Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

To all of you going out and partying tonight, be safe!

To all of you staying in and partying tonight, have fun!

And to all of you going to bed early and saying "to hell with it" tonight, don't worry. We'll make sure the year gets here and is waiting for you in the morning!

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Late Christmas Gift

Some of you may remember this post in which I shared a discount offered by the company and dreamed about a pair for myself, in a wistful sort of way.

Well, today I got a call from the Post Office... it being a small town there was much excitement about my receiving a package with, as I discovered when I stopped by to pick up the package, foreign language labeling. Chinese is a beautiful language, written or spoken, but I admit that I was fairly stumped.

When I opened the package, I saw this:

Pretty packaging, and I'll be keeping the box.

Once opened, it showed me these:

I adore them!

I'll let the kind and observant soul who sent me these remain anonymous, since they tried so hard to keep themselves that way. But for all you folks who want to anonymously surprise someone with a gift here's a protip: Make sure your phone number isn't on the shipping label. (I found it later going back over the label, trying to figure out a way to discover who I needed to thank.)

Regardless, I adore them and plan to wear them as much as possible! Comfy and toasty warm.

*Whooga boots did provide, months ago, an offer for a discount to my readers. I am unaware whether this discount was used by the person who sent these to me, or even if it is still in effect, however, Whooga boots did not directly provide me with any inducement, monetary or otherwise, to make this post or endorse said boots. So if the FCC is snooping they can go spit into the wind.

Musings Upon Politicians

In re-reading a bit of one of my favorites, I stumbled across a passage that I believe is all too apt today:

"I don't mean that a business politician won't steal; stealing is his business. But all politicians are nonproductive. The only commodity any politician has to offer is jawbone. His personal integrity - meaning, if he gives his word, can you rely on it? A successful business politician knows this and guards his reputation for sticking by his commitments - because he wants to stay in business - go on stealing, that is - not only this week but next year and years after that. So if he's smart enough to be successful at this very exacting trade, he can have the morals of a snapping turtle, but he performs in such a way as not to jeopardize the only thing he has to sell, his reputation for keeping promises.
But a reform politician has no such lodestone. His devotion is to the welfare of all the people-an abstraction of very high order and therefore capable of endless definitions. If indeed it can be defined in meaningful terms. In consequence your utterly sincere and incorruptible reform politician is capable of breaking his word three times before breakfast- not from personal dishonesty, as he sincerely regrets the necessity and will tell you so-but from unswerving devotion to his ideal.
All it takes to get him to break his word is for someone to get his ear and convince him that it is necessary for the greater good of all the peepul. He'll geek."
-- Lazarus Long, Time Enough For Love by Robert A. Heinlein

The application of these descriptions to today's situation is left as an exercise for the reader.... but it's something to think upon, no?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

New Calves (And A Primer on Black Angus Beef)

Momma cows are fat, their udders are huge poor girls, and the calves they are a-droppin.

These will be our first calves out of the new bull, so we're excited to see what we're getting.

So far, we're pleased. Small calves means easy calving and less worry. Knowing the mommas and looking at the bull, I don't think rate-of-gain is going to be an issue.

Also, black calves are good! We've been getting good prices at the sale anyway, but in general, black cattle sell better right now. So far we're getting about 80% black with the other 20% being an acceptable solid red.

Why do black cattle sell better you ask? Well these days there's a big hooplah about "Black Angus" steaks. Frankly I think it's a bunch of hooey except for one thing: the steaks marketed as "Black Angus" are selected for quality and tenderness. I won't say flavor because if you've never had home grown beef then you have no idea that beef actually has a flavor.

Chances are that your Black Angus steak has in it's ancestry some mutt of a cow, much like ours. By the whims of fate the steer that wound up in your steak turned out black and looking vaguely like that breed of cattle that is called "Angus." Except for registered "purebred" Angus cattle, delivered as directly as possible from the breeder to your plate, you're highly unlikely to be getting "real" Angus beef as most people think of it.

Even amongst the oh-so-pure herds of registered breeding stock, you can breed a Black Angus bull to a Black Angus cow and get a Red Angus calf.

Because the difference between those two is nothing but the color gene, which is as slippery and contrary as any high strung cow in the working alley.

Even leaving aside the vagaries of your steak's genetic ancestry, the assertion that Black Angus beef is somehow inherently more tender or juicy or what have you than other kinds of beef is frankly hooey.

There are some breeds that have the characteristics that tend more towards tender meat, yes. Those characteristics include good muscle mass, a relatively easy going temperament, and a general leaning towards the big and square look.

But these characteristics are found in plenty of breeds, and mixed breeds, and do not guarantee good meat as the inevitable outcome of the process that starts with a bull and a cow and ends on your plate.

