Wordless Wednesday: Sam Brown’s Cattle in Upper Bidwell Park Jan 11, 1935

Harry Lutz Driving Cattle in Bidwell Park Jan 11, 1935

 

S. Brown's cattle in Upper Bidwell Park Jan 11 1935

1 Comment

Filed under Ag, agriculture, animals, Beef, family, History, Know a California Farmer, photos, Ranch life, Uncategorized, Wordless Wednesday

Cold Blue Mountain: The Strongest Will

Chico is one of those little towns with a pretty awesome art’s scene. We have music, theater, galleries, famous people – there is a thriving little culture here. Unfortunately, despite my fondest wishes and feeble tries, it is not a culture I am apart of. My talents are more agricultural based. However, I think this has worked to most of our advantages. I often supply various food items for various shows. In fact, I got to cook for this video!

Seriously, you wish you were here.

Seriously, you wish you were here.

My goals for this summer was to swim and fish – regularly. I’ve swam twice and I guess you can say I fished when I used a bucket to scoop out a fish when I was irrigating (I released it back into the creek). It was a busy summer on the Ranch.  But when I heard Cold Blue Mountain was filming a video, I demanded a day off from the cows so I could cook for this video! Plus I knew I could swim. In chlorine. Perfect.

Pay no attention to my rancher's tan. Pay attention to the BEEF!

Pay no attention to my rancher’s tan. Pay attention to the BEEF!

In addition to Brown Ranch Beef, I made potato salad and tomato, onion and cucumber salad from our garden veggies! I also got to bust out some pickles and peppers I canned, and some jam and jelly. I simply love to cook for a crowd. It’s a good challenge. It ended up being a really awesome day! I got to hang out with fun, artistic people, I got to cook and swim!

My favorite picture from the day.

My favorite picture from the day.

Cold Blue Mountain is yet another band Daniel Taylor is a member of, (as you recall he’s posted here before). This band is a whisper more, um…..heavy….than I am used to, which is funny to me because these are some of the nicest, most sensitive dudes I know! Please enjoy this video and thank you, CBM, for letting me be apart of it!

Seriously, they sent handmade thank you cards.

Seriously nicest metal band I know, they sent handmade thank you cards.

2 Comments

Filed under arts & crafts, Field Trip, food, Humor, Media, photos, Ranch life, Video

Culling Cows

Drought. Dry, sparse grass and lots of blue supplement tubs.

Drought. Dry, sparse grass and lots of blue supplement tubs.

The drought we are currently suffering through is showing no signs of improving. Despite our positive attitudes and all the thoughts and prayers for water that we can muster, things continue to get worse. All agriculture related conversations inevitably circle around to water. When will it rain? Will it be a wet year? El Nino? Do you know anyone with extra feed? How are we going to survive? Needless to say, our whole family, actually the whole community, is suffering from a great deal of anxiety.

This is a common picture these days.

This is a common picture these days.

Let me tell you, the worst thing you can say to someone in agriculture right now is anything along the lines of “it’s not going to rain” or “it’s going to be another dry year”. It’s almost like a slap in the face. Staying focused on the now, making it day to day, convincing ourselves it’s going to be okay, are the only things keeping most of us motivated. This is very real to us.

Our hay field.

Our hay field.

Every rancher I know is making every effort to conserve water, to become more efficient and, well, survive. Some ranchers are buying and making all the hay they can. They need feed for their cattle and know that is the only way to get it right now. Other ranchers are culling their herds. We are doing both.

Our beautiful cull cows.

Our beautiful cull cows.

In addition to selling our calf crop, where we earn the majority of our income, about two months early, we made the decision to cull or sell, more cattle than we normally would. Selling your mother cows is almost like selling your future and past. These are cows whose genetics were planned years before they were ever born. We watched their births, we watched them grow up, we cared for them their whole lives, we watched them, in turn, give birth. Now we must sell them.

The auction ring.

The auction ring.

