Archives for May 2014
A Needle Stick
One fine branding day, I was in charge of giving the shots. I was double fisting even. Before we would get to work on the calves we had to have them rolled on the right side. If there wasn’t a free man to do it I would jump in and try to help. Easy, not a problem. Except the time that as I rolled the calf and bent down so did The Rancher’s uncle behind me. It was like two magnets coming together- his bum and my needle. AH! If there was ever a terrible place for a needle stick it had to be there!
Boys and Hot Shots
Little boys and hot shots are always a scary combination, but give them to a little boy that wants to zap his neighbor. There was a little cousin that loved the hot shot and would just come up to whoever and give them a little zap. The boys got so sick of it that occasionally they would give him a taste of his own medicine. And then came the day that he accidentally got The Buckaroo. He was so sick of this kid doing it and not knowing it wasn’t on purpose, he turned around and got him back so bad! Needless to say, he didn’t get anyone with the hot shot again!
** Funny side note- when I asked The Rancher’s Sidekick what I should title this post he said, “Um… Lemonade!” Yes, it is a sprinkler changing, lemonade sippin’ spring day at our house. Summer is on its way!
Growing up I didn’t like lasagna. Don’t know why… just crazy I guess. Being the kind mother that she is, my mom didn’t make it because I didn’t like it. And I feel so terrible because lasagna is one of those home cooked kitchen masterpieces! I finally came to my senses and learned that and now I love, LOVE lasagna.
But I do have one tiny problem with lasagna- the ingredients. Its not that I don’t like the ingredients. I love every bit of what goes in a traditional lasagna. The problem lies in whether or not I have them. I have to plan ahead and make sure that I have ricotta cheese (did you know it is pronounced rigot?!) and make sure that I make it before it has gone bad. Of course there is the alternative of using cottage cheese instead of ricotta, but when I buy cottage cheese, I eat it up before it can make it to the lasagna.
See my problem? Its in the cheese…
But I found a solution! Cream cheese! I always have tons of cream cheese (not sure why… maybe subconsciously I’m thinking of making cheese cake!) which means that we have a green light for the lasagna!
Now, for all the Italians out there, I’m sorry if you think that I have taken your beautiful cuisine and ruined it. I’ll try better to not disappoint in my next Italian recipe undertaking. I just had to make it in a way that I could use it! That’s why this is Country Style Lasagna, not From Italy’s Kitchen Lasagna.
I was a little leery to try the cream cheese. Why mess with something that you know is already so good? But I was desperate. So I tried it. And I don’t think I will EVER go back! (ok… maybe on occasion…)
Start with some brown hamburger.
Then add in spaghetti sauce. I actually make mine from tomato sauce, Italian seasonings, basil, oregano, dried onion flakes and garlic. Plus the salt and pepper or course! I add in a little olive oil and then a little water to get it to the right consistency. And I just give a little shake here and there. Nope, no real recipe… so sorry.
And, I have a confession- I don’t like chunks in my sauce, except for the hamburger of course. To that end I don’t put in any tomato bits or onions. But you sure can if it you want!
Then let it simmer for a little while…. simmer…. simmer… Lets those seasonings come ALIVE!
This is the perfect time to cook up the lasagna noodles and whip the cream cheese. The more the cream cheese is whipped, the easier it is to spread. I got a little crazy… and added some sour cream too! Just a dollop…
Once the noodles are cooked, the sauce has simmered, and the cream cheese has been whipped, its time to put it all together.
Grab an 8×8 dish and slather a scoop of sauce around the bottom. Before layering the noodles in the bottom, coat the top side with a healthy helping of the cream cheese. Its so much easier to spread it BEFORE its in the pan. Trust me. I tried it the other way… Put the noodles in the pan and cover with a few scoops of sauce. We like the layers really meaty/saucy, so I put a BUNCH. Then sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. And if you are hard core (or just happen to have it in your refrigerator) add some fresh Parmesan cheese.
Then repeat! Cream cheese-ed noodles, loaded with sauce and cheese.
You may have a cute little helper that comes in from the sand pile that tries to pick in the noodles and cheese like I did. Don’t worry, the eyes in the back of my head caught him before anything disastrous happened! And after washing his hands he had this very cute face that I just HAD to take a picture of.
And then I (lovingly) kicked him out of my kitchen so that he would stop picking… He is related to his dad.
Back to the lasagna… Its all layered and done, but you need to do one last thing. Cover the top with cheese! Lasagna is meant to be cheesy. And then for a little extra flav-a, add a little bit more of that yummy Italian seasoning.
Slowly your kitchen will fill with that tantelizing aroma, so either go out so you can’t smell it or… be tough I guess! But once those precious 30 minutes have gone, you are ready to set the table and eat that delicious masterpiece!
Country Style Lasagna
1 lb ground beef, browned
1 (28 oz) Jar Spaghetti Sauce *
1 (16 oz) pkg Lasagna Noodles
2-3 cups Mozzarella Cheese (and Parmesan Cheese)
1 8 oz pkg Cream Cheese
Mix together browned beef and spaghetti sauce and bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn down to low, cover and simmer.
Cook noodles according to package directions until ‘Al Dente’. Set out to cool.
In a mixing bowl, whip one package of cream cheese. Spread over cooled lasagna noodles.
In a 8×8 baking dish, pour one scoop of sauce and spread over the bottom. Layer noodles, 2-3 scoops sauce, and 3/4 -1 cup mozzarella cheese. Repeat layering twice. On the top, add remaining cheese and sprinkle Italian seasonings across the top.
