Tuesday, December 27, 2011

"Festivus for the rest of us! "

Season's Greetings!

I hope you all had a safe and wonderful Holiday season and you're ready to start 2012 off with a Bang! It was a very beautiful holiday season here at the ranch.  No snow but the animals were all thankful for he abundant sunshine! Hoag was in charge of feeding so our trusty cowboy could head home to be with his family. Then we were off for Family, Fun, and lot and lots of Food. 

All in all it was a pretty typical Holiday except we found out that my big sister is soon to be married to a wonderful man with an even sweeter little daughter
We're super excited for them!!

Oh and one more thing...
Hoag and I are expecting our first baby in 2012! We're very blessed and happy and can't wait to share the adventures of our little cowboy or cowgirl in the future. 

Thank you for being patient with me as I know my blogs have been sparce and my recipes have been non existant... but now I feel better that you know. I promise we'll get better!

Monday, December 19, 2011

To ban or not to ban horse harvest... it's not even a question!

Now I know this is a VERY controversial topic. We've been hearing about this ban on "slaughtering" horses in the US for the past 5 years or so and it's hard, emotionally and mentally, to find what side of the proverbial fence you are going to stand on. 

But lets make sure we have at least a majority of our facts and feelings straight before the decision is made.  First of all, there has always been horse slaughter in the US. This wasn't something that Obama just created and implemented all in the last few months.  The difference is, these plants can now be considered harvesting plants because the horse meat will now be inspected and approved for human consumption.  Before, the horse meat was just used to go into dog and cat food and wasted.  In addition to the meat being inspected, having harvesting plants within the US ensures that the horses will be treated respectfully and humanely before and during the process which was impossible to ensure when we were shipping these hundreds of thousands of horses to Mexico and Canada. 

Why, you ask, is there even a need for these plants? Well, horses are iconic, they are the American dream. They are what every little girls wants when she's 5 years old and every little boys imagines riding as he's conquering the wild west.  People, unfortunately, are under the impression that horses just eat grass and can stand outside all day therefor the only real cost is purchasing them. This is so far from the truth it hurts. As many know there are routine vet bills, farrier bills, grain bills and more.  And in this time of economic downfall, these family pets are being abandoned, given away, left to founder and fester with worms and other common equine diseases that if not prevented are easily contracted. Most neighbors wont stand for this inhumane treatment and they call someone.  But where do the horses go after that?  Well, while the bill was in place that banned slaughter in the US these horses were being loaded up in semis, shipped across the borders and then only God knows what.

In addition to the humane aspect, we also have to consider the fact that our global population is on the rise with no end in sight.  Although the cattle, chicken and pork industries are doing everything they can to produce as much healthy, nutritious and safe meat as possible because that's what Americans and many Asians and Europeans prefer, there are plenty of starving people around the globe that would love this alternative.  Besides the fact that it's considered a delicacy in many countries across the pond, we have to be realistic.  If we are already harvesting this meat, why not take the extra step to inspect it, stamp it, export it and help millions of people beat starvation.  

Like I said, I know this is a hard battle. I have been a horse lover since I was a little tiny girl, I have been riding since I was 3 1/2 yrs old, I went to college to ride. I've had the same horse since I was 15 and he is the love of my life. I have done a lot of soul searching on this but to know that if an old horse or even a young horse can be used to save the children above ... I'd be proud of that.  There are a lot of crummy people out there and very few crummy horses.  Those are the circumstances we are in and its unfortunate for the horses. But making them suffer because we're too attached emotionally to let them go is more damaging then letting them go peacefully and humanely.  Just think about it.

Monday, December 5, 2011

On the Cow Walk

Welcome, Welcome! The ladies are all here for the Cow Walk to show off their new winter hairdo's! We have some old classics and some new updo's and the girls are just chomping at their cud to get the show started!

We start the show off with Melda who is sporting a great set of highlights. Melda also loves to wear her silage lipstick when she's going out on a hot date!

Quinn rocks the swoop. She pulls her inspiration from her favorite celebs like Rhianna  and Alfalfa.

Next we have the "just in from the pasture" look that Claire wears on a daily basis.  She calls herself low maintenance, the other girls call her lazy.

Patsy is a little stuck in the 50's when her favorite stooge, Moe was hot on the screens.  She swears she doesn't use a bowl to maintain this Hair do but the birds say otherwise.

Ahem... at home perm anyone? I think we'll move on, Candice.

At last we have the real Mohawk worn proudly by Sam.  She's a live on the edge of the ridge type gal. Likes snowboarding, competitive hay eating and can scare away a pack of coyotes with the toss of her head.

