Interesting Tidbit for the Day – St. Swithin

I learned a fun little piece of information today, and thought you all might enjoy it as well!

St. Swithin’s Day, July 15th, is a day on which people in Scotland and England watch the weather, for folklore says that the weather on St. Swithin’s Day will continue for the next 40 days.

‘St. Swithin’s day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St. Swithin’s day if thou be fair
For forty days ’twill rain nae mair.’

St. Swithin was a Bishop of Winchester in the 800’s. He was famous for charitable gifts and building churches.

Tradition says that as the Bishop died, he asked to be buried out of doors, where he would be trodden on and rained on. For over a hundred years, his wishes were followed, but when the monks of Winchester attempted to remove his remains to a splendid shrine inside the cathedral on 15 July 971, there was a heavy rain storm either during the ceremony or on its anniversary.

This led to the old wives’ tale  that if it rains on St Swithin’s Day, it will rain for the next 40 days in succession, and a fine 15th July will be followed by 40 days of fine weather.

St. Swithin also apparently planted a lot of apple trees, since the apple is one of his symbols. Apple growers in the UK seek rain on St. Swithin’s Day, saying he is blessing and christening the apples. Also, no apples should be eaten before July 15th, and any apple growing on that day will ripen fully.

So there you go. Interesting little fact for the day. Also, there are Patron Saints for pretty much everything. So if you need someone to intercede with the heavens on your behalf, there’s the list!

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Lamb Recipes from Gutierrez Family Farms

Sharon Gutierrez of Gutierrez Family Farms shared some of her family’s favorite lamb recipes with us. We hope you enjoy them as well!

Lamb Stew

2 lbs leg of lamb or shoulder roast cut into 1 inch cubes
Dust with about ½ cup of seasoned flour
Add to 3 Tablespoons olive oil in hot heavy pot. Brown lamb but do not cook though. Remove from pot.

Add to warm pot;
4 or more pieces bacon cut into thin slices- brown. Add ingredients below.
2 medium onions-medium dice
3 large carrots-, peeled and sliced ½ thick
½ pound mushrooms cut in half if needed
2-3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced medium size
2 cups fresh diced tomato
8 ounce can tomato sauce or diced tomatoes
3 tsp. fresh thyme or 1 ½ tsp dried
3 tsp. fresh rosemary or 1 ½ tsp dried
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. black pepper
4-6 garlic cloves- crushed
Bay leaf
½+ bottle Merlot or Cabernet – reserve some for drinking

Add lamb back to pot along with above ingredients, Cover and cook for one hour. Stir after 30 minutes. Remove lid during last 15 minutes of cooking if thicker stew is desired.

Dry Rubbed Lamb Ribs

2 teaspoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons dried thyme
3 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 lbs of lamb Ribs
Olive oil for coating ribs

Glaze (optional):
1/2 cup apricot jam
¼ cup chopped jalapenos
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon dry mustard

Mix dry rub ingredients and place them in a zip lock bag.  Cut ribs into individual pieces, leave the fat on the bones and rub lightly with olive oil and place into the zip lock bag with dry ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate all day or overnight.

Heat oven to 300 F and place lamb fatty side up on a broil sheet and cover with foil. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours; you want the meat to pull away from the bone.

Mix glaze ingredients in a food processor for a minute then warm up the glaze on the stove for 5- 10 minutes. Turn up the oven to 375 F and remove foil and brush ribs with glaze and let bake for another 20-30 minutes. Sticky but delicious, try it both ways with and without the glaze.


American Basque Lamb Shanks

3-4 lbs of Grass Fed Sliced or Whole Lamb Shanks
2 tablespoons Smoked Paprika
2 tablespoons Garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried Thyme
2 tablespoons Sugar
2 tablespoon Dry Mustard
1 teaspoon dried Red Chili Pepper
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons of Olive Oil divided
1 Onion sliced
Mushrooms sliced
3 Sliced Carrots
2 Sliced Bell Peppers
2 cups Chicken Broth
1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1 tablespoon Corn Starch
2 -3 tablespoons cold water

Mix all dried ingredients into a large zip lock bag then add lamb shanks and shake well. Let set for 2-3 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

Coat large, deep skillet with olive oil and caramelize onions for about 20 minutes. Remove onions and brown mushrooms. Once browned add onions back to the skillet with carrots and bell peppers, chicken broth and 1 teaspoon of Smoked Paprika and mix well. In another skillet sear lamb with olive oil then add together in the same skillet and let it simmer on low to medium heat for 2 hours. Check for tenderness, it should be falling off the bone. Can also place everything in the crock pot and let simmer all day as well. Add corn starch mixture to thicken and serve over mash potatoes, rice or noodles.

