All posts by thenativecowgirl

I am a fifth generation rancher with an intense love of horses and cattle. I am also a proud enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe. My family and I reside on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. I strive daily to spread positivity, awareness of modern day ranching, and I love perpetuating the role of women in agriculture through my social media outlets, my photography, and my blog. I am also a big fan of ranch rodeo....especially women's ranch rodeo! Come along with me daily on my journey! You can also find me on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and in various publications.

Strawberry Cheesecake French Toast Roll Ups

I love trying new recipes! Sometimes I will see something that interests me and I decide to give it a try…..I don’t always have a recipe to follow so I just find my own way. I’ve actually stumbled onto a few great things this way. These Strawberry Cheesecake French Toast Roll Ups are on this list. My guys would agree…..they loved them!

Start with a loaf of bread. Yes, an entire loaf. I really didn’t think I would go through an entire loaf, but I did….minus the ends. I wasn’t sure how many to make for the three of us, but none of it went to waste so that was good. I will tell you that these little buggers are rich and quite filling in my opinion. Take each slice of bread and cut off the crusts. Repeat for every piece.

image1 image2

Next take a roller and roll the bread quite flat.

image3

Smear some cream cheese on it.

image4

Then fill the center with chopped up strawberries.

image5

Roll up. I put a toothpick through each one to train them to stay rolled up. Did I just say “train”? I wonder if a roll up can be “trained”. Hmmmm……anyway, repeat this until you have all of your bread filled and rolled up.

image6

Next mix up your French Toast batter. Here is one that I’ve used for years:

3 eggs, 1/2 cup of sugar, sprinkle of salt, dash of vanilla, dash of nutmeg, dash of cinnamon, and 1 cup of milk whisked up.

image7

Dip all sides of your roll ups in the batter and put on a hot griddle that is set to 325 degrees.

image8

These little things stick (and you can tell they are pretty messy to make….but worth it). Make sure to turn frequently so they don’t burn.

image9

Cook until brown on all sides. Serve with powdered sugar, left over strawberries and a side of maple syrup. Be prepared to gobble these up. My son (Mr. Picky Eater) was looking for more. Enjoy!

image10

Western Horseman – August 2015 – Women of the West

Wow……I couldn’t be more honored, happy, and humbled at the same time! Check your mailbox or nearest newsstand for the newest issue of Western Horseman magazine featuring yours truly in the Women of the West section. I will be devoting more time to writing, poetry, and photography starting now. My Le-Vel business and the ranch have taken time away from my writing for the last 6 months, but with proper planning I know I can balance it all more efficiently now. Stay tuned for more recipes and funny stories……coming SOON! 🙂

11709575_492667064236359_2768863146747934695_n

Empowerment of Women

I wrote this article almost a month ago, but I wanted to share it with all of you today.

Empowerment of Women

By the time this article comes out it will be October. This month has a special place in my heart because it symbolizes empowerment for women. That may seem odd to some since October is officially Breast Cancer Awareness month, but the reason behind my sentiment goes back to when I worked in retail in the big cities. October was the time for girlfriends to get together to celebrate life and their health by getting makeovers, having mammograms, and taking part in charity walks, etc. The awareness of one of the biggest killers of women somehow brought us all closer in a positive way.

What does empowerment of women mean? According to various sources, empowerment refers to increasing the spiritual, political, social, or economic strength of individuals or communities. Throw the “women” part in there and I bet you know what it is focused on. Women have come a long way over the last 100 years, but the path we have carved for ourselves is still being built. Each of us takes part in our progress every day. That may not seem realistic, but I believe it’s true. Everything we do in our lives is witnessed by those around us. It’s important to never forget that especially as women.

Living in the agriculture world can sometimes take the empowerment of women part away. I don’t mean that in a negative sense. It’s common knowledge that living on a farm or ranch is hard work for everyone. There is no “fairer” sex when it comes time to getting things done. It’s hard to get away for a spa day with the girls (if it ever happens at all). Life takes over for us ranch gals when we get married and have children. We are the caretakers of our families and they rely on us to be there every hour of the day. It’s easy to lose sight of our own aspirations and dreams if we don’t pay attention. This is where women’s ranch rodeos came into play for me. I had been looking for something to get involved in for some time. I was looking for something that “empowered women” in a cowgirl sort of way and boy did I find it!

This past summer WRRA (women’s ranch rodeo association) members have been going down the road to various sanctioned rodeos competing in our 5 events: doctoring, branding, sorting, trailer loading, and tie down/mugging. We have all been trying our hardest to cinch up a spot in the world finals. We will be vying for the coveted titles of Year End Champions, Finals Average Champions, and Go Round Champions in Loveland, Colorado at The Ranch Events Complex on October 17th and 18th. One of our three performances is even themed for Punchy in Pink (breast cancer awareness). With women’s ranch rodeos being so close to my heart, now October means that much more to me!

