Category Archives: Ranch Happenings

Foggy/Frisky Morning = Chili For Lunch

It’s a foggy/frisky morning here! As I looked out my kitchen window I couldn’t even see the Buttes. I went outside to get some pictures of the creek and was surprised…it’s was misty outside and unbelievably still. Quite a change from our 60+ degree day yesterday!

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It is a muddy, mucky mess out here! The roar of the creek had been calling me since really early this morning so the mud didn’t deter me from getting some pictures. Thankfully, I have several pairs of Muck boots….best invention ever!

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The creek behind our house has more water in it now than it has had for several years!

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I can almost say that spring is in the air. I say “almost” because I know better. Mother Nature usually keeps a bad storm or two up her sleeve for the middle of calving season, which we start next week. I’m hoping she has gotten it all out of her system, but I doubt she has.

The horses and cattle are sure enjoying this warmer weather! I caught the boys playing by our horse this morning too. Boys will be boys….

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Dillon was trying to play with Doc (my black horse), but he wasn’t having it. Shotgun was frogging around…..I might have my work cut out for me riding him the next time! ๐Ÿ™‚

Chilly morning like this are a great day for……Chili! ๐Ÿ™‚ Here is my recipe for Chili. I’m even sharing my “secret” ingredient…..why not….it pushes it over the edge and will have people wondering what it is.

Cheyenneโ€™s Chili

  • 1 ยฝ lb. Ground Beef
  • 1 Large Onion, Chopped
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, Crushed
  • 2 TB Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 2 tsp. Cumin
  • 1 tsp. Season Salt
  • 1 tsp. Cilantro
  • 2 tsp. Oregano
  • 2 tsp. Cocoa Powder *Secret Ingredient* ๐Ÿ™‚
  • 1 TB. Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Red Pepper Sauce
  • 4 oz. Chopped Green Chiles
  • 2 โ€“ 15 oz. cans of Diced Tomatoes
  • 2 small cans of Tomato Juice
  • 2 โ€“ 15 oz. cans of Red Kidney Beans, Undrained

Cook beef, onion, and garlic in a stockpot or large, deep skillet.

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*I have this amazing little tool I use whenever I put garlic in a recipe. It’s a Pampered Chef Garlic Press….and I think it’s one of the most clever inventions ever! Here’s how you use it:

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Put a clove of garlic in and squeeze….easy as that! Remove the skin left behind and repeat…..pure genius!

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When done, drain the grease off. Stir in remaining ingredients except the beans. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

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*You may want to taste it at this point and see if more seasonings need to be added.* Stir in beans. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to low.

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Simmer uncovered about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until desired thickness.

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Serve with corn chips, shredded cheese, sour cream, etc. We are known to accompany our chili with cinnamon rolls too…..yum! Hope you enjoy this recipe…..it’s a keeper! ~Cheyenne

Another Winter Storm & THE AMERICAN!!!!

Day 3 into another winter storm and we are fairing pretty well and thankfully, so are our critters! We had a bit of a scare towards dark on the first day…..our power went out. Luckily, Shane had been out checking our neighbors cows and had seen the insulators on the brink of failure. He knew we were in trouble so he called the power company. There were already not too far away working on another problem. They headed this way as soon as they finished up. I’m so glad they did because we lost power about half an hour after we called in the problem. We were only without power for about an hour……praise to Shane and the power company for both being on the ball!

Earlier that morning, we all went out to check over our cattle. We knew about the storm coming so we always like to make sure our girls are looking good and tucked in where they are supposed to be. The storm was already here……

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And the wind was starting to blow……

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Chopping ice so the cows can drink the water beneath the ice……

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See that pitchfork laying there? That’s my tool…..Shane chops….I get the ice chunks out. I chop once in awhile, but when the wind is blowing and time is an issue….I leave the heavy stuff to him! ๐Ÿ™‚

The cows were waiting for us to finish up….although from the looks of things….drinking water wasn’t really on their minds….they were looking for cake…..so sorry girls! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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We recently ran out of cake, which happens this time of year. You try to project how much you will feed each day and how long it will last. We are usually pretty close in our estimate. However, that day when the realization that you are out of cake hits….it’s tough. And of course, there is usually a storm after that. I feel especially guilty on those days…….but, we don’t just drop them from feed cold-turkey. We switch them over to high-fat, high-protein lick tubs (Vitalix, this time). It’s crucial to place them in good locations. We put ours down along the creek. This is on the way to water for the cows and it keeps them off the flats, which is a good thing when these winter storms hit. We needed to move a few closer to water and in a closer pasture…..once again, I left the heavy stuff for Shane!

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I love how his pants almost fell down…..sorry, dear……had to “capture” the moment. My husband is one of the strongest guys I know…..and he has a huge heart. He’s my big teddy bear……he works hard every day……and yes, I know how very lucky I am to have him in my life!

