Archive: October 2014

Cowboy Daddy

cows, Billy B-Day, Katie B-Day 090

Cowboys make great daddies.

Perhaps it’s the bawl of a new calf. Or it could be that overprotective mother cow. (Her calf’s ID is not a tag, but a crisp new rope.) Maybe its the bawl of weaned calves, but there are many times during our ranch life that remind us of memories of impending parenthood. For it was fourteen years ago when my husband and I found out it wasn’t just the cows who were going to experience the miracle of birth.

With the news of our pregnancy coming on the eve of calving season, my cowboy found himself in “baby mode.” He quickly whipped out his cattle gestation calendar and reported to me my due date. (What do you mean there’s a gestation difference?) He flailed his arms and spouted phrases like, just before weaning time, not during haying season, and maybe during a storm or full moon. He quipped that he would know just what to do because he’d helped many animals in my condition. It never occurred to him that I might not like being compared to a cow. I gently reminded him I was not some heifer. That’s when he put away his weight expectancy chart.

It goes without saying that pregnancy changes a woman, but it also changes a man. It certainly changes the size of his wallet. All of the things that are needed for a child add up: the four door pickup, the tractor with the enclosed, air conditioned cab, and the tack.
With tack catalogues strewn across the kitchen table, my hubby could hardly contain his excitement. “What kind of kid’s saddle should I get?”

“Well, the baby’s the size of a bean right now, so I’d go with something small. Let’s not get carried away.”

Yet what first time parents don’t get carried away? At our initial doctor’s appointment my husband came with spurs on and his head cocked like a rooster. An early ultrasound was included, so my cowboy told me what to expect because he’d done ultrasounds for preg checking.

Once my belly began to bulge, so did my man’s ego. Why read baby books when he’d seen a million bovine births? It wouldn’t be that different…would it?

One “difference” came when the baby began kicking. My husband put his hand on my belly expecting to feel a small tap and was blown away when the baby actually moved his hand with a forceful little blow. This was the first time I heard him scream like a little girl.

The second scream occurred in Lamaze class. It was not the videos that made him holler. No, it was another forceful blow—this time by another expectant mother who didn’t tolerate bovine comparisons very well. Needless to say, we didn’t make any lifelong friends there. The calf-pulling conversation didn’t help.

When labor did begin, I was in denial. It was early. My husband convinced me to go to the hospital because I was “walking around like a cow with my tail up.” I promised to go, if he promised not to say that in the delivery room. When we arrived at the hospital and labor was confirmed, my husband obliged, and explained he knew what was happening because he had “seen it in his field.”

When our daughter arrived, cowboy instincts let loose and he nearly fainted. The man can castrate a steer, pull a calf, and inspect afterbirth….but a human umbilical cord made him woozy! All of his jitters passed away though when our beautiful girl was placed in his arms.

Pride has been taken to a whole new level from this time forward. Stories of tagging, penning, and roping will always make a cowboy beam, but a child is like all of these tales and then some. Put some cowboy daddies together and they can talk!

“Why just last week my six-year-old daughter drove the truck while I forked off hay.”

“Oh yah, well my five-year-old won first prize at the mutton busting.”

“That’s nothing. My two-year-old roped a steer on his first try, blindfolded.”

Even with their stories though, cowboys do make great fathers. They help their kids learn about life via the ranch. They teach them to make hay forts. They encourage them to open gates. The only thing that continues to puzzle me is this: How can a cowboy be immune to the stench of manure, stick his hands in the tightest of places, but changing a diaper induces tears or vomiting?


Marci is a city girl gone country. She married her cowboy and never looked back. While life may be different than what she first imagined, it’s also better than expected as well. She and her husband are raising their three kids on the ranch, and she says she’s grown used to all the boots by the door.

Categories: Blogging, Idaho Cattlewomen, Ranch kids, Ranch Life

Steak Tacos

At the beginning of August our family spent a week at our local county fair. Our oldest was showing cattle and all the kids had various projects and activities to enjoy. When you spend a week at a fair, you can sometimes get tired of all the regular fair food options. We usually try to visit several different food booths to support the local groups trying to raise money, the 4-H leaders association, various churches, school clubs and community groups. One of newer food vendors was the Taco Truck. We frequented there a few times! This little recipe is inspired by the steak tacos we ate there. I was still craving them when we got home the next week. Super simple, fresh and healthy too!


Chopped white onion and a bunch of cilantro. I think fresh cilantro makes everything better. If you’re not a fan of the herb, you could probably use flat leaf parsley, but it won’t be quite the same.


Thinly sliced sirloin steak, seasoned with lime juice, cumin, salt and pepper. The thinner the slices the better. They cook quickly and are more tender.


Is your mouth watering yet?


I warmed corn tortillas, then added the meat, chopped onions and cilantro, then squirted everything with some lime juice. Delicious!

~ Maggie

Categories: Beef, Recipes

Potlucks and Taco Salad

The first weekend of our marriage, Justin was invited to an all day team roping, complete with an afternoon potluck. Ahh, a potluck.

In the past, my potluck “contribution” has always been as follows. I spend my morning drinking coffee and watching the Today show, while my mom is busy boiling, slicing, measuring and mixing. I take my time getting ready, whereas Mom has less than ten minutes to get herself put together, usually leaving a trail of flour and chopped pickles in her wake. We load up, and she drives to our destination—obviously, because I’ve worked way too hard to exert any more effort than necessary. I walk in, all smiles, carrying the dish my Mom slaved over all morning long, attempting to claim it as my own creation.

