Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sad Day....

"I touched a dead man today......and he was my friend...."

So would read my journal entry from a week ago, if I had the presence of mind, upon returning home from that fateful fire call, to sit down and write.

Keep Reading......

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Sadie (7)- "Did you know that they sell underwear attached to socks?"

McKenna (10)- "Sadie, that's called long underwear!'

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Baby Changes Everything....

Guest Post by Maria Pezzotta Foote

This was originally posted on Facebook and is being re-posted here by permission--

It is powerful, well written and very timely for the Christmas season-- we hope that you find it as inspiring as we did!

“Your life will never be the same again.”
I lost count of person after person saying that at baby showers I attended. I understood it in my own way, appreciated it from a distance, but wasn’t really “ready” to have everything change my independent life.

Keep Reading....

Monday, December 8, 2008

8 Maids a Milking....

I had the honor of being asked to guest post on Zany Life+ Crazy Faith-
She is doing a series on the 12 days of Christmas, guest authored by poets, writers and artists
As you can see, I was assigned the 8th day-
Don't know why you would ask a ranch girl to do
8 maids a milking.....

Check it out!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Few of my Favorite Things...

For some reason, the song "A Few of my Favorite Things" from the Sound of Music, has been running through my head, nonstop, for three days....

Friday, November 28, 2008

Cinnamon Christmas Ornaments

Do you want to be able to give your friends and family a handmade gift that will last for years to come?

Do you want every pore of your furniture, your walls, your skin and your dog to smell like cinnamon for days and days on end?

Do you want to do something fun with your kids that leaves lasting memories and is almost free?

Did I mention that you will smell like cinnamon?

This is the activity for you--

Note: In respect to our stomachs after overindulging yesterday, this is a non-edible recipe-
my stomach is thanking me-- actually, if you really wanted to, you could probably eat this....

technically you can eat dog food too, but do you really want to?

The Cast of Characters
We bought the big jug of cinnamon from Sam's Club because:

a)it was cheaper

b) I knew my kids were not going to want to stop at the 12-15 ornaments that the original recipe calls for

c)my in laws were going to Sam's Club, so they bought it and I forgot to reimburse them- makes it free for me!!

Yeah, yeah, I'm giving them their money......I promise

d)we like to buy things in bulk on the prairie

Mix 3/4 cup applesauce with 1 cup + 2 Tblsp cinnamon in large mixing bowl- actually you don't need a large mixing bowl, a smaller one will do......

we just like to do things big out here....

This is my big momma-jomma mixing bowl--- love this mixing bowl, but I am pretty sure all my bread dough is going to smell like cinnamon for a while.....

My mom had one just like this growing up that she rose all her bread dough in--- she made buttery crescent rolls for Thanksgiving from this mixing bowl---

oh yeah, no food--- no food for at least 2 more days..... please, no more food.......

Where was I......?

Mix applesauce and cinnamon together, using a spoon at first and then with your hands--- you can let your kids help with this step, but please, don't let them touch their face or their eyes!!!

Yes, I, not my children, learned this the hard way..... I sacrifice so much for them....

Dont'cha like my lovely rancher wife hands? Have you ever noticed that there are not many hand models among pioneer women?

In my alternate life I wanted to be hand model.....actually, I never did..... but I do envy women with lovely hands, small veins, and a noticeable lack of barbed wire fencing scars, calluses and broken bones..... wild mustangs, fences, ropes and lovely hands do not mix well....

Mix until it sticks together in a ball--

Taking small amounts of dough at a time (covering the rest), place between two sheets of Saran Wrap and roll to between 1/4 and 1/3 thickness-

This is my 7 yr old's hand- she has lovely hands...

Peel off top layer of Saran Wrap and cut with cookie cutters-- this is where you can let your little imagination and creativity run wild--- you can make snowmen, candy canes, stars, hearts, or even St Patricks Day shamrocks----

This is my 10 yr olds hands- she also has lovely hands, but you can see the deterioration beginning already....see the scuff on the knuckles and the barb wire scratch on the arm?

