The ACME Ranch Almanac – Week ending Jan. 20, 2018

So, it’s 2018. I’ve been a blogging slacker over the last year, and my resolution is to blog more, and regularly, hence the Almanac, designed to be a (weekly?) recap of highlights and lowlights of life on the farm.

It was COLD!

Now I know if you are in the northern states, our measly 18 degrees is something to scoff at (I lived in Minnesota, I understand how absurd our angst and panic must have seemed), but for us in south central Texas (SCTex), we are ill prepared, especially out here in “Hooterville” aka “Bubbaland” – exposed pipes and insufficient insulation in the old doublewide, plus outdoor critters to think about. Tuesday travel was verboten because of icy conditions so The Tinker lost a day at work. Fortunately my ability to work from home kept me punching the clock, grateful that the internet was up. A few water issues with pipes separating/rupturing, but overall we survived in good shape. The Tinker has been busy today patching things back together.

Calving season is over

Our last expectant cow delivered a fine, healthy heifer the day the temperature plummeted. Needless to say there was some worry over the little one’s ability to tolerate the cold, but she came through fine (as do so many of those calves born in the cold months up north.) Six calves this year is our most so far; unfortunately it should have been nine. One stillbirth, two calves that had apparent genetic or health issues and lasted less than a week. We’re working to isolate the issue, if there is one, but it may just me bad luck. We’ve doubled down on protein pails and trace mineral supplements for the herd, which is now up to 19 – that’s a lot for 14 acres of pasture here in SCTex. They are going through a 4×5 round bale about every two days, and that’s with the newborns only nursing. Planning to thin the herd over the next month or two, paring down to breeding stock and meat steers, likely only one of those until we can create a marketing plan for our grass-fed beef.

Back to the pre-diabetic lifestyle

The holidays are over, and we relaxed some of our diet “rules” to enjoy the bounty of the season (mostly cookies and pie). Had The Tinker’s family in for Christmas Day dinner, and discovered a terrific whole wheat dinner roll that fits in our plan – I’ll make this recipe again and again, so good. Unfortunately it isn’t gluten free (in fact you add gluten), but for us is a great alternative to white flour-based rolls. Same texture and better flavor IMHO.

This week we got two dinners out of a single spaghetti squash (plus some lunches!), with two recipes that disguised the fact that they shared the main ingredient. Prepping the spaghetti squash was a breeze in the Instant Pot (squash, 1/2 cup water, 10 mins on high), where the entire recipe was prepared (spaghettied the squash, tossed it back in the pot with a couple handfuls of fresh spinach, a can of Rotel, and a bit of olive oil, served with Parmesan. Yum). Reheated the second half a few days later in the microwave and added to this Shrimp Scampi recipe – just substitute the spaghetti squash for the pasta – both were delicious! In the Scampi, I used only a TBSP of butter to get the buttery flavor, the rest was olive oil and Smart Balance, our favorite butter alternative.


With as many cats as we have (6 indoor, 11+ outdoor, the number varies) there should always be some tip for cat owners. This week it’s litter. I am a HUGE fan of Arm & Hammer’s Clump and Seal. Really controls the smell and lasts as long time. I don’t like the lightweight formula (well, my back does but it just doesn’t last as long in terms of being able to control odor) but any of the other varieties seem to be about the same. Love, love, love being able to walk in the house after work and not be smacked in the face by the “Oh, my, you have cats” odor.
There’s more I could share, but it’s Saturday night and Barrett Jackson auction is on, and The Tinker and I do love our cars. ‘Til next week!