Monthly Archives: January 2013

Agriculture Proud: I am a commercial cattle rancher.

OK, I feel like a cheater butt to re-blog this on my blog, but it’s a big deal to be on Ryan’s blog and I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was really exciting for me. I hold Ryan in very high esteem. I think he is doing more the the beef industry than certain industry groups. He’s earning his masters right now, so he allowed his blog to be high-jacked by the Ag Chat Banditas (see the incredible support system agriculture has, this is one of the many reasons I love ag so much!). Any way please go check out Ryan’s blog, it is so well done and so informative! Thank you.

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Wordless Wednesday: A Scorpion and Newt Walk into a Bar

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Taylor MacKay: 8th Grade Project

A couple weeks ago, I got an e-mail from a college friend of mine. Her daughter was doing her 8th grade project on Dr. Temple Grandin, and my friend had noticed I talk a lot about Dr. Grandin. My friend, Stacie, asked if it would be ok for her daughter to contact me about doing an interview about my experience with Dr. Grandin.

 Our ag ambassador officer team. Stacie is the blonde with short hair. Also if you ever see John, buy him a beer and give him a hug. He was on the executive committee with me, and I poked him with a stick unmercifully.

Our ag ambassador officer team. Stacie is the blonde with short hair. Also if you ever see John, buy him a beer and give him a hug. He was on the executive committee with me, and I poked him with a stick unmercifully.


Now a little back-story here. Stacie’s daughter, Taylor, is attending the same middle school as I did and doing the same project I had to do. Of course Taylor is brilliant and is doing her project on Dr. Grandin instead of massage therapy, like I did mine on (ok, to be fair they wouldn’t let me do it on cows or horses (they wanted us to be exposed to something new, the nerve!) and my Mom was attending massage therapy school at the time).
Go 4-H!

Go 4-H!


Taylor has some of the same teachers I had at her age (I feel old). She is also a member of one of the 4-H groups I was a member of! And in addition to knowing her Mom since 2000, I know her Dad from when we were little kids! Needless to say I was really excited to help her any way I could! We e-mailed back and forth for a few days, I shared some links with her, and we decided on a time and place to meet for the interview.
Because I am anti-social and cook at home, I had never been to Applebee’s happy hour. It’s my new jam, that pretzel cheese thing was fabulous and the beer was cheap!

Because I am anti-social and cook at home, I had never been to Applebee’s happy hour. It’s my new jam, that pretzel cheese thing was fabulous and the beer was cheap!


We met at Applebee’s in Oroville, during happy hour (a very happy coincidence). I arrived a little early to stake out a good table and buy myself a beer. I get a little nervous when I do adult things like this. It means a lot to me when people seek my opinion out, especially peers.
The future, right here.

The future, right here.


Now I hadn’t actually seen or spoken face to face with Taylor since circa 2004. It was a surprise when she walked over and sat down, she’s all grown up! Before we started the interview I got to chat with Taylor and Stacie. Most of my friends I interact with on a day to day basis are not directly involved with agriculture. It’s always refreshing for me to have a conversation with people that share my lifestyle. Taylor hunts, shoots guns and gets dirty, she is glorious.
Taylor then proceeded to tell me that Dr. Grandin called her! I love everything about that. I love that Dr. Grandin is so supportive and I love that Taylor got to speak to her. When I met Dr. Grandin, she inspired me to keep doing what I am doing. I think Taylor felt that too.
Taylor had a great set of questions to ask me. I found her engaging, funny and very confident. I don’t want to talk too much about what we spoke about because I’m hoping that maybe Taylor would be willing to share some of her project here or on the Tumblr she started after we met (yeah, she started a Tumblr, I’m so proud).
She's a hard working, smart, young lady. And she is going to go far!

She’s a hard working, smart, young lady. And she is going to go far!


Taylor impressed me so much. She is the future of our local agriculture industry and let me tell you folks, the future is bright. She sent me a thank you e-mail before I even had gotten home from our interview.
My new plan is to make myself as available as I can to this next generation of agriculturalist. Then in about 10 years we are going to run Butte County agriculture and it will be transparent, educational and awesome. Who is with me?!

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Chico ER’s News of our Past

One of the really cool things about having a family that has stayed in the same area and done the same thing for over a hundred years is there is a lot of documented information out there. That makes researching them both gratifying and surprising. For example, in this morning’s edition of our local paper there was a little gem.

Our online edition of our paper

Our online edition of our paper


If you recall, I am Lucas three generations back.

If you recall, I am Lucas three generations back.


