Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Have you Heard of This?

A family member shared an awesome post of facebook the other day…

Dolly Parton has a program called the Imagination Library.  The Imagination Library sends a free book to a child every month from birth to 5 years old.  Like them on Facebook here.  As a teacher, getting books in the hands of all kids is something I think is extremely important.  The brain develops very rapidly between birth and 5 years old.  Reading and exposing children especially children from socioeconomically disadvantaged families to books is very important to their success in school and ultimately in life.  Children coming into school from socioeconomically disadvantaged families are already behind – they have about half the vocabulary of a kid the same age from a professional family.  Half the words!  Reading is important even at a early age!


Anyway, off my soap box … Dolly Parton is one of my favorite country artists but now I love her even more. 

This is not available everywhere (it’s not in my area unfortunately) but check to see if it is available in your area!  Then read to your child every single day!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Can't we all just get along?

Why is it that defamation seems to be acceptable when advertising food? It is the only industry that I can think of where it is acceptable to say 'buy my product because yours is bad' instead of 'buy my product because it is the best.' I don't know when this started but I sure wish it would stop.

When VW advertises the saftey of their vehicles, they just tell us how great theirs is. They never say 'buy a VW because a x brand will kill you.' It seems to me there would be a lawsuit and I would imagine consumers wouldn't stand for it. 

So why is it that consumers are ok with this in food? I saw a website today that was promoting raw milk as one of their products. Note that I don't personally drink raw milk but I'm all about people having options. But raw milk is a high risk product. People can die or become very ill. 

But my issue was in the fact that they called other farming practices harmful. Ironic since their concerns are with hormones, GMOs and RoundUp. None of which are connected to consumer deaths and are widely accepted as safe and highly tested and regulated. 

Why is is they have to add fear into order to sell? Your products should sell on their merits. If you have to scare someone into buying your product, you must not have a great product to begin with. 

I'm am all about people having options. If you want organic, buy it or grow it. If you don't believe the over 1000 scientific studies about GMO saftey, that is your right and you are welcome to buy the many products that don't contain them

We still sell our natural beef. And we spell out what that means. In our case no added hormones and no antibiotics. Our steers eat grass and corn because it is a system that works for us. When most people ask why our beef tastes so amazing, I can honestly tell them it is because of the dry aging process. But you will never, ever hear me try to sell you my beef (or any other product) by bashing they way someone else grows their product. 

If we could all do this, I think agriculture would be better off.

Meanwhile back at the ranch...

This spring has been incredibly busy! I say that every year but I guess we keep piling on more projects.

This year we are growing:
Beef cows
Sweet Corn
And our personal garden too.

In May we were busy as volunteers at our local fair. This is probably my favorite volunteer project! 

The drought is a very critical issue for us still. We are in a location with the best above ground storage water practically in the state but we still battle drought. With low soil moisture, the ground was sure thirsty when irrigation began. The lingering drought is the reason why we chose to grow Sudan this year. It is a lower value crop but very drought tolerant.

We will not be coming back to the farmers market selling beef. We are considering pumpkins. We decided that the costs of attending the market was too heavy on our family for the return. Instead we are enjoying more Saturdays as a family.

We do still have a very limited quantity of beef that we are selling to our existing customers. We are currently fully sold for this year.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

National Ag Day Bus Tour

In honor of National Ag Day, our Glenn County Farm Bureau hosted our 2nd Annual Bus Tour of Glenn County Agriculture. I'm so happy we got to share real farm stories with our local consumers. Here are a few pictures to share.

We started at Burreson's Blueberries. Dennis Burreson shared with us the history of the settlement of his place and all the work that went into growing blueberries in Glenn County. The moral of the story - they are hard to grow here.

Blueberries are delicious for bids too. In order to reduce crop loss from bird damage, Dennis bring is a falconer and 12 Falcons to protect his crop for 5 weeks. While it costs around $1000 a day for the falconer, it saves close to $5000 per day in lost blueberries. 
If you buy blueberries from Costco during the last week of May, chances are they came from this ranch right here in Orland.

The next stop was Walnut Avenue Ranch.
Need some sweet treats for Easter? Come here! They make almost everyt
hing in house! The prices were very reasonable too! You can even buy online -
They make chocolates and lots of nut brittles a by hand. 
If this was a smell-o-vision blog, you would be so hungry for brittle right now. It smelled amazing! 

