Drowsy Water

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

It ain't all romance and ribbons at Drowsy Water

I like to portray the ranch life as one full of adventure and romance. And, honestly, there is a lot of that happening around here. There are colorful sunrises during morning roundups--horses neighing and snorting as they charge back to the ranch for their morning feed. There are country songs by campfires on cool summer evenings. There are blooming flowers, falling snowflakes, and singing birds.

But it's not all romance and ribbons around here. Take, for example, the end result of our countless hours of work in the hayfields. After hours, days, weeks, and months slaving away to mow, rake, and bail our hay we save it for the cows and horses to eat in the winter. Then every single day each winter we take the tractor out and feed the hay. Can't miss a day. It's the definition of dedication.

Well, as my aunt always said about hay and the haying process, "You have to remember, it just becomes a turd."

This time of year, that saying has never been so apparent. The cows have been cooped up in the same pasture most of the winter. The hay has been eaten in the same few spots and, well, it has to go somewhere.

We had a friend up last weekend that commented "It's like they have a method to it. It looks like they never poop in the same spot twice." Maybe that's true.

As spring warms the ground and melts the snow, the cows will be moved and we'll drag the pasture. "Draging" is a method to smooth fields and break up chunks of dirt, manure, etc. We connect a screen of chains and metal to the back of the tractor then drive the tractor back and forth and to and fro until the ground is level and the chunks of gunk are pulverized. Then when the hay starts growing again, it has even ground and great fertilizer.

And the hay process begins again. . .

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cabin Fever RX: Carrot Cake at Drowsy Water Ranch

The long winter starts getting to me right about now every year. I start getting sick of layering up sweaters and socks to go outside. I start wishing for beaches and sunshine and little paper umbrellas floating in cool, brightly colored drinks.

Lucky for me, we have the perfect prescription here at Drowsy Water Ranch. We share this little secret with our family and friends each summer at our Colorado Dude Ranch. It cures my dreams of islands and my addiction to saltwater.

I'm going to share our cure with you; I'm going to show you how we make our mouth-watering carrot cake. And, let me tell you, this Drowsy Water Ranch Carrot Cake does it all: it warms the belly and the soul, ridding you of any winter time blahs. . .(or any time of year blahs. . .I'm pretty sure I could come up with a darn good reason to eat this stuff any day of the year).

The recipe is actually from the mother of Mark Hammar. Mark worked at the ranch for years and years and was like a big brother to Justin. Mark told me that, one time when he was watching young Justin while Ken and Randy Sue were away, he asked Justin to go choose a book to read before bed. You want to know what the seven-year-old version of my husband brought back? A tractor manual. What a weirdo. He still reads tractor manuals for kicks.

Anyways, thanks to Mark's mother for a wonderful recipe that has been used and enjoyed at Drowsy Water Ranch time and time again.
Back to the cake. . .The best part of this particular carrot cake baking episode was that Jen and Lauren came over to help. We shared a few cups of hot tea, laughs as plentiful as the snowflakes, and smiles as warm as our Colorado sunshine. (okay--that was super corny--but it's true!) We missed Ryan, who is back at school, and you will probably miss Ryan too when you see how unprofessional our photos became without him.

First, we gathered all our goods. We have carrots, of course, and eggs, oil, flour, sugar, baking soda, vanilla, walnuts, and the secret weapons: coconut and pineapple. Then we all got started on cake related jobs.

Jen shredded and cooked the carrots. Yes, cooked them. That is also secret weapon material: cooked carrots. The carrot flavor is sweeter that way.
And, just to reemphasize my point from the Cowboy Cookie entry about not being able to stop yourself from laughing hysterically while someone is taking photos of your hands, check out how funny those silly carrots are to Jen.
And, geez, mixing all those dry ingredients is hilarious. Or at least it is to Lauren! Wha-ha-ha-ha! (evil cackle!) Cinnamon, flour, salt, and baking soda must make a funny combination.

