Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Visitors witness a big surprise--birth of a calf!

Even though we have hundreds of baby calves born on our ranch every year, I still get giddy when I witness the actual birth! I rarely see calves born...if I know a cow is in labor, I will check to make sure she is getting the job done. I look to see if there are two feet presented and that she looks like she can handle it and then I head out and get my other work accomplished.  I usually return an hour or so later to see a live calf standing and nursing its new mama.

But today, I had visitors coming. I planned to show them the cows and new calves and then we were going to see a new set of twins we had a couple of days ago (which in the excitement we totally forgot to do!). A few days ago, my high school classmate, who did not grow up on a farm, sent me a message that she was visiting our old hometown and wondered if she could bring her kids to see my ranch! I was thrilled and readily said yes!  So when they arrived, we loaded up into my pickup and headed out to the maternity pen to see the new baby calves.  The first thing we saw was a cow in labor with two feet presented--and the cow was very focused on what she was doing so she didn't mind us watching! So I drove a few yards from her, parked the truck and turned it off and we had a front row seat to a true miracle of Nature!

As we watched, the cow pushed the calf into the world, and I talked about what usually happens and why and explained how lucky they were to actually see this! I have posted step by step pictures of the birth of a calf before. Check out: A Baby is Born!  The kids asked very intelligent questions and we watched as the mama cow cleaned off her baby and called to it. It struggled to stand and we finally left to head to see other things, but not before getting a picture with the cow and calf photo-bombing!
I feel like this has been a very productive day for me...and I've done nothing except drive around my ranch, sharing my love of cows and land with my friends!! What an opportunity for me!

My friend is also a blogger, and she plans to blog about her experience today. I will post a link to her later, but go see her blog at KitchenPantryScientist now!  We talked about many things on a ranch, including grass management, feedlots, baby calves and even country of origin labelling for meats and ag products.  What a variety of topics!  I am so pleased that Liz asked to visit. Not everyone has the chance to visit a farm or ranch. If I am available, I am happy to show people my ranch, but I can't promise everyone to have a calf born in front of you!  But for many people, the internet is the only place to learn about farming and ranching.

Tonight, I have an exciting experience planned for which I have been waiting a long time! I am attending the premiere of a movie called "Farmland." It is a documentary that shows behind the scenes of real farms and ranches in America.  It is directed by James Moll, who has won an Oscar, two Emmy's and a Grammy for his previous works. Watch the trailer for more information and check your local theater listings to see if it will be showing in your area! I plan to have my review available soon! And then go to FarmlandFilm.com for more information about the film, as well as biographies of the real farmers and ranchers that star in the movie! I am very excited about this opportunity for other people to see how real farms and ranches are "behind the scenes!"

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Welcome to the Feedyard!

Have you wondered what it is like in a feedyard where thousands of cattle are kept and fed? We have a feedyard just a few miles from us and it is run two brothers and their families are vitally important to their feedyard and this community. I am good friends with one of their wives, Nicky, and she wants to get the word out about Life in a Feedyard, so I asked her to do some guest blogging for me!  I think you will be interested to know that even though they have employees and it is a business, it is still a family and the cattle receive excellent care so they are happy and healthy in a feedyard. We do feed our steers at this feedyard, so it still fits in with my "Life on a Kansas Cattle Ranch!" So watch for Nicky throughout the next year as she writes about her life as a wife, mom and a cowgirl, and sheds some light on what happens in a feedyard. --Debbie.

Hey there!  I’m Nicky Tiffany.  I’m a wife and stay-at-home mother of 4 (all under the age of 7).  We too, live in rural Kansas.  However, we own and operate a 15,000 head feedyard- Tiffany Cattle Company.  Out of our east gate you can gaze upon miles and miles of pristine native Flint Hill grass and from our west gate we see perfect rows of fertile farm ground.  I honestly thank God for making farmers and cowboys every day! 

My purpose for writing is to focus on faith, family and the feedyard.  Debbie has graciously given me a platform to share it with you!  I hope to be able to shed some light on what we call the Bed & Breakfast part of the cattle industry and give you all a glimpse of our passion for the 3 F’s.  So, saddle up and hold on tight- (I’ve never “blogged” before!) let’s go for a ride!

I’m rarely one who doesn’t have much to say, but I don’t want to do all the talking here- if you’ve got questions or comments feel free to let ‘em loose!  If I don’t know the answer I’ll get my “experts” to help me out.  Speaking of experts… My husband and his brother co-own and operate our business.  I am married to Shawn- not Shane.  Shane belongs to Morgan, my sister-in-law, Shawn is mine.  Are you thoroughly confused?  Don’t worry, so is the rest of the county, and they were born and raised here!  Their father, Steve (I know, I know! Another “S”!) is largely responsible for bringing us into this amazing community and I will do my best to keep it all straight for you.  We are 1st generation owners but have come from a long line of farmers and ranchers- people who love the land and agriculture and who have passed those values down through the ages. 

