Wednesday, April 28, 2010

R.I.P. Whitey

My rooster attacked me for the last time on Monday. I was squatting down in the back yard doing some yard work when all of the sudden, out of the blue, without warning something SMACKED me right in the back.

"What in tarnation was that?" I said to my self with a few other words I don't care to repeat. The force almost knocked me over but I caught myself with my hands. As I was wondering what in billy-blue could have done that, I knew right away that it was Whitey, the rooster.

I don't wish to share everything that transpired after that, but I can tell you that Whitey is no longer with us and I have a large red welt on my back from the attack. I was lucky I had on a sweatshirt and a coat! Whitey was not so fortunate.

Dear Whitey,

I can't believe that our love/hate relationship is over. I only wanted to be friends, but obviously you just didn't share the same sentiments. I didn't want to do what I had to do, but let's face it, you forced me to. I never did anything to hurt you so I just can't understand why you would attack me out of the blue when ever you felt like it. I can only come to the deduction that it must have been a mental problem that you had.

Anyway, we had some good times and I will miss your morning cock-a-doodle-doos, but not your incessant crowing all day long. I will miss your beautiful white tail feathers that blew in the wind, but I am sure the girls (the egg layers) will not miss you chasing them through the yard and herding them like you owned them. Dan the Man might miss you since you never attacked him, but the neighbor girls (which you also attacked) and my mother-in-law, Penny, who all took care of you while we were gone to Japan will not miss you.

Did you know that I never even wanted you. Last year when I got my first batch of meat birds I also purchased some egg layers from Murdoch's and The Mercantile. I had all the chicks together in one brooder and as they got older, I could tell you were not a meat bird, and I didn't purchase any white egg layers. I don't even know where you came from! I don't know if you were a mistake from the hatchery we get the meat birds from or if you were a mistake from Murdoch's or The Mercantile!

I will say one thing, it sure is quite around here without you. The hens sure seem to be enjoying their new found freedom and are going wherever in the yard they wish to go. You did provide wonderful sound effects for some of my videos, but I can always pipe in a crow if I have to.

Rest in peace dear Whitey. I'd love to say I miss you, but that would be a lie.

The Country Chicken Girl

In "loving" memory of
Whitey T. Rooster

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Chicks are 3 Weeks Old!

Time sure flies when you are a chicken farmer! Hard to believe that the first batch of chicks are already 3 weeks old and the second batch is already a week old. Actually as I as writing this, the first batch will be 4 weeks old tomorrow, April 28th, and the second batch will be 2 weeks old.

The first batch continues to get their feathers in and are getting bigger every day. The feathers on their wings are completely filled in along with some of their tail feathers. The older the chicks get, the harder it is to take pictures of them. This may surprise you but Dan the Man doesn't have much patience with me or the chicks when I am trying to photograph the chicks. My pictures can only be as good as the chicks decide to behave and since Dan the Man's patience with them is only as long as one of his romantic thoughts, well... you get the picture. Let's just say I have, if I'm lucky, approximately three whole minutes to get a good picture of each chick if I want Dan the Man's help. So, I'm looking for a new photography assistant if anyone is interested! Pay is terrible, but rewards are wonderful!

Cornish Cross 3 weeks old

Gold Star 3 weeks old

Americana 3 weeks old

Barred Rock 3 weeks old (black one)

Cornish Cross & Barred Rock kissing, how sweet!

Come back my sweet, I wish to kiss you again!

If anyone wants to come visit the chicks, you are more than welcomed! 200 more newly hatched chicks come on Friday, so we'll have a total of 600!! You really should come to see them, children are welcome and will love it!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Branding at the Neighbor's

Last week I received "the call" from my neighbor.

It went something like this:

DAVE: You ready for that "you were in a car wreck feeling" again?


DAVE: Well, we're going to do it on Saturday. We'll start at 10 am. Can you come?

COUNTRY CHICKEN GIRL: Ya, I'll be there.

DAVE: How about Dan the Man, can he come?

COUNTRY CHICKEN GIRL: I don't think so.

DAVE: Why not?

COUNTRY CHICKEN GIRL: You'll have to take that up with him. Here I'll put him on the line.

DAVE to Dan the Man: Can you come on Saturday?

