For all but eight years of my life, I have lived on the east slopes of the Rocky Mountain front range out of Augusta and Big Timber, Montana. For the half century (approximately, in case you are doing the math) that I have lived in the wind, I have tried to get used to it, but I don’t think oneRead More
I am going to send a strongly worded letter to Al Gore as soon as the frostbite heals on my typing fingers. That man and his predictions have been a serious disappointment to me during the past couple weeks, and it is time to let him know. Therefore, what follows is my open letter to Al Gore!
Dear Mr. Gore, (I amRead More
As a new year rolls in, we all look forward with hope for a good 2018. As I sit here reflecting on 2018, my mind wandered back to Y2K. Remember Y2K? We thought the computers would not recognize 2000 because the dates were formatted in two digit numbers. We were convinced that we would wake up on January 1, 2000, in the DarkRead More
The holidays are over, the tree is down, and most of its needles are vacuumed up, so the inevitable cannot be postponed… those two presents still sitting where the tree stood must be hauled out of all that packaging and put to use, despite our technophobia.
Every year it seems that we receive one or two high-tech presents that we have noRead More
Christmas is only 194 hours away as I sit down to write this week’s column. The only problem with that is that I have at least 195 hours’ worth of stuff to do to get ready for my Christmas company. I’m not really good at math, but even I realize that doesn’t leave much time for sleep!
Just this afternoon, I had begun toRead More
I have never really had a job description in this Cooking in the West job, but I think it is to try to provide a few laughs each week and to share some great recipes. Occasionally, I feel compelled to deviate from that mission, and this column is one of those occasions.
Our community of Big Timber, Montana, is reeling fromRead More
Finally, the regular hunting season is over. Fortunately, they have only extended shoulder seasons in some areas, because, if it had lasted any longer, I would have ended up robbing a bank or at least a convenience store to make ends meet. You see, phonier than any hunting or fishing story you have ever heard is the myth that hunting saves money. At ourRead More
Today is “Jasper Day” at our house, which means our two-year-old grandson is here because his sitter is on vacation. It is only 9:30 a.m., but already he has locked himself in the pantry (where he did a lot of reorganization of food supplies before we could extricate him), dumped a whole shaker of salt over the three cans of Play-DohRead More
My favorite part of my County Superintendent job is getting out of the office and into the rural schools every week where I have found a lot of featured cooks. Several years back for a special holiday column, I decided to ask the primary students of each rural school to tell me how to cook a turkey for the holidays. The following are someRead More
Facebook, Google, and e-mail are wonderful things, but I believe we are living more fearfully because of them. Every day I receive hundreds of messages, memes, and emails. Some of them are tips from readers who would like me to pass along life-altering information. Sometimes, I do check with Snopes.com, even though I have it on good Facebook authority that SnopesRead More
October was cold and windy, followed by these first days of November that have included winter storm watches, so many are predicting a bad winter. I decided to research some winter predictions on my own, rather than trusting the “Old Farmer’s Almanac.”
In my research, I found inconclusive evidence. First of all, I found the rhyme, “Squirrels gathering nuts in aRead More
Parent teacher conferences are traditionally held about this time of year, and I have to say they are one thing I don’t really miss about teaching. The parents of the good kids always show up, but the parents that you would really like to meet—to provide insight into the reason their children are the way they are—coincidentally don’t show up. My hatRead More
With the general hunting season getting underway, I would like to share an essay from my friend Bob Carver of Moscow, Idaho, that attempts to answer an age-old culinary debate. Thanks for sharing, Bob!
Venison vs. Beef Research
Those of you who have hunted many years and eat the product of your hunting expeditions have often heard hunters say, “I would ratherRead More
The callous hard-boiled exterior that cowboys exude is often a mask for their Tootsie Pop centers. Such was the case when my late father-in-law was approached by his granddaughter Michelle to dog-sit. She had brought a new, shall we say, “crossbred” puppy home from a high school rodeo that fall and asked her grandparents if they could help out onRead More
Columbus Day and Labor Day are my favorite holidays, because they really don’t require planning, preparation, gift giving, decorating, or all of that other stuff that makes holidays stressful. They are simply days off to enjoy. Probably the most exciting thing about those holidays is what our President will tweet.