I am so sorry honey....your dreams of hand modeling are going to have to go the way of my own...

We have one of those bags of 100 cookie cutters that you can get for $6.99 at Wally World so we can do every holiday on the calendar and a few that they haven't even invented yet.... if you have the same, have fun....

I am sure that your friends will understand the Easter Bunny shaped Christmas ornament gift that your 7 yr old just had to make......or the Fourth of July flag with red and green ribbon tied to it that is going to the 5th grade teacher....

With a regular drinking straw, or in my son's case, a chopstick ( I have no idea where the chopstick came from-it's not like we have chinese food around the corner on the prairie), poke a hole in the ornament somewhere for a ribbon or raffia to go through--

Trust me, don't skip this step... it is really hard to get the holes in later..... really, really hard....

You can also use toothpicks to draw designs in the shapes or, once again in my son's case, a hole in the head of his snowman.... gonna have to take him to therapy for this one...
actually I think it was just a misplaced ribbon punch... and we're gonna stick with that explanation.....

If I had a Nikon d80, this would be a crystal clear picture in all it's hole in the head glory....

But as much as my little Kodak has stood me well these past 3 years, it just can't cut the mustard anymore....

Somebody puhleeeze buy me a Nikon d80 for Christmas?

I don't want to resort to begging..... it so isn't pretty or ladylike and we all know that ladylike is something that I aspire too.... ok, ok, I'm begging here....

Place all your shapes on cookie sheets and place in a 200 degree oven for 2 hours (or you can let them sit on the counter and dry for two days in the interest of saving energy- or you could throw a few potatoes in the oven with them to bake in the interest of saving energy and multi-tasking- whatever floats your boat-- aaaahhh! I mentioned food again....sorry)

We had this lovely mold (center of picture) that we found in the jumble of cookie cutters in the cupboard-- got it at a Pampered Chef party some odd years ago--

It has never been out of the box.....It was thoroughly broken in tonight, let me tell you...

Just a note, if you use a mold like this one, make sure that you spray it well with non stick cooking spray---those little buggers do not want to come out, I tell ya!

Once the ornaments have cooled, you can take raffia or ribbon or whatever, string it through the holes, hang it on the tree or give it to a friend.... we strung the smaller shapes on some raffia for a garland for our tree.....

Now I sound like Martha Stewart.....

I wonder if Martha Stewart smells like cinnamon?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

White Chicken Chili

It's filling, easy to make, and as spicy as you want it to be....

Keep reading....

Monday, November 24, 2008

Prairie Pastor

Periodically, I will feature snippets of life that can only be found and seen in our corner of the prairie.

If you have seen it somewhere else, please let me live in blissful ignorance..... we like to think that we are unique and special 'round here.....

This week, we are featuring the Prairie Pastor--

He doesn't know I'm doing this.... he, he, he!

Yes, this was his choice of costumes for Halloween.... and yes, that's a poodle skirt....

He promised to pay for therapy for my kids..... I'm holding him to it, cuz they will need therapy...... and hey, someone's gotta pay for it......

This is the vehicle of choice for the Prairie Pastor----

This is the Prairie Pastor's church and how the Prairie Pastor dries his laundry.....

(It's our church too......just thought I'd clarify)

This is the Prairie Pastor's hobby.....
Don't you wish you too had a cross-dressing, truck driving, pistol packing, Prairie Pastor?
Well, sorry, you can't have him.....
He's all ours......
Actually, for a six figure salary with benefits and paid vacation, you probably could have him.....
Let's just say that is not what he gets out here.....
You wouldn't really take it, would you, pastor? Pastor.... Pastor?!
He is never gonna let me take pictures of him again.....

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Fluffy Buttermilk Waffles

You can have them for breakfast and cook extra for the next week--
They freeze great too!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Jack is missing....

I remember the day that we brought him home-

A white fur puffball with little black inquisitive eyes and a tiny black nose, looking for all the world like a tiny seal pup.

We had just lost our other Great Pyrenees and in a quest to find a companion for our St Bernard, who was also a puppy at that time, we discovered Jack.

