Tag Archives: Table Mountain Ranch
The Brown side of the family has always been just a touch horse crazy. In the old box of family photos I inherited, I’d say about 75% are horse photos. Photos of horses out in fields, photos of foals, photos of mares. It drives me crazy because often the names and dates are written on the back of the horse photos but not on the photos of people!
This week’s Throwback Thursday photo does have names on the back, and not just the horses’. I found it in an album labeled ‘Sammie’s friends‘. The woman “at halter” is Bess. Look at her hair and outfit, pretty glamorous for horse holding! This was March 5, 1953, in a little over a year, Sammie Jr would be dead from polio, and my Dad would be born.
Bess is holding ‘Crescent’ and ‘Vicki’, age one day, is the the foal. They are in the front field of the Table Mountain Ranch. I think I’ve seen Bess in some other photos, I might even be able to find her last name if I keep looking. In the meantime, if you recognize her, please leave a comment below?
For this week’s Throwback Thursday, I selected a picture from the Table Mountain Ranch. I thought this picture was interesting because it was taken before the ranch house had it’s additions. Several rooms were added to the original house during the 50’s or 60’s.
I recognize the last names of several of the people in this photo. The Neer’s and Brown’s are still friends. In fact, Wes Neer is my second cousin, Jenna’s, (or something like that like) Grandfather. If you recall, she is responsible for getting the best pickle recipe ever back in rotation.
I love that I have this connection and history to these ranches and these people. It makes me that much more eager to protect my way of life.
I take my lifestyle for granted. All the time. I can’t help it. It is my normal. But now and again, something reminds me, I am not normal. Most people don’t make their own soap, cure their own olives or make jams and jellies. Thankfully this is normal to me and I have a super cool family that has passed these arts down to me. YAY!
First some fun facts about California olives:
- Olives were brought into California in the 1700’s by Franciscan missionaries from Mexico.
- The trees can live from, on average 300 to 600 years (the oldest is over 5,000 years old!)
- Generally, the hotter the region where the olives were picked, the bolder the flavor of olive oil.
- 95% of the olives grown in California are canned as black-ripe or green-ripe olives.
- California is responsible for producing 99% of all olive oil in the United States.
- California is the only state where olives are grown commercially.
- One ton of California olives produces 30-42 gallons of extra virgin olive oil.
However as I talk about this stuff on my social media I am often reminded that these arts are not as normal as they once were and I should be sharing and talking about them more than I do.
I realize this because I have stories like this: we had some friends over a few years ago. They were foodies. Now these foodies made it clear to me (a simple ranch kid) that they knew way more than this simple ranch kid about where food comes from. They knew from the internet and a class they took once. So of course I told them we had olive trees on the ranch and asked if they wanted to try fresh olives, right off the tree. Being experts in all things food, they were adamant that they must have some fresh olives.
Normally I would have explained to these people that fresh olives are gross and bitter and gross and nasty and we do not eat them until we cure them (did I mention they are gross and nasty?). But since these people were experts, who was I to tell them differently? It was pretty funny when they tasted the un-cured olives. They didn’t think so though.
You will need:
Mature green olives
Use olives that are mature but still green. You can purchase lye at most hardware stores. However due to all the meth-heads cooking drugs it’s getting harder and harder to find lye. Rinse you olives and pick all debris out. Place them in a glass or porcelain jars or crocks. You will then need to determine how much lye you will use.
You will need to cover your olives with this lye solution. Add a solution that has been mixed at a ratio of 1 gallon of water (at 65 to 70 degrees) to 4 tablespoons lye. Soak your olives in this for 12 hours. (If you are working with a small amount of olives 1 quart of water to 1 tablespoon of lye works).
The lye solution will have turned brownish after you have soaked your olives for 12 hours. This is good!
Now do the same thing again, with the same ratio of lye solution for another 12 hours. Drain and rinse with fresh water. Cut into the biggest olive, if the lye solution has reached the pit your cure is done! You will want to rinse and drain the olives 3 to 4 times after the lye has reached the pit.
If two lye baths weren’t enough, go ahead and do one more lye solution bath for 12 more hours. Rinse your olives again and soak in cold water.
Soak the olives in fresh, cold water changing the water three (or more) times a day for the next 3 days to 5 days. At the end of the 3 to 5 days, taste an olive to make sure there is no lye flavor!
Finally, soak the olives for at least one day and up to 3 days in a brine solution mixed at a ratio of 6 tablespoons salt to 1 gallon of water, changing the brine solution about every 12 hours. Congratulations, you’ve cured olives.