Tender meat has something to do with the animal that you start with, yes. But you want to select for those characteristics that I outlined above, to give yourself a good start. After that, the end result of tender meat depends upon how you feed and handle the animal.

Yes, you can get tender, delicious meat out of any breed of cattle, so long as you do things the right way. Longhorns and the lean breeds will tend more towards the flavorful but a little tough end of the spectrum in general, and the bulkier breeds will tend more towards the fork-tender side. But a steer, fed on mother's milk and grass (and ignored other than routine vaccinations and of course castration at as young an age as is practical to accomplish the task) for the first two years of it's life, then transferred into a pen with a hay bale and daily grain for two weeks before making the final trip to the processor, will, inevitably, turn out a better steak than anything you will find on the supermarket shelves. I'll take home-grown beef over that silly Kobe stuff any day.

It's my belief (with no real research to back it up, bear in mind) that while meat labeled "Black Angus" in the store really did come from a black bovine of some variety whether it be real Angus or some muttly mix, if for no other reason than to head off at the pass any false advertising claims, the superior quality of the meat is less due to the color of the cattle and more due to adapting, as much as possible in a mass market situation, the same technique that we use for the steers that we intend to eat.

Because lets face it folks, by the time it hits your plate you have no idea what color that steak was when it was up and walking around. I can tell you what colors the last two steers we butchered were, but not which steak came from which steer.

It seems that anyone who has tasted our beef has raved about it, which gives me no little amount of pride. But between you, me, and the wall, no one who has eaten our beef has had a single bite of what, when walking around, could have been classified in the loose methods used by the cattle industry for the most part a "Black Angus" steer.

In a couple of years, yes, we'll be eating beef that was once black, perhaps. But then, when a coat color can get you another three to five cents a pound at the sale.... why not?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Here's wishing everyone the happiest of holidays, the most lovely of gifts (given and received) and the biggest smiles all year.

Have a very Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Attention Shoppers

Important announcement for Christmas/Holiday shoppers everywhere:

Quit. Being. A Douche.

'Tis the season of peace on earth, good will towards man, family friends and love and.... theft from someone else's cart?

Come on people.

If you failed to get your butt out of bed in time to hit the store before all of that item was gone, then too bad.

This is especially despicable, in my mind, when it's kids' toys. I mean really, what exactly gives you the right to steal from one child to give to another?

Nothing, that's what, so stop doing it.

If that one thing happened to be the one thing that little Jimmy asked for this year (fairly unlikely, considering) then if you see someone who has that item in their cart, talk to them.

I know if I were purchasing something that I thought one of my nephews would like, that wasn't a special thing for them, and someone came to me saying that their child/grandchild/whatever had asked for that specific item and it was very important to the child, I would let them have it.

And how will the parent or grandparent feel if that thing was the one thing that Billy really, really wanted, and they scrimped and saved and worked overtime to be able to afford it and the other things they wanted to give to the child they love, and had it in their cart but when they got to the checkout, it was gone.

Stop being selfish little dillholes and think about what the season is supposed to be about for a minute. And while you're at it, why don't you pick up an extra toy or two and drop in the toy drive box, for the kids that aren't as lucky as the ones that you're buying for.

Generosity of spirit is a good thing people. Give a little if you're lucky enough to have a little extra, because some people don't have anything, and a ten dollar toy can bring a smile to a child that will warm the hearts of everyone around them.

Wouldn't you like to be able to say that you brought happiness to that many people this season, not because you bought them the most expensive gifts, and not because you braved four hour lines to get the hot toy this year, but just because you stopped thinking about yourself and liked the thought of bringing joy to a child's Christmas, without him or her ever knowing who you are.

That is the true spirit of the season.

So stop being a douche and go do something to make someone smile just because you can.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Scrappy Nibbles aka Rocky Mountain Oysters

At Blogorado I played a practical joke on the attendees. I made some Rocky Mountain Oysters and wouldn't tell folks what they were till they had tried them. The results were quite funny.

Some of the folks there knew exactly what they were eating but others had no clue. Some had a bit of a problem after they found out what they were but admitted that they were tasty. The recipe has been asked for so here ya go everyone. And for those that really had a hard time with the practical joke I apologize. But not very hard.

First things first. Round up a bunch of cattle, sort off the young bulls and cut their nuts off.

If you don't have access to cattle then your local grocery store will be able to get bull fries for you.

If the nuts aren't cleaned make a slice lengthways and peel off the tough outer layer. Then slice the nuts about 1/4 inch thick.

Crush saltine crackers very fine. ( a Magic Bullet or blender works well for this) Add salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper and a bit of Cumin to the crackers. If you want spicy nuts just add more cayenne.