As you can see, the cows are happy to have these lick tubs:

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Before we finish up and head home, we have one last thing to check…..the tank. You saw we had to chop ice at the far end of the pasture….well, closer to home we have a great well. Our goal is to move our cows in closer over the next week. It’s getting close to calving time (this usually begins around the middle of March for us)….and it’s time to switch pastures with the girls. Our heifers will be coming in closer (they haven’t had babies before, so it’s crucial that we keep a close eye on them). Our older cows are pros by now…..we put them out a bit further, yet we still check on them daily (sometimes twice a day….it just depends on the weather and what’s going on). We had turned the tank on earlier….it was a frozen mess….this is what we see when we drive up:

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Shane got out to inspect it……water is running…..and the overflow is working….whew! These tire tanks are a life saver. Now the girls have fresh water…..all is good in the world!

So, today is Sunday, March 2nd….an exciting day….I will get to that in a minute. Yesterday was a big day in itself…..it was my Grandpa Art Reukauf’s birthday. He would have been 91! I spent some time yesterday thinking of him and my Gram June. Also, it was Cowgirl Swank’s 7th Anniversary! It’s amazing how fast time goes…..proud of how far my little company has come!

Now on to the excitement of today……history will be broken today…..the richest one-day rodeo commences in about 4 1/2 hours! Have you heard of it?? I sure hope so!! THE AMERICAN is going to be an amazing event! Live coverage starts at 10 am MST on RFD-TV…..then the rodeo starts at Noon. I have friends competing: our neighbor/friend Lisa Lockhart will be running barrels and Chad Ferley (2-time Saddle Bronc World Champion) will, of course, be in the Saddle Bronc Ridding. He lives in nearby Oelrichs with his wife and the cutest little girl I’ve ever seen! I wish them both a ton of luck! I’m cheering for lots of people…..definitely one in each category:ย  Exemption, Invited, and Qualifier. Here is my list:

Bareback: RC Landingham (E), Bobby Mote (Q) – I saw RC ride in the qualifying events….wow, that guy can ride! Bobby Mote – he’s a legend….need I say more?

Steer Wrestling: Tyler Waquespack (E), Dru Melvin (Q), Ote Berry (I)- I also saw Tyler in the qualifiers. This kid isn’t even of age to legally drink yet….and he’s amazing! Dru Melvin is awesome as well…..he lost his best horse last year in Denver so I have a soft spot for him…..and Ote Berry? Well, he’s a legend as well….not to mention that I’ve known his brother since I was born…..I hope he wins the whole event…..I like to root for the “old” guys. ๐Ÿ™‚

Team Roping: Luke Brown/Kollin VonAhn (Q), Logan Olson/Jordan Olson (E), Jake Barnes/Junior Nogueira (I) – I’m a heeler so I really appreciate good heelers. All of the teams there are truly talented…or they wouldn’t be there. Kollin is one of the most accurate heelers I’ve ever seen so I’m picking him. Logan and Jordan really did well in the qualifiers so I’m picking them. Last, but not least…..Jake and Junior…HOLY COW!! Jake is a legend himself, but get a look at his Brazilian heeler…..he is absolutely amazing!! He made me sit up and take notice!! If you don’t know who/what I’m talking about….check out this YouTube video of Junior (Testa) roping….it will knock your socks off!

Saddle Bronc: Chad Ferley (Q), Wade Sundell (Q), Erik Wolford (E), and Dan Mortensen (I). I know…I have 4 picks….can you blame me? Chad is a neighbor/friend and a heck of a saddle bronc rider. Wade is one of my favorites…..I’ve met him and there’s just something about this guy that makes you root for him…..he is charismatic and is always smiling…..it rubs off on you! Erik Wolford – I’ve been watching him for quite some time…he rides good plus he works for friends of ours up north – The Crago’s…hope he does well! Then there’s Dan Mortenson…..what can I say…..he is IT!! When I was younger I remember Dan coming out to our place. My dad helped to coach him along…this was back when Dan was just starting out. I like to think that what my dad helped him become the champion he is….even if in a small way.

Tie Down Roping: Trevor Brazile (Q), Cory Solomon (E), Fred Whitfield (I) – Trevor is an amazing roper/athlete/man…..he is someone to admire! Cory – he is an amazing roper….very quick….and he’s pretty small….he makes it look easy. Plus, he finished on the bubble last year in the #16 hole….hope he does well. Fred – well, I just finished his book a while back…..he has endured so much and has always come out on top….I would love to see him win it all!

Barrels Racing: Lisa Lockhart (Q), June Holeman (E), Charmayne James (I) – Lisa is a friend/neighbor so I always wish her well…plus, her horse Louie is just awesome! June Holeman – what an inspiration at 70 years old! I truly hope she wins the hole deal! Plus, she autographs all of her pictures with “Grandma June” – I had a Grandma June too…..makes me love her evenย  more! Charmayne – What a legend…..I’m really excited to see what she rides and how she does…..I’m sure it will take my breath away! I’m also rooting for Shelly Anzick (go, Montana girl) and Robbyn Herring……I love her horse, Happy. I could tell you little tidbits about them all, but I will leave it at that.

Bull Riding: J.B. Mauney (I) & Justin McBride (E). I’m not going to lie to you…..I’m not a bull riding fan much. However, I do know that these two guys have been at it for some long time….so, wish them the best.

