Saturday, December 30, 2023

Ranch Sign

Some projects are just funner than others, like building a ranch sign to hang over our new set of corrals. Combine that with some Christmas cheer and we got us a Good time!

 Every scribe trained in the kingdom of God brings forth from his storehouse both the old and the new (Matthew 13:52). 

They say when Michael Angelo saw piece of marble he didn't see the stone, but the figure contained in the stone. And he saw it as his job to unveil that figure. I feel the same way when I see old barn wood and rusty iron. There is hidden potential in it and it's my job to bring it out. This 13' rough cut 2"x8" came off of Grandpa's old corrals. To use it as an entry marker into the new corrals just seemed fitting. 

LUNGREN BROTHERS CATTLE CO. was to be the slogan. With a little bit of calculation, we just stenciled out the letters. 

Routering them in really wasn't as hard as it sounds. Like in all things in life, just don't get in a hurry. 

No real mess ups, and thankfully everything is spelled right. 

Next came painting the lettering. Grandpa was a painter by trade so I knew somewhere in me was the ability to keep it between the lines. 

Not bad. 

Then came making the brackets to hang it from. A little strap iron with some 3/8" bolts seemed plenty stout. 

Of course, branding the ends was the final touch. Here Dad puts on his family's original brand, Reverse L Drawknife. 

The ole L hanging B came next. 

Then it was time to see if this dog would hunt. Once in place, we simply welded chain links to the bottom of the cross beam and then to the strap iron on the sign. 

Giddy up.

This was definitely a family affair in more ways than one. So, it was nice to have Uncle Lloyd on site to keep us encouraged. As we close out another year, my heart is filled with hope for the new year to come. Guess that's part of the cowboy way. But more importantly, it's part of the Catholic Cowboy Way. God is sovereign. Nothing can happen outside of His will. And as Scripture testifies, We know that in all things God works for good with those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Therefore, ranch hard and be happy!

Friday, December 29, 2023

Net Wrap

There are many ways to feed a round bale, but few ways of doing it efficiently. Cattle can waste more hay then they eat. Rooting around, searching for something tastier, an open bale in a feeder they will destroy. 

Such was the case back home with Mom and Andy. Nice prairie grass, she's pulling out more than she gets in her mouth. 

 So we took what was left of that bale and threw in this round bale net. 

I'm a net guy. Whenever I can, I like to put feed in these nets to slow them down and make them waste less. They for sure work good on horses, but I've even had good luck with cattle. I just use a net with bigger holes.

Better. We'll watch and see. 

The kids are doing real well, but I think they are a bit bored. So we borrowed an old cow with twins from my brother. Gives her a good home and friends for our pair. 

Happy campers.

I think this will be a win win for everyone. Little Andy sure likes to have some friends to run around with. Though, I'm not sure they are as excited about life as she is. Time will tell. Thank God for the sunshine. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Customer Appreciation Day

With unprecedentedly warm weather for December, we decided to have a customer appreciation get together at the locker. There is much to be thankful for this year, cows, friends, hope... The list goes on.

Being spur of the moment, we got word out to the boys as quick as we could. The loyalist members of the herd dropped what they were doing and came right over. 

We had some nice hors d'oeuvres and drinks available. 

This was an opportunity to look back at the blessings of 2023. The cows really finished nice on this year's grass. 

The steaks were rich red with nice marbling. 

There were relatively minimal injuries throughout the year. Mainly because of our strict safety protocols. 

Hamburgering always takes the most work, but it's worth it. 

Fortunately we had good help. 

Done. All the cows are in the freezer. 

Except for one. Mom and Andy are doing well. This little girl is growing up and turning red. It'll be fun to see what 2024 holds for these two. 

Good stuff. I'm thankful for the opportunity to continue ranching. It fuels my priesthood. Time and time again it has proved true this year: if you want to be a good father, you have to be a good son. 

Friday, December 22, 2023

Hide Tanning

Having a steady supply of cow hides on hand, I wanted to try my hand at tanning. I knew the learning curve would be steep, but a guy has to start somewhere. The first hide I tried, off a black angus, basically flopped. So we revamped our method and gave it another whirl. 

From the day Ernie and I bought these Herefords I wanted to save their hides.

So we waited until late November of 2022, when their hides here full, to slaughter and skin them.

Beautiful big hides, we gave them a quick power wash before we laid them out. 

We did our best to flesh them as we skinned, but a cow hide still has a lot of work to be done on the underside. 

So to buy us a little time, we salted them and put them in the corner until all our ducks were in a row. 

Then in the spring we decided to go for it with one hide. First step was building a fleshing beam out of an old fence post and sawhorse. 

