Friday, October 2, 2009

The Mighty Hunter!

Today, the Redheaded Cowgirl scored a first! She's the first cowgirl to have shot a turkey! She shot it on her first shot, on opening day of turkey season! She's proud, mom and dad are proud, and the other cowgirls are proud, too!

The Rancher prepared the breast, because we had been told that the rest may be a little tough. It was delicious!!! We roasted it with a whole stick of butter (due to having skinned rather than plucked the bird) and some soup seasonings that the Biggest Cowgirl made a while back and had accidentally read the recipe as ground pepper rather than green pepper. We'd have made a pepper steak rub out of them, but for the celery in the recipe... sooo... Mary Ann's Seasoned Pepper Turkey Rub is born! YUM!!! And just in time for the holidays!
And just so you don't think we tossed the rest of the bird... the "tough" parts are in the freezer and will have a great future in a pot of Mary Ann's Rocky Mountain Cranberry Bean Soup! (Yeah, I'm always marketing!)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Horse Trading...

Some people have it in their blood... The Rancher's dad is one. I'm another. I love to horse shop, but it often means selling one or two in order to get what I want. Sometimes it works out great, and other times, not-so-much.... the jury is still out on this one. Here's what I've been up to...
With the advent of Spring we no longer needed to feed cows with the Belgians. To further the education of our team the Rancher completed the "stone boat", a low clearance sled that will be handy in picking up hay from the field, and feeding it in the winter. On dry gravel it makes a horrid screeching noise! Bowers and Barney handled it all in stride... kind of tough to run off with this thing anyway!

We even gave the Biggest Cowgirl, and the Redheaded Cowgirl some driving lessons! They really liked that!

While we have learned a lot and really enjoyed our BIG team, they are..well... BIG!

For a neat comparison here is the Biggest Cowgirl with the Littlest Pony (one she was "training" for a friend) and the Biggest Draft Horse - aka Bowers!

Being somewhat practical minded folks... we thought that if we had a smaller team we could ride them as well as drive them. So we advertised our big team for sale. Barney sold first to a carriage company in Ft Collins, CO wear he will be giving carriage rides downtown! We'll even be able to visit. So Bowers was here on his own for a while. Necessity got us to hitch him to the cart as a single....

He is a gorgeous animal! We never got the picture "just right" to show how much action he has in his feet, but it was really fun to watch. We hooked the cart to the pasture harrow to spread the manure from the winter feed ground.

Bowers has found a home as part of a team here in Wyoming. He will not have to work too hard, he'll mostly be used for "fun" stuff and a little bit of farming. His new teammate "Duke" is a good match. He's HUGE (heavier, not taller), a little darker, but a nice matching blaze. They'll look really sharp!

Sooooo, this is where I got to go shopping! (I'd MUCH rather horse shop than go to the mall!) I had spent quite a bit of time over the winter researching "small draft horses". I got really interested in the Haflinger breed. The are little... shorter than most of our quarter horses. But STOUT! They probably outweigh our quarter horses. They are very strong, gentle, and used for farming, parades, and often as kids riding horses. So I started looking....

I found lots of teams in the Midwest, but getting them here seemed a challenge. Eventually I found three registered Haflingers for sale in Colorado. The three were a package deal, at a good price. Two mares, mother and daughter, and a stallion! So with the potential of 5 haflingers come next spring, we made the deal. Getting them here was easy, but NOT simple!

The gal who owned them lived about two hours south of Craig, where we attended church when we lived in the area. She was able to deliver them to Craig immediately. We were already planning to attend a wedding in Craig a few weeks later. So I just needed to find a place to keep them for a few weeks, in order to combine the trip for the wedding and retrieving our new horses. Pastor T and Miss Debby don't own horses, but they do own about 35 acres surrounded by tall "elk" fence. So the horses were delivered there, and Pastor graciously took pictures and sent them to us.

Eclair of Forte - aka "Lilly"

Enchantress of Kildue - aka "Peanut"

Nevado - aka "Little Bit"

Finally, the time arrived and the Three Cowgirls and I headed out with truck and trailer... We delivered Bowers on the way (well, several hours out of the way, but that's life!) enjoyed the wedding, paid the Pastor's pasture bill (say that five times fast!) with a bottle of Scotch, visited, stayed for church on Sunday, and loaded our new horses and brought them home!

While visiting a friend down there, we also acquired a milk goat, "Star" and her doeling kid which the Cowgirls dubbed "Twinkle". Not a surprising twist if you know me at all! LOL!!!



Little Bit and his Girls!

And since we always like a good challenge.... Here's the stats on the new horses. Lilly is 8, and was broke to drive but hasn't been used for some time. Peanut, Lilly's 3 year old daughter, is halter broke. Little Bit, who we gelded this week, is 5 and broke to ride but has only been ground driven. All this means we are back in the training business! Oiy!!!! Plus learning how to milk a goat!!!

