Dirty Jeans

So, I’ve been hearing about people who are willing to pay big money for “real” dirty jeans.

Have I got a deal for you…


These jeans are authentic.  They’re made by Lee, a well known old brand of Western wear.  The dirt is real.  It came off a real farm, and got there by irrigating, sorting lambs, ear-tagging/castrating/worming, and pulling weeds.  Now, if they’re not quite dirty enough, just let me know, and I’ll wear ’em another few days for you.

Fifty bucks and they’re yours.

I’ll hold off washing ’em till I hear from all y’all.

I’ll even throw in the shipping for free.


Posted in Dirt, Farm Families, For Kids, Just for Fun, Livestock Production, Ranchers, Women in Agriculture, Work | Leave a comment

Thought of the Week

Grazing is a tool.
It doesn’t take away, but enhances our environment.
Grazing is beneficial to our rangelands.

-Gretchen Hyde, Idaho Rangeland Commission


Posted in #lamb, Ag Production, Cattle, Education, Feeding the World, For Kids, Livestock Production, Ranchers, Sheep, Thought of the Week, Young Farmers and Ranchers | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Update from Farmer Todd

Here’s a newsy update from Palouse farmer, Todd Strader.  You will remember Todd’s profile, published in November, 2013.  He always writes interesting updates…


Todd and Heather and their children at the beach last summer

We have 218 acres of soft white winter wheat this year.  The wheat was no-tilled in mid-September, and came up nicely before winter.  The weather this winter has treated us surprisingly well.  It really hasn’t been all that cold, there has been some snow, but the snow didn’t last long, and we have had lots of good moisture, almost all of which has go into the ground!  In other words, it’s been great wheat-growing weather.


Winter wheat – coming into early spring

There are 412 acres left to plant this spring.  I plan on seeding 312 acres of Dark Northern Spring wheat (DNS) and I might put in 100 acres of canola.  Last year, I grew 70 acres of canola at home as a test, and was surprisingly happy with hit.  It yielded well and was relatively easy to seed and harvest.  Also, it was profitably on-par with spring wheat.  On the (field bordering the) Colfax highway, I plan to seed DNS.  Last fall, this piece was all in soft white winter wheat.  Next year I hope to plant garbanzo beans on it.


Canola fields in the Palouse Photo source

The markets have been trending up as of recently.  I don’t know why, but I am optimistic for the upcoming market year, although there aren’t many people who share my opinion.  The mid-west is in a significant drought, and it will only take one significant weather event in Russia, India or Australia to drive the markets bullish.  Last year, we saw a trading range of $4.65-5.70 per bushel, with current prices at $5.50.  Only 1-1/2 years ago, we were looking at $4.25 wheat.  Compared to $4.25, we are sitting pretty well.  In addition, fertilizer is the cheapest it has been since I started farming, which is about the only positive to counter-balance these depressed prices!


Todd and his son

At this point, I am eagerly awaiting spring!  I was thinking that we were going to have an early spring, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.  We finished lambing, and it is not fun, though the lambs are doing really well.


Todd’s kids with their new lamb – and kitty, too!

I hope all is well with you and your family.


Posted in Education, Farm Families, Farmer Profiles, Farmers, For Kids, Garbanzos, Wheat, Work, Young Farmers and Ranchers | Leave a comment

Thought of the Week


Photo source

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Farmers & Ranchers Are…

We know that farmers and ranchers are many things – hardworking, self motivated, family oriented, living on the land.  There’s more, though, and here is a short list:

  1.  Farmers and ranchers are innovative.  They attend meetings to learn new practices, use fungicides and seed treatments, and carry high levels of crop insurance.  They constantly look for new ways to become more efficient and productive.
  2. They do their own research.  Most farmers and ranchers do on-farm testing – they do their own evaluations of new technologies and practices.

  3. They look at the ROI.  Their practice evaluations are based on return on investment, not just on yield or result.  It sounds great to raise a higher yield per acre, but if the higher cost is out of balance, this puts fewer dollars in their pocket, and that’s what counts.
  4. They push yields.  Financially successful farmers produce 1 to 2 bushels more per acre on the same soil types compared with their average counterparts.  That’s their profit.
  5. They count every penny.  Financially successful farmers pay less per acre for fertilizer, seed, seed treatments and pesticides.  They use the latest technologies, but do not pay more for them.  They are excellent at cost control and keep machinery costs (relatively) low.
  6. They ask for help where they need it. Financially successful farmers hire consultants to help address areas of weakness,such as private agronomists, soil scientists, marketing consultants.
  7. They seek premiums.  Whether it’s non-GMO beans or seed production acres, financially successful farmers receive a premium price for their crop.