Then came the work of fleshing the darn thing. It actually wasn't too bad. This drawknife like tool did a good job. Some guys will use a power washer and just blow the fat and meat off. We tried that once but did have much luck. This worked good in the long run. 

Then hosed it down and shampooed the hair to get all the crud out of it. 

This time around, we decided on a soaking method. 

The ingredients involved sulfuric acid and pickling salt. 

We soaked it for about 30 days, turning it every so often. 

Once it was time to pull it out, we neutralized the solution with baking soda. 

Then hosed it off again. 

Not really knowing what all we were doing, I just draped it over the sawhorse and let it dry. 

Unfortunately it dried too well. The process we used basically preserved/pickled the hide, but didn't actually tan it. Which is fine for what we wanted, but you really got to keep the hide loose as it drys. They call this breaking the hide, and it is probably the hardest part of tanning big hide. If a guy could roll this thing around in his hand, it would limber up like leather. But it was just so big and tough to do anything with. 

Several months later, we decided to rehydrate the hide and start over on the drying process. 

This time we hung it from the ceiling and broke it as it dried. 

Once we called it good, then we took a knife and trimmed it up nice. 

Looks good. Can't beat a Hereford's color combination. The hide wouldn't make a good blanket, but it should make a nice rug. 

Merry Christmas Mom and Dad. 

Like I say, the learning curve is steep. One guy I read said, "You can tan your own hide. But it's best to start small, like with a rabbit." Good advice, and I would have taken it if I wanted a rabbit hide. But I wanted a cow hide! Go big or go home, I guess. Then next time around I have some new ideas to try, but I think we are getting the basic concept down. The one thing that would help is a tumbler that slowly rolls the hide around, breaking it as it dries. This is how you live and learn, though. We're on to the next one.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023


High on a cowboy's bucket list is a trip to the National Finals Rodeo. I had kind of written it off, until Peg and Lee Isenberger said they have season tickets that they can't use all of. So last December they put my name on two of them for two nights.

I knew exactly who to invite, Fr. Zane Pekron, the other cowboy priest from South Dakota. For the last year we had been getting all our ducks in a row for two days in Las Vegas. 

I always feel like the best way to see a new place is through the eyes of the Church. So our first stop was at the chancery to see my ole buddy Archbishop George Leo Thomas. He was the bishop who took me on as a seminarian in Montana and ordained me a deacon in the Cathedral of St. Helena. It was great to see him again. Keep up the Good work, partner. 

We stayed at the Resorts World Hilton. It was a good hub for rodeo fans.

Right out the gate, we ran into Ryder Sanford from Sulphur, LA. He came on my radar this summer when he broke the saddle bronc arena record at Cheyenne Frontier Days as a rookie with a 92.5 ride. That's cowboy cool. 

Chancy Williams was the opening act for our first night at the rodeo. 

Impressive opening ceremonies. The NFR takes the 15 best contestants in each event who then compete in 10 days of rodeo. In the end, their is an average winner and the winner of the world for 2023. 

It was fun to see all the big names. Here is the wild man Rocker Steiner in bareback. 

Here's Tanner Butner from Daniel WY. He's riding strong. 

Ryder Wright is still in the fight. Though his brother Stetson had to bow out because of a hamstring injury. 

Hailey Kinsel and her horse Sister are always a crowd pleaser. Our seats were really good. 

Because Stetson is out, Ky Hamilton is leading the world in bulls. Though the second night, he got is bell rung pretty good. 

Back at the Hotel stood some of the future winnings. 

The next day we toured the LV Guardian Angels Cathedral. Las Vegas was originally part of the Reno Diocese. Then they joined forces and this church became a co-cathedral. Eventually, LV just became its own diocese. Then this fall, because of the exponential growth around this area, Pope Francis named Las Vegas an archdiocese. 

Our one full day in LV we spent at the Convention Center for the Cowboy Christmas. Too many vendors to get through. 

Zane was able to show the Cactus Ropes rep a trick or two. 

Good Catholic kid. We ran into a few Catholic Cowboys who were glad to see our priestly presence. 

Other rodeo hands were hanging around as well. Tim O'Connell is a world champ bareback rider. 

There were just as many good rides the second night as the first. Jayco Roper was a fun ride to watch on the world famous horse Virgil. 

Shad Mayfield is as quick as they come in the tie down roping. 

This was an incredible ride by Sage Kimzey to end our NFR experience. He'd like to win his 8th world title to tie the legend Donny Gay.

On to the next one. 

Good time. This was a fast and furious couple of days. But Las Vegas can handle it. We saw the Catholic side of the city as well as the cowboy side. Both were beautiful. Special thanks to all who helped make this trip possible. It was the ride of a lifetime. 

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