Drowsy Water

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Signs of Spring

As ranchers in Colorado, we know what season it is not by the temperature (since we have snow in three out of four of the seasons) but by what is going on around the ranch and by what work needs to be done. In fall, we cut hay and get ready for winter. In winter, we feed animals, plow snow, and do all we can to enjoy the snow. In summer, we clean the ranch, feed guests, and saddle horses. 

In spring, we put on our mud boots to trudge through thigh-deep mud, start getting the ranch ready for summer, and we also start calving. We welcome around 30 calves each spring to the ranch. That is small change as far as cattle ranching goes; many ranches around here have well over 200 calves each spring. But, just like cooking is still work whether you are feeding 5 or 50, calving is still a chore with 30 or 300. We check the cows at least twice a day, usually more. Typically, our cows don't need any help in labor. We let them deliver in peace unless they look like they need help. When we have new calves, we tag them and observe them to make sure they are standing and nursing. 

The moms are usually amazing mothers. Instinctually, they are protective and caring. 

 At times, you wonder how much the moms coordinate and communicate with each other. Sometimes all the calves will be nursing at the same time like someone hollered "lunch time!" or a group of calves will be soaking up the sun while two of the mom's keep watch, like the moms are taking turns leaving the kids so they can shop for hay.

We have 12 calves "on the ground" (that is rancher-talk for born and healthy) and about 15 yet to be born. Once they all arrive, one of our first summer rituals is branding the calves. Once we've branded, we know it is time for longer, warmer days again.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sounds like February

Chase and I figured out something big this morning:

 February, we decided, must start with a 'F' because most of the words we use to describe the second month of the year also start with 'F'. Yep, it's true. Think about February. How would you describe it?  

Here is what comes to mind when living at Drowsy Water Ranch in February: 

1. Frigid. 
It is cold. It has been cold for months now. It will be cold for a few more months. Snow, ice, storms. Brrr.

 2. Feeding. 
We have a lot of mouths around here and they all need food. Luckily, we have a lot of hay. We feed daily the chickens, the ducks, the bunnies, the birds, the cats, the dogs, the cows, the bulls, and the horses. 

3. Forest Friends.
We might now always see them, but we see signs of them. Signs like the fresh bark tears on our aspen trees right outside our door. Trees that look like this are irrefutable proof of elk in the area, just like crop circles are undeniable proof of aliens...er...sort of like that. We have deer, elk, moose, coyotes, and  birds all hanging around our quaint mountain valley. 

 4. Firewood. 
We all use it here to heat our homes and we go through it FAST (another 'F'!).  
The amount of wood we burn each winter might be enough to actually build a house or two.

5. Fat. 
Although February is usually when the months of sedentary life starts to really show in our waistlines, I am not talking about the current condition of my rear here. I am talking about our cows. Those gals are getting big, soon we'll have our first calf!

6. Farting around.
(no picture available for "farting around". What would that look like?!)
We do a fair amount of farting around here in February, like fixing things (fix has a 'f' too!) and then there are the ski days, the sledding, the craft time, the movie watching, the cleaning, etc. We keep busy, sure, but we enjoy the slower pace of life this month.

7. Finally, forward, faces, and fun!
Finally, we really start looking forward to summer this month. Not only for the temperature change, but for the fresh faces in our staff and guests and for all the fun we know we will have!

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013


I admit it. I confess. And, to Kroger stores everywhere, I am sorry. 

I, like many of my Drowsy Water Ranch counterparts, am a baked good snob. 

You see, it all started so innocently. In the summer, we just show up for lunch and dinner and end up getting spoiled. For those few, fleeting weeks that we welcome families and friends here at Drowsy Water Ranch, we also welcome to our diet homemade baked goods: homemade cinnamon rolls, homemade breads, homemade cookies, cakes, and pies. Yes, we are spoiled so much in summer that, in winter, grocery store bought baked goods just don't do the trick, they don't hit the spot, they don't give us the same delicious fix. 

Due to my snobby condition, I am often forced to bake our favorites in the off-season. This time of year we can't go with out the Drowsy Water Pumpkin Bars. They are soft and sweet, spicy and nutty.
 Bake them. 
Bake them for fall or for Thanksgiving, or for Veteran's Day, Easter, Hanukkah, and the Fourth of July. Make no excuses, just bake. 

To make the bars, raid the pantry for the essentials: flour, sugar, nutmeg, cloves and/or ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, baking soda, pumpkin, oil, milk, eggs, vanilla, and raisins. 

Mix 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1teaspoon nutmeg, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon cloves or ginger (or 1/4 teaspoon of both), 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.

In a separate bowl, combine your 1 cup pumpkin, 1/3 cup oil, 1/4 cup milk, 2 eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. 

Add the dry to the wet ingredients and mix together. A small sample at this point is allowed. Or a large sample. Or four large samples. 

Stir in 1/2 cup of raisins. Re-sample as needed.

Spread into a greased 9x13 pan and put in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. 

At this point, you should start making your topping. Combine 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup soft butter, 2 tablespoons milk and 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I splurged and used pecans, but walnuts are good too).

Then watch out. 
This is when I had a monster attack while pursuing spicy, sweet, pumpkin greatness. 
My monster came inside from working on a fence with his dad. He just marched right in like he owned the joint, threw his boots off, climbed on the counter and immediately started goofing off. 
And then, to make things worse, the phone rang, creating the opportunity for the monster to continue his surprise attack. When I was off the phone, I came back to this:
It is a monster mix of a few things. First, was the entire remaining contents of my box of baking soda. Next, I am assuming, came the raisins. Then, as a final hoorah, or maybe as a last-ditch attempt to salvage the concoction, came the multi-colored sprinkles. Soda, raisin, and sprinkles: a recipe created only in the mind of a two-year old. 

