Monthly Archives: June 2011

Help Us, Help You

Every two years we tend to keep a truck load of replacement heifers. What this means is instead of selling the heifers, along with the steers, on the video sale (as commercial cattle); we keep them to replace our old cows that are starting to decline in health. This does many things, it keeps our herd young and healthy, it improves the genetics in our herd and I get to sell the “open” heifers as grass fed and finished beef to the public.

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Before I started selling to the public, we would either harvest the beefs for the weekend cowboys that helped us on the ranch or we would load the heifers into a trailer and take them to the auction yard. Yes, it was a disservice to the beautiful, quality beef we raised but it was quick and easy, compared with direct marketing. During college I managed to talk my parents into letting me direct market our extra heifers. After all I did major in Ag Business with an emphasis in marketing – this is what I was made to do!

Selling beef to the public instead of to a feed lot is a lot more work. I have to find buyers, explain how we harvest, cut and wrap the beef, find a butcher shop that I trust and that can accommodate us, get payments from customers, pay the butcher shop, separate the “open” heifers away from the rest of the herd, determine a price, help my customers with their cutting and wrapping orders, answer any and all questions relating to beef, well, you get the picture. Instead of having one buyer I know and trust buy my entire product at once, I have many buyers, I’ve never met before, buying small quantities of my product over a month and a half. There is a lot more risk and work involved when the public is involved.

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I started at our local farmers market. As a 21 year old college student, getting up at 5:00 AM to sit in the cold, heat or rain only to have eco-Mommies and “educated” foodies tell me how bad beef was for the environment and people wasn’t too fun. Most people respond pretty well when they learn you are a 6th generation rancher, earning your degree in agriculture and will listen to you, but there is a certain demographic that no matter how much science and experience you have – will never believe you (because I’m not a celebrity or on TV). And they just happen to all shop at farmer’s market.

After I determined that selling at the farmer’s market was not for me, I started marketing to friends and family. That worked for a couple of years until SOMETHING BAD HAPPENED. That something bad was I had a “friend” agree to purchase a beef. Then after I had the beef harvested, cut and wrapped – he decided that he didn’t want it. So I was stuck with a beef that I couldn’t sell because she was already dead (we sell our cattle alive – there are a whisper less regulations that way).

However I learned from SOMETHING BAD. I started getting 50% deposits. I started telling my customers that payment is require before you pick your beef up, if I thought a particular person was going to cause me any drama, I didn’t sell to them. Things got better. My parents started letting me have more responsibility and more beef to sell. I started a blog about the ranch so people could see where they were getting their beef and who I am. I really enjoy connecting with buyers, connecting farm to fork gives me a rush.

People want to know more about their food now. This makes me very happy, they are demanding local food, unprocessed food, and they want to know HOW food gets from farm to fork. This has been great for me! I’ve sold more beef to the public this year than I have ever! But it has also been a lot of work for me and my family, it’s enjoyable to teach and share about our ranching life. But our livelihood does not hinge on the 10 animals I sell to the public, so when SOMETHING BAD HAPPENS I have less incentive to make my product available to the public. So remember it’s hard for producers out there, especially when we are trying to develop new markets. If you really are one of those people that want to buy local and support local farmers, listen to us when we tell you the process/policies, pay us when you get your product., basically help us, help you. There is nothing I HATE more than chasing one of my customers down to get my payment. Let’s make this an enjoyable experience for us all!


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Strawberry Honey Butter

This is perhaps the best thing I’ve ever made.

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16 oz strawberries, hulled
4 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (I used a half of meyer lemon, because I love them)
3 sticks butter, softened

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Wash your berries.

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Cut the tops off.

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Cuisinart them until they are liquid.

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See? Liquid.

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Pour the mixture through a strainer (I did not buy this especially for this blog. I did not).

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Add the honey.

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And lemon juice.

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Bring to a boil/simmer until it thickened, about 5 minutes.

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I say until it coats the back of a spoon.

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Let your butter come to room temp and put it in your mixer.

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Whip it good.

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Slowly add your room temperature strawberry/honey mixture.  I kept adding it until the butter would hold no more liquid. I ate the rest of the strawberry mixture with a spoon.

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Eat. Sorry this picture sucks, but I couldn’t stop shoving my face full of this stuff to take a proper picture. I figure this will last in your frig for about a week, I mean if you have will power.

