Movie night at the ranch

Movie night on Memorial Day: May 27-29th

Do you have plans for Memorial day yet? If not, then plan to head up to Big Bluff Ranch where we raise all of our Barbarosa livestock. We are planning a unique event over this fun weekend.  drumroll, please… Ever watch a movie in the fields during the spring? Nope, we didn’t think so. Just think of it; the grass is green and fragrant and the nights are still nice and crisp. You bring your blankets, camping chairs and favorite beverage and huddle up to watch a nice flick. This is the best drive in (sit in?) movie theater you will ever experience.

We are also going be taking some pasture hikes, which will take us past the chickens (baby and adult), the sheep (lambs abound this year), the cows, the pigs (plenty of little piglets around here), and possibly even a few goats as well.  Want to learn what our daily routine is to take care of all of these animals. Well, don’t come to close or I will put you to work.

Above and beyond all of these fun things, you will have access to our entire ranch to play in. Want to splash in the creek? Done, I will tell you the best swim hole. Widlflowers? Should be plenty left to enjoy. Panoramic views? We can point out the best places on the ranch to survey most of the northern Sacramento Valley.

Simply put, come visit the ranch and experience the magic.

  • Attendance: Limited to the first 50 who sign up.
  • Cost: $25/adults. Kids are free
  • Meals: We will cook a big meal for on Saturday night, but all other dinners are potluck style. Breakfast and lunch are own your own.
  • Events: We’ll have to see what the spring brings us, but a hayride/ranch tour is likely.

Our straw bale brooder with 650 chicks in it

Yep – we are back in action on the chicken front and bigger than ever. We are aiming for about 600 chicks per flight this year, up from the 300 last year. You will start to see these birds for sale about 9 weeks from now.

ps – I am posting more videos and short blurbs about ranch life on our facebook page. Friend us and you will get all of the latest and greatest.

Watch us working our cows in the corrals

If you raise cattle, you will inevitably need to work them in the corrals. You might need to sort off heavy steers, mark and brand the calves, preg check the cows, and many other little tasks. We do it a little different out here. We work out cattle on foot and spend a fair amount of time training our cattle to run through the corrals so that the whole experience is not stressful for them or us.

A couple of weeks ago, we brought our cows in from the range so we could work them through the corrals. Alfred, our buddy who helps out on the ranch now, always has his camera with him and took a little video of our final run through. A couple of things to notice in this video.

  1. How quiet the cattle are. The quieter they are, the less stress they are feeling.
  2. This is the seventh time we ran the cows through the corrals in 2 days. If they didn’t want to go back into the  corrals, they wouldn’t. Another sign of how little stress they are feeling.
  3. The first guy you see in the video is my Dad, and then the guy who talks a lot and waves his arms is me.

The take home lesson from this little video about how we handle our cattle is that the calmer they are, the calmer we are (and vice versus), the calmer the cows are the less likely they are to get sick or not gain well ( a good thing for them and for the final eating experience). Stress is bad and we make sure to add as little stress to our cattle’s lives as possible, even when we run them through the corrals.

Pork is here!

Greg Massa's kids feed the pigs their morning ration of soaked wheat.They 're feeding them on top of this row of cattails in hopes that the pigs will get rid of the cattails, which can be a troublesome weed in organic rice.

We are finally getting some pork back in stock. I don’t know about you but I have been craving home grown bacon and home made carnitas. Not usually at the same time, but now that I think about it, there might be something there. hmmm. I am sure that you have had your own pork cravings but have been stymied by our lack of inventory. Well, rejoice pork lovers, we are back.

This latest batch of pork was raised in even a more special manner than our usually free-range, almost organic operation. We decided to partner with Greg over at Massa Organics, home of the world’s best brown rice. Since Greg is an organic farmer, he can’t spray out his most persitent weeds. Crop rotations can help reduce the weeds, but the thing Greg needed was a whole bunch of guided shovels going after cattail roots. I didn’t have any high tech solutions, but I did have a few old world pigs that would fit the bill.  Pigs love nothign better in this world than rooting up, well, roots. Check out this video of them getting down and dirt or check out more photos on their Facebook page.

Greg has had this pigs on his rice paddies for the past two months or so and they have done a great job for him. Now, they are going to to a great job making your morning meals that much more enjoyable.

Head over to The to order some our pork. It will be ready for delivery in March.

Snow! (a couple of days ago)

On New’s Eve, Holly and I had celebrated East coast time and went to bed early. There isn’t much of a party scene when your nearest neighbor is three miles away. Neither of us had paid attention to the weather and as I went to bed, I noticed that the skies were clear, so I figured no rain, no big deal.

When we woke up the next morning, we kept hearing this soft “phsft” on the roof. Nothing seemed to be the matter, so we didn’t worry about it. But when I got up and looked out the window, it all became clear. SNOW. Yep, over night we had about 5 inches of snow fall.

On the ranch, snow comes every 3-5 years and never sticks around very long. As a kid, I tobaggoned on the ranch once or twice. Mostly I remember that it was more of a mud slide rather than a snow slide after the first run. However, this was Holly’s first snow on the ranch and she thought it was pretty magical, and it is.

Since it rarely snows here, when it does we get to see our home in a whole new light. The way the snow lands on trees and the ground highlights a new way of seeing our ranch. I can’t quite explain it, but magical is close.

Fun is also a good term to use when thinking about snow on the ranch.  We did all sorts of snow country things:

  • We used our four wheel drive truck to “plow” the road so my sister could get to the airport.
  • We had to split wood that was snow covered.
  • We watched out for that “yellow snow.”
  • We lounged in front of the fire and called it a snow day.

When I went out to feed the pigs, I took a little video of that to show you what the pigs thought of snow and I also to a few panoramic pans so you can see the ranch in its white coat of winter.

UPDATE: After enjoying all of the delights of snow, we went to bed and sometime in the night is started to rain. We went woke up the snow had disappeared as quickly and silently as it had appeared. It was like someone came out with an erasure and wiped away all the snow.

Getting ready to farrow

Well, I am not but one of our Old Spot sows is. Any sow getting ready to farrow out creates a little nest for her soon-to-be piglets. I was out doing stuff and saw this sow making a nest just down the hill from the house. I was a little slow to capture her making her nest, but you will be able to see it in the video. Also, I couldn’t resist helping out the nest process by creating a quick little rain shelter. She probably didn’t need the help, but I did it anyways.

About 3 hours after I took this video, she farrowed out 12 piglets. I will shot a video of her litter soon and get up that upload as well.

Last Turkey post for awhile

So this is is it – we are on the downhill slope to T-day. Time to start thinking of the food, company, and how the combination of the two creates that special holiday cheer.  I can’t wait.

Here is a little list of reason why you might want to consider using one of our turkeys for your holiday:

  • Taste – no supermarket, not even a Whole Foods, bird will taste as good as this one
  • Breed – We raised a standard Bronze Turkey. This breed is not commercially viable and so by buying a turkey from us you are helping keep an entire breed of turkeys alive and well. “eat it to save it”
  • Local – heck, this bird was raised in your backyard compare to a supermarket bird (unless of course, you raise your own turkeys)
  • humanely processed – We harvested and processed these birds by ourselves on our ranch. There isn’t any way that any other bird could possibly have had as good an ending to their life as ours.
  • Did I mention taste?
  • Family farm – folks like you keep folks like us in business. Small farms are a dying breed and each one is worthy of being saved and encouraged. The more success folks like we have, the more folks like us there will be.