Guess that’s it……only 2 hours to go until the pre-show kicks off! How exciting this all is!!! I’m really hoping the $1 Million is won by a Qualifier. This rodeo imitates the American dream…..anything is possible if you work hard! I wish everyone luck and safety……LET’S GO RODEO!!!!!!!!

Feeding Our Cattle & 4B’s Cream of Tomato Soup

Stone and I are home alone this morning on the ranch. My mom is in Arizona visiting her sister and the guys (Shane & my dad) are hauling hay. So, we are the feeding crew today!

Back before I had Stone I was outside all the time….I wasn’t much of a domesticated gal back then. Don’t get me wrong….I loved to cook, but I wasn’t passionate about it like I am now. After I had Stone, I was pretty much housebound for quite a few years. I’m not trying to make it sound like I was isolated….I wasn’t…..I was where I needed to be….keeping the home fire burning. ๐Ÿ™‚ I didn’t quite know how to take the first year in stride, but eventually as Stone grew older and was able to do more I developed a true love of my kitchen and the things I could create there. I like to do a lot of things in there that involve my son. I like to think that I am preparing him to be self-sufficient later in life…..he is good help and he loves to “cook”. ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, Stone is 5…..so I’ve had 5 years of not being out doing chores all day every day like I used to. I still water the horses, feed the chickens, tend to our dogs and barn cats….that kind of stuff, but as far as going out feeding and chopping water….it doesn’t happen as often as it used to…..and us being on our own doing it is almost unheard of.

I certainly wasn’t apprehensive about doing it…..I was raised a ranch girl so these kinds of things don’t daunt me…..except for when it comes to my folks’ white Dodge hydra bed pickup.

Insert some scary music…..maybe the Jaws theme is appropriate here! ๐Ÿ™‚

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The problem is that it pops out of first gear all the time (my folks have tried to have it fixed, but I think it’s past that). So, when carrying a 1,000 lb+ bale, it’s hard to start out in anything but first gear! The seat doesn’t move closer to the petals and the seat also squishes down so short people like me can barely see over the dash. I’m sure I am quite a sight driving it! However, many cuss words and a sore hand later…..I had it mastered. We grabbed the bale we needed and headed off to feed my folks’ heifers. It really went much smoother than I anticipated! *Why not sell the pickup or get rid of it…..well, it’s paid for….and if you are a rancher you know the value of inching by when you can!*

We feed cake (cylinder compressed feed that looks kind of like a vegetative hotdog if you will), hay, and lick tubs (plastic tubs full of a hard-almost-like molasses/syrup kind of stuff full of protein, fat, and vitamins/minerals) to our cattle.

Here are some heifers bellied up to one of the lick tubs:

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We started our day off by feeding our heifers with our caking pickup. Feeding this way is so convenient and easy (the feeder dumps out however much feed you set it to dump out – from 2-8 lbs. mostly). The most important thing to know is how many pounds you need to feed to each critter. Counting (to figure out how many “dumps” to put out) is critical as overfeeding can lead to all sorts of bad problems. Stone is a great help with counting…..plus, it helps him to learn math and to see how useful it is in every day life (we’ll save the algebra discussion for future years)! Here is my co-pilot for the day:

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Every good rancher needs a good cow dog….or three! That’s what we have…..3 great girls who are part of our family. Meet Sky, Tee, and Remi……they make our lives complete!

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Once we finished feeding our heifers and breaking open the pit (our water supply for the heifers), it was time to feed my folks’ heifers with the hydra bed. My job with it was to unroll one bale of hay for the heifers. They heard me coming and boy, were they eager!

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In case you are wondering, here is what a bale of hay looks like:

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Hay bales can be all different kinds (grass, alfalfa, oat, etc.). These are crested wheat grass bales. Bales like these can weigh anywhere from 1,000 – 1,400 lbs. They are made by cutting down grass or whatever the hay bales will consist of with a swather. Then they are baled up with a baler (pretty easy to understand, right?!) Hay bales are relatively easy to feed, but there is something that is vitally important when feeding like this:ย  REMOVE ALL THE STRING!

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The string is what keeps the bale’s shape and keeps it from falling apart….it is called Baler Twine……and it can absolutely ruin a critter’s stomach (it can even cause death if ingested so it’s vital to ensure that it is all removed). Removing it can sometimes be a task. First, you much cut all the strings with a knife or something sharp:

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Then you have to pull the strings (this can prove to be rather difficult if the bale is frozen or if the strings get wound up – as pictured).

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I had a tangle problem so I had to cut the string much more than normal. As I walked around the side of the bale to remove the strings I saw a heifer with some of it in her mouth as she tried to gulp down some hay. Here is what it looked like when I pulled it out of her mouth:

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She had already swallowed it by the time I pulled it out. Ick, huh?! How do you think that would have looked in her stomach if I wouldn’t have caught it? I continued to cut the string and pull it until it was all off the bale. I did a second inspection to make sure and then I coiled it up and wrapped it. There’s a lot of string on just a single bale! We have a lot of this around the ranch…..we try to reuse it as much as we can. I had to chuckle over some website out there with ideas on what to do with it. This site is pretty helpful: Top Ten Things to Do with Baler Twine.

