view sourceprint? 01 Ramblings from a Ranch Wife: March 2013

Random Thought:

"The darkest nights produce the brightest stars"

Friday, March 29, 2013


I have a soft spot in my heart for puppies and horses.  I'm always trying to bring strays home.  I make the Cow Boss crazy.  He is finally understanding that I come by it naturally.

He was shaking his head at my dad one year after the Van Norman Horse sale.  My dad swore he wasn't going to buy a horse (he buys one every year it seems like), but brought his horse trailer just in case.  We were quite impressed, he didn't bid on a single horse (my brother and brother in law each bought a horse, and the Cow Boss and I bought 2, one for each of us).  Of course dad couldn't stand it and ended up buying one that had been no saled.  

We were laughing about this to my grandma, and she told us that my dad comes by this naturally.  It turns out my grandpa was the same way.  He liked every horse he ever saw and was always bringing something home.  I guess he was really good at gentling them down and was always making my grandma or her kids "Try out this new horse [he] just got.  He's so nice!"  Grandma said she was always about half leery of getting on these horses.  So apparently it is in my genetic make up to want to have all of these horses.

The Cow Boss thinks I would be like the crazy cat lady but with horses if he wasn't here to slow me up some days   I hope he isn't right.  I really do like horses though, and like just about everyone I see.  I like to think that I do have some sense though, and would stop myself before I had more than I could take care of.

On that note....I "rescued" 4 yearling colts this last week.  I'm using the term rescued somewhat loosely.  You see, my neighbor up the road is kind of a crazy cat lady but with horses.  She had close to 90 head of mares, studs, and colts, and no way to feed them.  She was out of hay.  All of them are very well bred, but some are stunted from lack of feed.  She really truly loves these horses, but let herself get carried away with breeding them and never really selling them.  She had a horse trader/chicken feed guy coming up to gather up whatever she didn't have a home for last Tuesday.

We had talked several times about going up and looking at the baby colts and maybe picking one or two up, because like I said, they are very well bred Foundation Quarter Horses, and we are in a place where we can make some pretty nice horses and have had no trouble selling what horses we can't use.  I guess the chicken feed guy coming was the motivation that we needed, to get our tails up there and getting a couple!

I fell in love with a little chestnut horse colt that was a late colt.  I'm pretty sure he is going to turn gray.  I also have a super soft spot for grays.  I will get around to telling you why one of these days!  Anyway, the Cow Boss said no way, no how because of how little he is, and if he doesn't grow he won't be something I can use on the ranch.  I was thinking he would be the perfect size for my boys.  Since he told me no, I called my dad.  Knowing my dad and his soft spot for horses, I knew I could talk him into taking him.

I think he is a cute little guy. He has a nice hip and I kind eye.  He is also pretty easy going so far, and if he doesn't get real big, I think he will be great for the boys.  TR really likes him and thought maybe we could give grandpa the one the Cow Boss picked instead and keep "Smarty."

The Cow Boss had a hard time choosing, and was torn between a huge solid bay horse colt and a nice sorrel horse colt.  He ended up choosing "Bulls Eye,"  (QT named him.  He told me that he thought Bulls Eye was a good name for a horse and always wanted one named Bulls Eye, just like Woody).  Kind of hard to doubt his logic since the sorrel has a huge white star that looks kind of like a bulls eye.  None of these colts have really been touched, so this past week has been a huge change for them.

Our first priority when we got them home was to wean and vaccinate them.  Knowing that they haven't had much care, and not the best hay (besides being in a dirt lot with about 30 yearlings), we needed to worm them before anything else.  So we had to rope them to catch them.  Bulls Eye was not impressed, and it took a good hour to get him to where the Cow Boss could actually touch him with his hands.

My pictures aren't the best, and he is standing horribly here, but he is a flashy looking guy.  I think he goes back to King Fritz, and Freckles Playboy.

After the Cow Boss vetoed the little chestnut, I picked a beautiful  buckskin filly.  When I got them in the corral, I noticed a handsome bay horse colt that I thought might be better.  People are funny about mares.  I don't mind riding them, to me a horse is a horse and each one has their own little quirks.  Gender doesn't affect that in my mind.  I got to thinking though, that a gelding would be better to sell down the road.  So we got the filly and horse sorted off and I was looking them both over in the corral.  The filly was so calm.  She just took things as they came and didn't get worked up at all.  The bay on the other hand was obviously distressed being sorted out of the bunch, and wound more tightly than the filly.  So I went with Scotch.

I think she will be a good fit for me.  She goes back to Poco Bueno, and Three Bars.  I like the way she is put together, and her disposition this far.  As you can see we roped her too, but within about 15 minutes we had her all brushed off, hands all over her, wormed, and vaccinated.  I really hope I can get some better pictures of them before we turn them out.

