Tag Archives: California

Casting Call: Hollywood-Perfect Ranching Family

California Hollywood Ranching Family Casting Call
Image via gocalifornia

No lie, this cropped up in my inbox a few weeks back. I hope you see the same humor in it that I do. A Hollywood casting call is looking for that perfect ranching family. They will all need to have rugged good looks, witty humor, chase grizzlies by day, write poetry and play the harmonica by night. Let me know if you find them.

[Entertainment Group] is now casting for authentic and colorful cowboys and their families that live the throwback cowboy and ranching lifestyle.  They should spend more time on their horse then they do in their truck!

The following are examples of the types of families that we’re looking for and the lifestyle elements they should embody:

  • All members of the family need to live a classic cowboy lifestyle and have rugged good looks.  Family should have outgoing parents with at least 3 kids, ages ranging from 17 – 35, that are all great looking cowboys and cowgirls.  Active grandparents are a plus.
  • Family needs to be working stunning ranches with diverse terrain and challenges – chasing grizzlies and wolves away from cattle, the struggles of raising crops and making a profit, battling weather elements to keep livestock safe and alive.
  • Family and staff of the ranch must be involved in the country lifestyle: hunting, fishing, trapping, building cabins and structures, herding cattle, sheering sheep, farming, rodeos every weekend, etc.
  • Members of the family and staff should have fun hobbies and skills like singing, play the guitar or harmonica, write and recite poetry, cook the best BBQ in the county, make their own clothes, raise bees or have wild animals as pets, raise bulls, or be an aspiring bull rider or rodeo participant.
  • All members of the family need to have big, strong personalities with great and unique looks.

We’re looking for dynamic, engaging and uninhibited families that live the lifestyle.

If you know this family, someone’s looking to bring around the camera crew! Maybe the casting call isn’t horrible, but the context of the request sure made me laugh. I’m not suggesting there aren’t some great and talented ranching families out there, but many of the films we see from Rodeo Drive California are romanticized and scripted for audiences. This makes me wonder, what would ranch life really look like if someone followed my family around with a camera on a normal day…

I am a commercial cattle rancher.


The AgChat Banditas have taken over!
The AgChat Banditas have taken over!


Megan BrownRyan is back to school and the Agriculture Proud Banditas are back to hijacking this blog! Today’s post is by Megan Brown a commercial cattle rancher from California. Meg loves agriculture, food and cooking and in addition to the ranch works a job as a paralegal. You can read more about Megan and her ranch on her blog. TheBeefJar.com


I am a commercial cattle rancher in Northern California. When most people think of California, they tend to think of beaches and movie stars instead of food and fiber. However, California is the biggest, in terms of cash farm receipts, and most diversified agricultural state in our union.

Despite living in a rural area of a state that producers nearly half of our countries fruit, vegetables and nuts, I have found most of my peers have no experience with commercial ranching or farming. Many people in this area had grandparents or parents that spent time living or working on a farm, but have since sold the family farm and moved to town.

Learning how to harvest pecans, just like their Mom, Grandpa and Great Grandpa did.

This has created a generation who grew up listening to extraordinary stories of farm life from older generations. As a result, many young people are hungry to have the same hands-on experiences that member of their family previously had. Those feelings are creating opportunity for those of us in production agriculture, if we choose to see it that way.

The first time she fed a pig. Her Grandparents used to own a large farm in the area. This is her heritage.
The first time she fed a pig. Her Grandparents used to own a large farm in the area. This is her heritage.

Unless you are a child with access to 4-H, FFA or other agricultural related group, a checkbook seems to be the best way to get hands-on knowledge about agriculture, and some specialized farmers are capitalizing on this opportunity. Workshops and classes are popping up, charging anywhere from several hundred to several thousands of dollars to live and work on a farm.

Learning horses aren't like in the movies. They require a lot of work!
Learning horses aren’t like in the movies. They require a lot of work!

Since we all eat, I think we all should have access and knowledge about our food supply, and it should not be an exclusive or expensive lesson. Since I am in the unique position of living on a commercial cattle ranch, I’ve made a huge effort to open my barn door to anyone who wants to learn about what I do. This has paid huge dividends, not necessarily financially, but in arguably more satisfying ways.

Do you remember the first time you got to visit a farm? That memory stayed with you, didn’t it?
Do you remember the first time you got to visit a farm? That memory stayed with you, didn’t it?

From adults to children, the look on people’s faces when they first see a calf nursing from its mother, or a chicken eat a bug, or when they touch a pig for the first time, is priceless to me. Often they share memories that have been passed down from when their family farmed, and in that instant, they get to walk a mile in my shoes. I am grateful for the opportunity.

His first time in a pasture with cattle. “They don’t stink!” he says.
His first time in a pasture with cattle. “They don’t stink!” he says.

