Monday, June 30, 2008

Lily White

First lily of the year on our gold fish pond. Every day the lily opens to the light and closes when the night falls. Maybe that is why I think of purity when I look at it, it keeps its face hidden from the dark. But you know, many things look pure on the surface, but are a little more muddied as you look closer.

We just finished watching a civil war documentary by Ken Burns that was excellent. I especially liked all of the old photos and letters. They helped to illustrate the great love and the deep prejudices we humans are capable of; all of our blind spots. The series ended with words of Frederick Douglas spoken to a young man asking for advice for his life, "Agitate, agitate". These words kept swirling in my head during the night. Swirling around and through words and thoughts I had experienced during the light of day.

This blog is about sharing our little bit of paradise, not about activism, or agitating the masses, but I thought I would digress this morning. If you don't want to follow me down this rabbit's hole, fine. Enjoy the lily and proceed no further.

Yesterday 3 things in particular struck me somehow. Honestly, I am not sure what to think. Maybe you can help shed some light into this befuddled brain of mine.

1. The Redheaded Blackbelt posted a very factual and informative post (as she always does) about a helicopter landing here in Salmon Creek. The FBI and IRS have apparently been working in our area in regards to a large marijuana money laundering enterprise and the comments to the post were interesting to me. Click here and see what you think.

2. Bob Flame, Ranger has done a post about the stern letter he received in regards to licensing his dog and the 4-20 celebration a local town has. In case you don't know what that is: it is a celebration of marijuana on April 20th. Check out Bob's post here.

3. A friend sent us this video link of a young man who loves to go around and talk about Jesus and give out literature to whoever is interested. He was arrested in a public square in North Carolina. Here is the link. Scroll to the bottom to watch the video of his arrest.

Anyway, these things keep swirling in my head and I thought I would 'agitate' and see what gets stirred up. But it just seems like the government isn't doing such a good job governing and the people, myself included, are a little confused. There are incongruities and inconsistencies all over the place. With unlicensed dogs, the little bureaucrats make a big deal and in other areas, things are overlooked. We all begin to wonder what is really legal and what isn't. Comments anyone?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Helping Thy Neighbor

My hubby promised to do the post on helping the neighbor with his cattle and he tried. He really did. Apparently, last night he sat up and worked diligently on a funny, witty, and clever post full of corresponding pics and then... blogger ate it. Yep, all gone. While loading the last photos everything else disappeared. Or so the story goes. I believe him, but there are thousands who wouldn't.

So, I will just give some highlights of what I remember that day. For posterity's sake, if not yours. Don't expect much now.

Beautiful girls from the east. East coast that is.
Dr. C, with a really big needle.
A starving artist who flossed with a knife.
Don't ask where that knife's been. YUCK!
Circus Acts
And the neurosurgeon. For real. Just in case a maniacal bull needed a lobotomy,
or something. And lots of finger pointing,
and slackers. Kidding, only kidding. I am sure they did something. ;-)
And the paparazzi.
Looks like this one should have turned around
and taken a photo of the UFO .Or the itsy bitsy cow on this young man's right shoulder. I've heard of lowline cattle before but this one seems a wee too small.
Don't you think? Do cows have drumsticks?
And of course, our shy neighbor with blood on his hands
and and a calf/customer in the chute backwards.
(Remember to brand the OTHER side now.)THE END.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Garberville Farmers Market

"I know this is a controversial point, but in our family we'd decided if we meant to eat anything, meat included, we'd be more responsible tenants of our food chain if we could participate in the steps that bring it to the table. We already knew a lot of dying went into our living: the animals, the plants in our garden, the beetles we pull off our bean vines and crunch underfoot, the weeds we rip from the potato hills. Plants have the karmic advantage of creating their own food out of pure air and sunlight, whereas we animals, lacking green chlorophyll in our skin, must eat some formerly living things every single day. You can leave the killing to others and pretend it never happened, or you can look it in the eye and know it. I would never presume to make that call for anyone else, but for ourselves we'd settled on a strategy of giving our food a good life until it was good on the table."
-Barbara Kingsolver in , 'Animal, Vegetable, Miracle"

Today was our first day selling our beef at the local farmer's market. It was fun! The people were nice and they were patient with me. It has been a long time since I have used a calculator and made change! Plus, I was nervous. Silly me!

I plan on going every Friday for at least a month. If you are local and interested in some yummy, all natural, no hormones or antibiotics free range beef then come on by and look me up on Fridays between 11:00 and 2:00 at the Garberville Square.

