Tuesday, March 30, 2010

An Egg is an Egg? Part Two


Last week I wrote about different brands of eggs and their nutritional facts and came to the conclusion that nutrition-wise the "expensive, all-natural, omega-3" eggs are no different than the "bargain brand" plain old white eggs (depending on their diet, which I touch on later.)

I also compared "free range" eggs to "pastured" eggs.

If you missed that post, the link is below.

An Egg is an Egg? Part One

Today I want to touch on a few more subjects.
  • United Egg Producers
  • "Cage Free" is no better than "caged" in my opinion.
  • An egg layer's diet
When I first started looking at all the different egg cartons that I have received from friends, I noticed that a few of them, but not the majority, had a little advertising claiming to be "United Egg Producers Certified." Not having the foggiest idea as to what that meant, I went to the website in the advertisement.

United Egg Producer Certified, www.uepcertified.com

Here is a little literate from the UEP website:

The United Egg Producers "wrote a set of industry guidelines titled 'Animal Husbandry Guidelines for U.S. Egg Laying Flocks.' These guidelines were first introduced as a voluntary program in 2002 for the industry to implement when requested by their customers, since then they have evolved into a committed program called "United Egg Producers Certified."

The United Egg Producers Certified program standards are the strictest in the industry and are part of our ongoing commitment to providing American consumers the safest, best quality and most economical eggs in the world. Our farmers commit to these strict guidelines and are audited by the USDA and Validus for compliance on 100 percent of their farms before they are allowed to place the United Egg Producers Certified seal of approval on their egg packaging."


I spent quite a bit of time at this website and found it very interesting. They defend the cage production of eggs very well in my opinion, but I still do not agree with the practice. I believe some of their "advantages," but still feel like their "advantages" are not worth the "disadvantages" which they do not present.

They compare the small backyard flocks of 1940 to today's cage chickens. They make the point that the backyard chickens were "continuously subjected to diseases, freezing, predators, poisoning, and infighting, had a precarious existence and a normal mortality rate as high as 40% per year. Average yearly egg production was little more than 100 eggs per year of which many were contaminated by the microbes from poultry diseases." What we need to keep in mind is that these flocks were maintained by mostly city folk during WWII in order to feed their families. I wonder if these "city dwellers" really knew how to care for their flocks and did they even have the proper facilities and resources to do so? My guess is that they did not.

I believe that people today have a greater resource of educational material in order to raise healthy flocks. I think that today's technology and advancements overcome the problems of the 1940 small backyard flocks so why aren't they comparing today's backyard flocks with their caged systems?

One argument that defends the huge caged systems is that we can't possible "feed the world" without these industrialized systems. This may be true for some parts of the world, but we can feed more than we do with our family farms. Raising eggs layers is not a rocket science and does not require a huge amount of specialized equipment or capital. Can you imagine if all the people who were able to raise a small flock of egg layers actually did, how many eggs we would have? But now I'm getting off on another subject which I wasn't going to address in this post, so back to the main subject.

I believe that the United Egg Producers are trying to change the practices of the egg industry for the better. I read through some of their 36 page guidelines and think that many of their practices are not ideal, but better than the current practices I have read about.

I found it very interesting that out of all the cartons that I had only two were UEP Certified. They were:

  • Golden Farm Fresh Eggs
  • Great Day Naturals All Natural Omega-3 Eggs

Okay lets switch gears and talk about "Cage Free." "Cage Free" is no better than "caged" in my opinion. Cage free simply means that the hens are not housed in a "cage" but are raised in a confined containment on a barn floor. They are still in a hot, smelly, crowded cage, it's just bigger and doesn't have individual partisans. Oh, and nesting boxes are provided. I wonder how often the litter on the floor is changed? How much manure is allowed to accumulate? In this regard, I wonder if the caged system is better because the manure "drops" through the cage and the hen is not "living" in it. Many people envision "cage free" chickens running around doing what chickens do when they are raised on the farm. Not so people! These chicken houses full of "cage free" chickens are very crowded. Just look at some of the pictures on the United Egg Producers website.

Here is the guidelines for floor space per hen in a "cage free" system according to the UEP. "A minimum of 1.5 sq. ft. per hen must be allocated to allow normal behavior. In a house with perching/roosting area over a droppings pit/belt, the minimum space can be 1.2 sq. ft. for Brown Egg Layers and 1.0 sq. ft. for White Leghorns. In multi-tier systems with feeders and drinkers on overhead perches/platforms, and in which the overhead perches/platforms provide sufficient space for at least 55% of the hens to perch, then a minimum of 1.0 sq. ft. of available space must be provided."

The guidelines for "caged" hens is "minimum of 67 square inches per hen for White Leghorn hens and 76 square inches for Brown Egg Layers." 67 square inches = .47 sq. ft. and 76 square inches = .53 sq. ft. The square inches sound like a lot more room than the square feet. I wonder if that is why they are using square inches here and not square feet like they did in the "cage free" requirements? That's not very much room folks, for either system, cage free or caged!!