By giving the public the access to their food as I have, I take away the fear of the unknown. I take away their trust in animal activists that claim our animals are mistreated. I reconnect them to part of their heritage and sometimes inspire them to start a garden or enroll their kids in 4-H. In turn they share their experience on my commercial ranch with their urban friends, often on their social media profiles or, like my most recent visitor Jenny, on their own blogs 

I urge other farmers and ranchers to take some time out of your busy schedule and offer to take your urban and non-ag friends around your ranch. For those of you not in production agriculture, I urge you to visit some farms and ranches. In my experience, opening up not just our barns, but our way of life to the people who ultimately consume the food we grow, benefits both agriculture and society as a whole.

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North Dakota Agriculture from a Born and Raised California Girl




The AgChat Banditas have taken over!
The AgChat Banditas have taken over!

Jenny Dewey

Bandita Jenny Dewey is a country girl at heart. Born and raised in Northern California and growing up in her parent’s butcher shop and deli, agriculture has always been a part of her life. She recently followed her heart to North Dakota where she is now engaged to a Sunflower farmer and works at his Ag supply business. Besides spending time with her farmer, Jenny loves to take photos with her DSLR, the challenges of bringing culture to the prairie through a variety of culinary creations, and using her interior design degree to flip their bachelor pad into a home. All of this and more can be found on her photography blog: http://jldphotographblog.com

Born and raised in the Northern central valley of California, agriculture has always been around me. Orchards of almonds and walnuts, fields of rice, olives, grapes, fresh fruit… You name it, California grows it. But I will admit, although I was surrounded by it.. I took agriculture for granted. It wasn’t until I moved halfway across the country that I realized how important role agriculture plays in the economies of states, to the local communities, and in the daily lives of farmers and ranchers across the nation. Almost one year ago to the date, I met a farmer from North Dakota via Twitter and the AgChat Foundation. http://agchat.org/ And after several months of meeting, talking, visiting North Dakota, etc. I fell head over heels in love and moved all the way to the rural prairies of North Dakota. I promise to keep it sans-mushy on here so follow my blog for more information on how our love story unfolds… http://jldphotographblog.com/tag/love/

 North Dakota farm field

What do you think of when you think of North Dakota…? Snow and the fact it’s beyond cold there…? The movie Fargo…? Oh, that’s where all the oil production is…? A lot of people say Mount Rushmore but that’s really South Dakota. While talking with people about moving, I was amazed at the lack of knowledge people actually have about North Dakota. And I will admit, I was one of those.  I knew basically not a thing about North Dakota until I took up residence here. But upon moving here, I realized the people here live and breathe agriculture. Agriculture plays a vital part in counties’ economies across the state. Did you know North Dakota ranks first in the nation for the production of many crops including Spring wheat, Durum, Barley, Sunflowers, Edible beans, Flax seed, Canola, AND Honey with North Dakota producing well over 50% of some of those crops!

North Dakota Pasta

One of the most well-known products to come out of North Dakota is Durum. Durum is a type of wheat that is known for its density, high protein content, and gluten strength. Durum is the wheat of choice for producing pasta products. It gives pasta its golden hue, which is a characteristic unique to durum exclusively. When the durum is milled, it is ground into a product called semolina. The semolina is mixed with water to form a stiff dough. The dough is then forced through metal discs with holes to create hundreds of different shapes of pasta! Durum production is concentrated in North Dakota because it demands special growing conditions that can only be found here. North Dakota produces 68 percent of the entire United States durum crop! So the next time you throw those spaghetti noodles in the pot, thank a farmer from North Dakota because it very well may be North Dakota durum that made that pasta!

North Dakota Sunflowers!

One of the least known and one of my favorite crops to come out of North Dakota is sunflowers! It’s safe to say I have never before witnessed fields of crops that are seemingly endless in California. But let me tell you, here in North Dakota there are fields as far as the eye can see… And well, there is definitely something magical about coming across a field of blooming yellow sunflowers as far as the eye can see. It literally makes you stop in your tracks and takes your breath away. Once the sunflowers grow and begin to bloom. It’s time for another player to become involved in the process, BEES! Farmers contract bee hives to be set near the fields and the bees go to work doing their job. Because of the symbiosis between the bees and the sunflowers grown here, North Dakota ranks number one in not only Sunflower production but also Honey production with the state producing 24% of the nation’s Honey and 43% of the nation’s Sunflowers!

Sunflower fields

Once the Sunflower seeds are harvested, they are used for primarily three different markets: oil production, de-hulls, and confection varieties. Sunflower seeds produced for oil are usually smaller and all black in color. Sunflower oil is the primary use for the seeds and has a variety of different uses from a healthier alternative for frying potato chips to even fuel! De-hulls (or basically de-shelled) are what you would find in your local grocery store to put on salads, chocolate covered, or simply to enjoy them without having to fight with a shell. The Confection varieties are roasted in the shell and sometimes flavored for you to enjoy at your favorite baseball game or an afternoon on the patio. Sunflower seeds are graded according to size and then separated. The largest size goes to be roasted and enjoyed in-shell, medium sizes are usually de-hulled, and the smallest size goes into the bird and pet food market! So the next time you’re enjoying sunflower seeds or even a bag of Lay’s potato chips, thank a North Dakota farmer for their contributions to your favorite snacks!