The women competing come from a collection of states: Texas, Kansas, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Florida, and Montana. We have had sanctioned rodeos in Kansas, Texas, Nebraska, and Wyoming. We have experienced a lot of growth up here in the northern region this past year and we look forward to even more in 2015. If you want to see some fun, action-packed events come on down to the world finals. It’s guaranteed to be unlike anything you have seen before. Plus, the association’s main purpose is to support empowerment of women in agriculture while we represent our way of life. I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t get any better than that in my opinion! www.womensranchrodeo.org.

Like I said, I wrote this for my column in The Wrangler Horse & Rodeo News almost a month ago. The WRRA World Finals is now over with. How did it go? GREAT! It was a lot of work, but it ran quite smoothly. We experienced a few things that we learned from, which will allow us to make it even better for next year. Here are a few pictures from the World Finals (thanks to Tanna White of Western Lifestyles Photography for the great action shots!):

World Finals Branding Singletree Ranch

World Finals Doctoring Cowgirl Swank

World Finals Doctoring Y Six Livestock

World Finals Sorting Antelope Springs Ranch

World Finals Sorting

World Finals Tie Down Ranchn Rebels

World Finals Tie Down

World Finals Trailer Loading 4 Random Hands

World Finals Trailer Loading Ranchn Rebels

When it was all said and done, the Push Hard Cattle Company were the winners.

Champions Push Hard Cattle Company

My team, Turkey Track Livestock, didn’t have the greatest weekend in terms of winning, but we had a great time, worked together as a team, and came out of it stronger than before (also we were more sore than before too….see the pictures below)!

World Finals Mugging Turkey Track Livestock 2

World Finals Mugging Turkey Track Livestock 3

World Finals Mugging Turkey Track Livestock

A full week later, my hip is still majorly sore (I’ve been to the chiropractor twice). Bridgit (my teammate under the steer) had some horrific scrapes and bruises when it was all said and done. It’s crazy, but we LOVE doing this! 🙂

I think that is the most important thing in life….having fun…..and loving what you do! The women of the WRRA certainly love what we do….or we wouldn’t be doing it! It’s an amazing thing to be a part of an association that builds women up. We perpetuate the role of women in agriculture and ranching, while showcasing our lifestyle. I can’t think of anything better. The WRRA will soon be holding its elections. I have submitted my “Letter of Intent” for the position of President. I would love to have the opportunity to be a leader in the WRRA. 2015 will be an amazing year for our association which will include growth, awareness, and new partnerships. I will write about what we stand for until my hand falls off….if that’s what it takes to get the word out to the far ends of the earth. I guess you could say that I am quite passionate about the WRRA. What we stand for is an amazing thing! I believe the empowerment of women is vitally important. I’m so glad that I’m getting a chance to make a difference and to help make positive strides in our industry!

CAN

I used to say the word “can’t” a lot and while I was doing so I didn’t understand the effect it was having on me. The magnitude of such a small word is absolutely astounding. Just by uttering “can’t” I was telling myself that I couldn’t do something for some reason. I was giving power to that word and letting it limit my abilities. In a sense, I was giving up and letting “can’t” control my destiny. I was too ignorant back then to understand that I was setting myself up for failure just by saying “can’t”.

The first person I met who absolutely abhorred that word was my husband. I mean he would get downright furious if you said it. At first, I was taken aback and almost wounded when he loudly proclaimed that “can’t” didn’t exist and that he wouldn’t accept that excuse. It took some time of being around him and conversation to totally understand where he was coming from. He explained to me how “can’t” has such a negative effect on our minds and most people don’t even know it. He just looked at me and said, “You CAN”.

The second person to absolutely give no power to the word “can’t” is World Champion Team Roper Walt Woodard. I’ve been to several of his roping schools and I thoroughly enjoy reading his column in here. He is a positive force to be reckoned with and I can tell you that “can’t” doesn’t exist in his vocabulary either. In fact, it doesn’t exist in any winner’s vocabulary. If you don’t believe me, hang around some of the guys and gals who go to the NFR. I bet you don’t hear “can’t”….ever (and if you do I will be surprised).

This past year I have heard of some amazing people who also don’t accept the word “can’t” into their lives. There is a college barrel racer and breakaway roper who doesn’t let the fact that she is in a wheelchair slow her down. She races and ropes with the best of them. There is also a young boy who was injured in a roping accident who is working hard every day to make it back to where he was before the accident. I have seen their progress and results on Facebook. It is absolutely inspiring and amazing. These are the kinds of people who deserve our admiration and our deepest respect. They are proving what CAN looks like!

It’s amazing how the human mind works. If you allow negativity to creep inside (even in its smallest form) it can wreak havoc on your ability to overcome the smallest of obstacles. However, if you replace negativity with positive thoughts and goals it is amazing what you can accomplish. You CAN accomplish whatever you set out to do. You CAN leave behind the excuses of “can’t”. You CAN allow negative comments to slide right off when others say them to you repeatedly (after all, you “can’t” fix stupid – I may agree with that one).

