Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cowboy Christmas

Cowboy Christmas is how ranchers often refer to branding day. Not only does it represent the end of a long, hard winter -- but a time to brand, inoculate and (in the case of bull calves), castrate. Often neighboring ranchers get together to help each other take care of these tasks -- but my brother recruits family and friends to pitch in. He only had about 50 calves to take care of (plus give their mommas a shot), so they were able to get it all done in a few hours. My brother wrote -- and at lunch recited -- his first original cowboy poem all about "Cowboy Christmas". I'm hoping to get a copy of it because it summarizes so well what goes on during this annual event.

The day started with a round-up. But, it wasn't a round-up on horseback as in years past. Instead, he loaded a tractor with a bail of hay and the cows and calves followed him down from an upper pasture to the corral area. There were a few people on 4-wheelers to help bring up the rear. My brother referred to this as a "Japanese round-up", I guess because the 4-wheelers were made in Japan.

Next up was to separate the mommas from their babies. And, believe me, they were bellering for each other -- even though they were only a few yards apart. When reunited, the cows start sniffing each calf until she finds her offspring. Then everyone is happy again.

Mid-morning it was time to get the sheep sheared -- about 5 ewes and 3 rams. Two brothers made quick work of it.

Lunch was a "milk can dinner". At the bottom of the milk can was a layer of red potatoes. Then there were layers of carrots, onions, kielbasa sausage, ham, and cabbage. After adding 4 cups of water, the milk can was sealed up and cooked for about 90 minutes on a camp stove. Here were the yummy results.

During the day I baked bread in my solar oven.  It was doing great -- but then clouds set in and the temperature dropped to 150 degrees in the solar oven. I ended up finishing the bread in the oven in my cabin. Oh well, next time.

After lunch I planted our garden, with some welcome help from my mom. Since the ranch is at a higher elevation than Salt Lake City, and because I'm only at the ranch every few weeks, I decided that this year we would only plant veggies that don't  have to be picked immediately and that do well into the cooler months of September and October.

The furthest grow box has all cabbage, except for one spaghetti squash. In the center box we did two varieties of carrots and two varieties of beets. After they start coming up, I'll go back and fill in with more carrots and beets in order to stagger the crop. And the last box is all winter squash. We've grown beans, peppers, and tomatoes in the past, but the growing season at the ranch isn't long enough for tomatoes, and beans and peppers need to be picked regularly so the plants continue to produce. I'll leave those things for my backyard garden.

There was a new litter of piglets. Luckily they are weaned from their momma sow because the momma has been ailing. These wiener pigs grow so fast it's shocking. But I love saving my veggie scraps and bring them to feed the pigs. They love these little extras to their grain.

Lastly, I presented baby Tysen with his quilt. Hopefully it will match his denim and cowboy themed nursery at Ft. Stewart, GA.

I hope you all have a great week!


Berit said...

So sweet! Love the "Japanese Roundup" and that new baby quilt. :D

Those piglets are really darling, too. :)

Josie McRazie said...

What a great family time!! I do so wish everyone could at one time experience something this wonderful and gratifying!! That lunch looked amazing, yummy, and very nutrish!! And lastly... I LOVE the little guy quilt!! Thank you for sharing!!


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