DAN THE MAN: I'll be in the fields on Saturday, gotta get this alfalfa corrugated. Sorry.

DAVE: No problem, just didn't want you to feel left out!

This event that Dave refers to as "you were in a car wreck feeling" is the annual branding of his calves. I got roped into helping (willingly) last year and when we were done I did feel like I had been in a car wreck. Although I must confess that I have been extremely blessed to never have been in a serious car wreck, but I can imagine what it feels like. It took me several days, weeks, months... to fully recover from last year's branding.

Those of you who have never branded cattle are probably wondering what in tarnation could be so physical about branding calves that you feel like you were in a car wreck when you are done. Well let me just tell you.

Even though these are calves, some of them weigh as much as I do. They also have four legs which have little hard hooves at the end that are perfect for kicking and if they happen to land a kick on your shin or thigh, you are going to get a bruise. If they happen to land one right on your kisser, you're going to get a bloody lip. They might even land one right smack in the middle of the back of your hand, that really smarts on your knuckles! These are feisty little creatures who have a pack with each other to give a good fight while they are being wrestled to the ground and are being held down.

Here's how it goes down. The "back man" goes into the herd and grabs the back leg of the calf and pulls him out of the herd all the while the calf is doing everything he can do to get away. The calf will kick and buck trying to break your grip on his back leg. Meanwhile you are doing everything you can to hold on and not let him loose. This often feels like your arm is going to get pulled out of it's socket. When the "back man" gets the calf out of the herd, the "front man" joins in on the fun and grabs the calf's front and then together as a team the "front man" and the "back man" gently take the calf down on it's side. The "back man" positions himself and gets a hold of those back legs of the calf so that he can't kick and the "front man" positions himself so that the calf can not move his head or front legs.

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The "back man" going in for a calf. Notice the tongue action!
This take great concentration so that you don't get kicked!

The "front man" holding down the calf.

When the calf is subdued, the "brander" moves in and brands the calf. Then the "vaccinator" moves in and vaccinates the calf. This only takes a few minutes and as soon as this team is done, the calf is released. Then the process starts all over again.

Cori filling up the syringe.

Cori as the "vaccinator."

Dave as the "brander."

We branded around 80 calves at one location before lunch and ate lunch before we headed over to the next location to brand the other 80 calves. Cori made submarine sandwiches for every one and we ate together. The sandwich, chips and Little Debbies tasted delicious and the soda hit the spot as we let our bodies recuperate.

I don't know why this is fun, but it is! I think it is just the comradery that takes place while you are working with other people in this capacity. Someone will get kicked and someone will say something like "ooo, that was a good one, you okay?" or "Ouch, I bet that hurt!" even "wow, I heard that one clear over here!" and "that's going to leave a big bruise!" After all the calves are done some of us even compare our injuries. But not all talk about their injuries, some don't mutter a word about any of their battle wounds.

When the calves are reunited with their concerned mothers, the mooing of the mothers calling for their calves and the calves calling for their mothers is deafening! What commotion and blessed happiness when they reunite and the calf is quickly comforted by their mother's utter!

If you've never helped with a branding, you don't know what you are missing out on. It's hard work, but it is also enjoyable. I was lucky this year and didn't have to wrestle any of the calves down. I took the easy chore and ran the gate! I also took lots of pictures and tried to stay out of the way.

It amazes me how many people show up to help. Dave posted on Facebook "Looking for a Nebraska branding crew this weekend weather permitting. Time for that old car-wreck feeling again!!!! I'm talking to you Lyman Volunteer Fire Department, Chicken Girl, Johnsons, etc......" and the call was answered. Dave even had an old friend come up from Cheyenne to help. This friend use to work for Dave's parents at their ranch in Colorado. Then come to find out, this friend of Dave's had recently married my sons' (Chris & Skyler) kindergarten teacher from when we lived in Laramie. What a small world for us to run into each other at a branding in the middle of no-where Nebraska!! We hadn't seen each other or been in contact for 10 years! It was crazy.

Gotta love days like this in the country. Wouldn't trade them for anything. This is the stuff that memories are made of. Don't tell me that one day in the country isn't worth a month in town! I do love being a country girl!

Here are some of my favorite pictures from the day along with a video.

Calves waiting their turn!

Don't know what was said, but it must have been funny!

I think this is my favorite picture of the day!

