The Second Day of Spring

On this second day of spring I would like to show you some beautiful pictures of spring flowers blooming here at the ranch.

Pink tulips are my favorite.

The delicate cherry blossoms.

A lovely spring bouquet.

As I said, I would like to be able to show you pictures of these flowers blooming here at the ranch.  Unfortunately, I cannot.  Because it snowed last night.  Again.

It started in the afternoon – though the picture below looks very dark and the “dusk to dawn” light is on, it was taken about 2 pm.

By evening this was the view out the tractor windshield when I did the feeding. Yes, I can drive the tractor when necessary. Not very fast, but I do get there eventually – and so far I haven’t hit anything.

By morning we had at least six inches of fresh snow.

We had also set a new (for us anyway) record on the number of times in a 24 hour period the power went out.

Four, if you’re counting. The snow was very wet and heavy and broke trees and limbs all over town. Also took out the power lines underneath them. I felt sorry for whoever is in charge of fixing those lines – I think he/she had a long night.

So, the lumber the guys were going to work on today is covered with snow and still waiting.

And my tulips and daffodils are struggling up out of the snow. I think they are waiting too – for the real spring. Not the one the calendar says we have already.

I hope the wait isn’t too long.  Everyone around here has had about enough of winter already.

Pink Slime

I’m sure by now you’ve all heard the controversy in the news about “Pink Slime.”

In case you don’t know what all the fuss is about, you can read more about it here.  Basically they’ve found a way to take parts of a beef previously used as dog and cat food and now they process it, rinse it in ammonia and put it in 70% of the ground beef sold in this country.  They don’t have to label it either, so consumers can’t tell if they are buying and eating it or not. Unless of course, you get your meat from your local grass fed rancher.

I’ve done an article on our beef sales website about our meat – which does NOT contain slime, pink or otherwise – and posted pictures of the meat cutting process here.

Rick, Alex and I were very glad to have an opportunity to have a personalized meat cutting lesson from the nice people at the IGFC – Island Grown Farmers Co-operative.

The IGFC is a meat processing co-op where we are members. It was an interesting experience to see the experts in action and we learned a lot.   Yes, I too wore the very attractive hair net, but you won’t see pictures of it – there are some advantages of being the photographer and blog writer 😉

Improved Equipment

We had another little dusting of snow this week. With the auger on the tractor the guys continued digging post holes and getting the posts cemented in. We are trying to get the cattle squeeze and chute operational soon, so we need the fencing completed.

Our post hole digging has improved a lot. When we first arrived our equipment consisted of two rock picks, a shovel and each other.

And we dug a lot of holes like that. This was one of our first construction projects, the fence around our garden.

Eventually we got an auger. An improvement, to be sure.

But the hand-held auger can’t go through the big rocks – those still have to be dug  out by hand.

Our cement mixing equipment consisted of the wheelbarrow Larry and Karla left for us and a shovel and hoe.

Now we have the use of John the builder’s cement mixer. A lot easier – and quicker – to use.

One of our friends told us a few months ago that when he was having a hard day at work at his desk job he considered just taking some time off and coming to the ranch. He would enjoy the scenery, peace and quiet and help out around here for a while. Then he remembered the post holes and the rocks. And decided his desk job wasn’t so bad  after all.

So Darren if you’re reading this please note the new equipment. The auger on the tractor goes through all but the biggest rocks. It does make our construction projects a lot easier than they used to be. You may have to arm wrestle Rick to drive his tractor – but that is another story.

Eggs From A Chicken

The cute little fluff ball chicks we got last spring . . .

have turned into lovely laying hens.

And the girls are laying a lot! It is a challenge to keep up with all the eggs. As I was washing eggs I thought of a conversation I had last year. I’m sure big egg production facilities have specialized methods for washing eggs, but our method is me, water and a clean, dry towel, so you have plenty of time to think.

Anyway, I was remembering this conversation that is still amazing to me. A seemingly intelligent woman came to visit with her husband last year. She was asking questions about the ranch and cattle and asked if we had chickens.

I replied that yes, we did. Our hens free range in the orchard and we love the fresh eggs they provide. This woman announces in a loud, horrified voice “Oh, I could never eat eggs that come out of a chicken’s backside! I have to get my eggs at the supermarket!” 

And she was serious – really. I’m sure I just stood there with my mouth open as I was pretty much speechless. I wish now I had followed up on her line of thinking, like where does she think supermarket eggs come from? Does she think there is some sort of machine that produces eggs in the back of the store?

Most people we talk to about the ranch and growing our own food think it is a wonderful, healthy thing that we produce fresh food with no additives, chemicals, hormones, etc. She was the first with the negative reaction. It makes me wonder – how many people out there really do think food comes from the grocery store? So, just for the record, yes – we do eat eggs that come out of a chicken’s backside. And, in case you didn’t know, if you eat eggs, so do you.