In case you’ve been in a coma and oblivious to the weather, then here is an unadulterated understatement, “Whew, it’s cold!!!” It’s so cold that Miley Cyrus is covering her midriff; it’s so cold that I had to pry my dog off the tailgate of the pickup; it’s so cold that the politicians have their hands in their own pockets…(wait a minute, it couldn’t be that cold!). I mean who wouldn’t love weather where my tractor won’t start, but my nose won’t stop running? This guy- that’s who! And, I’m pretty sure there are a few thousand more farmers and ranchers like me that are having to break water in troughs and feed hay in this miserable mess. I guess if ranching was always done in the clear and sunny 70-85 degree weather then everyone would do it.
What else is there to do when the weather gets so bad that schools close and businesses shut down? How about everything that still goes on at the ranch? I mean, sure you’ll spend a few more hours indoors when the weather turns bad, but there is always the tending of stock that keeps calling you out of your nice warm bed. You know it’s bad when Gaucho, the wonder dog, won’t leave the hay stall to help you feed round bales.
So, how do you survive when the temps drop? Well, any good cowhand will tell you that it involves hot chow. You’d be surprised how a warm meal gives you a little courage to put on your long underwear, double sweatshirts, hand warmers, ultra-thick socks, a ski mask, neoprene gloves, and head out to tackle the blizzards of winter! Oh, yes,-I know some folks have it colder, but to me thirty degrees is a blizzard of epic proportions! The only thing that warms this guy up is some of my favorite winter meals. These are the kind of meals that have you hankering for them around mid-November, but not ready to put together until that first Arctic blast hits. For me, it ranges between my Mama’s Frito Chili Pie, Tomato Soup, and her slow cooked Beef Stew. This year it just happened to be the Beef Stew I was craving the most. Especially, since there was some great Certified Hereford Beef in the freezer! Thank you, Santa Claus!
I won’t give away the family recipe, like Duke and the Bush’s Baked Beans, but the Top Hand’s Beef Stew has thick Certified Hereford Beef chunks, carrots, baby potatoes, celery, some super-secret spices (I mean she won’t even share with me), and all simmered in a broth that’s not too thick and not too watery. Throw in some of her famous homemade cornbread baked in the old time skillets, and heck, I might just sign on to run Santa’s sleigh for him when Rudolph has to find the way! It’s that good!!! Wash all that down with some steaming hot coffee or apple cider, and I’m warm enough to start a frozen Ford pickup without the block heater plugged in.
All kidding aside though, this winter is starting off colder for most than in years past. Be thankful when you are gathering your family around, that the American rancher is out there in the elements making sure there are healthy, nutritious and flavorful sources of protein that will keep your family warm and going when Mother Nature is throwing you her worst. Enjoy those “snow days”, cherish the chance to slow down a little and catch up with your family, and don’t forget to yell, “Soup’s On” when it’s time to gather your herd!
Stay Frosty Friends,