Four generations back my great, great, Grandfather operated a ranch and a couple of slaughterhouses. Check out this post I did about it a while back (worth a check out for the pictures alone!).
Instead of being gold miners like most people that moved to California in the 1800’s, my family grew food (California’s true gold, I say), and we still do, now if I could just open a slaughterhouse again…
The timing of this article is perfect too, our pigs are about a month away from slaughter, we’ve been joking how quickly they are gaining and how big they are, and my grass-finished cattle are starting to finish. It’s almost slaughter time on the ranch (it’s like Christmas!).
My great, great, great Grandfather, Paul Lucas said “With good character, good cattle, and good work we will supply Chico with quality beef”. Five generations later I’m still doing it, and working on someday producing pork and poultry too. Feels good.

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Sincerely Yours, Herman H. Harvey Battery D.18th Field Artillery

Hi. Remember that blog post where I said I had a bunch of old pictures from my Dad’s side and my friend Erin was helping me figure stuff out? Yeah, well she did it again. I found this picture of a soldier amongst the old photos, it actually had writing and a name on it! I sent it to Erin and she ran with it. Enjoy, I certain did.

Another picture found in my collection. This one had some writing on it.

Herman Harrison Harvey.

This is the information Erin had:
I recognized the wool texture and hat shape in the photograph as a uniform from the U.S. Army from circa World War I. Searching online for uniform examples, I found the following link which shows the buttons, coat, and hat that match the photo: http://freepages.military.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~worldwarone/WWI/Uniforms/index.html. If the photo is from circa World War I, I made the assumption that Herman Harvey was born in approximately 1890-1900 because he appears very young in the photo, but old enough to enlist. Another assumption that I made was that Herman lived in or around the Chico area to know the Lucas family well enough that they ended up with the photo.”

This is what Erin found out:

Herman Harrison Harvey was born in Oakland, Douglas County, Oregon on June 2, 1892, to William Harvey and Minnie (nee Manning) Harvey. In the June 12, 1900 Federal Census, the Harvey family was living in Roseburg, Douglas County, Oregon. Herman had two sisters, Vesta and Lillian (also called Minnie), and a brother, George (also called Dewey). William Harvey was renting a farm at the time and engaged in farming, though no particular crop was specified.
By about 1905, the family had moved to California and in the May 23, 1910 Federal Census, the Harvey family was living on River Road in Chico, Butte County, California. William and Minnie had an additional son, Vern, and two more daughters, Goldie and Gladys, both of whom were born in California. In the 1912 and 1913 Chico City Directories, Herman’s sister Lillian is listed as a janitor at the River Road School. In the 1915 Chico City Directory, William and Minnie are listed as living on Laburnum, at the southwest corner of 10th Avenue.
Between 1915 and 1920, the Harvey family moved to the valley floor and in the January 8, 1920 Federal Census, the family is renting a rear house at 1716 F Street in Sacramento, Sacramento County, California. One daughter, Lillian is no longer listed (she may have married), and a niece to William and Minnie, Pearl Pearce, is living with the family. Herman’s occupation in this census is listed as Regular Army, while his father and brothers are engaged in farming. Herman most likely voluntarily enlisted in the Army prior to or at the onset of the United States’ involvement in World War I, as I was unable to find a World War I draft registration record for him. Further research would most likely shed more light on his Army service.
By 1930, Herman had moved out of his parents’ household, most likely at the end of his Army service. In the April 8, 1930 Federal Census, Herman is listed as boarding at 134 York Street, Vallejo, Solano County, California, and working as a pipe fitter at the Navy Yard. In the April 8, 1940 Federal Census, Herman is listed as a guest at the Hotel Bernard on Georgia Street, Vallejo, Solano County, California, and still working as a pipe fitter at the Navy Yard. He lists his residence as Sacramento, California, in 1935, possibly visiting his parents who lived in Sacramento.
On April 27, 1942, Herman registered for the draft for World War II. He was living at 317A Georgia Street, Vallejo, Solano County, California, and working at Shop 56-1640 at the Mare Island Ship Yard. He still had a trim figure at almost 50 years old, being only 198 pounds at ½ an inch shy of 6 feet tall.
Herman died on August 31, 1964, in Contra Costa County, California, and was buried in Section E, Lot 102, Grave 3 in the Odd Fellows Lawn Cemetery and Mausoleum in Sacramento, Sacramento County, California.

So, how did a Harvey photo turn up in the Lucas photo collection?

