Category Archives: Ag

Recipe: Ranch Beans

This recipe is one that has always existed for me. My Mom got the recipe from her ex boyfriend’s Mom before I was born. It was a staple growing up. It was made for every ranch work day. Quite frankly, I take this dish for granted. I didn’t realize just how deeply satisfying and delicious it was until college, when my friends would beg me to take them to my Parent’s with me for lunch. For a while we called these Todd’s beans because my friend Todd talked about them so much when we were in college.

Pure comfort.

Pure comfort.

This recipe is just a suggestion. You can add things, like jalapeños or bay leaves or not. You don’t have to use a ham hock, so they can be vegan or vegetarian. It really depends on your personal preference. My Mom generally doesn’t put peppers in hers,  whereas I go crazy and use chicken stock, bay leaves and jalapeño in mine. It’s important to not salt this dish until the end because the cured pork already has a lot of salt.

Cranberry beans are my favorite bean.

Cranberry beans are my favorite bean.

Ranch Beans

1 ham hock (or meaty ham bone or ham shank if you want a less meaty batch of beans)
1 pound cranberry beans (I think cranberry beans are a must have here, they are a really great bean!)
1 (or 2) minced jalapeños (optional)
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed (optional)
1 or two bay leaves (optional)
Water or chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste

Soak beans overnight, drain and rinse. Place beans in large stock pot or crockpot; add all ingredients and water or broth to cover. Turn heat to high, watch closely, when it starts to boil, place lid on pot and turn temperature to simmer. Simmer for several hours or until beans are cooked and meat has fallen off the ham hock. Use slotted spoon to remove bones and any undesirable parts from ham hock. Then taste, add salt if needed or more pepper, depends on your tastes.

Cleaning the ham hock is a crappy job, lots of little bones and stuff to get out.

Cleaning the ham hock is a crappy job, lots of little bones and stuff to get out.

This makes incredible leftovers too! It also freezes well. Try with it with Mexican cheese and tortillas, it’ll rock your world!


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Be Better Agriculture: How Women Perpetuate Sexism

Sexism and misogyny are a topics that are hitting the agricultural industry magazines and social media feeds with increased frequency. Our conversations are louder and reaching more people than ever before. Often women talk about their experiences and offer up advice on how they dealt with or how they acted when confronted by these issues. Sadly, most of this advice is feeding into the very system that demeans women.

Patriarchy is strong, it will not easily be changed without hard work. We were raised within its rules, subconsciously applying them to our every thought and action. It is not surprising women feel the need to perpetuate sexism and internalized misogyny, even without knowing it. Afterall, it is our societal norm. In fact, if women are actively and loudly working against the status quo, it is likely they will become a pariah, especially in agriculture.

Many of our peers call for us to modify our behavior so we will not be harassed, assaulted or attacked by men. This is victim blaming. Men need to be held accountable for their behavior. Men need to NOT DO THESE THINGS TO US. Women do not need to change who we fundamentally are to “make” men act better. If you are advocating women change their behavior, you are doing nothing to help the underlying cause of mistreatment; men. In fact, what you are saying is ‘make sure that man attacks another woman’, one who is “asking for it” by not acting “appropriately”.img_3803

When women say they “show and act with respect at all times”, so men will not harass them, it is yet another way we blame ourselves for how men act and minify other women we feel are not acting within societal norms. “Respect” is used as a token to say “I do nothing that could possibly be construed as threatening, questioning or anything that may challenge the status quo”. This is a safety net for women who feel as if women who do speak out are “asking for or deserve it”. If your version of ‘respect’ requires a woman to disrespect herself by tolerating people diminishing her, it is not respect, it is subserviency.img_3800

Another common fallacy cloaked as advice is urging other women to “give 110% all the time” or “I work twice as hard so men can’t complain”. This is heartbreaking because it shows women really do have to work twice as hard as men to be considered worthy. Saying ‘I’m always going to be at 100%’, is lie and an unrealistic expectation to live up to which damages mental and physical health. No one is perfect, not even the men we are asking to be equal to.img_3799

Policing women’s behavior is ingrained into our culture. Little girls are taught to act ladylike with our posture, dress codes dictate what we can wear or how we should look, but “boys will be boys”. When women say they “don’t look for ways to be offended” they are playing right into the policing behavior our culture has taught us. Speaking up, calling men’s (and some women’s) problematic behavior out, setting boundaries, are the only ways sexism will be confronted to make change. img_3886Some women say “they don’t call people out”, they just ignore the problematic behavior. The issue there is if you say nothing about a demeaning, misogynistic or sexualizing comment, often it feels like you agree with the person uttering those comments. A simple “what did you mean by that?” is sometimes all it takes for a person to reflect on an inappropriate comment and it does not feel like a call out. But ignoring the behavior will not make it go away, it continues to normalize it, making men feel okay to continue.IMG_3808

It is hard to process women not believing other women in terms of experiencing sexism. When women claim “I’ve never experienced harassment or sexism”, or ”it is overblown” it is a lot to unpack. Especially because this is a topic that is spoken and written about constantly. Whole social movements and laws have started because of the discrimination women face. Most of these women, who claim to ‘never experienced it’ are looking for approval from men. Some women have been taught being “one of the boys” is the greatest achievement they are capable of, but this is because it is our cultural norm, especially in agriculture. 