Coat the nuts in the cracker mixture and deep fry to a deep golden brown. If fried too long they tend to get tough.

A good spicy mustard sauce or Ranch dressing make good dips.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Deer Hunters

I've heard a couple of stories lately of stray shots from deer hunters.

Whether they actually damaged anything is fairly irrelevant, as it falls under the whole "Know your target and what's behind it" bit.

Or as I like to call it, "pay attention!"

Since the Farm Fam has actually had a horse shot for being mistaken for a deer (not kidding) I thought I'd take this chance to remind everyone.

Please, be sure what you're shooting at is your intended target, that there isn't something behind your deer in line-of-sight that you might not want to put a hole in if you happen to miss, and that you remember ALL of the gun safety rules while you're hunting.

That being said, happy hunting and here's rooting for everyone!

Monday, December 7, 2009


It's snowing here, and it's truly that time of year when I become as much of a hermit as possible, and spend my time daydreaming of warmer climes.

During the winter I tend to ask myself when I'm thinking of doing something "Will this make me go outside? If so, is it worth it?"

Sometimes it is. Sometimes I get that weird mid-blizzard craving for ice cream, and just have to go find some, in spite of the fact that everyone else in the world is smarter than me and all tucked up in their nice warm houses with blankets and hot drinks.

Most of the time, it's not. Generally in this kind of weather the only thing that gets me out of the house is the need to break ice on stock tanks or otherwise do something that just can't wait for a warmer day.

And I don't want to hear anything about a white Christmas. When I'm rich and famous I'm dragging the Fam to Hawaii or Australia or somewhere else that has nice toasty Holidays.

Since I heard Lady Antebellum's cover of "Baby It's Cold Outside" it's been running through my head. Now all I need is some handsome young man to hum it while he's fixing me a hot Toddy and wrapping me up in a warm fuzzy blanket before rubbing my feet and doing my laundry.

Hey, a girl can dream, can't she?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

People's Press Collective

Last night at the book signing I met three of the guys from The People's Press Collective... since they gave me a button, I decided to pimp their site.

Actually, if you're in the Denver area and interested in Second Amendment Activism and generally just getting around the bias of the main stream media, it's a good site to check out.

They're far more motivated than I am.

Eldest Nephew

Since Bro and Sis In Law okayed it, the Farmparents decided to get Eldest nephew a very special Christmas present this year which he is going to love.

This year, Eldest Nephew gets his first rifle, a Savage .22 youth model. We picked it up yesterday on the way to the book signing, from the place where Salamander works. It was an excellent excuse to visit with him again and meet the Newt who is just cute as a button.

Eldest Nephew will probably ask to go shooting as soon as he opens his present, as he loves shooting with his dad but having to have help to support the big people .22's has been beginning to disappoint him. Now he'll be able to start learning marksmanship for himself.

I predict a happy munchkin come Christmastime.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Larry Correia

Absolutely rocks.

Came for a book signing expecting to get my books signed, say hi, visit a bit and be on my merry way, found myself invited to dinner and discussing... well... everything.

Lots of neat people who's links I don't have (if you met me please comment and I'll get you on my "bloggers I've met" list... ) and some I do which I'll add later when my brain comes back from it's little "holy crap" vacation, good food, and great conversation.

I swear, I've met more interesting people thanks to the internet....

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Chapter 7

Is now available.

I told you it'd be ready this week.

Same old song and dance, donate a dollar, get the chapter. If you need previous chapters let me know in a note on your donation or in an email when you make your donation.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Are You Watching This?

The big brains over at the University of California San Diego are currently slicing the brain of quite possibly the most famous amnesiac ever.

There are lots more links but I'll let you find the rest of em on your own.

What's fascinating to me about this is that they're streaming the slicing process live.

That's right, you can watch them slice pieces seventy microns thick off of a whole human brain that's been encased in a gelatin block.

And you can watch it here.

Fabulous. Of course, it would be better if they'd let us watch them mount the slices on the slides, I think, but really, considering that I'm seeing the inside of a man's brain, I think I can be content.

And more importantly, thankful to Mr. Henry Gustav Molaison for the most important contribution to this journey of discovery.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I'm Getting There!

I'm having some issues with Chapter Eight, but Chapter Seven is nearly ready to go and will be available this week, I promise. One more read-through and minor tweaks.

Then I'll get my butt back on Chapter Eight. I've had to do the old hack and chop on it three times because I'd write something, and then realize that it was completely irrelevant crap.

So really, you should be grateful that I'm not trying to sell you irrelevant crap.

Ok I know, I'm working on it, I swear!