April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter Sunday.  My day went pretty well.  I ended up cooking most of the Easter meal, kind of on accident, but everyone was very complimentery of the food.  I made sweet potatoes, corn pudding, and a broccoli cheese dish from Cook's Illustrated.  The main dish was a ham.  My husband's grandmother brought out an ice cream cake for dessert!  What a treat!  We ate at my in-laws' house, as usual.  In the afternoon we cut up some beef.  My sister-in-law brought her fiancee out to the ranch for the weekend, and it was nice to get to know him a little better.  I give him the thumbs up.  The weather was gorgeous, the food was good, the company was pleasant, so all in all it was a great holiday.  For Lent, I gave up reading blogs, which is kind of challenging when you have your own blog.  I am looking forward to catching up on what's been going on around the blogosphere this week!  Happy Easter!

April 21, 2011

How to Use up Leftover Ham

Easter is this Sunday, and what is better for Easter dinner than a ham?    But how to use up all those leftovers?  Here are my top 5 favorite recipes.  Three of them are soups, just because soup is so nourishing when made with real bone broth. 

Mexican Ham and Bean Soup

Split Pea Soup (this will be on next week's menu for sure!)

Summer Corn and White Bean Soup

Goat Cheese, Artichoke, and Smoked Ham Strata

Not exactly Real Food, but Taste of Home's Broccoli Ham Ring is a yummy snack!

What is your favorite ham recipe?

April 19, 2011

Jamie Oliver Tonight!

Hey Real Foodies,
Don't forget Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution is on tonight, 8/7c on ABC.  Can't wait!

April 11, 2011

The Bovine Cesarean

A couple of weeks ago I got to assist with a bovine cesarean!  This was the first c-section they've done in the 3 1/2 years I've been here.  Butch and Bertha called me to let me know what was going on.  I raced down to the barn with the kids.  I was pretty nervous and giddy with excitement.  The cow was already in the head catch.  Bud gave her a shot in the spine, and then several shots around the area we’d be cutting.  The cow stood up the whole time.  Bud started cutting her, then he let me take over.  It was very strange to cut a living creature like that.  I am used to cutting up the cows when we butcher, and this was like reverse butchering.   She didn’t bellow or moo or anything.  I worked very slowly.  Butch was standing between me and her leg, and several times she tried to kick me away.  As the painkillers started working, her kicks became half-hearted, and eventually she stopped.  Bud later explained that the cows have a greater survival rate when you don’t completely block all the sensation.  They are pretty tough animals.
Anyway, once I had cut through all the skin and muscle, Bud took over.  He let me feel around inside her abdomen but I didn’t really know what I was feeling.  Then he cut the uterus and quickly pulled the calf out.  The calf was severely deformed.  His organs were all completely formed, but there was no skin over them.  They were exposed.  He had skin over his arms, legs, and head.  Normal presentation for a calf is front feet first, followed by the head, then the rest of the body.  This calf had presented his intestines first.  His back legs were folded back over his head, almost touching the front legs.  She never would have birthed him herself.  Bud guessed he had only died a day or so before the cow had gone into labor.
After we pulled the placenta out Bertha sewed up the uterus with catgut.  Bud scooped out as much fluid from the abdomen as possible.  He told me that amniotic fluid in their abdomen will kill them.  Then he sewed up her skin.  He pursed the skin together, making it “pucker”.  He said that way it won’t scar.  I tried to help with one stitch but didn’t quite get the hang of it, so he finished the job.  Butch washed her off with disinfectant and we let her go.  She just walked away as the painkillers were starting to wear off. 
Bud told me later that he was impressed with my cutting because she hardly bled at all.  The cow survived, although we did sell her.  Many cows can go on to have normal births after a c-section, but we don't take the chance.

April 2, 2011

What I Did Today

This afternoon, my husband's grandmother came out to the ranch.  She and I each took a 4-wheeler to the calving pasture.  We were going to take cow/calf pairs out of that pasture.  While we were looking for pairs, I noticed one cow about to give birth.  The amniotic sac was hanging out of her.  I made a mental note and moved on.  When we were done putting out pairs, I drove back to check on her.  The bag had burst, and I could see hooves sticking out.  I noticed the white parts (bottom side) of the hooves were up.  This means the calf is either backwards (breech) or more rarely, upside down.  This is a problem because the calf usually suffocates before the cow can get him out.   I called over my husband's grandma and asked her to go back to the house to get my father-in-law.  While she was gone I guided the cow to the barn.  When my father-in-law got there, we chased the cow in through the back gate.  She was almost in the barn when suddenly she turned around and started running towards the gate.  I hopped off my 4-wheeler and swung the gate in front of her.  She paused, giving me about a half a second to jump in front of her and lock the gate.  She turned and ran back towards the barn.  We finally got her in the pulling pen and pushed her into the head catch.  I slipped some straps over the calf's feet.  My father-in-law put the calf puller on her and pulled the calf as far down the bar as he could.  A natural occurrence during childbirth is the release of maternal fecal matter.  This is no different in cows.  At one point, this cow squirted my father-in-law pretty good.  I am laughing about it now as I type it.  But at the time he told me to cover her anus so that wouldn't happen again!  He had to manually pull the last third of the calf's body out because it was so long.    Finally, the calf slid out.  He was enormous.  My father-in-law released the head catch, and the cow mooed over her calf.  She liked him.  She will take care of him.  I am so proud of myself for spotting the backwards calf.

April 1, 2011

I'm Still Alive!

I am very busy calving our older cows.  They are easier than the heifers in some respects- you ususally don't have to fool with each and every one, but they require alot more time riding around on the 4-wheelers.  Fortunately I enjoy doing that.  Unfortunately for my blog, I have less time in the house.

Last week I assisted with a bovine c-section.  It was pretty exciting!  I hope to write more about that later, if I get a free minute. 

The weather has been very rainy, but at least it's slowly warming up.  I got my brussels sprouts started, so far only have 3 sprouts, but I'm excited about that! 

Have a good weekend!