Tag Archives: local

The Future of the Farm: The Aftermath

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to take “The Megan Show” to my alma mater, CSU, Chico and participate in a discussion. The discussion was about “The Future of the Farm”. I was lucky to have David Robinson Simon the Author of Meatonomics as a discussion partner. I felt that Mr. Simon and I contrasted nicely and it made for an interesting conversation.

It always makes for a fun and lively conversation when two polar opposites sit down to discuss an issue both are passionate about. Being a cattle rancher, obviously I feel very strongly about what I do. Mr. Simon is a vegan and based on my own experiences and others I know, one must feel very strongly to maintain that lifestyle (it was really hard for me and I failed).

Mr. Simon spoke first. He had a powerpoint that basically outlined his book. Some of the slides had pictures that painted animal agriculture in a poor light. They say pictures are worth a thousand words, but unfortunately they often only tell part of a story. Because agriculture has typically kept our barn doors shut, we have left ourselves open to misunderstandings like this.

While I did disagree with Mr. Simon about several issues, Ag Gag, factory farming, and ag terrorism being a few. I was surprised about how many issues we held similar views on. For example eating “local” might not always be the most efficient and grass-finished beef is not always the most sustainable method in beef production.

It's always a win when I get to share this!

It’s always a win when I get to share this!

I felt like this discussion was time well spent. Being able to sit down and have a conversation with people that don’t always agree with me helps me become a better communicator and helps agriculture open our barn doors. Getting to interact with an audience enhances the experience for everyone; personal connections are made, passions shared. If agriculture wants to engage with our public we simply must take every opportunity, that is why I was disappointed in the College of Agriculture.

It's rare that I remember to take pictures before I speak. I kinda did it this time! Thanks to my friends that came!

It’s rare that I remember to take pictures before I speak. I kinda did it this time! Thanks to my friends that came!

There were only two agriculture students (thanks guys!) in attendance and no staff or faculty. Our industry leaders need to make sure our students and future ag leaders are being exposed to and urged to have conversations with our public. Our leaders are the ones that need to set that example. A huge part of why I am able to speak and engage the public is because I saw my professors do that.

Although I was excited to have the opportunity to participate in this discussion and give back to the University that helped shape who I am (and I’d do it again in a hot second), it worried me that there was a low ag turn-out and Dr. Jones had no success finding someone from the College of Ag to participate. If agriculture is serious about transparency and engaging our public our local leaders must do a better job of setting that example or they run the risk of “The Megan Show” doing for them – scary thought, huh?

 

At least The Megan Show has pretty boots! Thanks Jenny over at http://prairiecalifornian.com/ for coming!

At least The Megan Show has pretty boots! Thanks Jenny over at http://prairiecalifornian.com/ for coming!

 

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, animals, Beef, Field Trip, Humor, Know a California Farmer, Ranch life, Rants, Uncategorized

Chokecherry Jelly

A few weeks ago, my Dad was reminiscing with me about family history and family members long dead and gone. I was lucky enough to meet some of these people when I was small. I have some hazy memories of certain encounters. I am constantly trying to strengthen these memories by pestering people who remember more than I do, or connecting by recipes, because taste and smell seem to bring memories galloping back.

I battled beard and mountain lions for these chokecherries! See the broken limbs?  From a bear!

I battled bears and mountain lions for these chokecherries! See the broken limbs? From a bear!

My Dad was telling me about cutting firewood for his Aunties and doing various “chores” for them like picking fruit, killing wild game, etc. Dad mentioned he used to pick a lot of chokecherries and gooseberries for jelly making. Immediately I perked up and demanded to know more.

This is what chokecherries look like.

This is what chokecherries look like.

I had vague memories of riding my horse and picking something for jelly when I was very small. I was little, therefore, super short, and couldn’t reach the fruit. But, like any enterprising young ranch kid, you found ways around that. I can’t remember much about this memory, like what berry, how old I was, or who we were picking them for, but I do remember riding my horse Sequoia.

Some of the biggest bear poo I've ever seen. I had all my cowdogs with me, just in case!

Some of the biggest bear poo I’ve ever seen. I had all my cowdogs with me, just in case!