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Thought of the Week

Don’t sweat the petty things, and don’t pet the sweaty things!

-Charlene Fink, Editor, Farm Journal

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Howard G. Buffett, Ag. Advocate

Howard G. Buffett found his way into farming through an unlikely route.  As a 5 year old boy, he loved playing in the dirt, and he planted his first stand of corn in his backyard in Omaha, Nebraska.

Farming was an unlikely career path for Howard G., the oldest son of billionaire Warren Buffett.  Today, he farms 1,500 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat in Illinois, and he oversees research farms in the U.S. and Africa.

In 1999, he launched the Howard G. Buffett Foundation to improve global standards and to relieve hunger.  He applies no-till and other conservation farming practices, and he uses his bully pulpit to urge U.S. farmers to achieve the dual goals of productivity and sustainability.

Buffett believes that the biggest challenge to food security in the U.S. is one of access, even more than affordability.  There are food deserts in our country, places where SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) foods are not available to consumers.  U.S. farmers need to be able to produce food, and move food, so that it is available all over the country, and sold in venues like local farmers’ markets.

Howard G. Buffett’s dream is that “We lead the world in no-till and other conservation-based practices that maintain our highly productive farming system with the least amount of environmental footprint possible.  The only way we can succeed in meeting the future food demands of the world is to create an urgency and a desire to be the best we can be.  If U.S. farmers are not successful, it’s impossible for the world to be successful.”

Success Farming, October, 2013

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Thought of the Week

“The biggest challenge to food security
in the U.S. is one of access,
even more so than affordability.”

-Howard G. Buffett, Farmer and CEO of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation

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Farmer Profile – Gutierrez Family Farms

Our family has known the Gutierrez family for years and years, having met them through church.  They raise lambs, and we really enjoyed learning about their unique operation.  Please enjoy reading more about this lovely family!

Sharon and Rick Gutierrez, Gutierrez Family Farms in Nampa, ID, raise lambs for meat with their three children, Karena, Andrew, and Mariah. Karena is starting her sophomore year at Washington State University, majoring in cell biology.  Andrew is 15, and Mariah is 13.  Rick is also a large animal veterinarian.


Hungry baby

The Gutierrez Family has lived in Nampa for about 18 years, raising sheep and farming for about 16 years.  They didn’t start raising sheep on purpose, though!  Rick and Sharon raised lambs while participating in 4-H and FFA in high school.  When Karena was 4, they decided it would be nice to have a small flock of Suffolk sheep.  In 2008, the family felt like it was the right time to really start focusing on their lamb operation, and have worked hard to maximize their farm since then.

The Gutierrez family keeps around 40 Suffolk (black face) and Norfolk (white face) ewes, resulting in 70-80 lambs each spring.  The  majority of lambs go to market in September, to local grocery stores, restaurants and individuals.  The rest of the lambs are sold throughout the winter and into the next spring, providing fresh lamb to the Treasure Valley year-round.

They Gutierrez family also raises some alfalfa, which is sold locally, and they use the proceeds for their sheep operation.


Lamb going back to mama

Their operation is very unique in that they hardly ever have to feed the sheep. Instead, their sheep graze year-round.  Usually  the only time the ewes are fed is when they are inside lambing.  They graze the last cutting of grass and alfalfa in the fall, and eat only grass the rest of the year.

The family has developed a very sophisticated management program for their 40 acres of pasture.  The sheep are  rotated every 10-14 days to a new pasture, and each pasture area is grazed every 60-90 days or so.  This prevents parasite infection from overgrazing on feces-contaminated ground, and they are at the point where the sheep only need minimal doses of wormer each year!


Mama and her twins

Rotating the pastures so intensively works to beat the parasite cycle.  In the spring, the pastures haven’t been grazed for over 6 months, and any parasites have been killed off during the winter.  Another bonus to raising purely grass-fed animals is  that they don’t have a lot of the indigestion problems that grain-fed animals might have.  “We’re very fortunate that we can make this type of practice work for us,” says Sharon.

The family recently participated in a chef tour for local chefs.  About 50 local chefs, food service people, and school nutritionists were taken on a tour of several local farms.  The tour was to introduce participants to where Idaho food is produced, to meet Idaho farmers, and to learn how they can get Idaho products into their stores, restaurants and schools.  The experience showed the family how important it is to be active in opening their farm to educational opportunities, and to show people how their animals are raised.

