Happy Friday

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, animals, food, Know a California Farmer, meat, photos, Pigs, Ranch life, Uncategorized, Wordless Wednesday

Fun Ag Facts XIII

fun ag fact of the day: A new technique called “precision farming” boosts crop yields and reduces waste by using satellite maps and computers to match seed, fertilizer and crop protection applications to local soil conditions.

fun ag fact of the day: A ½ cup serving of cooked collard greens contains 150% percent of the daily value for vitamin A.

fun ag fact of the day: 1/2 cup of raw carrot sticks contains 150% of your daily value of vitamin A.

Fun ag fact of the day: Carrot references can be found in many part of the arts and sciences. Carrots have been included in several major works of art and helped in identifying species in the 16th century using the paintings of the Dutch masters.

fun ag fact of the day: Iceberg is a head lettuce that is very low in nutritional value and flavor. The most abundant nutrient in iceberg lettuce is water. Dark green lettuce leaves always indicate higher fiber, flavor and nutritional value. 

Fun ag fact of the day: The spine and ribs of lettuce provide dietary fiber, while vitamins and minerals are concentrated in the delicate leaf portion.

fun ag fact of the day: Lettuce, except iceberg, is also a moderately good source of vitamin C, calcium, iron and copper.

fun ag fact of the day: If possible, do not cut or slice lettuce leaves in advance. Damaged, cut lettuce leaves release an ascorbic acid oxidase, which destroys vitamin C and causes the cut edges to discolor.

Fun ag fact of the day: Texas is the top producer of wool in the United States, followed by California, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah.

Fun ag fact of the day: Sheep are usually shorn once a year in the spring to keep them cool and harvest their fleece.

Fun ag fact of the day: There are 47 breeds of sheep in the United States. Fine wool breeds, long wool breeds, dual purpose breeds, hair breeds and minor breeds are types of sheep that can be used for their wool or hair.

Fun ag fact of the day: Wool is flame-resistant. It will not melt and stick to your skin like synthetic fibers. Instead, wool will usually smolder and extinguish itself when the source of the flame has been removed.

Fun ag fact of the day: Doll makers used to use wool from the Cotswold breed for dolls hair because of its beautiful ringlets.

Fun ag fact of the day: Wool can be felted, knitted, spun, woven, crocheted and more. It can even be used to make insulation, carpet, pool table baize, tennis balls, mulch, and mattress filling.

Fun ag fact of the day: 89,400 acres of ponds are used for farm-raised catfish production in the United States. 

Fun ag fact of the day:  Farm-raised catfish tend to be more consistent because of their scientifically formulated diets and constant care.

Fun ag fact of the day: 94 percent of all farm-raised catfish in the United States is raised in Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, and Texas.

Fun ag fact of the day: Alabama boasts 22,000 water acres of fish farms. It is home to nearly 200 commercial farmers who produce 25 different aquatic species.

Fun ag fact of the day:  Mature catfish lay 3,000 to 4,000 eggs annually per pound of body weight.

fun ag fact of the day: The eggplant is actually considered a fruit.

fun ag fact of the day: Eggplants are related to tobacco, and actually contain a small amount of nicotine, though to a lesser extent than tobacco.

fun ag fact of the day: An eggplant is almost 95 percent water.

fun ag fact of the day: In 2010, an estimated 159.8 million pounds of eggplants were grown in the U.S.

fun ag fact of the day: About 98 percent of eggplants grown in the country are produced for fresh market, with the remainder used for processed products like frozen entrees and specialty dips.

fun ag fact of the day: The eggplant received its name back when white, egg-shaped varieties of the fruit were more common.

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I’ve Gone Hog Wild

My dream of being a real pig farmer is slowly coming true. Tomorrow I get to pick up my second load of hogs to finish, for a grand total of 18. As many of my longtime readers know, raising hogs has been quite the journey.

My new pig pen is two pens like this.

My new pig pen is two pens like this.

I had to ease my Parents into the idea of raising hogs again. I did it as a child in 4-H for many, many years. I was too petite to raise steer, I wouldn’t be caught dead with a lamb or goat, so hogs it was! I have many fond memories of raising and showing my hogs and the sense of pride I had providing meat for my family, still makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

I built these pens by throwing brunch! I invited my friends to come build fence as I plied them with booze. If you look on the right you'll notice our measuring is just a WHISPER off after brunch. LOL

I built these pens by throwing brunch! I invited my friends to come build fence as I plied them with booze. If you look on the right you’ll notice our measuring is just a WHISPER off after brunch. LOL

As a child, my Dad raised hogs. Back then, the ranch was more of a farm, complete with dairy cows and grain crops. The leftover milk from the dairy would be combined with the grain from the fields for the hog feed. My Dad swears the pork was different back then, and I believed him. I knew the key to raising hogs again would be producing a pork product that was like Dad remembered.

See the deer in the pipe? Know what else these old, junked pipes would be good for? Yep! A pig house!

See the deer in the pipe? Know what else these old, junked pipes would be good for? Yep! A pig house!