And lastly we have Gertrude.  Ollld Gertrude... She's a unique lookin' gal and we love her all the more for that.  Good ol Gerty.  That's about all I have to say about that

Join us next time!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Good Ol Fashioned Meat Loaf.. with a twist!

HELLO!!!!! I know, I know, its been a really long time! There's been a whole lot of doing the exact same thing every day here on the ranch and on top of that, the Holidays! But, I'm back. And I promise I'll do my best to never leave you that long again... Pinkie Swear.

So, are we friends again? Good, because I really want to tell you about my Meatloaf!

Meatloaf can be tricky. We all remember the hard as a rock, flavorless, cardboardy meatloaf our friend's moms make ( not my mom of course, she is a master meatloaf maker!) so I made it my personal goal to find a traditional meatloaf that is tasty and nutritious.

Here's all the usual suspects.  Half a red pepper, half a red onion, 2 garlic cloves minced, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, 1 egg and 1 cup mushrooms and 1 cup of breadcrumbs. (Usual for me, maybe not for you, my usual is everyone else's weird.)

To 2 lbs of ground beef add a little S&P, the egg and the breadcrumbs. I like to get this rockin and rollin first before the veggies go in.  Once its pretty melded add the rest of your ingredients and keep folding. 

  Its tempting to work this meatloaf to death but that's where the brick like texture comes in to play so get it just mixed.  Add a big ol squirt of Ketchup and a couple little dollops of Dijon mustard, mix one more time. 

Place in a loaf man, top with a little more Ketchup and a little more cheese
Bake covered for 45 minutes at 350 degrees, uncover and bake for 15 more minutes.

Of course you serve this with mac and cheese... what else do you eat with meatloaf?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Beauty, Brains and Beef Love

 Here she comes... Miss America.... Right to the campus of my Alma Mater, Kansas State University. 
If there is anyway to get people listening about the importance of farming and ranching put Miss America and her tiara on a podium and let her at it! I was so happy to hear about this cross campus tour she is taking, educating and informing people across the nation about our job.  Here is an article from the Kansas State Collegian newspaper written by Haley Rose. 

Picture from Evert Nelson, KSTATE Collegian
"Tiara-clad and smiling, Miss America 2011, Teresa Scanlan gave a presentation in McCain Auditorium Tuesday evening to spread the message of the importance of agriculture in America.
The 18-year-old pageant champion addressed the audience of almost 400 on subjects ranging from crop insurance to encouraging young generations to take up farming.

"Not everybody farms, but everybody eats," is a phrase she has recently taken to using as a part of her platform.
"I'm trying to reach an audience that doesn't get this information," Scanlan said. She said she uses her motto as a simple way to get people thinking about agriculture in a new light.

General awareness and understanding about the nation's agriculture system is something Scanlan said is one of the most difficult hurdles to overcome when conveying her message. One of the biggest misconceptions about the agricultural industry is that it is cash-rich and that it isn't a serious issue.

"It affects us more strongly than any other industry," Scanlan said. "That's one of the big problems we're facing — bridging the gap. The generation gap and the gap between rural and metropolitan America."

The generation gap is the difference between the aging demographic of those who currently farm and new generations coming up in a time of limitless technology and a different idea of work ethic.
Picture from Evert Nelson, KSTATE Collegian
"We have to encourage young people to take up farming or continue a family farm," she said. "It is so important."

Another topic Scanlan discussed was the hefty agricultural discussions on a governmental level. Federal budget cuts have impacted the agriculture industry in more ways than just budgetary, she said.

A recent bill passed by the legislature will cut the U.S. Department of Argriculture budget in 2010 by close to $1 billion, but other laws are being put into place that could hamper farming operations.

Another legal issue she touched on was developing strong farm policy as a safety net for farmers, specifically crop insurance.
"Farming is a risky business," she said. "And we can't really go without it.""

I hope and pray that Miss America finds time to hit campuses that aren't so Ag driven to spread the word to the ranching opponents.  I guarantee that almost everyone in that auditorium was an agriculture major or minor, from a farming family, a part of the food for thought group or all of the above. We don't need you to convince us that we're in the beef business for all the right reasons but I guess we all have to start somewhere. 

If only I could get my hands on a tiara.... 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Big Ol Bertha

Hi Y'all! My names Big Ol Bertha and I'm in charge of the feedin' round here.  These cattle know that when my engine gets a rumbling, their tummy's will stop grumblin!

But first, I gotta get my load on.  We start at the pit where my driver puts a big load of ground hay, then a big load of silage, top it off with some distillers grain and were off to the silos. 

Here I get a couple hundred pounds of corn and a little extra mineral to keep the cattle healthy and strong.