The Gutierrez Family is active in multiple organizations in Idaho, including Idaho Preferred, the Idaho Wool Growers Association, Farm Bureau, 4-H,  and Small Ruminant Practitioners.  The family also goes to regional conventions focused on sheep, learning new techniques and information.

Mariah with ...quadruplets!

Mariah with …quadruplets!

Sharon told us that there are four main cuts of lamb: shoulder, rack, loin, leg. From their most recent convention trip, they learned that there is now a 5th – lamb by-products.  Nothing in the animal is wasted.  Many parts that would have been thrown out or used to make bone-meal are being used to make valuable secondary products, like dog treats.

The lamb market is a volatile one in the United States.  Lamb is a seasonal product, with lambs born in the spring, and ready for market anywhere from June to September or October.  The price for lamb fluctuates and affects profit for sheep ranchers just as it does for the farmers who grow wheat and corn.  Lamb, while becoming more available, is still not a prevalent product in the area, with most people in the U.S. consuming less than a pound of lamb per year, compared to an average of over 40 pounds of beef per person per year!

Bottle-feeding some babies

Bottle-feeding some babies

Surprisingly, the weather can also be a challenge to their operation, with the amount of moisture dictating how the pastures can be rotated.  Lower precipitation years mean that the pastures must be grazed more carefully to avoid allowing the sheep to eat the grass too far down.

Other challenges that the family faces include everyday care for the animals. They could be dressed in their Sunday best, ready to walk out the door, but if an animal is sick or injured, well, they drop everything and care for that animal.  There are no days (or even hours) off for our nation’s livestock producers.

While raising sheep has it’s challenges, the family also enjoys the opportunities that it brings, namely family bonding time.  I believe a “whether you like it or not” was slipped in there by one of the girls!  They have spent countless hours together doctoring animals, lambing, herding sheep, and much more.

Mariah had a funny story to share.  “It was year or so ago during lambing season, and we always check the ewes and lambs before bed.  I had a ewe that I had shown, Angel, that we kept, instead of selling her at the fair auction.  I went down to the barn to check the ewes, and didn’t want to go to bed, so I stayed and hung out at the barn.  Angel’s water broke, so I was trying to get her into a stall to lamb, but she wouldn’t go.  I kept an eye on her, and she started to have the baby.  The legs came out, but then nothing happened.  I helped pull the baby out, then got them both in a stall. After they were comfortable and happy, I went back up to the house.  My mom and dad were both surprised to see me – they thought I was in bed this whole time.  Instead I was out pulling lambs!

Out on pasture

Out on pasture

To learn more about the Gutierrez Family farms, check out their Facebook page here or visit their website here.

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Summertime Snaps

I travel around Idaho, Oregon and Washington, managing farms.  Here are a few snapshots taken this summer.


At Sweet Hills Farm, The WeeLaddie in his John Deere sweatshirt and ball cap, checking on Farmer Russ Shroll’s winter wheat, July, 2014.







And filling the horses’ water trough, June, 2014.


Sweet Hills Farm: Huge, 1,000 lb. bales of straw. Straw is made of the stalks of the wheat plant, which is left over after the combine harvests the wheat kernel. This straw will be sold to local dairies, who use it for bedding for their milk cows, August, 2014.


Cowboy moving cattle on a neighbor’s ranch, Baker Valley, Oregon, June, 2014


Deer running in downtown Baker City, Oregon. I know this isn’t farmy, but it was amazing! June, 2014


Dustin’ for aphids on the wheat at Bald Butte, July, 2014

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Thought of the Week

Photo source

Photo source

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2 lbs

fresh green beans necessary to can 1 quart


Honeybees needed to make 1 tablespoon of honey


4 lbs.

Broccoli consumed per person per year


The number of “squirts” in 1 gallon of milk!

22 lb.

Tomatoes consumed per person each year; more than half are in the form of tomato sauce, salsa and ketsup


24 lb.

Sweet corn consumed per person each year; 9.5 lb. frozen, 8.7 lb. fresh, and 5.8 lb. canned



States grow watermelons;  Florida, Texas, California, Georgia and Arizona lead the country in production


Of barbeque grills in 2012 were gas, 41% were charcoal and 2 % were electric powered

Farm Journal, Late Spring, 2013

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Girl in a Country Song

Hey Y’all!  Ever get tired of hearing country songs describing country girls in bikini tops with rock ‘n roll booties?  Maddie & Tae did!  Enjoy!



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