Monthly Archives: July 2012

Giveaway: Black Truffle Finishing Salt

Salt. Such a basic ingredient. Most of the time we don’t even notice it. This will change that. This black truffle finishing salt blew my mind.

Brown Ranch Filet with a generous sprinkling of black truffle finishing salt.

Finishing salt is added to the food after cooking. It’s enhanced flavor compliments whatever food it is served on. This particular salt compliments red meat like nothing I’ve ever tasted. This little grass finished  filet was breathtaking.

Perfect meal. I was in food coma for hours after. Also if you’ve never grilled a nectarine you haven’t lived!

All you have to do in leave me a comment below and I will use to select a winner Monday, August 6. Good luck!

This could be yours!


Filed under Ag, food, Giveaway, photos, Uncategorized

More from THE FIRE

Everything is ok. No animals were hurt, no humans were hurt. The fire was caused by a hit and run driver. They caught him. We’re not sure if insurance will cover the damaged fence (there is a lot!), so we might be having a fence fixing party on the Ranch this fall! Good times! I wanted to share some of the pictures from that day with you.










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Guest Post: Good-bye

Quietly we loaded the bull #55 into the trailer…he has an injured stifle from a bull fight earlier this spring. He must be sold. He is so gentle and kind to humans, walking into the trailer that was parked in the corral. As the trailer door closed and he was eating his hay and grain I had put in a tub for him, I gave him a pat on his broad back and silently said a good-bye. On the way up the hill I told myself again “don’t get attached to Bulls!”…and I felt small tears roll down my cheeks.

Heather Kingdon is a commercial cattleperson, photographer, horsewoman, teacher, artist, mentor, Mother and Grandmother in Plumas County. She can be reached at 

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There Was A Fire on the Ranch Today



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Wordless Wednesday: August 15, 1944

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The Art and Science of Calf Grafting

Ranching is not always nice. It’s not always pretty or kind. Bad things do happen, but as cattlepeople our job is to attempt to mitigate those bad things to the best of our ability. I covered bottle calves a few posts ago, in this post we are going to talk about what happens when you need one of those bottle calves as a replacement calf.

My Dad starts by skinning the dead calf.

Calves die. Sometimes they will get sick, sometimes they will get hurt, sometimes they will fall into a ditch and drown. It never gets easier seeing a dead calf. But thankfully it doesn’t happen that often and when it does, we have methods that soothe the grieving momma cow, and gives a bottle calf a new lease of life – grafting.

This calf died because a cow stepped on his back and broke it. He was paralyzed and was in a great deal of pain. The decision was made to euthanize him.

Once the calf is skinned, you place his hide on the bottle calf that will be taking his place. This is done because the dead calf’s hide smells like the cow. The cow will think it’s her baby because it smells like him, making the graft much easier.

A leg hole for the new baby. This is a trade secret many producers don’t think about doing. If you cut 4 holes in the hide, it acts like a “jacket” so you don’t have to use string (that a cow could eat, and then die from).

The new calf getting his “jacket”

The calf is placed with its new mom. We put the pair in a dark room in the barn, we like the cow to really be able to smell the calf and not see it as much for the first few hours. We think it helps with the graft.

The cow thinking her baby came back and a very hungry bottle calf in a “jacket”.

The “jacket” will be removed from the calf in about two days. In the meantime the calf will be licked and loved by his new Mom, and he will be drinking her milk. This will make the baby really smell like her’s even when the “jacket” is removed.

Mom and calf, happy and eating! Success!

Calf grafting is one of my first memories of working on the Ranch. I remember being a very little kid and my Dad teaching me how to graft one of the bottle calves I was taking care of, to one of our old Hereford cows. My Dad claimed to learn his particular method of grafting from an old cowboy, but I can’t remember who. It’s always felt like a pretty big deal to me, giving a calf a new mom and mom and new baby to love.