Luckily for my mom, I can no longer ride around on her apron tails. Because when you’re married, you’re expected to bring a dish representing your own family’s tastes. Ahh, the joy.

There weren’t any dish stipulations, so I decided to take the only cowboy-approved salad I’ve ever seen, Momma De’s Taco Salad! I know that a cowboy approved salad sounds awfully similar to an oxymoron, but believe me, stranger things have happened.

My potluck contribution turned out to be a huge success. In fact, when Justin and I got in line, the only thing left was what was caked to the serving spoon. He looked at me and smartly said, “I thought you told me you couldn’t cook?” Ha! Ladies, we all know that a smart woman keeps a few secrets up her sleeve.

I’m going to backtrack for a moment, only to tell you a little bit more about “Momma De.” The recipe for this ridiculously delicious salad comes from my mother-in-law, Dena. It also happens to be the first recipe she ever confided in me, prefaced by something similar to “If you’re going to marry my son, you need to learn how to make this.” Although it makes an appearance at 90 percent of the birthdays and BBQs we go to, nobody ever grows tired of seeing it.


*When I made this most recently, I used one pound of hamburger, so that’s the scale this recipe is set to. If you’re cooking for a crowd, I would say anywhere from 2-3 lbs. of hamburger would best fit your serving needs, requiring you to double or triple other ingredients as needed.


1 lb. Lean Hamburger
2 Romaine Lettuce Hearts
1 can Black Beans
2 cups Shredded Cheese
1 bag Nacho Cheese Doritos

2 parts Mayo
1 part Ketchup

In a pan with medium heat, start by breaking your hamburger into bite-sized crumbles. I like using a lid to keep extra heat in, which will help your meat cook a bit faster. The lid also helps when draining any excess fat, which I do frequently. If you’re using 80/20 or above, you shouldn’t have very much fat, if any, to drain off.


While that’s cooking, I like to chop lettuce, and drain beans. When those are ready, I mix them into my serving bowl, then add the cheese.


For this size of salad, I would recommend about 2/3 cup of Mayo, and 1/3 cup of ketchup. I also suggest that you add dressing conservatively, because it seems to stay fairly moist during its refrigeration time. I rarely add extra, but when Inclined I wait until right before I serve the salad.


After my meat is finished cooking, I pour it onto a small stack of paper towels, again to get any grease out. After that, I add it along with the other ingredients. Then, I top with dressing, making sure to mix thoroughly.


Now, on to the Doritos. This can go one of two ways. If you’re serving this for a crowd, I advise you to next, add about half the bag. This is done by crunching the chips in your hands as you pull them from the bag and put them in the salad bowl. Medium sized pieces seem to work best. Usually if I’m only cooking for Justin, I end up with a couple meals worth of leftovers, so I have him add the chips to his own bowl. This prevents the chips from having a chance to get soft before the next meal.

I recommend chilling this salad prior to serving–it usually tastes better when the meat has a chance to cool off from cooking. You can always cook the hamburger the night before, which makes it even faster to throw together the next day.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does!

~ Jessie

Jessie has returned to her roots on her family’s commercial black angus cattle ranch in southern Idaho after time away at college and working on behalf of the state’s cattle producers. She’s passionate about agriculture and the western way of life. When she isn’t doing ranch work or writing, Jessie enjoys baking, golfing and drinking coffee. As a newlywed, she’s also turning a little cabin on the ranch into a home.

Categories: Beef, Recipes

Honey, I need your help…

Aww, those five little words. I know I’ve used them before, and I’ve certainly heard them too. As a rancher’s wife, I never quite know what will come at the end of that sentence, but that’s kind of a good thing. It’s never dull around here, and I rather enjoy getting called out from behind my desk to head outside and help. Some days it’s blocking the road while they move cows, other days it’s tagging new calves or an even messier job-helping pull a calf. Today, it was help moving a pivot.

On this particular summer day—yes I do realize we’re heading in to fall—but we’re catching up around here. It was a beautiful day. The hubby dropped me off at the box, gave me my instructions and headed off. I have helped with this task before, but never on this particular pivot, so I was pretty enthralled by my view. One thing I’ve always taken note of is the topography of the great state of Idaho. Being a western Kansas girl, I came from the flat country surrounded by row crops (still a beautiful view in itself, but definitely different from here).

I watched as the pickup bumped off toward the other end of the pivot, slowly disappearing. Good thing for cell coverage as soon my phone rang and he walked me through moving it forward and backward to get it going again. We had to get it moving out of the way as they were cutting the hay that day. Normally this isn’t a two person job, but today teamwork was needed and it paid off.


There he goes….


Selfie in a hayfield, why not?


Yes, incredible view from here. An quiet too. I could hear the low hum of the swather motor in the distance, but other than that it was completely still and quiet out there.


As I was waiting for the phone call, I noticed the swather making another slice through the tall teff grass.


Same view, just a few seconds later. And the swather had disappeared too. Lots of hills out here.


Little Miss tagged along with us too. Love being able to share our daily work with the kiddos.

Now, I wonder if the hubby will have as much fun helping me with the dishes tonight….

~ M

Maggie and her husband raise their four children and registered cattle on his family’s southwest Idaho ranch. As a family, they enjoy sports, showing cattle, 4-H, church and other activities when not working on the ranch. She likes to experiment with recipes in the kitchen, shares her love of sweets through baking with her children and has been known to start a DIY project every now and then. Sometimes she actually finishes one.

Categories: Beef, Ranch Life