Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fat Bottom Girls

I'm back! Sorry about the delay folks! The feedlot is open and everyone is finding their way as we get it all sorted out!

A few things that have been going on... we weighed our calves on the 15th to get the data for our upcoming sale! ( oh don't you worry, you'll hear more than enough about our ABHA sale on the second Saturday in February)

Then we did another round of vaccinations.  We always like to give them some time in the feedlot so they can be calm and comfortable before we give them their shots.  This round were protecting against blackleg, black disease and enterotoxemia along with a live virus vaccine that will protect against BVD, parainfluenza and bovine respiratory syncytial virus ( see "Am I glowing?" for further info on the vaccines)

And, if that wasn't enough, we also pull hair to test for parentage on our multi-sire pastures, hair color dominance and to test for A.M (Anthrogryposis Multiplex ) on certain heifers and bulls that we think have the possibility of being a carrier.

Those are pretty Mom fingernails
And that's all she wrote! Little guys go into a separate pin, horned cattle are going to get weights to turn their horns down. 
Those are cowboy fingernails
We do this so its easier and safer for the cattleat the bunks ( You'll poke your eye out!) and  to go through the chute, so it's safer for us when we're working them in the pens but most importantly to keep our hard working Brute Squad safe! Nobody likes a horn to the leg!!


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Steak Sandwhiches with Pablano Dressing

The guys have been working hard this week, as they do every week, but today they are particularly close to home so I thought I'd make them a nice dinner "lunch" to help them through their welding day.  They are just getting the bunks in and the top rail welded and even though its a beautiful day out, its still no easy task.


Yesterday, while looking through my Healthy Beef Cookbook, I got the itch for this delish meal.   I took out a flank steak and put it in a resealable gallon bag with equal parts orange juice and lime juice, a pinch of chili powder, a pinch of cumin and some S&P.  It was supposed to be for supper last night and it was supposed to be served over a bed of brown rice with grilled vegetables on the side BUT things change and now its for lunch.

My garden is still thriving... by garden I mean everything but my tomatoes... so I have a ton of Pablanos that I've been struggling to find a use for.  So, I threw those bad boys on the grill to blacken them like I do Red peppers and while that was going I sauteed some onions and garlic.

 From there I added those to my magic bullet ( It's SO much easier to clean up then my food processor)  the peeled and seeded pablanos, a heaping scoop of light sour cream, a heaping scoop of light cream cheese ( the original recipe called for yogurt but I find this to be a little richer)  and top it off with some basil or cilantro or parsley or a mix of all the above.

Grill up your steak... Medium High heat 3-4 minutes on each side. Saute some red peppers but make sure they keep their crunch, toss your buns on the grill ( bread buns, not your buns of course, its not nearly cold enough for that... yet) and get to layering.

A put a few slices of Muenster cheese, steaks, red peppers and topped with the sauce.  If you have extra pablano sauce it makes a great dip for your tortilla chips!!

Back to work Boys!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

"Am I glowing?"

One reason why our ranch is so productive and trusted is because of the amount of time and research we put into each cow to make sure they are pregnant by the bull we intended and free of all diseases.  Thankfully, since I've been at the ranch, preg checking has graduated from the less glamorous glove test to a prick in the tail and a small blood sample.  With this sample we find out if our Mama cow is indeed a Mama and we can also check for Bovine Viral Diarrhoea ( glamorous I know)  If we have a cow that has been "open" or not able to get pregnant for more than one year we run this BVD test since one of the more common symptoms is abortion and infertility.  Anyhoo, back to preg checking...

This is an all day deal that we couple with our weaning so there is significantly less stress on the pairs. So once we have the babies in their pasture we work the cows one by one.

Into the chute for the vaccinations.  These vaccinations are given to prevent blacklegMaligmant Edema, Enterotoxemia, haemophilus somnus, and a wormer against adult liver Flukes ( I know that was a lot of technical jargon but I wanted those who wondered about what all those vaccines were for to have as much information as they needed!! ).

After that we call in the big guns!  Hoag's younger sister, Emma, is a nurse at our local children's hospital . Since she is a little handier with a needle and possesses the patience only a kid nurse has we stick her on the back in to find the elusive vein that runs through the tail.  Luckily there are fewer nerves in the tail so the cattle barely feel it.

The really hard part about this job is holding the dang tail up . I watched Hoag and Cowboy John hold the tail up cow after cow after 159 cows and I fancy myself a pretty tough chick so I thought I'd give it a try.  Two damaged arms and a lot of grunting later, I thanked both our cowboys for having such a tough day without complaining, tucked my tail and my ego between my legs and went back to the front of the chute where I happily gave my vaccinations.

After we get all the samples from the cows, we'll ship off the blood to a lab where they'll send us the results of who's bred and who's not and whether the cows we specified for the BVD testing are negative or not. 

All this information helps us determine what our calving season will be like come the fourth week of February and what cows may needed to be culled off the herd and if we have any bulls that are underperforming. ( Settle down boys, it happens to everyone!)
It also helps me determine that I need to lift more weights and hay bales so I can be as strong as our cowboys... or at least put up a valiant effort when it comes to tail holding.

Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Pear Chutney

I found these beautiful pears at my store and bought up a few too many in some sort of pear frenzy and a week later I found myself staring at my fruit bowl wondering what I should do! So, I grabbed a pork tenderloin and went to town... well not really, I stayed in my kitchen but you get the idea.  Or do you?