Is that dirt on your face Mr. Trouble or a 5 o'clock shadow?

Concerned mothers.


Kids are the best subjects!

Gotta LOVE these boots!

Dude, that's gotta hurt.
(This is what happens when a hoof connects with a chin.)

Notice Max playing with Lance's hat!

Max, do you think those boots come in my size?
Maybe I could try yours on?

Hold on Michael! Don't you let go!

Man who takes his job seriously!

Victor, a REAL Marlboro Man!

No, you can not brand your wife's behind!

How's that tasting?

Can we still be friends?

Chris reunites with his "first love"(his kindergarten teacher from Laramie) Shauna!

Note: If you are having trouble viewing the video, try pausing it and letting it load for a while and then play it. If that doesn't work, you need a faster internet connection. (You know who you are!)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

RECIPE: Fried Tacos!!

The other night I made my standard tacos for dinner. I love making them because they are quick and easy. They are also comfort food for me because they are just like the tacos that are served at one of my favorite childhood (and adulthood) restaurants, TACO TOWN! Everyone who lives around here knows Taco Town and most everyone I know loves it. It has been a family owned restaurant in Scottsbluff for many, many years. I don't know when they first opened, but when we were kids living in Scottsbluff, my mother use to take us there every Friday night as a treat. That was some 36 years ago when Taco Town was located on Avenue I in an old gas station. It has since moved to a larger building which they built on 27th Street. Taco Town was also the last place I spent time with my mother before she passed away. I had been back home for something and we ate there for lunch before I had to head back to Rapid City. A few months later she suffered a massive heart attack and passed away at the age of 46.

Taco Town is one of those establishments that everyone misses when they move away from the area. I missed it dearly when I moved away and it was one of the first places I ate when we moved back to the area. I have also taken enchiladas from Taco Town to friends many miles away from Scottsbluff. Generally if you are visiting someone who grew up around here, they ask you to bring enchiladas from Taco Town! When we first moved back here I couldn't wait to introduce Dan the Man to Taco Town. At first he wasn't that impressed and I thought he was crazy. But now he likes it and his favorite is the combination plate. Personally I like to get a taco and an enchilada. I don't get beans or rice, because Dan the Man usually gets full and I help him eat his beans and rice!

So, back to the tacos. I never really thought about posting my taco recipe because I didn't think that they were all that special. But the more I thought about the people who have never experienced Taco Town and their tacos the more I felt so sorry for these lost souls! To have lived without eating these tacos would be a tragedy! So without further ado, there is the recipe!

FRIED TACOS (my take on Taco Town tacos)


1 lb ground beef (preferably Open A Bar 2 Ranch beef!)
1 chopped onion
2 teaspoons cumin (more if you like, and I like lots so I just pour some in there)
1 teaspoon salt
Flour tortillas
Oil for frying
Shredded Lettuce
Shredded Cheese
Chopped Tomatoes
Sour Cream

  1. Brown your ground beef with the onions and season with the cumin and salt. Drain beef. Note: If you use Open A Bar 2 Ranch Beef, which is wonderfully lean you don't need to drain it. But if you use that stuff from the grocery store, you'd better drain that artery clogging fat.
  2. Heat 1/2 inch of oil in an electric skillet. Sometimes I use Crisco shortening, sometimes I use canola oil. I set the skillet on 350 degrees.
  3. When oil is hot, take your tortilla and add about 1/4 cup of beef. Don't fill it too full, or you'll have a mess. Trust me! Fold the tortilla in half and hold at the top. (I think that Taco Town places toothpicks in the top of the tortilla to keep the taco closed while frying, but I don't.) Carefully place the taco in the oil for a few seconds until the fold starts to take shape. Then carefully place the taco on it's side in the oil. Be careful not to burn your fingers. You know what? You can use tongs if you want, then you won't burn your fingers. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. Sometimes you have to hold the taco closed so the side doesn't flip open. When the tortilla is light golden brown on that side, flip it over to brown the other side.
  4. When the taco is light golden brown, remove it with tongs. Drain the oil from the taco and then place it on a cookie sheet that is lined with paper towels. Make sure to place one end of the taco on the rim of the cookie sheet so that it sits at an angel allowing more oil to drain. Keep tacos warm in a 200 degree oven while you are frying the rest of the tacos.
  5. Put what ever you want on your taco and ENJOY!!
You can also make these tacos with corn tortillas, but this is a whole different story for another time.

