Wednesday, May 28, 2014

High School Rodeo with Cowboy E

Weekends in April and May are chuck full of high school rodeo.  They rodeo Friday night and Saturday morning.  Of course they coincide with so many branding and cattle drives which means we don't get to watch Cowboy E as much as we would like.  Last weekend we were able to finally make it to his District Rodeo, the last of the season before the state rodeo.
We definitely were not disappointed.  The boy won the team roping that night!  He is the header of his team, partly because his partner ropes left handed.  Its so crazy to watch them!  And super interesting to the things they do to adapt to a lefty. 
Besides going to watch our boy, Cowboy E, I love to watch the rough stock.  I don't cheer for the bulls, but I love watching them when they are rank!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Happy Memorial Day: Celebrating Their Memory

Happy Memorial Day! 

It’s terrible to admit, but I don’t remember ever really doing too much to celebrate this day when I grew up.  We would do a little family cook out and do some fun-ness at home.  I’m sure that my dad just wanted to have a stay-cation rather than do anything big.  And we lived on a ranch- there is always work to be done! 

In fact, it seemed that every Memorial Day was the day to move cows.  Of course we moved them down that one road that led to the cemetery.  Happy Memorial day- have fun dodging the cow pies on your way!

Memorial Day is a day to remember and celebrate the memory of folks that have passed and the life they made for us.  So often, and appropriately so, we celebrate our passed loved ones and we remember the brave military men, women, and their courageous families.  Those in the military literally put everything on the line, making a stand for what they know to be right.  I am so thankful for their choice to serve!

But I’m also thankful and wish to celebrate the memory of those that had the courage to leave everything to come and settle the west.  The pioneer spirit of those cowboys brought so much more than what they could have ever expected.  They were willing to pay whatever cost for the ranch life with open ranges and big sky. 

I can’t imagine life being anything but hard for them.  They didn’t have the luxuries we have like farm equipment, wheel lines, bull wagons, or 4 wheelers.  Instead they had a horse and plow… and themselves.  They worked every day just to survive another year.  Men would leave their families for months at a time to take the cows to the sale.  Families worked long hard hours to keep their meager farms afloat.  What’s amazing is that despite how hard it was, they didn’t give up! 

Imagine what our world would be like if the rough west would have beaten the cowboys and farmers.  Those men, those families changed our history, changed my history.  What a memorable legacy they left behind.  And what a great day to celebrate their memory!   

Who’s memory are you celebrating today?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Ranching Memories: Magic, Mishaps, and Mischief

With it being a long weekend, most of the crew (except for Cowboy Pete- he is in Bulgaria!) came back to the ranch to play.  The best part about everyone coming home is the times where sit around and visit.  We always end up talking about days on the ranch.  Those crazy branding days that The Buckaroo’s horse would always buck.  Or the days of near tragedy that were too scary to laugh at.  There is a theme running through them- somebody did something a little crazy!  We were laughing so hard my sides hurt… I wish you could have been there.  Some of the stories were just too perfect to NOT share! 

Three Boys Means no Boys
Any smart ranch dad takes advantage of the free labor that comes with raising kids on the ranch.  One day Rancher Sr. and The Ranch Boss went out to Locomotive to work some cattle and took along a few of the boys for some help.  It was a typical dusty and windy day, which meant that these kids couldn’t hear or hardly hear what they were being told to do.  That’s kind of a must when you are the gate man on a sorting day.  Even when they figured out some hand signals, the cowboys would forget to use them!  The Ranch Boss just told them, “When you have one boy, there is one boy… two boys there is a half a boy…  three boys means no boys!”

Magical Ranch Mornings
Mornings on the ranch really can be magical. The fields smell incredible, the sun streams over the hills, and the birds are singing.  Those moments just make you want to stand still to soak up every bit of the promise of a new day.  Some mornings are a little magical than other, like when The Ranch Boss headed out for morning chores to find the old farm hand tractor running in the stack yard. What’s so magical about that?  No one was there and no one had been there.  The tractor started up by itself!  They actually figure that a few mice got chewing on the wires, crossed them, and started the old tractor up.

The Beginning of Crop Circles and BE Farms
Being observant and industrious ranch kids, The Rancher, The Cowpoke, and a few fellow farming friends started their own farms- The BE Farms.  They had their own patch of dirt to plant their hay and grain in and despite their clever schemes and earnest efforts their crops didn’t produce well.  Buts really no problem when your little field neighbors dad’s big hay field.  Just grab your best pair of kindergarten scissors and cut some yourself a supplemental hay crop!  Don’t be surprised if the carefully cut pivot circes are mistaken for deer getting in the hay! The Rancher Boss was sure there was a herd of deer… nope- just a herd of little boys!