Granted, culling cows is a necessity for a healthy herd. Removing genetics that are not efficient makes your herd more sustainable. And, ranching is a business. If a cow is not making you money, she is costing you money. Most of us operate within such tight margins, we simply can’t afford to have the deadweight, even in a good year.

Some of our girls.

Some of our girls.

It’s different when you are forced to cull cows before they are ready. The drought has forced such action. Cows that had calves that weren’t “perfect”, older cows, cows that simply looked at us the wrong way at the wrong time, all were sold. It was heartbreaking to say goodbye to some of these good cows.

We sent a full truck to the sale.

We sent a full truck to the sale.

This is our reality. If we want to continue to ranch despite this drought, tough choices need to be made. Having healthy cattle and ground is our only option and that means doing whatever we must to sustain those things. Running less cattle on our dry ground will cause less stress to everything, therefore when it does rain again (and it will!!), we will be able to bounce back faster and better.

11 Comments

Filed under Ag, agriculture, animals, Beef, Know a California Farmer, meat, photos, Ranch life

Wordless Wednesday: Summer Haze

IMG_9236.JPG

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Chokecherry Jelly

A few weeks ago, my Dad was reminiscing with me about family history and family members long dead and gone. I was lucky enough to meet some of these people when I was small. I have some hazy memories of certain encounters. I am constantly trying to strengthen these memories by pestering people who remember more than I do, or connecting by recipes, because taste and smell seem to bring memories galloping back.

I battled beard and mountain lions for these chokecherries! See the broken limbs?  From a bear!

I battled bears and mountain lions for these chokecherries! See the broken limbs? From a bear!

My Dad was telling me about cutting firewood for his Aunties and doing various “chores” for them like picking fruit, killing wild game, etc. Dad mentioned he used to pick a lot of chokecherries and gooseberries for jelly making. Immediately I perked up and demanded to know more.

This is what chokecherries look like.

This is what chokecherries look like.

I had vague memories of riding my horse and picking something for jelly when I was very small. I was little, therefore, super short, and couldn’t reach the fruit. But, like any enterprising young ranch kid, you found ways around that. I can’t remember much about this memory, like what berry, how old I was, or who we were picking them for, but I do remember riding my horse Sequoia.

Some of the biggest bear poo I've ever seen. I had all my cowdogs with me, just in case!

Some of the biggest bear poo I’ve ever seen. I had all my cowdogs with me, just in case!

I spent so much time on our mountain ranch this summer I was unable to devote as much time to my passions of gardening and canning. However when Dad taught me what a chokecherry bush looked like, I knew I had the opportunity to make up for lost canning time! During the middle of the afternoon, when it was too hot to do much else, I picked chokecherries, lots and lots.

Seriously, I went overboard. Typical.

Seriously, I went overboard. Typical.

 

Chokecherry Jelly

  • 3 cups chokecherry juice
  • 6 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 box (2 pouches) liquid pectin
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon butter (to prevent foaming)

Pour juice, sugar and butter into large heavy saucepan and stir to mix. Place over high heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Stir in pectin. Bring to a full, rolling boil and boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir and skim off foam.  Add almond extract. Pour into hot, sterilized jars and seal with two-piece canning lids. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

This jelly is delicious. The almond extract really adds a lovely layer of flavor. Since I picked so many chokecherries I am attempting to make wine. Stay tuned as I am just a few more weeks from trying it, and if it’s good, I’ll show you how I did it!

Leave a comment

Filed under Ag, agriculture, arts & crafts, dogs, family, food, History, Know a California Farmer, photos, Ranch life, Recipe

Wordless Wednesday: Working Cows

IMG_9554.JPG

Leave a comment

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

Wordless Wednesday: 1945 v 2014

20140819-215504-78904180.jpg

Leave a comment

Filed under Ag, agriculture, family, History, Know a California Farmer, photos, Ranch life, Uncategorized, Wordless Wednesday