Monthly Archives: May 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Happy Cows

 

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Kickstarter: The Books

Joy & Keith Book  and Katie & Brian Drake.

Joy & Keith Book and Katie & Brian Drake.

I am friends with a lot of local farms and ranches. I mean it can’t be helped, many of these people have known my family for generations. One of my favorite friends and neighbors are the Books. I have very fond memories of going to their pumpkin patch as a child and riding in their horse drawn wagon. Then in high school I attended the same school as the Book children and we became friends. After high school I re-connected with Katie and her husband Brian and their two adorable children.

Brian and Katie moved home to their family farm to continue the great work they have always done, farming and ranching. They contacted me to talk about our grassfed beef operation, and since then I have really enjoyed getting to know them again and watching the good they are doing. Katie taught me how to make Kombucha and we sold them a heifer bull. Brian came over and helped move bulls and gave me some riding pointers. I heart them, needless to say. They are a bright and shinny beacon of awesome local agriculture.

In addition to all this they are also wonderful educators. For as long as I can remember they literally had their barn door open to the public. They have shown thousands of locals what a working farm looks like. If you read this blog, you know how I feel about that (I LOVE it).

This looked like so much fun!!!! I was super butt hurt to miss it (especially because I love me some Mexican food).

This looked like so much fun!!!! I was super butt hurt to miss it (especially because I love me some Mexican food).

So I am totally stoked to share with my readers about their Kickstart! They need a new tractor and you can help! Please check it out, click here and you can see their awesome video! They had a really fun launch at a local Mexican restaurant (that I had to miss because I was working in the mountains with my Dad), but I Katie did send me some pictures.

If you have a few bucks to spare please consider investing in the Books. I promise you, your investment will pay dividends that our entire society will benefit from. Thanks friends!

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Getting the Calves Ready for Sale

I’m in transition in between my office job and the Ranch, I’ve had to take a few days off to help my Parents get our calves ready to sell. This is a huge deal to us because this is our family’s one paycheck a year. Our very way of life depends on these calves. We are very, very, proud of our calf crop and work hard to market them the best we can.

This is what a online cattle sale catalogue looks like (click here and it will take you to the video)

This is what an online cattle sale catalogue looks like.

Because we raise Angus cattle, we are members of the Angus Association this enables us to enroll in a program called AngusSource. This program is a value added marketing tool for us because it verifies the sires (Dads) of our cattle and where/where our calves were born. In addition the people working there are wonderful, so very helpful and knowledgeable! If you want to see what an online cattle sale looks like go here.

The view from the house. We're on top of a hill with a beautiful view of the valley below.

The view from the house. We’re on top of a hill with a beautiful view of the valley below.

Since I am still working in town and the bunk house had some water damage from this winter I have to commute to the summer ranch. This means I get up before daylight and drive an hour and a half up a very curvy and scary road, work all day, then drive home so I can go to work the next day. It’s a lot of work and I am exhausted, but it’s also totally worth it to work on the Ranch!

We start by gathering the calves from their field.

We start by gathering the calves from their field.

I’ve been bringing my dog Hoot with me to Ranch work. She has been a pretty, pretty, princess dog up until this point. She really hasn’t taken a lot of interest in being a ranch dog. She would rather be loved on or skateboard with me. But since I am going to be working full-time on the Ranch, I decided she needed to learn. Luckily for me she agreed, and has decided she wants nothing more than to work cattle and be with me. When we are working she always has an eye on me and refuses to be without me (in fact she flat-out screams when she is separated). The old cowboy adage “if you get to thinking you’re a person of some influence, try ordering somebody else’s dog around” rings true with Hoot dog, she won’t even acknowledge my Dad when she is on the job.

Cowdog Hoot. We have a little fine-tuning to do, but I have myself a pretty awesome little dog here.

Cowdog Hoot. We have a little fine-tuning to do, but I have myself a pretty awesome little dog here.

Cutting 10 head out at a time to be weighed.

Cutting 10 head out at a time to be weighed.

Once we gather the calves from the field, we weigh them. We do this to make sure the weight we have in the sale catalogue is right. If our cattle don’t adhere to the weight we have them listed as, we will take a financial hit (NOT GOOD).

This is our scale house. I'm going to write a blog about it later this summer because it has a very interesting story.

This is our scale house. I’m going to write a blog about it later this summer because it has a very interesting story.

Mr. Steer Calf

Mr. Steer Calf being weighed.

The HiHog sweep and alley. This thing rocks so hard! After I met Dr. Grandin we installed these on all the ranches. It makes working cattle a dream.

The HiHog sweep and alley. This thing rocks so hard! After I met Dr. Grandin we installed these on all the ranches. It makes working cattle a dream.

After the animals are weighed we ear tag them. An ear tag is basically a cow earring. It doesn’t hurt them and it is a great visual way to be able to identify them. We also use ear tags if we had a sick animal and had to give them antibiotics, that way we know not to sell them with our natural herd.

A steer getting his ear pierced.

A steer getting his ear pierced.

Our new corral makes it almost too easy to work cattle, two or three people is all we really need now. It’s dreamy. Luckily we had some good help, thank you Travis for coming out to help! And MAJOR thank you to your wife, Rachel for making us lunch last week!

Oh did I mention that in the middle of all this work I managed to lock my keys in my truck (this is very much a typical Megan thing)? I did! The nice insurance man had to drive an hour to open my truck for me? I felt like a prize idiot.

Oh did I mention that in the middle of all this work I managed to lock my keys in my truck (this is very much a typical Megan thing)? I did! The nice insurance man had to drive an hour to open my truck for me? I felt like a prize idiot.