I knew that if I raised heritage hogs, and tweaked their diet just a whisper, I could create some pork like my Dad remembered. I managed to convince my Parents into letting me get a couple heritage hogs, just to see. Well, that turned into five hogs and Adult 4-H. And that turned into me quitting my full-time job in town and ten hogs. Now we are here.

Heritage red wattle hogs eating cookies out of the new feeder my family built.

Heritage red wattle hogs eating cookies out of the new feeder my family built.

When I started pestering my Parents about getting hogs again, I never thought I would get to where I am now and where I am thinking of going. I didn’t plan on enjoying hogs so much. I didn’t plan on the meat being so very different and very good. I have quickly accepted the fact that there is no going back now, I like pigs too much!

Yes, I stole the rats with horn's house to make an upcycled pig house! Ingenious and 'sustainable'.

Yes, I stole the rats with horn’s house to make an upcycled pig house! Ingenious and ‘sustainable’.

Since I have doubled in size every year (and don’t plan on stopping!), I needed a new pig pen. The old pen I was using was older than I am by several decades and was not doing a good job of keeping the pigs where they needed to be. This caused several problems when the pigs ate my Dad’s cable to his TV, and my Mom’s flower bed. However, moving my pen meant drilling a well since I did not have a dependable water source and that was just not something I could afford. But then something magical happened. 

In an effort to be 'sustainable' this pig feeder is made out of old boards from out barn that blew down!

In an effort to be ‘sustainable’ we made this pig feeder out of old boards from our barn that blew down!

The most important thing to me, as I grow, is to be “sustainable”. Yes, I know that is an ag buzz word, but for, me it means doing this project in a way that meets my needs the best way it can. It means, not getting a loan from the bank (I learned from my student loan!), it means recycling materials when I can (but not super old materials that break all the time, so I waste all my time fixing them), it means doing things just a whisper different (outside the box is good!).

Part of thinking outside the box is getting free labor from my friend's kids.

Part of thinking outside the box is getting free labor from my friend’s kids (Just kidding, kinda!).

I am so excited to have this opportunity to do my own thing. I love working and being with the cattle, but I love having some independence on the ranch. My Mom made sure to instill in me growing up two “rules”: 1) always have financial independence and 2) develop as many marketable skills as you can. I feel like my pig operation is fulfilling both those “rules” and providing food for my family and friends – it feels so good!

If you get a moment please check out these awesome “real pig farmers”. Remember every farmer does what they think is best for their land and pigs. I urge you to ask them questions – the why’s and how’s are so important!

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Wordless Wednesday: Home on the Range

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Wordless Wednesday: Done Shipping

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Wordless Wednesday: Sunset in the Valley

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Garden Hot Sauce

It was a good garden year for me. I managed to build a fence that kept the rats with horns deer out of my yarden, so I was able to grow all kinds of fun things. This year I inadvertently planted several different pepper plants. I have big peppers, little peppers, purple peppers, sweet peppers, well…..you get the idea.

This was exciting to me because for the past couple years, I’ve wanted to make my own hot sauce. I come from an area and culture (cough…hipsters….cough) that highly prize hot sauce. Sriracha and/or Tapatio are generally used with every meal, on everything. I’ve always heard how basic and easy hot sauce was to make, so I figured the time was now.

I got into fermenting kinda hardcore this summer.

I got into fermenting kinda hardcore this summer.

I selected a very basic and old recipe for my hot sauce – salt water brine.  Other than the time it takes to ferment, this recipe is super quick and easy! The downside is it does take at least a month to bubble and ferment before you can blend and eat it.

 Fermented Hot Sauce

  • 5% Brine (that is 3 TBSP of salt per 1 quart of water)
  • 1 Tablespoon mustard seed per pound of peppers
  • 1 small head of garlic per pound of peppers
  • 1 pound assorted peppers
  • Sliced onion
  • Grape leaves
See how the brine is cloudy and the peppers have lost their volume? That means it's working!

See how the brine is cloudy and the peppers have lost their volume? That means it’s working!


Place your mustard seed and peeled garlic on the bottom of your jar. Place your rough chopped peppers on top. I like to leave the crowns of the pepper on because I think it adds to the flavor. Layer a few slices of onion on top and then your grape leaf. Cover completely with your brine. You may need add a weight to keep your peppers or onion from sticking up through the water.

Cover your jar with either with a lid and ring or with a wire-bale jar.

I used wild grape leaves on top of a slice on onion to keep everything submerged in the brine.

I used wild grape leaves on top of a slice on onion to keep everything submerged in the brine.

Let your jar ferment for 4 to 5 weeks. Once your peppers are no longer crunchy and the bubbling has stopped, remove the grape leaf and drain your peppers, garlic, onion and mustard away from the brine.

The left is the leftover brine, the right is "the sauce".

The left is the leftover brine, the right is “the sauce”.

Blend your peppers in your food processor, adding the brine to reach your desired consistency. I add a whisper of vinegar and sugar to enhance the flavor. Different vinegars can add an unique finish!

I'm not going to lie - this particular sauce was too hot for me! I gave it to my friends!

I’m not going to lie – this particular sauce was too hot for me! I gave it to my friends!

That’s it! Stick it back in a jar or bottle and keep it in your fridge!

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