Our social media empire makes move to Facebook

Go ahead, do it. Become a fan, you know you want to.

First, there was the blog, then there was twitter and now there is Facebook. That’s right, I have taken my weekend off to play around with Facebook and created a Fan page for Barbarosa Ranchers.  If you are a Facebooker, then you are good to go. All of my posts will show up there as well as my Tweets, a one stop shop if you will. Also, Facebook has a better way of displaying photos, so I am putting all of our Barbarosa Ranchers pictures there. I have already uploaded some pictures of the ranch and chicken processing. An odd combo, but they were the easiest photos to find. I will be posting more photos over the next couple of weeks.

Also, you will have noticed a new look to our blog. You like?


Free-range pork carnitas with home-made frijoles, yummy

We always try to take one extra step when we entertain folks on the ranch. Usually, we end up making fabulous food (so it pays to visit). Last weekend was no exception. My cousin, his wife and my first cousin once removed came out to visit for an afternoon as part of his t-day trip to CA from TX. His mom, my aunt, also came. It is always fabulous to see them and this time was no exception. Not much happened beyond delightful family chatting, so I won’t bore you with those details. However, I will share what  you guys are interested in, which is the food.

The menu:

Carnitas, a lá a Raley’s recipe (Who would have guessed? However surprising the source, this is an awesome recipe)  made from a Barbarosa Rancher’s free-range pork leg roast

Frijoles – home made using beans from Margaret at the Redding FM (here is a recipe for them, we use a slightly different one, and we go the refrito route for sure.)

Tortillas – from the Davis FM

Beer – Sierra Nevada’s Anniversary Ale. It’s local and good.

Carnitas in the crockpot. So easy and so good.

Mmmm, bean-a-licious, but really it is all of the pork fat (which is also Barbarosa Rancher grown) that makes them what they are.

"Start here for yumminess."

Condiments and beer. And yes, Holly and I have a lifetme supply of napkins leftover from the wedding.

Family bellying up to feed trough. Good food isn't the same without good company.

Worth all the time and effort. Doesn't this make your mouth water? And we still have leftovers, oh yeah!

Help a Barbarosa Rancher win a honeymoon

Spa escape sounds like a free honeymoon to me if we win, so vote early and vote often for "Holly from Redding." TODAY, the 23rd, is the last day for VOTING.

As you know, Holly and Tyler were married 6 weeks ago. Life has been wedded bliss ever since. We have been catching up on everything that was put on hold to get the wedding all put together. Now we aren’t caught up, but have gotten close enough to catching up that we are looking around and planning for our honeymoon.

Ranchers and farmers don’t have the option to take a vacation willynilly. Mostly due to scheduling reasons; spring is busy with harvesting grassfed beef and lambs, starting pasture poultry, and starting farmer’s markets, summer is irrigated pasture management, more farmer’s markets, fall is dedicated to holidays and prepping for winter, and winter, well there is a short 3-4 week time span when a ranchers can get away.

We have been aiming for a January honeymoon for quite awhile, but haven’t really narrowed down the destination. Holly and I are big thinkers, so we have to been thinking about heading to the other side of the equator to soak up some summer rays in the dead of our winter. Argentina, New Zealand, Australia, and Peru have all been targets of our longing. However, they all cost money and money doesn’t grow on trees, especially after putting on a wedding.

Holly loves a good sweepstakes and is always entering into them. She has a dedicated email address to handle all of the spam that comes from such a hobby. In her search for good sweepstakes in enter, she found one that was offering a week long spa getaway in Utah, but not just any spa getaway. This place is green and  sustainable. Her intro was good enough to get us into the final, but now the hard part starts. The winner is determined by popular voting. So we have been pestering our friends and neighbors to vote for us and now I would like to extend to you the same option to vote for us. TODAY is the last day to vote!

Here is the link to the contest info:

http://www.mambosprouts.com/spa-escape/index.html

And more importantly, here is the link to vote for us (“Holly from Redding”):

http://www.mambosprouts.com/spa-escape/vote.html

Thanks for voting for us and we will let you know if we win a honeymoon.

Ranchers can be geeks, too

This is a bandwagon that I am happy to jump on.

I will admit that I love my electronic gizmos and sweet internet hacks. My latest craze has been creating a social media presence for Barbarosa Ranchers. So, we now have a Twitter acct, a blog (what you are reading now) and Facebook Fan page. This is a pretty good start on a social media presence, I am reaching out to people via the three most popular avenues there are right now, but really, this isn’t enough for me. If I had let it just stand as is, then I would have to manually update each site with information from the other. For instance, if I wanted this blog post to be tweeted about or read on facebook, I would have to manually go tell people about it. OMG, this is terribly inefficient. Luckily, other smarter geeks have been hard at work linking all of these sites together and I have been happy to use their hard work. Today, I am giving some love back by telling everyone what I do to create my social media presence.