They truly loved each other, and would sleep, two big gentle giants filling the front hallway of our house, and play, like two enormous bears, chasing each other around the yard...

He has been a pillow for our kids, a protector of our sheep, a guardian of the house, and an amazing companion.

In short, everything that the breed aspires to be-

His soft fur has comforted hurting children that have come to our ranch, and his ferocious bark at night has kept the coyotes away from our horses.

He loved our cats, especially our big orange tom, who would sleep curled between his front legs, and perched on top of his fluffy back, sinking his claws in and out in rhythmic massage.

He had the funniest habit of goosing every visitor that came through the entrance--

He did this because, every time, without fail, they would give an "OOOH" and reach down and pet him--

What a better way to train a dog?

We didn't stop him because, frankly, it was pretty humorous and became our private joke...

On a hot, sunny day in July, he patiently helped his little buddy win a ribbon in the pet show at the local fair.

He sat up every night outside, strategically positioned to watch every entrance, so that he could keep his family safe.

He slept all day in the cool green grass in the yard, or buried in the soft dirt under a bush, resting up for the next night's work--

In the coolness of the evening, as we sat on the front porch, he would sit in regal splendor, his beautiful white coat highlighted against the deep green of the front yard.

We miss you Jack--
We pray that somehow, in the miles of the prairie grasslands, you will find your way home--

Monday, November 17, 2008

Hay Auction

I had grand plans to post my Fluffy Buttermilk Waffles on Saturday.

We had a simple hay auction to attend and then the warm, November afternoon was mine.

I had thoughts of sitting on the front porch rocker in the sunshine with my computer and my pictures......

But, alas, this was not to be...

First, the auction-

For those of who wonder how we feed our herd of 19 beasties, or maybe you don't wonder but I am going to tell you anyway, the answer is any way we can!

We have a 130 acre pasture, but in the dryland prairie, that is only good for about 4 months of grazing and occasional winter munching....

Sometimes hay is donated, sometimes we find it through local rancher friends, and sometimes we attend that Saturday morning crazy event called the Hay Auction.

At a local livestock auction facility, on the 2nd Saturday of the month, stacks of golden hay sit waiting for the hordes of bidders to arrive.

With breath steaming in the cool morning air, the bidders wait for the auctioneer, eying different stacks of hay, calculating price per ton and how high they can go, determining number of bales that will fit on the trailer if the price is right.

The auctioneer begins the bidding--

Now, auctioneers are tricky- they always try to start the bidding at a price that will get someone to jump in and bid without them having to lower it; but these are savvy bidders, they wait the auctioneer out.....

He knows that he can't pull too much salesmanship on this crowd---

(The guys with the cowboy hats and clipboards are the auctioneers-- yes, they look just like normal folks)

And the price on the early bales goes low....

We buy twelve round bales, weighing 700 lbs a piece- paying around $100/ton-- later bales sell for $150-$250 a ton!

This will feed our crew for just over six weeks, if we are careful and the weather does not get too bad-- those of you math genius's out there can figure out what we pay a month to keep our herd if you have lots of time on your hands---

Closer to the city, folks are paying almost double this-- hence, the horses being dumped at auction houses, but that is a whole 'nother soapbox for a whole 'nother time.....

The auction house keeps a beautiful John Deere articulated loader on hand to load the bales of hay that have been purchased-- as these bales can weigh anywhere from 650 lbs to 1900 lbs, this is a very nice service--- except when the loader tries to take off your rearview mirror on your truck---

Fortunately, we have collapsible mirrors, so no harm done, but it was a sign of things to come!!

If you don't know what articulated is, it means it bends in the middle---

It's your 50 cent word for the day; see if you can use it in a sentence...

So, we are all loaded up, stacked high, wedged in, strapped down...... or so we think---

'Bout 5 miles from home......
Yes, those would be two of our hay bales in the middle of the highway, with a semi driving behind!

That would be my handsome husband trying to unload our tractor so we can go and get our bales off the highway.....