The last tour stop was the Schager Dairy owned by Mike and Pat Schager. As a neat side note, my Grandfather and Pat's father were friends growing up in Willows, CA. :)

Mike and Pat milk about 500 cows. It might be hard to believe but that is small dairy. Mike estimated that to really be economically viable they would need to have 2,500 cows.
The cows live in a freestall barn which means the cows choose where to eat and sleep inside the barn. The floor is cement but the cows actual enjoy bedded mattresses. 
The milk truck visits once per day to empty this milk tank. Both Mike and Pat work full time on the dairy, every day. Much of Pat's work is paperwork. She has to provide a tremendous amount of reporting on water quality and nutrient management in addition to normal business paperwork and tracking the health of their herd. 
The cows come in twice per day for milking. Their dairy is unique in that they have three breeds - Jerseys, Holsteins and Brown Swiss. 

We had a great day touring! If you want to join us next time, call the office and order your tickets early. You can also check out the tours offered by Tehama County Farm Bureau and Butte County Farm Bureau.

Monday, March 16, 2015

National Ag Week

Today marks the start of National Ag Week. A great time to celebrate agriculture across the US.
Here are a few facts to share:
  • In California alone we have over 76,000 farms. Most of these are family owned farms.
  • California produces over 400 different crops. We have by far the greatest crop diversity of any US state.
  • Over half of all the US-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables are grown in California. You're welcome the rest of the country. ;)
  • The top crop in California is milk. I think our cows truly do enjoy the weather here.
  • California produces over 90% of the US Artichokes, Strawberries, Almonds, Garlic, Tomatoes and Olives.
So thank a farmer today!! Agriculture is vital to our dinner tables and our economy!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Affordable Vacations- Cruising

We just got back from a great vacation on a Cruise! We started cruising in 2010 and have really enjoyed the three cruises we have done. We have only cruised with Carnival so far and their loyalty program and great rates keep us coming back.

We have only cruised out of California ports and only to Mexico so far. For us these have made the most sense for best use of our time and money. We hope to eventually cruise to Alaska, the Bahamas and Caribbean.

These are the biggest four reasons why we love to cruise:

1. Affordable - Cruises are hands down one of the most affordable vacations, especially if you live near a port. I'll go into this more in a future post to show you what we spend on ours. Like any vacation, they can be as expensive as you make them too but there are some great ways to keep it very affordable.
For me, the affordability factor means I can really relax. I don't fret about if we spent too much at X. This is a big deal for me and I think helps me truly get my brain into relax mode.

2. Practically All-Inclusive - The cruise rate includes standard meals on board and basic drinks such as tea and coffee. Alcohol and soda are not included and you can choose a fancier meal for an extra charge. We have always found the included food to be good (hello lobster night) and have never purchased the upgraded meals. Room service is even included. We typically order coffee to our room and head out for the actual meal.
The cruise price also includes a good variety of entertainment. Typically there are nightly Vegas-style shows and comedy shows. There are also game-show type events and many activities happening on the ship. Mini golf, pools and hot tubs are also included on most ships. The ship we were just on had a "waterworks" area for kids with three very nice slides.

3. Floating Hotel/Resort - Some people use the ship like the floating hotel that it is and venture out at all the ports. Instead of moving hotels every day, the hotel moves for you. The time that you need to be back on ship is very firm, but most people don't have trouble with it.
We prefer to use the ship as a floating resort and stay on the ship most of the time. We love laying out and enjoying all the included amenities. It works out very well either way.

4. Limited phones - This is my husband's favorite part. Since you are in international ports and international waters there is limited cell phone use. We put our phones on airplane mode or turn them off when we set sail and don't even bother with the expensive international cell plans. The ship has a phone should there be an emergency and our loved once can call the ship should they need to. This allows us to literally unplug for the cruise.

We love to cruise and I'm looking forward to sharing more about our experiences in upcoming posts!

Friday, January 23, 2015

What goes into selling at the farmer's market?

Selling food at the farmer's market is a ton of work. We did a guest post at the Food Journal to share. Check it out and learn why we may not be going back to the farmer's market.