I spent so much time on our mountain ranch this summer I was unable to devote as much time to my passions of gardening and canning. However when Dad taught me what a chokecherry bush looked like, I knew I had the opportunity to make up for lost canning time! During the middle of the afternoon, when it was too hot to do much else, I picked chokecherries, lots and lots.

Seriously, I went overboard. Typical.

Seriously, I went overboard. Typical.

 

Chokecherry Jelly

  • 3 cups chokecherry juice
  • 6 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 box (2 pouches) liquid pectin
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon butter (to prevent foaming)

Pour juice, sugar and butter into large heavy saucepan and stir to mix. Place over high heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Stir in pectin. Bring to a full, rolling boil and boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir and skim off foam.  Add almond extract. Pour into hot, sterilized jars and seal with two-piece canning lids. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

This jelly is delicious. The almond extract really adds a lovely layer of flavor. Since I picked so many chokecherries I am attempting to make wine. Stay tuned as I am just a few more weeks from trying it, and if it’s good, I’ll show you how I did it!

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, arts & crafts, dogs, family, food, History, Know a California Farmer, photos, Ranch life, Recipe

Honey Fig Jam

As you know, we have fig trees. However picking those figs is a whole other story. Between the deer, birds, my pig, and our neighbor Pete, it’s tough to get a good crop. However this year I persevered and picked enough to make jam. But not any jam, this jam is pure Table Mountain Ranch. It uses both ranch fruit and ranch honey, a marriage made in heaven!

This is what a mission fig tree looks like.

This is what a mission fig tree looks like.

Honey Fig Jam

  • 4 cups roughly chopped fresh figs
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 package pectin
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons honey
Washed, stemmed, and chopped figs.

Washed, stemmed, and chopped figs.

Wash and de-stem your figs. Chop finely. Add the figs, lemon juice, and water in a large saucepan. Add pectin and stir until combined. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil, stirring often.

Cooked figs.

Cooked figs.

When the mixture has reached a full roiling boil, add the sugar and honey.

Sweet.

Sweet.

Boil hard for one minute, stirring constantly. Skim foam, and ladle into processed jars leave 1/4 inch headspace. Process for in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.

This is delicious, I swear!

This is delicious, I swear!

 

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, arts & crafts, food, Know a California Farmer, photos, Ranch life, Recipe, Uncategorized

Brown Ranch Hamburger Beef Animal Share

Brown Ranch Hamburger Beef Animal Share 

We are excited to expand our grass-fed meat program! We are offering a chance to buy a live beef animal share! As always, our certified Natural Black Angus cattle have never been fed grain, never received any antibiotics or added hormones. They have lived their lives peacefully and humanely on our 6th generation cattle ranch, enjoying winter and spring in the Sacramento Valley and a second spring and summer in the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains.

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We are offering the following shares: 

A petite share – 10 lbs of hamburger for $55.

A small share – 20 lbs of hamburger for $105.

A medium share – 50 lbs of hamburger for $250.

A large share – 100 lbs of hamburger for $475.

A paleo share – 200 lbs of hamburger for $900.

Please contact Megan Brown (530) 518-4432 or megrbrown@gmail.com for more information. 

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, animals, Beef, family, food, meat, photos, Ranch life, Uncategorized

Farm Star Pizza

There is this great local pizza place here in Chico, they pride themselves on using local and organic ingredients. Although the very first time I went there to try it (about a year and a half ago), it immediately got my attention with its decorations.

The first time I went into this pizza joint this was on the wall. You guys know how I feel about fear mongering right? (and you know this corn/fish is not a real thing, right?)

The first time I went into this pizza joint this was on the wall. You guys know how I feel about fear mongering right? (and you know this corn/fish is not a real thing, right?)


The more I thought about that poster the more upset I became. So I did what any person in my generation would do, I left them a comment on their facebook page. Well a few other local farmers/ranchers saw that comment and poster and they also chimed in. A conversation was had and Farm Star realized that perhaps fear mongering was not a proper way to support local farmers and ranchers. All was well for a long time. I enjoyed Farm Star pizza’s occasionally, life was good.

Then a couple days ago something Farm Star posted on their page got my attention again.

