Monthly Archives: July 2013

Wordless Wednesday: This Year’s Buck

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Video: Roping a Calf From the Polaris Ranger

Don't wear flip flops to doctor calves. This is why I have the most hideous feet you've ever seen. Boots, socks, pants - they are your friends!

Don’t wear flip flops to doctor calves. This is why I have the most hideous feet you’ve ever seen. Boots, socks, pants – they are your friends!

Our friend Pete Neer came over for dinner, but ended up being put to work! We’ve had a really aggressive strain of pink eye hit our cattle. We’ve been very pro-active, treating them for flies (that helps prevent the spread), giving them minerals (healthy cows are happy cows!), and staying on top of the sick ones.

Despite our best effort to prevent illness in our cattle, we’ve had to treat some.

We used antibiotics on this calf because if we wouldn’t have the calf would have been in a lot of pain, and lost his eye. He’ll be sold separate from the rest if our herd, but that will be next year. By that time, no residue will be left. I use AB’s as a last ditch effort, very carefully, and very respectfully.

When we use antibiotics it costs us a lot of money. Not something that a ranch wants to do. It’s costs us to treat the calf and after it is treated, it’s not worth as much money because we can’t sell it as ‘natural’. That is why we work so hard to keep our cattle healthy. Quite simply, our consumers demand it, and we want them happy.

That is me screaming because my Dad wasn’t paying attention when that cow was in front of us! I thought he was going to hit her!

The calf is now fine. He can see, he feels good, he is healthy. It’s really amazing how one little shot can save a life.

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Tomato Basil Jam

My little garden is kicking some serious garden butt. Now that the deer leave it alone, my green thumb finally has a chance to be green, and it feels good man. Even though I cannot stand fresh tomatoes (go here to read why), I still feel a sense of duty to plant them. I mean, come on, what kind of summer garden doesn’t have a couple tomato plants? Plus they remind me of my Papa.

Anyway, I have so many tomatoes I had to find something to do with them other than make salsa and feed them to Silly pig. Since I am in the middle of my canning obsession, it’s only natural I canned them. I found a recipe that I would actually eat – and out to the garden I went (I love having a garden)!

Fresh tomatoes and basil.  The smell of summer.

Fresh tomatoes and basil. The smell of summer.

Tomato-Basil Jam

from Better Homes and Gardens

2 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled  (I didn’t peel mine because, well, why? I wanted the texture.)

1/4 cup lemon juice

3 cups sugar

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1 package powdered fruit pectin or 6 tablespoons powdered fruit pectin

Seed, core and finely chop the tomatoes. They should equal 3 1/2 cups. Place in heavy bottomed pot. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Measure 3 1/3 cups tomatoes, return to the pot. Stir in lemon juice and basil.

My seeded, chopped, tomatoes, with the skins on, oops.

My seeded, chopped, tomatoes, with the skins on. And chop your tomatoes a whisper finer than this.

In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup of the sugar and the pectin; stir into the tomato mixture. Bring to a full roiling boil, stirring constantly. Stir in the remaining 2 3/4 cups sugar. Return to a full boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim any foam off.

I wish we could share smell via the Internets, because this smelled like a big cup of summer, yum.

I wish we could share smell via the Internets, because this smelled like a big cup of summer, yum.

Ladle hot jam into hot sterilized half-pint canning jars. Leave 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust lids.

Process jars in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes.

I was trying to think ahead with this recipe. I was thinking about the winter, and the rain and how yummy this jam would be on grilled cheese with some soup. It was pretty yummy on regular toast too.

I was trying to think ahead with this recipe. I was thinking about the winter, and the rain and how yummy this jam would be on grilled cheese with some soup. It was pretty yummy on regular toast too.

A few more resources for you:

Tomato Jam (it has apple!) – http://userealbutter.com/2012/09/09/jennies-tomato-jam-recipe/

More information about breeding tomatoes – http://monsantoblog.com/2012/08/10/an-afternoon-with-meg-doug-the-tomato-dude/

An old family recipe – http://www.gratefulprayerthankfulheart.com/2013/04/grandmom-gaskills-tomato-jam.html

More about Monsanto – http://www.lenejohansen.com/?p=863

Food in Jars! – http://foodinjars.com/2010/09/tomato-jam/

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Jalapeño Jam

If you know me if real life, you know that I have disappeared. Between working on the Ranch and my new obsession  hobby, canning, I now have no time for things like friends, a social life, bathing. However I do have a fabulous pantry full of delicious pickles, luscious jams and delightful jellies that will last  me through the next year AND all my Christmas shopping is done (everyone likes pickles, right?!?!?!?!).

I made jalapeno jelly because one of my favorite mexican restaurants serves it with their flautas and it is the best thing ever. Since we don’t have this mexican restaurant around where I live, I’ve had to improvise and teach myself how to replicate the dish, but that is for another blog post. In addition to being amazing on fried mexican food this jelly is arguably better dumped on a brick of cream cheese and eaten with wheat-thins alone where no one can see you eat a whole brick of cream cheese and jar of jelly.

This is adapted from the Ball Blue Book of Canning (or, as I call it, my bible right now).

Jalapeno Jelly

3/4 lb jalapeno pepper (about 13 big ones)
2 cups cider vinegar, divided
6 cups sugar
2 (3 ounce) envelopes liquid pectin
1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes

Fresh jalapenos

Fresh jalapenos

Go out in your garden and pick about 13 big peppers, or about 3/4 of a pound. Wash them well.

Don't be a hero. Use gloves. I thought I was a badass and didn't need gloves. I cried. I CRIED.