The Rooster Story
We love having chicken for fresh eggs, but once upon a time the ranch raised their own chickens for the meat.  This meant that they had a rooster.  And not any ol’ rooster.  He was the nastiest, meanest old thing.  So mean that the boys wouldn’t go gather the eggs for fear of that rooster chasing after them with his lethal beak.  Rancher Sr., tired of the boys not getting the eggs, decided he was going to do something about it.  His solution- a 2x4.  He left the rooster for dead in the field, sure that the problem was solved.  Weeks later, The Rancher was crouched down working on his snow mobile in the shop when all of the sudden, this rooster jumps up on his leg.  He perched up there, ruffled his feathers a bit and just stood like he was some sort of pet!  Rancher Sr. must have knocked something loose on that rooster, because ever since then he was pleasant as ever!  But they tell me he did walk with his head cocked to one side…

It’s just ON FIRE!
The Cowpoke came back to help on the ranch between semesters a few times.  It’s the sort of thing these boys live for- dad telling them that he needs them to stay to work on the ranch with them.  What they don’t live for is the tractor catching fire on them!  While The Cowpoke was doing some farm work he started smelling a little smoke.  Being a good farmer he stopped to check under the hood only to see a bird’s nest on fire and shooting flames out the side!  Lucky enough he was parked right next to the ditch.  Unfortunately he didn’t have a thing to haul water in!  He was clever (and probably calm) enough to notice the 4 wheeler there that he was able to jump on to find a 5 gallon bucket at the stack yard.  Rancher Sr. was there too, curious as to why The Cowpoke would leave his post on the tractor a bucket.  Um, ya… it’s only ON FIRE!  Maybe that was the beginning of the Eliason Fire Brigade…

The Buckaroo’s First Catch
The Buckaroo has a knack for twirling a rope.  Will Rogers has nothing on him! Well, I’m sure that he will be that good someday, soon!  This roping craze started young, like 2 years old.  The beginning of his roping career was marked with his first tie down.  He had been outside playing with the dog, typical boy thing.  But after a bit he randomly ran in the house. A minute later he ran back out… with his rope.  Then not too much longer he can back inside… without his rope.  When mom asked where the roped was he simply replied, “I tied the dog to the tree…”  True enough, that little cowboy had roped and hog-tied the dog to the tree!    

A Needle Stick

One fine branding day, I was in charge of giving the shots.  I was double fisting even.  Before we would get to work on the calves we had to have them rolled on the right side.  If there wasn't a free man to do it I would jump in and try to help.  Easy, not a problem.  Except the time that as I rolled the calf and bent down so did The Rancher's uncle behind me.  It was like two magnets coming together- his bum and my needle.  AH!  If there was ever a terrible place for a needle stick it had to be there!

Boys and Hot Shots

Little boys and hot shots are always a scary combination, but give them to a little boy that wants to zap his neighbor.  There was a little cousin that loved the hot shot and would just come up to whoever and give them a little zap.  The boys got so sick of it that occasionally they would give him a taste of his own medicine.  And then came the day that he accidentally got The Buckaroo.  He was so sick of this kid doing it and not knowing it wasn't on purpose, he turned around and got him back so bad!  Needless to say, he didn't get anyone with the hot shot again!

Friday, May 23, 2014

A LESS Than Picture Perfect Cattle Drive

Today we moved cows.  It was so far from picture perfect.   I mean it.  I took my camera but just left it in the truck because there was no time to snap a picture in the midst of our near disaster cattle drive.

There are two things that make a drive go smooth that we didn’t have- a LOT of cowboys and good fences.  Here’s the low down of how this day went.

Let’s talk about a little about fence etiquette.  In Idaho, the “fencing law” is a fence out law (not to be confused with a fence outlaw that probably steals fences or something).  That means that if you are, let’s say a farmer, you’re responsible to fence animals out of your farm ground.  Particularily if it borders public ground. 

The cattle we were moving were out on a Forest Service pasture with cows from two other ranches.  The area has Forest Service ground, but a lot of private farm ground.  In fact most of the way to the field we were heading to (6 miles) was bordered by farm ground except the last bit.  And, yep, you guessed it… those farmers hadn’t put much stock in the fencing law. 

There were places that the fence was up… but the wires were so loose calves just crawled right through them.  It kept the in a little better than no fence at all because they could at least see something in the way.  But so much of the fence was taken down, left in a mess on the ground.  The darn thing didn’t even look scary enough to keep them from trying to get out.  And with it being dropped to the ground we had another issue to deal with, getting the horses caught in the fence!