This blog is the crown jewel of my social media empire. This where the most of our content about us resides. I try to update my blog about 4 times a week with new content. According to the interwebs, this should start to bring my google page rankings up, so that we will be more easily found via google. But I am not solely trying to drive nameless and faceless web surfers to our blog. We are in the business of relationship marketing, and we want to engage with real people, who might become real customers. So this means I want to reach out and let our people know that we have updated our blog and that they might find something of interest on it. Blogs are setup to do this fairly well with RSS feeds and email subscriptions. I however can’t track how many people access our site this way.  I hope it is a large number, but I am realistic and doubt that all that many people are loyal readers…yet.

This where the social media empire starst to come to life.  In order to let people know about the fascinating content here on our blog, I have branched out into other more active media. First and most obvious is Twitter. For us, Twitter is all about putting our finger on the pulse of the interwebs. We want to know what people are thinking about, talking about, and tweeting about. To really use Twitter, you need something more useful that just than your twitter page.  There are many apps out there, but I have setup a hootsuite account that will track all of the people I follow, track all of my tweets and their stats, and allow me to schedule tweets in advance. So here is a typically, hootsuite usage. First, I spend 10 minutes reviewing the most recent tweets. I don’t go back in time, because I have other stuff to do, but I can get a sense of what is going on. Second, if I find anything cool, I will retweet that. I try to pick things that are of interest to me and I think to anyone of a like mind. I try not to post too much oddball stuff, but when it is really cool I won’t hesitate. Third, I try to post something about life here on the ranch. Remember, I am trying to give people a sense of ranch life, not just that I live on the internet.

Ok, so that is hootsuite and twitter, but how does hootsuite and the blog mesh? Rather well actually, I have a Twitter widget on my blog (just over there to your right) that picks up all of my tweets from hootsuite. But the best part is how I can get hootsuite to tweet about my blog. It is something of an involved process, but the short story is that Ping.fm will read my blog and then tell hootsuite that there is a new post to tweet about. It is all automatic, so all I have to do is write the post and then my collection of apps will broadcast by themselves. How cool is that?

As you may have heard, or more likely read, Facebook is growing like crazy and if you don’t have a presence there, then you are missing out on a large population of the interest. So guess what, there is a fan page for Barbarosa Ranchers. Currently, I don’t do much there, but as I improve my empire, I see more action going on there. It is better setup for quick interactions with fans. Right now, I have some pictures posted. Also, I have ping.fm updating my FB status with the tweets from hootsuite. Once again, how cool is that? Also, I have FB checking my blog for any new posts and once it finds one it imports it as a new note. Not perfect, but it is automatic so I like it.

In the end all of this geekiness is designed to make it as easy as possible for us to communicate with you and for you to communicate with us. It is easy for you because you can follow us on our blog (via RSS, email, or plain ol’ checking in), on twitter, or on facebook. It is easy for us, because we only have to place new content at one site and all other sites get automatically updated.

Free range pigs + acorns on lawn = perfect match

This has been a good acorn year, so good that we don’t know what to do with them all. Usually, a little raking, a little fall mowing and poof, all gone, no worries. This year, not so easy. However, there is a solution and it oinks. You read about how I got rid of my pumpkins earlier, well I am employing the same work force again, my free range pigs.

The formula is simple: rake leaves and acorns up, carry to pigs, feed pigs, repeat. I have been doing this for the past month or so. I haven’t kept track of the pounds of acorns that I have feed, but I am guessing we are into the hundreds of pounds at this point and we are only about 1/2 through all of the acorns on the ground.

This feeding program is getting me excited about the Spanish acorn hams that sell for $100/lb. Apparently, these special pigs are left to free range in the oak forests of Spain and then harvest when the acorns are done. Then magic happens while the ham dry ages, and presto next thing you know, $100/lb hams. Sounds like a good deal to me, but I am pretty sure that I am not going to get any acorn hams anytime soon, but it is always nice to have goals.

Many have fallen, but this one is just waiting until I have raked up all of the others before falling.

Our lawn was thick with acorns.

Just one of 4 big oaks around the house. Imagine how many acorns are left in this one gigantic tree, then multiply by four.

Just one of 4 big oaks around the house. Imagine how many acorns are left in this one gigantic tree, then multiply by four.

