Saturday, January 29, 2022

Ranchin Steady

We usually ranch pretty hard on Fridays and yesterday was no exception. The only problem is that we worked ourselves out of a job.

The mission was simple, round up the herd on the south 40, peal off Ricky, and bring him home.

But if you're gonna ranch all day, you need to start off with a ranch breakfast from Lula Belle's.

Mollie and Chief were ready to work.

No need to show off my bronc skills, I'll just warm Mollie up instead. 

Just point Chief in the right direction and hang on partner. 

There they be. Six heifers and Ricky. It was nothing short of cowboy getting this wild bunch in the corral. Just remember buddy, when working cattle with Fr. Bryce, take nothing that is said personal. 

God bless him. Ricky was given to us by a family up north. He was a dwarf and a little ornery. We took good care of him over the past 5 months, but his time had come. Gerry put a nice shot on him.

He'll make some nice little steaks. Well done ol' son. 

Beneath these western skies.

By the time we cut up some jerky meat and ate some cow heart, the day was shot and we were too. Ain't nothing better than being spent from a hard day's work. Especially when it involves feeding America. The only problem is that we shot our last cow. Guess it's time to get some more. On to the next one. 


Field Trip

Part of Gerry's hope in coming to America is to get to know some ranchers and how they manage their operations. No better opportunity than Don Kinstetter's outfit north of Moorcroft.

Don's my go to on many matters. He loves to talk about the land and his faith. The sun setting on the Crook County prairie made for some exquisite imagery as we roamed around the country side.

Don uses holistic management techniques on the ranch. I like to say of guys like him that they raise grass and manage it with cattle.

It's been a tough couple years for everybody in northeast Wyoming. But by strategic pasture rotation, the Kinstetters have been able to navigate the drought without decreasing their herd.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Don balances his ranch responsibilities by hanging out in his wood shop, building things mainly for the Church. That’s holistic life management. 

He's fairly well cultured too. He wanted Gerry to cook some Paella, a Spanish staple.

Not bad ol' son.

One thing I love most about ranching is that no two operations are the same. Each one is tailored to the specific advantages and limitations that the rancher has to work with. Don has maximized their ranch's potential by not just thinking of the bottom dollar but by considering all aspects involved in ranching, family, land, water, fences, the future, sanity, cattle... The list goes on. But the real secret to his success is putting God and his Catholic faith first. If you learn anything on this field trip, partner, I hope it's to seek ye first the Kingdom of God... then all these things will be added unto you.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Deep Roots

Be more concerned about your roots than your fruits.


Indoor Ranching

Spring is on its way, so we thought we better start to get some miles under the horses. Ryan and Anna Huxtable invited us to join them at the barn down in Wright to ride around inside, outside of the weather.

To our surprise, the horse were eager to go after four months of vacation.

This place is cool. Not sure we've ever rode in such class.

Looking good ol' son. I think Chief and you will make a good pair. Wear that hat with pride, even if it is January. 

On to the next one.

Cleaning up after ourselves is a small price to pay for such a great experience. Riding indoors during the winter months makes keeping the horses fresh enjoyable for them and us. Don't get used to it though, partner. We've got some real cowboying on the horizon. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2022


Converts to the Catholic faith, like visitors from another country, help us appreciate what we already have.


Sunday, January 23, 2022

Word of God

You can't cram the Christian language. Study Sacred Scripture.


Friday, January 21, 2022

The Boys are Back in Town

Our buddy Gerry (Gerardo Maristany Marques) from Spain came to Gillette to give Kurt and I a visit. Campbell County is his first taste of the United States, so we thought we'd give him a real Wyoming welcome.

Doug and Suzi Carr had this three year old steer that they were tired of feeding, so they most generously gave it to Fr. Bryce and his cattle company. Much appreciated. 

No more contraption, we're right up town now. I was very pleased with how our lift bed worked with the cows. Didn't grunt at all, but it did lift off the ground the front wheels of White Horse at one point. 

Looking good ol' son. Way to jump in with both hands. 

Cow heart for dinner.