Harvesting Sunflowers


Who knew our frigid neighbor to the North of us, North Dakota, was such a leader in agriculture!? And in fact, North Dakota has a lot more to offer than just agriculture. There is such rich heritage and culture in North Dakota and for a state that boasts 9.3 people per square mile, there is actually a lot to do here! Check out The North Dakota tourism site for some great information about visiting the great state of North Dakota! http://www.ndtourism.com/

I am extremely proud to say I am now from North Dakota… The land of sunflowers, honey, and wheat. Where tractors, combines, and pickup trucks reign supreme. Where painted sunset skies grace us every evening. And where winters consist of minus 20 with snow. ;)

North Dakota Sunset on Sun Flowers


For other blog posts featuring North Dakota on Agriculture Proud, check out: http://agricultureproud.com/stamps-states-and-agfacts/north-dakota/

And for another post on MY Sunflowerfarmer, check out his feature on Agriculture Proud: http://agricultureproud.com/2012/03/21/agproud-sunflower-farmer-mark-rorich/ 

For more information about Jenny’s meat industry family back at home, check out their feature on Agriculture Proud:http://agricultureproud.com/2012/03/09/agproud-jenny-dewey-chico-locker-and-sausage/

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The United States of Agriculture.

The AgChat Banditas have taken over!
The AgChat Banditas have taken over!

Kelly Rivard

Today’s Bandita is Kelly Rivard. Kelly is a country girl living in downtown Kansas City, where she works a day job in agricultural communications. When she isn’t at the office, she’s visiting farms and ranches, learning how to cook healthy for one, or trying to play the ukulele. Her adventures in agriculture and urban living can be found at KellyMRivard.com.

Agriculture is everywhere. It’s on every continent except for Antarctica, it’s in every nation, and its products can be found in just about every fridge and pantry in the U.S. My favorite thing about American agriculture is the diversity; and while our one nation produces countless agricultural products, each state kind of has an agricultural personality of its own.

In the last two years, I have lived in four-and-a-half different states (I consider Kansas a half-lived-in — I’ll explain later.). I spent time in my native Illinois. I had a month-long stint in Wisconsin. I made the long trek from my Midwestern hometown to Sacramento, California, where I temporarily took root for three months. Nine months and one college graduation after that pilgrimage, I found myself with all of my belongings loaded in my car and my brother’s trailer on the way to my new home in Kansas City, Missouri.

What have I learned in all of this travel? Well, every trip or relocation has had something to do with my career in agriculture. And every trip gave me the opportunity to love each state’s unique agricultural personality.

In my booming hometown of Momence, Illinois, I ran for the coveted title of Gladiolus Queen. It’s a part of the Gladiolus Festival, which pays homage to Illinois’ rich history in the cut flower industry. I’ve ridden floats in the St. Anne Pumpkin Festival, which celebrates the fact that Illinois the #1 producer of pumpkins that are “processed,” or used in canned pumpkin or pumpkin pie filling and the such. It also boasts a strong grain industry and is a top producer of pork!

During my stay in Wisconsin, I had the joy of learning the ins and outs of the dairy industry as I’d never experienced it before. I learned about cheese, and cattle health, and the unique challenges that dairy producers face in day-to-day life. I also learned some about beer’s role in U.S. agriculture. (Fact: it’s bigger than most people realize!)

California opened my eyes, truly. Whenever people ask me about California agriculture, I respond by saying, “If it grows, it grows in California.” Having never lived anywhere but the Midwest, I found great joy in being surrounded by orchards of citrus, nut, and stone fruit trees. My corn-fed Illinois native self had a field-day, seeing irrigated fields that allowed farmers to grow corn most of the year. (I’d never seen a field of six-foot-tall corn next to a field of two-foot-tall corn. It was mesmerizing.) Dairy farmers in several parts of the state taught me about the diversity within the dairy industry; what works in Wisconsin may not work in California. I learned about rice production, and the mutually beneficial balance between California’s vast agricultural acreage and its many species of native wildlife. And to make matters more interesting, I had the pleasure of driving through seven states to get to and from California along I-80 – it was an added bonus to an already “agtastic” adventure, to see livestock and crops all along the U.S. countryside.

And now, I’m here, in the place where Kansas and Missouri meet. I spend most work days in a downtown office surrounded by highrises, but I also spend each day immersed in agriculture. Kansas houses some feedyards which play a vital role in maintaining the livelihood of many small family farmers across the U.S., and help keep the beef industry both ethical and efficient. And Missouri is home to over 100,000 family farms which produce beef, pork, corn, soybeans, wheat, turkeys, cotton, rice, sorghum, and more. And Kansas City? It has a deeply rich agricultural history, being one of the “Cow Towns” that helped build the American west.

See what I mean about different state personalities? Maybe this is my inner ag nerd coming out. (I own it, if that’s the case.) But, agricultural diversity is amazing. And I am proud to say that I’ve gotten to enjoy it. I’m proud that I get to spend time sharing these stories with people. And I’m thankful beyond words that this diversity exists.