Chowing down on the acorns.

Food worth fighting over.

All for me and none for you is a pig's motto.

Full bellies means naptime. Life is good.

Ribs, mmmm

Who among us doesn’t like ribs, love ribs, or perhaps even have an unnatural connection to them? I must say that on the ranch we have someone who would fall into every one of those categories. Names shall be withheld to protect the innocent (in this case, me).  But what I won’t withhold is the recipe that I used or some of the photos of the process, so keep reading.

This post was inspired by people who have been doing their own posts about cooking with our meat. Leslie from Small Wooden Flute has a mouth watering post on roasting one of our pasture raised chickens.  Brett posted a luscious shot of his crossrib roast dinner from this weekend.  Thomas, one of our CSA members, made some “porkobucco” from his pork shanks. No pictures but here is the recipe. If anyone else has some good stories about cooking with our meat, I would love share them here.

Back to the baby backs. It was a Tuesday, so there was plenty of reason to celebrate. I decided to go with the Alton Brown recipe, “Who Loves Ya, Baby-Back?“. It is just so darn yummy, plus it doesn’t involved lots of bbq sauce, that really there is no need to do anything else.  We have been pan frying potatoes that our friend Margret from the Redding FM grows, and those potatoes are just so good that it is tough to conceive of a meal that wouldn’t be improved with them. I don’t have a recipe to share because I make it up every time. If I recall, I went with some garlic, cajun seasoning, and salt this time. Finally, as a nod to health, some fresh brocolli from the farmer’s market. We washed this all down with some leftover Cab from the wedding.

The rest as they say is history – enjoy.

Ribs-prep

Baby back ribs wrapped in foil, ready for the low slow oven bake.

Ribs-potatoes
Here you can see the pan fried potatoes that I made to go with the ribs.
Ribs-results

Mmm, pretty much says it all, I think.

Ribs-the end

After the ravaging horde is done feasting, not much remains but lonely bones -a reminder of the feast just past

Wow, CSA’s are fun

As you saw from one of my earlier posts, I was delivering meat last Saturday, but not just any meat or any delivery. This was the first delivery for our new CSA, and it went smashingly well.

SafelyReturned

Me and my trusty steed with the delivery freezer in the back, safely returned from a fantastic CSA delivery weekend.

If you have been reading along in the blog for the past couple of weeks, you have seen that I have been trying to form the logistics of our CSA, then promote it, and finally deliver it. The logistics are pretty well ironed out by now, as you can see on the meat CSA page. The promotion is going pretty darn well too. I have become slightly obsessed with the stats for our site and each stat tracked right now is just going through the roof. Granted, this is the earl,y easy bump in page views, etc, but I am still going to feel satisfied with it. Of course, the next challenge is to keep those numbers trending up and up. I will blog a little bit about what I am doing in that regard this week.

The delivery this weekend was the culmination of it all; the planning and the promoting. Last Friday, I went to our freezer and put together all of the orders. I had 11 CSA shares to fill and and an entire freezer full of meat to choose from. I had some fun trying to figure out how to guide my CSA members through our meat selection. All of the shares include a chicken so that was a no brainer. One nice big plump pasture raised, organically fed chicken in the bag, done.  Each share also has a steak selection too and for that I was a bit stumped.  I couldn’t decide if I was going to start off with one of the lesser known, but quite tasty steaks or give them a “wow” steak. In the end, I decided to go with the “wow” factor. Most of the members got a pair of fabulous looking rib-eye steaks, which, for me, is the best steak that comes off a beef. Sure, filets are tender and top sirloin isn’t bad, but really, when I want a steak, I go for the ribeye and I figured our members deserved that sort of steak for our kick-off.  The next component of the share is the roast. After just giving them the premium steak, I decided that I needed to take their palate to a slightly more earthy level. So I went with some free range pork shanks. This cut makes some pretty amazing dishes, but isn’t what you would call a typical cut.  These pork shanks call for long slow wet cooking, think oso bucco and you wouldn’t be wrong. Rounding off the share is some ground meats. This time around I went with our fabulous ground beef, but did through in one pound of ground pork just for kicks.  All in all, it was pretty fun thinking through what I was guiding our members towards cooking. I look forward to next month.

The deliveries themselves were smooth as silk.  I met members in Chico, Oakland and SF. Each location people showed up on time and were ready to roll with the program. It was great to finally meet all of our members. Some of them I have know for years, others this was our first face to face meeting. I think we all got what we were looking for; a quick, easy, and convenient way to buy/sell meat that still allows for the connection between cook and rancher.

I can’t wait till next month to do this all over again!