Tag Archives: country natural beef

Day Five: Making Movies and “Hot Dogs” (and a Little Riding, Too)

So, I know I’m behind a day, but yesterday started early and ended late (which here, is a good thing). The good news is today you will get two posts complete with tons of pictures (to drool over, I should think).

We were up early Thursday morning…the sun was just rising when we all made our way out to a draw just a ways down from the lodge. We were there to see the horses brought in–or rather, to watch a film crew watch the horses brought in.

A French film crew creating a documentary about the West had requested Padlock provide a number of opportunities to obtain footage, and I have to say, I can’t imagine a better setting. With no outside distraction, breathtaking scenery, and the drama provided by the livestock, horses, and hands, what more could you really want? (A couple of curious greenhorn bystanders, perhaps?)

We were on the ground early in the day, and got a lesson in colt-starting from Steve Johnson and his son Isaac (a film crew request). The colt belonged to Padlock Assistant Operations Manager Les Nunn, and he was a bright, nice-looking colt that had obviously been started right. It was only his second time in the round pen, but he advanced through the lessons in a mannerly way, and before we all knew it, Isaac was on him. As many of you know, started right, a colt isn’t going to put on a bronc show the first time a rider gets in the saddle, and this morning’s demonstration was testament to that.

We rode out later to drive some cattle, again for the film crew (as well as to check for foot rot), and it was by far the most intense “ranch” experience I’ve had yet. We had to gallop up and down some steep hillsides and actually (no, really!) turn the cows, keep them together, and all the things you see on TV and wish you had the guts to do.

The Padlock’s hundreds-of-thousands of acres is actually made up of a number of smaller ranches that were acquired over the years by the ranch founders (as well as the original Padlock lands). One of these, the – V (umm, I think that’s the right way to spell what sounds like “Bar Vee”) has some older ranch buildings on it, so we took the wildest ride I’ve ever had in a golf cart over a rocky cross-country “road” (I guess you could call it) to have a look (and there Padlock CEO Wayne Fahsholtz saved us from a long walk back by filling up our tank with diesel). The property is truly lovely, and the terrain quite different than the valley in which the guest lodge is located. Perhaps this is what has impressed me most about this trip to Wyoming–the remarkably varied landscape, from lush green to arid dry to rocky mountaintop.

Our day again ended around a campfire, where I was introduced to the best “hot dog” I’ve ever tasted–they are actually huge and sausage-like, but filled with Country Natural Beef (yep, the very same from the Padlock program). I also was informed that a hot dog is also known as a “tube steak”…perhaps that makes it more palatable? Knowing that it is all-natural beef certainly does…

So, the moon came up, the doughies came out, and pretty soon we knew that this day, too, was done.

That it, in fact, was a “wrap.”

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Day Three: Holdin’, Headin’, and Hurtin’ (But Not SO Bad!)

Today was our first “full day” at the Padlock, although our third in Wyoming. We awoke to French toast and sunshine (Steve’s wife Kristin does all the cooking…don’t even get me started on the chicken pot pie we had for dinner tonight). Marvelous.

I guess with consistency in mind and perhaps even kindness, Martha and I were once again assigned the same four-legged partners we had yesterday. Copper and Blanco have now had 48 hours to decide whether or not they will put up with our East-Coast ways–and I must say, bless them, they chose to be benevolent souls and carried us through the day with little complaint and a whole lot of downright reliability.

We had a task of sorts today, and that was to ride through the 10,000-acre pasture (ha ha, you might say, when somewhere in the midst of 500,000 acres) and check out the “replacement heifers” (those that are intended to take the place of non-productive cows in coming seasons) and steers marked for the Country Natural Beef program for foot rot–which has been described to me as something akin to athlete’s foot.

It took some time and navigation of steep (yet beautiful) terrain to find our first lot of heifers and steers (at which point Martha and I both exclaimed, “Cows!”…yes, that would indeed identify us as the “dudes” we are). But we were in for some action. Isaac Johnson (Steve and Kristin’s son) rode through the herd as Martha and I “held” them in the midst of a massive prairie dog town. Note: Two things should be mentioned here–1) “Held” may be putting it strongly…we sat on our horses in a particular position on a hillside, as we were instructed, and I DID move back and forth a few times when a particularly brazen cow started to come my way; and 2) have you ever stood in the midst of a prairie dog town? The sound of the prairie dogs chastising you for your presence is almost deafening, and it is actually hard to find solid ground on which to tread, their holes are so darn prevalent.

Anyway, when checking a herd for foot rot, you move through the cows to get them to get up and walk or trot, basically affording you the chance to check them for lameness–a common symptom. If they appear off, they must be roped and checked and if necessary, given an antibiotic, which means they must be removed from the Country Natural Beef program (you don’t really want that).

Isaac found one that was suspect, and to our greenhorn delight, he and his father had to rope it and check it for the fungus, then mark it and release it–it made for exciting riding in and around Chez Prairie Dog.

There’s really nothing like having a cowboy gallop right by you, hot on the heels of a heifer, so close you can hear the rope whizzing through the air. Amazing, intense, and addictive.

So it only seemed appropriate that after dinner (that delicious chicken pot pie I mentioned earlier), we all meandered down to the horse barn for some roping practice on a wooden dummy (the cows were very thankful). Reata Brannaman, who is good friends with Isaac and Cooper Johnson and lives in Sheridan with her dad Buck and mom Mary, gave Martha and I a first-rate, first-timer’s introduction to the art of holding and throwing a rope. Both of us are pretty bad at the whole activity at the moment (let’s just say we have nothing to brag about and lots to be embarrassed by), but we’re surely destined to get better…

And miracle of miracles, despite the fact that we were on horseback from 8:30 to 4:30 today, and rode over varied terrain and at various speeds, neither of us is too lame to climb stairs, sit in a chair, or get in bed.

It really doesn’t get much better than this…

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