I spy a … starts with B

So here I am, peacefully and productively processing my email this morning, and when I glanced out the window, guess what I saw? The picture tells all.

Bull on Lawn

Yep, that is one of our bulls. I guess he decided that he would help us out by mowing some of the lawn for us. Either that or he is on a hunt for the pig feed. I will foil any and all of his plots by returning him to the pasture where he belongs, the jerk.

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Photo documentary of a sunny day

Yesterday, I posted this on Twitter, via @barbarosaranchers, “Just put on shorts for the first time in 2010. Going to go out and play aka work in the sun. see ya” I decided to take my Droid along, not because I love having a fancy-dancy smart phone near me at all times but because it has a decent camera and it is easier to carry that my other digital camera. I took pictures of various tasks all day yesterday. It was a glorious day and I hope the pictures share some of that glory with you.

Ahh, morning sun. Bodes well for the day

Red Alert! Sheep on the wrong side of the fence.

Sheep gathered by Mini and Oakley in the back, and lead by Buddy, the guard dog

Leading sheep down ranch road towards home.

Back on the path of righteousness. My dad was working on the weak part of the fence.

That was only two miles, Mini still has enough gas to outrun the truck. She is the black spot at the base of the oak tree.

Why the ranch is called "Big Bluff."

Heralding spring, the manzanita blooms

Just pure spring glory, even if it is Feb and we are going into another rain cycle.

It’s the relationship, stupid.

Have I mentioned how wonderful our meat CSA is? I am just loving every aspect of it from the committed members, the steady cashflow, the even outflow of inventory, and did I mention the members? I love bouncing emails back and forth with them. This latest exchange has got to be my favorite so far.

J– wrote:
Beef short ribs
Tyler – they were so awesome yesterday.  I’ve never done a braise before with grass fed beef.  Cooked in half the time, there wasn’t an inch and half of fat to skim off the sauce, and they were as tender as could be.
Thanks again.
We are hooked.

J–

I responded:

Hi J–,

Shorts ribs are delightful. They are my dad’s favorite cut, although he doesn’t discriminate against roasts and stew meat. When he makes a pot roast type dish, he calls it the “food of the gods.”  Now you know why he calls it that.

Tyler

What I find so great about this exchange is:

  1. Someone thought our meat was “awesome.” That always makes my day.
  2. Someone tried a new cut because of our CSA. This one of the best things about the CSA, you get to try something new every month. I am forcing you to have fun and play with your food.
  3. Behind this exchange is the relationship between the passionate producer and the committed member.  With this sort of relationship, our CSA is going to take off like a rocket ship full of a sustainable, humanely raised meats.

Keep those emails coming!

Tempus fugit

Yep, that is how last week seems to have gone - fast.

Time flies, and that certainly is how last week went for me. I still don’t quite believe that it is Monday all over again, but I guess I have to believe the calendar. I still feel like it is Tues or Wednesday of last week and that I have another couple of days to finish all the things that needed to get done last week. What a vain hope that was. Luckily, I got most of last week’s important tasks done, but now I am facing this week’s tasks. So after a little procrastination on this post, off to the salt mines I go.

Looking back on last week, I can see how I lost track of the date. I was doing several pretty cool, fun and interesting things on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Tuesday: I signed up for a Holistic Management Financial Planning workshop and this was my second meeting. We have been using Holistic Management practices on Big Bluff Ranch for over 20 years and it has been the saving grace for the ranch. Without using this decision framework, we would have gone the way of most too-small ranches and sold it to a developer or hobby rancher many years ago.  I signed up to take the financial planning module again (for the third time, I think) because every time you go to one of these seminars something new strikes you and you develop a deeper understanding of yourself and what you want to achivieve in life.

