Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

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Next take a roller and roll the bread quite flat.

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Smear some cream cheese on it.

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Then fill the center with chopped up strawberries.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

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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! 🙂

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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

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:

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

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*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! 🙂

Women’s Ranch Rodeo….Long Live Our Cowgirl Ways!!

May has been a crazy, busy month around here for me and my family. The month is starting to wind down now and today I am giddy with excitement! Tomorrow we head to Gillette, Wyoming for the first WRRA (Women’s Ranch Rodeo Association) rodeo of the season for us up here in the north country. We haven’t had a rodeo since last September so I’m really looking forward to it. My friend, Heidi Huggins of Bucking H Designs, has worked her tail off along with her helpers to put together and awesome event for us to enjoy this weekend. Hats off to them for working so hard!!There is something for everyone…even the kiddos! Here is the poster for the Bucking H Bash:

BHB 2014

I am so looking forward to competing with my team to try our hardest to win some of the awards awards and prize money up for grabs. Here is my team:

CS Team Hyannis

One of the members has changed since this picture, but this is what we look like…..all decked out in our bright red shirts….true Cowgirl Swank color! Our team is called Cowgirl Swank so that should come as no surprise.  The three other gals on the team are:  Heidi Cuny, Randi Selle, and Rhonda Matt. Great girls who are all quite handy! 🙂

I wrote an article about the WRRA a couple of months ago, but the publication it was going to appear in hit a bump in the road so I’m still waiting to hear from them. I’ve decided that it’s fitting to publish it here on my blog as I sit here waiting for the minutes to tick by until we take off tomorrow. Hope you enjoy the read! Here goes:

I grew up idolizing cowgirls. I was lucky because I had a great role model to look up to….my mom, Lila Glade. Just like my mom, I grew up on the same ranch in southeastern Montana north of the Yellowstone River smack dab between Little Sheep Mountain and Big Sheep Mountain. In truth, I don’t believe my mom aspired to be anything but a cowgirl/ranch woman. Don’t get me wrong, she went off and got a college education. She and her teammates even managed to capture the coveted Team Championship at the College National Finals Rodeo one of the years she was there! She enjoyed college, but deep inside I think she always knew her place was out on the range. She has always loved the outdoors and the animals associated with a cowgirl’s life: horses and cattle. My mom has always been a superior horsewoman and she definitely knows her cattle. She has had many accomplishments in her career as a cowgirl. I believe her greatest accomplishment was qualifying and competing in the National Finals Rodeo in 1976.

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She may argue with me a bit on this because she has other accomplishments to choose from, but I think it’s incredible! My mom roped a little bit, but not competitively. Growing up, I had some of the best barrel horses ever to compete on. How many nine year olds do you know who get to ride a horse that went to the NFR? Not many!

The fact is I enjoyed barrel racing a lot when I was younger, but as I grew older my dad started showing me the joys of what a lariat could do. I wasn’t a roper at a really young age like some kids are today. I didn’t actively start roping until I was 12 years old. There was just something about roping that go in my blood right away. I can thank my dad for passing on his athletic abilities to just pick stuff up. That’s how it was with me and roping….so barrel racing eventually went by the wayside. I did have a slight challenge along the way because I am left-handed. My dad never viewed it as a “handicap” and he never tried to change me. He always thought lefties had an advantage when it came to breakaway roping anyway…..no crossing over to worry about! I taught myself to tie goats right-handed and it worked out just fine. I managed to win 3 state championships in high school in goat tying, pole bending, and breakaway roping. *I’ve even taken to heading right-handed now. It’s quite a process and I’m not as “deadly” as I am with my left hand, but the fact that I’m trying to master both is a feat in itself. I love heeling, but it’s good to be able to rope both ends (heading and heeling).*

I went on to rodeo one season in college. I decided college really wasn’t for me so I went off to the big city to learn about the retail world. Fast forward, 13 years…..this is where my story picks back up. I moved back to Montana in the late fall of 2004. I met my soon-to-be-fiancé in early 2005 and within a few months we moved to southwestern South Dakota and started working on my folks’ ranch (my folks had sold their ranch in Montana in early 2000 and had relocated here). I was home….and boy, did it feel good! With the help of my folks, Shane and I went into the cattle business in the fall of 2005. With that part of my life lined out, I set my sights on getting back into the arena. As fate would have it, I suffered a bad injury on the 4th of July. I was at home in our arena roping on the gentlest horse on the place. It wasn’t good. I got bucked off and as it was happening I hyper-extended my wrist on the swells of my saddle. I tore some ligaments in my left arm/wrist and cracked some bones. It took me years to get it to where I could use it effectively again. So, fast forward again to 2013….

