Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Sno Cat

If you want to roll around the mountains in December, you better be geared up. Mom and Dad are. The only time their cabin is hard to get to is May and November when the snow is melting or starting to fall. Other than that, they can get in all year long. For winter travel, their sno-cat is the vehicle of choice. 

They bought this beauty about 10 years ago. She's a 1971 model. Dad's done well to keep her maintained, which includes greasing the some 250 roller bearings on the tracks each year. 

Tucker continues to make sno-cats, though their technology has vastly improved. You have to start somewhere though. 

Though she's simple, the engineering is quite remarkable. She has a flat head 6 with a four speed. If your are going over 10mph, you better slower down a notch. 

You can haul gear in the back, or a band of your buddies. 

She runs good on groomed trails. 

And breaking trails. 

The four pontoons are what make her float, while the paddle tracks give her traction. 

She may be slow, but she'll get you where you want to go. 

Modern machines have allowed man to get to areas in the winter where only the moose and squirrels roamed. Thanks to their Tucker Sno-Cat, Mom and Dad can enjoy their Big Horn getaway all year long. 


Monday, December 26, 2022

Fire in the Hole

Dad and I have been waiting for the right opportunity to burn our old corral piles from last summer. Well the feast of St. Stephen proved to be the perfect day. 

We had 5 piles of old lumber from around the ranch needing to be burned and buried. Not wanting to mess with a prairie fire, we decided to wait until snow was on the ground. To get them burning hot we dumped about 10 gallons of diesel/gasoline mixture in the center and around the base of the pile. 

To ignite it we pulled out one of Dad's old oilfield tricks: Put a little dirt on a shovel and douse it in gasoline...

Throw a match at it...

Once lit...

Carry it to the pile...

Give it a good aimed toss...

Then stand back.

That old wood really burned nice.

Perfect for marshmallows and hotdogs.

Or beer and beef jerky. 

That's my kind of feast day. Every boy likes to play with fire. And when it has a purpose, all the better. A lot of work went up in smoke today. This ranch was a labor of love for my granddad. But wood just doesn't last forever. To everything turn, turn, turn. Wood was yesterday. Steel is today. Thanks Grandps, we'll make you proud. 

Saturday, December 24, 2022


The most tender piece of meat on any critter is the Tenderloin. Not sure what its actual function is, but it hangs out inside the ribcage and waits for the day for someone to enjoy it.

You can do much with the loin itself. I usually combine the TL into part of the T-bone steak. You can also leave it has a whole loin. Or cut it into individual steaks. 

Cutting it off the cow is not too tough. But there is not a lot of meat to work with so you want to take your time and get the whole thing. 

It's not a super fatty piece of meat. So after aging two or three weeks, there is a bit of cleaning up to do. 

Thick steaks are a common usage. I usually package them in two's or three's and give them to guys to impress their wives. 

But I went out on a limb this time to make filet mignon. This literally means tender filet, but on the menu it usually has bacon wrapped around it. Having some thick cut bacon on hand I wrapped some of these tender morsels up with simple cotton string. 


Yeah buddy. 

Looks like a Christmas delight to me. Hard to go wrong with a tenderloin. They are tasty by themselves or wrapped in bacon. They are usually tender whether off a fattened calf or an old bull. God put them there for a reason, which I'm sure in part was for us to enjoy. 

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Sale Barn

There comes a time in every butcher's life when he's just done cutting for the year. Such was the case for this Catholic Cowboy. This spring we had picked up three more cows than usual. Well, come the end of the year, that looked like two too many. With a freezer full of meat already and the first of the year creeping up, we loaded the last two girls up and hauled them to the barn in Buffalo. 

The Buffalo sales ring now has sales on Saturday. So we hauled the load in on Friday afternoon. 

These are the last two girls. Smaller than then others but still finished out nice. 

They seemed to be happy with their new home.

Not bad.

No harm no foul. It's nice to have options. I still have two cows looking at me in the cooler. Once we get them cut up... then it's snowmobile season! 

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Snow Day

“Snow days are a gift from God,” says my buddy Fr. Brian. I’d have to agree. There’s little more that I enjoy over fighting through the snow and cold to feed the critters. With the town of Gillette being shut down by the mid December blizzard, I saddled up ole Whitehorse and hit the trail.

