If you asked our agricultural team their thoughts on January and February, they’d say, “Is it March yet?!” The year started off with stormy weather and heavy rainfall, which is great news for our vines and farm but makes for cold and wet conditions around the ranch. While we are busy pruning the vineyard (removing last year’s growth from the dormant vines) it’s our livestock that’s buzzing with life around the Ranch.
This month we welcomed one hundred chicks to our ranch. What does the future look like for these chicks? They will spend the next few weeks in the brooder until they have enough feathers to move to a transitional coop with an outdoor run. When they reach 3-4 months old, they will join our main flock of laying hens in our state-of-the-art chicken coop at our Rutherford Estate. They’ll dine like queens on farm scraps from the organic fruits and vegetables we grow for our restaurant and farmer’s market. Their pasture access rotates weekly through the young fruit orchard planted adjacent to the coop. In the fall, they will clean up fallen fruit which aids in breaking fruit pest cycles. That fine cuisine is filled with nutrients and produces deep orange colored egg yolks. While we enjoy their eggs, their manure will be a vital part of our composting program, adding a nitrogen-rich component to the base of horse manure, shavings, and farm waste.
We are grateful to have three Haflinger draft horses on our ranch, as well as three Norwegian Fjord Horses and a handful of saddle horses. Our Fjord Horses thrive in our working farm environment and have recently, lead by our livestock manager Sophia Bates, been focused on integrating draft power into our vegetable production operations. They have been learning new tasks incrementally and brushing up on older skills, so they can be useful in the production fields of our Rutherford Estate. Their tasks this season include cultivating row crops, as well as tillage for cover crop seeding, and lots of work in the potato patch - furrowing, cultivating, hilling, and digging. Get the inside scoop below from Sophia.
We’re proud owners of one of the largest folds of Highland Cattle in California. These pasture-raised cows, heifers, and calves call our 600-acre Tomales Station ranch home. We are just a few short weeks away from the beginning of their calving season. Calves romp alongside their mothers as they learn to graze on the nutrient-packed forage of the Tomales coastline while growing strong on rich mothers’ milk. They are weaned in the fall after their mothers are rebred and need to retain the extra calories to grow a new set of calves. The majority of the calves stay in Tomales until their second season until they move to fresh pasture in Ferndale and Petrolia to finish on premium grass. The grass season on the coast in Humboldt County is longer than in Tomales, allowing us to lengthen our beef harvests into fall, ensuring that we offer consistent and fresh beef for our restaurant and farmer’s market.
In 2017 we selected a new bull calf from one of our top cows. In case you missed it, we asked our friends and family on Instagram to help us with a name and we have put your suggestions to a company vote. Meet, Chewie!
ARTISAN OF THE MONTH
Name: Sophia Bates, Livestock Manager
How long have you been with Long Meadow Ranch?
Since May 2017
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on crop rotation planning, budgeting for the year, establishing our chicken pasture, organizing equipment and infrastructure repair, maintenance, and improvement, and conditioning and training our draft horses to be ready to hit the fields when the soil conditions are right.
What's been your biggest work-related success?
I feel like I am becoming a valuable team member who is helping tie together many different facets of this diverse company. Communication is a huge piece of successful farm to table operations and I try to help facilitate clear and constructive communication on all levels. I also am very proud of the improvement to the chicken pasture. We’ve installed an irrigation system for summer pasture, and we reseeded and established a specific blend of grasses and forbes for poultry.
Who are your most influential mentors?
Walt Bernard, a horse farmer, and teacher in Oregon. Bill Jensen, our collaborator on the ground in Tomales, is also a huge wealth of wisdom (and amusement).
Do you have any advice for someone looking to pursue a career in Livestock Management?
On the ground, hands-on experience is invaluable in this field. The most important skills to develop are your powers of observation. Spending time with your stock and walking your fields on a regular basis will teach you so much if you are open to it. Also, find a mentor (or three), and spend time with them literally watching the grass grow. You may not agree with them on all points, but you will learn from their mistakes and successes. Don’t be afraid to experiment, and try to keep notes on your experiments so you can use your memory for other things.
If you could enjoy a meal with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
My grandparents. My grandma is still with us, so I do get to eat with her occasionally, but my grandpa passed last year - he was a big appreciator of great food and full of good stories.
What has been your favorite project since working with Long Meadow Ranch?
Collaborating with the farm team to integrate horsepower into the vegetable production, and improving our overall farming systems.
AT THE TABLE
“If you can make meatloaf, you can make pâté” - Farmstead Executive Chef, Stephen Barber. Pair with a glass of our Long Meadow Ranch, Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, 2015 and revel in your pâté mastery!
2 pounds pork butt,
cut into 1-inch cubes
1¼ pounds thick-cut bacon
¼ pound chicken liver
½ cup small diced yellow onion
½ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
½ cup chopped celery leaf
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon pink salt (optional)
2 teaspoons toasted and coarsely ground black pepper
½ teaspoon finely ground white pepper
1 teaspoon spice blend (½ t clove, ½ t mace, ½ ginger, ½ t coriander, 1 t cinnamon)
1 cup pistachios
¼ pound country ham,
cut into ¼-inch by 2-inch strips
½ cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 oz. bourbon
Wine: Long Meadow Ranch, Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, 2015
Combine partially frozen pork butt with all ingredients except for country ham, pistachios, and panade.
Feed ½ of this mixture through a meat grinder fitted to a medium dice and the other half through a small die. If you do not have a meat grinder handy, simply ask your local butcher. Chill meat in a bowl of a stand mixer.
Preheat oven to 300°F.
Begin the panade by whisking together the flour with half of the cream to make a paste. Once the texture is smooth, slowly add the rest of the cream.
Whisk in the lightly beaten eggs and bourbon into the cream mixture.
Combine meat mixture, panade, and pistachios in the chilled bowl of the stand mixer.
Mix on low until ingredients are incorporated evenly. Take a small spoon full of the mixture and cook off in a nonstick pan to taste for seasoning.
Line an 8-inch pâté mold with strips of bacon, letting the bacon hang over the sides. Add a fourth of the pâté mixture at a time, making sure to pack it well so there are no air pockets. After each portion of pâté mixture, inlay strips of country ham in cross-sections.
After all layers are complete, wrap the rest of the bacon over the top of the pâté to cover.
Place the pate mold in a large roasting pan and set on oven rack.
Bring a pot of water to a boil and carefully pour in roasting pan until water reaches most of the way up the side of the mold. Bake until internal temperature reaches 160°F, about 2 hours.
Remove from the oven and remove the top of the pâté mold. Wrap the brick in foil and place on top of the pâté to weigh it down. Let cool to room temperature, then place in the refrigerator overnight.
The following day remove from refrigerator, pull pâté out of the mold. Rinse off the fat and dry with clean towel. Slice up and serve with mustard, pickles and grilled bread.