Break time (for the holidays)

Well, I will be back at the beginning of the new year.

Yep, the holidays have certainly snuck up around here. It is tough to believe that it is possible for that to happen with the massive amounts of hype surrounding the season, but somehow it turns out that Christmas is only a couple of days away. Christmas is my second favorite holiday after Thanksgiving. Both the holidays involve the gathering of the family at the ranch and plenty of good food and company. I enjoy my semi hermit-like life, but it is always great to have the family here, even if they do interrupt my routine.

I will be stepping away from the blog for the next week to 10 days in order to enjoy the holiday fully. Before I depart, I wanted to leave you with some things to look forward to as well as some things to look back upon.

Anticipate:

  • An updated “About Us” section of the blog
    • I plan to dig into all of our production practices as well as our philosophies and principles
  • Some cool news about how our CSA is going to be run
    • Maybe a Paypal option for payment?
  • Videos
    • I think that Barbarosa is going to get itself a Flip camera for Christmas so we can start showing you in high def, all of the things that go on here at the ranch.
  • Goals and Aspirations for 2010
    • We try to be as open and honest as possible with our customers, so we are planning to list what we want to do in 2010. Hopefully, our wonderful customers can help us achieve our big goals for the upcoming year.

Review:

Enjoy your holidays as much as I intended to.

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No free honeymoon for us

A happy bunny always makes hard news a little easier to bear.

We are the first place loser (well, I don’t know what losing position we’re in, but I hope it is first)  in the competition to win a week long spa trip. After weeks of hassling, haranguing, and just plain badgering people to vote, we felt pretty good about our chances. The deadline came and passed, we waited and waited and we still didn’t get any news. Eventually, Holly went to the website and found out that the winner had been announced days before. Not even a “thanks for participating, loser” email, harrumph. Well, we will survive this very minor disappointment. Now the quest moves on to pondering what our self-financed honeymoon might be. Suggestions?

Let it rain!

Did you know that rain gods are highly fickle and superstitious? They respond to jinxes, Murphy’s law, rain dances, and just plain cussedness. For the range manager, it is a highly refined skill to balance all of the factors necessary to get the rain gods to stand and deliver. The first storm of this year, back a couple of months ago, just happened with no intervention at all on my part. Well, maybe a little shimmy shake of a rain dance, but that was more of a warm up for later in the winter than any real attempt at making it rain. Apparently, it was a good shimmy because we got over 4″ which is much more than normal. It greened up the range and we even got some grass growth, which was great as we headed into winter.

Last storm when snow on the valley floor was predicted, I attempted the blunt reverse psychology of “it ain’t gonna rain or snow, so just go away.” Of course, I was hoping that I would trick the rain gods into delivering a snow day or two. Alas, they were too perceptive and saw right through me and only dropped ridiculously cold weather (read about it here or here and here).  In hindsight, I probably jinxed the storm. But you see that this is where years of skill and dedication come into play. I am but a novice at this art and obviously need to refine my technique.

This storm the rain gods seem to be working on cussedness.The first part of the storm was during my CSA deliveries.  So I as I was driving up and down I-5, it was dumping rain and of course, the windshield wiper blades need to be replaced. All it all, a good day, but the rain could have come a day earlier or a day later. These last two days of spluttering rain came right when I was all set to get some outside jobs done. We need a better supply of fire wood for the winter. We need to get the stock water system put to bed for for the winter. And, well the list just doesn’t really stop, but none of those were possible with any sort of comfort. So I have had to hole up and get some inside work done. Looking at my desk and its clutter you might not see what progress has been made, but I swear things are better now than two days ago.

As of right now, we are at about 6″ of rain for the year, and our YTD average is around 7.5″. By the end of Dec, our YTD avg is around 10″, so, although no year is average, we need about another 4″ in the next couple of weeks to keep up.

I guess that means I should start warming up my dancing shoes, getting my juju correct, and bribing Murphy to look the other way.

A brief peek from the sun in the middle of the rain.

Rancher-style ice rink

Yep, it is still cold folks. But I managed to get another fun ice shot. You always hear about ranchers who live where it is truly cold and how they have to break the ice for the livestock to water. Well, we have never had that issue. But as you can see the ice has gotten rather thick on the pig water trough. Now I just need to find some ice skates…

"Look, maw, I can walk on water."

So this is why I didn't bust through the ice.

Ice Sculptures

Normally, leaking irrigation valves are a source of annoyance to us. With the cold temps, they have turned into sources of art, mother nature sculpting with ice.

The beginnings of a glacier in the upcoming ice age.

Rancher sci-fi thriller - Blackberries being swallowed alive by the ice.

"Melt this damn ice, you lazy sun," says the branch.

Just a nice ice shot.

You know it’s cold when…

If you live in CA, you probably have been inundated with weather reports predicting a new ice age. We were supposed to have a 1.5″ of snow here at the ranch. Well, no snow, not even rain, all we got was a frickin’ lot of cold air. Right now, I am wearing 3 layers, a scarf, a wool hat, and a blanket on my lap, and my fingers are still so cold that I can’t type very accurately (Finally, an excuse for my poor grammar and spelling).

This morning it was 11 when I woke up, which is only cold for the Sacramento Valley. But when you aren’t ready or used to it, that is cold. Our dogs are outside dogs and we make sure that they have spots to curl up and stay warm. But we never planned on this spot, but when it gets this cold, any port (or tub full of rags) in a storm will do apparently.

Dog on bed, dog in tub, dog on bed - Which one of these things doesn't belong? (Hint: any place that keeps you warm belongs)

Just leave me and my warm tub alone already.

Negative Ghostrider, the CSA is full

Just in case, my Top Gun reference didn’t make sense, maybe this image will.

Thanks to all of our new members!

Over the last month or so, we have found enough members to fill every single slot in our meat CSA. Like I said earlier, I knew it was a good idea and that people would eventually sign up, but I had no idea it was going to happen so quickly! I am so thankful for every one of our members who have made our winter marketing so easy. I trust that, in exchange, our monthly deliveries of meat goodies will delight their palates and tickle their tummies.

Our next CSA season will start in June 2010. We have a waiting list already, so if you are interested, it would be good to sign up.

Thanks again to everyone.