I owe my Mom BIG time for saving my butt with the locking my keys in the truck thing! If she wouldn’t have made some phone calls I would have had to drive my Dad’s big ass, not fun to drive truck, 2 hours to the valley and 2 hours back up to the mountains AND then drive my truck home. Talk about not fun!!! THANK YOU again Mom!

It feels so wonderful to be working on the Ranch again. I’m pretty sure this is going to be one of the best summers I’ve had in a while! Cows, horses, and hay! Bring it on!

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Wordless Wednesday: Their Second Spring

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Wordless Wednesday: My View

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Living the Dream

Over the past few months I have started working a lot more on the Ranch, in addition to my fulltime town job and my blog and writing. I am exhausted. Working on the Ranch is physically exhausting and working in town is mentally exhausting, I need a nap. All this work has started to affect how I feel and interact with the world. I miss my friends, I miss having a life, I miss cooking and having free time
That being said, I’ve got some pretty big news for you all. I’ve given my notice at my town job and will soon be working for my Parents fulltime. To say I’m freaking out would be a slight understatement. I loved my town job so very much. It taught me so many skills that have benefited both the Ranch and my own life. But since I’ve been working fulltime on both the ranch and in the office, I’ve realized I am spread too thin and something had to give.
Since my legacy and passion is the Ranch, I decided that it was time to return to it. It was a hard decision to make. I have become accustomed to a certain lifestyle, one where I can buy myself new boots, take myself to a fancy dinner if I feel like it or spend a fortune at the plant and flower store. Needless to say that time is ending. Since I will not have a steady income anymore, I will continue to freelance write, probably substitute teach in the winter and hopefully pick up a few part-time, odd jobs (I cook, I clean, kids love me, I drive tractors!).
My ultimate goal is in addition to my grass fed beef is to start raising heritage pastured pigs, quail for eggs and chickens for eggs. Hopefully I can start a CSA or some type of program like that and find financial independence there. I would also love to become more involved with my community. I will finally have the time and the professional demeanor (skills I learned in the law office!) to become involved with local politics and boards (I’m looking at you Fair Boards and Ca Beef Council).
I will greatly miss my boss, my co-workers and the community I work in and around. I loved getting dressed up for work, it was a change to put on a dress, make-up and do my hair, every day. On the Ranch the cows could care less what I look like or what I wear. In a way, I am completely doing an 180, from a fancy, salaried, air conditioned, classy, 9 to 5, office, to dirt, blood, sunshine and freedom. Know what? I couldn’t be happier! I’m going to be living the dream!

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Sad Day

Sad day. There was some complications with Ranchie. Unfortunately despite an emergency surgery and our best effort the puppies did not make it. Ranchie is home resting and is being loved and spoiled.
She got a bunch of treats from Chico Locker and Sausage, a new, pretty red collar and some new toys to help with her recovery. Thank you for all the kind words and positive thoughts. We love our Ranch Dog and we are glad to still have her with us.

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Puppies 2013

As I type this Ranchie Dog is in labor. This will be her second and last littler. Her first litter gave us Hoot and Jinx, our much beloved and hard working cowdogs. Ranchie’s Aunt Nikki is our 17 year old retired cowdog. We love this line of dogs. They are so smart and so sweet, just the perfect mix. Ranchie is one of the best dogs this ranch has ever seen. We love her very much and are super excited to have one last litter from her. Her babies are fathered by a full, long hair, working border collie. We anticipate some really amazing working pups.  I’ll be keeping you posted on how her labor goes! YAY! Ranchie puppies!20130506-194319.jpg

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Fun Ag Facts XII

fun ag fact of the day: A hamburger smothered in red or green chile is called a slopper.

fun ag fact of the day: chickens can run up to 9 miles per hour.

fun ag fact of the day: Michigan and New Jersey produce 66% of all the blueberries in the United States, followed by North Carolina, Oregon and Washington.

Fun ag fact of the day: The stinger is not left behind when a honeybee stings another insect.

fun ag fact of the day: Heart valves from hogs are used to replace damaged or diseased human heart valves.

Fun ag fact of the day: America exported $124,021,998.00 worth of dairy cow semen in 2011

Fun ag fact of the day:  On average, we each consume 584 lb. of dairy products a year.

fun ag fact of the day: A crab’s teeth are in its stomach.

fun ag fact of the day: Pigs have a great sense of smell. Their powerful but sensitive snout is a highly developed sense organ. Pigs also have a great field of vision, because their eyes are on the sides of their heads.

fun ag fact of the day: Florida is the largest producer of watermelons in the United States followed by Georgia and California.

fun ag fact of the day: Russia is the largest producer of raspberries in the world followed by Poland and Serbia.

fun ag fact of the day: A row of corn always has an even number.

fun ag fact of the day: A cow’s gestation period is approximately 283. This is the average number of days from the day a cow is bred to the time she has a calf.

Fun ag fact of the day: Each bottle of wine contains about 2.8 pounds of grapes.

fun ag fact of the day: Sugar cane is the most produced commodity in India, Brazil, Pakistan, Mexico, Philippines, Egypt, Thailand, South Africa, Colombia, Kenya & Peru.

The states that produce the most sweet cherries are Washington, California, Oregon and Michigan. The main producer of tart cherries is Michigan accounting for 90% of the production.

fun ag fact of the day: The females of all mammal species can by definition produce milk. Aside from cattle, many kinds of livestock provide milk used by humans for dairy products. These animals include buffalo, goat, sheep, camel, donkey, horse, reindeer, yak, and dolphin. The first four respectively produced about 11%, 2%, 1.4% and 0.2% of all milk worldwide in 2011. In Russia and Sweden, small moose dairies also exist.

fun ag fact of the day: Somalia is the largest producer of camel milk in the world followed by Mali and Ethiopia.

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.

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Wordless Wednesday: Peep

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