The fact of the matter is this: the days are passing by quickly and there is only so much time we are allotted here on earth. If there is something undone for you go after it…what have you got to lose? Let “can’t” slip away and realize that you CAN!! We all only get one life to live so my thoughts are to go out and live it to the fullest. Will it always be perfect? No. Will it always be a winning outcome? No. Will it be worth it in the end? Heck yes! Get out there and do it. I know you CAN!!

The Anniversary of Atlas

One year ago today I remember exactly what was happening…..a storm was raging. A winter storm…..the kind that has the weather guys all in a fury……the kind that affects everyone in the area…..the kind that has livestock owners worried beyond belief……the kind that leaves devastation in its wake.

One year ago today was just the beginning of the horror that would ensue over the next few days leaving thousands of head of livestock dead……leaving our region crippled and in a state of shock. One year ago today we lost a sort of innocence that shrouded those of us not old enough to remember the last horrific blizzards in the 70’s.

I remember hearing the term “Storm Atlas” on the Weather Channel. Not long before that I had started hearing blizzards and other winter storms with names. At first I thought it was strange. I could understand naming a hurricane, but a blizzard? I now look back at the irony of the name chosen for the storm of the century.

“In Greek Legend Atlas was a Titan who took part in the revolt against the gods. As a punishment he was condemned to hold the heavens aloft forever. Atlas was usually represented as a human figure bearing the heavens or the celestial globe upon his shoulders.”

How symbolic that is…….Storm Atlas literally held the state of our world in its grasp.

As I sit here typing, I can hear the wind howling outside. My mind has gone back to a year ago as I listened to something similar. The difference is that we are dealing with rain this time and not snow. I’m thankful for that……more than you know.

So much has happened over the past year. I can honestly tell you though that I am gun shy when it comes to the weather now. I don’t think I am alone in that capacity either. I half winced when October rolled around. The wound left by what happened is still very fresh in everyone’s mind. It has been talked about, written about, covered on the news, and visualized by everyone who went through it…..countless times. I got in on writing a story about a surviving family in northern South Dakota a month or so ago for a publication. I literally had tears rolling down my face and the gal told me their story. The feelings and memories are still so raw. I truly believe that only time can heal this kind of wound.

Not all has been lost as there has been hope. Hope in the form of friends and neighbors bonding together to help each other, the farm bill finally going through, livestock donations, a plentiful year of rainfall, and the livestock markets are strong.

Going through something like Storm Atlas has given everyone a completely new perspective on things. It was a sharp reminder that we, as humans, don’t control things as much as we’d like to think. Mother Nature proved that she is still holding the reins. We can prepare for things as much as we can, but in the end prayer and hope is all we really have…..and each other. Without that……..everything would truly be lost.

My faith in humanity was restored in the aftermath of Storm Atlas. The outpouring of help from people in the communities was amazing. And while it couldn’t bring back the livestock lost it brought back a sense of caring and compassion that is sometimes lost in our busy lives in the 21st century.

I am proud to be a women in agriculture. There are so many awesome things that happen around us everyday. It’s easy to get lost and to lose your perspective when you live out in the sticks, but I, for one, am glad that I have the solitude to reflect on the things that are truly important in this life. There will always be storms……there will always be horrible things that happen……there will always be life as we don’t want it…….but there will also always be folks we can count on, family, and faith. I am most thankful for those things.

Here is to an uneventful fall……one full of golden leaves dancing in the breeze, fat calves going to the sale barn, lots of bred back cows, and a chance to truly be thankful for all that we have.

With that, I will leave you with my poem “The Storm Atlas”. I wrote it on the 8th of October one year ago. I still cry when I read it……Blessings to you all.

The Storm Atlas

By Cheyenne Glade Wilson® – written on 10/8/13

The storm came in hard and fast,

Like nothing anyone remembers from the past.

First came the rain, so cold and wet,

At this point, nobody would fret

Then came lots of snow,

And the wind began to blow.

The rancher began to pace,

A look of worry crept to his face.

“How are my animals out in this mess?”

It was his only concern that he cared to confess.

Those animals help to pay the bills,

They are fending for themselves out in those hills.

But his concern was far more than for money or such,

He cared for those critters so very, very much.

He shed blood, sweat and tears,

For them over the years.

They were all partners and relied on that trust,

They needed each other, which is why he cussed.

“Damn you, Mother Nature, and the fits that you throw,

The hand that you’ve dealt us is a might low blow!”

As the storm passed, the rancher did look,

At what he saw, oh, how he shook.

The dead and the dying were all that was seen,

The few survivors were gaunt and lean.

The losses were huge, far above his worst fears,

Soon began more discovery and then came the tears.

Sorrow came next and soon disbelief,

Followed by regret and undeniable grief.

How will they recover many do ask,

It’s what ranchers do, they tend to their task.

