time. She paid the rent and did a lot of the cooking. Women were the real engines at the ranch.
Thompson Ranch community smoked weed, chewed Peyote, experimented with LSD and drank copious amounts of California red wine. Depending on who tells the tale, the commune regulars were either either hedonistic or circumspect.
The residents were heavily into astrology, auras, meditation, mystic Christianity, yoga, music, and the arts. We think this spirit still permeates the land. It was described as an "almost-biblical reborn Egyptian Mystery School for hippies", with a fantastic library of hard to find books on religion, spirituality and magic.
||Biker gangs also used to pay visits to the property for liesurely pursuits, and when rivals showed up, some measure of rowdiness often ensued.
We can still see some remnants of this time: images on the Roadrunner floors, peace-signs and flowers painted on the big old water tank, and signs of past gardening plots.
Many fine musicians popped in to the ranch. It was nearly famous as a refuge for L.A. musicians who wanted to escape Hollyweird for a bit. There were always some good jams happening. There were guitars and other instruments galore.
One resident, artist/Kabbalist Armando Busick, painted the Iron Butterfly's first LP cover at the ranch.
The band was among many who sat crosslegged, shared food, music and other things around the giant dining room table that 1968 "Indian Summer of the Summer of Love".
GRAM PARSONS CONNECTION
The ranch became a hangout of “Cosmic American Music" inventor Gram Parsons, who played with such groups as The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers. Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones was even known to pal-around with Parsons at what is now known as Green Acres Ranch.
In 2001, The Gram Parsons Foundation was allowed to take a few interior wall pieces with art from Gram Parson's time at the ranch. Click here for more.
The ranch was abandoned in the late 70's then, a lovely older couple bought the property and renamed it "Green Acres Ranch" (a picture of them rests on the mantle of the Roadrunner cabin). Deciding to move east, they sold it in 2000 to the legendary landscaping and renovation team of Gino Dreese and Troy Williams, who re-imagined and transformed the property into the essence of what you see today.
Albert and Sandra purchased it from their friends Gino and Troy in 2002, and strive to always improve Green Acres while keeping it in the spirit of the rugged and beautiful Joshua Tree landscape and culture that surrounds it.