Lamb Feast

One of the best aspects of selling meat like we do is getting feedback from customers. We hear all sorts of cool stories about where our meat has been cooked: bbq’s in the Sierras, taken all the way back to Indiana, one family even packed up their freezer full of our meat and moved it with them back to Virginia. However, I got to say that the following email is probably the best written feedback we have ever gotten. Feel free to top it if you want.

Nick came out to the ranch and bought a lamb for his graduation party and this is what he reported back to us (you won’t want to miss the photos):

Hey guys,

I wanted to thank you again for all the great meat and let you know how the party turned out. The party was a smash with around 70 people in attendance.  I was first worried that we wouldnt have enough food, then that we would have too much food, but as it turns out we were right where we needed to be.

The two chickens went into the smoker for around 2 ½ hours.  Turned out moist and flavorful. Apparently everyone liked them because there wasnt a scrap of skin left on the tray.

The lamb was butterflied and roasted over a bed of almond wood coals. Before setting the lamb over the coals it was given a liberal coating of olive oil (infused with fresh herbs and spices) and a good dose of sea salt.  The lamb (aptly named Lanolin) roasted for around three hours and perfumed my backyard with the unmistakable smell of a lamb that had lived a happy life.  Lanolin came off the fire to rest and then I got the chance to dive in with the carving.  The meat practically peeled off the bone as I worked through the animal! I boned out the rear legs and had some choice slices of meat as a result.  The backstraps were beautiful and tender. The loins packed in a ton of flavor while they melted in your mouth. It was incredible how much meat Lanolin produced.  Almost as incredible as how much meat everyone went through!

We had many Greek inspired accompaniments for the main meal from pastitisio to various salads.  We also prepared about 10 lbs of pork loin.  I wanted to harness as much as I could out of the lamb so I prepared a lamb liver pate. Lanolin was packing close to a 1.5 lb liver!  The pate came out pretty good if I do say so myself.  We also roasted the kidneys and heart.  Havent had time to get into the oysters just yetand saving the head for a special occasion!

All in all the party was a success and the food was delicious.  Thank you guys so much for adding to the amazing experience.  The excitement of getting to work the lambs added to the whole experience for me and gave me a great story to tell as we cooked, ate, and drank the weekend away.  Here are some photos of the event for your enjoyment (there was a Spartacus theme).

Thanks again and cant wait to make it back out to the ranch!

He wasn't joking about the Spartacus theme.

Hey Nick, you might be having too much fun in that outfit.

Ok, this shot makes me officially hungry. Anyone else?


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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!

CSA Wrap Up

Again, another fun CSA delivery weekend. I think I could get used to this. Plus this was the most high tech delivery run ever. So fun plus high tech equals awesome weekend.

Overall, it is our CSA members that make these weekends so fun. Their excitement to see what lies within the bundle of meat is just awesome. Can’t beat pure foodie joy.  This month’s selection really seemed to get their meat cravings going. As always, thanks to all of them for making our dream of a sustainable meat business a reality.I can’t wait to see you all again next month. I am already pondering what the piece de resistance of next month’s selection is going to be. Stay tuned.

So gotta give props to the people because they are really everything, but I must say that the tech/geeky stuff was almost as fun for me. I won’t bore you to tears with all of my pure geek joy, but I will make you read a quick little list of what my new Droid phone let me do on Saturday.

  1. I got a Fog alert about my selected route.
  2. I used Google navigation to time my entire run. Knowing how many minutes to your next destination is a huge stress relief. No more endless “am I going to make it on time” calculations.
  3. I was able to take a quick video of the coolest CSA pickup vehicle ever.  (Hint: it has three wheels) BTW, this is the beginning of what I hope to be regular video posts.
  4. I twitted updates about the whole trip. Before I even turned around to come home, a member (@airkingsound) had tweeted this: “Back from the CSA handoff from@BarbarosaRnchrs! Looking at all the goodies, wondering what we make next. Rack of Lamb it shall be. Yum.” How cool is that?
  5. Long story, but I was able to locate a used water heater on craigslist, work out the deal, find the location and buy it, all on the fly. Try that with my old flip phone, ain’t happening.
  6. I was able to update this blog from the road. It isn’t the next american novel, but you can read it here.

Well, I had some more fun with my Droid, but I won’t bore you any more. So thanks to all of members, we will see you next month.

Gearing up for CSA deliveries

Our CSA shares all bundled up and ready for their new homes.

Somehow the week has snuck past me. Is anyone else surprised that is Thursday already? I had high hopes of starting any number of projects, but somehow life got in the way of my plans and so this week has been, for the most part, reactionary.

I have managed to be proactive in one regard, and probably the most important regard. I was able to get all of my CSA meat bundles put together last night. My lovely and talented wife Holly was most helpful in putting them together. She even wrote “love” notes to some of our members that she knows.

Every month, when I put these bundles together, I get all excited about what I am “forcing” our members to eat. I survey the freezer and what I have given them and then decide what should come next. Last night, I was looking through our lamb and saw some pretty amazing looking rack of lamb packages just asking to be eaten.

Doesn't that look good? Sorry that I am "forcing" you to cook then eat one yourself.

So into the bundles, they went. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough to go all around, so some shares got a couple boneless legs of lamb instead. Sorry guys, but you are just going to have to live with that yummy delicious mouth-wateringly good leg rather than the yummy delicious mouth-wateringly rack. Our beef steaks looked tasty this time around so in they went. And we rounded out this month’s CSA bundles with some chicken cuts, instead of whole chickens.

So just to make it stomach growlingly clear what people are getting this month:

  • Poultry – Pasture raised chicken cuts (boneless breasts, thighs and/or drums)
  • Steaks – Grassfed beef steaks (Top Sirloin, Ribeye, and/or Filet)
  • Roasts – Grassfed Rack of Lamb or Boneless Leg Roast
  • Ground – Grassfed ground beef and ground lamb.

Recipes ideas I recommend for these cuts:

  • Poultry- I love using a dijion mustard, rosemary, garlic, and olive oil rub for our chicken. Each time I make it is a little different, but always yummy.
  • Steaks – A good grill and some salt and pepper is all that you really need, but looking beyond the classics, I like to pan sear them then finish in the oven. A nice jus to top it all off is nice as well.
  • Roasts – Lamb needs nothing more than garlic and rosemary, says I. But if you want to go all out look at this recipe.
  • Ground – I will leave this up to your discretion.  I am sure something yummy will occur to you.

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.

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?


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.