They work hard day and night,

And no matter what, they don’t give up the fight.

But the good times outweigh the bad,

So we keep that in mind for better times had.

Things like this are very hard to take,

So many lives lost are hard to forsake.

Just know that this too shall soon be in the past,

Ranchers are a tough bunch, which is why they last.

Prayers are free; there is no cost,

So let’s bow our heads and remember all that’s been lost.

Let’s pray for better days and for the heaviness of heart,

Let’s pray for strength and for another start.

The Storm Atlas

Lasagna Soup on a Cold & Windy Day

Over the past 24 hours we have had close to 3 1/2″ of rain! The good thing is that the temperature never got super low so we aren’t worrying about the state of our livestock like we have in certain previous situations. My mind can’t help but float back almost a year ago to Storm Atlas. That storm made us all gun shy. Every time there is an impending storm it causes us to become uneasy (well, it does for us at least). It is hard not to have that reaction after what happened. I’m happy to say that the worst of our worries right now is the gumbo mud. We were under a flood watch also, but that turned out to be nothing. Let me just say that I’m super happy this storm came now and not later. We are scheduled to ship our calves on Monday and then we will be preg checking our cows the next day. Images of my dad dragging out the cattle pots last fall are all too vivid in my mind. I’ll take a little dust on Monday as well as in the few proceeding days if need be. The more dust…..the more certain we are that our trucks will get out of here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not cussing the moisture. We needed it!

I’m happy to be in the house for a few days. I had some baking to do for our upcoming busy days. The mud has afforded me the luxury of spending some time in the kitchen. Yesterday I made Molasses Cookies (or Ginger Snaps as some folks call them). I also made the dough for Crispies (which I will finish later today). Today, I decided that a new soup was in order. The wind is absolutely howling outside…..and I mean HOWLING!!!! Perhaps it’s good that it is as it will dry some of the mud up, but holy cow!!!

A new soup…..hmmmmm…..what could that be? I know…..I had stumbled upon a Lasagna Soup recipe some time ago and hadn’t made it yet. Here comes the fun part though….seeing if I had everything to make it. I hadn’t gotten groceries for almost a week and we had company……my supplies had dwindled. I started looking around and decided I could substitute an item or two and then I decided to make the recipe the way I wanted to…..imagine that. 🙂

So, here goes…..my version of…….

Lasagna Soup

  • 8 ounces Lasagna Noodles, broken into pieces (about 10 noodles)
  • 1 TB Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 TB Sugar
  • 1 ½ lbs. Ground Beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 TB. Oregano
  • 1 TB. Basil
  • 1 TB. Lawry’s Seasoning Salt
  • 1 tsp. Garlic Salt
  • 1 TB. Italian Seasoning
  • 1 small can of Tomato Paste
  • 1 large can of Crushed Tomatoes
  • 4 cups of beef broth
  • ½ cup Heavy Cream or Half & Half

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook as the label directs.

20140930_5

Drain; drizzle with olive oil and toss. *I used half a box of Ziti and half a box of Bowtie pasta. Don’t judge….I live way out in the country.* 🙂

Meanwhile, brown the ground beef with onion over medium heat.

20140930_6

Add the garlic, oregano, and basil after a few minutes continuing to cook, stirring and breaking up the beef with a wooden spoon, until browned.

20140930_7

Add the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, and beef broth.

20140930_8

Cover, and bring to a simmer. Uncover and cook until slightly reduced, about 10 minutes.

20140930_10

Stir in the noodles and heavy cream.

20140930_11

20140930_12

Simmer 2 more minutes. Serve.

20140930_13

I can’t believe I haven’t made this soup before. It’s delicious and definitely was needed on a day such as this. Hope you give it a try! 🙂 ~Cheyenne

It’s NEVER Too Late!!

The last few weeks have been about changes for me…..BIG ones! I got 10″ cut off my hair and donated it to Locks of Love. It felt great to give to such a great cause! I even got bold and had my stylist add in some caramel highlights. I absolutely love it!

My new hairdo

Then last week I announced that I had sold the crystal designs portion of my business, Cowgirl Swank, to my friend and former employee, Kayla Lien. Some folks were worried about me…..like I was going off the deep end or something? Not to worry! All is well here….I’m just focusing on other things (the ranch, homeschooling my son, etc.). I’ve been wrapped up in Cowgirl Swank’s activities for the past 7 years. I am enjoying my new found freedom. I knew the transition would be an easy one because Kayla has done crystal designs for the past 3 years so the only things that changes essentially is the business name and the fact that I’m not involved anymore. The same great quality and style of crystals designs on headwear will still be there! I wish Kayla and Rough & Rowdy Designs (her new business) the best of luck!

