My 14-year-old son recently showed his market hog at the Yolo County 4-H Spring Show at the Yolo County Fairgrounds in Woodland. He named his pig “Cow,” which is a reflection of my son’s dry sense of humor. His spotted pig won the title of “Reserve Champion of All Other Breeds.” My son was rather pleased at his first venture into the world of show pigs. He’s already thinking of new names for his next hog!
There is wildfire burning nearby and we’re keeping a close eye on it from our farm north of Winters, Calif. It’s called the Guinda Fire, and it has thus far burned more than 2,000 acres of rangeland in the Capay Valley, according to our 27-year-old son Justin, who recently became a volunteer firefighter in Winters. Some of our friends who live in the area have been evacuated. The temperature reached 104 degrees Fahrenheit today with a gusty north wind. The fire is spreading south and southwest, toward Lake Berryessa.
I think the best shish kebabs are made with lamb, especially grilled outside on the barbeque. It’s 104 degrees here this afternoon–way too hot to cook inside. I marinated the lamb with my secret marinade recipe for several hours and then skewered it on with bell peppers, onion and homegrown tomatoes. I meant to add zucchini to the shish kebab, but SHEESH, I forgot–so I just sliced some up into quarters and added it to the grill. Attention foodies: We are lamb producers, so this is authentic farm-to-table cuisine.
These blacktailed deer are just some of the wildlife roaming around on our ranch. These does were caught grazing on our young tomato plants. They also eat the forage in the surrounding hills. Springtime means babies and we continually see fawns tagging along with their mothers. The does and their offspring typically travel in groups for safety. The other day we saw a fawn curled up underneath a tree while its mother was grazing nearby. Many different wildlife species live around here, including endangered and threatened species such as golden eagles and tricolored blackbirds. We are definitely into wildlife-friendly farming.
My son John is going to show his market lamb at the Yolo County 4-H Spring Show on Friday. He has been working hard to tame his female lamb, “Midnight,” who will be entered in the Natural Color category. Natural-colored sheep produce natural-colored wool, in contrast to white wool that is dyed. They can also be meat animals. The sheep show is this Friday at the Yolo County Fairgrounds in Woodland, California. The kids use halters to train their lambs to walk around in the show ring, but during the show, the lambs are not on halters, so it can be a little tricky to keep the animals under control. And there’s always the possibility that the judge will handle the lamb, so each kid needs to control their animal so it won’t try to escape. Wouldn’t you know, John’s very first lamb is supersized, already weighing over 120 pounds–hopefully she won’t try to bolt!
The Golden State’s beautiful state flower, the California Poppy, is emerging all over our farm right now. I love the orange color! I would love to see photos of the state flowers in other states, from Alabama’s Camellia to Wyoming’s Indian Paintbrush. It would be great to see photos of the national flowers from countries around the world, in case you’d like to add them to this post.
It’s that time of year when farmers hold mandatory safety meetings for their employees. This one was facilitated at our farm shop by Tony Bruno of Armstrong and Associates Insurance Services and was conducted in Spanish. Agricultural employees must review illness and injury prevention, personal protection equipment and other safety measures that are critical in farming and ranching. Soon there will be a county Farm Bureau meeting where the employees will update their skills in First Aid and CPR. It’s all part of the behind-the-scenes world of agriculture that takes place in the winter, before the upcoming crop season begins.
My son and I went to see the new spotted foals that were born recently at the Stonewall Sporthorse breeding facility at the Rush Ranch near Fairfield, Calif. The horses are stunningly beautiful and since they are part draft horse, they are also big. We visited with Michael Muir, the breeder and founder of the Stonewall Sporthorse Registry, and I interviewed him for the book that I’m writing about the history of another horse ranch.