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Fun Ag Facts III

  • fun ag fact of the day: 9% of all the milk produced by U.S. dairy farmers is used to make ice cream.
  • fun ag fact of the day: More than 32.5 million pounds of peanuts were used in April to make peanut candy.
  • fun ag fact of the day: male elk (bulls) live 12-14 years. Female elk (cows) live 15-20 years.
  • fun ag fact of the day: There are more than 70,000 types of soil in the U.S.
  • fun ag fact of the day: every strawberry, no matter the size, has around 200 seeds.
  • fun ag fact of the day: In 1830, Jan Lammers discovered the endive from a chicory root that he left stored in his cellar. The chicory root sprouted white leaves and became what is known as the endive. The endive was introduced in Paris in 1872. It was so popular, that it was called “white gold.”
  • fun ag fact of the day: Each crop that farmer grow requires different nutrients from soil, so farmers rotate their crops from field to field to maximize nutrient use.
  • fun ag fact of the day: There are approximately 30 almond varieties produced in California orchards. Did you know the Romans showered newlyweds with almonds as a fertility charm?
  • fun ag fact of the day: one bale of cotton can make 3,085 diapers.
  • Fun ag fact of the day: avocado fruit ripens only after it is plucked from the tree. Mature fruits can be left unplucked in the trees for as much as 6 months or even more and the fruit will not get spoilt as long as it is in the tree. Once you pluck the fruit from the tree, it will ripen in a few days.
  • fun ag fact of the day: turkeys can see in color and have excellent visual acuity and a 270 degree field of vision. Just try to sneak up on one!
  • fun ag fact of the day: professionals routinely trim dairy cattle’s hooves to keep the cows comfortable and their hooves healthy.
  • fun ag fact of the day: Goats don’t eat tin cans. They like plants, and prefer leaves to grass.
  • fun ag fact of the day: in 2003, China exported 15.2 million tons of corn. In 2011, it will import 1.2 million tons from U.S
  • fun ag fact of the day: Each day, an average cow produces enough milk to make 9 pounds of cheese.
  • Did you know that the equivalent to 60 jumbo jets of people die from hunger each day?
  • fun ag fact of the day: Precision autoguidance on sprayer equipment saves 5-17% in applied product, allowing farmers to be more enviro friendly!
  • fun ag fact of the day: A Cornish game hen is really a young chicken, usually 5 to 6 weeks of age, that weighs no more than 2 pounds.
  • fun ag fact of the day: a camelid is a cud-chewing, camel-like animal without a hump, including llamas, alpacas, guanacos and vicunas.
  • fun ag fact of the day: There are around 2000 different plant types that humans use to cultivate food.
  • fun ag fact of the day: Compared to conventional varieties, biotech crops in the U.S. has reduced pesticide use by 357 million pounds from 1996-2007.
  • fun ag fact of the day: chickens absorb vitamin-D through their combs from sunshine
  • fun ag fact of the day: A GMO is any plant, bacterium or animal with altered genetic material, including through conventional breeding.
    fun ag fact of the day: To produce a dozen eggs, a hen has to eat about four pounds of feed.
  • fun ag fact of the day: over 10 million farmers from 22 countries plant biotech crops (that’s GMOs).
  • fun ag fact of the day: pomegranates grow in dry areas of Arizona and California and are native to India.
  • fun ag fact of the day: A horse typically sleeps 2 to 3 hours a day and that is generally done on 3 legs!
  • fun ag fact of the day: An acre is equal to 43,560 sq. ft. which is about the size of a football field.
  • fun ag fact of the day: Most beef in Brazil are grass fed bulls and it takes about 4.5 years to finish (finish means ready to harvest/slaughter).
  • fun ag fact of the day: California produces 95 percent of the nation’s apricot supply.
  • fun ag fact of the day: The U.S. provides about 80% of the world’s corn and is the world’s largest exporter of corn
  • fun ag fact of the day: It takes 540 peanuts to produce one 12 ounce jar of peanut butter.
  • fun ag fact of the day: The oldest pig in the world lived until he was 68!
  • fun ag fact of the day: A pig doubles it’s birth weight in 7 days.
  • fun ag fact of the day: one bale of cotton can make 690 terry bath towels.
  • fun ag fact of the day: Most eggs are actually laid between the hours of 7 -11 AM.
  • fun ag fact of the day: It takes a combine 9 seconds to harvest enough wheat to make 70 loaves of bread
  • fun ag fact (from Ms. Jesse R. Bussard): Farming and our U. S. food system now accounts for 20 percent of our nation’s GDP, about $3 trillion of the $14 trillion total. In fact, our farming and food system output alone is higher than the total GDPs of Russia, France, Germany, Italy, Canada or India just to name a few.
  • fun ag fact of the day: The first peanuts grown in the United States were grown in Virginia. Currently Georgia is the largest producer of peanuts in the U.S.
  • fun ag fact of the day: Not all sheep have wool.The primary difference between hair sheep and wooled sheep is the ratio of hair to wool fibers.
  • All sheep have both types of fibers. Hair sheep have more hair fibers and wool sheep have more wool fibers. Wooled sheep need sheared. Hair sheep do not.
  • ag fact of the day: In North America, added hormones are not approved for use in any commercial poultry or egg production. (but remember there is no such thing as hormone free food! All living things, plants, animals, have hormones!)
  • fun ag fact of the day: potato blight, cause of Irish potato famine, can be prevented by modern fungicides, helping prevent similar shortage.

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Rhubarb Syrup

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4 cups rhubarb, washed and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups water
Combine all ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan and stir. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Once mixture boils, reduce heat to low and simmer until rhubarb is falling apart and color has bled into the syrup, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove from heat and, using a fine mesh strainer, strain rhubarb solids (this makes a nice “jam”). Let syrup cool to room temperature, then transfer to a resealable container and store in the refrigerator

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Make sure you clean all the green leaves off! And wash really well.

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I don’t have a fancy mesh strainer, so I used cheesecloth.

Also the “jam” or the leftover mush that once was rhubarb is really good, a little ugly, but still yummy. It can live in your frig for about a week. But you’ll probably use it all on toast by then.

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