Now on to the egg layers diet. As Michelle commented on the last blog about this "Bargain eggs are typically produced with commercial non-vegetarian feed, the meat for which is centrifuge extracted from commercial trimmings & bones. In my opinion, such eggs are a health risk to consumers, due to prion disease risks and the hen's poor nutrition." I agree Michelle! Who wants an egg that is produced from a hen that is fed a diet of things we don't want to consume ourselves? Seriously. Why do we feel like we need to feed animals a diet that God never intended for them to eat in the first place? Are we saying we know better than God? Chickens are omnivores, yes, but in the wild they eat seeds, insects and even larger animals such as lizards and mice. Their natural diet does not consist of a mixture of ground up eyeballs, anuses, bones, feathers and euthanized dogs. Sorry I had to say that, but it's the truth. Some egg laying hens are fed a supplement of this! Most animals that are in the industrialized food system spend the entirety of their short lives in factories eating recycled meat and animal fat. So make sure if you are buying eggs at the store, although I can't imagine why you are, that the carton says that they are fed a vegetarian diet.

Well, I think I'll just let you think about that for now. I need to get some work done around here. The first batch of chicks are coming on Friday, all 200 of them and I still have a few things to get done before then.

If you haven't entered the giveaway for the Emerilware Cast Iron 10" Square Grill Pan and the Sassy Cook'n Hot Chicks Oven Mitt and Potholders Set you'd better saddle up your horse and do it. Here's the link to that post if you missed it!

My First Official Giveaway! Whoo Hoo!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

My First Official Giveaway!! Whoo Hoo!

Okay peeps! Here it is my first "official" giveaway!!

Who wants a beautiful and functional "Emerilware" Cast Iron 10" Square Grill Pan along with a "Sassy Cook'n Hot Chicks" Oven Mitt and Potholders Set?

I am so excited for my first "official" giveaway sponsored by Cookware.com, a part of CSN Stores!

I tried to think of something that everyone could use. I recently purchased one of these square cast iron grill pans and absolutely love it! They are perfect for grilling steaks indoors when the weather outside is not conducive to grilling. And I also chose something that would be appropriate for the Country Chicken Girl, the "Sassy Cook'n Hot Chicks" Oven Mitt and Potholders Set, which are just adorable. I want a set myself!

I'll tell you how to enter the giveaway at the end of the post, but first of all let me introduce you to these fantastic prizes!

First the skillet... oooo, ahhhh, it's so beautiful! Click on the link below the picture for a better view and details! Just remember to hit your browsers back button to return to the blog. Ya'll come back now, ya hear, because there's more!

Emerilware Cast Iron 10" Square Grill Pan

Second prize is the most adorable chicken print oven mitt and potholder set. "Pluck Yourself Out of Your Daily Routine and Whip Up Something Fresh! This delightful print features stylish black and white polka dotted chickens strutting about with white eggs on a yellow background." How fitting for the Country Chicken Girl or anyone who reads this blog. You'll have to click on the link below to see these. Go ahead, I'll wait until you get back.



Just the other night I grilled up some steaks on my grill pan. They were so delicious I wish you would have been here to share. I love this grill pan because cast iron really knows how to treat a steak like it should be treated. It isn't hard to cook restaurant quality steaks at home with the right pan and the right steak. The most important rule is to not over cook your steak!!! For a medium rare steak, you need to cook it for about 2 minutes on each side for a thin steak, or 3 to 4 minutes on each side for a thick steak over medium-high heat. Also make sure your skillet is nice and hot before you put the steak on. I like to coat mine with butter before I put the steaks on!

These delicious looking steaks were some of our Burgundy Mushroom marinated round steaks! Oh my, so incredibly tender and flavorful! Who knew round steak could be so tender! Seriously! I can't begin to tell you what a savory, delectable piece of heaven this steak was. Notice that I also grilled a significant amount of mushrooms and onions to top it all off with!


The skillet in action!



Too bad you can't smell this!



Hold on to your horses, this is the best steak there ever was!
Does anyone else out there love grilled mushrooms and onions as much as I do?


Yummmm...

Who all wants steak for dinner now? I know I do!

But wait that's not all...

You too can experience these scrumptious steaks in your own home (if you live local that is, or come for a visit!) We, meaning our family run business Open A Bar 2 Ranch, LLC have four different kinds of marinated steaks to offer. We have Mesquite Round Steak and Burgundy Mushroom Round Steak along with Mesquite Sirloin Steak and Beef Mushroom Sirloin Steak. If you are interested you can see our price list by clicking on the link below. (Local delivery can be arranged.)

OPEN A BAR 2 RANCH ALL-NATURAL BEEF



Okay, now lets get back to the giveaway. I can tell you are just dying to enter! All that you need to do is tell me your favorite cut of steak in the "comment" section. Could be sirloin, ribeye, t-bone, new york strip... you name it. Maybe you don't like steak? Well then you can say that too and I promise it won't disqualify you from the giveaway. You will also need to leave your first name and your last initial.

You don't need to "sign-in" to leave a comment. You can do it by commenting as "Anonymous" but you'll need to include your first name and last initial in your comment! Got it? Hope it isn't too confusing. If you just can't figure it out, you can email me at kathi@openabar2ranch.com and I'll see if I can walk you through it. IMPORTANT: Please don't leave your comments on Facebook! Those comments will NOT be entered.

You can only enter once and that rule will be strictly enforced. Anyone caught entering more than once will receive a mean nasty rooster AKA Whitey as their "prize!"

