Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I Once Knew A Cowboy

I once knew a cowboy.
A cowboy with a heart as deep and wide as the mountain valley.
A cowboy who had standards and morals as high as the snow capped mountain peaks.
A cowboy whose character was as tall and straight as the mountain pines and quakies he rode his horse among while gathering his cattle in the cool crisp fall weather.

I once knew a cowboy.
A cowboy whose hands, in his younger years, were rough like sandpaper and could fix any broken fence, rope any stray steer, drive any tractor, put up thousand of acres of hay and wipe away tears with tender gentleness from his daughters' cheeks.
A cowboy whose boots could walk miles in his pastures, trudge through any snow storm to tend his cattle and dance with his beautiful bride in the moonlight.

I once knew a cowboy.
A cowboy that loved his family and his land more than himself.
A cowboy that opened his hearth and home to anyone in need.
A cowboy that had no idea the impact he had on so many lives whom he mentored by simply living a life that was honest, true, kind, generous and merciful.

I once knew a cowboy.
A cowboy who battled many rounds of cancer and was so determined to not not let the silent killer take his life, he came out victorious time and time again.
A cowboy who also fought many other battles: battles over his land and his beliefs, battles for his family, battles for his community.  A cowboy who was proud to have served his country with honor and duty.

I once knew a cowboy.
A cowboy who eventually gave up his beloved cattle and ranch.
A cowboy whose hands eventually grew as soft as kid leather.  His heart grew as tender as his hands and soon the love he had for his cattle was replaced with an immeasurable love for his grandchildren.  The hands that use to fix fences soon learned how to swaddle babies.  The boots that use to walk the dry, dusty, dirt roads learned to walk gently while he held his grandchildren and tenderly rock them to sleep in his arms.

I once knew a cowboy.
A cowboy who was so loved by his family, thought of as a hero by his grandchildren and respected by his peers.
A cowboy who was brave enough to succumb to the cancer that persistently came into his life but not until he had all his affairs in order, not until he knew his family would be taken care of.
A cowboy who didn't give up until he was ready.
A cowboy who cried with his family and friends as they each said goodbye, holding each other tight.

I once knew a cowboy.
His saddle and horse are put away proper.  His boots, cowboy hat and rope are no longer needed.
His work on earth is done.

I once knew a cowboy, but I will forever love, treasure, value, admire, respect, appreciate and be obliged to this cowboy.  As the sun sets in the west and casts the alpine glow on the mountains in the east, I will remember him and the life he lived.  I will hold dear the times we shared. I will forever be blessed because I once knew this cowboy.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Spring Time in Western Nebraska

Awww... you gotta love springtime in Western Nebraska.  One day it is sunny, warm and a beautiful 70 degrees outside.  The next day... it could be snowing and 32 degrees with wind and the schools are either closed or have late starts!

This was the case last week on March 18th.

Although the cows didn't seem to mind.  They were still able to find the luscious green spring grass even under the snow.

One was even starting to roll a snowball with her nose!  Later that day when we came back from town the girls had constructed a snowman!!!!  

Just joking, but wouldn't that have been fun?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

German Sausage Chowder

Quick post to add to your Open A Bar 2 Ranch recipes.  I think I should start a little cookbook... in my spare time.  Those who know me know that will not happen any time soon!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Just Breathe and Live.

In keeping with my resolution in my last post I grabbed my camera, walked down our driveway the other night and snapped these pictures of the sunset just at the most opportune time.  Sunsets are soooo beautiful here, don't you agree.  One of my favorite features of Western Nebraska is our wide open spaces which allow for such spectacular views as this just outside our door.

As I was walking back to the house I could hear a few Canadian geese honking down at the neighbors pond.  Not sure what they were talking about, but I imagine they were talking about their day while enjoying themselves effortlessly floating around in the water.  Maybe they were also talking about how beautiful the sky was.  A meadowlark greeted me with his distinctive call.  It almost sounded like he said "Nice to see you outside again.  You've been missing the best part of life!"  I replied back, "Nice to see you too.  I've missed your beautiful song and didn't realize it until just now when I heard it."

Friday, March 14, 2014

Stop Putting Off "Things" Until You Have Time

I've been waiting for this day all week long.  There has been a huge flock of snow geese in the neighborhood all week long.  Every morning I watch them and think how I'd love to go out there and get pictures, but talk myself out of it because I need to get ready for work.

Knowing that I had today off, I voiced my wish every single morning as I mourned out the window, that they would hang around until today so that I could take pictures.  Just ask Dan the Man, he heard me every single morning...  "I sure hope they hang around until Friday so that I can try to get pictures."

With the excitement and anticipation of a young child on Christmas morning, I found myself wide awake at 4 am, giddy with the thought that it was Friday morning and with God's grace, the geese would be waiting for me.  I lay in bed trying to fall back a sleep telling myself I was such a goober if this is what brings me excitement.

Tick-tock, tick-tock, ding-dong, ding-dong went the chimes on the clock in the living room.  It seemed like hours but daylight finally came.  I jumped out of bed and ran to the window.  YES!  They were there waiting for me.  Knowing that I wanted to wait for better light which would come in an hour I stumbled to the computer to get a few work related things done before I went out.