For hours we fought cows trying to cut back into the tempting green wheat fields.  And we lost.  The cows won. It seemed that they were crawling through the fences everywhere, when there was actually a fence, I mean.  Cutting across the fields had its own extra setbacks.  There were so many places that was loose dirt that as the herd crossed over it made a cloud of dust so bad you could hardly see the cowboy next to you.  The cows don’t like dustiness like that (not that I blame them… actually I do, because if they would have stayed on the road we could have avoided the dust!)  A couple of times they got so lost in the dust (or just annoyed by it) they tried to turn back on us.  Just what we needed- crazy cows not being able to see where they are going so they turn and go… anywhere else!

The cows in the front were on a mission.  They knew they were literally heading to greener pasture, so they walked out.  Fast.  But then there was the slow babies in the back.  Their little tired legs just couldn’t keep up.  Before we knew it, we were stretched out for miles moving along a non-existing fence with cows breaking into the first green thing they could see.  Every time we would lose a group of cows through the fence a cowboy would follow to get them back out.  Before we knew it, there were more cows and cowboys out on the wheat fields than on the road!  Actually there was a point I was the lone rider moving down the road.

It might have not all been so bad if we could have had all the cowboys we needed. We needed to have guys at the front with the lead cows, guys doing the gates, guys pushing over the cows that were crawling through, and guys pushing the cows the length of the herd.  But we didn’t. 

At one point The Rancher switched from his horse to his steel horse which helped him buzz around which saved us.  He was able to get ahead of the herd to close gates, get around the lead cows in the wheat field and head them back.  It’s just too bad we didn’t have like three more guys helping do all that work…

We made it eventually and really no worse for the wear.  We found all of the strays and after a while the bull in the trees decided to come out.  But, heaven willing, we will NEVER have to do that again!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Changing Sprinklers with The Rancher's Wife (because I LOVE it!)

My high school summer work was working for a neighbor on his ranch (no surprises, right?).  Every morning we would start the day moving the wheel lines and a few hand lines.  I loved it.  Every part. 
I'm not really sure why- maybe it was knowing that the work we were doing was growing the hay we would harvest.  Maybe it was doing a job that I could do well.  I would say that it was playing in the water, put at that time in the morning the water was COLD.  I actually wonder if I didn't love it because it was one of the times that my OCD-ness really came in handy- straight wheel lines, unplugged nozzles, the birds standing upright...
It has its bad moments- like when you have to get the heavy mover through the ditch and you fall in.  Ya... not so cool.  Or you have a riser blow its top, continually.  In fact, I have an Instagram buddy say Irrigation=Irritation.  So true. 
But still... I loved and still love moving sprinklers.  And The Rancher loves that I love it.  Its not too hard to hard to get me to come help and make the work go a little faster (isn't that what every rancher wants in a wife?).  Thankfully, he does it in the evenings when I can help out (and not egg cold!).  He'll go in one direction to work on a line while I turn off another.  We jump between the different lines to get them drained, moved and the pressured up again.  Of course along the way there are seals to fix, drains and nozzles to replace, or lines to wash out.  It seems that something always needs a little fixing...
Doing this together for a few years we have learned a few things- bring the bag of tools, have a stash of oil and gas, and always wear water boots- even when you shouldn't be in the water... because Murphy's Law is a part of changing sprinklers!

** Funny side note- when I asked The Rancher's Sidekick what I should title this post he said, "Um... Lemonade!"  Yes, it is a sprinkler changing, lemonade sippin' spring day at our house.  Summer is on its way!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Country Style Lasagna with The Rancher's Wife

Growing up I didn't like lasagna.  Don't know why... just crazy I guess.  Being the kind mother that she is, my mom didn't make it because I didn't like it.  And I feel so terrible because lasagna is one of those home cooked kitchen masterpieces!  I finally came to my senses and learned that and now I love, LOVE lasagna.

But I do have one tiny problem with lasagna- the ingredients.  Its not that I don't like the ingredients.  I love every bit of what goes in a traditional lasagna.  The problem lies in whether or not I have them.  I have to plan ahead and make sure that I have ricotta cheese (did you know it is pronounced rigot?!) and make sure that I make it before it has gone bad.  Of course there is the alternative of using cottage cheese instead of ricotta, but when I buy cottage cheese, I eat it up before it can make it to the lasagna.

See my problem?  Its in the cheese...

But I found a solution!  Cream cheese!  I always have tons of cream cheese (not sure why... maybe subconsciously I'm thinking of making cheese cake!) which means that we have a green light for the lasagna!