You have until noon on April 2nd to enter, so a whole week. The winner will be determined by a "draw of the hat." I will announce the winner on the evening of April 2nd. You will need to check the post and contact me if you are the winner so I can get your information so the prizes can be sent to you. Let's see, what have I missed? Can't think of anything...

Please tell all your friends and tell them to enter! Men you can enter too, these would make wonderful gifts for that special lady in your life. Mother's Day is coming up, enter and see if you can't win this for yo' mama!

A huge thank you goes out to Cookware.com, a part of CSN Stores for sponsoring this giveaway. Please visit their site. CSN Stores has everything you need to design your perfect kitchen including track lighting to accent your countertops and pot racks to show off your cookware.



Okay now enter!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

An Egg is an Egg? Part One



I have been wondering about eggs lately. People save egg cartons for me. The other day I got a stack of various brands and types. I have a variety of brands and types from the "loaded models" to the "basics." You might be surprised as to what I have learned.

Note: Disclaimer! I am not a scientist or an egg expert! These are my own findings and conclusions. Don't take my word for everything, be informed and do some of your own investigations! I am in no way promoting or demoting any of these eggs or brands. Clearly I feel in my own opinion that the best eggs are those that you buy from your local egg farmer like me!


Here are the ones I decided to compare and what all they advertise on their cartons:

Eggland's Best
  • Farm Fresh
  • All Natural
  • America's Superior Tasting Egg/American Masters of Taste Gold Superior Taste
  • High in Vitamin E
  • 100 mg of Omega 3
  • 25% Less Saturated Fat than Regular Eggs
  • Vegetarian Fed Hens
Sparboe Farms Cage Free Brown Plus with Omega and Lutein
  • Omega-3 250 mg per egg
  • Lutein 300 ug per egg
  • Rich in Vitamin E
  • Hens are Raised with Antibiotics
  • All natural Vegetarian diet
Great Day Naturals, All Natural Omega-3 Eggs
  • 350 mg Omega-3 per egg
  • Hens fed multi-grain diets
  • Rich Golden Yolks
Sparboe All Natural Farm Fresh Brown Eggs
  • All Natural Farm Fresh
Shurfresh White
  • Fresh eggs
All eggs were Grade A and Large

I wish I knew how much they all cost. That would be interesting as well. But I didn't go that far.

This is a table I comprised from the Nutrition Facts from each carton.

You'll have to click on the table to enlarge it and then hit your browser's back button to return to the blog.















Okay let's check this out! Points I found interesting and questions that were raised in my mind!
  • Did you notice that they are all exactly the same except for the Eggland's Best? Even when we are comparing the brown eggs to the white eggs. Hmmmm, interesting!
  • How come the Omega-3 and Lutein is not listed on the Nutrition Label?
  • How is the Omega-3 and Lutein produced? It is from the hen's diet or does it exist naturally in all eggs?
With these questions I decided to do a little more research and since this is not a true research paper I am not including the sources where I gathered my information because of times sake. You will just have to take my word for it.

In conventional hens most of the added Omega-3 content comes from feeding the chickens a flax diet. You cannot get the benefits of Omega-3 eggs unless you eat the egg yolks. I read one report that said there had been "multiple complaints urging the FDA to crack down on various egg producers who market their eggs as "healthy" omega 3's. Among the complaints: quite often the eggs have been shown to have far less omega-3 than is advertised on the package (although even the advertised amount is extremely low.) Omega 3 derived from flax is a different type of omega 3 (ALA) than that present in fish (EPA and DHA), and is regarded as being less beneficial.
Bottom line, "omega 3" eggs are basically regular eggs with a small amount of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) present. A consumer would get much better benefit for much less cost by simply taking flaxseed oil, (or alpha-linolenic acid, which is available in capsule form.)"

I also read that a serving of two omega-3 enriched eggs still has less than half of the omega-3 fatty acids found in a 3 ounce portion of salmon.

Then I ran across this! Eggs produced by chickens fed a diet of greens and insects produce higher levels of n−3 fatty acids (mostly ALA) than chickens fed corn or soybeans. In addition to feeding chickens insects and greens, fish oils may be added to their diet to increase the amount of fatty acid concentrations in eggs. The addition of flax and canola seeds to the diet of chickens, both good sources of alpha-linolenic acid, increases the omega-3 content of the eggs.

And this!

"The ideal egg is one that comes from a hen raised outdoors (often on pasture), in a place where she can eat a variety of green plants and insects. Hens raised this way typically still eat grain-based feed, but supplemented with a significant amount of foraged food. This dramatically increases the nutritional value of the eggs." Just like we raise our chickens!!!!


I also want to make a couple of more observations. "Free Range" supermarket eggs are not the same as "pastured" eggs. Free Range in the commercial flocks means that the hens have access to "range" outside their smelly gigantic barns but generally they do not go outside. Hens raised in commercial flocks are not even allowed outside until they are several months old and by the time they are given the opportunity, they don't even know what to do outside. Lets face it, who would want to venture outside of the only thing you had ever know? And generally the "range" consist of small strips on the side of the massive barns. We are not talking unlimited pasture here folks or an entire backyard and there is no "free ranging", they are restricted as to where they are allowed to go. So these "ranges" do not provide the grass and insects that a pastured hen would receive. Pastured hens know how to forage and live outside of a coop. So let face it, "free range" supermarket eggs are nutritionally similar to conventional eggs. The reason "pastured" eggs are so nutritious is that the chickens get to supplement their diets with abundant fresh plants and insects. Having little doors on the side of a giant smelly barn just doesn't replicate that.