We like to add a chopped jalapeno or garlic cloves to our olives at this point. Store the olives, jalapeno and/or garlic in the brine solution in the frig. Use within two months.
A few weeks ago, I found myself tagged in a comment by a facebook friend of mine, Glen Groth. It was on a page called American Meat. They were looking for young ranchers and farmers under 35 in California. Well sure enough I got an e-mail from them, asking about me and the ranch.
Things progressed and the director Graham, finally gave me a call. We chatted for a while and we set a date for American Meat crew to come on out to the Ranch. I got the morning off from my town job, cleaned my house and hoped I wouldn’t sound like a complete moron.
Graham and Andy showed up bright and early. It was kind of odd because they told me to act like they were not there and just do my thing. That is really hard for me to do. When people are here I like to talk and visit and tell stories. Any way I took them to check salt. Of course I got the truck stuck because they were filming and that is just how I roll. Then I busted a bag of salt (the bag was wet and I didn’t notice) and when we were doing the interview part I’m certain I had a snoticle coming out of my nose. Graham and Andy were lovely enough to edit all of that stuff out so I look like I am actually a coherent adult, thanks guys!
Here is the finished product, enjoy! (And go check out the other videos, there are some super cool farmers and ranchers out there!!)
Remember a few months back when the Ranch caught on fire? They did catch the guy and he did have some insurance, but not enough to fix all the fence he destroyed. Over my Thanksgiving break I was able to help my Dad fix that fence so we can put our cattle back in their fields. I took this opportunity to take a few pictures of our fence fixing. Since I was trying to keep up with Dad (I know sometimes I drive my family insane with all my picture taking but, hey, that is what happens when you have a blog!), I didn’t get to document the whole process. As any cattleperson will tell you though, there is no end to fence building, so at some point expect a blog about fence building.
The accident took out many wooden posts. The posts are redwood hearts and have been there longer than my Dad has been alive. We replaced the wooden posts with metal t-posts.
I am the official ranch fence clipper. I can clip like it’s my job (oh hey it is!). My little hands are perfect for getting into the small places in-between the wires. I also use a big nail instead of pliers – it’s just easier for my little hands.
Unlike my job in town, production agriculture does not give days off. I spent my Thanksgiving fixing fence, cutting wood and picking pecans with my family, while my friends watched parades and football games. I am incredibly thankful that I have a lifestyle that enables me to work with animals, nature and my family. I hope this blog is able to convey that to you out there in consumerland. Happy Holidays Friends!
As you recall from the last post, Char went to Kristen’s house for some runt TLC. I am happy to report that Char responded nicely to Kristen’s hospital pen and is back on the ranch with his friends.
Mahina came over and spent the day fixing up a separate pen for Char, so he wouldn’t have to work so hard for his groceries. Char liked it. Until he finished his dinner. He then broke into the other pen with his friends. We’ve been watching him closely, but he seems to be doing just fine.
- REALLY well. He gets to snack before the others, much to the alarm of Nikki-Dog (see her pointing at him? She is telling me he is not supposed to be there).
These pigs have become master rooters. remember how I told you the stickers and weeds were pretty nasty is their pen? Well check out the natural rototillers!
HOWEVER. The downside to pastured pork:
My favorite part about owning pigs again? Pig races. This is the best video I could get of it, but trust me, we do this everyday so I’ll get some good ones later. http://youtu.be/wu2jjdNYwHY
When they catch me they get treats and the get to root at me:
The Kennedy Ranch. Or as we call it today, Sycamore Ranch, or The Chico Ranch. This ranch is still in our family, actually all the ranches mentioned in the article below are still in production. A portion of it was sold off as an eminent domain in the 1980’s, but for the most part, this ranch is largely intact. Quite frankly, this is one of the most beautiful ranches in Northern California.
It’s a couple of miles away from downtown Chico, right over the fence from Bidwell Park, and homes have been built on the portion that was taken away. But once you enter the gate, and go over the hill, you feel like civilization and all of your problems are hundreds of miles away. When I am there I imagine what it must have been like when my great grandparents bought it. I’m just starting to uncover the history behind these ranches, but I understand why my family chose to settle, live and die here.
My Mom recently gave me a box of newspaper clippings. This box was from either my Grandfather or from my Great Aunt. It contained mainly clipping about agriculture from 1954, but it did have some gems. These gems included the article posted below and some other clippings relevant to the Family. I’ll be posting them over the next several weeks because they are really cool. This article is about the purchase of the Kennedy Ranch.