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Adventures Outside!

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This past weekend, the kids and I got to gird up our city loins and head out to some beautiful wide open spaces out yonder. Our friend and famous ag-blogger, Megan Brown, lives a short drive from us and is a 6th generation cattle rancher.

I heard that some of my dad’s family were long ago dairy farmers in Michigan, and I used this fact to try to impress my hostess within the first 30 minutes of our visit, but aside from that, I only have experience in paved roads and tiny green spaces.

Yes, I have lived in the more rural northern part of my state for quite some time now, but I am still a southern California girl in my habits, although I’ve never surfed or ridden that big Ferris wheel they always show on TV. But, put me behind the wheel on the freeway, and I’d make my fellow So-Cal pals proud.

Oink, Oink!

On our exciting adventure to the ranch, I learned many things. Number one, it’s a ranch, not a farm. I kept telling my kids that we were going to a farm before I remembered that when you are raising cattle, it’s called a ranch. Thank goodness I didn’t mess that up in front of Megan!


CHEESE! (I’m not gonna lie. The eyes on those pigs kind of freak me out. They look so ‘human’!

The ranch has recently added some pigs to it’s menagerie and these little babies aren’t just for looks. They’re planning on ‘processing them’ (wink, wink) next spring for some delicious bacon and lots of ham!

On the day we went out for a visit, there was a huge bubbling cauldron of pig food goodness that contained some type of oat and hose water (Pigs are tough! They don’t need no stinkin’ fancy city water!). To this piggie oatmeal, we added some smashed up pumpkins and let it simmer down to a chunky vomit-like consistency. No one ever said pigs were picky, right?

When we walked up to the cauldron gathering of experienced ranch hands, there was an assortment of yummy sausages for folks to snack on. They were amazing! There was also a tray holding a few Oreo cookies. Sure, there was a tube of de-worming medicine next to the delicacies, but hey, this is a RANCH, people! These people work hard medicating their animals and if they want to enjoy one of America’s favorite cookies at the same time, they do it!

This is what I was thinking as my seven-year-old walked directly to the cookies and popped the entire thing in his mouth.

“SPIT THAT OUT! IT’S GOT DRUGS IN IT!” shouted my ag-friend, Megan.

I was beginning to wonder what kind of ranch gathering we had stumbled upon, but then I realized that the de-worming meds had been added to the creamy white filling of the cookies. Phew, slash OH CRAP!

My son spit it out and had gained a new favorite story to tell random strangers about his first time on a ranch.

“So, this one time, I tried to eat a cookie with DRUGS in it…”

This cookie-thing took place within one minute of us getting out of the car.

Hi. Nice to meet you, ranch folk. We’re not from around here. Should I be taking him to the emergency room now?

But Wait! There’s More!

Deciding not to be outdone by her brother’s dramatic first impression, my five-year-old decided that she was going to scamper off to go check out the pigs. On her way there, she decided to visit with one of the ranch dogs that was a spitting image of our dog back home.

My dog on the left, ranch-dog on the right. Crazy, huh? They look like doggie twins!

My dog on the left, ranch-dog on the right. Crazy, huh? They look like doggie twins!

Unfortunately, our dog back home is the most docile and unearthly creature known to man. You should check out her “Ice Man” impression from “Top Gun”. Our dog, Samantha, is not a tough working ranch-dog like the one that my daughter decided to stick her face in front of.

{Insert some poor frustrated dog’s snapping and pawing noises here.}


SCREEEAMMMM! Princess Pink comes running and crying to me, frantic to get away from the dog. She earned a nice scratch under her eyebrow from the angry dog and a dramatic first impression of her own.

Should we be leaving now?

Of course, my husband was out-of-town that day, so I had no one to share my humiliation with, but the kids told him what happened so many times, I’m sure he feels like he was there with us.

Luckily, our friendly hosts did not herd us back to our car. (Gold star for the cattle joke!)

After my daughter’s hysterics were over, Megan took us on a little walk about the ranch. We saw people picking pecans, two chickens in a coop and learned that there would have been more of them, but skunks also enjoy eating chicken, so…

On the ranch, these chickens seemed much more natural than the ones in the backyard of my city limits neighbor. I wondered if these chickens were also happier than the city chickens. I guess if your coop-mates are getting ravaged by skunks, ranch life could be just as challenging as getting picked off by a wayward grabby toddler or family pet.

