Monday, February 2, 2015

Cowboys Coming and Going!

It's Cowboy Time in the Black Hills - one of my favorite weeks around here!

Cowboys rule during the Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo  - big ones and little ones!

We went to the show on Saturday. The first Saturday is the best time to hit the vendor booths. You can find anything a cowboy might need - 

Chaps and Chinks - 

You know what Chaps are, right? But what are Chinks? Chaps are the long leather coverings for your legs. Chinks are abbreviated chaps. They end about mid-calf. And these are real chaps, not the black leather ones motorcyclists wear. We see enough of those in August!

All kinds of clothing - and believe me, you don't look a bit strange dressed like this around here. Especially during the stock show.

We have little buckaroos having fun while waiting for their dads to finish talking about Quarter Horse stallions...

...and steeds for them to ride.

Belts and boots and hats...

These aren't just any hats. They're custom made, custom fitted cowboy hats made here in the Black Hills. Star of the West Hat Company

Plenty of saddles, bridles, lariats and other horse accouterments, of course.

I even shopped for riding boots. They're on my list to purchase before spring, when I've been promised more rides on my favorite mule, Loretta :)

 And then there are the rodeos. Every day.

These guys were waiting for Saturday afternoon's rodeo to start. Hubby and I will be going next Saturday, when a friend's five-year-old grandson is opening the show by singing the National Anthem.

Five years old.

Good stock runs deep in ranching families.

I thought I'd celebrate the Stock Show by reprising a recipe from a couple years ago. It continues to be a favorite around our house - especially when I use the local, grass-fed beef we've been buying the last two years. I've ordered this year's half-steer already, and just in time. The freezer's gettin' pretty empty!

Jan's Cowboy Chili

Start with about 1 1/2 pounds steak. I like to use round steak, or these little chuck steaks.

They're slightly icy in this picture - being slightly frozen makes the meat easier to handle.

Cut the meat into 1/2 inch cubes, and then prepare the marinade.

Marinade ingredients:
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup oil - vegetable or olive
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix the marinade ingredients together, and then pour over the cubed meat in a plastic bag or glass bowl. Put it in the refrigerator and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes - an hour or two is better.

After an hour or so, it's time to start cooking the chili.

Drain the marinated meat, reserving the onions and meat.

Brown in a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot, and then add the rest of the ingredients:

2 cups beef broth
2 cans red beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can (14 oz.) tomato sauce
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons cumin

Let all this simmer, covered, for an hour or two. Or three. Or put it in the crock pot for a half day or so...
Now, lift the lid and take a whiff. Don't you feel like you're on a cattle drive with the cowboy of your dreams?

Westerns and cowboy stories continue to be favorites among Love Inspired readers, either contemporary or historical. We love the romance, the wide-open spaces, the culture that allows a man to be rough, tough and able to do whatever job comes along - but at the same time be gentle enough to coddle a newborn calf or hold his young son during a nap.

What is your favorite part of cowboy culture?


  1. My favourite part of the cowboy culture? Uh...the cowboys? Is that a dumb answer? LOL I'm surprised that all this is going on the middle of winter though. Brrrr. I take it the rodeo stuff will be held at an indoor arena? Those little cowboy steeds are adorable!!!!!!

    When I think of cowboys I think of honest, hard working, salt of the earth kind of folk. The kind of people that neighbourliness comes naturally to. I think respect for God and country and resiliency and reverence for the land and animals. So, tell me, have I been reading too many cowboy romances? LOL

    1. Wait. I didn't understand your last question. Too many cowboy romances? That doesn't make sense ;)

      And yes, the middle of winter. All of the events are inside, both at the civic center and at the fair grounds. There are indoor arenas at both places. The timing is because we're about a month before spring calving season starts. If you follow Mary Connealy on Facebook, you know that they've started spring calving season already. We're about a month behind them.

      The end of January/first of February is the only downtime ranchers get until haying season is over at the end of the summer. That's when the local rodeo season goes into full swing.

    2. Oh, and I think you're spot-on in your description of cowboys. All of the ones I've met fit your description perfectly.