Maybe bringing a nice, proven, broke team from the mid-west wouldn't have been so hard after all! But it's okay, I'm already in love with these delightful little horses! They are smart, friendly and beautiful!

"Never a dull moment" is an understatement!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

It's tough to have fun in a place like this....

but we try!

That's the biggest cowgirl, sitting on her heifer, Betsy. She bottle raised Betsy from less than a week old. It took Betsy a LONG time to realize she was a bovine, since she lived with horses instead. But now she lives with the cows, and is hopefully in a "family way".

More fun! We hooked the kid's runner sled on behind the cart and went for a make-shift sleigh ride!

Does this look like fun? I took this one from INSIDE the house!
A week ago, Monday, we were blessed with 24" of snow! It came down FAST! About 2-3 inches per hour! Thankfully we had watched the weather forcast and had some idea of what was coming. So, Sunday afternoon in lovely 50+ degree weather, we rode out and gathered the cows to bring them a little closer to home. When the snow started to pile up so deep and fast, we moved them closer to the haystack. By the time we finished feeding, the snow was up to the doors on the 3/4T pickup! I didn't take any pictures for the first few days. But I did finally take the camera along, when the sun came out.

The rest of the week we fed with the team. We actually had a blast! They really improved a lot with each day. Here you can see Bowers really getting down and pushing into the load. This was a huge improvement from just two days earlier.

Another way the team improved was in that we could let them stand without someone on the cart, or trying them to a post. They were quite happy to have the rest between bales!

Even the animals have fun here! The cats, Lizzie, in the window on the left, Mr Kitty, the black cat in the window on the right, Grace, at the end of the tie rail, and Clifford, in the middle of the tie rail, are all enjoying the sunshine!

And today... it's snowing again. We turned the cows back out yesterday in the sunshine. The snow has melted enough that they can get to the grass again. But with the snow this morning they are hanging out at the gate saying, "Hey!" I mean "Hay!" Poor girls, the Rancher and I went out with the pickup to "pull" them over to the area of the pasture where the grass is best. (They'll follow the truck anywhere, even with no hay on it!) They followed us there, and even started grazing. We rolled up some electric fence, and then drove back to the house. Within 10 minutes they were back at the gate saying... "We don't approve of your April Fools joke on us!" And we say... get to work ladies! It's your job!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I love my husband!

And he must love me, because he kindly laughs at my (mis)adventures! Like the day before yesterday when a friend from church came out to have the Rancher show him the chores that he will be doing next week while we run away on a family vacation to AZ! Said friend's wife (who is of course also a friend) came in to visit with me in the house. We were discussing the decor when I lamented once again about my carpet and how I wished that there was hardwood floors underneath, as would be befitting a ranch house of the age of this one (Built in the 20's I think). So I said, "Ya know, I really shoud pull up a corner of the carpet in the living room and see if the floor in here is different from the floor in the dining room" (where I had already discovered plywood). I did, and happy day!!!! there was hardwood!

Well, then I issued the challange to my friend. "You know if (other crazy friend from church) was here, we'd have this carpet out in the next ten minutes." Come to find out I have more than one crazy friend from church! She took the challange and we started cutting and ripping out carpet. Oh how proud the Rancher was going to be! New floors and very little expense!

**It must be noted here, that the plan to remove the carpet and put in new hard floors (wood or laminate) had already been discussed and all partties were agreeable.

I was basking in the glow of polished harwood, when the next tug on the carpet revealed...... plywood. About half way across the room the floor changes to wall-to-wall plywood. UGH! Now I started to sweat! What would the Rancher say when he came back to find heaps of carpeting on the porch and the naked half hardwood/half plywood living room floor! We finished ripping out carpet, but I was nervous! Finally I called the Rancher on his cell phone, so he wouldn't get the surprise visually... Blessed man just laughed at me! That cheerful, loving, I feel for you, you big goofball, laugh. I love my husband!

So, for my friends far away who wish to help me now with my dilema and wanted photos... here we go. And for my friends who were hoping for beautiful ranch pictures... maybe next time!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Well, for both of you who read my blog, I thought you might like to know that we lived to tell the tale! We "practiced" in the corral for a minute with a "pretend" tongue to be sure that the feeling of the wood against Bowers' legs wouldn't bother him. Then we hitched them to the fore-cart and the Rancher drove them around the corral! This picture is blurry, but I really like it!

Then we were off to the cows. It's about a half to 3/4 of a mile to the stack yard. Sure was nice to not have to walk it today! Then we hitched to the bale roller, and fed those cows!