Now, for all the Italians out there, I'm sorry if you think that I have taken your beautiful cuisine and ruined it.  I'll try better to not disappoint in my next Italian recipe undertaking.  I just had to make it in a way that I could use it!  That's why this is Country Style Lasagna, not From Italy's Kitchen Lasagna.

I was a little leery to try the cream cheese.  Why mess with something that you know is already so good?  But I was desperate.  So I tried it.  And I don't think I will EVER go back!  (ok... maybe on occasion...)

Start with some brown hamburger.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Crazy Heifer That Didn't Want a CIDR

We keep saying that things are slowing down, but I think it is just wishful thinking.  The branding is done, the cows are moved out, but now we are hauling for other ranches.  We are working to get the wheel lines running.  And now its time to start getting the bulls turned out and the heifers AIed.  Really, we should never say its slowing down.

But I'm ok with that.  My sister (that lives in NYC) told me that a busy life is a fun life, because a boring life is just, well... lame. 

This week's adventure- helping put CIDRs in the heifers.  (If you're wondering what CIDRs are and why we use them, check out last year's post!) We actually didn't do too much help.  The Rancher didn't tell me they were starting.  I think he thinks he can do this with without me... Should I be worried?!
Running the heifers through the chute can be a little exciting.  They are still young and inexperienced to this stuff.  Plus I don't blame them for not wanting the CIDR put in.  Sure an oversized, IUD is great to make sure that they don't get pregnant and will cycle at the right time, but what girl really WANTS that?  So they go wild and crazy... all the time.  I swear all of them try jumping out somewhere along the way- the holding tub, the alley, the chute...  They jump on each other, over each other, back into each other.  Its almost exhausting just to watch!  But we are kinda used to it...

Actually we did have a few tense moments.  There was one wild girl that tried jumping over the top.  As she came back down, her hoof got caught on the alley stop (it keeps them from going backwards).  How she managed it, I really don't know but it was stuck and cutting her hoof.  Plus it was pulling her back leg up into a really awkward position.  She of course went more crazy, trying to get herself loose.  The heifer behind her started to climb over her, getting out of the ruckus.  Can you say pile up?

We had to push the heifers in the behind her back in the tub (which in itself was a chore because there seems to be only one direction with cows).  The Rancher jump up on the alley panels and pulled the stuck heifer backwards (by her tail of course) while The Ranch Boss pried the bars apart so that Rancher Sr. could shove her hoof out.  And they got it... phew! 

Once again we adverted disaster!  Its always an adventure on the ranch.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

DIY Rope Clock

There is a good story that goes with this fun little craft.  Get comfy, because it is sorta long.  I understand if you just want to skip to the end...

I have decorated The Rancher's Sidekick in cowboy-ness (a far stretch for your imagination, I'm sure...).  Its really been needing a little more umph and he had been begging for a clock.  I figured, perfect way to add a litter bit of cowboy to perk up the room.  I was so sure that he would love it.


After he told me that he wanted the rope off and that it looked, "not great..." I figured that when he saw the finished product he would think it was so cool, so I went on.  And really, I didn't want to quit.  I knew the potential awesome-ness that was about to happen!

So I finished and showed it to him.  Still "not great." He quickly told me that I had to take off the rope.  Actually that sounds like he was calm.  Oh no, The Rancher's Sidekick was in a complete meltdown because I had "roped" his clock and he didn't want it like that.  In my attempts to make him stop, I just put it away and moved on.

But he didn't... 15 minutes later he comes to me, totally calm but with his little mischievous smile.  Then he shows me the clock with out the rope!  He completely ripped the rope off!  Grr!  I was so frustrated.  And now I'm over, so I made a new one.  Even better, The Rancher's Sidekick is over- ya he loves it now!  What a goober!   
If you are gonna make a rope clock you are going to need a rope...

And you will need a clock (I got a cheap one at Walmart).

The get gluing.  I used my favorite glue gun, of course!

Just keep going around and around... Until you decide your done. Or run out of rope!  Ta Da!  You have a rope clock- functional and fashionable!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Come on Home, Little Doggie

Ah, spring turn out time. One of the most wonderful and stressful times of the year.  Wonderful because it means that the cows are out, the calves have been branded, and they only need a little maintenance for the summer. Ok, we move them like every week, check water, and doctor as needed... its still a lot of work but it doesn't seem like its so hard. 

We probably are happy for it to be over because that means the stress of the spring turn out it gone too.  Right now we are separating our cows into 3 different groups- some to be run on the BLM ground, some to be on the Forest ground (it really shouldn't be considered Forest though, there are NO forests out here!) and some to other Forest ground.  The stressful part about all of this is that when you start separating the herd, you have to make sure that you get all of the babies with the right mommas.  Or that none of the momma's forget that they have a calf (oh ya, it happens...).