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Knowing that the string was all removed, I jumped into the Dodge and fed the bale. It’s common for a bale to fall off the hydra bed arms when it gets towards the last 1/4 of the bale. Sure enough….it happened to me today….the girls jumped on it!

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No problem…..I simply jumped out of the pickup, walked back thee and proceeded to unroll the bale by hand…..by kicking it along as it unrolled.

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When I got to just the core, I left it for this lucky heifer….who looked like she just got a corner piece of some fresh baked brownies! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Back to the Dodge I went…..I drove around to survey my work…..everyone looks happy so my job here is done for today!

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Stone and I headed off to feed the bulls some cake. Once that was completed, we had done our chores for the day. Time for us to think about lunch……what sounded good? 4B’s Cream of Tomato Soup….that’s what!

This soup always makes me think of my Grandma June (or Gram, to me). We used to eat this frequently at the local 4B’s Restaurant in Miles City, Montana (where my Grandma lived later in life and where I consider kind of “back home”). If you’ve never tried this soup…..believe me, you are going to want to make it….it’s the best tomato soup I have eaten…..EVER!!! Here is the recipe:

4Bโ€™s Cream of Tomato Soup

  • 32 oz. can of Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 oz., Butter
  • 1 TB Onion, chopped
  • 9 oz. Chicken Broth (undiluted)
  • 2 TB Sugar
  • Pink of Baking Soda
  • 2 cups Heavy Cream

Mix first 6 ingredients & simmer for 1 hour. (I melt the butter first then add the onion. I let them cook for just a minute or two and then add the tomatoes, chicken broth, sugar, and baking soda.)

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Heat cream in a double broiler & add to hot tomato mixture.( actually don’t do the double broiler thing….I temper the cream by adding about a cup of the hot tomato mixture. I stir it and then I add it all to the remaining tomato mixture.)

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Enjoy! Make ยฝ gallon.

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As you can see…..my recipe card has been used a bit!

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This recipe has been around for as long as I can remember. Do try it if you haven’t been lucky enough to try this soup….you will be glad you did! Super easy and super good! ~Cheyenne

Black Tie Calf Fry and Sugar Cookies (Part. 2)

Imagine my surprise when we actually made it in to the Black Tie Calf Fry in Chadron last night in the middle of a winter storm warning! I was supposed to be ready to go by 4:30. Shane drove up at 4:45 and I was just as he had left me…..no makeup….hair not done…..and in my sweats! He was quite surprised…..mostly because he knows how frustrated I’ve been lately at Mother Nature always ruining our plans. We discussed going for a few minutes and we decided….what the heck! My brother and his two boys were here from Montana so Stone had no intention of going with us. We stopped to drop him off at my parents’ house on our way and visited a bit. Then….off we went. We rarely go anywhere without Stone so this was definitely one for the books!

The Black Tie Calf Fry was a lot of fun! Maybe I should back up a step or two…..perhaps you are unsure what a “Black Tie Calf Fry” is exactly?! Well, let me enlighten you! Overall, it’s the annual fundraiser for the Chadron State College Rodeo team. The “Black Tie” part signifies dressing up for the event…..the “Calf Fry” portion signifies calf fries……or calf testicles, if you will. Yep…..it’s really just another way to say “Rocky Mountain Oysters”.ย  These are usually collected at branding time when the male bull calves are castrated, which turns them into steers. A lot of people seem to enjoy calf fries…..I’m not one of them. They are too chewy for me. I actually don’t mind eating one or two fresh ones as they cook on the branding stove (my great uncle Walt taught me how to eat these when I was quite young). As far as eating them on a plate at a fancy outing…..nope! So, that explains the Black Tie Calf Fry.

Every year at this event there is one or two featured speakers. I was pleased to see Paul Tierney last night. His daughter, Amy, is on the CSC rodeo team. He was also one of the featured speakers at this year’s event. I had a good visit with him and got to know him a little better. He knows my parents as he used to rodeo back in the day when they did. I love meeting people that are a positive influence. We were talking about other people that fit this bill….Walt Woodard and Tee Woolman. I was telling Paul all about the Walt Woodard Team Roping clinic that Shane and I are putting on in Chadron in May. Paul told me about a recent article about Tee Woolman….I’m going to have to look it up. In fact, he was so in tune with getting the article into my hands he called me at home this morning to tell me where to find it. What a guy!! Here we are last night:

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We enjoyed this year’s Black Tie Calf Fry…..it was in a new location and was really nice! I even scored a painting for an unbelievable price by Lori Harrington. Unfortunately, Lori passed away several years ago. I never met her, but my folks knew her pretty well. I was thrilled to get this painting…..it will be great in my spare bedroom once I get it redone. Here is my new painting:

Painting

Well, today it’s still snowing……my folks, my brother, and Shane are working heifers today. It’s 9 degrees at 1 pm…..BRRRR!!!! The cows look pretty chilly down on the creek today…..

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Our horses aren’t thrilled either, but they were intrigued when the heifer gathering began this morning!