When our ranch gets full we have around 700 head to feed but not everyone gets the same thing. That's where the trusty board comes into play. It helps keep all the rations straight so everyone gets exactly what they need.

Inside my tub is a big scale so my driver can know how much of each part they're putting in. This also helps ensure nobody goes to bed hungry!

As soon as I'm loaded we sit and mix for 3 whole minutes. ...   ...  ...

And we're off! I have a chute that comes down off my tub and all the cattle know when they hear me coming, they better get their seat at the dinner bunk!


I get to work twice a day every day no matter what the weather is like.  These guys gotta eat!

I have the best job in the world!!   

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Tortellini with smoked beef and mushrooms

I know, I know, this all sounds very weird but I broke down and let Hoag get a smoker and well.. there are only so many times this girl will eat Brisket sandwiches.... So, much to my mother's disapproval I tried this recipe and it turned out pretty ding dong darn good!

Now I know that not everyone has half a smoked brisket laying around their house so just any roast cut up and browned with a little seasoning will probably be ok with this too although dont take my word on it. I'm winging this people!

I bought these cheese tortellini on a pre lunch grocery store run, ( never a good idea) and so they'll be the base for our meal tonight. Cook as directed. No tricks there. Well, ok one trick. Put a wooden spoon on top of your pots of boiling pasta to keep it from boiling over.

For the sauce.  Start with a base of EVOO, a little chopped garlic and a 1/4 chopped onion.  You're also going to need some red wine for this so do us all a favor and open it now, you know you want a glass :)

Sautee those for a minute or so and then add your mushrooms. I am using baby bellas that I chopped up. A mix of mushrooms would probably be pretty amazing but this is what I have.  Cook the mushrooms until they're nice and soft then add a big ol glug of wine. Dont be stingey like me, at least a cup. 

Let this cook out a little, add a can of crushed tomatoes and your shredded or cubed meat here.  You could totally go all vegetarian with this meal if you'd like and it would still be great but that's not what I do.  My meat just needs to be warmed through so it wont need too long.  A little S&P, a little oregano, a little red pepper flake and you're good.  Let this cook for a while longer, add a dash of cream. ( Why?? Why not?!?!)

Serve over pasta ( also would be pretty great over rigatoni or penne) with a little salad and voila! No more brisket sandwhiches!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Family Farms... a dying breed?

In the last couple months, Hoag has hung up his suits donned his chaps to start the process of running the ranch for his parents.  He has always had the dream of settling on the land and continuing to raise Black Herefords the way his parents did but that doesn't seem to be the case in all family farms. 

When we were in Montana in June, a couple that was attending the same feedlot conference asked Hoag and I, "what is it that made you want to go back? We have two sons and they want nothing to do with the cattle..." You could literally feel the pain in their voices as they realized without one of their son's coming over to the ranching side, their feedlot's future was fading. 

So what is it that drew him back? Well, the happiest Hoag is are the days that he's worked 12-14 hours out on the land, checking cattle, working the cows, mending fence, building mineral feeders...anything that gets him out on the land. He loves to see his end result that day and he loves to see the end result of the year each calving season.

Of course, there are plenty of kids that grow up on their family ranches, work the land, go off to college and never come back.  Maybe they fall in love with someone who has no interest in living in rural America or maybe they always wanted to pursue another career. 

97% of all farms and ranches in the US are run by families but of our parent's generations.  My generation has been tainted with media, HSUS, and dollar bills.  We are the next generation but it's taking us a little longer to come on home.  It's not as common of practice for the kids to go straight from school back to the farm.  Ranching is not a glamorous job.  You likely wont get rich from it. You work 365 days a year, at least 12 hours a day, rain, snow, Christmas and Easter.  Everyone wants to be a "cowboy" but nobody is willing to work for it. 

But you know what we get that those office jobs will never provide? That fulfilled feeling at the end of the day knowing we did the best by the animals, earth and environment to provide a healthy and safe product for the nation and the world. That thanks to us, a few more people are going to eat well.   That we are instilling into our family an unshakable work ethic and understanding about the planet that will travel with them on whatever path life leads them on.  An innate sense of responsibility for all living creatures and respect for mother earth.  That when it comes right down to it, we are providing the fuel for what makes our nation run. Without the Farmers and Ranchers of America, America simply is not. 

So no, we may never be rich, we may never take a two week vacation to the Riviera and we may be viewed as simple by those who are. And I can understand how, to my generation of instant gratification and easy roads, that is just downright as unappealing as it gets. But I challenge you to spend a couple days living the life of a rancher and tell me that it's not the most alive and fulfilled you've ever been.  That, that is what life is about. Dying breed? No way -- but only the strong will survive.