Tag Archives: grass fed

Guest Post: Meet the Drakes

A couple months ago I received an e-mail from someone I went to high school with, she had moved back to her families’ farm and she wanted to meet up and talk grassfed beef. Well you guys know me, I love to talk about beef, but I also keep myself pretty busy these days, so I can be a flat out pain-in-the-butt to pin down. Well after about a month of playing phone, text and e-mail tag, we finally met up at our set of corrals to talk beef and cattle corrals. 

I hadn’t seen Katie since high school. Like all kids that grew up in Chico, I actually have memories of going to her families’ farm to pick pumpkins (they had a you-pick pumpkin farm). They also had draft horses that would pull a wagon around the pumpkin field, it was incredible, even to a ranch kid like me (Ok, I may be just a whisper horse crazy, just a whisper). It was awesome seeing Katie again and I got to meet her husband Brian and their super cute son, Jack. 

It was a great visit and great meeting Katie’s family. I really love what Katie and Brian are doing. They’ve moved back to the family farm and are living the dream. Talking with the Drakes gave me so much hope for the future of my industry! Their goals and beliefs about agriculture mirror mine in a lot of ways. Brian and I got to visit a little more when he brought his horse over to ride with Sue and I. 

Now as you recall Sue is a retired cutting horse, she is fancy pants, I’m not used to riding a horse so well trained. And Sue isn’t used to be a ranch horse. She has to stop to poop, doesn’t like to walk in the mud, and really doesn’t care to be by herself (like some high school girls I know). Anyway Brian gave me some really great tips, that have helped Sue and I immensely. As cliche as it sounds, part of being in agriculture, at least for me, is the culture. The exchange of information, having neighbors you can go to for help or advice when you need it (I think this is why I’ve taken to social media, it’s one big neighborhood of knowledge).

Katie and Brian  are like a breath of fresh air to our ag community. I feel like Butte County will soon be having an ag renaissance (we have a lot of support for ag and its building everyday), and families like the Drakes will be an essential part of agriculture’s success. 

I could go on an on, but I’m going to let Brain Drake do the talking:

The Drake Easter family photo (Brian, Katie, Jack and Emma)

I always jokingly say my son wasn’t born in a barn but we got him into one as soon as possible. It gets laughs and thats why I say it. Its ironic for my wife and I because graduating from college if we had been asked what our future held for us neither of us could have predicted we’d be where we are now. Back to my son though, we literally did get him back into a barn as soon as possible. Our son Jack was born around 8am at a great birth center in Gainesville Fl and by noon that day was asleep in my arms in my blue recliner while mom got some much needed rest in the bedroom of our one bedroom barn apartment. Yep, our apartment was 2 horse stalls renovated into a 400 square foot apartment in a barn. My son Jack has barns in his blood. And horses, they lived a mere cinderblock width away on either side! It was tiny, cramped, we shared it with our border collie Luna, and I always tracked in shavings from the stalls but I look back on that tiny dwelling as the place we brought our first child home to. Even as I think about it now, the thought of my son that tiny, in that place just the the three, er 4(dog) of us wow I was so happy to be a dad, so proud of my wife and on this journey of beginning an ag based lifestyle that now I don’t think I could live without.

Jack checking on the cattle

There is this great book called Little Britches. Its one of my favorites and I’ve read it many times. Its about a family at the turn of the century. The author recalls his experience as an 8 year old boy as his family moved from the east coast to the eastern plains of CO. The first chapter is called ‘Father and I become ranchers.’ My dream for Jack and I! The family lives through incredible catastrophe to flee the hopelessness of the east. To be free, raising livestock, trying to cause produce to grow where it shouldn’t, milking cows, meeting the men of the frontier! Cool stuff. I wonder about my son’s interpretation of his own life.

Jack’s Grandpa Book teaching him about milking a cow

We now live on a great farm here just south of Chico, the Book Family Farm. To him it’s gotta be the land of milk and honey. Really, grandpa has milk cows and sells raw milk, we raise grass fed beef and pasture raised pork and poultry. Much of the produce we eat we grow. For my son and daughter they will grow up being connected to the food they eat and this land that gives life! Here on this little parcel of natural abundance his life isn’t that different from Little Britches author Ralph Moody. And the men of the frontier are still here. Everyday we meet men and women dedicated to this way of life that is rapidly diminishing. We are newbies eager to glean knowledge from those that have been there done that, tried this and that till it finally worked and became sustainable. I have huge admiration for those that have stewarded this land that really does give life.

Brian and Jack with Luna checking on a calf.

I’m a first generation rancher and have so much to learn. And my son Jack, daughter Emma and wife Katie are right there along with me. I spent the last seven years working on a horse ranch in CO and FL. My wife is Katie Book now Katie Drake and we have come home here to Chico CA. Hopefully to raise great kids, be a part of this vibrant community, raise livestock and manage this piece of land with Katie’s family in a way that inspires others to want to know how their food was raised, where it comes from and respect the farmer or rancher responsible for it all. Agriculture is so necessary, but also it’s a way of living that resonates with so many. We are excited to share it! I’m so glad it was shared with me!

