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Showing posts from November, 2012

40 Acres and a Mule - or 75 Cows and a Living

In mid-November, I had occasion to drive through Fall River Valley and Big Valley east of Redding with my friend Larry Forero, who is the livestock farm advisor for Shasta and Trinity Counties.  He remarked, somewhat offhandedly, that these valleys used to be full of small ranches with 60-100 cows.  Today, they are dominated by much larger operations – 500-1000 cows (or more) and large-scale hay ranches.  I asked him what had changed.
“Life got more expensive,” he replied.  Things like health care, fuel, and pick-ups are more expensive today than they were 30 or 40 years ago.  I think our expectations have changed, too – we think we need more material goods than our predecessors did – we need a big television, a new truck, a Hawaiian vacation. I was struck by the fact that these changes happened within my lifetime – I don’t feel that old!
Like the families that farmed the 40 acre farms of our past with a mule, I suspect that families that raised 75 mother cows in 1970 didn’t make the…

Mutton Curry - Flying Mule Farm Style

On Wednesday night, we created our own recipe for mutton curry.  It was so delicious, I thought I'd try to share the recipe.  Enjoy!

Mutton Curry
2 lbs boneless mutton shoulder - trimmed and cut into 1" cubes
4 cups lamb or chicken broth
1/2 onion - chopped
3 large cloves garlic - chopped
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 large potatoes - peeled and diced
1 large carrot - diced
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 can garbanzo beans
1 can tomato paste
3 fuyu persimmons
2 tsp meat curry seasoning (available from Spice Grills at the Auburn Farmers' Market)
Salt to taste

Cube the mutton shoulder and brown in olive oil.  After browning the meat, saute the onions until slightly browned.  Add all ingredients EXCEPT persimmons to slow cooker.  Cook on low all day if possible.  An hour before serving, dice the persimmons with the skins left on and add to the curry. (we used chocolate fuyus, but any fuyu variety will work).  Serve over rice.

Mutton has a reputation for being strong fl…

Thankful Today

Today (and always), I'm thankful for my family - for Sami, Lara and Emma.  For my extended family - my parents, my sister and her family and for Sami's family.

Today, I'm thankful for my friends, near and far.  I'm grateful for their support, their help - their friendship. I'm thankful that "neighbor" is an active verb in my community.

I'm thankful for the incredible meal we'll eat this afternoon, and for the people that grew, processed, transported and sold our food.  I'm grateful that I know many of these folks personally - and count a number of them as friends.  I'm thankful that I'm an active participant in my community's food system.

I'm thankful to live in a state and a country where most of us can take our food (and so many other freedoms) for granted - we're pretty unique in this respect.

Today, I'm thankful for the chance to work outside nearly every day.  I'm grateful for the sheep that help make my livin…

Compelled to Farm

A Facebook friend recently posted a link to the following article:

As a farmer who has struggled with the economics of our operation, and as a direct marketer who has heard many of the same questions and comments from customers has this young lady, the article struck a chord with me.  I subsequently shared the article with my own Facebook community.

My friend Marcie Rosenzweig, who used to farm in Placer County but who now lives in Oregon, posted the following comment:
"I've often said that farmers farm for the same reasons painters paint or writers write - because they are compelled to do it.  However, if we want the fresh, organic sustainable food we ask for, we must be willing to support it financially." As Marcie suggests, I am compelled to farm.  I love the work of raising sheep like nothing else I've ever done.  Because it's an avocation for me, I think …

Learning to Drive

Like many kids who grew up in rural communities in the 1980s, I learned to drive before I turned 16.  My folks, I think, approached the task of teaching me to drive with a mix of trepidation and happiness.  They were nervous about turning me loose on the roads of Tuolumne County, but glad that they wouldn't need to pick me up from after-school practices.  The half-hour trip to town, just to retrieve me from football or baseball practice, made their long days even longer.  By the time I was 16 years old, I'd learned to drive both an automatic (my Mom's car) and a 3-speed manual (my own 1963 Chevy pick-up).  I passed my written exam and driving test on the first try.

Today, I got a first-hand dose of what I must have put my parents through. The girls helped me pick up fence on Shanley Hill this morning.  Since it's about a mile back to the gate (on ranch roads) from where we were working, I told Lara (who will turn 15 next Saturday) that she could drive.  With a mix of …

Lambing on a Large Scale

I was invited to spend a few days helping out with lambing at McCormick Sheep and Grain in Rio Vista this week.  They are lambing out 1350 ewes (give or take a few) - much larger scale than our operation.  It's a beautiful place with an amazing history - here are some photos: