Wordless Wednesday: Felfies in Fields 

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Puerquitos or Piggy Cookies

Being from California we are blessed with an abundance of Mexican food, Mexican restaurants and bakeries. In my humble opinion, this is the best food ever. If you’ve never been lucky enough to go to a Mexican bakery, first, I’m sorry, put it on your bucket list and do it, second, it’s glorious. So good.

Imagine how excited I was when a friend of mine sent me a recipe for these Mexican cookies. She said they were a favorite of hers and they were shaped like pigs. This friend has excellent taste in food, so I knew I had to try them, plus pigs. I have to say, I was super sad that I’d never seen these before, so I found my trusty pig cookie cutter and went to work….

The brown cone is called piloncillo. I've seen it at Mexican stores, but never knew what to do with it. Now I do and it's awesome!!!

The brown cone is called piloncillo. I’ve seen it at Mexican stores, but never knew what to do with it. Now I do and it’s awesome!!!

Puerquitos or Piggy Cookies

  • 1 3/4 cups firmly packed grated piloncillo
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 pound  butter
  • 2 tablespoons Brown Ranch honey
  • 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Brown Ranch eggs, beaten, at room temperature
  • 1 Brown Ranch egg, beaten, for glaze
  • Powdered sugar for dusting
Saucepan of syrup, it smelled like heaven would.

Saucepan of syrup, it smelled like heaven would.

In a saucepan, mix the piloncillo, water, and cinnamon and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until the liquid thickens to a light syrup. Remove from the heat and remove the cinnamon stick. Add the butter and honey and stir until they are mixed well.

My dry ingredient made into a well.

My dry ingredient made into a well.

In a big bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Combine the dry ingredients with your syrup. Mix until well combined. Add the 2 eggs and stir until thoroughly mixed. This dough is going to stick like crazy, be prepared.

My ball of dough ready for an overnight stay in my fridge.

My ball of dough ready for an overnight stay in my fridge.

Place dough in plastic wrap, covered tightly, in your fridge until chilled or overnight.

I love this part.

I love this part.

Preheat your oven to 375. On a floured surface, using half of your dough, roll it out to about 1/4 inch thick. Cut your cookies out, recycle your scrap and roll out again. If you dough gets sticky, place it in the freezer for a few minutes.

If you don't have one already get yourself a Silpat. It's a game changer.

If you don’t have one already get yourself a Silpat. It’s a game changer.

Wash the top of your cookies with the last egg. Bake for 7-9 minutes.

 

Notice I made some of my pigs into red wattles?

Notice I made some of my pigs into red wattles?

When the cookies are cool dust with powdered sugar.

It's a powder sugar wattle!!!!!

It’s a powder sugar wattle!!!!!

These cookies are unique! The have a slightly cinnamon, slight ginger taste. But the texture is what gets me. It’s soft and cake like, so amazing with tea! And maybe a whisper of nutella. I think they will be my signature cookie for a while! Please try them and tell me what you think!

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Wordless Wednesday: Boots’n’Blonde

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Wordless Wednesday: Boo’s View

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Death on the Range

This is the time of the year where we load up our cattle onto cattle trucks and ship them to our summer ranch. We do this for many reasons, you can go here, to get more information about why.

The trucks loading our cattle.

The trucks loading our cattle.

Needless to say, shipping the cattle and moving all of our tools to the other ranch is a stressful time, even though we do it twice a year. Due to the major drought we are facing in California, this year feels especially scary. It feels like we are being forced by mother nature to do everything sooner. It has not helped with the stress levels that we were experiencing.

However Saturday we finished shipping most of the cows. That means the hardest part was over. Everything had gone well. No animals or people got hurt. No one got yelled at too badly. We got cattle trucks when we wanted them. Only two were cows missing, a good shipping season by anyone’s standards.

Sunday was a day to enjoy some calmness and relax. I had a pretty nice little day planned in order to celebrate being done. I had brunch with my girlfriend. Worked in my garden. Did some writing and I was hoping to catch 60 Minutes, and call it a day.

The hardest place to get to on the ranch. There is a creek with one, very treacherous crossing.

The hardest place to get to on the ranch. There is a creek with one, very treacherous crossing.

I almost had my calm day, I made it to the writing part. Then as it so often does in production agriculture, my personal plans had to change. Since we were missing two cows, I took off on my trusty Polaris to look for them. I successfully found one! But I unfortunately came across a cow that had an accident. She couldn’t get her legs under her, she couldn’t walk – somehow she broke her back (maybe she tripped on a rock, maybe she got in a cow fight, we’ll never know). She happened to do it at the worst possible place on the ranch, there was no way we could reach her to help or to slaughter, it was hard enough reaching her on my ATV. I had no other option but to euthanize her and walk away.

I'm sorry cow.

I’m sorry cow.

It was a hard thing to do. Even if we have a worst case scenario like this, we can usually salvage something so the cow’s death is not a waste. As long as an animal is healthy and we observe any withdrawal times for vaccinations, an animal that had an accident can be slaughtered for our personal consumption. Old cows make great hamburger, hot dogs, snack sticks and jerky and I am always glad to have that stuff in my freezer.