The worst thing that can happen is the pairs not pairing up once they get to the new pasture.  A baby without a momma isn't going to survive.  Sure they can steal milk every once in a while (funny thing about cows, they will only nurse their babies... but I roll like that too), but they aren't going to get enough nutrition to grow.  So we do ALL that we can to make sure this doesn't happen. 

But every year it seems that we have a few doggie calves.  Do you want to know the best way to pick them out?  They have poop on their head.  All of the time.  The best way to steal a bit of milk is to come from behind.  The hazards of that are getting pooped on... poor huggers.... 

But back to our doggie calves.  We just bring them home.  Leaving them to die is like throwing money away.  And its just not very nice.   So we do what we can to make it work.  Like have a milk cow or two around to nurse them.  These cows are kinda funny, because they love to mother these babies!  They stand by the barn waiting for feeding time.  They sit by the gate and talk to them during the day (well, I don't know if they really talk to them... I just think that sounds like what a momma would do).  And no matter how many calves, they mother them all.

Its rough being a doggie-ed calf, but come on home. We've got a momma that will love on ya!


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mudders Day from The Rancher's Wife

There are too many good mothers (and mothering women) out there to not say Happy Mother's Day to!

You are amazing, you know!  There are so many things that you do- manage your home, chase your kids, help your husband, work in the community, serve your friends and neighbors and somehow you manage to still be you. 


So here is a little note from The Rancher's Wife.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Delicious, Home-Cooked Steak Dinner

Sunday is Mother's Day, and I hope you have big plans for pampering the mother's in your lives.  Maybe you'll do a little breakfast in bed, beautiful spring flowers, some chocolates maybe or how about a nice dinner to say thank you.

Growing up it was my mom that pulled together those nice holiday meals that added just the right touch to the day.  Not to say that dad couldn't, but it was mom's forte.  That usually meant that when it came to Mother's Day we were already starting without our MVP.  I don't want you to fall short this Mother's Day, so here is a SUPER easy, delicuious and easy meal to show the mom's in your life just how much you care!

At our house you can never go wrong with a nice steak dinner.  And when you cook them on the grill, its minimal mess which means minimal clean up (for you... because momma isn't doing dishes on Mother's Day, remember?).

The most important step in making this isn't going to be at home- its at the grocery store.  A good steak isn't made with the rubs, seasonings, or marinades (although they do make for some awesome added flavor!).  Its how that calf was grown (ok, so really its starts on the ranch, but you don't have much control over that!).  At the meat counter, take the time to choose a steak with good color and good marbling- the little flecks of fat that are in the meat.  This is where you get your flavor and what makes a steak tender.  Factor in the cut, or the type of steak, that you are getting.  Choose one that is from the rib area.  Steaks that come from places like the shoulder tend to be a less tender.  Personally, my favorite is a T-bone... yep... I love T-bone steak.

Once you get your steak home the stage is set for some incredible eating with only a little bit of work.  Get the grill hot and ready to go and when its hot, its time to get cooking.

After putting the steaks on the grill, add a little salt.  Partially for flavor, but also because that helps to keep the juicy flavor in the steak.  A LONG time ago you learned about how water follows salt in some science class, right?  This is when you are finally gonna use what you learned!

Let it cook for a good 1-2 minutes and then turn in 45 degrees to give it that criss-cross look.  Besides looking so professional (which is what we're going for, right?!), those lines are seared, which sort of caramelizes the surface and locks in more of that delicious flavor!

Once you rotate your steak, let it grill for another 2-3 minutes and then flip and repeat.  A little more salt for flavor AND to keep your steak moist.  This time we like to add a little more seasonings- just some pepper and good ol' seasoning salt (at this house, sometimes less is more!).  After its cooked for a minute or two, rotate.  Give it another good couple of minutes and then you're done! 

Unless you're going for a well-done cooked steak.  Then you're not done.  Keep cooking...

Timing is important to cooking steaks.  You don't want to under cook your meat, pull it off and then have to start over.  Ideally, you only want to flip your steak once.  But the opposite is possible- over cooking.  I'm not a fan of burnt steak... or a dry steak.  I don't know about you, but pink in the middle is perfect.

But however your momma likes it, is what we're going for.  And no matter how that is, she is gonna love your delicious, home-cooked steak dinner.  Add some steamed veggies and some fresh watermelon and you will rule the day! 

Because really, don't all the mom's in your life deserve nothing but your best?

Happy Mother's Day! (early...)