I sent some pictures to my dad after we got the 3 horses home, and I told him about the bay I almost took.  He said he might be interested in another colt and for me to talk to the Cow Boss about it for him.  Not 20 minutes after I hung up the phone, the Cow Boss called me.  Turns out my dad called him right after he got off the phone with me, and we needed to set up another appointment to go get another colt for my dad.  So we called my friend Corinna who knew most of the mares pretty well and sat down with her and poured over the website trying to pick out the perfect colt for him.  Of course the one that was out of Corinna's favorite mare turned out to be a filly.  So we ended up getting him the bay I didn't take.

We had to laugh at my dad.  When we were trying to pick a colt for him, we called him and he said "Oh I don't care what you pick for me.  I trust your judgement.  I like a little color, sorrels, bays, buckskins, and duns, it doesn't matter.  A little chrome is nice too.  I like 2 white feet on the back, but not so much on the front."

I'm feeling pretty good about our little "rescue."  I know at least 5 of them (my friend Rachel took the bay the Cow Boss liked) went to good homes.  My dad gathered up his 2 yesterday.  I know I couldn't save them all, but am hopefully making a positive difference in these few's lives!

Some Insight....

I'm a sucker for a sad story and a puppy.

I root for the underdog.

I love happy endings.

Sad stories make me cry.

I have a very definite sense of black and white, or right and wrong.  There aren't many gray areas in my life.

I try to live by this:  

One of my favorite quotes is: "If we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power to stop, and do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt." ~ Black Beauty

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Turning Out Cows

Wednesday the 21st was a cold cold day.  So we decided to turn cows out.

The boys and I cheated.  We let the tough guys gather and sort off the new pairs that didn't need to make the  trip.  We will haul them out in the trailer when they get a little older.  We stayed in the pickup with the heater on.

We drove ahead of the cows and made sure all of the gates were closed at Rabbit Creek.  There must me 30 gates in that 1/2 mile stretch of road, and I had to shut 29 of them.  Once through Rabbit Creek, the boys and I jumped our horses out of the trailer and mounted up.

Guido didn't work out so well for QT, so after this picture I jumped him back in the trailer and QT rode with me.  It was a long cold ride, and QT talked the e n t i r e time.

TR and Cowboy are a good fit.  Grandpa raised him and I rode him some while I was in college.  He is a good old horse, I wish he was 5 years younger and I had another just like him.  TR went with Dad after this picture.

When we got back to the trailer at 10:00 in the morning, it was 24* outside!

Friday, March 22, 2013


My friend Sylvan and I are currently having a conversation on why we are so happy we live in the era we do.  We are both moms and ranch wives, and love being outside, working with our husbands.  I feel very confident that Sylvan will agree with me, we are very lucky to live in this era.  We can have careers outside of the home, or we can be stay at home moms.  Either is acceptable.  We can also work as part of a cowboy crew and not be thought of as unlady like, or looked down upon.  We are given the respect we earn for our capabilities, and aren't "tolerated" because our dads or husbands are the boss.

That doesn't mean we have things easier than our mothers or grandmothers.  Sometimes I think it means more work for us.  Especially in the ranching industry.  During the era when my grandmother was a young mother, branding time, haying, or turning out cows for me would have meant preparing a huge meal to feed my husband and his help.  I would have cooked a large roast with mashed potatoes and gravy.  I would have baked my own bread or rolls, and prepared a salad and a couple of vegetable side dishes, and a nice dessert to top it all off.  I don't imagine there were many convenience foods to make things easier.  I would have spent pretty much all morning in front of the stove, then worried about how I would keep it all warm when the crew didn't show up on time.  After the crew ate, I would clean up everything, probably spending the rest of my afternoon in front of the sink washing dishes.  If I was lucky, maybe one of the other wives would have come over to help me for the day especially if her husband was helping.

Yesterday we turned out cows.  I was up until 9 the night before making sure I had all of my food prepped, and baking a cake for dessert.  I got up a little earlier than usual to finish my cake, and get all of my food going in crock pots because I needed to have my horse saddled by 7 when the rest of the crew arrived.  After we got back home, I had to hurry into the house to finish lunch and get it set out for the crew to eat.  They got to visit around the table while I set the meal on.  Mid way through my meal, I got up from the table to get dessert for everyone.  After eating, the crew went home and the Cow Boss went outside to do some stuff.  I hurried to clean up and put the leftovers away before heading out to feed cows and do our afternoon work.