The claim that organic  is "tastier, but it's also better for you and the environment" is one I would like to debate.

The claim that organic is “tastier, but it’s also better for you and the environment” is one I would like to talk about I mean just because something is organic does that mean it is healthy? Organic cookies are healthy? Organic pizza is healthy?.

And I did try to have a conversation with Farm Star but, internet happens, and other consumers got involved.

And I did try to have a conversation with Farm Star but, internet happens, and other consumers got involved.

This did make me LOL, Jenny does have a point that Butte County doesn't produce that much wheat and probably even less "organic" wheat.

This did make me LOL, Jenny does have a point that Butte County doesn’t produce that much wheat and probably even less “organic” wheat.

This is me suggesting that more farmers and ranchers should be asked.

This is me suggesting that more farmers and ranchers should be asked.

May I be snarky for just a second? Working on 1 farm for a season, isn't going to teach you everthing, it's just not. I've been in the ag industry for 30 years amd I still feel like I know nothing.

May I be snarky for just a second? Working on 1 farm for a season, isn’t going to teach you everthing, it’s just not. I’ve been in the ag industry for 30 years and I still feel like I know nothing.

Sometimes trying to have a calm conversation on the internet can be really hard. The internet seems to give people license to be a little more nasty, and that is easy to do when you aren’t face to face with someone. People also don’t like when something they “know” is “true” is questioned. I know it certainly bugs me when people that are not involved in production agriculture tell me all about it (especially when they are quoting a popular anti-ag book or movie).

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Over the past couple of years, I have grown a lot better at having online conversations with people. I went from basically “um, you are wrong, I am right” to “well why do you think that? Because my experience in the field has been different, let’s talk”. Especially now that I have sought treatment for my anxiety, my communication skills are about 100% better. True, I can be snarky sometimes, but after a certain point, everyone runs out of patience sometimes, especially when people start to name calling or try to go off topic. Despite it all, I sent every single one of these ladies a friend request, I really was trying to have a discussion where we all could learn something, only one accepted.

It was really important to me that Farm Star didn’t think I am a “local disgruntled farmer” (I consider myself a rancher, and I’m not disgruntled, I just want people to know what they are talking about). So I went in there to talk to them about their post. I know they didn’t mean to open a can of worms with it, but since they want to support local agriculture, I wanted them to know that not only organic agriculture is beneficial. Like I said above in my comments, ag is not that simple- organic, just like conventional ag has its positives and negatives.

I really like this place and was excited to talk to them!

I really like this place and was excited to talk to them!

Walking into Farm Star this time, they had a lovely picture of a 4-H member, LOVE IT!

Walking into Farm Star this time, they had a lovely picture of a 4-H member, LOVE IT!

I spoke to Robert at Farm Star. I apologized for high jacking the thread, and tried to tell him who I am. Sometimes it helps when I explain to people that in fact I did earn an advanced ag degree, I ranch, I work very hard for local ag, I write for all ag, I have a blog. He said he didn’t mind that there was some drama, it was basically free advertising for them. I was glad he felt that way, because I really do admire them for using local products (when they can).
I tried to explain that I really didn’t want to get into the conventional vs organic debate, because it just should not be debated. All agriculture is important, and it’s wonderful that we have a choice! I think Robert understood.

I got myself a Porky Pig!

I got myself a Porky Pig!

The organic pizza was excellent! It had potatoes and bacon on it, a great combination! And the pizza was big enough that I will have leftovers tonight! Generally I cook or my parents cook for me, so pizza is a nice splurge and treat for for me.

The organic pizza was excellent! It had potatoes and bacon on it, a great combination! And the pizza was big enough that I will have leftovers tonight! Generally I cook or my parents cook for me, so pizza is a nice splurge and treat for for me.

If you are a local Chicoan and haven’t tried Farm Star, I say go try it! It’s yummy! I really love to support local businesses that support local farmers and ranchers, after all, we are all in this thing together!

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, food, Humor, photos, Rants, Uncategorized

Book Family Farm Pastured Pork

Remember the guest post that Brian Drake did a couple weeks ago? Well I am pleased to annouce they have pork available!!!

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Filed under Ag, food, Guest Post, photos, Ranch life, Uncategorized