All of the meat was harvested off of our ranch, hauled to the USDA processing facility in Eureka and packaged with the certified weight on the label. All the meat is frozen.

The following is a sampling of the cuts and their price.

Short Ribs: $3.50 per pound
Ground Beef: $4.00 per pound
Stew Meat: 4:50 per pound
Cubed Steak: $5.00 per pound
Chuck Roasts: $5.00 per pound
Sirloin Roasts: $5.50 per pound
Chuck Steaks: 5.50 per pound
London Broil: $6.00 per pound
Top Sirloin Steak: $ 7.00 per pound
Bone in Rib Steak: $9.00 per pound
T-Bone Steak: $9.50 per pound
Filet Steak: 12.50 per pound

Buy 50 pounds (approx. 1/3 ground beef, 1/3 various steaks
and 1/3 other)then the cost is
Buy 100 pounds (again 1/3 of each) and the price is

You can always give us a call at 707-599-0518,
if you have any questions.

We are sold out of the beef for the farmer's market!
Thanks for all of the business. See you next year.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

How to Cook Mountain Oysters

Today we gave our neighbor a hand in vaccinating, branding and castrating his cattle. I would show you photos of our day, but my hubby (who is sound asleep right now) promises he will post that blog. Soooo, I decided I would share a sort of yummy byproduct of the castration. Yep, testicles, but euphemistically called 'mountain oysters'. Here they are fresh off the bulls (who can no longer lay that claim to fame).I took these home and washed them all up. And then placed them in a bowl of salty warm water to help draw the blood out. Soak them for one hour and then wash and drain some more.
Then, remove the skin. This is the hardest part. The skin is very tough. I made a slit on one side and then kind of peeled the skin off. These 'oysters' were a little on the small side, so I think bigger would definitely be better.

Next rinse them off again and put in a bowl with milk for another hour. I think the milk perhaps tenderizes them and helps remove some of the saltiness.

After the hour is up, rinse again. Place them in a pot and cover with water. Add one tableson of vinegar. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 5 or 6 minutes.

Remove from pot and plunge into ice water. Chill completely. I removed mine and put in the refrigerator until my guests arrived. Here they are ready to go in the refrigerator.
When you are ready to cook them up to eat you first need to cut them into 1/3 inch slices. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
Dredge in milk, then an equal mixture of flour and cornmeal, back in milk, back in flour cornmeal, then place in a bowl with 1 cup dry red wine and about 1/4 cup of Cajun sauce. You want them gooey. Believe me, this is all about the breading.Remove and fry up in hot oil until golden brown. Serve immediately. Then eat. Yummy! Sort of. Maybe edible. A novelty really. Best washed down with something cold.
Tell me, since my regular editor is asleep, did I go too far with this post? Was the gross factor too high? Euwww.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Harvest Hope

Fires are still burning around these northern counties of California. I can remember well the ashes the flames will leave behind. The blackened trees that will find their last few remaining leaves rattling hoarsely in the passing breeze. Later, snow will fall and create a stark and yet beautiful black and white landscape. I remember too that from those ashes green will spring forth after the rain and erase some of the devastation. I think on these things, concerned for our neighbors, while I sit beneath our grape arbor on this sunny summer day and just enjoy the blue of the sky, the varying shades of green, and the hope of the harvest to come.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Fire update

The ranch, and the rest of Salmon Creek, is safe from fire for now. An unusually large series of thunder-storms spread lightning across most of northern california on the 20th. It was a spectacular light and sound experience! One official with Humboldt county told me today that the calfire satellite system registered thousands of downstrikes, causing hundreds of fires, of which they had actually begun to extinguish 70. Many of the others will have been found and extinguished by locals by now, like the ones in Salmon Creek. A few may remain hidden for a while, then pop up later. Still others may go out on their own. For now, in our corner of the county one is a major threat... the Paradise Ridge fire is burning toward the populated area of Shelter Cove and commanding the lion's share of our resources and concern. The fire closest to our ranch is the High fire, burning near High Rock camp and the town of Weott. Contrary to earlier reports, it IS being aggressively fought, with 4 hand-crews and a water-dropping helicopter. As of this afternoon, the fire appeared to have grown to about 60 acres, burning downhill in mostly green forest on a south-facing slope above Bull Creek. Each water drop was able to reduce the visible smoke by half for a few minutes and there was discernable progress over the half-hour we watched. The fog line (that important and very mobile point at which the fog and drizzle of the coast surrenders to the hot sunlight of Southern Humboldt) was hovering very near the fire most of the day, providing clear visiblity to the pilots and yet cool weather for the firefighters! Calfire is fighting so many fires in the area that they have opened camp 31, the inmate-firefighter camp near Redway to support their operations.
Canoe Mountain was the lookout post for Eric and I to check out the fire situation. From there we could see the High fire to the north, the paradise fire to the west, multiple fires to the east in Trinity county, and at least eight major fires in Mendocino county to the south. We felt very blessed to be in an island of calm during the storm thanks to the quick actions of our neighbors and to the mercy we feel at having the lightning pass our ranch.