I am lucky though.  We do have some "conveniences" that make days like yesterday a little easier.  I have 2 Crock Pots, and Crock Pot liners.  I put a roast in one and a potato dish in the other.  I can buy cake mixes and pudding mixes to speed up some parts of my cooking.  But the best convenience I have is my dishwasher!

Here are my recipes from yesterday:

Crock Pot Tri Tip:
2-3 lb. Tri Tip Roast
1 Onion Sliced
1 c. BBQ Sauce
1 tbsp. Vinegar
1 tbsp.  Worcestershire Sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste
Trim all visible fat from roast.  Place onions on top of roast.  In a separate bowl, mix remaining ingredients and pour on top of onions.  Cook on low 7-8 hours or high 4 hours.  This roast is pretty forgiving.  The longer it cooks, the more tender it gets and literally falls apart, as long as there is liquid in the crock pot.  I highly recommend Crock Pot liners.  Makes clean up so much easier!

Crock Pot Potatoes
2-3 lb. Potatoes
2 Cloves Garlic
1 c. Water
1 c. Cheese
1/2 c. Ranch Dressing
1 tbsp. Dried Onions
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Wash and quarter potatoes (you can peel them if you are feeling ambitious), and place in a Crock Pot with garlic and water.  Cook on high 4 hours or low 7-8 hours.  When tender, remove from heat and add remaining ingredients.  I used Parmesan and cheddar cheese.

Coconut Poke Cake
1 box Yellow Cake Mix and ingredients to make as shown on box.
2 small packages Instant Coconut pudding mix and milk
1 small tub cool whip
Bake cake according to directions.  Let cool and using handle end of a wooden spoon, poke holes all over cake.  Make pudding according to directions and pour over cake.  Refrigerate and serve with cool whip.

I also had a green salad, raw cauliflower, and dinner rolls from the grocery store.  I could probably get away without cooking a meal for the crew, especially when we are home before 11 a.m.  I would feel very guilty not feeding our help.  There is just something nice about a nice warm meal when you come in from a cold morning moving cows!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Some Things in My Head...

I hate dealing with adults that act like children.  Especially when my children act like little adults.

When I was waitressing between college and teaching, one of the Mexican cooks called me "Sweety Heart" and asked me every night after to work to go to the Horseshoe Club with him for drinks.  I never did, and looking back I think that was wise.

I was once told by a return missionary neighbor that I would "probably like hell."  Some days I think he may be right.

Days like today give me a severe case of spring fever.  The sun is shining and my daffodils are nearly ready to bloom.  I see several buds ready to open.  It is supposed to storm tomorrow.  Will it bring snow?

I have yet to meet a horse I didn't like, and our herd reflects that.  I once told my dad that one day I would have enough horses to ride a different horse every day of the week, and never ride the same color twice.  We are almost there, much to the Cow Boss’s dismay.  I secretly hope my boys feel the same about horses as I do. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Few of My Favorite Lines

I'm a list maker, and I have hundreds of my "lists" scattered everywhere.  I even have an app on my iPhone for making lists!  Sometimes they are just things that I need to do, like maybe laundry, defrost some meat, refill the propane tank for the bbq.  Other times, my list includes favorite books, songs, or like today, quotes.

1.  "For that pony had got tangled up in the cowboy’s heart strings a heap more than that cowboy wanted to let on even to himself.  He couldn’t get away from how he missed him."  ~ Will James  This is from one of my favorite books, Smokey the Cowhorse.  It speaks to my heart, because I have a pony that has "got tangled up" in my heart strings" too.

2.  "I picked a good one it looked like it could run, up on his back and away I did ride" ~ Marty Robbins  Who doesn't love Marty Robbins's gunfighter ballads, and the tail of the cowboy and "Wicked Falena?"  I have always loved this line.

3.  "I blindfold a bronc then step aboard this life wonderin and life before" ~ Adrian

4.  "And though she be but little, she is fierce"  ~ Shakespear  I first heard this line in the movie Seabiscuit.  While he was a boy, he was little and fierce.  That horse had more heart and try than most twice his size.  We often discount the little guy and think them weak or unworthy, while it is what they have inside that more than makes up for lack in stature.

5.  "Would you like an adventure now, or shall we have our tea first?" ~ Peter Pan

6.  "You don’t need no teeth for kissing gals or smokin cheap cigars" ~ Tom Russell  Tonight We Ride.  Just makes me giggle.

7.  "Don’t you worry your pretty little mind people throw rocks at things that shine" ~ Taylor Swift

8.  "I love you like a fat kid loves cake"  But seriously, who doesn't love cake?

9.  "Not all who wander are lost" ~ JR Tolken

Friday, March 8, 2013

"The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword."

Today while feeding cows, TR informed me he had a pencil in his boot.  Yes, a pencil in his boot.  I asked him, why he had a pencil in his boot.  He told me he had seen an army guy and a knight, and they both kept knives in their boots, so he though he would keep a pencil in his.