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Recipe: Black Truffle Infused Finishing Salt

A couple months ago my friend Dr. Arp, perked my interest when he tweeted about “the best steak ever”. You see Dr. Arp is a meat scientist, so when he talks about good beef, I tend to listen. What made this steak so special was the finishing salt Dr. Arp used to season it with. Truffle finishing salt.

The finished product. Black truffle finishing salt.

Now I’ve watched my fair share of The Food Network. I know truffles are a delicacy and supposed to be super good, but in my head it’s still a fungus and the same people that think fungus is a delicacy think calf nuts are too, something I never cared for. Since Dr. Arp had such rave reviews for this product, I figured I’d put my big girl panties on and try it.

Black truffles.

Of course this stuff is super expensive on the internet, so I decided to make it. I found the black truffles in Sacramento at one of those fancy grocery stores, where people’s cars in the parking lot cost more than my house. I used kosher salt, and my food processor and before I knew it I had truffle salt.

This little thing is intimidating!

As I mentioned before I am not a fan of mushrooms/truffles/fungus, but I’m trying to expand my food horizons. I was hesitant to try this stuff or touch the truffles (I’m being honest here), but as I ground the truffles up with the salt, the aroma was amazing. Imagine savory roast beef in a puddle of au jus, that is kinda what it smelled like, or in other words, heaven. I’m going to give this stuff a few days to infuse and fully develop its flavor and then I’m going to grill some of my special 30th birthday cow filets and use the salt to season them with. If I deem my finishing salt a success, I smell a giveaway!!!! Stay tuned!

It smelled so good!!!!!


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Field Trip: Welcome to Monsanto

Yesterday I was able to tour the Monsanto Woodland/Davis vegetable research station. This was exciting to me for a couple of reasons. Number one, I’m an ag nerd, I love to learn about all different kinds of ag, especially about plants! The second reason is I wanted some truth. So much of what I see on the internet about Monsanto is perpetuated by people who learned what they “know” from a movie they saw or book, blog or wiki article they read. Second hand knowledge can have a tendency to be less than factual. I wanted facts.

Right after I signed in and got my name tag (they also gave me a Monsanto pen) I was very excited!

Many friends asked me how I ended up getting to be able to tour Monsanto, some acted like I had to sell my soul or my unborn children. Well, it wasn’t that hard, in fact they couldn’t have been any nicer about arranging this tour. What actually was hard was finding people that wanted to come with me! I asked several non agricultural friends if they wanted to come. Not one accepted. Finally Daniel Taylor stepped up, thanks Daniel!

This tour came about through several friends, one being Janice Person – she is director of Monsanto’s Public Affairs. Janice was kind enough to fly all the way out here to California, so we could meet (we’ve been friends on social media for at least 4 years now). Needless to say I felt pretty special. George Gough and Mark Oppenhuizen were also our tour guides, talk about a smart group of people, I was almost intimidated (I was, but don’t tell)!

So much safety!

The number one first thing that struck me as I walked into the station was safety. There were safety signs, what to do in an emergency sign, number to call if you needed help, I felt very safe and protected. The second thing that I noticed right off was how happy and pleasant all the employees were. These people enjoyed their jobs, they were passionate about them, I had a really hard time keeping myself calm, their joy was contagious! Mark shared with us that scientist come to work for Monsanto because they know Monsanto is on the cutting edge with science and Monsanto works hard to provide them with a creative and supportive working environment. I could see that.

During the course of our tour yesterday, we asked our hosts about their tour policy. I was shocked to find out they will give tours to those who ask. They mentioned giving tours to master gardener clubs, farmers and other organizations. To be honest with you, I was shocked how open everyone was with us. We looked at field trials, greenhouses, laboratories, seed banks and we even got to taste test melon. We asked any question we wanted to, AND I took pictures!!! It was nothing like I imagined.