It seems everyone is tweeting these days except me. (Editor’s note: OhRead More
The elk are bugling, the leaves are turning, the nights are chilly, and I am not heading to hunting camp for the first time in many years. Although I don’t miss getting up at 2:30 in the morning or trying to keep meals warm until the last hunters stumble into the cook tent with a bloody elk heart wrapped inRead More
Rural Uber Options
I was late for work at my town job today because the unpredicted heavy, wet snow bent all of the trees over, which effectively blocked our driveway from passage. I wasn’t very late, however, because we have farm implements! I backed up to the barn and summoned Remi who came out with the skid steer. He lifted upRead More
This week a wonderful new book came in the mail as one of the perks of writing a humor/ recipe column: “Making Tracks with Horses and Mules” by Jane Lambert of Stevensville, Montana. This book — edited by Editor Linda’s sister, Nancy Morrison, and proofed by our very own editor — chronicles the horses in Jane’s life. I could relate toRead More
Our ranch vacation guests are always amazed that we leave keys in all our vehicles. We explain that there are several reasons for that. One reason is that someone might come along that is in desperate need of a ride, so we want to accommodate them, but the main reason is that no one would steal most of our vehicles.
Watching all of the evacuations from Hurricane Harvey and from the wildfires in the West on television brings back the memory of the natural disasters we have lived through. When a plume of smoke rises, my heart begins to pound. We have evacuated from several fires and a couple floods, so I know the indescribable feeling of fear and helplessnessRead More
There used to be a show called “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?” I have always thought I was until the other day when I realized I am not nearly as smart as a second grader. Actually, in the spirit of full disclosure, technically I am not smarter than a first-grade graduate who had not yet begun second gradeRead More
My son has a 50-foot rope and a speedy horse, so he always wants to rope everything out in the open… even if it would be far easier and less stressful on his mother to push it to the corral. In fact, ever since he was in diapers, he has thrown rocks, sticks, balls, and anything he could pick up,Read More
This week we celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary. I cannot quite wrap my head around how old that makes us. Of course, Remi robbed the cradle when he married me, as I am MUCH younger. Still, I am starting to be able to relate to all of the old people jokes shared on Facebook to honor our milestone. I decidedRead More
I have several part-time jobs, which alleviates any opportunity for boredom, but the one job I have loved the most is wilderness camp cook. It has provided me with thousands of memories of back country adventures.
One such adventure began as I found myself happily riding up the trail in the back of a string of horses on a quirky horse… itRead More
It has been about 20 years since I was replaced in the hayfield by my son, and in those years, tractors have changed a lot in this operation. This haying season, I got called out of retirement mainly because we could not find anyone else to drive a tractor. So I stepped into the tractor for my 30-second lesson inRead More
The strongest earthquake (5.8) to hit Montana in more than a half century had its epicenter in Lincoln, Montana, last week. Just four days before, I had been cooking in the K Lazy 3 Scapegoat Wilderness camp very close to the epicenter. I am really glad I was not sleeping in the shower tent when the quake hit. There hadRead More
It is class reunion season, and I am feeling really old, since my baby just attended his 10th year high school reunion. My 40th reunion is coming up this weekend, and it reminded me of my 30th year class reunion 10 years ago. It was the event that inspired me to come home and make a bucket list. In myRead More
Summer is the time when I decide to roll up my sleeves and clean out some junk. However, my parents were children of the Great Depression, so I can still hear their voices ringing in my ears when I think about pitching stuff that could potentially have some use in the future — even though it has received no usageRead More
When I was growing up on a guest ranch near Augusta, Montana, a book and a movie entitled “Night of the Grizzlies” struck fear in the hearts of nearly all of our guests one summer. It was about grizzly maulings in Glacier Park, and it was gruesome for the ’70s. Lately, we have been plagued by a bear on theRead More
There are aliens or some form of paranormal beings among us! I know this might be hard to believe coming from such a reliable source as myself, but I have conducted my own independent research on this topic and concluded, without a doubt, that we are not alone in this universe. My observational study of this phenomenon began many yearsRead More
From Facebook, I pirated a great summary of what branding day is like in one paragraph written by Janie Carlson of Two Dot, Montana. She wrote, “L6 Bar branding 2017 Day went pretty damn well. I got cussed for the dry cow and tried to spill the herd. Jason got flattened and cussed Sid. Chase’s horse wanted to pig aRead More
On Thursday morning, following our blessed three inches of rain, Remi came in from checking the creek level and said, “Well, I guess we won’t have to move to Ingomar.” It is not that he has anything against Ingomar, MT, but back in 2011, when we replaced our bridge after that “100-year flood,” he swore that, if this bridge, whichRead More
The best part of this job is hearing from readers and finding that something I wrote inspired them, such as this letter that came in a large envelope full of poems from Ed Shinn of Toppenish, WA. Ed wrote, “I am an old guy… turned myself out to pasture several years ago. My wife and I have been enjoying thisRead More
The legend of the Crazy Woman Mountains…
We have the privilege of living ALMOST in the shadow of the Crazy Mountains. There are several versions of the legend of the Crazy Woman Mountains, which were later named the Crazy Mountains. Last week, I featured a poem by Sandy Seaton Sallee of Emigrant, Montana, who won this year\’s Buck Ramsey CowgirlRead More
Sandy Sallee accepting her award.