Don’t be a hero. Use gloves. I thought I was a badass and didn’t need gloves. I cried. I CRIED.

De-stem and remove most of the seeds. I left about 1/4 of the seeds because I like THE HEAT and I think it looks pretty.

I love my food processor. How did people function without them?

I love my food processor. How did people function without them?

Add the peppers and one cup of the vinegar, and puree.

Don't position yourself directly over this pot, the smell will singe your nose hairs.

Don’t position yourself directly over this pot, the smell will singe your nose hairs.

Combine the sugar, vinegar, puree and red pepper flakes.

Your house is going to smell like this.

Your house is going to smell like this.

Bring to a boil, boil for 10 minutes, stirring the whole time.

Silly the pig got tired of stirring constantly and decided to take a nap until it was over.

Silly the pig got tired of stirring constantly and decided to take a nap until it was over.

Liquid pectin is fun.

Liquid pectin is fun.

Remove from heat, stir in the pectin, and return to a boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim and foam.

I love this part, ladling.

I love this part, ladling. Also don’t look at the mess, jelly is messy and I couldn’t clean up before the picture.

Ladle hot jelly into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the rims and adjust a two-piece cap. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.

Merry Christmas friends!

Merry Christmas friends!

Jalapeno jelly is easy and wonderful to eat. This is pretty much what all my friends and family are getting for Christmas. It feels good to be done with my shopping in July!

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Wordless Wednesday: Selfies After Eating Beets

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Wordless Wednesday: Year Branding

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Pickled Beets

This has been the summer of pickling for me. Know that Portlandia sketch?

The one where they pickle everything? Yeah, that is totally me right now. I blame beets. Beets started my whole summer obsession with pickling. You see, we have this neighbor, Pete.

Pete gave me beers and produce. This made me happy.

Pete gave me beers and produce. This made me happy.

Pete has a garden that puts mine to shame, I mean his garden makes me want to cry is it so awesome. And he is very generous with letting me come over and pillage his garden. Every time I go up to our summer ranch, he invites me over and lets me pick produce (like once a week, between my garden and his, I haven’t bought produce in months). Needless to say, I’m a pretty big Pete fan right now.

The first time Pete turned me loose in his garden was after a long day working on the ranch. I had lost both pant legs to eye patches for the cows, I hadn't had a shower, I wasn't wearing make-up and I had eye patch glue all over my hands. Garden time was much needed and very much appreciated!

The first time Pete turned me loose in his garden was after a long day working on the ranch. I had lost both pant legs to eye patches for the cows, I hadn’t had a shower, I wasn’t wearing make-up and I had eye patch glue all over my hands. Garden time was much needed and very much appreciated!

Want to know the really funny thing? I don’t like most of the things I am canning. Actually let me re-phrase that, I didn’t like most of the things.  I finally tried the beets and they were amazing, why didn’t anyone tell me pickled beets are good?

I’ve decided to share some of my pickling recipes. Not that I am making anything that is super rare, or you can’t already find on the internets….

The beets I picked.

The beets I picked.

I got this recipe out of the Ball Blue Book of Preserving. I modified it slightly after lurking a bunch of other recipes. I am very happy with the finished product.

Pickled Beets

(this makes about 6 pints of pickles beets)

3 quarts beets (like 12 big ones)

2 cups white sugar

2 cinnamon sticks

1 Tablespoon whole allspice

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon whole cloves

3 1/2 cup white vinegar

1 1/2 cup reserved water from boiling the beets

This is what you do:

Wash the beets really well.

Silly helped! She tasted the greens to make sure they were good.

Silly helped! She tasted the greens to make sure they were good.

Place them in a large pot and boil until a fork is easily inserted (I cut them in half to shorten the cooking time).

Boiling beets.

Boiling beets.

Once your beets are cooked the skin should slip right off.

Beets remind me of breaking down a carcass. They are so messy and red!

Beets remind me of breaking down a carcass. They are so messy and red!

Slice or cube your beets. Combine all ingredients except the beets, in a large saucepan.

Your pickling mixture.

Your pickling mixture.

Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the cinnamon sticks.

Packing warm beets into hot jars.

Packing warm beets into hot jars.

Pack beets into hot jars (I put my sterilized jars in an 180 degree oven and use as needed), leaving 1/4 inch headspace.

Wine helps.

Wine helps.

Ladle hot liquid over the beets, making sure to leave the 1/4 inch headspace. Remove the air bubbles.

Remove the air bubbles and clean the top so you get a seal.

Remove the air bubbles and clean the top so you get a seal.

Adjust the two piece caps.

Hot, clean caps help with a good seal!

Hot, clean caps help with a good seal!

Process pints or quarts (I used pints) for 30 minutes in boiling water.

Make sure you have at least two inches of water covering you processing cans!

Make sure you have at least two inches of water covering you processing cans!

Process for 30 minutes!

Process for 30 minutes!

The older I get the more and more I am realizing how lucky I am/was, to be born into a family that valued canning and pickling. I have wonderful memories of both side of my family canning fruits, vegetables, jams and jellies in the summer. I know many people are intimidated to try and can because it is unfamiliar to them. But you guys, I promise, it’s not really that hard and when you hear that “pop” of the can sealing, it is so worth it! I urge you try it! If you have questions, ask me, I’d love to help!

Pickled beets by me. The fruits of my labor. YUM!

Pickled beets by me. The fruits of my labor. YUM!

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Wordless Wednesday: Cows in the Mist

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Wordless Wednesday: Twins! (Aka, I have two bottle babies now!!!)

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