Wild Fire

The lightning strikes of two nights ago have started over 100 fires in our county. It almost feels like de-ja vu, because our State Park neighbor is once again letting its wild fire just do its thing. I think their official statement is something along the lines of 'the fire is doing nothing but good'. Which would be just fine if they could keep it contained in their own backyard. In 2003 when we got burned, literally and figuratively, the fire did nothing but good in the park for over 3 weeks before burning over 1200 acres of our ranch and 10,000 acres owned by the public. Most of what was burned on our place was because of the backfire the firefighters used to stop the blaze. This backfire, and "take" of private property was necessary because for some reason the State Park was not required to maintain a control line around a fire that they asked calfire to allow to burn to the perimeter of their boundary. I can still remember my husband asking a head fire honcho if we could just let the fire burn our ranch too. What if we liked what it was doing? Could we decline the backfire? Well, the answer was negative. They had to use our ranch to stop the fire from burning any further. Don't get me wrong, I am glad they stopped it. I am glad they could stop it, I just wish the State Park fell under the same rules as the rest of us. Actually, as you can see, these new fires are bringing back some negative thoughts and overall bad feelings. I am feeling a little feisty so I better stop here. Our neighbor and fellow blogger has put together some info on the fires and if you are interested check it out.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Happy Birthday Eric!

We had a milestone on the ranch today. Our youngest son, Eric, is now 21. 21 on the 21st of June. All of our children are officially adults. Sigh.

Eric's birthday was spent doing mostly adult things. We had a lightning storm in the night and he spent the morning hiking and riding the quad checking the ranch for fires. There were 3 fires in our creek drainage, but thankfully, we had none and the others were extinguished. After the fire patrol was finishing up he rolled a quad while descending a steep slope injuring his left knee. In typical Eric the Bold fashion, what bothered him most was that his favorite shovel handle was broken in the accident. He next escorted some visiting teenagers down to our falls for an afternoon swim, performing some acrobatics into the pool from the high rocks. Then, out of concern for possibly more thunderstorms tonight, he and his dad fixed our broken CAT so we would have a workable bulldozer at each end of the ranch in case of a lightning strike. Then he ate cake. Since it was his 21st birthday we finished the day down at the local Mexican restaurant and watering hole, having dinner and playing billiards with friends.

We love having Eric with us here at the ranch. He is a go for it (hence his nickname)kind of guy. He is capable and willing to do just about any task at hand and is a great help. Eric knows how to get a job done. Plus he keeps us laughing with all his antics. Like tonight on the way home from dinner. As we were driving up our long, slow and sometimes boring dirt road, he circled the truck. Like spider man. Cody, our visiting friend, told him he needed some crocodile teeth around his hat brim and a whip stuck through his belt and then he could be called Indiana Dundee! We love you, son, and we are proud to be your parents.

Friday, June 20, 2008

When is a Pig Trap NOT a Pig Trap?

Would it still be called flypaper if it caught a bee? Is it still a bass lure if it catches a rattlesnake? What do you think?

In our ongoing efforts to catch the wild pigs that roam our ranch to make them better forest citizens by ringing their noses so they don't destroy the creeks, bogs and prairies, we put out a pig trap many months ago. Occasionally we actually remember to bait and set it. The trap is on a road that Eric the Bold travels at least twice daily, so no extra effort is needed to check it. This afternoon a surprise was found in the trap. And it did not need a ring in it's nose, nor were we likely to find a volunteer to place said ring.

The animal was very mellow and plenty nosey!

But as you can see, bored with all things human. Except for the people food it had devoured. Not even a scrap remained.