I told him that was a good idea because "The pen is mightier than the sword" (Edward Bulwer-Lytton).  Of course he gave me a funny face because really, how can a pen hurt you?  This of course turned into a great teaching opportunity for TR and myself.

I explained to him that history is influenced more by written word than by warfare, and that with a pen, a person can cause people to change their opinions on a large scale whereas a sword can only change a person's opinion by force and then often only results in the person's death.  Of course a lot of it was lost on a 5 year old.

It did get me to thinking a little bit though.  Where did the phrase come from?  So I did a little research.

 "The pen is mightier than the sword" is a metonymic adage coined by English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839 for his play Richelieu; Or the Conspiracy. The play was about Cardinal Richelieu, though in the author's words "license with dates and details... has been, though not unsparingly, indulged." The Cardinal's line in Act II, scene II, was more fully:
True, This! —
Beneath the rule of men entirely great
The pen is mightier than the sword. Behold
The arch-enchanters wand! — itself is nothing! —
But taking sorcery from the master-hand
To paralyse the C├Žsars, and to strike
The loud earth breathless! — Take away the sword —States can be saved without it! 
Bulwer-Lytton didn't have the original idea, several men said pretty much the same thing, just worded differently.  He gets the credit for it though. There ya go, a wrinkle in your brain, and honestly, I would much rather TR carry a pencil in his boot than a knife!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Beef, It's What's For Dinner!

I don't buy beef at the grocery store very often.  One of the perks of living on a ranch is access to good quality beef.  The only problem with access to beef, is that a cow only has 2 Tri Tip roasts!  I've heard it said that Tri Tip to the west is the same as Brisket to Texas.  We love Tri Tip.  So when I was in Raley's Thursday night, I couldn't pass up the deal on bags of Tri Tip.

For the last year, Tri Tip has cost about $5.99/lb to $6.99/lb.  For a 3 lb. roast, you are looking at nearly $18.00, which is is a little expensive for me, unless it is a special occasion.  Thursday, it was on sale for $2.99/lb.  So I stocked up.  I bought a bag with 5 roasts in it, for a little over $50.00 and put them in freezer bags and popped them in the freezer.  That should get us through the summer.

Tonight, you guessed it, we had Tri Tip for dinner.  So I thought I would share how I do it with you.

I really like to grill Tri Tip as it makes clean up a lot easier, but I can't really get to my grill right now, so I used my broiler.

First I trimmed off some of the excess fat.  The fat just burns and sets off my smoke alarm.  Makes me crazy!

Let me introduce you to my little friend.  Spade L.  It is heaven in a bottle.  If you haven't tried it yet, you really need to.  If you aren't familiar with Spade L, you can research it HERE.  It also tells you where you can buy it, and if it isn't close, you can order through their website.

I rub Spade L for beef all over the roast, top, bottom, sides, you name it.  Then I let it sit for 20 minutes or so.  After that, I start the broiler and broil it until it reaches an internal temperature of about 160*, turning once or twice.

After taking the roast out, I let it rest on the counter for 10 minutes or so while I search for a somewhat sharp knife.  Slice, and serve.

I opted for crescent rolls, asparagus, and cilantro lime rice.  I won't be making the cilantro lime rice again.

How do you like your Tri Tip?

Quote of the Week

Wednesday was the day from hell.  I'm not gonna lie, it got me down and stomped all over me.  Literally and  figuratively.  I'm not going to go into details because a bad day cowboying still beats a good day with a town job.

At one point QT and I were trying (emphasis on trying) to bring some heavy cows to the house.  QT doesn't ride much on his own, but was doing his best on TR's  "Only good horse left" Cowboy.  After nearly being brushed off in the willows twice and losing his hat again, I told him to just leave it.  We were almost to the gate and the cows were about to break (again).  I decided it would be in my best interest to just go back and get it later.  The snow was over my knees every time I got off to retrieve the hat, and I was tired of chasing cows through the deep snow and worrying about QT keeping up and not falling off.

Things really fell apart after that.  One heifer went one way, the rest of the cows went another and about the time I had them to the gate, QT was sitting in the gate and wouldn't move.  I finally lost the heifer I needed.  Then I got QT out of the gate and out of the way.  I locked what was left in the corral and went to gather up QT and his hat.

He was sitting on Cowboy and looked just like the end of the trail.  Reins were dropped over the horn, head hanging down.  He looked pretty pitiful.  So I reached over and touched his arm and told him how much I appreciated his help and was glad he was there.  He looked at me and said "I'm just trying to be a cowboy mom and I don't even have a hat!"