The ACME Ranch Almanac – Week Ending Feb. 2, 2018

Last weekend was big on the ranch because we bought a new truck, a Ford F-250, ready to work – no cowboy Cadillac here. We got it bought last Saturday (I will refrain from a rant on why purchasing a vehicle has to be so complex, painful and time consuming and give huge kudos to The Tinker for doing all the heavy lifting researching and negotiating) and brought it home with the mission of loading up some of our too-many cattle to get to the auction barn. The 1986 Dodge 2500 it replaces is no doubt breathing a sigh of relief. Don’t worry, the Dodge is family, we’ll tinker with fixing it up.

Raising cattle for market (aka beef) is multi-layered. You can have your own animals processed for your own consumption or for sale, or you can sell the animals on the hoof. The most common way to do that is at the local livestock auction (Google it, there’s probably one somewhat close to you). Animals are bought there by a variety of buyers for a variety of reasons, but mostly stocker calves going to feed lots, animals for breeding and producing, and older animals heading to the pet food processors. (Hey, don’t get all poopy faced, where do you think the beef pet food comes from? The prime animals?)

Anyway, sent an older cow, a young steer and a young heifer to the auction. Okay, I say “sent” like I put them in an envelope. This required The Tinker fabricating a mid-trailer divider/squeeze door for the old livestock trailer we bought a couple years ago but up until now had used only to transport one animal for processing. The mid-door is important because it keeps the animals confined so they don’t move around so much when you are towing, and it keeps the animals’ weight in the front of the trailer where it can be better towed by the truck. Science.

Now the fun part. Sorting the cows that we need to load. We have built a sorting corral and loading chute, but we are still refining the process. Suffice it to say that it took some effort to get everyone where we wanted them, but we got it done, and dropped them off Sunday afternoon. The auction house (which is a huge open-sided building with a bunch of corrals) feeds them until the day of the auction, then after the auction mails us a check for whatever the animals sold for, less their cost of keeping them until the auction (typically a few dollars a day). The auction was Thursday, haven’t gotten the check yet, but hopefully the spring market for beef is good.

I’m dead late planting this year, but am going to blame it on unseasonably wet then cold weather. My 1015 onions that should have been planted on – wait for it – October 15th are still unplanted, and I have no winter greens growing. If you haven’t eaten 1015 Texas Sweets, you’re missing something, these are delicious, mild, sweet onions. There is a newer hybrid, a 4166, which is easier to find in stores. Worth the look.

The Tinker, with a 1015 that was planted on time a couple of years ago. Sigh.  I don’t expect this size onions this year.

Anyway, bad Pat for not planting things. I’m taking a week off later this month, plan to get the gardens in then, in the interim need to create the planting plan. I’d bought some delicata squash to try recently, and we sheet-pan roasted them with onions and they are delicious – eat them rind and all as the rind is so thin, hence the name. Saved some seeds, will be giving those a try growing-wise.

Speaking of food, we enjoy the convenience of pasta on weeknights, but with white flour off the menu for the pre-diabetic diet we went looking for a substitute. We really like Tresomega brand quinoa pasta, which we can get in bulk at Sam’s Club online. It cooks up just like pasta (not all the quinoa pastas do, don’t ask me how I know this), and The Tinker prefers the flavor over conventional semolina. I just found whole wheat egg noodles at Amazon, giving them a try on our Subscribe and Save order this month. What is Subscribe and Save? Oh, my, look into this if you aren’t familiar with it. We have a modest monthly order of things like cat food and k-cups, and depending on the size of the order get 5%-15% off each order. Not everything on Amazon is eligible, but it’s a handy service and can save you some money.

Sheet pan meals have become another go-to for weeknights, one of our favorites is C. Wirthy (get it? C Wirthy?) & Company Blackened Salmon (Sam’s Club) with brussels sprouts tossed with olive oil and Montreal Steak seasoning (which we use on lots more than steaks). If we’re really hungry, we toss a bag of Seeds of Change grains, (also Sam’s Club) for an easy a delicious, healthy dinner. The brussels sprouts microwave up great for next-day lunches, too.

One of our inside cats, Peach, had been losing weight and getting a bit lethargic. A trip to our great vet diagnosed hypothyroid, and we have had her on a transdermal medication for a few months. What a difference! She’s no longer bony, obviously putting on weight, and is back to her bossy self. Transdermals are awesome for cats that are difficult to pill, as Peach is. A smear in the ear morning and night and we’re done. If you’re medicating an animal, you might ask about whether the medicine is available in a transdermal. She does know the click of the pen dispenser now, so we have to plan ahead to grab her first before clicking, otherwise a long chase around the house ensues. Worth it though to see her improving.