The worst thing this woman thought she could say to me was she'll be "drinking beer with the ag guys" because I have largely been ostracized for speaking out.

The worst thing this woman thought she could say to me was she’ll be “drinking beer with the ag guys” because I have largely been ostracized for speaking out.

If the women, who never experience sexism, were forced to reckon with the truth, that sexism does indeed exist, they would then be forced to see the victims. Victim is a hard label to wear for some, perhaps because victims are not perceived as powerful, as ‘one of the boys’. A victim is someone who did not conform, who had it coming. We blame victims in our culture, victimhood is a curse. These women see how women who did speak up have been treated, they watch as the whistleblowers are attacked by the very men they defend as ‘good guys’, they do not want to be the social pariah.img_3805

However, sometimes we must use these behaviors as a survival mechanism. Sometimes it is not safe for us to challenge the status quo – our comfort zones, our jobs or even our lives depend on keeping the peace. These situations are far more common than we realize. Again, it is heartbreaking the emotional labor often falls to the women trying to survive but not the men performing the behaviors. It is important for those of us who can speak out safely, to do so.img_3804

It can be very hard to even realize the behaviors mentioned above are part of the problem. As mentioned before, the rules of patriarchy are so normalized and ingrained, we just do not notice we are playing into them until someone points it out to us. Unlearning these rules is going to be a lifelong mindful practice for most of us. It is important to remember if you feel hurt because your behavior was corrected, you are not the victim.img_3801-1

We owe it to our industry, to our future, to get better, to ensure a welcoming and safe environment for our agricultural peers. Next time, before you urge women to be more ‘respectful’, or ‘ignore’ the problem, please think twice. Be better.

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Wordless Wednesday: Hootie the Wonder Dog

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Wordless Wednesday: Miss Cherry Pie

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Good Intentions

Sometimes Agriculture Has Good Intentions…

The agriculture industry is full of good intentions in terms of lessening the rural/urban divide, well, at least we think we are. Ag hosts field days, ag in the classroom, ag literacy events, all in the name of education. Farmers and ranchers are urged to share their stories with their urban counterparts. We open our barn doors and ranch gates offering our non rural peers a glimpse into our way of life. But what does agriculture do to urge farmers and ranchers to learn about our urban counterparts? What does agriculture do to educate ourselves about our urban peers? How do we glimpse into their lives? Why isn’t an effort being made to make this a two way street?

Sure, agriculture talks about consumer demand and market trends but these are faceless entities, void of any personal connection. Just as the farmer or rancher in our urban peer’s mind might be from American Gothic or a John Wayne movie, a caricature of the real thing. When agriculture talks about “consumer” we aren’t picturing actual living and working people, we see a group that needs to be taught, needs to be educated.

Agriculture loves to claim our urban peers and counterparts are out of touch with us. But perhaps, agriculture being the minority (less than 2% of our populations works in production agriculture), we are out of touch with the majority? What if agriculture is so cloistered within our own culture we forget there is a much bigger world out there? Often the only time agriculturists travel is for industry events, to talk to other industry people about industry things. Living and working in the agricultural world can be very sheltered experience.

If agriculture truly wants to connect, if we truly want to share our way of life we need to realize it is a two way street. We are not entitled to demand everyone learn about us without offering to do the same, simply because we grow food, fuel and fiber for them. We need to see value in all work done to support the society we live in.

I believe it’s time agriculture seeks out an Urban Literacy week. It’s time we take the same responsibility we demand of our consumers; learn about their way of life, form an emotional connection. It’s time we treat our urban peers with the respect and attention we demand. Perhaps it’s time for us to be educated? I urge those of you in agriculture reading this, join me in being mindful of our urban counterparts? Ask them questions about their way of life, their struggles, their concerns. Be less interested in forcing your experiences on them. Work on connecting over issues we share, not what divides us.

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Wordless Wednesday: Sun Nap

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Wordless Wednesday: Ears

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Wordless Wednesday: Marissa’s Last Litter

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Piglet Slippers

I did not grow up raising piglets. Of course, I raised hogs in 4-H and FFA as a child, but I only finished hogs. Starting a farrow to finish  business is something I got into in my adult life. I had to learn a lot about farrowing (birthing) piglets, rather quickly. Like anything, to be good, you need to keep learning. I have been incredibly lucky to have lots of pig experts in my life. Again and again I have reached out to them with basic questions and they have come back with thorough, knowledgeable answers.