Needless to say, it was disgusting. Monster agreed and took the mix outside to use as dump truck hauling material. Maybe that was the intention all along...

And by now, the buzzer was going off on the timer. Time to put the topping on the bars, just spoon over the top gently, and bake for an additional 3-5 minutes. 

They come out looking something like this:

 and this:

Cool, slice, and devour!

Drowsy Water Ranch Pumpkin Bars
For the bars:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger or cloves
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)

Combine dry ingredients (the first eight ingredients). In separate bowl, combine pumpkin, oil, milk, eggs, and vanilla. Add the flour mix to the pumpkin mix; mix for about 1 minute.
Stir in 1/2 cup raisins.
Spread into greased 9x13 pan.
Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees.

For the topping:

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soft butter
  • 2 Tbsp. milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts 

Combine and spoon over bars gently. Bake 3-5 minutes longer until topping is light brown.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fall Cow-tivities

We look forward to this day every year.  Maybe its because we love to work cows, or maybe we love to get outside on warm fall days, or maybe it is just because we have a tremendously silly sense of humor, but we all enjoy the day we wean the calves using what we call the "easy-weaners".  
 First, we round up our herd, then separate the cows from their young.
Next, we load the calves in the trailer and take them to our neighbor's house down the road. 

There, we run each calf through the squeeze chute and insert a really silly looking yellow tag in their nostrils called an "easy-weaner". Once they all have their new weaner, the calves are returned to thier mamas to graze on pasture grass. 
The tag will block the calf from nursing on his mother but allow the calf to still be with the mother. This seems easier on both cow and calf than the traditional weaning method of just ripping the young from the teat and putting the calves in a pasture or corral separate from the cows.

In about two weeks, we will load the calves back up and remove the easy weaners. The weaning is a little bit of a graduation ceremony. (Hooray! Throw your easy-weaner in the air!) After they are weaned, the calves are ready to move on to the next stage of cow-hood: the yearling stage. 

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

As the Ranch Turns

We have received the phone call once or twice. 

"We'd like to film a reality show on your ranch. Is there any good drama?" the person on the other end asks. 
"Why certainly," we reply. 
"Do they hang out, have boyfriends and girlfriends?"he continues.
"Yes, of course," we say.
Then, dramatically, the person asks greedily, "And do they fight over friends or lovers?"
And we honestly respond, "Oh, yes. You should see them. They are so nice sometimes, grooming and necking or going for long walks together then other times they are so mean--chasing, kicking, even biting each other."
"Kicking and biting?" he asks, the astonishment clear in his voice.
"Yes, of course. What else would you expect for horse drama?"
"Horses?" he asks, still unsure what in the blazes we are talking about. 
"Yes, Horses. What did you think we were talking about? Horses have all kinds of friends, lovers, and battles for both. Let me tell you about them..."
And so the story really begins.  
Horses, you see, are not much different than kids or teens. They have old friends, they make new friends, and they lose friends. They have crushes and they get hurt and act out when their friends and crushes don't fell the same way. With a herd of 120 horses, we get to see all of the drama unfold each summer. Just ask your wrangler and they'll give you an update of our very own Drowsy Water Ranch horse soap-opera. 
For example, we have a few well-established horse relationships. Here are just a few...
  • Sally, one of our our big beautiful draft cross horses, hangs out with Rosie, a little mare, and Bob, a big black draft. 
  • Biscuit, a big bay is desperately in love with and violently protective of Pebbles, a Canadian Draft. 
  • Storm and Lacey, the paint team of two, are rarely see without the other. 
  • And we have a pack of rebbles that always come in late on round-up: Cookie, Trio, Mystery, Peppermint, Czar, and Zorro.
  • We have more than a few odd matches. Crackers, our small halflinger pony is best buds with Kenya, a huge Shire Mare. 
  • We have a few leaders. Midnight, with her long flowing black main, is the queen-bee of the herd.
  • Then you have the loners, horses who seem to have issues socializing. Pee-Wee, Abby, and Chick are all a little on the hermit side.

 Horse socialization is a key component of a healthy horse life. Our horses get plenty. So if you'd like an idea for a real reality show, talk to our horses!

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Good. Old. Fashioned. Fun.

Uncle Sam would be proud. We celebrated Independence Day with gusto at Drowsy Water Ranch this year. We hosted numerous games and races that made for great family memories, lots of smiles, and a few hearty laughs. And don't forget the colors of the day! Our awesome staff got into the day with red, white, and blue. Enjoy a few pictures from the Fourth of July Games night at Drowsy Water Ranch! Maybe you and your family can join us next year for this memorable evening in the park.

Luke Welcomes you to the games. 

Nell and Jack plot strategy for the next game.

Concentrating on the egg in the spoon for her relay.

Watch out for Aspen the dog in the sack race!

She is catching you!

Finding partners for the balloon toss.

Toss the balloons! Don't let them drop or you are out!

Get a ringer!

Peyton's on a team with Dad.

A few different lengths of legs in this race. 

The race is on!

Mom and daughter work together!

High speed racers.

Joe and Jack are all business in their red, white, and blue. 

Until next year.