All eggs are not created equal. I'm sure I don't need to tell you that. Anyone who has seen the tall, yellow/orange richly colored yolk, viscous white, and tough shell of a true "pastured" egg know they are profoundly different than any supermarket egg! Oh and lets not forget to mention the taste of a true "pastured" egg!

Here are two posts I found in a blog that I really liked.

Whole Health Source: Pastured Eggs

Whole Health Source: Omega-3-eggs


I have more things to bring up, but since this is getting a little lengthy, I'll close for now and do a part two to this post.

Let me know what your thinking. I am always open to discussions!

Proverbs 27:17 "Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another."

Monday, March 22, 2010

RECIPE: Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting!! Yum!


This morning I made these fabulous Carrot Cupcakes. Skyler "volunteered" me for dessert for the National Honor Society's lunch meeting at school tomorrow. Don't take me wrong, I'm not complaining. I enjoy making dessert for the kids and Skyler is really good at letting me know well in advance, he even writes it down on the calendar for me! I think being the youngest of four boys surely has it's advantages when it comes to knowing things like this. He has witnessed the kitchen "mom-ster" come out when given 2 hours notice of needing a treat for some school function and Skyler has learned that this is a person he does not want to mess with! Living out here in the middle of no-where we country moms don't have the convenience of running to the store to pick something up last minute! Anybody else out there have this problem of "Mom I forgot to tell you, but I need ____________ today for school!"

Anyway, always looking for an excuse to try out new recipes, I ran across this recipe in the April 17, 2010 issue of the Family Circle magazine. The recipe especially caught my eye when I saw Cream Cheese Frosting. One can not, I repeat, can NOT eat carrot cake properly without the Cream Cheese Frosting. Carrot Cake without the Cream Cheese Frosting is like a Cheeseburger without the cheese, a salad without the dressing or even a french fry without the ketchup! Seriously!


(Nice picture if I do say so myself!)


Here's the link to the recipe (click on CARROT CUPCAKES below). You do have to sign-in to get to the site. It's no big deal, but if you don't want to go to the link, I included the recipe below. I like going to the links because they have options for you to print out the recipe if you want to. Read the recipe below to see alternations that I made. You know me, can't leave well enough alone!

CARROT CUPCAKES

Ingredients
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark-brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (I used 1 teaspoon)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I used 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and grated on medium holes of box grater (about 3-1/2 cups)
  • NOTE: I misread the recipe and used 1-1/2 cups and that was plenty!! I think 3-1/2 cups would have been a disaster!
  • 1/2 cup chopped raisins
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

1. Cupcakes: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Place cupcake liners in 24 indents of muffin pans; set aside.

2. In large bowl, stir together butter, sugars and eggs until well blended. Stir in flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, carrots and raisins.

3. Spoon 1/4 cup batter into each cupcake liner. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 27 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pan on rack for 5 minutes, then remove and cool completely on rack.

4. Frosting: In a large bowl, beat butter and confectioners sugar together on medium-high until blended. Add cream cheese and vanilla and beat on medium-high until no lumps remain. Divide frosting among cupcakes.


Can I share a couple of secrets with you?

People always seem to go ga-ga over my desserts. I try to tell them that one of my secrets to success is PRESENTATION. Yes, that's it. Let me repeat that. PRESENTATION is very important.

Let's take these cupcakes for example. I could have just spread the frosting on with a knife, but instead I took them up a level just by using this little do-hicky. I don't even know what it is called, but I got mine from a Pampered Chef party years ago. I've seen them everywhere and they are not that expensive. I've even seen them at Wal-Mart. But if at all possible, please get one from you local Pampered Chef girl or your local kitchen store! (Buy Local!!)



Next, let us consider this little cake plate thing and cover. I spent a whole $10 on it and use it ALL the time. Beats putting these little gems in a plastic container where no one can see them. Place it in the center of your table and voila! you have an instant center piece and your table looks like a magazine cover!



Thought I'd give the Morrill High School National Honor Society some press time (especially for the grandparents who read this blog.) What a great group of kids, excuse me, young adults!

2009-2010 MHS National Honor Society


2009-2010 New Inductees


Kathi, Skyler and Dan the Man
(Lori please don't say anything about my hair!)


I have an exciting announcement coming concerning my blog, but can't go into details right now because there are still a few loose ends that need to be tied up before I can make an official announcement so you'll just have to stay tuned!

PS, Does this sound like a teaser?

PSS, It is!!

PSSS, but seriously, I can't wait to tell you. It's something that should be really fun!!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Let's All Opt Out!!

Let me ask you a few questions.

How much do you really know about the food you buy at our local grocery stores and serve to your family?

Where did it come from? What is in it? Is it safe? Is it healthy? Is it making you sick? Is it making your children sick?

If it's a vegetable, does it even taste like it is suppose to? Really, think about it. Does that tomato really taste like a tomato?

If it is an egg, what kind of conditions is the hen that laid the egg living in? Does she even know what being a hen entails or is she just a egg laying machine that is kept in a tiny cage among thousands of other hens who never see the light of day and most certainly never gets to leave that cage.