I have a lot to say and share with you about the tour. But I don’t want to overwhelm you with one huge post, so I’ve decided to write several posts about my tour. Each post will cover something I thought was important, neat or relevant and if you guys have any questions or comments, please ask them and I will try and cover those too.

I learned so much yesterday. It was such a positive and educational experience. I want to thank Janice, George, Mark and all of the other speakers that blew my mind yesterday. I walked away from the tour with a level of excitement toward agriculture that I haven’t felt in a very long time. Science is amazing.


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Wordless Wednesday: I’m a Cowboy on a Steel Horse I Ride



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A Cattle Guard? Is That a Guy Who Protects the Cattle?

When I invite friends over to the Ranch for the first time, part of my directions include, “when you go over the cattle guard you’ve made it”. Finally, I had a friend that asked me what in the heck was I talking about? What was a cattle guard?

I sometimes take for granted that people know what things like cattle guards, chinks, and emasculators are. In the world I grew up in, these things were normal, everyday items that I really never thought twice about. It wasn’t until the fourth or fifth grade when I realized I was just a whisper different than my peers. They didn’t have bottle calves, go on cattle drives or live on ranches. Unfortunately, my peers also realized I wasn’t normal about this time and made sure I was aware of that too.

This is the cattle guard at the end of our driveway.

Fast forward about 20 years, and suddenly knowing your farmer is cool! The same kids that made me cry in high school now are on my beef buying waiting list. I was bullied and picked on a lot as a kid, because of my passion for agriculture. It got to the point where I changed schools, didn’t wear any western clothes at school, never listened to country music, and asked those friends who knew about the Ranch to please not talk about it. As always though, I was my own worst enemy, someone would bring something up in science class, and I would have to tell a Ranch story, forever dooming me to un-popular kid hell.

Oh you want an example? In 8th grade science class I shared about a two headed calf that had been born on the Ranch when I was a kid. One of my Great Aunts had it mounted and put it on her wall, so the visual of the calf really stayed with me, plus it was cool! So I shared that story with my class, thinking it was awesome. Mistake.




Couple weeks later, we were learning about space, so I shared with my class about a story I read in the History of Butte County book, about a meteor that landed on the Ranch during the 1800’s. Again, to me, this stuff was interesting! To a bunch of 8th graders its perfect fodder to make someone’s life hell for the next four years.

Almost every day for the duration of my high school experience someone would tease me about that time a meteor landed on my two headed calf. When I graduated from high school and they told our senior fortunes, it was determined that I was going to grow up and implement a breeding program for two-headed calves. It never stopped.

Luckily, high school is over and instead of being a popular kid, I internalized my experiences and tilled an emotional garden of personality awesomeness that would serve me well in adult life, while the former popular kids changed my car’s oil and serve me my morning coffee. Now that I am an adult I realize that most people lash out because of one of two things; jealously or fear. And kids are just mean.

Anyway I realized that by sharing about the Ranch, I can do a lot to diminish people’s fear, at least about their food supply. If you haven’t noticed I try to make this blog educational sometimes. In that spirit, I’m going to try and blog about things that are normal to me, but might be odd to some of you. The first being the cattle guard.

A cattle guard is used instead of a gate to prevent the animals from getting out of their enclosures. It’s usually in an area of high traffic so you don’t have to open and close a gate all the time. Around here (Northern CA) you will see them where public grazing is allowed or in driveways, like ours!

Basically to an animal they look really scary and they don’t like to come near them. However over the years I have seen a scared calf try to jump over one, he made it. But I have seen some cattle and horses not get so lucky and get stuck, getting stuck generally means a broken leg, not good.

See my foot? It fits right in between the metal bars – a animal’s hoof would do the same thing. But it looks so scary to an animal they really DO NOT like to get near it.

So now when someone says cattle guard you know what they are talking about!

I need to paint our’s white again. It makes it so much scarier!


Filed under Ag, History, Humor, photos, Ranch life, Rants, Uncategorized, Wordless Wednesday