If the animal had recently been given a vaccination, we can donate the carcass to our local animal sanctuary to be used as feed so at least there is some use. To just leave a cow in a field for scavengers is a difficult, difficult thing, just a total waste. In a few months, after the bones are clean, and the coyotes, scavenger birds have had their fill, I’ll go back and pick up the bones so there will be no mess.

This is the bad part about my life. Death happens here and not always in a meaningful way. As a cattlewoman the best thing I can do is be compassionate, ease pain and suffering as quickly and as best as I can and take solace in that. But it never, ever get easier.

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Wordless Wednesday: Moving Cows

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Artificial Insemination: The Swine Version

Awwww…..spring on a working ranch. It’s a busy time. Hence my absence from this blog (so sorry!). But I promise I will make it up to you. I have some exciting news!
As I may or may not shared here, I kept one of the gilts (that is a young female pig) that I was going to eat this year. M (the pig) was special from the beginning. First off, she is pretty, she is half red wattle, and half old spot – a wonderful mixture of heritage hog breeds. You guys know how I feel about crossbreeds (hybrid vigor is our friend).

M as a piglet last Fall

M as a piglet last Fall

When I got her home she immediately established dominance over the rest of the pigs. She went up to any piglet pen-mates that looked at her funny, and pushed them. She was the head hog after that. Something I respected.
As she grew it became more and more apparent that M was indeed a special hog. She was sweet and gentle to the people that would visit this winter. She always met me at her trough at feeding times. She absolutely loved to be forked, scratched and walked around the ranch. And would often hold conversations with me when we hung out (come on, you’d hang out with your pigs if you had them too).

She is population with visitors!

She is popular with visitors!

When I finally started thinking about keeping a sow, my pig expert friends offered advice such as “look for evenly spaced nipples”, “know her mom”, “a good attitude counts”, and “make sure she has at least 14 teats”. M fulfilled all these requirements. I decided to keep her and use her for my foundation sow.
Now this meant I’d either have to get a boar or artificially inseminate (AI) her. I know I’m not ready for a boar yet, and I do have a really awesome, supportive veterinarian! He helped me find some semen and came over and AI’ed M last month. While he was here, he also taught me how to AI a hog. It was easier than I had expected.

AI'ing is pretty simple, actually.

AI’ing is pretty simple, actually.

Unfortunately M didn’t take last month. I can’t say I am surprised though, it was rather a stressful day, as the pigs next to her had their “appointment”. Just like people, stress doesn’t help with conception rates. However, this month I did it again. I bought York semen from CSU Chico. I am an Agriculture alumni, so I do love to support them, and that is where a lot of my swine knowledge comes from in the first place.

She loves hog walks!

She loves hog walks!

I was able to AI M three different times this heat. I’m so proud of myself that I was able to learn this skill and perform it without fear, all by myself. The last session felt really good, so I have super high hopes! A pig’s gestation time is three months, three weeks and three days and her heat is every 21 days, so I will know soon if I am gonna be a Daddy!

Yes, the pipette used looks like a pig penis. And yes I did laugh like a 12 year old boy when I saw that.

Yes, the pipette used looks like a pig penis. And yes I did laugh like a 12 year old boy when I saw that.

I am enjoying and learning so much from my hog endeavor. It has become a great source of pride and confidence for me. When I started years ago I never really planned on loving it this much and certainly didn’t think that I would ever have a sow or AI! I’m excited to see where this chapter takes me!

We were having a chat.

We were having a chat.

Check out these other hog farmers:

The Foodie Farmer: Pigs of Different Colors 

3 Kids and lots of pigs: Farmer Fridays – It can be a stressful time for the momma 

ChrisChinn: There is No Health Insurance for Pigs 

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Wordless Wednesday: Lakeport 

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Recipe: Ham Bone Split Pea Soup

Bones are a big deal in my household. They are never thrown away, ever! I use them in broths and soups.  They add so much flavor and texture it’d be such a waste not to use them. I feel very strongly about food waste. Somewhere, a farmer or rancher worked hard to raise that food on your plate, it’s an insult to everyone involved to flippantly waste it.

So good on a rainy day!

So good on a rainy day!

I had a lovely ham bone left over from a ham dinner I had this week. Ham bones are great because there are about 100 delicious soups you can make with them. After much agonizing I decided this bone would be a lovely split pea soup.  This is an easy and fairly cheap recipe to make, enjoy!

 

Ham Bone Split Pea Soup

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1 large potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 meaty ham bone (Table Mountain Ranch pork is preferred)
  • 1 pound split peas
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • water
Yum......ham bone!

Yum……ham bone!

In a large pot, over medium heat, add bone, broth and peas. If the broth doesn’t cover the bone – add water until the bones is covered by liquid.

I love how this soup changes from brothy to thick!

I love how this soup changes from brothy to thick!

Bring to a boil. Meanwhile add onions to a frying pan and saute until translucent. Add smashed garlic and stir to mix. Add onions, potato, and carrots to your pot. Simmer, stirring occasionally for two hours or until the soup is thick and the peas have no form left. Mix in thyme. Remove bone (you might have to pick some meat off it), any unsavory meat pieces and bay leaves before serving. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you have leftovers you migghhhtt need to add a whisper more water when reheating because this soup does have a tendency to thicken.

 

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Wordless Wednesday: Kisses!

Pig kisses are the best.

Pig kisses are the best.

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