Well, I determined that both the Harvey and Manning families (remember, Herman’s mother was Minnie Manning) were unrelated to the Lucas family, so assumed that either the Harvey or Manning families were friends or acquaintances of the Lucas family. Working on a separate research project on a homesteading family that had lived in Chico Creek Canyon, I was aware of a possible connection through land sales, so followed that lead.
I was researching James Price, a homesteader who filed a homesteading claim in 1886 for property in Chico Creek Canyon. James and his wife, Lulu, had a daughter named Ethel, who married a Charles Manning. Researching the Manning family a bit further, I found Charles Manning was Minnie Manning’s younger brother. That meant that Ethel (nee Price) Manning was Herman Harvey’s aunt. After her father’s death, Ethel sold the property in Chico Creek Canyon to John Lucas in 1903. Though Ethel and Charles Manning moved back to Oregon within the next few years, Charles’ sister Minnie and her husband, William Harvey, remained with their family in the Chico area for another decade.

I love these old pictures so much. I love that I am able to learn more about these people almost more than 100 years after they lived. They have such interesting stories that I feel, need to be told and remembered. This is our heritage. These are our stories too.

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Farm Star Pizza

There is this great local pizza place here in Chico, they pride themselves on using local and organic ingredients. Although the very first time I went there to try it (about a year and a half ago), it immediately got my attention with its decorations.

The first time I went into this pizza joint this was on the wall. You guys know how I feel about fear mongering right? (and you know this corn/fish is not a real thing, right?)

The first time I went into this pizza joint this was on the wall. You guys know how I feel about fear mongering right? (and you know this corn/fish is not a real thing, right?)


The more I thought about that poster the more upset I became. So I did what any person in my generation would do, I left them a comment on their facebook page. Well a few other local farmers/ranchers saw that comment and poster and they also chimed in. A conversation was had and Farm Star realized that perhaps fear mongering was not a proper way to support local farmers and ranchers. All was well for a long time. I enjoyed Farm Star pizza’s occasionally, life was good.

Then a couple days ago something Farm Star posted on their page got my attention again.

The claim that organic  is "tastier, but it's also better for you and the environment" is one I would like to debate.

The claim that organic is “tastier, but it’s also better for you and the environment” is one I would like to talk about I mean just because something is organic does that mean it is healthy? Organic cookies are healthy? Organic pizza is healthy?.

And I did try to have a conversation with Farm Star but, internet happens, and other consumers got involved.

And I did try to have a conversation with Farm Star but, internet happens, and other consumers got involved.

This did make me LOL, Jenny does have a point that Butte County doesn't produce that much wheat and probably even less "organic" wheat.

This did make me LOL, Jenny does have a point that Butte County doesn’t produce that much wheat and probably even less “organic” wheat.

This is me suggesting that more farmers and ranchers should be asked.

This is me suggesting that more farmers and ranchers should be asked.

May I be snarky for just a second? Working on 1 farm for a season, isn't going to teach you everthing, it's just not. I've been in the ag industry for 30 years amd I still feel like I know nothing.

May I be snarky for just a second? Working on 1 farm for a season, isn’t going to teach you everthing, it’s just not. I’ve been in the ag industry for 30 years and I still feel like I know nothing.

Sometimes trying to have a calm conversation on the internet can be really hard. The internet seems to give people license to be a little more nasty, and that is easy to do when you aren’t face to face with someone. People also don’t like when something they “know” is “true” is questioned. I know it certainly bugs me when people that are not involved in production agriculture tell me all about it (especially when they are quoting a popular anti-ag book or movie).

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Over the past couple of years, I have grown a lot better at having online conversations with people. I went from basically “um, you are wrong, I am right” to “well why do you think that? Because my experience in the field has been different, let’s talk”. Especially now that I have sought treatment for my anxiety, my communication skills are about 100% better. True, I can be snarky sometimes, but after a certain point, everyone runs out of patience sometimes, especially when people start to name calling or try to go off topic. Despite it all, I sent every single one of these ladies a friend request, I really was trying to have a discussion where we all could learn something, only one accepted.

It was really important to me that Farm Star didn’t think I am a “local disgruntled farmer” (I consider myself a rancher, and I’m not disgruntled, I just want people to know what they are talking about). So I went in there to talk to them about their post. I know they didn’t mean to open a can of worms with it, but since they want to support local agriculture, I wanted them to know that not only organic agriculture is beneficial. Like I said above in my comments, ag is not that simple- organic, just like conventional ag has its positives and negatives.

I really like this place and was excited to talk to them!

I really like this place and was excited to talk to them!

Walking into Farm Star this time, they had a lovely picture of a 4-H member, LOVE IT!

Walking into Farm Star this time, they had a lovely picture of a 4-H member, LOVE IT!