After an hour or so I went back into the livingroom and looked out the window.  GASP!  Oh no, say it isn't so Joe!  Yep, the geese were gone.  What the heck happened?  The pond was white with them an hour ago.  My gaze turned a 1/4  to 1/2 mile or so to the west and there I found the flock sitting in a field.  My heart had fallen to my toes, but was gradually coming back up to at least my knees.  All was not lost.  I could still try to get out to that field and snap a few shots.  Wouldn't be as nice as the pond, but would suffice.

Then I got to thinking that perhaps something had startled them from the pond and they might go back.  So I decided to go ahead and jump in the shower real quick and see if that was the case when I got out.

As soon as I got out of the shower I once again returned to the window.  The geese had not gone back to the pond but were still in the field.  If I hurried and got dressed, surely, I could get a picture or two.  As I was putting on my shoes I noticed movement out the window.  A few of the geese were flying over our house.  I looked over to the field and could begin to see a swirling white with black flecks whirlwind starting to take shape and ascend into the bright clear blue sky.  I held my breath as half of the geese took flight.

"They're leaving..." I cried to Dan the Man who as still in bed.  Well maybe not all of them will leave.  Dan the Man informed me that I should have gone first thing when I got up.  That was such a comforting bit of advice.  Like I didn't already know that...

As I stood at the window, left shoe in hand and face pressed against the cool glass, the remaining geese took flight and there were no more.

I sadly watched them gracefully fly off to the south towards the bluffs and my shoe fell to the floor.

I have tomorrow off and Sunday off as well so not all is lost.  However, I will not be home tomorrow morning to try again.  Hopefully I will have another chance on Sunday.

I am almost 50 years old now.  And you would think by now, that I would have learned my lesson.  If you want to do something, do it, do it now.  Chances are the world will not end because you took time to do.  If you wait until you have time, the moment might not be there.  I can recall countless times when I have wanted to photograph something but have not taken the time to do it either because I was on my way to do something else or was busy doing something and did not want to take the time.

One of those times was last year when I was driving home from a long day at work.  The sun was starting to set and the sky was beautiful.  The wind was not blowing and it was a gorgeous day.  As I was crossing the river I just happened to look down at the water and there crossing in the shallows were a doe and her two fawns.  Who is to say I could have got a shot, but now I will never know because I just kept going.

I also lament after family gatherings when I don't get a group shot or at least a picture of everyone present.  Those times will never happen again and pictures can preserve those memories for generations to come.

So starting today, I will try my best to stop and take time.  Take time for beauty, love, friendships, my family and most importantly my God.  I encourage you to do the same if this post at all struck a cord with you!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Delicious Zuppa Toscana

I know I have not been a faithful blogger for quite some time now, but I would really like to change that.

If I set goals, maybe I can rectify my lack of posts.

So, the first goal that I am setting is to post a recipe once a week that will highlight one of Open A Bar 2 Ranch's premium all-natural beef.

This week I would like to feature our all new Italian Sausage.  It is yummy and so versatile.  Not only is it delicious any most any pasta recipe, but it can stand alone as the star topping on a pizza!  Italian Sausage is also awesome for soups.

I will be sampling this soup, made with Open A Bar 2 Ranch Italian Sausage at the Scottsbluff Winter Farmers' Market this Saturday from 11am-2pm.  The market is held in the greenhouses at Aulick's TLC on 3109 Avenue B in Scottsbluff.  You can pick up a package of sausage at the market on Saturday OR we also have our all-natural beef at Hometown Harvest Cooperative at 1214 Center Avenue in Mitchell.

If you think this blog post is a big fat plug for Open A Bar 2 Ranch, you would be correct!

But I promise I will try to post more things about the goings on around the ranch.  I know some of you like those stories better than the recipes.


Monday, December 2, 2013

Who Cares What the Fox Say?

We have a new visitor on the ranch and one that is not so welcome here in our part of the woods.  Although it is fun to look out the back window and see a fox frolicking in your backyard, it is also quite unnerving knowing that he or she is probably trying to figure out a way to devour your entire flock of hens.

It is also quite unnerving to see a fox and have that stupid song "The Fox" (What Does The Fox Say?) immediately come to mind.  If you haven't heard it, do not, I repeat, do not google it and watch it on YouTube.  It is not worth your time and you will never be able to view foxes the same after you hear the song.  I guarantee you, you will hear that song in the back of your head everything you see a fox.  Don't do it my friends, I am warning you.

I have seen this guy on two separate occasions now.  Once trotting down our driveway one morning and then again on Thanksgiving morning right in our backyard.  I took these pictures from my kitchen window.  He wasn't very concerned about his surroundings or my movement in the window which concerns me.  Most animals I see in the backyard immediately see me in the window because it is a large window and run away.  This guy was wandering around, sniffing here and there, went under the shed, and rubbed his face in a little pile of snow.

I was wondering if he was washing his face after devouring one of my chickens for Thanksgiving dinner but after I snapped his picture, Chris went outside to make sure the chickens were still safe in the coup.  They hadn't been let out yet.  We haven't lost many of our chickens to predators since we do secure them at night in the coup.

I haven't seen him since and I can't say that I am sad.  Like I said, although they are fun to see, I'd really rather not see them on my property, at least not so close to my chickens.