What about that package of frozen chicken breast? Convenient isn't it? But is convenience worth the consequences or risks that come with it? Do you really know how that chicken was processed. My guess is that you don't or else you wouldn't be buying it!

Dan the Man and I went to Ft. Collins yesterday to hear Joel Salatin speak at a program, “Change We Can Eat!” a talk on the emancipation of food, which was hosted by the Front Range Permaculture Institute. Joel is a self-described "Christian-libertarian-environmentalist-capitalist farmer" who produces high-quality "beyond organic" meats, which are raised using environmentally responsible, ecologically beneficial, sustainable methods. He has written several books which we have read and agree with many of his philosophies and practices. We have based our pastured poultry business on one of his books.

Read more about Joel Salatin here.

Wow, he was fantastic, informative, energizing, knowledgeable, humorous, and encouraging.

There were several things that he discussed, too many for one post. I try to keep these posts short and sweet because I know that we are all "busy" and I don't want to take up too much of your time. The one thing I want to share with you today is what he said about "Opting Out."

Joel says this in the book FOOD, INC: How Industrial Food is Making us Sicker, Fatter and Poorer; And What You Can Do About It edited by Karl Weber "The time has come for people who are ready to challenge the paradigm of factory-produced food and to return to a more natural, wholesome, and sustainable way of eating (and living) to make that declaration to the powers that be, in business and government, that established the existing system and continue to prop it up. It's time to opt out and simply start eating better-right here, right now."

Do you think that there is nothing wrong with our industrialized food system? Watch this clip and tell me there is nothing wrong!

The Truth About Food, Inc.

Joel gives us four easy, do-able ways to opt out of this industrialized food system and to reclaim our food freedom. I'm just going to touch on them for now, but will elaborate on each one in separate upcoming posts.
  • Learn to Cook Again
  • Buy Local
  • Buy What's in Season
  • Plant a Garden
Tell me what is so hard about that list?

If you are interested in this topic, there are several good books that you should read. Here are three of them.
  • Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
  • The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan
  • FOOD, INC: How Industrial Food is Making us Sicker, Fatter and Poorer; And What You Can Do About It edited by Karl Weber
Also you really should watch the movie FOOD, Inc. You can get it from Netflix.



Well, that's all I am going to say for now, but I'll be back with more. Stayed tuned.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

And Her Name is Patty!

Meet Little Miss Patty


I thought I would give you an update on the calf that was born on Tuesday. Her name is Patty. Yep, she is a little girl.

Right now I am sitting in the middle of a hayfield in the middle of nowhere with my laptop, writing to you while I wait for Dan the Man to load the trailer with hay. That‘s right, you guessed it, we are hauling hay again today. If you missed how exciting hay hauling can be you can read this post that I wrote a couple of months ago.

Movin' Hay

As we start to get busier and busier with farming/ranching because the weather is getting nicer, I know that my blogging time is going to get cut down so I need to make use of every available minute to keep up and to keep you informed on what‘s going on around here. Isn‘t today‘s technology great? Thank you oldest son, Nick, for giving me this laptop as a gift! Now I can write my posts here in the middle of a hayfield!

I’ve been thinking about calling Dan the Man “Mr. Boss Man” now since I am once again his hired hand for the season. Can’t decide which I like better, Dan the Man or Mr. Boss Man. I could call him Dan the Man the Boss Man, but that’s a little to windy, don’t you think? Catchy though, but takes too long to type!

Anyway I told you I was going to give you an update on the calf that was born on Tuesday. If you missed the story, you’ll need to go back one story and catch up.

First Calf of the Season, Let the Fun Begin

Well, this morning I had a meeting in town at 9:00 am. At 8:00 am Mr. Boss Man informs me that I needed to come pick him up at a haystack that is 6 or so miles away from our place before I go to town. He was going to be loading hay there while I was in town and needed a vehicle there so he wouldn’t be stranded. Long story… I won’t bore you with the details.

So I tell him, “Well we’d better get a move on then because my meeting is at 9:00 am.”

Dan the Man said, “I thought it was at 10:00 am.”

So then he had me doubting myself as to whether the meeting is at 9 or 10. I’m positive it’s at 9, but then again, maybe it’s at 10??? Either way, if it is at 9 I’m probably going to be late now that I have to chauffeur Mr. Boss Man around for a good 30 minutes.

I’m sure the meeting is at 9 by this time and I’m also sure that there is no way I’m going to make it there by 9. Ugh…. I hate not being in control and having my plans changed from one minutes to the next. Welcome to this life! So I text Monique and tell her it’s going to be closer to 9:30 before I can make it to her office and she texts back “No problem.“ She’s so easy to work with! Thanks Monique!

I do eventually make it to her office and it is 9:30 by the time I make it.

After our meeting I had some errands to run for Mr. Boss Man. I had to go-fer this and go-fer that! (See yesterday’s story if you’re scratching your noggin over this.) After I was done goin’ fer his stuff I thought I’d steal a little “me” time and run to Target, just to see what was new.