So, what else is changing? I wish I could say that I dropped 20 pounds like I was supposed to for our upcoming family pictures, but….yeah, that didn’t happen. The change that I’m talking about is really focusing on making things happen. You know how folks sit around and talk about their dreams and goals? You know how it sounds so achievable when you are talking? Well, why don’t we put those plans into action? Put our money where our mouth is so to speak? I’ve been guilty of this in the past, but as time goes by and the years add up I have had some time to think about this. I look in the mirror and I realize that I’m not a kid anymore (no, I don’t have one foot in the grave either, but you get what I’m talking about). Life goes by fast……and if you don’t have purpose before you know it you will be out of time. SO…….I’ve been thinking about all the things I had on my bucket list when I was 30 (11 years ago). I ran across an old copy of this list when I was cleaning the other day (see there are positives to cleaning). Right at the top of the list was “compete in Breakaway Roping again”. Ahhhh……there it was. The elusive goal that I hadn’t achieved yet. It may seem like a simple thing to some of you….just go get on your horse, back in the box, nod your head, and rope the calf. Well, it’s not that simply. Let me back up a bit…..

On the 4th of July, 2005, I was doing just what I described above. I was on one of the gentlest horses on the place roping at home. I backed in the box, nodded my head, and took off after the calf. He was a runner and I was late. I kicked old BJ up there and low and behold if he didn’t suck back and go to bucking…..what the heck?! I didn’t even know this old fart could do that! I’d like to think that he came uncorked like Tipperary, but I’m sure he looked more like those horses on the Merry-Go-Round…..nonetheless he unloaded me as I was mid-kick and mid-swing when he did this. So, yeah….there I was up in the air…..I came down hard on the saddle horn and hyper-extended my left wrist (my roping arm). I then proceeded to hit the ground like a bag of potatoes. It wasn’t pretty…..he knocked the wind out of me pretty good. I was laying there looking up at the sky with the most intense pain I’d felt in a long time in my wrist. Shane and my dad ran up to me to see if I was dead I’m sure…..nope, but I felt like I might die any minute. I got up after a bit and eventually hobbled up to the house. I took a bath….or tried to after I unloaded the 5 gallon bucket of dirt out of my shirt and pants. Eventually the pain got the better of me and we headed to the emergency room. Long story short….I didn’t break it…..but it would have probably been better if I had. I tore a bunch of ligaments in my wrist and hand. There really wasn’t much they could do for me since some of those ligaments are like fishing line (too tiny to repair). I was in a brace and a sling for a long time. I played the waiting game. I favored my left arm for a long time (even after the brace and sling were gone). I actually developed something that I had never had much of before….FEAR. Mostly it was fear of getting hurt again, but it was fear no matter how small. My dream of competing in breakaway roping sort of drifted to the back of my mind and to the bottom of my list as life took over and time slipped on by.

Fast forward to 2012 when I first learned about the WRRA (women’s ranch rodeo association). All fear left me in that instant as I vowed to get back in the arena to compete. It took some doing, but the summer of 2013 I did just that at the Cowgirl Swank Classic. I had the biggest smile on my face that entire weekend…..in reality I don’t think that smile ever really left. There is nothing that compares to rodeo…..no matter what event it is. I absolutely love competing in women’s ranch rodeos. I found a permanent home late this summer with Turkey Track Livestock. Our team consists of Tiffany Hampson, Jenny Walker, Bridgit Downs, and me. I feel like I’ve known these girls my entire life….and that it was meant to be!

Over the past 2 years I have been gaining confidence with my wrist in the 5 events at the women’s ranch rodeos. There are weird things that happen with it and I do tend to protect it. Sometimes stirring something on the stove, brushing my hair, or carrying a bucket of water or a bale of hay will set it out of joint. It tweaks it and it hurts like crazy. I just have to work with it until it goes back in (it can take minutes…..or days). It’s strange…..and unsettling, but for the most part that happens less and less. I think the best thing for my wrist is to continue using it as much as I can. So, a while back I was driving home in one of my daydream states when I started thinking about breakaway roping again. I should also tell you that breakaway roping has been in my blood since I was 12 years old. It was my very favorite event in high school and I was pretty darned tough at it. Tough enough that I won state in high school my senior year. Here are a couple of pics of me in high school competing in my favorite event:

image (182)

image (183)

Here are my 3 favorite buckles (the ones I won at state in high school);

image (184)

*Shane and Stone have both won buckles this year so far……I am on a major mission to win a buckle before the year is over (more on this later)!

Some of our friends were at the youth rodeo in Oelrichs and they were talking about the upcoming SDRA rodeo. For many years I thought about entering it as a local, but never got the gumption to do much about it. Well, one week out I decided that I was going to enter it come hell or high water. That’s just how I am for the most part. I figure….go big or go home so here I am going big again! Shane entered the team roping with Kelly Dyer. I entered the breakaway roping and the mixed team roping with Shane. Kelly’s wife, Tami, is also in the breakaway roping and the mixed team roping with her husband. She is also involved in the WRRA and is tough competition (and a great gal). What fun this will be!

