Cattle sorting has nothing to do with pursuing happiness

Thursday, November 15, 2018
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Cooking in the West

Pre-conditioning, weaning, and shipping is the dreaded time of year when ranchwives are called upon to sort a lot of cattle with their husbands, so it is my assumption that there are many ranchers that go to bed at night this time of year without the benefit of having ingested a nice warm dinner. More likely they cooked themselves a frozen pizza or just had cereal.

If you have not sorted a lot of cattle with your spouse, let me explain the dynamics of it. I know that when our founding fathers decreed that we all have the liberty to the pursuit of happiness, they had not just finished fall sorting with their wives.

Usually husbands call upon wives to help them sort cattle only after they have called all their friends and neighbors and had no luck getting help. With no other options, they give their wives a sorting stick and become instantly grouchy. Next, they run several head of cattle down the alley and say something like, “Catch the steer on the far side” just as the entire juiced up bunch comes even with the gate. The odds of catching the right animal with those explicit and well-timed directions are about as good as winning the lottery, so she lets a heifer in with the pen of steers she is holding. The rancher generally expresses his disapproval very tactfully with a few unprintable words, and after chasing the one heifer around the steer pen for about ten minutes until they get her out, they try again. Pretty much the same scenario is repeated several times; although each time the praises for the gate woman’s efforts become more creative, such as, “Move your feet, woman. You are the one who is always wanting to go dancing!”

As a ranchwoman, you know that anything that goes wrong at the corral is your fault even if you were in the house procuring coffee. Your primary purpose is to either open gates or to serve as a gate. You can expect that you will do it wrong, so you might want to wear high quality earplugs. Through earplugs, a phrase like “Not that one, you Idiot!” sounds like “Nwrt Rrwt Nnn Wrr WWdwwt,” and it does not seem nearly as offensive.

Usually the only indication that the cattle sorting is done is when the husband hurls his sorting stick in the direction of the last animal that went in the wrong place. If the wife is wearing ear plugs, it sounds sort of like Alvin and the Chipmunks doing a dream sequence. If the wife is not wearing ear plugs, the indication that cattle sorting is over is usually when she leaves her post, stomps to the outside gate, jerks it open, and marches defiantly in the direction of the house. It is pretty much understood that she is not marching to the house to start dinner.

Assuming that you are in the frame of mind to cook dinner, here are some ideas you can throw in the oven while you are out sorting cows or doing other fall work!

Broccoli Side Dish

1/2 C. butter

1 large jar Cheez Whiz

1 C. diced onion

two (10 oz.) pkgs. frozen broccoli

1 C. chopped celery

1 C. Minute Rice

2 cans cream of mushroom soup

Saute onion and celery in butter. Mix in soup, Cheez Whiz, and broccoli. Add rice to onion and celery and then soup mixture. Turn into a baking dish and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.

Easy Oven Roasted Potatoes

2 lbs. red potatoes, scrubbed and chunked

1 envelope Lipton onion soup mix

1/2 C. vegetable or olive oil

Toss all together in a Ziploc bag until well coated. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes until tender and browning. Stir occasionally. Garnish with parsley flakes or melt cheese on top if desired. Can serve with sour cream or ranch dressing if desired.

Spaghetti Casserole

1.5 lbs. ground beef

medium onion, diced

4 oz. can mushrooms, drained

1 T. Worchestershire sauce

2 T. oil

1 green pepper, diced

two 8 oz. cans tomato sauce or your favorite spaghetti sauce

7 oz. pkg. spaghetti

grated cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Brown burger and onion in oil. Break spaghetti into pieces and cook according to package directions. Drain. Mix all ingredients except cheese and pour into a large casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Top with cheeses of your choice and return to the oven until cheese melts.