As I was looking at the kitchen stuff my cell phone went off. Guess who? Mr. Boss Man…

Let me just pause and tell you a little about Mr. Boss Man and cell phones.
  1. Mr. Boss Man does not have a cell phone and refuses to get one.
  2. Mr. Boss Man thinks that if you are talking on a cell phone or talking to someone who is on cell phone you have to YELL in order to be heard.
  3. Mr. Boss Man does not understand that sometimes there is a lag time when speaking on a cell phone.
  4. Mr. Boss Man is constantly YELLING “Can you hear me?” when you are trying to answer his questions!
  5. Mr. Boss Man and cell phones do not go together very well.

Okay now that you know that we can move forward.

Mr. Boss Man (BM): HELLO, HELLO, CAN YOU HEAR ME?

Me: yes

BM: WHERE ARE YOU?

Me: at Target

BM: Oh. WHAT ARE YOU DOING THERE? HELLO, CAN YOU HEAR ME?

Me: nothing, I was just on my way home.

BM: Oh. DID YOU SEE THAT COW THIS MORNING WITH HER CALF?

Me: I saw the cow but not her calf.

BM: BECAUSE I CAN’T FIND HER CALF EITHER AND THAT KNUCKLEHEAD COW DOESN’T KNOW WHERE IT IS. I DON’T HAVE ANYMORE TIME TO LOOK FOR IT BECAUSE I HAVE TO GO LOAD THAT HAY. I HOPE THE COYOTES DIDN’T GET IT. THAT COW IS SO STUPID… I DON’T LIKE HER. WE NEED TO GET RID OF HER… SHE CAUSES TOO MANY PROBLEMS.

Me: Okay, I’m on my way home now and when I get there I’ll take the four-wheeler out and see if I can’t find the calf.

BM: OKAY, BYE.

Me: See ya.

So much for my “me-time!”

When I got home I saddled up the four-wheeler (man I really need a horse!) and headed out to find the calf. I found the cow and yep, just like the Boss Man said, that cow (the mother) is so stupid, she didn’t know where the calf was. I wonder how long it has been lost. I looked every where and drove probably 3 or 4 miles on that four-wheeler. Just as I was about to give up, I decided to go look one more place that I hadn’t covered yet. And sure enough, praise God, there was the little booger in a little depression where I wasn’t able to see her before.

I got off the four-wheeler and scooped her up and put her on the back of the four-wheeler. She was like a huge bowl of jello that weighed about 65 lbs. Wasn’t all that easy, but I got her on there. My plan was then to go find the cow and let her see that I had found her calf and lead her up to the corral and then put them both in the coral. That was my plan until I started wondering what the cow would do when she saw that I had the calf.

Being raised a “city girl,” I always let my imagination run away when I start thinking about these kinds of situations. The more I thought about it, the more I thought that she would probably see the calf and come running at me full speed, with her head down and snorting like a bull and I would have to drive that four-wheeler like the devil so she didn’t trample me into the ground. And how was I going to do that while trying to hold on to the calf at the same time? It appeared that I had a small problem.

I cautiously approached the dumb cow (but stayed a safe distance away) and told her I had her baby on board and if she ever wanted to see her again she had better get herself on up to the corral and that I would meet her there with the calf. Then I took off and the cow just watched me go. What a numbskull! So I went on and headed for the corral. Just as I was getting close to the corral, Mr. Boss Man came home. He saw me with the calf and came over in the truck.

BM: Where’s the cow?

Me: She’s still down there, she won’t come up.

BM: That stupid cow. Let’s put the calf in the back of the truck and go back down there and see if we can get her to follow the truck up.

Me: Yeah, let’s do that because I didn’t try too hard to get her to follow me when I was on the four-wheeler. I didn’t want her to attack me while I was trying to out run her on the four-wheeler.

BM: You get in the back with the calf and hold on to her.

Me: Okay.

So we take off down to where the cow is.

BM: See if you can get the calf to cry so the cow knows that the calf is in the back with you.

Me: Okay.

Baby Calf: bawwwwl, bawwwl

Now the cow realizes that I have the calf and wants to know what in tarnation I am doing to it to cause it to cry like that!

Me: HERE SHE COMES! GO!

Here goes my imagination again, wondering if that cow will jump in the back of the pickup to get me!!! Meanwhile we are barreling through the field across corrugations and the calf is sliding all around and I am too. What a wild ride! Hold on little guy!

I turned to see how close we were to the corral when all of the sudden the little calf made a break for it and slid right out of the truck. Settle down, settle down, we really weren’t going that fast, it just seemed like it because of the corrugations. She landed fine and was up and with her mom in a matter of seconds. The little fall didn’t even phase her. The Boss Man jumped out of the truck and said, “You’ve got to hold on to ‘em!” as the cow and calf ran away.

Oh good gravy! Really? Are you serious? I can’t believe stuff like this happens!

BM: We’d better just leave them alone for now and try again later.

So, that’s when we went to go haul some hay.

I have to tell you about the hay hauling. Sorry if this seems to be dragging on, but some things are worth sharing. Today, there was a lot of funny stories to be told. Besides, I’m not holding a gun to your head. You can quit reading anytime you would like to.