It's great having Gerry around to hang with. It's been so fun seeing the surprise in his eyes as he experiences all the things that make America land of the free and home of the brave. He'll be here for three weeks. I think we'll mange to find a thing or two to do. Stay tuned. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

White Horse

One proof that I went all in with the Lord when I went to seminary is that I gave my truck to the monastery and bought a Subaru. It served me well for the eight years of school, but when over, it was time return to my cowboy roots. 

The name White Horse came from my favorite tack store in Thermop. But it is also fitting because she has been Faithful and True. Rev. 19:11

Getting a pickup was heavy on my heart in the fall of 2016. Over Thanksgiving I was driving to Newcastle to visit my cousin. Upon entering town, I happen to turn my head and there she was. My future truck. 2012 3500HD Chevy Silverado with 135,000 miles on the 6.0. Just broke in. 

The first order of business was to put on a set of BFG's and fit her with Grandpa's stockracks.

She has served me well through thick and thin...

...through good times and bad.

She has been essential in my ranching...

...and farming.

Though she has been irreplaceable in our butchering, we both felt she could up her game.

The idea of a flatbed had crossed my mind, but when Dcn. Kim planted the seed of a bale feeder bed I was sold. This gem came out of an auction company in of Billings MT. Though it was a bit tweaked and the wrong size, it had the potential to fit my ole girl. 

Beings I overslept my flight to Hawaii and missed the trip of a lifetime, I decided to spend the week back home, renewing my relationship with White Horse.

I'm no stranger to putting on flatbeds. In my early days in Helena, part of my job was installing flatbeds of various sorts. The main problem with this bed was it was too long. We had to cut 14" off the front and narrow the headache rack. 

I love working in the shop. A solid five days together with Dad was necessary to accomplish a mission of this caliber. 

With the welder I will solve my problem. Psalm 49:4

The lift arms on a bale feeder bed are going to be the greatest asset when slaughtering cows. However they are not long enough to string up a cow. So we built these arm extensions. You should see me with chopsticks. 

Giddy up.

Part of my mission in life is to keep people out of retirement, which includes Dad and my truck. After 10 years and 238,000 miles, White Horse is still ready to run. I continually thank God for my pickup. She has never let me down and has carried me all around the big wonderful state of Wyoming in style. I'm excited for 2022. No sense in burning daylight, let's get to work!

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Sharp Side

With the dust settling on this years butchering, it's fun to reflect on what all we've learned. I've found some new cuts and gotten more proficient with my time. But I've really gotten an education on sharpening knives.  

You've got to have good quality and sharp knives if you want to be safe and effecinet in cutting meat. I've been running mainly Victorinox inside the shop. By far the sharpest knives I've ever owned. 

Here's where it gets interesting. So much can be said about putting a good edge on a knife. Most knives in the kitchen have a 15 degree angle to them. The ones I use in the field are 30. I've found that when you are sharpening you are really not removing metal from the blade, as much as you are straightening out what's called the wire edge. The wire edge is the very tip of the blade edge. From cutting it can start to roll over to one side or the other. The point of a stone is to straighten it back out and even remove it. For a long time I wasn't being aggressive enough with the stone. You have to put the tip of that edge right on the stone, and cut the stone, as I like to say. In other words, keep tipping it until you see bits of stone start to come up with the oil. Anther tip I learned, is to make one pass forward on the left side, moving the blade across the stone as you push it along, followed by the same procedure with the right side. It's best to go back and forth, one side and then the other, in order to get an even edge. 

A steel is then used to keep the wire edge straight while you are cutting. Most are actually not intended to sharpen. The concept is basically the same, consistent angle, one side at a time, and often. 

This is my favorite boning knife: 8 inch blade and I use it for everything. 

This 10" steaker is only used for clean cutting, mainly for steaks. With a deep curved blade you easily push through the fattest of meats. 

This little 5 inch is great for fine tune cutting. Being small, it is easier to control.

Most of the time. These knives are made for cutting flesh and it doesn't matter who's. 


It really has been a good and fun butchering year. 12 cows were purchased in the spring. And 12 have now made their way to the freezer. Hard to say how many cows worth of beef is here, but should be enough to get us to the summer when we start all over again. I'm tired. I think I'll go to Hawaii for a break.  

Rest a While

We need to be healthy in order to be holy.