Moving Right Along…

Did you know that those amusement park log flume rides were based on water carriers that really exist? I now know this to be a true fact! In addition to the oldest pool in Butte County, Megan’s land is also home to a crazy-cool water flume that brings water to the ranch all the way from a lake far up into the hills.

My son got to balance on the boards on walk along the top of the rushing cool waters, but I began to get a little nervous as he approached the high flume bridge that crossed a steep gorge. I mean, the kid may be tough, but he was wearing his bulky rubber farm ranch boots that didn’t make for the most agile footwear.

Truth be told, we had just purchased the boots on the way to the ranch since I figured slip-on Vans wouldn’t really be that appropriate to checking out a muddy pig sty. I was still ripping off the price tags as he climbed out of our mini-Japanese-SUV that totally made me feel like a suburban idiot as we pulled up the gravel drive. Where’s a burly American truck when you need one?

After our walk, we hopped in a sweet Polaris that was made for splashing through the mud and muck of a ranch. Megan drove us not just NEXT to the field full of Black Angus cattle, but she also opened the gate and drove us ONTO the field! Now there was no ‘Bob-wire’ fence (as my five-year-old calls it) to protect us from any cartoon-like rushing bull scenes.

Luckily, I think there were only mommy cows (heifers) and baby cows (adorable) in the field, and they had better things to do than chase us down and maul us with their poopy hooves.

Our view from the Polaris.

Our view from the Polaris.

Speaking of that, I saw so many piles of manure, I was amazed that my poop-joke-loving children would start breaking out the good ones as we drove over the pies, but no! I don’t think the recognized the poo piles.

My seven-year-old also mentioned to me later that he expected the place to be stinkier. We had a nice breeze that day so we got to enjoy the view of the cows (Is it OK to call them that, or am I supposed to say ‘cattle’?) with zero methane overdoses.

Soon it was time to go home but our ranch hosts weren’t through showering us with delicious ranch-fodder! We got to take home some bags of pecans (the biggest ones I’ve EVER seen), a jar of honey “from REAL bees” (again, that is according to my sharp city-girl daughter), and some hamburger meat that was the reddest ground beef I’d ever seen.


What an amazing adventure we had! We can’t wait to go back and hopefully next time, I can bring Dave along to help corral our two crazies.

Last night I made hamburgers from Megan’s cattle and they were amazing!

My son ate the equivalent to a small fluffy cow all on his own, and said, “This is WAY better than the meat from the store!”

Uh oh…perhaps I have a true Chico-local boy on my hands who is only content to eat locally grown food! Sigh…I hope his ninja/comedy/legal career takes off so he can afford his new sophisticated tastes!

Then again, with my kids and their accident-prone nature, we may earn some pity-gifts with each ranch visit.

I wonder what they’re doing next weekend…


About Jenny Z

I love to overuse italics, misplaced hyphens and internal dialogue when I write about my usual favorite topic, myself.

5 responses »

  1. Reblogged this on The Beef Jar and commented:
    My friend Jenny came out to the Ranch last weekend. Despite a dog bite and an attempted de-worming of her children, she still wants to come back! You simply must read this blog, it is funny and oh so awesome!

  2. I was just there a few weeks ago and agree, it was a great visit! Need to get my post up too!

  3. Love it! We live in Chico, but have not been to any ranches around here. We do go to a family friend’s ranch in Bakersfield when visiting my in-laws and we got to see them castrating the cattle one time. It was not for the weak at heart…well, more like stomach! But, it is definitely always an adventure!

  4. One of the best Jenny. I was also raised on a ranch in Chico with horses (see facebook album). I’m waiting for a novel or some kind of book from you. Looking forward to your next blog. BTW, when my brother and I were little (pre-teens) we used the “cow pies” like frisbies and threw the road apples (from horses and cow pies from cattle) at each other and friends. This is very common for ranch kids. Heifers are lady cows that have not given birth yet.
    Those cattle in the picture are Black Angus (we had those too). Herfords are beef cattle and so are Black Angus. Holsteins and Guernsy’s (check on all this spelling) are dairy cattle. A steer is a male of the species that has had his parts removed. Stan

  5. Pingback: I am a commercial cattle rancher. | Agriculture Proud

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