Tag: calving

Calving Season and Slow Cooker Meals


First calf of the season. We’ve had calves born in snow, rain and wind this year, but fortunately the weather has been getting warmer again.

What does calving season have to do with slow cooker meals? Well, seeing as 2 to 3 baby calves are coming each day, having a slow cooker meal ready for dinner makes at least one part of the day a little easier.

Not only is my hubby busy checking for baby calves each day and night, but we’re also still feeding cows as the grass is getting greener, but not yet tall enough to provide all the nutrition the cows need right now. Our bull sale is a little over a month away. Many other ranchers who produce seedstock or purebred cattle, are also prepping for the bull sale season. This is when commercial producers purchase their bulls to use for the next breeding season. We’ve been gathering the pedigree information and taking photos for the catalog, putting together advertising, and going through the checklist of must-dos before sale day.


All the Hamburger (Ground Beef) Stew ingredients combined into my slow cooker.


Ready to eat!

Kids’ activities keep us on the go as we have one playing basketball and one in wrestling right now. Not to mention homework sessions each night. Our busy days and evenings give me reason enough to keep the Crock-Pot® filled. Dinner is much easier when I plan ahead and spend a few minutes prepping in the morning while cleaning up breakfast dishes. I love slow cooker meals because they are little mess and provide a healthy, hearty meal for my family at the end of the day. I guess the only downside for me is smelling the yummy goodness all day long and it makes me hungry, ha!

I tried several new beef recipes during the holidays and this new year, so I’ll be sharing them with you here. This one isn’t a new one, but actually a tried and true recipe from my mom—it always reminds me of home. Not only is it easy to make, but it’s become one of my kids’ favorite meals too. I’ve included some helpful hints as well.

Hamburger Stew


A yummy bowl of Hamburger (Ground beef) Stew. A perfect end to a busy day—easy, hearty and healthy!

1-2 pounds lean ground beef (Brown and cook thoroughly. Drain and rinse with water if necessary to remove extra fat if not using lean ground beef.) *Helpful Hint: Buy ground beef in bulk and brown all at once, divide into 2-4 cup servings, and place in freezer gallon bags. It makes it super easy to prepare a slow cooker meal or a quick dish when some of the prep is already done.

1-2 cans diced or stewed tomatoes (I use one can per pound of beef.)

*Helpful Hint: I fill the empty tomato can with water to add liquid to the stew. You can also use one can of beef or vegetable broth.

1 small can tomato sauce (I use no salt added as I like to be in charge of my seasonings.)

Vegetables (This is where you can get creative and use what you have on hand.)
-Cubed potatoes (You can peel or leave peel on, whichever your family prefers.)
-Diced carrots, celery, bell peppers, onions (I cut up in 1 inch pieces.)
-Frozen, fresh or canned corn and green beans (I use frozen as that’s what I keep on hand. They are just as nutritious as fresh, and great during cold months when fresh aren’t in season. I usually put them in during the last 30 minutes to hour of cooking.)

-Salt and pepper to season (I used fresh ground pepper and Lawry’s Garlic Salt as my go-to seasonings of choice. Mrs. Dash is also a great choice of seasoning if you want a salt-free spice blend. I usually season at the beginning of cooking, then taste before serving and add a little more if needed.)

Put all the ingredients in slow cooker and cook on high 4-6 hours or low for 8-10 hours. I love to serve with Beer Bread or crusty rolls to sop up some of the broth, but truly it’s excellent all by itself.

*Helpful Hint: This recipe is easily doubled or tripled, depending on how many you need to feed. It also freezes well, and makes a great meal to take to neighbors or friends.

For all those busy nights when you don’t want to worry about dinner, I hope you consider this easy, hearty and healthy hamburger, ground beef stew!

~ M

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored by Crock-Pot®, Lawry’s or Mrs. Dash, but we wanted to give credit to these brands as they were mentioned in the post.

Categories: Beef, Blogging, Idaho Cattlewomen, Lifestyle, Ranch Life, Recipes

The First Calf of 2015

Every now and then somebody claims that they’ve been doing something since the day they were born. The skeptic in me hardly ever believes them, but this photo reminds me that it can, in fact, be true.

Just a baby helping the babies. In true Jessie form, I probably asked if they could sleep in bed with me.

Just a baby helping the babies. In true Jessie form, I probably asked if they could sleep in bed with me.

I think it’s safe to say that I’ve been helping with calving season for a while now. The picture above is circa 1992, during a cold winter’s night when our only option to keep these babies alive was to bring them in the house and dry them off with a blow dryer. Twenty three years later, not a whole lot has changed. I’m still not allowed to throw a working blow dryer away, although now we have a special heated room in our barn where we can house babies overnight when needed.

I don’t care if it’s black, red, or pink with purple stripes; there is absolutely nothing cuter than the first calf of the season. I’ve been not-so-patiently waiting for a 2015 calf to arrive, and FINALLY, my wish was granted.


Franklin’s first steps were a bit wobbly, to say the least. But he got the hang of things pretty quickly.

While we were feeding on Saturday, my husband noticed that one of his heifers was off in the trees by herself. He walked over to check on her, and new immediately that something wasn’t right. During birth, a calf’s front feet are supposed to come first; therefore, the bottoms of the feet point down. This bottoms of this baby’s feet were pointing up, so we knew he was coming backwards. Just like in humans, babies who try to come out breech need a little extra help.

FranklinHeadShotKnowing we didn’t have a ton of time to spare, we hurried back to the house. Justin jumped on the 4-wheeler, while I stayed back and got all of the gates ready so she could sail right into our calving pen. Most of the time it’s a bit of a struggle to get a calving bovine headed in the direction you want them (which is understandable…she’s in the midst of having a baby!), but this heifer couldn’t have done better. Once we got her in the pen and got all of our birthing tools ready, we started the “pulling” process. Cattle do have C-sections, but in this specific case that wasn’t the best option. Instead, we helped the Mom give birth by gently pulling her calf out. The process usually goes very quickly, is least invasive, and leaves a Mom with very little, if any, downtime afterwards.

When it was all said and done, this little bull calf was born about 5 whole minutes after we started. We usually give Mom and Baby about 30 minutes to themselves before going back to check on them; that way they have ample time to bond and the cow can really dry him off without being disrupted.

While were we sneakily waiting for our baby to try to stand, Justin jokingly said, “Welp, it looks like Little Franklin is down again.” I’m not overly sure how he came up with Franklin, but it stuck.

Since Saturday, Franklin and his Mom have been staying in the “maternity ward,” basking in fresh straw, and soaking up all of the available sunshine. Today, they’ll get moved out to the “calf pasture” and will shortly be joined by other cow-calf pairs once others start calving.

Franklin and his Mom have been loving all the extra attention they've been getting in the maternity ward.

Franklin and his Mom have been loving all the extra attention they’ve been getting in the maternity ward.

We’re excited to have Calving Season 2015 is off to a great start!

– J

Jessie has returned to her roots on her family’s commercial 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: Blogging, Cattle, Idaho Cattlewomen, Ranch Life