I had been watching ranch rodeos for several years from the sidelines as my husband and his friends went and did their thing. I might mention that I had our son in 2008 so up until this point I was pretty content being the cheerleader and caretaker. However, something inside me started longing for my goal of roping and competing again. I had let my arm heal significantly and I felt I was “ready”. There was something about ranch rodeo that really appealed to me. Perhaps it was the team camaraderie, the events (tying down a steer looked awfully fun to me), the excitement and atmosphere of it all. Whatever it was, I was hooked….but I wasn’t ready to jump into it with the guys. I didn’t feel confident enough for that (yet).

2012 came around and one day I was on Facebook. Something about “Women’s Ranch Rodeo Association” came on the screen. I stopped what I was doing and decided to check it out. Holy cow!! Here was an entire association dedicated to WOMEN in RANCH RODEO!!

WRRA

I thought I had died and gone to heaven! I devoured what I could read there and then went on to dive into their website (www.womensranchrodeo.org). I read and read until there was nothing else to read.

In my reading, I found out that the WRRA was founded by Kansas cowgirls in 2005 and that each rodeo includes the same 5 timed events in each of their sanctioned rodeos. They are: Calf Branding, Doctoring, Sorting, Trailer Loading, and Tie Down/Mugging. Here’s what happens in each event (and here are a few pictures of team Cowgirl Swank in action):

Calf Branding – 3 Minute Time Limit. There is one roper, one brander, and two gals to hold the calves down. The roper goes in and snags a calf by one or both hind legs. She drags it out where one gal tails the calf down and the other has the rope. Once the rope is removed the brander is signaled. She runs over and “brands” the calf with a branding iron that has powder on it. Once the calf is “branded” it is let up and the roper goes back in for the second calf. Everything is repeated. Once the second calf is “branded” time is called.

Branding Hyannis 2

Branding Hyannis 5

Branding Hyannis

Doctoring – 2 Minute Time Limit. All four team members start behind a line on their horses. Time starts when the first team member crosses the line. They take off after their steer that is on the other end of the arena. All four members are allowed to rope. The steer must be roped with a legal head catch within the first minute. The steer must be headed and heeled. Once this is achieved, one of the non-roping team mates jumps down and marks the steers face with chalk. Time is called.

Sorting 2 Hyannis

Doctoring Hyannis 2

Doctoring Hyannis

Sorting – 3 Minute Time Limit. Cattle with numbers on them are located at the end of the arena behind a chalk line. Time starts when the first team member crosses the line. While riding towards the herd, three numbers are called out over the loud speaker. They are in order (4, 5, 6 or 10, 11, 12 – for example). These are the numbers/cattle that must be cut out of the herd and taken across the chalk line. Any team member can sort, but only one rider can be in the herd at a time. Once a critter is across the chalk line, it cannot come back across or it is a no time. Also, no wrong numbered animal may cross the line. Once all 3 critters are across the line, time is called.

Tie Down Hyannis 2

Sorting 2

Sorting 3 Hyannis

Trailer Loading – 2 Minute Time Limit. Cattle with numbers on them will be located at the end of the arena behind a chalk line. Time starts when the first team member crosses the score line. Any team member can sort, but only one rider can be in the herd at a time. While riding towards the herd, the number of the steer to be sorted and loaded will be called out over the loud speaker. This steer must be cut out from the herd and taken across the line. The steer is then trailed to the trailer and loaded in the first compartment and the door is shut. One team member’s horse is then loaded in the second compartment. Once the door is shut and latched all team members must run to a designated spot near the judge. Once there, the judge calls for time.

Trailer Loading

Trailer Loading Hyannis 2

Trailer Loading Hyannis 4

Tie Down/Mugging – *This is my favorite event!* 3 Minute Time Limit. Steer will be let out at the opposite end of the arena. Team members start behind a chalk line. Time starts when the first team member crosses the line. Steer must be roped with a legal head catch in the first minute. No loop limit and all four team members are allowed to rope. Steer doesn’t have to be heeled; this is up to the teams’ discretion. After the steer is roped, he must be mugged and tied down by 3 legs. The three legs must be crossed. During the mugging process at least one team member must be in contact with rope or steer. All ropes must be off the steer and all team members must be clear of steer before calling for time. Time stops when one team member raises hands after the steer is tied down. Steer must stay tied for 6 seconds.

Tie Down Hyannis 2

Tie Down Hyannis 4

Tie Down Hyannis 3

Things don’t get much more exciting than those 5 events! I have been asked why there aren’t women’s rough stock events. I don’t have a technical answer on that except to say that I’m glad there aren’t. My 40-year-old body can’t handle much crow-hopping let alone a bucking bronco! I will say that I have been told that the WRRA’s outlook on their rodeos and events is that they want to include everyone and not exclude anyone. Even gals who aren’t bona fide ropers can participate as there are events that don’t require every single team member to rope (calf branding, trailer loading, sorting). Women’s bronc riding is only for a few select women who like to do that sort of thing (hats off to them too). The WRRA wants to showcase actual ranch events that occur on most any ranch. They want to keep it as safe as possible for contestants and animals alike. That makes perfect sense to me.

