New Year, New Locally Grown Products
As we welcome in the new year we also welcome a new ranch manager, new clean eating recipes and new products. We are excited to launch new products like our bone broth and taco meat to bring to our retail outlets, farmers markets and online shoppers. Along with new food items, comes new crops. Our current grain and barley crops are beginning to pop up in both the Morehead and Schoolhouse fields. You can see the green tops beginning to sprout in these fields that are planted along Ord Ferry Road. In addition to our regular planting of wheat and barley, we are experimenting with two new strains of wheat from UC Davis. We planted a hard, red wheat known as Cal Rojo and a hard, white wheat known as Patwin-515. Both types of wheat are ideal for hearty bread baking and high levels of protein. Along with the wheat and barley our 41,184 recently planted almond trees are looking strong. In comparison to last year's rainy weather, which led to 28 straight days of flooding, we are experiencing a more mild and dry winter and should be able to plant the rest of the 2018 crops right on time. We are looking forward to planting beans, tomatoes, corn, vine seed (including squash), safflower and maintaining our growing almonds and two types of walnuts.
Our outdoor production system is ideally suited for these dry and mild winter conditions Check out the Global Animal Partnership's (GAP) website and look at the Step2 designation to understand a few of the things we do and don't do here at the Ranch. There are many things that are great about our system that the GAP certification doesn't track. Did you know over 90% of the hogs feed is grown right on the Ranch? Or that over 50% of the Ranch is protected under environmental conservation easements? A few days of rain has encouraged the pigs to spend more time indoors which requires more cleaning and continued replenishing of bedding. We have been busy keeping the pigs comfortable and their barns clean and dry. Last year's flood created many challenges for the hog production team. To address these challenges the team has moved another feed storage bin closer to the nursery and improved the drainage system to reduce stresses to the staff and the pigs.
Meet Joe Mendes, Ranch Manager
The start of 2018 also brought a new ranch manager to Llano Seco. Joe Mendes was raised on a farm in the Central Valley and likes to think his first real job in agriculture was at the age of 5, helping his dad irrigate cotton. After high school, Mendes enlisted in the army and while there studied business administration. After his eight years in the armed services, Mendes was ready to get back to his agricultural roots and began managing farms. "I guess I could have run a trucking company or something," he laughed. "But it felt natural. I like being outside." Along with enjoying the outdoors, Mendes thought ag was a good fit for him because he knows how to work well with people and how to operate heavy machinery. He was previously the farm manager for Chico Nut Co. but Llano Seco offered him a unique career opportunity, he said. "The history of the ranch, the partnership we have with the environmental community and the diversification of the farming and livestock operations make this a very challenging and exciting job," Mendes said. "I'm looking forward to being part of and leading an incredible team of professionals at the Llano Seco Rancho."