Surprisingly, I was dealing with those initial "wet" ingredients:
the eggs, vanilla, oil, etc. And somehow, my face didn't make it into the shot. Guess I can't make fun of myself. What a bummer. (Note: if I was the seven year old version of myself, I would have entered a big "NOT!!" after the word bummer, but I am way more mature than that now.)
Then, to the wet ingredients, we added those secret, winter-blues-beating weapons: the coconut, the pineapple, and the cooked carrots.

We added the flour mix to the island dream mixture, and then Jen "accidentally" threw her hand into the bowl before "accidentally" thrusting her finger towards her tongue. Wha-ha-ha-ha! (Darn that evil cackle!)
We poured the batter into a cake pan, then baked it at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. While we waited for our creation to solidify, we gathered ourselves and tried to relax our aching sides with a couple cups of tea.

Finally, the timer beeped and we all sighed and stared fondly as we removed our newest golden- brown creation from the oven.
Then we got going on the next delicious chore: the cream cheese frosting. This little concoction of cheese, butter, and sugar is what make the cake just send us over the edge right into palm tree themed paradise.

At last, taste testing time is here. Our mouths watered. Our taste buds swelled. And, alas, our hearts sang.

Drowsy Water Ranch Carrot Cake
1 1/2 C. flour
1 1/4 C. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 C. cooked shredded carrots
2/3 C. oil
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 C. crushed pineapple, drained
2/3 C. shredded coconut
1/2 C. chopped walnuts

Mix flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in bowl. In separate bowl combine carrots, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Add carrot mixture to flour mixture, beat well. Stir in pineapple, coconut, and walnuts. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Cool and frost with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 C. butter, softened
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 C. powdered sugar

Blend cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Time for Ranch Chores with the Pink Marshmallow

I suppose most of us that grew up in colder climates went through some kind of mother-inflicted marshmallow phase during childhood. Peyton, our ranch 1 year old, is not exempt from the marshmallow rule. I always wondered what the deal with all the clothes was, but now that I have my own child to dress to go outside when it's 5 degrees, I get it. Here she is, the Pink Marshmallow!

and in this shot, a sneezing pink marshmallow! Bummer timing on the shot, I guess.

All decked out in multiple mommy-inflicted sweaters, coats, hats, and mittens to be out in our bitter cold weather, she is slowly learning to pull her own weight around here (all 25 pounds of it). She's learning to do some chores!

The bunny gets leftover veggie scraps from our kitchens.
So do the ducks.

And the funny little doggies accompany us to make sure that the bunny doesn't escape!

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ranch Lessons

After having lived at Drowsy Water Ranch for the past year and a half, I’ve learned quite a few things.

I’ve learned that horses eat…a lot. And when they finish all the hay in a pasture, they have to be moved to another place with more grub.

Yesterday I went on a ranch field trip to help move all the horses from one winter pasture in Walden to another.

It was another lesson in my ongoing ranch education.

I’ve learned that it is really really really cold in Northern Colorado.

I’ve learned that things never quite go as planned. The initial game plan was to bring the trailers into the pasture, herd the horses into the corral, lead horses one at a time from the corral to the trailer (worming and inoculating as needed), and finally haul the horses to their new winter home. Seems simple enough, right?

Well, I’ve learned that it’s not…

Trucks get stuck and have to be shoveled out…

Horses push down gates and make a run for it…

And then you have to chase them down again…

I’ve learned that seemingly simple enough activities can last all day. All day in the cold. All day in the cold with numb fingers. All day in the cold with numb fingers and horses running every which way.

I’ve learned that ranch work can be long, frustrating, and physically exhausting.

But I’ve also learned that ultimately it’s rewarding; a hundred times more rewarding than it is trying.

I’ve learned that you can’t beat a day surrounded by friends (furry and human), with mountains all around you, a blue Colorado sky, pure Rocky Mountain air, and the promise of a hot shower when the day’s work is done.

I’ve learned that you can’t top companions like these…

Views like that…

Or catching a moment like this…

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Monday, May 18, 2009

T minus 13 days. . .and Counting!