Since the WRRA sanctions the rodeos, their rules are followed and the gals participating must become members before competing. Money can be won and points are accumulated towards their World Finals, which will be held this year in Loveland, Colorado in October. Imagine, a World Finals…..for Women…..in Ranch Rodeos!! I was so excited about this that I called the phone number listed on the WRRA’s website. Enter Billie Franks into my life.

Billie FranksBillie is from Grenola, Kansas.

Billie is the Special Agent and Treasurer for the WRRA. She is quite a cowgirl and a determined leader of the association. We talked for quite a bit and struck up a friendship right then and there. With her encouragement and leadership, I decided that this was going to be “my thing”. Instantly it became my goal to get involved in this association and to hopefully host the first-ever WRRA rodeo in Nebraska.

I’m happy to report that I reached this goal last summer with the “Cowgirl Swank Classic” – Women’s Ranch Rodeo. I had a lot of help from some great people in the Crawford, Nebraska area. It’s a long story of how it all came to be so I won’t go into all of that. I will just say that with a positive attitude, hard work, and good people helping you…you can achieve most anything!

CSC Logo

So, what went on at the “Cowgirl Swank Classic”? Let me tell you….it was 2 days of the most amazing cowgirl action I have ever seen or been a part of! Imagine 12 teams of 4 competitive cowgirls, 48 well-trained horses, 50 head of steers, 25 head of calves, and over 2 inches of rain…..it was nothing short of the most entertaining rodeo ever! We had spills and thrills.….my pants were so dirty after each rodeo that they could have stood up by themselves….and I’m not kidding!

CSC Branding 4

CSC Branding

Me Muddy

The crowd was super….I was so worried that the rain would keep people away, but just the opposite happened. Crawford has such an amazing arena setup. It allows vehicles to pull up near the grandstands so they can look down over the arena. It truly couldn’t have been more perfect. We are still hearing comments about what a wonderful rodeo it was and how spectators and contestants can’t wait for the next one!

CS Classic Team Photo48 cowgirls competed at the 2013 Cowgirl Swank Classic. This is our group photo.

Like me a lot of the contestants are mothers and wives. We have our children and our husbands supporting us. The best part at our rodeos though is that the husbands are the ones in the stands with the video cameras ready to go and the kids playing in the dirt at their feet. Turnabout is fair play! Rodeo and ranching is about partnership. We have done it for them….and will continue to do so in the future…now it’s their turn to repay the favor….and they do it willingly. All of the husband’s I have visited with are thrilled with the advancements we are making for this sport. They truly think it is great and applaud us. They are happy to see their wives out enjoying themselves and having fun while representing our way of life. We ladies appreciate all the support we get from our families so that we can have our turn in the arena. It’s our turn to shine!

The first-ever women’s ranch rodeo in Nebraska was deemed a huge success. 2014 is going to be a very exciting year for women’s ranch rodeo in the northern region! We are in the planning stages for our second “Cowgirl Swank Classic”, which is scheduled to take place on July 20th and 21st in Crawford, NE.

CS_Classic_poster_2014

Another wonderful occurrence is other people having the same idea I did. They have taken it upon themselves to promote this awesome association/sport and put on their own rodeos. Hyannis, Nebraska was second last year with a two-day rodeo in September. They are planning for the second “Cowgirl’s Duel in the Sandhills” to take place August 2nd and 3rd. Three newcomers to the WRRA are Gillette, Hermosa (possible), and Cheyenne. Gillette, Wyoming will open the season with their two-day “Bucking H Bash” rodeo on May 31st and June 1st. Hermosa, South Dakota is looking at a possible date during their fair in August and Cheyenne, Wyoming is hosting a one-day rodeo on September 21st, which will close out the season for the northern division.

The great thing about how much interest has been generated in our area is that the ladies of the WRRA sat up and took notice. They are excited to have added us as their “northern division”. I was really glad to be voted onto their board of directors in December as was Mckenzie Minor from Hyannis, Nebraska.

McKenzie Minor McKenzie Minor is from Hyannis, Nebraska.

Together, we are pushing for even more expansion in the northern region in 2015. I envision additional rodeos taking place in Colorado, Montana, and hopefully North Dakota in the near future. With that said, if you are interested in hosting a WRRA rodeo in your area in 2015, please contact me. I would love to explain the process to you and answer any questions you may have. We are also searching for sponsors and people who want to get involved in this incredible association. Feel free to contact me at any time! I can be reached at thenativecowgirl@yahoo.com or on my cell at 605-891-1827. I look forward to hearing from some of you and continuing to work to spread this great association as far as we can.

As I said at the beginning of this column, I have always idolized cowgirls. The best thing is that through my life I became one. It’s one of my proudest accomplishments and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I revere my fellow cowgirls. We may come from different backgrounds or similar ones. We may “cowgirl” in different ways, but one thing is for sure: we are kindred spirits. We try hard and we don’t take no for an answer. We love our horses and our families. We are winners inside and outside the arena. Long live our cowgirl ways!