Profile of a Female Rancher: Jeannie McCormack

McCormack_ALB
Photo courtesy of the American Lamb Board

 

In honor of National Women’s History Month, we’d like to share the story of Jeannie McCormack, Niman Ranch’s first ever lamb producer. Her family ranch was originally founded in the hills of California in 1896 by Jeannie’s grandfather, Dan McCormack, and had been run by her father, Wallace, since 1934. This makes her the third generation to care for the land.

Jeannie and her husband, Al Medvitz, returned home to raise sheep after living for 15 years in Boston and Africa. When they arrived at the McCormack Family Cattle Ranch in October of 1987, Jeannie started working in the sheep barn learning about lambing from her father’s Peruvian sheepherder. Al started driving tractor under the tutelage of John Lopez, a man in his 70’s who had worked for her father since he was a boy.

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Spring Into Farming

On March 4, the high temperature in Iowa was 16 degrees with a low of -4, withIMG_7507-1024x768 snow along the roads and in the fields. Just two weeks later, we experienced some of the warmest weather this year with a high reaching 63 degrees. And technically it’s still winter.

As you can imagine the snow has been melting very quickly releasing moisture into the air in the form of fog. With most of the snow is gone as the sun shines brightly, nature is giving us a reminder of all of the work to be done in the coming weeks.

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2015 Culinary Trends

Culinary Trends to Look For in 2015

The National Restaurant Association releases its What’s Hot Culinary Forecast at the beginning of each year. This prominent report is a result of over 1,300 professional chefs’ responses to questions about everything from profit to pickles. Their responses have laid out their predictions on what people like you want to see on menus and grocery shelves for the next year. We’re thrilled to see that some of the top trends for 2015 fit with who we are and what we have to offer – let us know if you agree in the comments!

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National FFA Week

IMG_1710-blog-1024x768National Future Farmers of America week, observed from February 21 -28, celebrates our connection to agriculture and supports our next generation of farmers.  Various local FFA chapters have different ways of engaging with their communities, but one of the simplest is encouraging folks to grow some of their own food.

Many farmers, along with passionate gardeners, begin planning their gardens now. Planting seeds indoors is a great way to get a head start.   My father likes utilizing the simple seed-starter kits that you can find just about anywhere.  These starter kits can last for years if you use and store them properly.

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Pew Charitable Trusts: Preserving Antibiotics for the Future

In the pre-antibiotic era, doctors were taught that they could not change the course of their patients’ illnesses. Their job, instead, was to make an accurate diagnosis so they could give an accurate prognosis to their patients. When antibiotics came along in the 1940’s, it totally revolutionized things. They are undoubtedly responsible for saving millions of human lives.

Unfortunately, inappropriate use of antibiotics could be threatening their ability to cure. As mentioned by Dr. Lance Price during his presentation at one of our conferences this past year, the conventional livestock industry’s low dose use of antibiotics is partially responsible for drug-resistant bacteria emerging on farms. This is thought to reach the general population through human or animal carriers, and through the food consumers eat.

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Football Food Favorites from Uncle Rich, Part 3

With Super Bowl XLIX just around the corner, Uncle Rich wants to share a recipe that can feed and fill the masses. Ever had pork nachos? Rich believes that when you mix pre-cooked pork and your favorite ingredients, it can be one of the easiest and flavorsome dishes to serve your friends.

Seeing how we just started making our Pulled Pork with Smoky Chipotle Barbecue Sauce just came out, this recipe features our new flavor with your classic favorites from the nacho world. Cheese, green onions, cilantro, avocado – anything you love could find it’s way to the top of this dish. He’s recommended what goes best with the spicy, smoky flavor of our pulled pork. Trust us – Uncle Rich knows best!

Want to keep things clean? Always put parchment paper underneath your tortilla chips. Love cheese? Add a second layer on top of the pulled pork. Want to really step up your game? Add crumbled, cooked bacon to the mix.

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Spring Catalogs

Jan-1-1024x768It’s been pretty quiet on the farm this January.  The land is covered in a blanket of snow and temperatures occasionally dip to -40 below zero with the wind chill. Our farmers keep pretty busy checking hog waters and ensuring they aren’t frozen, cleaning out farm buildings and adding bedding for farm animals to keep them warm and cozy.  Evenings are filled with after school activities like basketball, band and choir concerts, wrestling meets and the like. Playing Scrabble or card games is also popular this time of year. Anything you can do indoors to keep warm!

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Holidays Growing Up on the Willis Family Farm

stamping-paper-Dec-1024x768 Growing up, we wrapped all of our Christmas presents in newspaper. My mother insisted for several reasons:

  1. It was cheaper than buying wrapping paper
  2. It was an easy way to recycle the newspaper cutting down on waste
  3. It was fun

You might think it wouldn’t be as beautiful, but we take pride in decorating our newspaper. We make it really special by stamping our own Christmas designs all over. We created our own stamper by carving potatoes. I usually carved a Christmas tree or snowman. This is still a good idea – Sophia loves doing crafts like this.

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Football Food Favorites from Uncle Rich – Part 2

With the football season in full swing and the weather a bit cooler, Uncle Rich is eager to use quick and easy grill recipes that are sure to please the crowds. This one was created with simplicity in mind – all you have to do is marinade the meat and voila! Delicious skewers.

Be sure to marinate these as directed, not overnight – it really makes a difference. The thin pieces of marinated meat cook in a jiff so you don’t have to miss a single pass or play!

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Winter on the Farm

nimanranch-339-1024x768Each season on the farm is different,year to year, region to region, based on anything from weather to corn prices and which of the kids is going to college. Here is some insight as to what some of our independent family hog farmers do when the fields fall dormant. You can be sure they keep very busy.

Many in the Midwest were hit with an early November snowfall that postponed harvest. Luckily, it warmed up enough to finish the harvest. December has been mild and fairly dry thus far, but farmers will not easily forget last winter’s record-breaking low temperatures. They’ll have to keep an eye out for frozen water sources to keep the hogs hydrated as the season progresses.

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