The profit margin is very tight for farmers and ranchers, and the investment per acre or per head of livestock are figures that would make many of us pale.  Yet, farmers and ranchers are able to make a living for their families and become financially successful by incorporating each of these, and many more progressive practices into their operations.  Thanks to them and their diligence, we have abundance, quality and variety of the foods we each.


-RamCAD, Market Intelligence Report

Posted in Ag Production, Agribusiness Profile, Education, Farm Families, Farmers, Feeding the World, For Kids, Ranchers, Work, Young Farmers and Ranchers | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Thought of the Week

Optimism is a strategy for making a better future.  Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.

-Noam Chomsky

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One Fifth

Believe it or not, agriculture makes up 1/5 of our economy!

A nationwide economic impact study recently released found that 20.4% of the nation’s economy is linked, either directly or indirectly, to the food and agriculture sectors.  More than one fourth (28%) are similarly connected.

This study was commissioned by 22 food and agriculture organizations.  The economic data was compiled by John Dunham & Associates.  The considered jobs, wages, taxes and export data, broken down state-by-state.

For the complete report, go to:  http://www.FeedingTheEconomy.com

Among the most important findings:

Total jobs:  43,311,05
Total wages:  $1.9 Trillion
Total taxes:  $894.13 Billion
Exports:  $146.32 Billion
Total Food & Industry Economic Impact:  $6.7 Trillion

It has long been recognized that the food and agriculture industries plan a critical role not only in feeding Americans, but also in feeding and growing the nation’s economy.  These numbers tell the story, reminding us that food and agriculture remain central to our nation’s well-being.  We not only produce three meals each day for Americans, that same industry supports one-in-four American jobs – 28% of all jobs are tied to ag.

-RamCAD, Market Intelligence Report


Posted in Ag Production, Biotechnology, Education, Farmers, Feeding the World, For Kids, GMOs, Technology, Work | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Thought of the Week


Bags of beans, lentils and peas. Yum! Photo source

Join the health movement, and eat
1/2 Cup pulse foods each and every day.
These are garbanzos, lentils, dry peas, dry beans.

Posted in Dry Beans, For Kids, Garbanzos, Peas, Pulse Crops, Thought of the Week | Leave a comment

Buy Good Beef!

We have heard the term “hanging beef,” or “aged beef” when we go to the butcher’s counter.  What does this mean?  Hanging or aging beef is an extensive culinary process, and worth it!

Dry aged beef is more expensive than fresh, but when it’s aged right, you will remember every bite.  Throughout history, meat has been hung and dry aged after butchers discovered that this method makes beef more tender and flavorful than meat eaten immediately after its preparation.


Dry aged beef at Flannery Beef

Beef, lamb and pork can all be aged, though the length of time each species is hung is different, the processes are the same.   We’re highlighting beef today. 

Aging beef involves hanging the meat after the hide, head and innards have been removed, and the animal has been split in half, but before each half has been cut into retail cuts.  Each side hangs by the hind legs off huge hooks from rails in a large walk-in cooler (giant refrigerator).  The meat hanging room is temperature controlled between 33-37 degrees F.  This small window in temperature protects the meat from spoilage:  Too hot, and the process of dry aging stops.  Too cold and the water in the meat freezes.

Because the water in the meat needs to slowly evaporate, the humidity of the room is kept at 85%.  To prevent bacteria from developing, the room is kept well ventilated.  All this is regulated to ensure that the meat doesn’t spoil, and that the aging process is working properly.

Processes continue in the meat that would normally cease in a dead animal.  The muscles in the meat continue to use oxygen that is in the proteins of the blood.  This normal biological process creates a chemical by-product known as lactic acid.  Since blood is no longer being circulated through the body, lactic acid starts to break down muscle and connective tissue around it.  These enzymatic reactions tenderize the meat, concentrating the flavor and create richly complex, minerally flavors.

After hanging a minimum of 11 days, the meat will taste noticably better.  The longer the meat is hung, the better the flavor – usually between 20 and 30 days.  Of course, all this aging causes the meat to shrink, because much of the water has evaporated – often a shrinkage of 10-15% in weight and size!

The color of the meat will change, too, from bright red to a purply color, and will be much firmer than fresh meat.


Dry aged and fresh beef steaks. Photo source

As you may imagine, this aging costs money.  We may have to go to a specialty butcher to buy aged beef, or buy it by the 1/4 or 1/2 animal right from the rancher.  But is it worth it?  Every nickel!  The result is that when grilled or roasted, the beef releases the most heavenly rich flavor that we all love, whether it’s a hamburger or a ribeye!



Posted in #lamb, Ag Production, Beef, Education, Feeding the World, For Kids, Livestock Production, Ranchers | Leave a comment

Thought of the Week

“It takes no more time to see
the good side of life than to see the bad.”

-Jimmy Buffett

Posted in Education, Farmers, Feeding the World, For Kids, Thought of the Week | Leave a comment