This is a really nice view of him, but I didn't tell him so... I didn't think this was quite the right time for that.....

This is our friend, the Prairie Pastor, who also happens to be a firefighter, with his fire truck, graciously directing traffic---

We woke him up from a nap.....

What are friends for??

This is my handsome husband again, trying to clean off the highway-- he takes his clean up job very seriously--

"Honey, you look great.... doing a good job... looking really handsome!...."

He can't hear me- he has his ear plugs in-

In the midst of the chaos, my son, who was helping load the tractor at the house, smashed his fingers between the trailer ramps and the trailer, breaking his middle finger of his left hand---

So, we spent the afternoon in the ER, getting x-rays---so much for my sunny afternoon on the porch---

My son has had a grand ole time waving his hand out the window at passing cars.... I can't figure out why they keep honking at us!!

Oh yeah, this is what happens when you have had a little too much to drink, trying to be safe by riding your bike home in the dark, and pass the action house......

Just kidding.... its just these crazy redneck folks having a little joke.... they have such a sense of humor......

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Pawnee Cafe

If you have always dreamed of owning a little cafe in a small town, filled with morning regulars having their coffee; satisfying, made to order hamburgers with hot, crunchy fries or onion rings fresh from the fryer; hand made shakes and malts in extra large cups; and a down home atmosphere filled with local personality.....

This is the place for you!

It's For Sale!

Occasionally I get called to help waitress at our little local cafe; usually at the last minute and mostly for the lunch rush;

CDOT workers fresh off the snow plows, semi drivers passing through town, oil rig engineers surveying for new wells, wind farm contractors and then there is the locals.....

Booths are shared, commodity prices are compared, rainfall amounts are debated, field conditions are discussed, deals are made and bargains found---

Political and intellectual conversations are rare, but your neighbor may have a new cure for your calf with scours (diarrhea) or have news of a product to increase the yield of wheat harvest for next year---

It is not uncommon to see a field sprayer or John Deere tractor parked out front-- why go home when you can swing through the cafe on your way to the next field?

This is the only restaurant for at least 30 miles in any direction....

Everyone knows the owners and they know everyone's usual orders---

I, who will be a "new" person until I have been here at least 40 years and then will probably still be "new", unfortunately, don't---

I almost always get the statement of, "I'll have my usual', and with my blank look, they proceed to tell me that Kathy knows what they like.....

I'm lucky to remember their name and how to ring the order up on the cash register, let alone what their "usual" order is--

So I head back to the kitchen to ask Kathy, she peaks over the counter, and says," Oh, that's Jim, he likes a cheeseburger with pickles and no onion," or "That's Del, he has the special with half and half (lemonade and iced tea mixed together)."

Can't get personal service like that anymore in the city....

This is my friend, Kathy--funny, sassy, down to earth, filled with good advice and tips, and a good cook to boot-- what more could you ask for?

Together with her sister in law, they have run this cafe for many years--- now, with kids grown and gone, it's time to move on-- finding a buyer has been challenging--- even though this is a pretty successful business!

The atmosphere is casual and forgiving-- if it's busy and I have not gotten a drink refilled, the locals just get up and do it themselves--

Folks passing through aren't sure what to do about the duct taped seats in the booths, or the lack of menus on the table, but there is something about the atmosphere that makes you feel at home....

There are aerial pictures of the local fairgrounds on the walls along with mounted buffalo heads and a nice set of longhorns--

The coffee is hot, the desserts are homemade, and in keeping with our theme of a few days ago, as well as the title to this blog, Rocky Mountain Oysters were the special of the day today!

In case you city folks wonder what fried calf testicles look like on a plate.....

Crunchy, fried goodness---tastes like chicken--

Usually served with tarter sauce or cocktail sauce-- someone has a sense of humor!

Betcha thought they would be circular, didn't ya.....

One of these days, I'm going to do a recipe feature on how to make these....

The tips are good and getting to know the local folks is priceless..... Plus it's nice to get off the ranch every now and then....