In a very quick nutshell, here is how Holistic Managment works:

  1. Define the Whole under Management
    1. What is the sphere of reality that you are attempting to manage.
  2. Create a temporary Holistic Goal comprising of Quality of Life, Forms of Production, and Future Resource Base
    1. To what end are you managing for?
    2. Taking into account social, economic, and environmental factors
  3. Create Financial Plan
    1. Create a plan that allows you to test expenses against your goal
    2. In this manner, you are always sure that every expense you make brings you closer to your goal

I am likely doing a disservice with my nutshell as it is so short and so incomplete compared to the full decision framework. I haven’t talked about the testing guidelines, why the temporary holistic goal is so important, land planning, and so many other factors. All I can say is that is the best way to I have ever come across to manage your life.

Wednesday: Last spring, I graduated from the California Agriculture Leadership program, which is a two year long fellowship that takes agricultural type folks and prepares them for greater leadership role, not just in agriculture but in society. It is a truly life changing experience. Heck, I even found my wife via the program (she was in the same class as I)   Here is her website about our local alumni region.

On Wednesday, at the Colusa Farm Show, Agleadership sponsors a breakfast. Holly and I have both friends and classmates around Colusa, so this was a great opportunity to head down and have a smidgen of a social life. It was great, a nice dinner with Ben and Denise, breakfast with Eric and Joel, walking the farm show with “Johnny” and working the Agleader booth with Nicole. But a ranch boy can only handle so much social time before it is time to head for the hills and get some work done.

Which is what I did, get work done, on Thursday and Friday, but it was the kind of work where stuff got done, but when you look back, you aren’t quite sure what you did. Then the weekend came along and now it is Monday, and time to start all over again.

Today is sunny, I have an overflowing inbox, and Holly just got us video editing software. In other words, I have no idea what I am going to do; work outside in the sun, answer all of the emails, or play with my new software. I guess I will just have to do it all.

Record setting month

Site visits are through the roof!

Last month was the best month ever for this blog. WordPress (the host for this blog) includes a decent stat counter, which I am very fond of checking at least once a day. Ok, maybe twice a day. Ok, ok, maybe three times a day. The reason that I so love the stats is that I can see direct measurable results from what I put into the blog. Every time I post some thing, boom, I see a jump in page views. Or I can compare to different posts to see which has more interest.  Now that I have figured out how to post videos, I can compare video posts to written posts. Not that it is very surprising, but the video posts tend to have more appeal than the written ones. Nothing like a moving image to convey a thousand words at 60 frames a second. WordPress doesn’t track the time of visits, but since I check soon often I know when people are most likely to read my blog during the day.

Enough geeky gushing, here are some number for you:

  • Page Views for Jan:  5,477 (Previous month was only 3,518)
  • Busiest day was Jan 20th with 269 page views
  • Average page views/day for Jan was 177 (previous month was 113)

Basically, all three of the most critical stats for my blog all set new records last month.  I think that is pretty darn cool.

Here are the top three posts from last month:

  • Creek Watch: Day 3 – This video was posted during the height of the rain storm a week or so ago. It should how much the creek had come up since the first creek video had been posted.
  • Video of the Creek – This was the first video I ever posted.  I was just messing around trying to figure how to get my Droid videos embedded into this blog. It was so popular that  decided to follow up with daily creek videos while it was raining.
  • Gearing up for CSA deliveries – There has been a lot of interest in meat CSA over the past two, three months. I am answering a couple of emails a day about our CSA. I think that this post is getting a number of hits from people googling “meat CSA” for the Sac and SF Bay areas.
  • Honorable Mention: You thought sharks had feeding frenzies? – This is my first “production documentary” video. Rather that just shot the creek, I wanted to show folks what it is like to feed pigs in the morning. I mention it, because given the short amount of time is has been posted (I posted it rather late in the month) and its standing at the month’s end (it reached 5th most popular post), most likely it would have claimed the #1 spot if the end of the month hadn’t so cruelly cut off its chances.

Of course now my challenge is to figure out how to make Feb be the best month ever for this blog.  I can’t rest on my laurels, now can I?