I won’t say that I’m going to go out there and be a fast 2……man, I’m just goaling myself to have a nice clean run. I’m not unrealistic about what I can do…..after all…I’ve had one practice session in 9 years and I haven’t backed into the box for 23! I like to think big, but not so big that I set myself up for failure. I’d like to think that next summer I can go to more of these and do some more breakaway roping. I guess we will see what happens. I’ll definitely make sure to report in to let you all know how I did….win or lose. One of the most important things in life is to remember that It’s NEVER Too Late to set goals and go after things…..you only get one life so make it a good one!! Wish me luck! 🙂

Grandma June’s Birthday & Peanut Butter Brownies

Today my Grandma June would have celebrated her 89th birthday. Unfortunately, she went to heaven in April 2012. I was fortunate to have a close relationship with my Gram. I inherited my love of the kitchen from her I believe. As far back as I can remember, I think of her and she’s always in the kitchen. Through all the years of my growing up she fed us all….and by all I mean: hired men, hired gals, family, friends, branding crews, shipping crews, truckers, cattle buyers, horse buyers, feed salesman, bankers, etc. You name them and she probably fed them! If a person ever traveled out on Cherry Creek north of the Yellowstone River between Miles City and Terry, Montana I bet they ate something my Gram had made. She was famous for her cinnamon rolls and bread…..and her cherry tarts…..ground beef sandwiches….lemon meringue pie….crispies…..rolls…..fried chicken…..gosh, now that I think about it I can’t think of a single thing she made that we weren’t all crazy about! What a tribute to her today….thinking back about how she not only touched my life, but all of those who sat around her kitchen table…..branding fire….or where ever enjoying her cooking talents. A good friend sent me a message earlier today on Facebook that brought me to tears…once again….because I was missing her earlier today something horrible. It was a story told of eating her incredible food through friends who knew my Gram (this friend of mine never met my Gram, but she said what a neat lady she must have been)….and she was!!! Some folks might think of food as just something to eat and move on, but not my Gram. She clearly put more into it than just that. I believe there was a little bit of love and happiness in all she made. She made each meal special….and clearly that showed through because whoever knew her knew about her culinary expertise. 🙂
Here are some pics of my Gram that I’d like to share with you all. This one is a favorite of mine. I think she is somewhere around 17 years old in this picture….and to think they got that hay up there by hand!
Gram on the hay wagon

Here’s another one of my Grandpa, Grandma, ReAnn (my cousin), and Me. I think we were about 3 in this picture:

Gram, Grandpa, Re & Me

Here is my Gram and Aunt Beryl (my Gram and she were close and married to brothers…and were neighbors). I’m in the middle:

Gram, Auntie Beryl & Me

Here is one of my favorites….Gram with her 3 grandchildren (ReAnn, Wyatt, and me):

Gram & The Grandkids

Here is another favorite….just Gram and me:

Gram & Me

My Gram was beautiful inside and out:

Gram at Wyatt's Wedding

The following 2 pictures are very special to me. I remember her with Stone. She would light up so much whenever her great-grandchildren were around her!

Gram & Stone

Gram & Stone sitting

You can see how special she was to me…..to all of us. I miss her so much and think of her often. I always feel close to her when I’m in the kitchen, which is probably why I’ve gravitated towards cooking/baking so much these last 10 years of my life. I truly find enjoyment in the entire process….I think I inherited a bit of my Gram. 🙂

Today, in my Gram’s honor, I decided to bake something. I’ve had a hankering for some peanut butter brownies. I don’t know about you, but I do not like recipes that use cake mixes or brownie mixes. I guess I might be a big of a cooking snob, but I think that takes the fun and creativity out of it. It might save you a few minutes, but if you’re going to dirty a dish I say why not do the whole thing? Anyway, I have been searching for some kind of recipe to follow. Guess what? I couldn’t find one….so I more or less had to piece my own together! I do this a lot so I wasn’t totally surprised….and I was worried about the outcome either. I have made a brownie recipe for some time that I stumbled upon somewhere….excuse me for not remembering, but I cruise a lot of sites! It’s pretty basic, but they always turn out really well. I basically just added a bag of peanut butter chips to see what would happen. The outcome? OH MY GOSH!!!! Yum! Here it the recipe:

Peanut Butter Brownies

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1 bag of peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8-inch square pan. In a large saucepan, melt ½ cup butter.Remove from heat. Stir in sugar, eggs, and vanilla.

20140817_13

Beat in cocoa, flour, salt, and baking powder.

20140817_14

20140817_15

After everything is mixed really well add the peanut butter chips.

20140817_16

Mix the chips into the batter then spread into prepared pan.

20140817_17

Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. Do not overcook.

The result?! I think you’d better just make these yourself and give me some feedback! 🙂

20140817_18

Let’s just say that I would have loved to sit down and enjoy one of these with a glass of milk….with my Gram! Here’s to you, Gram…..hope you are in the kitchen with your apron on and Grandpa is nearby….love you always! ❤

Horses Need Dentists Too!!