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I’m the camp cook for everyone today…..I actually love this role….especially when it’s cold outside! There’s a roast in the oven so dinner is on its way. I decided this morning would be a great time to finish my Sugar Cookies, so here goes…….

Yesterday, I made the dough and let it sit in the fridge to firm up overnight. Here is the recipe once again as posted on Allrecipes.com.

The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies

  • 1 ยฝ cups of butter, softened
  • 2 cups of white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 cups of flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

Okay, here’s how I make these……I bake them at 350 degrees as my oven tends to get a bit hot and I also use parchment paper. If you’ve never used parchment paper…..do yourself a favor and go buy some….you won’t regret it! There is nothing worse than burned cookies…..I had to learn how to bake with this oven, but over time I feel like I’ve come out victorious. ๐Ÿ™‚

Here is what I started out with today:

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Get some dough out of the bowl and work it into a ball. The dough is usually quite stiff so it takes some hand working to get it pliable.

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Put some flour on your roller and go to work. The dough needs to be left at about 1/4″ thick maybe even more if you like thicker cookies (which we do). Roll out the dough…..then put your cookie cutters to work.

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Use a spatula to get them to your cookie sheet. Add more dough from the bowl to what you have left and repeat the process.

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The fun thing about this kind of sugar cookies is all the possibilities there are……like cookie bouquets or cookies on a stick!

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Fun, huh?! Now, put them in the oven….and keep on making cookies! I bake these at 350 degrees for around 10+ minutes. I am constantly checking on them. There is nothing worse than burned cookies….or even those that got too dark. Today, exactly 14 minutes was perfect!

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The cookies should almost look undone when they come out. They will be puffy. They should have much color on the top at all…if they do, you’ve gone too far! Here is how a corner should look:

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It took me a many times of making these cookies to get my timing down just right. Something inside me wanted them to be “golden”…..I learned after several times that “golden” isn’t pretty on these cookies! This is how the backs should look:

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And the tops:

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The cookies on a stick are perfect!

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Now, it’s time to cool the cookies. I do this as I continue to make cookies…..this process takes several hours (including frosting the cookies) so you need to plan to effectively make these. Towards the end of making the cookies, I start on the icing. This is the fun part!

Sugar Cookie Icing

  • 1 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 2 tsp. Light Corn Syrup
  • 2 tsp. Milk
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. flavoring
  • Food Coloring

In a small bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar and milk until smooth. Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup. Divide into separate bowls, and add food colorings to each to desired intensity. Dip cookies, or paint them with a brush.

Here’s what I did today:

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I used Rum Flavoring today (mostly because I was out of Strawberry….)

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I love using gel food coloring. It’s so vivid and easy to work with.

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I actually made 3 batches of the icing…..one in each color:ย  white, dark pink, and red. It was the perfect amount for the total amount of cookies that I ended up with.

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Decorating these cookies is really fun…..I had a blast with these!

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I even made some for our friends/neighbors with their brand on them!

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And of course, I had to made one for my little sweetheart with his name and brand on it!

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Here’s one for my big sweetheart, Shane, with our horse brand on it!

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Here’s what I ended up with…..after a couple of hours work!

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Here’s a little funny……what do you do with the last piece of dough? You know….the one that is too small to cut another cookie from, but too big to just discard? Shape it into a pancake and bake it with the last batch!

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This cookie has always been my “taster cookie”…..I don’t feel guilty eating the ugliest cookie out of the batch! ๐Ÿ™‚ *Just a little oddity about me and my baking secrets….haha!*

I hope you all try these cookies. They are quite a bit of work, but honestly…..they are worth it!! I’ve never tasted sugar cookies that are this good…..and they are festive and fun to make based on what holiday you are celebrating.

Well, I’m off to finish lunch over at my folks’ house. I just got a radio call to come and rescue the kids from the corrals…..they are hungry and cold. Here’s Stone and “Bob” (my parents’ dog):

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Stone is giving Bob an uneasy look as Bob just swiped some of Stone’s pop-tart. Glad I left those cookies at home….they wouldn’t last long over here with this bunch! Enjoy your Sunday! ~Cheyenne

A Winter Storm Warning = Sugar Cookies (Part 1)

Well, well, well……today is Saturday, February 8th. This evening is the Black Tie Calf Fry (fundraiser) for Chadron State College’s Rodeo Team. Cowgirl Swank is donating a couple of caps for the silent auction and we made plans to go. I was looking forward to it. In fact, I have had my outfit planned for several days…..well, it’s actually the outfit I was going to wear to read my poem “The Storm Atlas” at the Black Hills Stock Show Ranch Rodeo Finals, but we all know how that turned out….Mother Nature intervened and I wasn’t able to go.

Well, she’s at it again…..we are now under a winter storm warning until Sunday at noon. How lovely of her to be so kind once again. I swear…..I’m about ready to call her out to go behind the wood shed!! UGH!!! It’s snowing…..big, fluffy flakes. It’s actually beautiful outside…..but cold. I just got in from filling up the horse’s water tank and feeding them some hay. Shane is over helping my folks sort some heifers. My brother and his two boys should be here soon as there are plans to work some heifers tomorrow. Once in awhile they come down to help my folks. Anyway, tomorrow is the day the vet is scheduled for and it’s going to be the coldest day of the week….of course, doesn’t it always seem to be that way lately?! Excuse me for sounding so glum, but well, I guess I am…..that’s just the way it is!

