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A Working Ranch Rich in Produce and History


Picklefork Ranch in Ventura County is a working 237-acre avocado, lemon, orange and cherimoya ranch, but it is also an estate with a rich history.

Edmund Converse Jr., an East Coast native known as "the millionaire cowboy," bought the ranch plus 1,260 surrounding acres in 1908.

Converse built a Craftsman-style house on the ranch and used adjacent land for cattle and horses. He was survived by his second wife, Estella, when he died in 1926.

His widow continued to live on the ranch where she was visited by her godfather, Charlie Duesha, described as an Arizona gunman who was a contemporary of Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson.

While cleaning his gun, Duesha accidentally shot a bullet into the fireplace mantle in the main house at Picklefork Ranch. The bullet remains in the mantel, according to the current ranch owners.

After Estella died, the ranch was purchased by an exotic-animal lover who kept giraffes, zebras, gnus, monkeys and ostriches in corrals, which remain amid the longtime orchards.

The current owners named the ranch Picklefork for their champion English terriers, whose names all start with Picklefork and are raised on the property.

About the home: Among the five buildings on the ranch are the main house, a carriage house (with upstairs chauffeur's quarters and a downstairs apartment) and part of the barn, all of which were built in 1908. There is also a blue-and-white cottage perched on a hill and a rustic two-bedroom bungalow.

Asking price: $2.85 million

Size: The Craftsman-style main house has five bedrooms and three bathrooms in 6,100-plus square feet. The house was restored in the late 1980s.

Features: The main house also has a breakfast room, butler's pantry with soapstone counters, a wine cellar, a river-rock fireplace with Victorian mantel, a formal dining room with wainscoting and oak floors, a trophy room with the Converse logo worked into a frieze and a Victorian sunroom. There is also a 25- to 30-foot-long, black-bottom swimming pool with river-rock walls and a waterfall.

Where: Near Santa Paula.

Contact: Victor and Elizabeth Leon, Coldwell Banker, Beverly Hills South office, (310) 285-7501

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