I grew up around horses. I don’t come close to knowing everything there is to know about them, but I have always felt adequately informed….until about two weeks ago. For some time I’ve been thinking about getting an equine dentist out here to check out all of our boys. I’m embarrassed to say that it’s been two years since we’ve seen an equine dentist and even then it was only a couple of our horses. There were a few “signs” that made me think we needed one (the way Doc tilts his head when he eats grain and experiences bit pressure, age on some of our horses, lack of dental care, etc.). Time just seems to pass so quickly and we are always busy out here on the ranch. In other words, I didn’t get it done as soon as I’d hoped to. Well, I finally found a guy who came highly recommended from several friends. He and his wife came out and spent the day at our place. Boy, did I get an education!

This equine dentist (who prefers to remain nameless, but if you want to know who he is just email me or give me a call and I’ll be glad to refer you) went above and beyond to ensure that we were informed and involved in the entire process from start to finish. This in itself was something new to me. Besides being an overall genuine guy, I found out that our equine dentist went through extensive schooling in Texas for several years and that he has worked on over 5,000 horses so far. He takes his trade very seriously and he is very professional. I felt confident that I had chosen the right man to trust our horses with and the fact that his wife works with him throughout the entire process is an added bonus. We were encouraged to stick around during the entire procedure, which for 11 horses was about 11 hours straight through. We got to feel inside each of our horse’s mouths before and after. I can’t even tell you how much each mouth was transformed! The fact that we were included in the entire journey of correcting tooth development errors was an epiphany to me and it made all the difference in my understanding of the importance of equine dentistry.

First up was my best horse, Doc. If you know me at all you know how much Doc means to me….enough said.

image (165)

I’ve been having some issues with him in the sorting pen and watching him eat made me worry for him. Well, after I felt in his mouth I knew why. His teeth were horrible….and his inner cheeks were all rubbed raw! I felt like the worst horse owner in history. I even got teary-eyed over it. We don’t baby our horses per se…..we let them be horses, but how I didn’t catch this earlier really caused me some distress. I decided right then and there that I was going to sit up and pay attention to the smaller details of our horses from then on. I will definitely never let our horses be in that position again.

The equine dentist was telling me how there are certain signs a horse can give you on the outside of his body about his dental health. One of those signs was big on Doc. His temporalis muscle (located in his forehead) was completely out of whack. It was longer and puffier on one side.

Doc Temporalis Muscle

Once we got inside his mouth it was evident what was going on. One side of his mouth was overcompensating for the other because his teeth were being ground off unevenly (causing the insides of his cheeks to be rubbed raw). When I first felt in his mouth it almost felt like I was feeling a tiger’s teeth….sharp and jagged.

Doc Dental Exam

Doc Dental Exam 2

Doc Straighten Top Teeth

Doc Straighten Lower Teeth

After the process was over, it felt like a smooth stone where those jagged points had been. It didn’t take long for Doc to be on the road to a healthier mouth with even teeth thanks to our equine dentist. Doc needed a little time to let his inner cheeks heal up, but within a few days I couldn’t even tell he had a problem in those areas!

We worked our way through 11 head of horses that day (ranging from 5 years old on up to 25). Dollar was the youngest patient of the day….he’s a big boy at only 5 years old!

Dollar Dental Exam

Each one was interesting with completely different areas needing help. I learned that horse’s teeth continue to grow until they are around 17-19 years old. I also learned that it is really important for younger horses (2-4 years old) to see an equine dentist and that it can make all the difference in their tooth development and future health at that stage in their lives.

The biggest shock we got was on Shane’s best guy and my back up horse, Shotgun. Here he is:

Shotgun Dental Exam 2

He is only 8 years old so I really didn’t expect any problems. Was I ever wrong! His lower #11’s (way back bottom teeth…or molars as we might call them) were the biggest (longest) the equine dentist had ever seen….in over 5,000 horses! See those long buggers way back there?!

Shotgun Dental Exam

He was absolutely shocked and amazed at what he found back there! We all felt in Shotgun’s mouth and couldn’t believe it at all. Once the dentist explained to us what Shotgun had been going through we could see the signs (hard to keep weight on him, lackluster hair in several small places, etc.). He had a very low grade infection because of these teeth and you would have never known it to look at him or in his mannerisms. Shane felt absolutely horrible about it as did I. The dentist said not to worry and that he would be right as rain in just a few days. He fixed those teeth and you know what, Shotgun looked like a new horse the very next day. In fact, I think he even kicked over his head a few times when we weren’t looking! This was yet another lesson to me on why equine dentistry is so important.