Even though I get grumpy about our weather, I am still appreciative for the beauty in nature (supplied by Mother Nature, of course). Look at the gorgeous sunrise she displayed this morning!

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This was at first light. Sights like this make me happy to be alive….especially after I got back in our warm house and had my first cup of coffee! It’s the simple things in life that are the best!

Several hours later the snow began to fall….lightly at first, and now we are under a warning! It’s amazing how quickly things can change. I do cuss her, but I have a very deep respect for Mother Nature….that will never change.

This picture was taken around lunch time. It was snowing pretty good by then.

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Then it really started coming down. The flakes were as big as saucers…..well, maybe not that big, but you get the idea! Our horses were so happy that I took pity on them!

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And the heifers were all snuggled in on the creek eating hay.

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All is good outside……plus, we have about a month to go before we start calving so the snow and cold weather aren’t a huge concern for us. The ice has been a big issue. Shane has noticed that a handful of our cows have slunk (aborted) their calves. This is always a huge worry. Normally what happens is that they slip on the ice on their way to water up. It’s really just something that happens. It’s disconcerting, but it’s out of our hands for the most part. Every year there is a percentage of every rancher’s herd that don’t calve (for various reasons). We just keep our fingers crossed and pray that the percentage is small……and that the ice leaves quickly!

Stone and I were in the house today. With Valentine’s Day approaching I decided today was a great day to make sugar cookies. I love to share these cookies with our friends, neighbors, and loved ones. I’m really picky about sugar cookies…..any old cookie just won’t do. I like the big, thick, rolled out sugar cookies. It’s fun to cut them into different shapes and decorate them. This is something that Stone and I love to do. I truly cherish every moment like this…..I can always hope that at 18 he will continue to want to make these with me, but I already know how fast time is going so I cling just a little bit harder! ๐Ÿ™‚

If you’ve been searching for a great sugar cookie recipe I have just the one for you! I have been making this same recipe for five years and it hasn’t failed me yet! The cookie recipe is unbeatable in my opinion…..as is the recipe for the icing. I found both on Allrecipes.com. They are both keepers and my “Go To” recipes. I’ve even made cookie bouquets from this recipe (stick a sucker stick halfway in the cookie before baking and voila….a cookie on a stick!). Here is the Sugar Cookie Recipe.ย  The recipe itself is super easy, but these do take some time to make. For instance, I already mixed the dough, but I’m letting it sit until tomorrow in the fridge when I have time to commit to baking and decorating. Here is the printed out version of the recipe:

The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies

  • 1 ยฝ cups of butter, softened
  • 2 cups of white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 cups of flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth.

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Beat in eggs and vanilla.

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Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt.

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Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

*This recipe will take until tomorrow for me to complete. I plan to bake the cookies and decorate them then. I will post how that process goes and share with you the most amazing sugar cookie icing out there!*

I think I’m going to see what the plan is now. Shane still isn’t home yet, which means we will most likely be staying home tonight. Lots of times I’ve changed our plans to match the weather forecast. I’ve gotten used to it……sometimes I do get frustrated (especially when it means a lot to me)…..sometimes I just sigh and say, “Oh well”.ย  I guess this is one of those times…..I certainly can’t do anything to change it. I may just venture over to my folks’ in a while with Stone so we can all enjoy the evening and get in a good visit. Sounds good to me! Stay warm! ~Cheyenne

When life hands you lemons….make Lemon Bars!!

I have somewhat of a long face as I sit here typing……as you all know, I was supposed to go to Rapid City today to read my poem at the Black Hills Stock Show Ranch Rodeo Finals tonight. Well, guess what…..Mother Nature (old bag that she is sometimes) changed my plans. It’s storming out and it’s 0 degrees….in the middle of the day….without the windchill. Our horses are less than thrilled:

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Mind you…..it’s not storming horribly out, but it’s enough that my husband said this morning that he and Stone wouldn’t be going with me. I was in denial about not going so I made up my mind that I would go….no matter what. Well, soon the wind really kicked up….and the forecast says -30 (below zero) tonight with blowing snow. GREAT…..not what I wanted to see. I had a foot doctor appointment today and I was beyond excited about reading my poem “The Storm Atlas” this evening.

I’m going to put a little excerpt in here about Mother Nature and where we live. Most people will say that the weather doesn’t really limit their activities. Maybe that’s because they live in town or on good roads….maybe they work indoors…..maybe they go through with their plans come hell or high water…..whatever it is….it’s way different out here. I’d like those people to come live out here and see if they say the same thing. In the spring….we have snow storms, rain storms, and gumbo mud…..it makes it almost impossible to physically move and we are constantly watching over the baby calves being born (our lifeline). In the summer…..we are limited in going too far because of fire danger and water issues for our cattle/horses. In the fall, we have freezing rain, freak snow storms, mud, and possible illness in our calves to be wary of. In the winter…..it’s snow storms, blizzards, icy roads, and freezing temperatures…..feeding and opening water for our critters is a must. Overall, Mother Nature runs our lives out here. She is at the helm and there is nothing we can do about it. Don’t get me wrong….there are plenty of days that we enjoy…..it’s just on her terms….and not ours. I’m very much reminded of that today.