This is the eponychium on a brand new piglet.

This is the eponychium on a brand new piglet.

In an effort to pay it forward, I decided to share something I find interesting and an average person might not know. The piglet slippers! Let me be clear, piglet slippers is not the correct term, it is the eponychium or the deciduous hoof capsule. Piglets are born with these to prevent hurting the sows reproductive tract. As soon as they are born they dry up and fall off.

The same piglet just a few minutes later. The eponychium is totally gone.

The same piglet just a few minutes later. The eponychium is totally gone.

It’s not just piglets who are born with eponychium, all animals with hooves have them. Unfortunately, I tried this summer to get some good shots of a baby calf’s capsules but the time I wiped the afterbirth off my hands and got my phone out, they were gone. That’s how fast they dry up. I’ll try again next calving season.

And a shot of a piglet in it's sack demonstrating how the eponychium works. This was a healthy, alive piglet by the way.

And a shot of a piglet in it’s sack demonstrating how the eponychium works. This was a healthy, alive piglet by the way.

This is a really fascinating part of birth. Oddly, I can’t remember ever being taught about this in my animal science classes, it was one of those things I had to ask about. I hope I was able to pass on some hog knowledge to you today! 

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Favorite Things 2018 – A Gift Guide

Oh, yes, friends. It is that time of the year againTime for a list of my favorite things, aka The Aghag’s gift guide for Holiday giving. Please excuse me for being late this year. The Camp Fire has taken its toll and everything is just a whisper off.  Ok, back to business, I have this set up where all you have to do is click on the link under the photo (the underlined words in the caption of the photo) and it should take you to the corresponding shop. These are all products I use and love and I am not being paid to say that.


Last year after the Cherokee Fire, a group of my friends sent me boxes of “things that made me feel better”. All of the things made me feel loved and better. But my friend, Dairy Carrie extra spoiled me because she sent a box of glorious cheese. I won’t lie, I cried when I opened it. You will too. This is a great gift. My whole family loved and benefitted from this gift.



This has been a big year in terms of personal growth for me. I learned a lot about feminism, patriarchy and how we react when confronted with ugly truths. Without this book, I would have been very lost. Ms. Solnit’s writing helped guide me through some nasty misogyny this year. I highly recommend men, women and teenagers read this book. It is a wonderful start into this complex topic.


If you are from Chico chances are you have a Klean Kanteen and this is why: “The devastating Camp Fire in our Chico backyard decimated the town of Paradise. We’re proud to offer our exclusive ‘Butte Strong’ 16oz Insulated Wide. 100% of NET proceeds will go directly to Camp Fire relief efforts. Special thanks to local Chico artist 12 Volt Tattoo for the custom graphic. “
I bought one because they are giving back and supporting the survivors of the Camp Fire and I love this model because of the lid.


Authentic Japanese snacks, need I say more? I’m a foodie. I like to try different foods. I heard about Snakku and I knew immediately I needed to try it. It did not disappoint! Everything the box contained was a new and exciting experience in taste and texture. It came beautifully wrapped, so not only was it a treat for my palate, it was for the eyes as well.


Two words: honey bears! Travis started his own apiary (aka beekeeping) from scratch. I had the privilege to meet his bees, taste his honey and see some of it get bottled. It was fascinating. I’ve always wanted my own bees until I figured out I’m allergic and I saw how hard Travis worked. It’s much better to buy honey from the professionals. I highly recommend this one.


Growing up in Durham, you know the Sohnrey family. You just do. A couple years ago they opened up a farm store. It’s my go to place for local agriculture products. These Lemon Almonds have been sent all around the world in gift packages because they are freaking amazing. All the best fruits and nuts come from California, here is the best place to get some.


It makes the List every year for a reason, wiping your own butt is gross. It will make the List every year for that reason. Enough said.


My Mom makes this lovely soap. She has for over 20 years now. She hand makes it, in her kitchen, in small batches. She uses goat’s milk, essential oils, clay, olive oil, and other feel good, smell good and look pretty things. It’s all I use in my shower and I swear by it. I know I’m her kid, and I’m supposed to say this, but sweet Baby Oprah, this soap is glorious. You have to email her at if you’d like to place an order. Her inventory changes with the season, so make sure to ask about all her scents.


Black Chickpeas! Small Town Specialties has some unique products!

Black Chickpeas! Small Town Specialties has some unique products!

Small Town Specialties has black chickpea and Livermore red walnuts. Both super cool things! I had the pleasure of meeting both Allen and Melissa, they were wonderfully nice. Black chickpeas and red walnuts are pretty usually, so this would be a wonderful gift for your favorite foodie or entertainer in your life.

That is it for this year folks. I hope this helped or at least gave you some good gift giving ideas. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and thank you for reading.

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