In a big gallon bag, I pierced the tenderloin to allow the flavors to get deep in a short amount of time and added smoked paprika, a few minced garlic cloves, ground cloves ( I know its weird but bare with me), red pepper flakes and chili powder.

In my head I knew my chutney was going to be sweet so I was trying to counter balance the sweetness with a sorta smokey sorta spicier meat base.
In my head it would all come together like a beautiful symphony.
In my head I was 10 lbs lighter 3 inches taller without all my fun gray hairs.
I love living in my head.

Add a little EVOO to get the juices flowing and let soak in the fridge for up to an hour.

From there, we grill the Tenderloin on a 400 grill for around 12 minutes, let rest, slice.

Meanwhile, it's time for chutney.  I've  made a few different chutneys based loosely off other recipes I've found but mine are much abbreviated.  With that being said,  saute some chopped onion (about 1/4 of an onion will do) a few minced garlic cloves in a little butter.

Then add a little more butter (clearly I did not mean a little) and 2 heaping Tbsps of brown sugar.

Top it off with two chopped pears, a few cranberries, a tspn of freshly grated ginger and 2 Tbsps of balsamic vinegar ( I love balsamic, have you noticed?)  lower the heat and just let this rock and roll of a little bit.  Eventually I'll add a dash of cinnamon, a dash of ground cloves ( continuity, see doesn't my madness make sense now??) and let it cook until its all melded and delish ( about 20 minutes on low)

Serve the Chutney on top of your sliced pork and add a little Basil to brighten up the flavor a tad.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Off to college

... or at least that's how we explained it to my niece when she asked why we had to separate the Mama's from the Babies.  As I mentioned earlier, this is my least favorite part of ranching simply because I'm generally over emotional and empathetic in too many situations.  But! by about the 48 hour mark, the Moms have ventured out to their huge pasture and the babies have gone to find water and better grass and everyone seems to have moved on.

Many question why weaning is necessary. Some say its cruel, some say its premature, I say its easy to think those things but when you consider those calves have been on the teet for 6 months (almost as long as most children and when you put it in relation to their life span they are about 12 in human years) they need to be forced to learn to eat grass and survive on their own.  Not to mention those Cows are already pregnant and need to concentrate on growing another healthy calf so they cannot be nursing, pregnant AND trying to take care of themselves!!  ( Our cows are good, but not that good!! )

So here's how it goes down.  We gather all the pairs in all three pastures and bring them up to the pens.  We then sort off all the calves from the moms and move them as quickly and calmly as we safely can  back to their weaning pasture.  Once they're on their side then we work the cows by vaccinating and preg checking them.

Once all the cows are worked then we just let them wander out to check on their babies through the fence.  Some of our veteran cows just head on out to the big pasture happy for the break while a few of the new mama's hang around to console their calves ( and hopefully their utters)  You see, I like to believe that it's an emotional reaction that these cows are having that their calves are missing but the reality and biology of it all is that they are bagged up and they want their baby to help them out with that.  After about 48 hours the cow will stop producing that milk and the pressure subsides as does the fence sitting. 

They will spend the next two weeks out there settling back down and making sure everyone is good and weaned and then we'll bring the babies home to the feed lot where they'll be on grass and a feed ration to start preparing them for the inevitably long winter ahead!

 Isn't he so handsome? Sorry, I couldn't resist!!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pulled beef Sammies and all the sides

If there is one thing I've learned from my freezer full of beef its this; you cannot screw up a roast if you cook it for 8 hours low and slow.  I've experimented with every cut we have; sirloin tip, rump roast, arm roast, chuck roast, brisket and more and I've found the results to vary a little but all be ridiculously moist and delicious. 

I've started these roasts from frozen solid and completely defrosted. *you'll want to be sure you have the full 8 hours to dedicate to the frozen roasts whereas the defrosted ones can get by in 6 hours no problem*

The base for most of my roasts is the same.  Pat dry the roast, sprinkle with Joes Stuff ( What would I do without Joes Stuff, seriously. It's in almost everything! ) sear on all sides in your cast iron pan. Remove, add one whole chopped onion, four - six cracked cloves of garlic and sautee for 8 minutes on low.  Once those are cooked through add 2 cups of beef stock and scrape up all the yummy bits, add the roast back in the pot, cover with a can of fire roasted tomatoes and pop it in a 250 oven for up to 8 hours. 

Once we get into the cooler months I'll exchange some of that broth for wine, add in rosemary and potatoes and carrots but for tonight's BBQ party we're doing sammies so I'll be shooting for a homemade BBQ sauce to get it all mixed in.

Once your roast has cooked and your house smells like Heaven in Arthur Bryants, Remove the roast to a cutting board with a big dip to catch all the juices or just shred it in another large pot.  Place your drippings on the stove top on med high to get that reducing. You're trying to condense all those amazing flavors. 

Here's where we get creative.  This all depends on how you like your sauce.  Sweet and Savory? Smokey? Rich and Heavy with a little spice? Hoag and I are split between sweet and heavy so it makes for a good challenge. 

Ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire, stone ground mustard, a dash of A-1, a dash of yellow mustard, and keep on condensing. This is supposed to be fun people! Just keep tasting. The base you started out with might just be enough for some but I like to have a little bit more to hold my meat together.

Shred your meat, put it back into the pot that the sauce is condensing in and cook a bit longer.

Add some delicious sides , Brittanie's famous baked beans, Mrs. B's  wonderful green apple, goat cheese oober goodness salad, some bbq slaw I whipped up, Great food, good wine. What more could you ask for!?    Bon Appetite!!