I could get in my pickup and head out….without Shane and Stone. I could go up to the Stock Show…..see my doctor, go shopping, visit with friends, see the sights, read my poem…..and most likely everything would be fine. However, there is that tug at my conscience…..the “most likely everything would be fine”. The bottom line is that my family comes first……above all else. Where would they be if a decision I made affected them in a bad way….that’s the way I think now that I’m a mom. So, I’m sitting at home…..sad about not going, but happy in the fact that I have a good head on my shoulders. I’m at peace with it. As a friend of mine said earlier to me, “everything happens for a reason”. I know she is right!

So, when life hands you lemons….make LEMON BARS!!! I’m thinking of my Gram today….she made the best Lemon Bars ever! I have her recipe, but I decided to try a new one….just to kick things up a bit. Here it is on Allrecipes:ย  The Best Lemon Bars.

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ยฝ cup white sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 ยฝ cups white sugar
  • ยผ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 lemons, juiced

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a medium bowl, blend together softened butter, 2 cups flour and 1/2 cup sugar. 20140204_220140204_3Press into the bottom of an ungreased 9×13 inch pan. 20140204_5
  3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until firm and golden. In another bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1/4 cup flour. 20140204_6Whisk in the eggs and lemon juice. 20140204_720140204_820140204_1020140204_1120140204_1220140204_15*I like to add the zest of the lemons (and limes in the next variation). I think it adds a little something extra. Pour over the baked crust.
  4. Bake for an additional 20 minutes in the preheated oven. The bars will firm up as they cool. For a festive tray, make another pan using limes instead of lemons and adding a drop of green food coloring to give a very pale green. 20140204_1320140204_14After both pans have cooled, cut into uniform 2 inch squares and arrange in a checker board fashion. 20140204_20
    After the pans have cooled a bit, I sprinkle powdered sugar over the bars before I cut them. *I won’t be doing the checkerboard thing…..my guys have already eaten 1/4 of each pan!* Cut into squares and enjoy!! Yum! Yum! This recipe is really easy and GOOD!!! Guess I’m going to drown my sorrows in a lemon bar…..and maybe some good wine later on this evening. I just talked to Randi, a friend of mine….she’s going to call me when they read my poem so I can at least hear it…..how nice of her! Can’t wait to hear it….still wishing I could be there, but I’m happy to be home – safe and sound. Here’s hoping you all stay warm! ~Cheyenne

Cheyenne’s French Toast & Stray Gathering

It’s finally here…..the Black Hills Stock Show Stray Gathering!! I’ve talked about Stray Gathering in a previous post and just typing it makes me giddy! I’m absolutely thrilled that they have added a permanent “All Girl” portion to it reserved for the fairer sex. There are 10 teams of 4 gals competing tonight and yours truly is on 2 of those teams…..EXCITED doesn’t even describe it! I’ve been exercising my horse…..and practicing in anticipation for this great event! My husband and some of his buddies are entered too. I’m hoping to blog again tomorrow about all the happenings so stay tuned!!

Practice:ย  image (29)

Tie Down Dummy:ย  image (30)

Me….happy to be practicing in an indoor arena with my best horse, Doc. Color me glamorous….Life is good! ๐Ÿ™‚image (31)

In preparation of tonight, I decided to make Shane’s favorite breakfast food for brunch. He’s been getting up early to go feed so it makes more sense to have breakfast around 10 o’clock when he is in between bunches of cattle. I surprised him with French Toast and Bacon……surely this will fuel us for some success tonight….if not, it’s yummy no matter what! There are a million recipes for French Toast out in the world. I stumbled upon the recipe that I made my own about 15 years ago and I’ve used it ever since. When I say that I made it my own I mean that I tried the original recipe, but toyed with it until I got it just like I want it (thus, totally redoing it)…..I do this a lot with recipes…..and life in general! ๐Ÿ™‚

Cheyenneโ€™s French Toast

  • 3 Eggs
  • ยฝ cup Sugar
  • 1-2 tsp. Vanilla
  • Pinch of Salt
  • ยฝ to 1 tsp. of Cinnamon
  • ยฝ to 1 tsp. of Nutmeg
  • Dash of Cloves (optional)
  • 1 cup of Milk (or Half & Half)

Mix all ingredients in a bowl with a whisk (leaving the milk till last).

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I mix everything up then add the milk as it seems to mix up better.

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Slice up a loaf of French Bread or Cinnamon Swirl Bread and dip it into batter (both sides).

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Cook on preheated griddle until brown on both sides.

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Sprinkle with Powdered Sugar. Add butter and syrup then devour it! ๐Ÿ™‚

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I usually always serve a breakfast meat of some kind (you know….Shane HAS TO HAVE meat at every meal). Today, it was bacon. Who doesn’t love bacon?! There are various cooking methods (we love to grill it on our Traeger), but today I baked it. I put the slices on a jelly roll pan. Keep in mind that there will be a lot of grease….I blot each piece of bacon to get rid of any excess…..see why…..