These day, enduring the winter weather isn’t that bad, with Carhartts, Muck boots, and Yeti coffee cups. 

The first stop was the horses. About the only time they are happy to see me is when I come to feed them. 

One thing about Campbell County, you can count on the wind with the snow. 

I try to win brownie points with the horses. They are suckers for oats. 

The winter has treated them well so far. Pretty tough existence, they haven’t seen work for two months.  

Happy campers. 

Next stop was Caballo Cr. off of Bell Rd. Not crazy bad roads. But no fun without a ranch truck. 

The cows are content. With hides like theirs they probably don’t even know it’s snowing. 

Then there’s Whitehorse… Thank God for Chevrolet, the heartbeat of America. 

I love winter. The challenges she presents I welcome and enjoy. It’s days like this that test your cowboy gumption. So far I’ve passed. We’ll reevaluate come February. Peace 

Sunday, December 11, 2022


One fun thing about being in the northeast corner of Wyoming is that I've gotten to know a piece of my history that I would have never experienced. Grandma Ruth, Dad's mom, grew up in Nisland South Dakota. Her mother's maiden name was Herman. This much I knew, but I really had never seen that country up close and personal. Well, as providence would have it, I had an hour to kill around Belle Fourche SD this weekend, so I took a little trip 15 miles east to Grandma's old stomping grounds. 

On the way out of town I passed this road sign. Grandma said her Uncle Jake Herman farmed here. 

Nisland is a cute little town. Not much more than a wide spot in the road these days. But it was home to Grandma, until she moved to Belle to go to work as a telephone switchboard operator at the age of 15. 

The little old Lutheran Church still stands tall and proud. Here's where Grandma would sing in the choir and even played the organ one Sunday. 

It's also where she was Confirmed. 

In Belle is where her grandma and grandpa Herman are buried. 

After Grandpa John died Grandma Anna remarried. 

Eventually, Grandma Ruth moved to Worland WY and married Lloyd Lungren and raised their four kids. 

And all their grandkids. 

It's fun to go back in time. I'm well familiar with the Lungren side of things, and even some of the Wamboldt history (Grandma's maiden name). But the Herman's I knew in name only. Stepping foot on the ground that they called home I'm able to learn more about Grandma's childhood. And consequently, learn more about my roots as well. So beautiful. I love getting to know the past, it helps me appreciate the present. I thank God for my Herman ancestors who blessed the world with the great gift of Grandma Ruth. 


The only prerequisite to being saved is recognizing that we are lost. 

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Carmelite Coat

I consider myself a closet Carmelite. I love their spirituality and I'd love hole up at their monastery. But that's not currently in the cards for me. However, I do feel Holy Spirit wrapped around me when I wear my Carmelite brown coat.

Still standing pretty 26 years later. 

I received this jacket in 1996 for my Confirmation. Mom and I walked into J.C. Penny's in Worland and there she sat on a rack waiting for me. I knew my Confirmation was a significant moment in my life, but it wasn't until later that I really saw the fruit of it. I've never considered myself a self-made man; I'm nothing but a product of my environment. My grandparents continue to play a huge role in my life, even though Grandma Ruth is the only one still around. L-R: Ed Schmeltzer, Mary Jane Schmeltzer, fb with a full head of hair, Ruth Lungren, Lloyd Lungren. 

I wore my brown coat through seminary and still pull her out for special occasions these days. 

She lost a button the other day. Dad would say it's because I put on weight. I'd say it's just normal wear and tear. Nothing a zip-tie can't fix though. 

Try breaking now. 

Back in business. 

Guess you could say I'm a sentimental guy. I love it though. So many good memories in this jacket. As Catholics we place a high value on signs. This coat is a sign that points to the reality that I have been sealed with the Holy Spirit. When I wear it I'm reminded of the intimacy of the Trinity that I have been drawn into. I also feel the power of the Communion of saints, including my grandparents and our Blessed Mother, the spouse of the Holy Spirit. No sense in getting all sappy though. There's work to be done. Time to get after it!  



 God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called.