I was driving the truck back to our home place with a load of hay. Mr. Boss Man told me to just stay on the dirt roads and not to take the highway. He told me the one road (County Road 4) was a little rough, but not too bad. So there I was truckin’ right along when I came over a hill and holey moley but what do I see but two gigantic depressions in the road right in front of me. Actually they were like small ditches, forget depressions! There are also several ditch company guys working on a pipeline or something. I tried to hit the brakes but was afraid to stomp on them too hard. But I knew I had to slow down the truck and trailer or else I was going to have a huge wreck on my hands.

Have you ever pushed so hard on the brake pedal that it kind-of lifted your butt off the seat of the vehicle? Well, that’s what I did. When I hit that first “ditch” in the road, I’m sure my eyes were the size of dinner plates! It was a true butt launcher! Good gravy, good thing that the load was strapped or I am sure it would have been all over the road.

Why do men always have to be standing around to witness such womanly driving skills? I tried to act all cool, calm and collected when I passed by them. I just kind-of gave them the manly “head-nod” as I passed by! I’m sure they were cracking up after I passed by! So sorry ladies, I just added one more cause for men to refer to those “woman drivers”!

When Mr. Boss Man showed up at the home place in the tractor, he asked if I had any problems at that place in the road. I told him what happened and that the men were probably still laughing about it and he said, “Oh yeah, I forgot about that. I should have told you about that part of the road, but I forgot.”

After he got the hay unloaded and stacked Mr. Boss Man was ready to “try ‘er again“ and get that cow and calf back up to the corral. This time I told him he could ride in the back of the truck and I would drive!

Once again we found the calf, luckily it was away from the cow. Mr. Boss Man scooped her up and put her in the back of the truck and got in with her. We found the cow and showed her the calf and started the whole process again with leading her up to the corral. This time she was really concerned and I was praying that Mr. Boss Man would be okay back there. I had a hard time watching where I was driving and keeping an eye on the cow in the rear view mirror. I truly was wondering if she could jump into the back of the truck! Mr. Boss Man kept yelling at me to slow down. I was afraid to go too slow, I was sure that cow was going to eat Mr. Boss Man for dinner. I didn’t want her to get my beloved Mr. Boss Man or else I’d be stuck with this whole mess all by myself!

After what seemed like an eternity, we finally got them up to the corral… finally! Isn’t this fun?

I am glad to report that Mom and baby Patty are doing just fine.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

First Calf of the Season, Let the Fun Begin

#420 and her calf


We had our first calf of the year today. Actually, "we" meaning Dan the Man and myself didn't have the calf, our #420 cow did.

The pictures aren't the greatest since it was "quittin' time" and the sun was going down when we found #420, also known as "Angel's mom" and the new calf.

The crazy schedule that comes with this crazy way of life has officially began. Sometimes I miss the simplistic schedule of a "9 to 5" job. Being the hired-hand on the farm/ranch is nothing like the "9 to 5" jobs I have had in the past.

This morning I woke up with my day already planned. I was going to work on the chicken coops and get everything ready for the chick's. We'll be getting our first batch in a couple of weeks and I want to be well prepared ahead of time so I'm not running around with my head cut off at the last minute trying to get everything set up for the chicks.

I was just finishing up with my morning computer time when Dan the Man swaggered into the kitchen for his breakfast. After he got his cereal and sat down he began telling me what he had planned for us to do today. We were going to fix fence and move cattle. Ugh... so much for me cleaning the coops and getting the chick stuff ready.

Being the lowly hired hand I don't always get to make the plans, I just go along with what Dan the Man (The Boss Man) has planned. Being the hired hand, also known as the gopher, my immediate job was to drive into town and pick-up some t-post (fence post) for the fence. I don't know why we didn't pick them up when we were in town yesterday, but I didn't bother to ask. I already knew the answer which would have been "I forgot!" Besides, I'm the gopher... I go-fer this and go-fer that all the time.

I wouldn't mind going to town for stuff if it didn't take 30 minutes to get there and 30 minutes to get back. Are you adding that time up? It takes an hour alone just to get to town and back, plus the time it takes to get your stuff. Too bad I don't get paid for my time like in a real job! Then I'm sure I wouldn't mind driving back and forth to town and getting paid for it!

Anyway, I went to town, got the supplies and returned home. Then Dan the Man and I started in on the fence. We finished up what Dan the Man had on his agenda and then we moved some of the cattle around. It's getting time to move them off some of the pasture so that it can begin growing without the cattle grazing it. Dan the Man also wanted to move the cows who are going to be calving up closer to the house. It'll be easier to keep an eye on them that way.

Dan the Man was going to feed the bulls and steers some hay and since it was dinner time, I was going to go inside and get dinner started. I hadn't been in too long when Dan the Man came back in saying he needed my help again. This is a typical thing that happens this time of year. You never can tell when supper is going to be served around here. By now, it's after 6:00 p.m. Good thing I hadn't had time to start dinner yet. He had got all the cows into the pasture he wanted them in except for one, #420.

She was clear down by herself by the creek. Dan the Man figured that she might of had her calf down there and that was why she wasn't coming up like the other cows did. So we jumped in the truck and drove down there to see what was up with her. Sure enough, there she was with her little calf! Awwww, they are so stinkin' cute. The calf was several hours old because she had it all cleaned up and it was standing quite steady on it's feet.