Cook at 350 for 40 minutes or until the top is hot and bubbly. Let cool 10 minutes before cutting into.
* For a simple spaghetti sauce, mix 2 (13.5 oz) cans spaghetti sauce and your favorite Italian seasonings (oregano, basil, thyme, garlic, onion, parsley) plus a little salt and pepper. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and 1/4 to 1/2 cup water.
We keep saying that things are slowing down, but I think it is just wishful thinking. The branding is done, the cows are moved out, but now we are hauling for other ranches. We are working to get the wheel lines running. And now its time to start getting the bulls turned out and the heifers AIed. Really, we should never say its slowing down.
But I’m ok with that. My sister (that lives in NYC) told me that a busy life is a fun life, because a boring life is just, well… lame.
This week’s adventure- helping put CIDRs in the heifers. (If you’re wondering what CIDRs are and why we use them, check out last year’s post!) We actually didn’t do too much help. The Rancher didn’t tell me they were starting. I think he thinks he can do this with without me… Should I be worried?!
Running the heifers through the chute can be a little exciting. They are still young and inexperienced to this stuff. Plus I don’t blame them for not wanting the CIDR put in. Sure an oversized, IUD is great to make sure that they don’t get pregnant and will cycle at the right time, but what girl really WANTS that? So they go wild and crazy… all the time. I swear all of them try jumping out somewhere along the way- the holding tub, the alley, the chute… They jump on each other, over each other, back into each other. Its almost exhausting just to watch! But we are kinda used to it…
Actually we did have a few tense moments. There was one wild girl that tried jumping over the top. As she came back down, her hoof got caught on the alley stop (it keeps them from going backwards). How she managed it, I really don’t know but it was stuck and cutting her hoof. Plus it was pulling her back leg up into a really awkward position. She of course went more crazy, trying to get herself loose. The heifer behind her started to climb over her, getting out of the ruckus. Can you say pile up?
We had to push the heifers in the behind her back in the tub (which in itself was a chore because there seems to be only one direction with cows). The Rancher jump up on the alley panels and pulled the stuck heifer backwards (by her tail of course) while The Ranch Boss pried the bars apart so that Rancher Sr. could shove her hoof out. And they got it… phew!
Once again we adverted disaster! Its always an adventure on the ranch.
There is a good story that goes with this fun little craft. Get comfy, because it is sorta long. I understand if you just want to skip to the end…
I have decorated The Rancher’s Sidekick in cowboy-ness (a far stretch for your imagination, I’m sure…). Its really been needing a little more umph and he had been begging for a clock. I figured, perfect way to add a litter bit of cowboy to perk up the room. I was so sure that he would love it.
After he told me that he wanted the rope off and that it looked, “not great…” I figured that when he saw the finished product he would think it was so cool, so I went on. And really, I didn’t want to quit. I knew the potential awesome-ness that was about to happen!
So I finished and showed it to him. Still “not great.” He quickly told me that I had to take off the rope. Actually that sounds like he was calm. Oh no, The Rancher’s Sidekick was in a complete meltdown because I had “roped” his clock and he didn’t want it like that. In my attempts to make him stop, I just put it away and moved on.
But he didn’t… 15 minutes later he comes to me, totally calm but with his little mischievous smile. Then he shows me the clock with out the rope! He completely ripped the rope off! Grr! I was so frustrated. And now I’m over, so I made a new one. Even better, The Rancher’s Sidekick is over- ya he loves it now! What a goober!
And you will need a clock (I got a cheap one at Walmart).
The get gluing. I used my favorite glue gun, of course!
Ah, spring turn out time. One of the most wonderful and stressful times of the year. Wonderful because it means that the cows are out, the calves have been branded, and they only need a little maintenance for the summer. Ok, we move them like every week, check water, and doctor as needed… its still a lot of work but it doesn’t seem like its so hard.
We probably are happy for it to be over because that means the stress of the spring turn out it gone too. Right now we are separating our cows into 3 different groups- some to be run on the BLM ground, some to be on the Forest ground (it really shouldn’t be considered Forest though, there are NO forests out here!) and some to other Forest ground. The stressful part about all of this is that when you start separating the herd, you have to make sure that you get all of the babies with the right mommas. Or that none of the momma’s forget that they have a calf (oh ya, it happens…).
The worst thing that can happen is the pairs not pairing up once they get to the new pasture. A baby without a momma isn’t going to survive. Sure they can steal milk every once in a while (funny thing about cows, they will only nurse their babies… but I roll like that too), but they aren’t going to get enough nutrition to grow. So we do ALL that we can to make sure this doesn’t happen.
But every year it seems that we have a few doggie calves. Do you want to know the best way to pick them out? They have poop on their head. All of the time. The best way to steal a bit of milk is to come from behind. The hazards of that are getting pooped on… poor huggers….
But back to our doggie calves. We just bring them home. Leaving them to die is like throwing money away. And its just not very nice. So we do what we can to make it work. Like have a milk cow or two around to nurse them. These cows are kinda funny, because they love to mother these babies! They stand by the barn waiting for feeding time. They sit by the gate and talk to them during the day (well, I don’t know if they really talk to them… I just think that sounds like what a momma would do). And no matter how many calves, they mother them all.
Its rough being a doggie-ed calf, but come on home. We’ve got a momma that will love on ya!
There are too many good mothers (and mothering women) out there to not say Happy Mother’s Day to!
You are amazing, you know! There are so many things that you do- manage your home, chase your kids, help your husband, work in the community, serve your friends and neighbors and somehow you manage to still be you.
So here is a little note from The Rancher’s Wife.