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That looks like a grease swimming pool….heart attack city!! Blotting is necessary for sure! What you choose to do with the excess grease is up to you. I usually fill an empty old pickle jar and discard it. Some gals feed it to their dogs……some older ranch gals reuse it (back when that’s what they did with most everything). Like I said….it’s up to you! No judgment here! ๐Ÿ™‚

Well, it’s about time to go load up the trailer and head north. Mother Nature isn’t cooperating as it’s cold, windy, and it’s starting to snow a tiny bit. Why do I feel like she is always trying to ruin my plans? Maybe it’s not just me who feels this way? Who knows…..I’m bound and determined to go……here’s to a fun event with lots of great folks! Time to go gather those strays……YeeHaw (can’t believe I just typed that)……haha! ~Cheyenne

Barbed Wire Gate – 1 pt. ~ My favorite Jeans – 0

This morning I was running behind…..I detest being late! What do I do when I’m late…..I hurry…..and do dumb things…..not on purpose, mind you, but things tend to happen. Anyway, I got my son loaded up to head to town (our lovely 30+ mile trek to Chadron on our lovely 10 miles of gumbo road….trail…..atrocity that it is. In a word, it’s awful! Our road is usually bad enough on its own….without the interference of gates. However, this winter my folks decided to run heifers and they keep them between our two houses….along the road that runs between us. It’s the “best” (and I use the term loosely) road we have to get to town. With the heifers along the road, the use of gates is a must. So, between our two houses, we have 4, yes FOUR, gates in a mile!!! One to keep our horses off the road….another to keep the horses from walking across our cattle guard…..one separating the heifers from our cake bin and hay yard….and other to keep mom and dad’s horses from crossing their cattle guard.

I’ve mentioned the word gumbo before….if you don’t know what that is….say a little prayer and realize how luck you are! If you know what it is…..then you know where my misery lies. Gumbo is a type of dirt, soil, whatever……it was surely spawned by the devil….it’s that lovely. It’s light and powdery when dry, but add the spit of a grasshopper and slippery, gooey, clingy, ugly, nasty, and goopy doesn’t cover it. When we first moved here I ruined several nice pair of shoes and boots due to the stuff. I also learned how to leap out of a pickup to try to keep it off the backs of my legs. I have since learned that I have as many muck boots as I do good boots…..and that’s a lot! I keep a pair in each “going to town” pickup and 2 on the porch. Some go to my knees….because come calving season I will need them that high….others are mid-calf length. I could actually kiss the inventor of muck boots. And if you don’t know what MUCK boots are…..say another prayer and realize that you must not know what gumbo is either! ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, back to the gates…..along with gumbo being a ruiner of looking nice, barbed wire is surely the kiss of death to down-filled jackets and denim. As I was on my way to work this morning, I got through 3 of the gates. However, closing gate #3 is the most challenging of all. My dad has a granny stick attached to it so that it makes it supposedly easier to shut….yeah, maybe if you are Hulk Hogan. So, instead of closing it on the tougher side I close it on the easier side then step over the gate to go on about my way. I did just that this morning except that when I stepped over the gate the wind (about a 40 mph gust) caught me off balance and caused me to let go of the barbed wire. If I was Shane, I might have been talking in a higher tone the rest of the day, but luckily my anatomy didn’t hinder me. However, I was now “caught”……”caught” by a nasty barb on the barbed wire of the gate. I danced around and tried to unhitch my jeans from the steel’s grasp, but all of a sudden I heard a “rip” and I was suddenly free. For a split moment, I was happy…..then I realized what had happened. With my hands, I felt down “there”…..no hole!!! WooHoo!! I had survived unscathed…….the wind was really blowing and for some reason I could definitely feel the breeze in the rear end of my pants…..oh no!!! I felt “back there” and sure enough….there was a hold big enough to fit 3 fingers in…….Crap!!!! My favorite jeans have been claimed by a barbed wire gate. UGH!!! I can’t tell you how many crotches of jeans I have had to repair from Shane stepping over gates…..I finally quit…..maybe if I stopped fixing them he would quit climbing over them? Nope…guess again! I guess he likes permanent air conditioning in the nether regions of his jeans…haha, just kidding…..well, am I? Not sure…..:)

My morning took a downward turn from there…..since I realized that a hole of that size would surely catch attention…..I simply had to return home and change jeans. Great……so back we went through 3 gates…..I left the one I tried to climb over open since the heifers weren’t nearby……and rushed home. I hurriedly changed and made it back to gate #3 just as the heifers were reaching it…..dirty little buggers! I was so mad at this point that I closed the gate on the “bad/hard” side without even trying and was on my way……no worse for wear!ย  After I got through gate #4, I even spun out a little bit in my Chevy pickup as to say “kiss the hole in my jeans….I’m outta here”! ๐Ÿ™‚ I did manage to get a smile on my face thinking about how I was going to talk my dad into buying me another pair of jeans…..because his gate ruined mine…..I’d better gather my strength for that argument! ~Cheyenne