#420 is one of our older cows and also one of the least friendly ones. Normally Dan the Man would have just picked up the calf and handed it to me then we would have drove the truck up to the pasture where we wanted the cow and calf to be and the cow would have just followed us. But not with this knot-head cow. We thought we might be able to coax her up to the proper pasture, but she wasn't going to have anything to do with what we wanted.

After we tried a few times, we gave up and let her have her own way. The calf was doing fine and so was she so they would be okay where they were for the night. We'll try again tomorrow or maybe by God's grace, she come up on her own when she needs water and realizes the rest of the cows are in a different pasture.

We didn't get close enough to see if the calf was a little girl or little boy. I think since it was born so close to St. Patrick's Day, I'll name him/her Paddy (if it is a boy) or Patty (if it is a girl).

By the time I got back to the house it was after 7:00 p.m. and I still had to make supper. I wish I had a "hired-hand" to do my cooking and cleaning on days like these!

#420 and her calf
will it be Paddy or Patty?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

RECIPE: Open A Bar 2 Ranch Steak Sandwich

Okay people, are you ready for this?

I think I have just stumbled upon a new family favorite using the most unlikely character!

That would be the lonely, much under appreciated, often misunderstood cube steak.

That's right... I said CUBE STEAK!

One of my missions in life is to find tasty recipes for cube steak. I never really knew what to do with cube steak besides chicken fried steak, and that can get old. You can't eat chicken fried steak every time you want to serve cube steak! And when you have a freezer full of beef, it seems like the lonely cube steak always gets pushed to the side, while you reach for the more popular ribeye, t-bone, New York strip or sirloin. Then when those cuts are all gone, you have several cube steaks staring you in the eye that you have to do something with. Do I hear any "amens" out there?

So get out to that freezer and grab a cube steak. You are going to love this!

What, you don't have cube steak in the freezer? I'm so sorry... you should buy a 1/2 a beef from the Open A Bar 2 Ranch! or saddle up your pony and get yourself to town and buy some. Make sure you buy cube steak that has been tenderized!




OPEN A BAR 2 RANCH STEAK SANDWICH

Ingredients

1 large onion, sliced
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 large bell pepper, sliced
1 stick Butter
2 lbs cube steak (tenderized)
2 tsp. Mrs. Dash onion & herb
1 tsp. Seasoned salt
1 tsp. Lemon pepper
1 tsp. black pepper
(note: you don't have to use all these seasonings and you can make substitutions and use what ever you like)
1/2 cup cooking Sherry
1/4 cup Kikkoman Teriyaki Marinade & Sauce
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
4 deli rolls

Directions
  1. In a large skillet, cast iron works best, saute the onions, mushrooms and green pepper in 1/4 cup of butter until soft and light brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
  2. Cut cube steak into 1/2 strips, cut against the grain. Mix with the seasonings.
  3. Add 2 Tbs of butter to the skillet and melt on high heat. When the pan is hot and the butter is starting to turn brown add the meat in a single layer and allow to brown. Doesn't take too long. Flip to other side and brown that side as well. Place on a plate and continue cooking the rest of the meat in batches, adding 1 Tbs of butter with each batch.
  4. Return the meat and mushrooms, onions and green pepper to the skillet. Add the sherry and teriyaki sauce to the skillet and cook on medium (just above a simmer) until the liquid is reduced by half, about 5-7 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile butter both sides of the rolls and toast on a griddle or skillet until nice and browned. Do not skip this step. I repeat, please do not skip this step. It adds so much to your sandwich!
  6. Okay time to assemble. Place meat on bottom of bun, top with shredded cheese and melt under the boiler. Watch it so you don't burn the cheese. Pour a little of the pan juices on the sandwich and top with bun.
  7. Enjoy.... Yummmmmm, so tender and juicy.
You can thank me in the comments section! Just joking, but I really do think you are going to love this sandwich. My family loved it and I can't wait to make it again.

Feel free to experiment with this recipe and try what ever floats your boat! Leave comments and let me know what changes you made. I will be offering this recipe at the Farmers Market this summer you can bet your bottom dollar on that.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Cat Photo Contest, Boo-hoo!

Well, I've waited anxiously all week for the semi-finalist to be announced for the cat photo contest that I entered. A group was announced on each day of this week, Monday-Friday. Every morning I would run to my computer and check to see if I had made the semi's. Most mornings the semi's weren't posted yet, so I would have to check back every hour to see if one of my beautiful kitties would make the cut. Each day I would check, giddy with anticipation and each day my heart was crushed into the chicken coop poopy litter with disappointment, because my kitties were not getting the respect that I think is due to them!

Now that the last group has been announced I have come to terms with the fact that I am a loser, I feel a great sense of relief. I can move on with my life and stop centering it around this stupid cat photo contest! Me and my kitties are moving forward, upward, onward...

If you want to see the photos that were chosen for the semi-finals here are the links:







I might post links to the finalist and the winners when they are announced and I might not. Like I said it's time to move on and post a chicken recipe or a yummy dessert recipe or talk about how bad the food you are eating is (you know, that gross, bad, disgusting chicken and beef you get from the store) or go harass the cows or maybe take more pictures of my kitties...

I don't know...

what to do, what to do???

Anyway, I'm over it, I think!

Don't have pity for me, my friends! I really am not bitter or full of sour grapes over this. If you don't know me, I do tend to have a dry sense of humor!


Don't tell me we have to take more pictures?!



The End