  2. I love Kav's take on cowboys!!!! I'm in the middle of my second cowboy book for Waterbrook and I can't tell you how much I love goin' Western! Big brother Colt is back from Manhattan and lovin' on all kinds of ranchin' at long last.... Nick is realizing that trying to create the dream family he always wanted entails having that right kind of woman at your side.... OOPS.... and Trey's coming back to town to help his ailing father, and this country-singer-cowboy will break hearts cross-country when he finds his one true love... :)

    I love writing cowboys and Westerns. Who'da thunk an upstate gal would fall in love so easily???? Tippin' my hat to this mighty fine mess o' chili, Mizz Drexler.

    1. I can hardly wait to read your westerns, Ruthy! I still think you need to plan a trip west to immerse yourself in cowboy culture.

      And don't think a couple days with Mary Connealy cuts it. She lives in EASTERN Nebraska. Just sayin' :)

      But I was serious when I said Kav's take on cowboys is spot-on. I know there will be bad hats in every bunch, but every cowboy I've met (including some I've gotten to know pretty well) is as honest and down-to-earth as they come. The kind of folks who will strike up a conversation with a stranger in the middle of the store. The kind of folks who give a wave over their steering wheel when you meet them on a gravel road. The kind of folks who aren't afraid to go out on a limb for a neighbor in need.

      It's good living here.

    2. Oh I'm soooooo glad it's not just in fiction. I've been thinking cowboys all day (which doesn't bode well for my Amish hero -- he keeps breaking out in a drawl for goodness sake!) Anyway, I'm wondering if cowboys are the way they are because they are tied to the land and rely so much on others to get all that work done? And there's something about having a whole lot of work to do but a lot of it just can't be rushed. Can't force a mama cow to give birth on your say so. And I expect a quick and dirty fence fix wouldn't hold for long. So, to me, there's something more deliberate in the way they work and consequently the way they live. Not many short cuts...and if you're running a family owned ranch, no big corporation to make short cuts for you. It all just seems so much more personable than a lot of city jobs out there. A more Godly rhythm of life kind of thing. Man, now I'm yearning for a good ol' cowboy story and Ii don't think there's nary a one in my tbr pile.

    3. Oh -- wait and glory be -- I found myself a cowboy -- Falling for Texas by Jill Lynn. It's Love Inspired. Woohoo. Hiding out on the bottom of the pile. I'm in cowboy heaven now so I'll leave y'all alone. LOL

    4. LOL, Kav!

      I think part of the cowboy culture is that each person has to be self-reliant. You have to know how to fix fence, pull a calf, feed the cattle when the grass is falling off (not growing - sorry). You have to be able to do all that stuff by yourself when it needs to be done. Storms, sleep, hot weather, cold weather, broken hay doesn't matter. The work still has to be done.

      And at the same time, you know you can rely on your neighbors. They'll help you with branding this week, and you help them next week. You know how the other man works, because you've worked next to him year in and year out your entire life. You know that if something happens, your family and ranch will be taken care of.

      We had a sad tragedy recently - a friend was telling me about it. Their neighbor's wife was in the early stages of Alzheimers. One night a month or so ago they were driving home. When they got to the gate, she went to open it just like she had hundreds of times before. She never came back to the truck - just wandered off in the dark. The neighbors all came to help search, and our friend found her the next morning, frozen to death about three miles from their house.

      In a situation like that, the ranchers call their neighbors first and the police second.

      And you KNOW the neighbors are still supporting that poor rancher.

    5. Oh, Jan -- that is heartbreaking! But certainly illustrates how supportive the community is. In a way that sense of community is timeless, isn't it? Take out the tractors and trucks and insert horse and wagons and the essence of ranch life hasn't changed a whole lot. I'll keep that family in my prayers.

  3. I've made hamburger chili and chicken chili but never steak chili. Must try it.

    I got to go to the rodeo in Tulsa and in Houston and I LOVE it. Best view in the world.

    Favorite Cowgirl store is Crybaby Ranch in Denver. Google it.

    1. Jumping in the car. Heading to Denver. Now.

  4. Love everything about this post and the comments...except the tragedy.

    We have a lot of rodeos here in NC. Who knew? But western cowboy events are something else.

    1. Cowboys have to show off no matter where they live ;)

  5. Would you believe I've never had chili made with chunks of steak? Only ground meat. I'd love to try this! Thanks for sharing it, Jan. I loved the photos!