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About the Rastovich Family

Grab a seat by the campfire, crack open a cold one, and let us tell you a story.

Citrus Fruits
Anna Rastovich and George Rastovich

In the early 1900's, two Yugoslavian immigrants, George Rastovich and Anna Bogich, separately made their way across the U.S. until they met and married in Spokane, WA in 1914. They had three children while living in Spokane when they heard about the free land and "knee-high grass" in Bend, Oregon. In 1919, they packed up their kids and what little they owned and headed south towards Bend, Oregon. They took advantage of the Homestead Act, which provided them with a plot of 40 acres on which
to build their lives. This free land for the taking seemed less glamorous when they came upon their 40 acres of rocks, sagebrush, and jackrabbits.

As the farm grew, so did the Rastovich family. With seven kids, Millie, Marie, Bob, Mike, Martha, Helen, and Danny, everyone pitched in to help. To support themselves they farmed potatoes, rye, and alfalfa hay, they raised cows, chicken, and hogs. The cream from the cows was sold to Bend Dairy and hogs were butchered for home-cured bacon, hams, loins, lard, sausages, head cheese, and cracklings. As they used to say, "nothing was wasted but the squeal." Anna had a garden where she planted vegetables and fruit trees to supplement their food supply. While there was often worry about where the money for the bills would come from, they never went hungry. 


When it came time to harvest potatoes, the kids used forks to dig up the potatoes and put them into buckets. A horse and plow was used later when the rows of crops expanded. For planting, George would plow a furrow, and the kids would plant that furrow, then George would plow 2 more furrows and they would plant in the third furrow. In 1943, men from Camp Abbott and the Fourth Corps soldiers on maneuvers nearby helped in the Central Oregon potato harvest when farmers were faced with a lack of help, with all their young men off fighting the war. In addition to farm labor alongside their brothers, the girls spent a lot of time in the cellar cutting potatoes to seed, pumping water from the cistern for laundry and baths, making butter and cheese, and canning fruits and vegetables from Anna's garden. It wasn't until 1946 that we got our first tractor!

Growing up on the farm was not all work and no play. They lived for the Saturday night dances at the Eastern Star Grange. Kids learned to dance when they were old enough to toddle and Saturday night was a family affair. When it got late, the kids were put to sleep in the back room and the parents went right on dancing.


In May of 1960, Danny married Helen O'Keefe. Two children, Nancy and Robert, were born to Helen and Danny and the family lived on the Rastovich ranch. Helen O’Keefe Rastovich served several terms as Deschutes County Treasurer before her
retirement in 1997. Danny continued farming the land and served as Master of the Eastern Star Grange for many years, keeping the traditions of potlucks and Saturday night dances alive until the Grange closed in 2009.


Today, Rob owns the land and runs it with his daughter, Emily.


When World War II called Bob and Mike away and the girls were either getting married or working in town, Danny continued to work on the farm with his mom and dad. With Bob and Mike gone, Danny learned mostly by trial and error. He left high school when he was 17 to work full time on the farm to help his father. When he was 18, he applied for a deferment from the draft, so he could continue to help George. In 1950, one of Danny’s cows gave birth to Deschutes County's first test tube twin calves. After Anna died in 1956, George left the farm later and moved into a small house on in town. He left the operation of the farm to Danny. Danny sold the dairy cows and began raising beef cattle and alfalfa hay.

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