Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Dirt Work

One thing that never gets old is playing with dirt. And if there's a purpose behind it, even better. Such was the case the past couple of days. Before we can start driving some posts for the corrals, we needed to level the playing field. 

The tool of choice was obvious: JD 450 with our recently purchased box scraper. 

Safety first around this ranch. 3 days without a reported injury.  

The mission was simple: level off the back corral so that is is more accessible and user friendly. 

The scraper is slick. Lower the box to scrape dirt into the bucket. Then lift it up when the can is full. The gate had a hard time closing with a big load, so Gerry and I welded on some hooks to hang tractor weights on. Seemed to help.

Once you've hauled the load to where it needs to go, just tilt the box up and turn it loose. You can turn really sharp and put the dirt right where you want it. 

While we were at it, we built a new road to access the back corral. 

There she be.

The right equipment makes a hard job much easier. But let me tell ya, it takes a lot of work to move a little dirt. Thanks be to God for hydraulics and horsepower. Without it, America would not be what she is today. May God continue to bless her.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

A Creek Runs Through It

With Fr. Steve here to take Fr. Cliff's place, there really wasn't much need for Gerry and I this Sunday. So we went fishing.

Southern Big Horns was our place of choice.

And Mahogany Butte in particular.

Getting down to Deep Creek on public ground was no easy chore.

In fact, it got pretty western.

Every cowboy has a clutch, though few use them. We, unfortunately, had to use ours. This was as close to the water as we could get.

But we didn't give up, we just shifted gears to another part of the creek. A place we could drive to.

Gerry caught his first trout in the US on his first cast.

He was super excited.

In fact, he limited out.

What a fun day of true recreation. We took every back road we could find, which ended up being 125 miles of dirt. Little can make a father more happy than watching his boy catch fish. Well done ol' son.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Tear Down in Order to Build Up

With the pivot sprinkler in its permanent place it was time to tackle the corrals. But before we can build new ones we had to tear down the old ones  

For Grandpa, this barn yard was a labor of love. I lost count of how many fence post he stuck in the ground. But the weather and wind had taken it's toll on the wood. It’s time to start fresh. 

It was also an opportune time to teach Gerry some down and dirty ranch skills. 

Here's how you roll up wire.

And pile it in a truck.

Along with the fence, there were also some unused lean to's that needed to go.

Nice ranch truck, partner.

I pretty much stuck to the dozer work. No sense in getting dirty if you don’t have to.

Piling up the old posts, lumber, and weeds for burning made me feel like king of the mountain. 

Gerry too.

Looks nice.

The next step is a little dirt work and then pipe and panels. No better way to spend vacation time then cleaning up the barn yard. I know Grandpa would be pleased. He always loved to see men working and was all about moving forward. Thanks Grandps. We'll make you proud. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Barley Days

Malt barley has been a standard crop in the Big Horn Basin for some 50 years. Of all the brewing companies who have come and gone, Coors has stood the test of time. In appreciation to the farmers who produce their most valuable ingredient, they put on an annual bbq.

Barley Days was once held every year in Worland, but now is more regional and travels around from year to year. This year it was back at the elevator north of town.

It was always a big deal to go to the early summer banquet. There they award a belt buckle to the previous year's top barley grower. Grandpa made the list almost 40 years ago.

Coors barley was first introduced into the Worland area in 1972. This was the first sample taken at that year's harvest. She's been growing strong ever since.

Coors high country barley is unique. In 1937 Adolf Coors brought in Moravian seed from Czechoslovakia. It is a two row barley that handles heat well and flourishes in the mountain west climates. 

Uncle Scott has managed the local elevator for the past 21 years. This spring he retired. Here's to you partner. 

Providing hats for the farmers each year was Uncle Scott's gesture of appreciation. He would design the hat with a particular Wyoming appeal, which included Steamboat the bucking horse.

God bless America. 

Today, the Wyoming tradition of providing top rate barley for the for the best beer in the world continues. Local farmers value the patronage of the Coors corporation. And Coors appreciates the loyalty of the farmers. Barley Days is a way for everyone to give thanks over some bbq and a beer. 

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Corpus Christi

Jesus is in the Eucharist. 

Dear Rodeo

With hands in short supply, we imported Gerry back to help ranch for the summer. Our first stop was Chris Ledoux Days in Kaycee Wyo. Doesn't get much more western than this. A good time was had by all. 

Like the saints, good cowboys become more popular after they die. Chris Ledoux is a western icon. For Gerry to set foot on this sacred ground is like a dream come true. 

Of course you can't celebrate the life of Chris Ledoux without bucking some horses.

While waiting for the street dance and walking around town we ran into some other Catholic Cowboys. It's so cool to be Catholic, everyone is your brother and sister just waiting to meet you. As providence would have it, Alva is from Barcelona. 

Fr. Bryce, Gerry, and Ned Ledoux

This is gonna be a good summer. Gerry just graduated from the university with an ag engineering degree. The plan is to farm him out to different outfits over the next couple of months and give him some raw and real experiences. Should be an adventure. 

Monday, June 13, 2022

Dry Age

Dry aging meat is how beef has been cured for centuries. It has became popular in resent years in contrast to wet aging, which is really just a way for packers to make the way they cut and ship meat within 24 hours sound good. Dry aging, on the other hand, is a natural way for meat to break down over time and become more tender and flavorful. 

The old-timers always said to hang your beef for 14 days. I like to shoot for 21. This grass fattened carcass has been hanging for 25 days. 

The key to good dry aging is a controlled cooling room. I like the temperature to be between 36 and 40 degrees. Good air flow is also necessary. Humidity is another great factor. 75-80% seems to be ideal. 

Dehumidifying a cooler is not an easy task. This is because the process of pulling moisture out of the air involves cooling the air for the water to separate. When you are slightly over freezing already, dehumidifiers tend to freeze up before they do much good. We found this bad boy last winter and she has really been working well. Although, occasionally we do have to let her defrost. There is actually a lot of moisture in hanging carcasses that needs to be removed for good curing. 

Surface mold overtime is not uncommon at all. Dry aging seals the outer layer of the fat or meat and allows the muscle to naturally break down without drying out.

This chuck roast is just as tender and moist as can be. 

Aging beef is noticeable. Most meat at the super market has not been aged at all. Dry aging allows nature to run her course. In time she breaks down the muscle fibers and allows meat to naturally become tender. Quality beef takes quality time to cure. 


 St. Anthony, pray for us!

Saturday, June 11, 2022


Last week the Diocese of Cheyenne priests went on their annual five day retreat. Most of the boys went down to Colorado Springs. Chief and I, however, drew the lucky card of going to Our Lady of the Pines in Story, WY.

Absolutely beautiful. The wildflowers reminded me of my childhood summers in the southern Big Horns. 

We first had to reconnoiter this new land. 

Turns out there was an military battle here between the calvary and the Indians. 

Westward expansion did not come without cost. 

Beside restful waters He leads me. 

He leads me on the path of righteousness.

The water I shall give him will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life. 

The Lord knows what we need before we do. Retreats get us square in the saddle with Him. Time alone in the mountains with nothing but beef, a horse, and Jesus in the Eucharist, couldn't have been more ideal. Now let's get to work. 

Father in Secret

Go contemplative.