Well, gotta run for now.  Someone’s hungry and bawling- it’s close to feeding time both at the house and in the “yard” …although, I’m not sure which group of mouths I prefer tackling tonight!  Keep your eyes open for more posts and thanks for reading!

Be blessed,

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Homemade Beefy Noodles to warm you up!

The winter just seems to hang on this year...not only in Kansas, but in many parts of our country. We've had bitterly cold temperatures, slow and sleet. I've even learned a new word:  Graupel is the little balls of ice that fell a few days ago.

I'd sure like to just snuggle up with a blanket and read a book when the weather is like this, but ranchers just can't do that. Our cows depend on us for food and shelter, and very importantly, fresh water. So we put on lots of layers, bundle up as best as we can, and head out to feed hay, roll out straw and chop ice so the cows can be comfortable.

Before I head out, I always pop something in the crockpot for the ranchers when we finally get back inside to warm up. This time it is homemade Beefy Noodles.  I even make my own noodles...yes, I do! Check this out!!

So you can use nearly any steak or roast that you have. Stew meat would be perfect, but I use round steak mostly. It isn't a very tender cut, but it makes for some delicious stew meat! I just cut it into cubes while it is still a bit frozen. Easier to cut that way. Toss the chunks of fat, and give the bone to Roo the Cowdog. She is my best friend for a few days then!

Then toss the beef cubes into a big stock pot with a bit of heated oil. I put some Blythe Family Seasoning on top and then a bit of flour and brown the cubes slightly.  For the seasoning recipe, check out this blog: Super Secret Beef Seasoning Recipe!

When the chunks are evenly browned and even a bit toasty on the outsides, I fill the pot half full with water, stir it up and set it to simmer on the stove for a few hours. I want the water to cook down a bit, but not too much. But the best part is the beef becomes very tender, while the juices mix and the liquid is really rich and delicious! Once it is all simmered down by approximately half the water volume and the meat is tender, you can either turn it off and wait to add the noodles later, or if you are ready to eat, turn it up to boil and make the noodles.

I do make my own noodles, but you can buy the frozen egg noodles, too. They are awesome, but really the recipe is so simple, I don't know why everyone doesn't make their own!! So put 2 cups of flour in a bowl, 1 tsp of salt, and 2-4 eggs (depending on how large the eggs are).  I don't like to add water or milk to make the dough come together--so add enough eggs to make a dough, but not so that it is sticky.  Yeah, I'm really precise about that kind of thing....just play with it. You'll see.  This time, it took 4 eggs.  Then drop it out on the counter and knead the rest of the flour in.  Spread a bit of fresh flour on the counter and roll it out...this is not easy! The dough is very stiff and hard.  Once again, there is no precision to this. Just roll it as thin as you can. I usually have a teenage boy do this for me! They are much taller and get better leverage above the countertop, and they are much stronger. But I can do it myself as well. Then I use my pizza cutter to cut the noodles into strips about 1/4" wide and then into chunks about 2" long.  You can see, there is no real perfection here as well. Once it is in the pot, it will all look great! Of course, if you have a pasta machine, you already know how to make noodles. Since I won't have teenage boys around next winter, I may  ask for a pasta machine for my birthday!!

I do not wait for my noodles to dry, although some people claim that is important. I find fresh noodles are awesome either way. So do it how you like.  I just toss them into the boiling pot and stir them and watch them cook up!!  They should be ready to eat in only 10 minutes or less.  If you are not eating right away, pour the whole thing into a crockpot and turn it to warm for the day. That means it will be hot and ready to eat whenever the cold cowboys come in from the storm!

I don't really use a "recipe," but let me list my ingredients for you.

Homemade Beefy Noodles

1 round steak, cubed. Discard the fat and feed the bone to Roo the Cowdog
2 Tbsp olive oil (or other cooking oil) to brown the meat in.
Lots of water...not very precise.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2-4 eggs

I serve the soup with a little parmesan cheese on top--some people add ketchup or BBQ sauce too! Everyone can mix in whatever they prefer! I plan to mix some herbs or veggies into my noodles one day, but I never take the time now. Life is just too darn busy and I know the noodles are delicious this way. Why mess with perfection?! 

Stay warm, my friends, and remember that spring is one day closer!!

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Thank you for reading! If you like this post, I would appreciate any comments and shares. You can see a bit more about me and my family here, and connect with me on facebook and twitter! Please do! Connecting is the WHOLE POINT of blogging! I'd love to hear from you.