Tag Archives: Ag Hag
Don’t worry, I’ll be posting the whole story here in a while.
The drought we are currently suffering through is showing no signs of improving. Despite our positive attitudes and all the thoughts and prayers for water that we can muster, things continue to get worse. All agriculture related conversations inevitably circle around to water. When will it rain? Will it be a wet year? El Nino? Do you know anyone with extra feed? How are we going to survive? Needless to say, our whole family, actually the whole community, is suffering from a great deal of anxiety.
Let me tell you, the worst thing you can say to someone in agriculture right now is anything along the lines of “it’s not going to rain” or “it’s going to be another dry year”. It’s almost like a slap in the face. Staying focused on the now, making it day to day, convincing ourselves it’s going to be okay, are the only things keeping most of us motivated. This is very real to us.
Every rancher I know is making every effort to conserve water, to become more efficient and, well, survive. Some ranchers are buying and making all the hay they can. They need feed for their cattle and know that is the only way to get it right now. Other ranchers are culling their herds. We are doing both.
In addition to selling our calf crop, where we earn the majority of our income, about two months early, we made the decision to cull or sell, more cattle than we normally would. Selling your mother cows is almost like selling your future and past. These are cows whose genetics were planned years before they were ever born. We watched their births, we watched them grow up, we cared for them their whole lives, we watched them, in turn, give birth. Now we must sell them.
Granted, culling cows is a necessity for a healthy herd. Removing genetics that are not efficient makes your herd more sustainable. And, ranching is a business. If a cow is not making you money, she is costing you money. Most of us operate within such tight margins, we simply can’t afford to have the deadweight, even in a good year.
It’s different when you are forced to cull cows before they are ready. The drought has forced such action. Cows that had calves that weren’t “perfect”, older cows, cows that simply looked at us the wrong way at the wrong time, all were sold. It was heartbreaking to say goodbye to some of these good cows.
This is our reality. If we want to continue to ranch despite this drought, tough choices need to be made. Having healthy cattle and ground is our only option and that means doing whatever we must to sustain those things. Running less cattle on our dry ground will cause less stress to everything, therefore when it does rain again (and it will!!), we will be able to bounce back faster and better.
Like the majority of Americans, I have a Facebook page. As most of us know, Facebook offers groups you can join. There are groups for everything, I belong to everything from teacup pigs owners groups to stuff your own sausage groups. One of my favorites these days is The Cult of Pre-Pasteurian Preservation and Food Preparation, moderated by Ken Albala.
A few months back someone in the group was talking about salt cured eggs and how delicious they were. I decided I needed to try them!
I just happened to have a dozen free-range, red bourbon, turkey eggs that were begging for me to use them. I also had some black truffle salt, itching to be used on eggs! Match made in heaven.*
I buried the yolks in a layer of black truffle salt, then a layer of regular sea salt. I left this alone, covered, in my refrigerator for two weeks.
After the two weeks were up, I knocked as much salt off as I could, wrapped the yolks in cheesecloth and hung them in my fridge for another week.
I had been dying to try these for months at this point and finally got the chance on a green salad. You literally must use a cheese grater to use these eggs, but it is worth it! The eggs could also be served over pasta and other vegetables.
Once your egg yolks are cured, keep them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about a month.
*Also you can use regular chicken eggs and salt. I was just being extra fancy.
My favorite plant center, The Plant Barn, brought these awesome little nuggets called Mexican Sour Gherkins or Mouse Melons, to my attention last summer. Of course it was too late to plant them, so I had to wait almost a whole year before I could finally get my dirty little hands on the seeds!
Much to my unadulterated joy, I was able to both buy seeds and buy the started plant at The Plant Barn. I’m going to tell you a secret. I am a horrible seed starter! When given the chance to buy a plant or start a plant from seed, I’ll buy the plant every time, I don’t care if it is more expensive, they freakin’ live!
I did actually manage to start several plants from seed! They took longer to start growing and producing compared to your normal garden cucumber, but they make up for it because they are unique! They look little like baby watermelons! It’s fun to give them to kids, it blows their little minds (oh they blew mine too, who am I kidding?).
These “melons” do taste like cucumbers you are used to, but just a whisper sour. I haven’t had enough to make bread and butter pickles, but I hear they are delicious that way. I’ve been enjoying them alone, but my favorite is sliced in half and on a salad! They add a surprising little kick!
If you get the chance to grow these little guys, I highly recommend them! It’s always fun to get some new and exciting things in your garden and they have been a great treat for Silly the teacup pig!