I spoke to Robert at Farm Star. I apologized for high jacking the thread, and tried to tell him who I am. Sometimes it helps when I explain to people that in fact I did earn an advanced ag degree, I ranch, I work very hard for local ag, I write for all ag, I have a blog. He said he didn’t mind that there was some drama, it was basically free advertising for them. I was glad he felt that way, because I really do admire them for using local products (when they can).
I tried to explain that I really didn’t want to get into the conventional vs organic debate, because it just should not be debated. All agriculture is important, and it’s wonderful that we have a choice! I think Robert understood.

I got myself a Porky Pig!

I got myself a Porky Pig!

The organic pizza was excellent! It had potatoes and bacon on it, a great combination! And the pizza was big enough that I will have leftovers tonight! Generally I cook or my parents cook for me, so pizza is a nice splurge and treat for for me.

The organic pizza was excellent! It had potatoes and bacon on it, a great combination! And the pizza was big enough that I will have leftovers tonight! Generally I cook or my parents cook for me, so pizza is a nice splurge and treat for for me.

If you are a local Chicoan and haven’t tried Farm Star, I say go try it! It’s yummy! I really love to support local businesses that support local farmers and ranchers, after all, we are all in this thing together!

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Fun Ag Facts XI

So for some reason my blog says I didn’t post this. I’m trying again.

fun ag fact of the day: Peanut butter is a staple in over 90% of American households and the average person consumes more than six pounds of peanut products each year.

Fun ag fact of the day: China is the largest producer of sheep milk in the world followed by Turkey and Greece.

fun ag fact of the day: Turkey is the largest producer in the world of apricots, cherries, figs, wheat germ, hazelnuts, skim sheep milk, poppy seed, raisins & sour cherries.

fun ag fact of the day: India has the largest cattle inventory in the world followed by Brazil and China.

fun fact of the day: Japan is the largest producer in the world of tomato juice, husked/milled rice, pigskins, fermented rice beverages & soya paste.

fun ag fact of the day: Grapefruits come in many colors. They can be yellow, pink, white or ruby in color. All varieties have a tangy-sweet flavor and are very juicy.

fun ag fact of the day: Canada is the largest supplier of maple syrup, they produce over 5 million gallons of it each year!

fun ag fact of the day: the United States is the largest importer of beer in the world.

fun ag fact of the day: In 2009, U.S. cheese availability (a proxy for consumption) stood at 32.8 pounds per person. Mozzarella edged out cheddar as America’s favorite cheese, with the two cheeses together accounting for 63 percent of cheese availability in 2009. Per capita cheese availability has almost tripled since 1970, when it was 11.4 pounds per person.

Fun ag fact of the day: have you heard of “Cowboy coffee”, it was said they made their coffee by putting ground coffee into a clean sock and immerse it in cold water and heated over campfire.

fun ag fact of the day: Massachusetts is the second largest producer of cranberries in the United States only behind Wisconsin. Cranberry is one of the state colors and cranberry juice is the state juice drink. It is also home to Ocean Spray.

fun ag fact of the day: The traditional recipe for eggnog is milk,
cream, sugar, beaten eggs, spices, and sometimes alcohol. The type of alcohol depends on the country where it is made. In Europe, eggnog is traditionally made with white wine. Americans drink it with bourbon or rum while Peruvians use pomace brandy and Germans use beer.

Fun ag fact of the day: India has the largest cattle inventory in the world followed by Brazil, China & the United States.

fun ag fact of the day: China is the largest producer of spinach in the world with nearly 86% of the world’s total.

fun ag fact of the day: Pennsylvania is the largest producer of mushrooms in the United States with more than 62% of the total.

fun ag fact of the day: The United States is the largest producer in the world of corn, soybeans, beef, chicken, turkey, almonds, strawberries, cranberries & blueberries.

fun ag fact of the day: Sugar cane is the most produced food in the world. There is more sugar cane produced than corn and rice COMBINED!

fun ag fact of the day: Egypt is the second largest producer in the world of mango juice, buffalo butter, geese meat, figs, camel meat, bird meat and artichokes.

Fun ag fact of the day: bananas and beer are the top two food imports in the United States. The United States imports more beer than wheat and more bananas than sugar and oats combined.

Fun ag fact of the day: A celebrate the season, a few turkey-related factors: 1) The United States produces 50% of the global turkey production. 2) Turkeys are indigenous to North America. Fossils have proven that wild turkeys have been part of North America for more than 10 million years. 3) Hormones and steroids are not used in turkey production. In fact, hormones and steriods are federally banned for use in all poultry. Better feed, water and living environment is what help the turkey safely grow.

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