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Prairie Ranch Apple Crisp

So easy to make- have it for dessert tonight- heck, have it for breakfast, I won't tell!
Check it out here- Cooking with Loving Hands

Veteran's Day

Today is a day that we stop and take time to say thank you to the men and women who have given a part of their life, and in some cases, their life itself, to protect and defend the freedoms that many in this country take for granted.

Just recently, Americans exercised that freedom to make history.

Here, a week later, in a little school in a little corner of a big prairie, ranchers left their cows, farmers parked their tractors and an auditorium was standing room only, to honor the veterans from this small community.

In a land where the houses are few and far between, everyone came to show their appreciation. Even the local radio station showed up to broadcast the program.

Young voices were raised in song. “If you love your country, if you cherish your freedom, thank a vet!”, were the simple words sung in high pitched voices that brought tears to the eyes of those in uniform.

In this time of controversy over the current war, those from past wars rarely experience gratitude. This was their chance to bask in a moment of spotlight and ceremony.

A young man stands in uniform at the front and shares his experiences in Afghanistan. Of being blown up in his Humvee by an IED. Of the brothers that pulled him from the wreckage and visited him in the hospital. Pictures are shown of his wrecked vehicle and the aftermath of the explosion.

Young eyes gaze in hero worship and a taste of war is brought home. Little boys shake his hand and finger the medals on his chest.

He jokingly shares a MRE with a young man called to the front to answer war history questions.

Certificates of appreciation and small gifts are passed to the veterans by fourth graders wearing their fathers and grandfathers uniforms.

Several hundred people joined in singing "God Bless America" and "I’m Proud to be an American". Gray heads joined with young heads for pictures. The room is abuzz with voices, laughter, handshaking and hugs. Past and future; brought together in a simple program with profound meaning.

These men and women represent so many of the values of this community—hard work and dedication, family and friends, faithfulness, patriotism--- it seems that so many of these values are beginning to be lost in this fast paced technological age that we live---
But for today, in a little school in a little corner of a big prairie, they were found…..

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Cowboy Key Lime Pie

It's sweet, it's easy, it's out of focus- make it anyway!!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday Flapjacks with Cinnamon Maple Cream Syrup

Check out 'em out- they are warm, they are yummy, and they are irresistible!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Combines and Buffalo

"Just as the soul feeds the body, so God gives food to the world."
Marcus Tullius Cicero

The majestic parade of green machines moves across the prairie with stately grace. The dusty kernels of hard winter wheat fill the back in a red-gold shower.
The culmination of months of labor is deposited in the back of grain semis to be trucked to the silos for storage and subsequent delivery to the bread factories.

This is the proud beginnings of the lovely loaves of whole grain bread that populate the shelves of every grocery store across the nation.

There is something incredibly peaceful and almost primal about sitting in the cab of a combine as harvest commences. To know that this wheat means a paycheck for the farmer and bread for the hungry.

Plus, if your kids aren't there, it's pretty romantic to watch the sunset with your honey.... Ok, I realize this may not be a shared experience--

I wanted to take handfuls of the wheat home to set in a jar on the windowsill- to remind myself that no matter how technological this world becomes, we still rely on the humble wheat kernel to make our bread.

This also is a family affair- the kids ride along in combine, drive the trucks, clean the combine heads and help deliver dinner to the hungry crews in the fields.

Farm kids- no one cares if your shirt matches your shorts or if your face is dirty and you get to climb on the semi's!

Note the lights on the front of the combine- harvest does not stop just because it gets dark.

20 hour days are not unheard of and are usually close to the norm.

Oh yeah- the aforementioned buffaloes---

Look closely-- here it comes!!


Ok, Ok, they were half a mile away but they were stampeding and we did have to take our car and hide behind a parked semi just in case.

Buffaloes have no respect for anything that gets in their way!

Only in our crazy corner of the prairie can we take our city nephew to see my husband in the combine and get to show him an actual stampeding buffalo herd on the way.

And, by the way, friends don't let friends drive red tractors!!
(Country joke- see, red tractors are not John Deere's and anything that's not John Deere is, well, not as see? you get it, right? oh, forget it...)