Remember how all winter I rambled on romantically about life on this Colorado Dude Ranch, talking about the snow and the cold, the peace and the quiet? 

Yeah, well, forget all that. That is over, dudes. 

Those days are gone.  Totally and completely gone. 

We're now a hive of activity. The worker bees are buzzing around from dawn till dusk hastily working away.  Our to-do list could stretch clear down our road and back. The Fosha clan is in all-work no-play mode (or sleep, or t.v., or books, etc).  The staff is growing by the day, their bright faces greeting each morning with a smile and ending each evening with an exhausted yawn.  

All this is in preparation for our big day. . .opening day. . .only 13 days away! So, this afternoon, I did a stroll around the ranch. Wait, it wasn't really a stroll. It was a walk. A fast walk. It's something I've learned from trying to keep up with Justin and Randy Sue. It's called the "Fosha-Fast-Walk".  It's like normal walking, only in fast forward. It's an important skill. I will give an example of its use shortly.

So, on this walk around the ranch, I took pictures of what everyone was doing to  give you a better idea of the amount of work going on.  Since I was Fosha-Fast-Walking, I was able to eliminate the normal lolly-gagging involved with normal walking thus minimizing the time between photos and making them almost like multiple images from around the ranch taken at the same instant. Here they come, don't blink!

There was Ken, repairing the hardwood floor in our tee-pee building. 

I'll tell you what, you want a man that can fix, oh, say, plumbing? Call Ken. How about roofing? Ken can do it. Oh, your tractor broken? Ken. He might be the best all-around fix it guy in the universe. I've witnessed him fix everything from flashlights to tractors, roof a building, tile a floor, repair the plumbing, wire a living room light fixture, and on and on. Ken can do everything. 

Next on the loop, the steers and bulls. I guess you could say they were working since this is what they do--stare at people when they come over. 
And Jen was brushing a horse. This sounds peaceful and easy, but when you have 100 horses. . .
all losing their winter coats in clumps. . .

brushing them all is a whole heck of a lot of work. 

And then there is all of the cleaning to be done. 
Here's Alex cleaning up behind on of the cabins. 

And Tyler and Connor cleaning up elsewhere.

And Trish and JJ cleaning up in a cabin. 

Finally, even the aspen trees are finally working--buds! At long last, there are buds on the trees!

Whew! I'm now one sweaty Fosha Fast Walker. 

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ranch Pyromaniacs

As you've  probably heard, this area of the state is seeing one of the worst pine beetle attacks in recent history. At this point, there is nothing we can do to stop the beetle.  We hopelessly watch as our pristine forests of green pines fall prey to the insect and turn the tell-tale red-brown color of a dead tree. Experts expect pine forest devastation in this area to reach nearly 100 percent. 

While this is heart-wrenching to watch, it's is just Mother Nature doing her thing.  And, that crazy gal, Mother Nature, doesn't leave us without a few silver linings. First, the aspen trees are alive and well and will fill in where the pine forest dies. This means more quaking leaves and stupendous fall colors.  

Second, we have to do something with the giant piles of dead trees left in the wake.  That means logging and, subsequently, burning the slash. Yep. I said burn. We get to light fires. Huge, hot, smoky, scary, fires.  What fun!

Maybe I am a little bit of a pyromaniac, but isn't everyone? When was the last time you lit a huge fire and didn't have either your mother or the police hunting you down? It is undeniably fun to light stuff on fire and it's even better when you can get away with it. 

So this winter we've been doing a lot of slash pile burning around the ranch.  Here's one of our biggest piles going up in smoke. . .literally!

Here's what we started with--one gigantic pile of trees. 

Next, crazy Ken took the propane torch to the sucker. 

Soon enough, we had us a real-live fire on our hands. See Ken there on the left? 

Here's some more flames rising high into the air. 
And a close up of white hot logs. You getting hot yet?

Here's the same spot when it's all over. We're left with a big black patch and some really stinky clothes. 

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