Jack and Dynamo

You can reach the Drakes at briankatiedrake@gmail.com


Filed under Ag, Beef, Guest Post, Humor, photos, Ranch life, Uncategorized

My Own Worst Enemy

Sometimes agriculture is agriculture’s worst enemy. I know we don’t mean to be, but it happens. This fact was brought to my attention yesterday, in a very unfortunate way. One of my facebook friends posted a video on their profile. This video (produced by a major New York financial paper) showed two methods of cattle production, grass-fed and “traditional”. It portrayed the grass-fed producer in a wonderful light, I mean, he might as well of had a halo over his head and an angel choir singing behind him. The traditional cattle producer was made out to seem “hickish” and un-educated. Basically the video bashed one segment of cattle production while promoting another, without giving any real facts, details or differing points of view.

When I asked this person why they posted this video, it didn’t go well. When I suggested that maybe this video was poorly done and lacked basic details about modern cattle production and offered a tour of my Ranch by me (an 6th generation cattle rancher with an advanced degree in agriculture who has worked on cattle ranches her whole life). I was told by this person that they grew up on a farm and their Dad taught them all they needed to know about cattle production, so they were good on their information. A little background on this person, they did not finish college, they did not major in agriculture, I’ve never seen them at any of the ag workshops in the area, they don’t raise cattle commercially, and they don’t even eat beef. Now, when someone claims they are from or grew up on a farm or ranch, I expect them to know, at the very least, basic modern ag practices. I firmly believe if you are going to represent yourself as having knowledge of a subject, you should have some actual knowledge.

Our discussion was your basic “only organic” agriculture is beneficial, sustainable, and healthy. Feeding cattle anything but grass “is not natural” (we all know corn is a member of the grass family right? And we DON’T feed cattle straight corn, right?). I’ll spare you the messy details, but it really wasn’t pretty. However, it was apparent that this person did not understand modern cattle production in the least. By the end of it I was accused of being brainwashed, abusing my animals, and pumping my animals full of drugs. As my readers know, it really pisses me off when people who have never seen my ranch or my animals accuse me of abuse. That is pretty much the worst thing a person can say to a Rancher. It’d be equivalent to me saying you abuse your kids because I don’t agree with your parenting style (and I don’t even have kids).

It’s puzzling to me why someone who claims to have an agriculture background would ever not want to look for ways to improve sustainability, the health of their cattle, or even learn more about this industry. Any reasonable person knows education is a good thing. Experience is a good thing. I want the people in charge of growing and raising my food to have the best tools and knowledge they can have. I want them to be as efficient and sustainable as they can be. I want the animals that I will eat to be treated with respect, dignity and to have the most enriched lives they can. All of this translates into a safe, nutritious and high quality food supply.

Like everything, the technology and ag practices we use are always changing. In my experience, the best farms and ranches incorporate many different types of production methods into their operation. For example our ranch uses “traditional” ag practices, some “organic” practices and some “natural” ag practices. By not pigeonholing ourselves we can do so much more with our land and cattle enabling us to not only survive, but thrive.

I think it is so important to always look for ways to improve what we are doing, and how we are doing it, in agriculture. We need to share that information with our consumers and other producers. As farmers and ranchers we need to always be learning, always evolving – we should never say “we already know enough”. We should never attack or bash farmers or ranchers that do things differently, every operation is different, and that isn’t bad. There are always going to be bad apples, every industry has them, but hopefully they will remain the few, and the rest of us can keep learning, changing and evolving for the greater good of agriculture. Never stop learning!


Filed under Ag, food, Rants

Cross Rib Roast

  • 3-5 pound cross rib roast
  • Garlic
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons fine dried herbs (Rosemary, paprika, parsley etc)

I make a mixture of herbs, pepper, salt and balsamic vinegar. Peel a head of garlic.

Using a sharp knife point from a paring or a boning knife make several slits in the top of the meat. Tuck slivers or whole pieces of garlic into each slit.

Coat with your spice/vinegar mixture, drizzle with a little olive oil.  Notice I cook my roast in my cast iron frying pan, that way when I make gravy later it’s easy!

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Calculate cooking time, using 20 minutes per pound of meat as a guide for a cross rib roast. Place roast in oven, TURN THE TEMPERATURE DOWN to 350 degrees and roast for the calculated time, checking with an instant meat thermometer after 3/4 of the cooking time just to make sure things are going ok. The thermometer should register about 140 (rare) to 155 degrees (medium). Remove from oven.

Look how pretty!

Pull your roast from the oven and tent with foil for about 20 minutes so the meat can rest and the juices can re-absorb.

Slice the meat and serve with mashed potatoes and gravy. This is seriously one of my death row foods, the leftovers are even still breathtaking!


Filed under Ag, agriculture, Beef, food, Know a California Farmer, meat, photos, Ranch life, Recipe