Here are our friends Kris and Cody. They baited the trap last night and found the new occupant this afternoon. Maybe we should tell them that they should use pig food next time! As far as Ernie (the bear's new name) is concerned, it was all just part of a day's work. Upon being released from the cage (while some people cowered in the truck!) he nonchalantly wandered into the woods with a wild story to tell his mommy about why he was late to dinner. Let's hope she believes him.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Week Thus Far!

This week is kinda rotten. You know, stinky 'ole sock kinda rotten. Not horrible, just off a little. Or a lot. It just depends on your perspective. But it definitely needs a good wash and some drying out.

We got a phone call from a fellow rancher who suggested we gather up all the fall calves and bring them to auction this week, because our calves look like his calves and we will all come away with a little fatter wallet come Wednesday. Tomorrow. Wait, I just checked the time. It is today! Only thing is... I wasn't prepared. I thought I had an extra week or two to say goodbye to all my little friends, and to maybe find more neighbors who might want to buy some beef for their freezer. I like it when our animals can live their whole lives on these sunny hills and never have to experience a feedlot. A feedlot! Yea, all week I have been gathering my babies up to send them off to stand shoulder to shoulder eating with a bunch of other animals to the end of their days. Ok. maybe they don't really care. Maybe they even like it. They might. It's kind of like the guy on the couch with the remote and with the fridge right close by. Kind of. Don't you think?

And my sweet little mule decided to jump the fence AGAIN. The fence that has two strands of barb wire on the top. Yea, she got all cut. She didn't make the jump this time. She didn't calculate the trajectory of the uphill slope. Poor thing. I cringe every time I think about the sound of her floundering in the fence. By the time I got there the damage was done. Thankfully, mostly surface wounds. But YIKES! She looks like she has a serious case of road rash from a biking accident. I cleaned them, dressed them, gave her a tetanus shot and said a quick prayer. Actually, Mark and Eric did all that because I was late to doing Sunday School at church. But I delegated and I did pray! That counts for something.

Today, a steer broke its leg. First time ever this has happened to us. I feel terrible. I caught him in a portable corral at a remote location. We loaded him and a few others up. They were all fine. We unloaded at our main corrals and he had a broken leg. Just like that. How did it happen? It looked like a high break. Horrible. I cringe. I cry. His little leg just dragged along on the ground. Off to the slaughter house he goes. This is a financial loss, of course, but I mostly just feel bad for his needless suffering. I hate suffering. It seems wrong somehow. Out of step with what is right. You know? Ultimately, he was going to be hamburger anyway. But not like this. It shouldn't be like this.

Breathe. I tell myself to breathe. Tomorrow the sun will shine and the flowers will bloom and ... and did I tell you the wonderful news yet. I think I forgot. Yes, I did. It really is wonderful. Fantastic. Lovely ... We have found a new Flower. She is beautiful and 'oh so sweet.Abe is her true owner and best buddy. We are just keeping her for him. Because his parents said "she really must go". Abe did tell me to make sure to keep the doors closed. Apparently she likes breaking and entering. And pooping on porches. And eating flowers. Hence her name. Whatever. Today, she herded cows and she was GOOD! For real. She got right in there and pushed those steers in. We think maybe she was a cow dog in a former life. Or something. Our dogs need to watch and learn from the master.
Remember Sweet William the new horse. Well, he has been a real Billy Bob lately. A little strong willed. And herd bound. Definitely, a little more of a challenge than we thought.

I found these photos on my camera just now. These and about a hundred others! Jo, our weekend wrangler and sometimes guest blogger friend came out and gave us a hand. Thanks Jo! Sit back and enjoy the week thus far through her eyes. It looks a little different than I remembered.

These are Jo' boots. I hope you enjoyed the 'ride'.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Buckeyes in Bloom

Spring has departed and I can see summer tiptoeing in. The days and nights are consistently warmer. Tree frogs and crickets serenade us to sleep. The grass on the prairies are turning brown and the buckeye trees are blooming. Actually, they are almost done blooming!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Kid's Play

We went to the local rodeo this afternoon and I randomly shot a bunch of photos. My attention was supposed to be in the arena, but all the fun the kids were having outside the arena kept catching my eye and warming my heart. I wonder if it is even ethical to take photos of unknown children and post them on a blog? I'm not sure, but all I know is that they were just so darn cute all decked out in their western garb that I had to share a few with you.

There is a new sheriff in town....
and he is under attack!
And, and....Gotcha! and of course.... kids at heart.
Watching all the 'kids' at play inside the arena and out reminded me to keep that childlike spirit alive. I realized again that a whole world of wonders await with just a little help from my imagination.