Sandy Sallee and her very own version of “The Willy.”
Sandy Seaton Sallee, the real deal…
When I grow up, I want to be just like Sandy Seaton Sallee of Emigrant, Montana, whom I have admired since I first met her at a cowboy poetry gathering decades ago. Sandy, who grew up in Yellowstone Park driving four-up stagecoaches,Read More
With tongue in cheek… I love it when I open my email and find a message from my editor saying, “You ought to use this for a column.” After reading it, I knew Linda was right, so here is a guest column from Julie Carter of Cowgirl Sass & Savvy entitled “Cowboy Cookin\’ …Making It Simple.” Thanks, Julie!
Cooking isRead More
I have developed a fear of bathrooms. After this week, I have much more empathy for people who suffer from phobias. In fact, my bathroom phobia is so bad that I am thinking about getting a Life Alert button to ward off any future bathroom calamities.
My brush with severe claustrophobia and deep humiliation came last Wednesday. I had poppedRead More
More of the good, old days…
After the last downturn in the economy, it became suddenly fashionable to be frugal and green. I grew up frugal and green, because my parents were 40 years old when they got around to having me, so they were children during the Great Depression. We have tried to raise our children frugal and green, butRead More
The dreaded spelling bee…
All across the country, kids are being traumatized… no, not by cyber bullying or the Pythagorean theorem, but for another reason… they are good spellers. Yes, in preparation for the National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. in June, every county in every state is hosting a chamber of horrors for their best and brightest. I can sayRead More
The rapid escalation of inherent problems…
I sat bolt upright in bed when the back door slammed the way it only slams during calving season. I could hear muck boots clomping down the hall, and then my dearly beloved husband barked, “Come help me get a heifer in.”
I thought about mumbling, “Please,” but I was busy getting all my joints workingRead More
Do we really need over 450 new pieces of legislation?
As I sit down to write this column, I realize that it is Dr. Seuss\’ birthday on Thursday. As an English teacher, Dr. Seuss\’ birthday is the most significant holiday of the year. He would have been 113 today… except that he died in 1991. This brilliant man, Theodore Seuss Geisel,Read More
Calving season is about to begin, and it is a sheet of ice everywhere… except where it is a bog of mud. Because we live in windy country and we haven\’t had a winter like this since 1979, I am not used to these conditions. I am pretty sure I am more of a liability than an asset out inRead More
A little cowboy poetry…
I love it when readers send me great writing, and this poem from Tom Ogle of Paris, Illinois, comes just as calves are starting to hit the ground on many ranches. Thanks for sharing this great poem and tribute to a fine neighbor, Tom!
The Slow One
By Tom Ogle
Earl worked in town to make ends meet.
Feedin\’ cows after
With tongue in cheek… and a little chicken wire…
I absolutely love to receive letters from readers, but I am not sure how to diplomatically answer this letter I received from Don De Jarnett of Billings, Montana. Don is related to my sweet neighbor, Julie Sanders, who mentioned in conversation that Cousin Don was writing me a letter. I watched theRead More
Twitter has received a lot of attention lately, so I have been thinking maybe I should check it out. All I really know is that you use a lot of hash tags (which we used to call pound signs), and you can only tweet 140 characters per message. When I was visiting Melville School this week, the upper gradeRead More
Susan, you\’d better stick to Remi\’s plan…
Calving season is bearing down on us, and that means a shift in my world. I have to shift from physical fitness activities like power walking to the break room for a snack and lifting paper weights to doing things like lugging newborn calves into the heated tack room in the barn from theRead More
Christmas crisis! Christmas is only 194 hours away as I sit down to write this week\’s column. The only problem with that is that I have at least 195 hours\’ worth of stuff to do to get ready for Christmas. I\’m not really good at math, but even I realize that doesn\’t leave much time for sleep! Just this afternoon, IRead More
Grouchy Grandma\’s House Rules for the Holidays…
One of the nicest compliments I receive is when readers tell me that they have hung my column on their refrigerator or mailed it to someone (often anonymously) to try to make a point humorously and semi-tactfully. Since we are in the holiday feast season, I thought it might be an appropriate time toRead More