The boys did GREAT! We did have a little snaffoo on the second bale. It was a very hard pull either because of the snow in front of it, or it was frozen down. The team didn't pull together like a team should, and they couldn't get it to move. Bowers was thinking, this is WAY heavy, and so after a few tries, he would back up when we asked him to walk instead of trying to go forward at all. It was apparent that if we continued with the same approach we were going to teach him to be very balky about pulling a load. So we unhitched from the bale (not from the cart) and the Rancher drove them around for a few minutes with plenty of stops and starts, so that they could regain their confidence. While he did this, I removed the snow from in front of the bale. Then we hooked a chain between the cart and the bale roller so that the team could walk forward a few steps before hitting the load. This worked well, and they were able to break the bale loose. We then removed the chain and hitched the cart back to the roller, and away we went.
I finally got to drive, and the Rancher took some pictures.
For a friend that asked for more detail about the bail un-roller, here it is. The frame makes 3 sides of a square, with a short tongue on the middle side. The steel is 3" channel iron and the corners are reinforced. The open end has a whole bored in each end that allows a very large "pin" to be placed in it, and locked on one end with a carter pin.

The pin is removed and the frame is placed around the bale appropriately. The pin is then placed in the whole on one side of the frame and lined up with the center of the bale. Then, the fun part. Grab the closest sledge hammer and pound that pin through the center of the bale.
This isn't as hard as it seems. I can do it, but the Rancher really makes it look easy!
Once you are through the whole bale, you line the other side of the frame up with the pin, attach it, and secure it with the carter pin. Hitch on to your pick-up, or your team of draft horses, and pull the bale to the desired location for feeding. Cut the strings, and move on up. Your bale should unroll nicely.... unless you have it on backwards! In which case you unhitch, and just flip the bale un-roller to the other side of the bale (you don't have to remove the roller to do this). Move your team to the other side, hitch 'em back up, and away you go again. We had lots of experience at this today, because both bales were "backwards"! It was great training for the team to line up, back up, stand still, and then pull.
This is a good picture of how it all looks. (Photo credit on this one goes to the Rancher!)

Oh, and just because the sun was shining doesn't mean it was WARM! Yesterday was a big goose egg when we left the house, and today was a whopping 10 degrees F with wind chills below zero! But we had so much fun, we didn't think of the cold (okay, 6 layers of clothing and Carhart Extremes help, too).

The end.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dreams Come True...

I remember the day, about 13 years ago, on our first ranch job when I rode Woody up to a wire gate and opened it from his back. It hit me at that moment that a dream had come true. I was riding the first colt I had ever trained (he was no longer a colt by then) and doing real ranch work with him. All those years of training where we just dreamed and pretended that we were doing something that had a purpose, and now it was for real.
Today, another dream came true. About 17 years ago I worked a summer internship for Bowers Bros. Horse Training. At the time, twin brothers Mike and Steve Bowers were training saddle horses and draft horses. They had enough hay ground to put the teams to work mowing, raking, and hauling hay in from the field. I fell in love that summer... with driving teams for a purpose. (I also fell in love that summer with the Rancher, but that's another blogpost.) Today we fed our cows with a team of horses!

That's "Bowers and Barney". Bowers is the one on the right (in the photo) with a blaze face. He came to us early last fall. Sadly, Steve Bowers passed away about a year and a half ago. This 3 year old Belgian colt was one that he had bought, but hadn't yet started. Peggy, Steve's wife, sent him to us to "give him a purpose". I don't know who has gotten more of an education, Bowers, or the Rancher and I! Like I said, it's been 17 years since my internship and I have only used a team a handful of times since. Thankfully, Steve Bowers, lives on in the books he has written. We have poured over and over the one we have, to learn and re-learn how to do this so as to teach Bowers the right way.

Barney, we bought at a draft horse auction in October. He's a tried and true sleigh ride horse, and who knows what he did prior to that! He's about 15 and has been-there-done-that. He's a good horse, but truth be told, Bowers is well on his way to being better. But they are the team we have. We've been ground driving them while the Rancher has been building all of the equipment neccesary to get the job done. He's built single trees, double trees, and a neck yoke. We don't have a sled to hitch them too, but we have pulled a small pasture harrow with Bowers, and hitched Barney to a borrowed cart.

We decided last night, as we looked out on the foot of snow, that today would be a good day to hitch them to a hay bale, and feed the cows. We hooked the double trees to the home made bale roller that the Rancher uses behind the pick-up. Then we hitched up the team. Bowers seemed to notice the new weight behind him, but didn't let it bother him. We fed two bales this way and then headed 'em home. It was quite a workout for the Rancher and I since we walked the whole way to the cows, walked for the feeding, and walked home. The Rancher replaced the shaves on the borrowed cart with a tongue later this afternoon... so tomorrow we won't have to walk as far! If all goes well! It will be the first time Bowers will be hitched with a tongue and to a wheeled vehicle, but we're counting on the deep snow, the breaks on the cart, and of course, his good training to bring us through!

If we live to tell the tale, I'll post about it!