At the end of that long day, I wrote a fairly large check to the equine dentist…and I did it with a smile and a sense of accomplishment. I learned more about our horses in that day than I ever hoped to. We were treated like friends, students, and confidants all day long. The kids (my son and my nephew) even got to see what horse teeth look like (the equine dentist had a few from a previous removal). They were fascinated and each got to keep a tooth or two (that was highlight of their day)! Here is one of their treasures….err, I mean horses teeth. 🙂

Horse Tooth

Throughout the day, we were informed of why it’s important to keep up on your horse’s dental health (and it wasn’t a sales pitch). Perhaps if this fellow would have come in here and preached about spending up to $200 per horse every 6 months without taking time to inform us and including us in the process I may have felt like a lot of folks do. I’ve heard comments from various people. Things like: “older horses are the only ones who need to be floated” or “unless there is a definite problem, I don’t use those dentists” or “holy cow, that’s a lot of money to spend on your horses” or “I only take them in once a year if that”. I can tell you this; if you think $200 is a lot to spend on your horse then you must not think very highly of him/her. That may seem blunt, but here’s why I say that. Good horses are hard to find. So when you have some good horses a couple hundred dollars isn’t even a thought…is it?! I kind of compare that to this way of thinking: “I don’t use my horse much so I don’t shoe him….I just let the ground break off his hooves…he seems fine….when I need him I’ll just trim him up and lope off”. I guess that might work for some folks, but it just doesn’t work for me. I am happy with my decision to better my horses through their dental health. If you haven’t had your horses to a dentist lately, I highly suggest you do so. Look into equine dentists. Ask around to find a good one. We all prefer certain things about certain people. To me, it’s most important that folks be educated on what they do, passionate about it, considerate, and that they communicate with me. I know that I found the right equine dentist for us because he fits all of those categories. Your requirements might be different than mine. Nonetheless, get your horses on a good dental program. You will be so glad you did….and so will they!

Horse Happy Teeth

Oh and by the way, Doc and I just went to a weekend of women’s ranch rodeos in Hyannis, NE. He worked better than he has all year. We successfully sorted and roped every critter we came up against and he did so willingly without shaking his head or putting his nose up in the air to escape the pressure of the bit. How’s that for results?

image (164)

Plus, Turkey Track Livestock (my team) qualified for the WRRA world finals!

image (163)

I’m sold on equine dentistry, that’s for sure!

Ellen’s Lemon Zucchini Bread

Yesterday was a busy one around here! My main goal for the day was to get our deck cleaned and prepped for staining. While clearing some things off the deck I stumbled upon a wasp’s nest in a deer skull that was hanging on the deck fence…..yikes!!! The wasps were not happy that I had disturbed their happy home. I had Stone and our nephew, Quanah, helping me so I thought it was best to take cover inside for a bit while they simmered down.

Shane had brought me a few zucchini from our neighbors the other day so I decided to bake some lemon zucchini bread. This is truly a recipe that I look forward to making every summer when the loads of zucchini begin the pile up. I eagerly grate up every zucchini I can find and freeze what I don’t use. I’ve found that it freezes really well. When I am wanting to bake some lemon zucchini bread it’s there in the freezer whenever I want it!

This recipe has a bit of history to it that I will share with you. My folks sold their place in Montana early in the 2000’s. Shane and I moved down here in the spring of 2005. I remember my mom raving about this recipe. Ellen Franko and her husband Rich were the buyers of my parent’s ranch on Cherry Creek. Ellen had made this one of the times Mom and Dad were up there and it was an instant hit with both of them. I had heard my Mom going on about this recipe. I asked if she knew how to make it. She didn’t, but told me to get a hold of Ellen and perhaps she would pass it on to me. I did just that. Ellen was gracious enough to give me the recipe. I eagerly made that first batch of delicious lemon zucchini bread. It was out of this world!! The crust is just a tad bit crunchy. The flavor is amazing. It’s moist and the color from the zucchini skin adds great green flecks throughout the bread…it’s pretty!

20140731_19

This bread is great warm out of the oven, cold, and it freezes really well. I put a little bit of butter on a slice and I’m in heaven! Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?! I love this recipe so much that I actually put it on All Recipes back in 2010! Anxious to try it? Here it is:

Ellen’s Lemon Zucchini Bread

Grease pans with Crisco and sprinkle the bottoms with sugar. Mix the following ingredients (I usually beat the eggs first before I add the rest of the wet ingredients).

  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 c. Sugar
  • 1 c. Oil
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 2 tsp Lemon Extract
  • Zest of 1 Lemon

20140731_5

Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a separate bowl. Add to the wet mixture above.

  • 3 c. Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda

20140731_8

Add zucchini when mixture gets too thick to mix.

  • 2 c. Grated Zucchini

20140731_9

20140731_10

Pour into pans.

20140731_11

Bake 350 degrees for 1 hour in greased and sugared pans.

Makes 2 regular loaves or 4 smaller loaves. *I usually always make 4 small loaves as I find that they cook more evenly than the larger loaves.*

20140731_16

20140731_17

20140731_18

I hope you give Ellen’s Lemon Zucchini Bread a try. It is SO good…..everyone who tries it will love it…..and it’s a new use for all those zucchini! 🙂 ~Cheyenne