Hope you like them as well as we do and if you have Taco Town memories or whatever, share them with us!! Does Taco Town have a fan page on Facebook? They should, that's for sure!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Chicks are 2 Weeks Old!

Cornish Cross 2 weeks old

Well, our first batch of chicks are now two weeks old. All 200 of the Cornish Cross and the 19 egg layers. We had 25 egg layers to begin with, but 10 of them I had ordered for a friend who has since came and got his. Then I bought 4 new egg layers at The Mercantile earlier in the week. At two weeks old they graduate from the nursery brooder to the next brooder which is larger and has less heat lamps. The nursery brooder needs to be around 90 degrees warm the first few days and then you gradually decrease the heat as the chicks begin to get their feathers. It's amazing how fast they grow in just two short weeks. By the time they are ready to leave the nursery, they have just about outgrown it.

Cornish Cross 2 weeks old

The new brooder they are in now is about four times bigger than the nursery brooder. I will gradually "wean" the chicks from the lights completely so that by the time they are four weeks old and have all their feathers, they will be ready to go outside. This applies to the Cornish Cross (meat birds) and not the egg layers. The egg layers don't grow near as fast as the meat birds so they will stay in the brooder until they have all their feathers.

Gold Star (egg layer) 2 weeks old

Once the egg layers have all their feathers, then it will be time to gradually introduce them to my one year old egg layers. Chickens have a definite pecking order and if I introduced the new chickens to the old chickens before they could defend themselves I think I would end up with disastrous results. I will partition a part of the egg layers coop so that the new birds will have their own space in the coop but won't be in physical contact with the old chickens, but they will be able to see each other and get to know each other this way first.

Barred Rock (egg layer) 2 weeks old

We moved the 2 week old chicks on Thursday. On Friday we received our second batch of chicks. 200 more of them, so now we have 400 chicks!! So the new babies are in the nursery and the 2 week old chicks are in the 2nd brooder. There is never a dull moment around here this time of year!

Americana (egg layer) 2 weeks old

If you need an escape from the city, or even if you live in the country and want to come see the chicks you are always welcome. You know every proud parent loves showing off their children! Just give me a call! Seriously, you'd have fun and your kids would love you if you brought them here to see the chicks. I only ask one small favor that if you are bringing children that you realize that this is not a petting zoo and I ask that I be present to help with any holding of the chicks.

Come see why a day in the country is worth a month in town!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Checking in with the Cows and Calves

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Good Morning Mrs. #410, I see you had a little boy.
I hope he grows up to be a good bull like his brother, Charlie (No Limit's Pride)

We just need to do the usual drill, you know tag, weigh and vaccinate the little guy. It'll only take a sec.

Come on little guy, over here where we have all the stuff set up. Whoa, you're a heavy little fella!

Hey there Dan the Man, just where are you taking my baby?

You're lucky I am one of the NICE cows or else I might just stomp you into the ground for taking my baby like that. You're lucky I trust you with him, but one false move and you'll be a hurtin' unit!

Come back here you little whipper-snapper. If you cooperate, this will only take a second and your mama will be right here.

In the scale sling you go, hold still... WOW 85 lbs, you are a big boy!

Be careful Dan the Man, don't stick yourself with the needle! Mother is watching VERY closely!

Here goes your ear tag, just like getting your ear pierced!

All done.
How does my ear tag look?
Concerned mother and friend look on.

Let me smell you and lick you my sweet little baby!

Sweetheart wants to check you out too.

Our yearlings learn to be good mamas by staying in the herd while we are calving.

Curious on-lookers with mother making sure everything is okay.

WOW-zers! I didn't know I would be so popular after all that!

Hold still baby, I need to lick you some more!

Okay Angel, it's your little guy's turn in the weigh sling.

If you hurt him Dan the Man, I'm coming in that feed bunk and hurting you. You just watch me! I'm warning you!

I'm so cute!

I'm cuter!

I'm napping.

Angel, you are such a good mother!

What cha doin'?

Ever see a cow nose this close?

Comfort Food!

Hee, hee. Stop it mommy! It tickles when you lick my bottom!

I luv you mama!